Best Convertible Car Seat for Small Cars – Safety and Comfort for Your Little One
Your child deserves nothing but the best. That’s something we can all agree on. For instance, you will buy the best food out there – no GMO trash, no dodgy formulae, but healthy, well-made food that will help your baby grow into a strong, happy child. In terms of toys, you want quality goods, not something that can harm your babe in any way. So you’ll naturally buy durable branded merchandise. Of course, we cannot forget clothing and footwear – the wrong kind can do serious physical harm to your child. But you’re not here for any of those. What you’re here for are car seats. And since you don’t own a giant Merc, you’d want the best convertible car seat for small cars out there. We’re here to help.
- 1 Our List of Best Convertible Car Seats for Small Cars
- 1.1 Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
- 1.2 Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
- 1.3 Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seat
- 1.4 Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat
- 1.5 Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
- 1.6 Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat
- 1.7 Clek Foonf Rigid Latch Convertible Baby and Toddler Car Seat
- 1.8 Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat
- 1.9 Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
- 1.10 Safety 1st Complete Air 65 Protect Convertible Car Seat
- 2 Right, so Which of These Ten is the Best of the Best Convertible Car Seats?
- 3 Final Verdict
Our List of Best Convertible Car Seats for Small Cars
What you’ll read below is our top ten picks for best convertible car seats for small cars. We’ve taken many factors into consideration. However, the main ones are safety, comfort, price, and compatibility with smaller vehicles. Read on and, hopefully, you’ll find what you need for your baby to ride safely on those long car rides.
Editor's Top Pick
The fine people at Britax take quite some pride in their original Marathon seat, so they have put out a few new models on the market. Naturally, the ClickTight is one of those, and its qualities show right off the bat. The installation of this seat is extremely easy, which is why ClickTight is in the very name of the product. What you do is open up the front end of the seat first. Next, you find the path for the belt and slide it through. Finally, you click it shut, and your babe is safe. Now, if you want to move the harness and adjust it to your child’s needs, don’t worry. Perusing the Quick-Adjust Ten-Position Harness is there for you as an option, and so is the Two-Position Buckle.
The Pros and Cons of Britax Marathon ClickTight
Several things earn Britax Marathon ClickTight a place among the best convertible car seats for small cars. Other than the ClickTight system and the Harness, there’s also the Safe Cell Impact Protection coupled with the Side protection. These two systems absorb all shock from impacts during the drive and keep your baby safe. In addition, your child can relax against the body pillow, which you can remove with ease if you need to.
This seat does have its setbacks. It’s rather heavy for a car seat, and a bit bulky even for larger cars. Moreover, you might have some difficulty installing rear-facing in your compact vehicle. There’s also the question of price: it costs up to $250 at most retailers. Finally, the harness release is close to the child, so they can accidentally loosen it.
Great Value for Money
This seat is merely the first of three Graco products on this list. And there are very good reasons for multiple Gracos to belong in a list of best convertible car seats for small cars. The 50-pound rear-facing is the absolute top of the line for any Graco product, even without the 65-pound forward-facing it also has. Add to that the amazing harness, and you’ve got a recipe for success. Namely, the harness of the Graco Extend2Fit is easy to adjust, and you don’t have to rethread anything. Furthermore, there is ample harness storage, so you can both strap in and take out your child with ease.
The Pros and Cons of Graco Extend2Fit
As with the Britax Marathon, Graco’s previously mentioned traits would be the reasons themselves to buy it. But Extend2Fit has much more to offer. First off, it has no less than six reclining positions, of which four are rear-facing. Next off is the extra leg-room for the child – a whole five inches more! And finally, the best possible reason to get it – it’s affordable. You can find it on Amazon for less than $150, and best of all, you won’t need to change it for ten years. That’s right, this seat is durable, and you can use it even on future little ones.
However, Graco Extend2Fit has issues. The headpiece of the seat, as some parents attested, can push the child’s head forward too much. But the bigger problems were the harness and the strap. It can be difficult to strap the harness in until it’s tight enough. On the other hand, the straps can turn uneven after a longer period of use, making your child safety procedure a bit more difficult.
Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 boasts safety and sturdiness. A child up to 40 pounds can rear-face with ease in this bad boy. In addition, there’s the Air Protect on the sides, allowing for more impact absorption and safer travels. This particular feature is important because it secures the head and neck of your child. Should there be a crash, Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 would probably protect your baby the best.
Pros and Cons of Maxi-Cosi Pria 85
Of course, the safety plays a huge role in deciding to buy this seat over others. But there are more reasons to do so, naturally. For one, it’s incredibly easy to clean. Simply snap-open the seat pad and wash it. No need to remove the seat or unbuckle the harness. Just pop it out and clean it! Now let’s quickly get back to safety a bit more. The QuickClip is a feature worth mentioning. It’s a magnetic clip that closes itself when the child is seated. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily open and close it. However, its design prevents children from doing so.
Next to the QuickClip, we have the Infant Positioning Wedge, perfect for settling in your newborns without fail.
Users of Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 did have a number of complaints, though. For one thing, learning how to harness it was tough and took time. Another big issue was that, even for a compact seat, it’s rather big and bulky and might not be the best in that regard for your small car. And then there’s the price - $350 per seat is a bit steep, especially with the other offers out there.
Another Graco to grace this list, the Contender 65 comes with its own set of attributes worthy of this list. This seat is, to its benefit, as safe as any Graco product. For instance, it contains both the energy absorption foam and a couple of side-impact protection pads. Your child, from toddler to eight-year-old, will not feel a thing during the trip.
Pros and Cons of Graco Contender 65
We will start with the cons regarding this seat. By far the biggest complaint the customers had revolved around the buckles and straps. It is exceptionally difficult to fasten it, and just as hard to undo it when you don’t need the seat. In addition, the seat doesn’t provide any sun protection, like most seats do, nor can it do more than be a seat. In other words, if you want a stroller, you’ll need to purchase a separate product.
However, strangely enough, some of these cons are also pros. While the buckles and the straps are very hard for adults to untangle, they are especially difficult for the children. In other words, no kid can accidentally loosen them and slide off. Graco Contender 65 also has a cup holder, where you can store the child’s bottle, or anything of the sort. Finally, the Contender 65 is very cheap – it tops at $140 at your local or online retailers.
Ah, the large and secure Evenflo! This All-In-One seat is easy to install, easy to take care of, and affordable for most people. Enough, you’d think, for it to be the best convertible car seat for small cars. But there’s more to it than just that.
Pros and Cons of Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One
First, let’s talk usability. Whether your child is an infant or an eight-year-old boy or girl, this seat will be perfect for them. The Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One has both the forward-facing and the rear-facing of up to 40 pounds. It has three recline positions and can be used without issues for up to eight years. Next, we’ll discuss the safety for a beat. Not only does it have the SureLATCH type connectors that suffer no pulling, but it also possesses an Infinite Slide harness.
This harness doesn’t require rethreading. You can adjust the headrest separately, and there are three zones of protection in case of impact.
However, as is the case with most of the candidates that aim to be the best convertible car seat for small cars, Evenflo has its fair share of issues. While it is short and ideal for small cars, it’s not recommended for taller children. It’s also wider than most convertible seats, making it a chore to install and remove. Of the three options it has, only one is for rear-facing. Finally, the price, while not terribly high, might be an issue. Evenflo Symphony All-In-One can cost up to $200 on Amazon and similar stores.
Right off the bat, you know you’re getting quality with this seat. The Chicco KeyFit series of seats have been nothing but top-list material, and the 30 is no exception. Safety and security naturally come first with this one, not to mention complete compatibility with other Chicco strollers.
Pros and Cons of Chicco KeyFit 30
We’ve briefly mentioned the safety, so let’s go into that deeper. You will get more than a secure set of straps and buckles with the KeyFit 30. You will, in fact, get the best possible toolset to manage the angle and position of your seat. The ReclineSure foot for leveling makes the seat stand at your desired level. Furthermore, the two RideRight bubble indicators will…well, indicate if your seat is leveled up properly. And then there’s the SuperCinch tightener. If you’d like your latches tight, simply pull on this device and voila! Job done.
Users of this Chicco seat largely had problems with this latch tightener. It’s cumbersome and takes a little strength to get used to. In addition, the sun canopy exists on the seat itself, but it’s too short to protect the children’s legs. Finally, it has the problems most seats of this type do – it’s a bit wide and bulky. In other words, you will be able to fit one in your small car, but not several. And if you can’t have more than one best convertible car seat for small cars in one vehicle, what’s the point?
One particular website nicknamed the Clek Foonf as the “mother of all car seats.” It’s no wonder, then, that it made our top ten list of best convertible car seats for small cars. This seat, as you will read shortly, has it all – safety, easy installation, comfort, and style.
Pros and Cons of Clek Foonf
We will start off with possibly the biggest pro on this list – the rigid latch. This particular feature makes Clek Foonf stand head and shoulders above all other products mainly because it makes installing the seat extremely easy. In addition to this, the rigid latch system offers almost no movement during travel. The seat effectively slows down with your car, in unison, and nearly all impact is muffled. Other notable features largely revolve around comfort and weight range (49 pounds rear and 69 pounds front-facing).
The Foonf is easy to clean and maintain, easy to install and remove, and narrow enough to fit more seats if so you require.
The single biggest con of the Clek Foonf is its price. At $450 – at the very least – calling it “pricy” would be an understatement. Naturally, you get an excellent seat, but if you’re shopping in a smaller price range, Clek Foonf is best left ignored. Another minor problem is the seat’s weight, as it is rather hefty. That can make the job of removing it somewhat more difficult.
Another Maxi-Cosi seat in the Pria line - and this one is the “older brother” of the 85. Most of the attributes for these two seats are similar, so we will break down the important ones below.
Pros and Cons of Maxi-Cosi Pria 70
As is the case with all Pria-line seats, the 70 is very safe. The seat contains side-impact protection as well as an energy absorbent foam. The groin buckle is where it’s at, though. It has three settings, so it’s just what your child needs while growing up. In addition, the harness itself comes with 12 separate adjustment settings.
Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 does have two major problems that might make you think it’s not the best convertible car seat for small cars.
The first of these two is the warranty. Only a year for a product of almost $250 in regular retail is just not enough. The second major problem is the weight range. The lowest weight supported in front-facing is 9 pounds. That means that you mustn’t put newborn children in this seat, or even children under six months old.
The third and final Graco product on this list, the 4Ever 4-in-1 seat has the best a Graco seat can offer. It boasts safety, durability, appropriate weight ranges, and other tidbits you might find intriguing. Let’s explore those.
Pros and Cons of Graco 4Ever 4-in-1
The weight range tells you all you need to know about the 4Ever 4-in-1’s capabilities. Rear-facing stands between 4 and 40 pounds, and front-facing between 22 and 65. That means you can comfortably place a newborn child when rear-facing and not worry about it. In addition, for your four-year-olds, you also have two types of boosters: backed and backless. The seat itself is very easy to install, containing both latch connectors and hook options. If you want to check how level your seat is, simply look at the side bubble indicators.
Finally, five-point harnesses and an energy-absorbing EPS foam make it a safe option for your babe.
Still, there’s always a problem or two. Not every position of this seat will retain comfort for your child. The rear, in particular, can make babies feel grumpy. The rear mode also makes the whole seat bulkier when you convert it. Other problems include harness tangling, lack of accessories (there are two cup holders, and that’s about it), and its uninspiring design. Knowing this, a customer might not see the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 as the best convertible car seat for small cars.
Ending our list is the Safety 1st Complete Air 65. As its name suggests, the protection system makes this seat your primary choice. The patented side-impact system known as Air Protect has become all but an industry standard at this point. With multiple testing done, you can get no better protection than this during a crash. Of course, there’s plenty more to this seat than just that.
Pros and Cons of Safety 1st Complete Air 65
By far the most interesting side-feature is the ease of installation, though not of all elements. The height and the forward-facing are good examples of this. Gracing the front of the seat is the harness adjustment tail. You will never need to rethread it in order to adjust the height. Furthermore, it won’t get stuck in the seat itself when you switch to rear-facing. And speaking of facing modes, you can install front-facing very easily. What’s more, the latch connectors are push-button, perfect for you to click them onto your car’s lower anchors.
The biggest setbacks of this seat include the rear-facing. It is notoriously difficult to install, and that can be a problem for the parents who don’t install car seats often. Additionally, if you want to get the proper recline for your seat to comfortably fit a newborn baby, use a rolled-up towel or pool noodles. Finally, considering that the Safety 1st Complete Air 65 is somewhat tall, it can cause issues in small cars. In that case, you might have to move your front seat(s) a bit for it to recline the way you need it to.
Right, so Which of These Ten is the Best of the Best Convertible Car Seats?
That decision depends on what you’re looking for. The one area where all of these seats excel in is, without question, safety. All of them have passed the necessary safety procedures, and each is more than capable of keeping your child safe during the crash. So in terms of safety, all of them are the best convertible car seats for small cars. Every single one.
If you’re seeking absolute quality and aren’t worried about the money, go with Clek Foonf or Maxi-Cosi Pria 85. But if you’re more of a cheaper-variant person, we suggest the Graco Contender 65 or its cousin, Extend2Fit. The third Graco, 4Ever 4-in-1, is the go-to seat if you want something easy to install. Two more that are equally easy to put in your car are Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One and Clek Foonf.
Britax Marathon ClickTight, Maxi-Cosi Pria 85, Chicco KeyFit 30, and the 4Ever-in-1 are seats you would most likely want to avoid only in terms of bulk. They are too wide to accommodate more seats for more children. Additionally, if you’re looking for products that can mesh with strollers, just don’t buy any Pria models in general. And that’s what it really comes down to - choosing the best convertible car seat for small cars depends on many factors.
There you have it, proud parents – a list where you can find the best convertible car seat for small cars. When you take a good, long look at it, you’ll see a trend. Even with their evident flaws, most of these seats will give you what you need. A good way to go is to combine two or more cheaper seats for differently-aged children. Alternatively, purchasing a pricier seat with more options and accessories can have the same effect. After all, these are the seats that have longer warranties and more durability overall.
However, the cheaper seats should by all means not be something you just discredit. Plenty of those listed here offer the safety and comfort of a heavyset product, as well as numerous options and settings. If you’re working on a smaller budget, do not neglect to give these seats a try. Britax Marathon ClickTight, therefore, would be the top pick, hands down. After all, your young one deserves the very best.