In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Best Convertible Car Seats with Crash Tests of 2020

We contracted with the same crash test facility used by NHTSA to test the seats in this review. Here is the Clek Foonf getting ready for its crash test  complete with crash test dummy.
Thursday April 30, 2020
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Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Searching for the best convertible car seat for your growing baby? We researched more than 45 competitors before choosing 17 top convertible seats to purchase for testing. We conduct side-by-side tests over several months to determine the best in metrics like crash test performance, installation, ease of use, quality and more. We collect the details you need to choose the right car seat for your needs and your wallet. We purchase two of each car seat we review, one for crash testing and one for in-house testing, so you can trust that our results are unbiased and honest.


Top 17 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 17
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Best Overall Convertible Car Seat


Britax Emblem


Editors' Choice Award
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$199.99
at Amazon
See It

78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Crash Test 8
  • Ease Of Install - LATCH 8
  • Ease Of Install - Belt 7
  • Ease Of Use 8
  • Comfort / Quality 8
  • Weight / Size 6
Seat Bottom Width: 18.9 in | Rear-facing Passenger Weight Limit: 40 lbs
Better crash test results
Easy to use
Comfy
Harder to install using the vehicle belt
Pull to tighten LATCH

The Britax Emblem is a quality convertible seat with non-rethread height adjustment, push-button LATCH connectors, and better padding and fabric for comfort. This seat earned impressive crash test results indicating a higher potential margin of safety and is very easy to use compared to the competition. The overall look and feel are better than most of the competition, and its self-contained design means it is easy to clean and looks sharp.

The Emblem has a manual LATCH strap unlike the ClickTight options, so it requires more effort to install than other Britax products. Unless you have physical limitations that prevent you from pulling a belt, we don't think it's a big deal. We believe the Emblem is a top contender that provides better crash test results for a reasonable price with easy to use features and an overall nice look and feel. Overall, the Emblem is an excellent convertible seat and one we'd recommend to a friend.

Read review: Britax Emblem

Best Crash Test Result


Graco Extend2Fit


Editors' Choice Award
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  • 5

$179.00
(11% off)
at Amazon
See It

77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Crash Test 9
  • Ease Of Install - LATCH 8
  • Ease Of Install - Belt 7
  • Ease Of Use 7
  • Comfort / Quality 6
  • Weight / Size 5
Seat Bottom Width: 19.6 in | Rear-facing Passenger Weight Limit: 50 lbs
Best crash test results
Rear-facing for longer
Reasonable price
Average quality
Harder to install with the vehicle belt

The Graco Extend2Fit has the best score for crash test results with combined head and chest sensor results that surpass the competition. This seat also earned impressive results for LATCH installation, which could translate to increased safety as many injuries are related to installation errors. These results mean the Extend2Fit potentially provides an additional margin of protection over the competition in this review, making it an excellent choice for those looking for top safety results. Add to this that the Extend2Fit can stay rear-facing for longer than the majority of seats (up to 50 lbs), and you have a delightful cocktail of factors that creates a potentially safer environment for a baby that makes parents smile.

The Extend2Fit isn't the highest quality, and it feels like it doesn't offer as much for comfort as similarly priced seats, so it might be less cozy for long distances. However, despite this concern, the Graco is an excellent choice for parents who want the very best crash test results and see value in the rear-facing safety potential over style and padding.

Read review: Graco Extend2Fit

Best Bang for the Buck


Evenflo Tribute LX


Best Value Award
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$64.99
(7% off)
at Amazon
See It

68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Crash Test 8
  • Ease Of Install - LATCH 6
  • Ease Of Install - Belt 6
  • Ease Of Use 7
  • Comfort / Quality 3
  • Weight / Size 10
Seat Bottom Width: 17 in | Rear-facing Passenger Weight Limit: 40 lbs
Super inexpensive
Better crash test results
Narrower width
Lower quality
Harder to install

The Evenflo Tribute LX is not a top-ranked seat, which makes it a dark horse compared to our usual Best Value choices. So, why the award? This car seat has the second best-combined crash test results and the lowest price making it a standout that proves it is a worthwhile competitor for those on a strict budget or looking for a second seat. The Evenflo has a price significantly lower than the competition, a machine washable cover, easy to use vehicle belt pathway, and one of the easiest buckles in the business. This option is also the lightest seat in the review at just over 9 lbs and is narrow at 17 inches. These factors make it one to consider if you need to carry a car seat regularly or need to fit multiple safety seats in a row.

While it may not be what every family wants, given the lower quality and lack of additional comfort features, we believe it is a good product for the price and an excellent choice for parents with limited funds. You may need to pay more attention during installation to ensure it is done correctly, given the installation performance we experienced. But, for us, it feels right to honor any product that provides an additional margin of safety that almost anyone can afford.

Read review: Evenflo Tribute LX

Best for Easy Installation


Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB


The Britax Boulevard ClickTight
Top Pick Award
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$364.99
(4% off)
at Amazon
See It

80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Crash Test 6
  • Ease Of Install - LATCH 10
  • Ease Of Install - Belt 10
  • Ease Of Use 8
  • Comfort / Quality 9
  • Weight / Size 5
Seat Bottom Width: 18 in | Rear-facing Passenger Weight Limit: 40 lbs
Foolproof installation
Easiest to use
Comfortable
Average crash test results
Higher Price

The Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB earned the highest overall score in our tests with perfect scores for both installation methods creating a practically foolproof car seat for installation, which is how it earned a Top Pick for Ease of Installation award. Thanks to the innovative ClickTight and strap tightening design, this product practically installs itself with only a little help from you. We love the non-rethread harness with ten height variations, seamless fabric, closed-shell design, and three layers of padding for baby's longterm comfort.

This product is not the best choice for parent's on a tight budget as it is one of the most expensive options we tested. It also isn't the one if you are looking for the absolute best crash test results, as they are only average. However, the Boulevard has impressive performance in most metrics, making it a good seat if your budget allows. Given that many injuries result from an incorrectly installed car seat, this seat is a contender for parents worried about installation, thanks to the ridiculously easy ClickTight technology.

Read review: Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB

Best for Narrow Seat Width


Clek Foonf


Top Pick Award
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$469.99
at Amazon
See It

76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Crash Test 7
  • Ease Of Install - LATCH 10
  • Ease Of Install - Belt 9
  • Ease Of Use 5
  • Comfort / Quality 8
  • Weight / Size 5
Seat Bottom Width: 17 in | Rear-facing Passenger Weight Limit: 50 lbs
Easy installation
Comfortable
Additional safety features
Harder to use
Heavy
Expensive

The Clek Foonf is an innovative car seat that earns top marks for ease of installation using the LATCH method with cool forward-facing rigid LATCH anchors. The Foonf is also easy to install using the vehicle belt, and it offers impressive comfort and quality you can see and feel. This seat features a detachable angle booster, anti-rebound bar, steel frame (similar to a vehicle seat), and an adjustable headrest for comfort, which makes it a product parents and babies enjoy.

The Foonf is not cheap, so parents on a budget will need to plan ahead or consider other options. It is also cumbersome, and you probably won't want to move it regularly or plan to travel with it. Despite these issues, the Foonf brings a lot to the table and offers additional safety features. This seat is a unique option we think parents will love and one our founder and Mom-in-Chief, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, uses with her children. Dr. Spurrier loves the Clek's quality, finds it easy to use, and her kids love it.

Read review: Clek Foonf

Quality at a Good Price


Britax Allegiance


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$189.99
at Amazon
See It

77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Crash Test 8
  • Ease Of Install - LATCH 8
  • Ease Of Install - Belt 7
  • Ease Of Use 8
  • Comfort / Quality 7
  • Weight / Size 6
Seat Bottom Width: 18.8 in | Rear-facing Passenger Weight Limit: 40 lbs
Budget-friendly
Better crash test results
Easy LATCH installation
Slightly more challenging to install with belt
Less padding for comfort

The Britax Allegiance is an affordable car seat that brings Britax quality together with a lower price. The Allegiance earned the second-highest score for crash test results thanks to the best head sensor result; it is also easy to install using LATCH, which creates a seat with an additional margin of protection compared to the competition. This car seat is also easy to use, making it an all-around great option for families who want a straightforward, safe, easy to use choice.

The Allegiance is somewhat harder to install using the vehicle belt over the LATCH system. With a score of 7 of 10, it isn't challenging, but it will take more attention to ensure a secure fit. It also isn't the most comfortable with less padding and unbolstered headrest. Despite these minor hiccups, the Allegiance is one we think parents will love for everything it offers and its budget-friendly price. The Allegiance failed to win an award because of its similarities to the Britax Emblem and the small price difference. However, we think it is a notable and respectable option that can potentially save you money.

Read review: Britax Allegiance

Best for Quality


Nuna RAVA


Top Pick Award
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$500.00
List Price
See It

78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Crash Test 8
  • Ease Of Install - LATCH 8
  • Ease Of Install - Belt 8
  • Ease Of Use 7
  • Comfort / Quality 9
  • Weight / Size 4
Seat Bottom Width: 19 in | Rear-facing Passenger Weight Limit: lbs
Top-quality
Better crash analysis
Easy to install
Heavy & wide
Expensive

The Nuna RAVA is a very high-end convertible car seat with plush comfort padding, a soft fabric cover, and a very sleek look with quality construction. The Nuna has top performance in the comfort and quality metric and is easy to install no matter which method you choose. We like the easy to use features found on this seat and the better than average crash test analysis which indicates a potential margin of safety over the average seat in the group.

The Nuna is expensive making it a no-go for families on a tight budget. It also is very heavy as a result of the added padding and frame that help it earn impressive marks for comfort and quality. The weight means it may not be the best choice for frequent traveling or carpooling, as we suspect most people won't want to lug this bad boy around. In general, however, the Nuna is an exceptional quality seat with impressive scores in most tests, and for families where budget is less of a concern and quality is a top criteria, the Nuna is one for your shortlist.

Read review: Nuna RAVA


Regular updates include new additional convertible seats ensure you get the latest information on the most popular car seats.
Regular updates include new additional convertible seats ensure you get the latest information on the most popular car seats.

Why You Should Trust Us


With five years and over 400 hours of convertible car seat analysis and crash testing under our belts, BabyGearLab is uniquely qualified to provide detailed information on convertible car seats and how each compares to the competition and the federal safety guidelines. Our panel of experts includes Dr. Juliet Spurrier, a Board-Certified Pediatrician, mother, and founder of BabyGearLab with a background in urgent pediatric care. Our in-house testing development was led by Certified Passenger Safety Technician, Bob Wofford. Bob assesses how to install each seat properly for the highest level of safety. In the beginning, we consulted with experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about their protocol and crash test results. We contracted with MGA Research, the same national testing facility that has the compliance contract for FMVSS 213 assessing the safety of every car seat in the US. Each convertible car seat included in our review is crash tested according to the same crash test protocol used by the US Federal Safety Standards. We analyze the crash test data to generate our crash test scores, and we share the actual data from each seat's crash test, so you get the real data to make your decision.

Senior Review Editor, and mother of two, Wendy Schmitz, leads the analysis of the convertible car seat results as she has for the last five years. Wendy examines, compares, and rates each seat's specific performance against the competition.

Testing for the best convertible car seats of 2020 starts by purchasing two units of each product, one for crash testing with MGA, and another for extensive testing with over 200 hours of abuse and observations on seats from real-world parents and our in-house testers. We have a rigorous testing process that includes installing each seat in at least three different vehicles using both installation methods with multiple testers. We review each product's padding, covers, harness adjustments, and more.

Ten of the eleven top rated seats tested in our convertible car seat review (the Britax Boulevard ClickTight was absent on picture day).
Ten of the eleven top rated seats tested in our convertible car seat review (the Britax Boulevard ClickTight was absent on picture day).

We perform extensive tests on each seat over several months under the guidance and supervision of a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician. We developed a comprehensive set of tests based on our infant car seat testing process. We use these methods in conjunction with the crash test data, to determine how seats perform in everyday use and impact force measurements recorded during structured crash tests.

Several new convertible options were added to this review giving you more information on potential competitors than ever before.
Several new convertible options were added to this review giving you more information on potential competitors than ever before.

Each convertible car seat in this review is compared side-by-side in multiple metrics. While all of the safety seats for sale in the US meet the minimum safety guidelines outlined by the Federal government, not all of them are easy to install or offer an additional margin of protection compared to the competition.

Related: How We Tested Convertible Car Seats

The belt path for the Extend2Fit forward-facing configuration is harder to use because you can't see what is going on. Removing the cover for visibility is also challenging.

Analysis and Test Results


In this review, we include the details you need to make an informed decision about which convertible car seat is the right choice for your baby and your budget.

Rear-Facing Until at Least Age 2
Experts agree that your child should stay rear-facing until at least two years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and NHTSA, recommend keeping your baby rear-facing as long as the car seat allows, and at least until age 2. A study published in Injury Prevention in 2007 shows that the rear-facing position results in a 5.3 times lower risk of death or serious injury in a car accident compared to the forward-facing position for children age 1-2 years old. The Clek Foonf and the Graco Extend2Fit can both remain rear-facing until your child weighs 50 lbs.

Related: Buying Advice for Convertible Car Seats


Value


There are good deals in this lineup with Best Value winners and lower-priced options. With several award-winning seats sporting relatively affordable prices and higher crash test results, you can buy a seat with an additional margin of protection without breaking the bank. The Evenflow Tribute LX and the Britax Allegiance both score 8s for crash test results and are among the most inexpensive. The Graco Extend2Fit is also affordable, has the highest crash-test result analysis in the review, and can remain rear-facing longer. The Britax Emblem is also a good value. While it may cost a little more, it is less expensive than the average and is one of the best seats in the group.


Crash Test Performance


BabyGearLab contracts with the same crash test facility that the NHTSA uses to perform our convertible seat crash tests. The seats are tested using the same protocol as NHTSA based on the FMVSS 213 standard.


We performed a detailed analysis of the sensor data from each car seat's crash dummy to determine how they compare to the competition and the Federal standard.

More Money Doesn't Equal Safer
While you may think that a more expensive seat should be safer, this isn't necessarily true according to our tests. A great example are the Britax ClickTight seats that provide easy installation features with higher prices but didn't perform well during repeated crash testing. The cheaper Britax Emblem and Britax Allegiance both have better crash test sensor results than the ClickTight options proving price isn't indicative of potential safety. Another example is the Graco Extend2Fit with the best-combined sensor results with a list price significantly cheaper than the ClickTights.

So, what is the most critical information from crash impact tests when analyzing results?
  • The risk of head injury related to the HIC result
  • The risk of chest injury related to the chest clip (g clip) result

Shown above is the percentage margin by which each seat exceeded the maximum Head Injury Criteria (HIC) score established by the Federal NHTSA standard. The higher the bar  the better the margin of protection. (Click on the chart to enlarge).
Shown above is the percentage margin by which each seat exceeded the maximum Head Injury Criteria (HIC) score established by the Federal NHTSA standard. The higher the bar, the better the margin of protection. (Click on the chart to enlarge).

This chart includes the % below the maximum allowed HIC result of each seat we tested in this review. The further below the Federal HIC maximum of 1000 indicates a better result, so a taller bar indicates potentially better protection.

Shown above is the percentage margin by which each seat exceeded the maximum chest injury score  Chest (g) Clip  established by the Federal NHTSA safety standard. The taller the bar  the better the margin of protection. (Click on the chart to enlarge).
Shown above is the percentage margin by which each seat exceeded the maximum chest injury score, Chest (g) Clip, established by the Federal NHTSA safety standard. The taller the bar, the better the margin of protection. (Click on the chart to enlarge).

This chart is a review of the percentage below the Federal maximum Chest (G) Clip result (60) achieved by the seats we tested in this review (above). Taller bars incidate better results and a potentially higher margin of protection.

An analysis of auto crash injuries for children show that head and chest injuries are the two most significant risks of fatal or severe injuries.

All of the Products We Tested Provide a Basic, Safe Level of Protection
All of the car seats we test passed the Federal minimum safety standards. Therefore, every seat has at least the basic level of crash safety protection required by US Federal law. Our primary focus for crash test scores is to identify seats whose crash test performance exceed the Federal requirements by a wide margin. These car seats can be considered as providing an additional level of protection based on the data from their crash test sensors.

The rear facing Clek Foonf has a recline adjustment attachment and a anti-rebound bar  as well as an under the seat belt pathway that includes a belt lock off. It is the most innovative seat in the review and includes a rigid forward facing LATCH system.
The rear facing Clek Foonf has a recline adjustment attachment and a anti-rebound bar, as well as an under the seat belt pathway that includes a belt lock off. It is the most innovative seat in the review and includes a rigid forward facing LATCH system.

Additional Safety Features


Some seats have additional features that manufacturers claim will improve the seat's safety; we did not consider these features or claims in our crash test score analysis. Because manufacturers do not publish comparison test data for us to analyze, it is impossible to determine their efficacy. We understand parents are curious about side impact protection (SIP) or an anti-rebound bar (ARB). Still, we encourage you to proceed with caution when making a decision-based solely on these features. In the end, there is no way to tell what each manufacturer means when they use terminology that lacks an agreed-upon meaning (like SIP). This lack of information makes it impossible to compare seats with similar-sounding claims, especially without a universally agreed-upon language to describe what the claims genuinely mean.

We will say that preliminary test results indicate that anti-rebound bars can potentially improve the crash test dummy sensors results in comparison to not using the anti-rebound bar.

Safety Reminder
How well a seat performs in a crash test environment means little if you don't install the seat according to the manufacturer's instructions. Poor installation or a poorly fitted harness can potentially result in injury or death in an accident.

Related: How to Avoid Infant Car Seat Installation Mistakes

Best Seats Based on Crash Test Analysis


We rated each seat compared to the competition using a 1-10 scoring system using crash test report analysis. The scoring helps quantify the products that offer an additional margin of protection, in our opinion, over and above the basic level of protection found in all of the seats.

The Graco Extend2Fit earned our best crash test rating with 9 of 10 thanks to excellent Chest Clip (g) and HIC scores. The Nuna Rava has similar sensor results earning an 8 of 10. While neither have the best score for either sensor, they do have the best combined scores of both Chest and HIC result. The Britax Allegiance has the best (lowest) HIC result for the group with a slightly better than average result for the Chest Clip; these results help it earn the second-best score in the group with an 8. The Britax Emblem, Evenflo Tribute LX, and Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 also earned 8s. The Clek Foonf has the best Chest Clip score in the group, but its HIC result is below average, which results in a crash-test score of 7.

The LATCH system of installation was designed to help parents install car seats safely every time. In general  it is considered the quickest easiest method of car seat installation
The LATCH system of installation was designed to help parents install car seats safely every time. In general, it is considered the quickest easiest method of car seat installation

Ease of Install Using LATCH


Studies show that more than 7 out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly, or the harness is not fitted properly . As a result, we consider ease of installation and ease of use as critical metrics when choosing a safety seat as they can potentially impact overall safety.


The Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) method of installation should make it easier to install car seats correctly, with fewer mistakes. For this reason, we recommend using LATCH whenever possible to increase the chances of a correct installation. Nearly all convertible car seats have the LATCH connectors, and most vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2002, offer the anchors on the left and right sides of the back seat. So, the good news is you should be able to utilize the LATCH method until your child outgrows the weight limit of the LATCH connectors (see your safety seat user manual).



In our testing, we determined that some seats are easier to install using LATCH instead of the vehicle belt. However, surprisingly, about a third of the products are easier to install using the vehicle belt not the LATCH. The main problem? Some testers struggle to tighten the LATCH straps enough to properly secure the seat tot he vehicle.

The Clek is the only seat in this review to offer a rigid LATCH system that makes installation very easy with no straps to tighten
The LATCH clips on the Boulevard are the simpler version that is somewhat harder to remove than the push button type that mimics a seatbelt.

The Clek Foonf (above left) uses a rigid LATCH connection for forward-facing installation. It is ridiculously easy and requires NO strap tightening. You push the rigid LATCH connectors onto the anchors, and that's it! The Clek Foonf tied with the Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB for the highest score for LATCH installation as both seats do not need manual strap tightening. The Britax Boulevard connectors (above right) is a clip style of LATCH connectors that we feel is harder to use; the clip is harder to remove and requires twisting to disconnect. The Evenflo Tribute LX has the lowest score in the review for LATCH installation with a 6 of 10.

The LATCH connectors on the Emblem have a one sides tightening strap which in our experience takes more strength to use than some of the unique LATCH straps with center connectors or self-ratcheting features.
The LATCH connectors on the Emblem have a one sides tightening strap which in our experience takes more strength to use than some of the unique LATCH straps with center connectors or self-ratcheting features.

Our favorite seat LATCH install seat is the Clek because of the forward-facing rigid LATCH installation. The Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB is also super easy, while the Britax Emblem (above) and Allegiance, and the Chicco NextFit are almost as easy. The Chicco NextFit has a unique LATCH with a 2-step strap tightening system that is very easy tighten with no excessive strength required.

Center Seat Issues

Studies show that the safest spot to install your car seat is in the center of the vehicle rear seatstudies of injury data show a 43% lower risk of injury if the car seat is in the center of the back seat. Combine this information with the knowledge that LATCH connectors should be the easiest and safest way to install a car seat. What's the problem? Most vehicles do not offer LATCH anchors in the center location. Even if the inner LATCH anchors from the side positions are close enough to use, most vehicle and seat manuals do not allow the use of these LATCH anchors for the center position installation.

If your vehicle doesn't allow the LATCH method in the center location, then what is the best alternative? Should you use the center seat with a vehicle belt or the LATCH system on a side seat? One of the most critical aspects of seat installation is that you ensure the car seat is securely and tightly anchored to the vehicle.

The questions on center seat installation include:
  1. Should you install the seat with the vehicle belt?
  1. Is the seat as secure when anchored to the center seat with a vehicle belt as it is in the side position using LATCH?

Using the vehicle belt to install a car seat is a perfectly safe and acceptable method of installation (and possibly the only option for center seats), as long as you can get it secure and tight. If you can get a tight fit (and we were able to with many options in this review), then use the center seat. However, if obtaining a secure fit in the center seat is challenging, then you should move to the side seat location. It is far more important that the installation of the seat be correct than the location of the seat. If you have two children, you may not have a choice as many cars don't have enough room for a side and center installation simultaneously and/or little ones can fight if they can reach each other. If your vehicle doesn't offer LATCH anchors for the center seat, but you prefer center seat installation, our next testing metric on ease of installation with a vehicle belt will help you identify the seats that are easier to install using the vehicle belt. Also, you can locate an installation professional for assistance using the vehicle belt.

This Chicco NextFit has what the manufacturer calls "SuperCinch"  which is an alternative style of strap that uses a pulley type system that makes tightening the LATCH straps far easier than ordinary straps
This Chicco NextFit has what the manufacturer calls "SuperCinch", which is an alternative style of strap that uses a pulley type system that makes tightening the LATCH straps far easier than ordinary straps

LATCH Straps


The LATCH connectors and anchors are only part of the LATCH equation. Whether the straps are easy to tighten and loosen is also a factor. As already noted, the Clek Foonf lacks straps for forward-facing installation, and the Chicco NextFit has its "SuperCinch" method with a 2-step tightening system engineered to do the hard work for you.



The LATCH straps on the Evenflo Tribute LX are relatively easy to tighten, but we had difficulty loosening the LATCH strap when ready to uninstall. We gave more consideration to products that didn't require body weight to tighten the strap or struggle for a secure attachment.

The forward-facing installation of the Clek Foonf for kids over 2 years old using the vehicle belt is very secure feeling and easy to accomplish.
The forward-facing installation of the Clek Foonf for kids over 2 years old using the vehicle belt is very secure feeling and easy to accomplish.

Ease of Install — Vehicle Belt


No matter where or how you plan to install your seat, at some point, you will need to install it using the vehicle belt as LATCH connectors have weight restrictions. Also, many center seats do not offer LATCH anchors, even though it is the safest location to install the seat. Most LATCH use weight limits are about 40 - 50 lbs of child weight before the seat will require vehicle belt installation. Given that many of the products have a weight limit of 50-80 lbs, you can see that your child will likely utilize the vehicle belt at some point.


Don't despair! We are going to tell you which seats are the easiest to install using the vehicle belt and provide information on correct installation or where to get help if you are unsure or something doesn't seem right.

Find a Child Car Seat Inspector
There is a fantastic FREE resource in the US that can help you learn how to install any seat in any car. There are certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technicians available by appointment or on call. We highly recommend this service, even if you feel like you have installation dialed in.

The 2 part belt lock off on the Britax Roundabout required a screwdriver to pry open. It isn't as user friendly as some of the competition  but having a hard to use lock off is still better than not having one.
The 2 part belt lock off on the Britax Roundabout required a screwdriver to pry open. It isn't as user friendly as some of the competition, but having a hard to use lock off is still better than not having one.

The Benefit of the Seat Belt Lock-Off


Some seats are easier to install using a seat belt than others, and most of these seats have a trick by way of a belt lock-off on the seat itself. This feature is so useful, it is a game-changer for installing seats with a vehicle belt, and we think you'll feel significantly more comfortable installing a seat using the belt if it has one of these nifty lock-offs.

Several seats in this review have a belt lock-off located on the seat; all with forward and rear-facing lock-offs. Interestingly enough, all of these seats ranked near the top and have the highest scores for installation using a vehicle belt. Only the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible scored as well without the help of an onboard lock-off. The Britax ClickTight car seats don't have traditional lock-offs, but the pressure of the seat bottom closure acts as a lock-off and prevents the car seat from sliding back and forth on the vehicle belt, something we often see in lock-off free seats.

Coincidence? We think not.

Some lock-offs work a little better than others, but even those that are challenging, still provide a more secure feeling installation in our tests than seats without a lock-off. We found that options with a lock-off were every bit as secure feeling when installed with a belt as they were with the LATCH (some even more so). This fact can be a relief when you need to install the seat with a belt, which is highly likely given the weight limitations of LATCH systems.

The forward facing belt path and belt lock off on the Clek are easier to use than the rear facing design
The Chicco belt lock off has two parts that overlap to secure the vehicle belt in place

We believe lock-offs can help a seat feel more secure, but some lock-offs are more straightforward. The Clek Foonf lock-off (above left) is super easy to use, even though you need to lift the seat bottom to access the rear-facing lock-off. The Chicco NextFit (above right) is also easy with a lock-off conveniently located on the outside of the shell.

We needed a towel for the rear installation of the Evenflo Tribute to obtain the proper angle of the seat. This seat is not that easy to install  but it does offer higher than average crash test results.
We needed a towel for the rear installation of the Evenflo Tribute to obtain the proper angle of the seat. This seat is not that easy to install, but it does offer higher than average crash test results.

In our tests, the Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB is the easiest option to install using the belt thanks to the "ClickTight" installation method. All you need to do is lift the seat bottom, thread the belt across, remove the slack (don't tighten), and close the seat bottom until it clicks. The seat bottom tightens and locks the seat in place for you. The Boulevard earned a 10 of 10 for this installation.

The Clek Foonf is one of the easier seats in our tests to install using the vehicle belt. The lock-off works smoothly, and the belt is easy to thread. It earned a 9, which is better than the LATCH score of most competitors. The Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB is also easy to install using the vehicle belt, earning a 9.

Except for the Peg Pergo Primo Viaggio Convertible, the seats lacking a lock-off did not score as well as those with a lock-off. The Evenflo Tribute LX earned just 6 (the lowest result), but interestingly is still easier to install with the vehicle belt than using LATCH. The Chicco NextFit and the Peg Pergo Primo Viaggio Convertible earned 8s.

Having trouble finding the center seat belt?
Some SUVs, trucks, and wagons have a center seat belt located in the ceiling of the car.



The Emblem angle adjusts with an under seat handle that is easy to use but can be tricky one it is installed rear-facing.
The Emblem angle adjusts with an under seat handle that is easy to use but can be tricky one it is installed rear-facing.

Ease of Use


Convertible seats all have similar designs with what looks like few differences, most of which being cosmetic. However, they diverge in their ease of use, with some being significantly easier to use than the competition, as a result of extra features or better performance of features like buckles.


The Ease of Use metric includes the functionality of everyday features, including harness adjustment and chest clips, ease of tightening or loosening the harness, and cover removal and cleaning. If using your seat is frustrating, you might not use it as outlined by the manufacturer, or you could end up frustrated.

The buckle on the Evenflo Tribute LX is one of the easiest in the group to use. The sides pop out on their own when the button is pressed
The buckle on the Evenflo Tribute LX is one of the easiest in the group to use. The sides pop out on their own when the button is pressed

Buckles and Chest Clips


None of the buckle buttons are easy to press. While buckles like the Evenflo Tribute and Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 were straightforward with sides that pop out with a push, others are so challenging you'll need two hands. While many of the buckles are stiff, they won't require cussing to operate.

The Chicco offers a unique chest clip that has two width settings. This feature made the chest clip harder to use  and didn't seem to improve its performance.
The Chicco offers a unique chest clip that has two width settings. This feature made the chest clip harder to use, and didn't seem to improve its performance.

The chest clip is part of the harness above the buckle. The Graco chest clips are the most difficult to use in our tests, with clips that require excessive squeezing of buttons that hurt to operate. None of the seats offer great buckles and chest clips, but the Britax seats are average for both and are easy to install which is a good combo. Because buckles are more challenging, it is best to focus on buckle use over simple chest clips.

The Chicco NextFit has a unique chest clip with a two-setting adjustment for a customizable fit. While interesting, we think it makes the clip significantly harder to operate. The Cybex Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0 also has a unique chest clip that includes the SensorSafe technology that relays a variety of different information to a device connected to the car and your smartphone. While interesting, it emits EMF, and you'll need to decide if the feature is compelling enough to expose your child to EMF.

The harness release button  and tightening strap on the Graco MyRide 65 LX are both located near the foot of the seat and they are the easiest ones in the group to use.
The harness release button and tightening strap on the Graco MyRide 65 LX are both located near the foot of the seat and they are the easiest ones in the group to use.

Harness Tightening and Loosening


Tightening and loosening the harness usesEach seat has a harness tightening strap and a harness release button to loosen the straps. Some of these straps are harder to pull than others, and the buttons can also vary in their style and ease of use. The Britax Boulevard CLickTight ARB has the highest score for tightening and loosening. The Clek Foonf and Evenflo Tribute are also easy to use. None of the seat's straps or buttons are impossible to use.

The Boulevard has an easy to adjust  non-rethread harness height adjustment that work smoothly and is easy to operate.

Adjusting the Harness


There are two basic methods for adjusting the harness height on convertible car seats. The simplest method is a non-rethread style that involves moving the headrest/harness shoulder strap assembly up and down (above left). The more convoluted type includes detaching the shoulder straps from a splitter plate on the back and physically moving the straps from one slot height to thread them through different slots (above right). While this method isn't hard, it takes more time, requires an empty seat, and if forward-facing, you may need to remove the seat from the car. Alternatively, the non-rethread method can adjust immediately with your baby in the seat when you notice a need. We prefer the non-rethread type because it is simple, and we believe busy parents are more likely to keep the harness properly adjusted. WIth the rethread style we worry parents put off adjusting the harness when it needs it because it requires being baby free and takes more time. Given that injuries occur when harnesses are not fitted properly, we prefer non-rethread assemblies.

The harness height adjustment on the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio has an easy pull tab to operate with no rethreading of straps necessary. This is one of the easiest adjustment options in the review.
The harness height adjustment on the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio has an easy pull tab to operate with no rethreading of straps necessary. This is one of the easiest adjustment options in the review.

Almost half of the options in our review have non-rethread harness adjustment methods. The simplest are the Britax Marathon ClickTight, Britax Boulevard ClickTight, Britax Advocate ClickTight, Britax One4Life ClickTight, Nuna Rava, and Cybex Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0 which all have smooth moving harness assemblies. The Britax Emblem and Britax Allegiance are also straightforward and simple. Unfortunately, during testing, the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 height assembly broke and would no longer automatically engage. We had to manually engage the assembly to complete testing, but in the real world, the seat should be replaced if anything breaks. We aren't saying all of them break, just that our seat did under minimal use in a limited time. The rethread method takes more time and is definitely more involved.

LATCH Storage


LATCH storage isn't as crucial for convertible seats as they are for infant seats, but it is useful if the straps aren't readily accessible and can't result in possible injuries. Some options have designated pockets for clips, while the common method entails attaching the clips to shell points or each other.

The LATCH storage are hard plastic pockets on the each side of the Chicco seat base. They are a little awkward to get the anchors into correctly  but they work well once they are properly in place
The LATCH anchors on the Safety 1st stow by connecting to each other

The Chicco NextFit (above left) has useful pockets to stow LATCH components and the tether. It is one of the few options we tested that truly retains the straps and clips. The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible, Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB, Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB, and the Clek Foonf also have storage that retains the clips. The least useful storage type are clip attachments on the seatback (above right) that leave straps dangling and accessible to children.

The Evenflo Tribute LX is a very basic seat with the lowest price in this review. The low price translated to disappointing scores for comfort and quality  but the fabric is easy to remove and clean.
The Evenflo Tribute LX is a very basic seat with the lowest price in this review. The low price translated to disappointing scores for comfort and quality, but the fabric is easy to remove and clean.

Cover Removal and Cleaning


Kids' car seats get a lot of messy action and will require regular clean-up. For this reason, we test how hard it is to remove the fabric covers for washing. We prefer covers that are machine washable and easy to remove. We prefer hand washing over those that are spot cleaning only, but given the potential for throwup, spit-up, and poopy blowouts, it really is ideal to have a machine washable cover you can quickly remove. The Clek Foonf is the only seat without a removable cover. It is spot clean only, and while you can purchase a cleaning kit from Clek, you may need a steam cleaner for bigger messes. The Evenflo Tribute LX is the best performer for removing the cover and easy cleaning. This straightforward cover removes quickly, is machine washable and dryable, and fits back on the shell without a problem. This process is far better than most competitors that often require handwashing and air drying, such as the Britax ClickTight four-part covers.

The Peg Perego cover and padding envelope the seat and curl around the shell and frame for an overall nice fit and finish.
The Peg Perego cover and padding envelope the seat and curl around the shell and frame for an overall nice fit and finish.

Comfort/Quality


For comfort and quality, we consider materials and overall construction. We compare padding, fabric, foam, and how well they come together. We consider how the design of each seat contributes to a baby's potential comfort, parent use, and durability.


The seats all have similarities like a plastic shell, impact foam, comfort padding, and a fabric cover. However, some offer significantly thicker padding, softer or more durable fabric, steel frames, or foam that doesn't off-gas. Because this is somewhat subjective, the seats are compared side-by-side and ranked in relation to the competition.


The Chicco NextFit (above left), Nuna Rava, Britax One4Life ClickTight, Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB, Britax Marathon ClickTight ARB, and the Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB are top for comfort and quality. They each offer additional padding with well-fitted fabric and considerations for everything. The Chicco fabric is softer, and the seat is sleek without a lot of useless nooks and crannies. Alternatively, the Evenflo Tribute (above right) is basic and functions well despite the lack of additional features and details with a more unfinished look overall. However, it has a machine washable cover and a better crash-test analysis than many competitors. The Clek Foonf, Clek Fllo, Britax Emblem, and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible also offer impressive features for comfort and quality.

The Maxi-Cosi weighs over 18 pounds and is the widest seat in the review at 21 inches. This makes it a bad choice if you want to sit multiple seats in one row or if you need to have 2 seats and one person in the row.
The Maxi-Cosi weighs over 18 pounds and is the widest seat in the review at 21 inches. This makes it a bad choice if you want to sit multiple seats in one row or if you need to have 2 seats and one person in the row.

Weight/Size


We measure the weight and width of each car seat in the group, including the forward-facing and rear-facing configuration weight and the width at the widest point, as these can vary. While the seat weight is potentially not as critical as the carrier weight of an infant seat, it can be important if you regularly travel or need to use public transportation (like Uber or Lyft). If your car seat remains in your car for the most part, then weight may not be an issue.


The Clek Foonf is the heaviest option in the review, with a rear-facing configuration of over 38 lbs using the anti-rebound bar and angle attachment; the forward-facing version is over 33 lbs.

The Clek weighs over 38 pounds in the rear facing configuration and closer to 33 for forward facing. The weight difference is the angle adjustment pad and the anti-rebound bar
The Evenflo is the lightest seat in the group and one of the most narrow at just over 9 pounds and 17 inches

However, the Clek Foonf (above left) is one of the narrowest options at only 17 inches, which means you might be able to use three safety seats across your back seat or two and an adult. The Evenflo Tribute (above right), is also only 17 inches wide, but it is the lightest seat in the review at just over 9 lbs. The Evenflo, Clek fllo, and the Clek Foonf are the narrowest options in our tests. Unfortunately, the Evenflo required a towel in our rear-facing tests in at least one of our test vehicles, so you'll need to bring something to use a bolster depending on the car when traveling (see the user manual). Most of the top seats are more substantial, presumably as a result of increased padding and steel (or alloy) frames. Many of the top-scoring seats weigh over 20 lbs. The widest option in the group is the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70, and we think it will be impossible to use it with more than two car seats in a row in the majority of vehicles.

Conclusion


Finding the right convertible car seat doesn't have to be a headache. Prepped with the information supplied in this review, we believe you'll be armed with the details you need to narrow the field to one or two top competitors that can meet your goals and budget.


Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz