Convertible Car Seat For Small Cars
Good car seats makes for a comfortable and non-fussy travel with kids.
After intense research of manufacturers, customer ratings, and collecting reviews from parents like you, we’ve compiled a list of the best convertible car seats for small cars.
Having a small car has many benefits – affordability, better parking options, easy maneuvering, environmentally friendly – we could go on and on.
However, with the addition of kids in your family, you start to see some downsides to small cars, including not fitting the car seat you got as a gift. Even after going out to buy a new car seat, you still find out it’s too big, and there’s no space for bags, strollers, or diapers. It can become frustrating.
You will be glad to find out that there are easy solutions for people like you and there is no need to fret, and you do not need to get a bigger car.
There are convertible car seats specially designed to fit small cars like yours, and they do not compromise on safety or functionality. It could, however, be difficult knowing where to look and finding out which will be the right fit for your car.
Let’s begin, Shall we?
IN A HURRY? HERE’S MY TOP 3 PICKS…
Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
This is probably the best available car seat option as it is rightly priced for the unique features it offers.
With the best fabric for the seat and fuss free harness adjustments, it is the most sought after model by parents. It also grows with the child and is easily washable. Don’t think twice before buying this one.
Diono Radian 3RXT All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
The Dino Radian 3R is a cool looking car seat made with reinforced steel core. It provides the best possible comfort for your child. It is a slim fit car seat and grows from birth to booster. It comes in 5 lovely colours, so you can get to pick what suits your child and the car.
Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX Convertible Car Seat
The Cosco Mighty Fit is easily the best budget pick of all in this category. It is a great addition for growing families and can fit 3 across in the back seat.
The side impact protection and the 5 point harness helps to keep your kid well tucked in and secure. It also takes up less space and parents can have more leg room.
First thing’s first. Let’s explore a few details about choosing changing tables before we review the 10 best convertible car seats for small cars in 2021.
A convertible car seat is a car seat you can use with children of varying sizes, and you can easily change the direction the seat is facing from forward-facing to rear-facing and vice versa. Typically, they usually start in a rear-facing position for brand new babies and toddlers, and then you change the direction to front-facing as they grow older. This is where convertible car seats shine; they save you the cost of getting another car seat as your child grows older.
This typically depends on the parents, but generally speaking, every parent will need a convertible car seat; the time varies. While some parents start using it from day one with their baby, others begin with an infant seat and then upgrade to a convertible car seat when their baby has reached the seat’s height or weight limit, which typically occurs on their first birthday. You would normally do this because convertible car seats are typically heavier and bulkier than infant car seats.
Convertible car seats are installed into your vehicle with its seat belt or latch system. You will have to use your car’s seat belt once you exceed the weight limits for using a latch in your vehicle. This uses a far different method from typical infant seats that you install to the base of your car directly and can easily click in or out of your vehicle for convenience.
This makes infant car seats the more portable option, which some parents will prefer at the early stages of birth; they have to keep in mind that they’ll have to switch to convertible car seats later. If you choose to go the convertible car seat route from the first day with your child, and your infant will be in more than one vehicle frequently, it will be better to buy a convertible car seat for each car as their installation takes a long time.
Small cars and car seats aren’t typically a good combination because of a lot of reasons. One of them is because of the large bases and extra cushioning on some car seats. These bases are there to give excellent stability for more customization and slanting options. Extra cushioning keeps your child comfortable while in transit, especially when the ride is bumpy. While these are all great features to have in a car seat, they often result in bigger seats, making it large for small cars.
The shape of the backseat also comes into play here. While some car seats can fit into the back seat, it might be difficult getting your child in and out of it, especially with rear-facing car seats. Cars that typically have this difficulty fitting car seats are those with limited back seats and small space for legs. Sporty cars, cars with small headroom, and compact cars may be difficult to fit too.
However, this doesn’t mean small cars cannot use car seats as some pretty good ones could fit on most small cars, depending on their size. For those parents that think a convertible car seat is a better option than regular infant seats from the start, this list should have some good options for you.
With all these challenges of car seats in small cars, some car seats have been designed to fit these small cars and give the owners options. You would be looking for booster seats, infant-only car seat, 3-in-1 seats, or convertible seats, depending on your children’s age. Convertible car seats continually provide the best combination of versatility and smallest footprint, making them the preferred options. We’ve previously discussed what convertible seats are, and this article is going to detail them extensively.
These are used for kids in only forward-facing positions, and the weight requirement usually ranges between 30-40 pounds. You can use this for your children at a young age until they do not need car seats again. It typically comes with its harness or buckles and can work with the seat belt in your car too.
From the name, these car seats are geared towards infants from birth until they get to at least two years old or get to the weight limit for the seat. Infant-only seats are usually designed for only the rear-facing position and could also double as a carrier for some designs. These should typically last 24 months from childbirth, depending on your baby’s growth rate and size of the car seat.
These are very similar to convertible seats, and we couldn’t fault some people for mistaking them, but the key difference is that they work as boosters. These are usually big, and the main advantage is that it grows with your child from rear-facing to forward-facing to booster seats and then finally till they’re old enough to use seatbelts. These aren’t typically good for small cars because of their large size.
Here are a couple of factors you should consider when you’re choosing convertible seats for small cars:
How fast the installation process is will determine if the car seat is a viable option to move from vehicle to vehicle. It could be frustrating spending a long time on the car seat each time you want to install it to a car. According to us, the best installation system is the LATCH. If your car seat uses this system, you are rest assured that it is safely fit for your car.
It would be best if you considered how often you’d be using the car seat as this could help effectively eliminate a lot of options. Some car seats are better as backups than for everyday use. Setting your expectations will give you options that will work and those that won’t work.
After your child outgrows the current seat, you will have to change it to the next seat stage. Since this is a convertible seat, you don’t need a different model; change it to what you need. While switching harness seats to booster seats, some units have dedicated storage for keeping the harness and obtaining an easier setup.
Everybody is looking for different attributes when purchasing a car seat that fits their needs. People with taller children will typically be looking for car seats with a little more space, and those who like to keep cups close will prefer those with cup holders. Identify the features that are most important to you before checking out the various options.
Since we’re considering a small car, the car seat should be able to fit inside comfortably. You can measure your vehicle, so you know the range of sizes you are considering before heading out to the market and checking your options. It also makes installation easier because there will be more space for you to move. If you plan to use the same car seat with several vehicles or plan to travel with it, that is another area to consider.
There are car seats at every price point, each offering its features and values. Car seats made for small cars are classified a specialty car seats, and they typically have a markup. Make sure to select s price range within your budget before you start shopping and exploring options. You can first check the features available for the basic options to get ideas of where the price usually lies.
There will be no point in buying a piece of equipment that will not make you or your child comfortable. Some car seats have cup holders, extra padding, and several other features that make the ride very comfortable. These comfort features often mean an increase in the car seat price, so you should consider it along with the budget and balance it out.
You need to check if the car seat has passed several regulatory tests and if it has a rating to signify that. FMVSS 213 is the federal safety standard for child restraint systems that gives a level of assurance that the safety systems in the car seat can protect your child. It is also a great plus if they have a crash and side-impact protection tests to prove that your child remains safe. Other features or materials that are beneficial include an anti-rebound bar, steel-integrated frame, and EPS-energy absorbing foam.
Car seats are typically going to be part of your household for a while, especially convertible ones, and making a mistake in selecting one could be costly. With the other features you’re looking for, the car seat you choose should be easy to clean when it gets dirty. Since it will be with you for a long time, it is inevitable that it eventually gets dirty during usage, especially since it is for children.
This is one of the main reasons parents choose a convertible car seat over other types; they’re looking for something that will last them till their child uses a vehicle seat belt. Therefore, you need to be on the lookout for strong materials like a steel-integrated frame that can take damage without showing an effect. Fabrics that are easy to clean are also good because they will keep the seat looking hygienic and increase its lifespan.
There is the bare minimum all car seats must meet thanks to the government; however, you can still spot some major differences that make some products stand out from the rest. Check out some of them:
Some car seats have leveling systems and indicators to tell you when you have correctly installed them. This great feature could help prevent a lot of errors or accidents from occurring.
Apart from liking the feel or texture of the material, you should also make sure that it is durable and easy to maintain. A fabric that is pleasantly looking and does not last long or is a headache to remove stains from will only do more harm than good.
Some car seats are wider than others because of the several designs, while some are narrower. Depending on the design of your car, some will fit a lot better than the rest.
People are gradually on the notion that riding rear-facing mode is safer for babies and children in general than riding front-facing. Go for a convertible seat with high rear-facing weight limit angles so you can carry over the opportunity to rear-face for a long time.
Buying a used car seat has the risk of you getting a damaged product or one with outdated safety regulations. New car seats are the way to go but if you have to buy used car seats, make sure it is from someone you trust and check important details about the seat like its expiry date and information on the model.
Be on the lookout for additional safety features like padding, shock absorption, and higher quality materials. They might be what puts one product ahead of the other.
Check out the in-depth reviews of our best convertible car seats.
Graco might be the most recognizable name in the car seat market, and for a good reason. Amazon lists their car seats as the most frequently bought brand, and this model has thousands of reviews. The Graco Extend2Fit is a great match for small cars because of its high level of adjustability, functional design, and compact size that allows your child to ride in a rear-facing position longer and still give extra room for a leg in front.
Graco Extend2Fit has been tested for several small and mid-size cars without any difficulties, so we don’t think you should be worried about it fitting your small car. It has measurements of 22.1 inches depth, 19.2 inches width, and 25.2 inches height which prove its compact size. You can install this car seat in either a rear-facing or forward-facing mode.
It has additional features like the ten headrest positions and six recline positions that ensure your baby always feels comfortable. This car seat uses a one-second in-right LATCH system with a no-rethread harness and a harness compartment. ProtectPlus is an engineering addition that keeps your child safe in frontal, side rear, or rollover crashes.
From the measurements of this seat which are 16.14 x 16.93 x 28.35 inches, you’ll understand why we say it should be no problem fitting three of them across your car. It has an incredibly sleek design that allows you to fold this seat flat and carry it around as you please – great for traveling. Since it has all the three modes, you don’t have to worry about buying another car seat for your child as long as you maintain it properly.
You can use it in rear-facing mode ranging from 5 – 45 pounds, front-facing mode ranging from 20-65 pounds, and booster mode from 50-120 pounds. This car seat essentially grows with your child, and it doesn’t lack the extra features. The bottom energy-absorbing foam and memory foam keeps the surroundings soft, gentle and subtle for your child’s sensitive skin.
Diono 2019 Radian 3RXT has features reminiscent of European design with the reinforced automotive-grade steel construction and unique nest inserts that hold your little one snugly. It uses a Super latch system for easy installment that is also very secure, reducing the chances of the car seat moving out from its set position.
You might initially be skeptical about Cosco Mighty Fit 65 Convertible because of its low price. Typically, very cheap car seats usually stay on the shelves as trip alternatives or used for taxis in other countries. That isn’t a problem for Cosco car seats as they pass all the federal standards, which means you can even use them on aircrafts.
Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX Convertible car seat has 17 inches for length, 22 inches for width and 23.5 inches for height. It is not too big or too small, featuring the perfect size for a compact car seat without taking up all the space for parents in front. It has two modes, rear-facing for infants (weight limit of 40 pounds and forward-facing for children (weight limit off 65 pounds). We saw many reviews that say you can fit three of this product in your car; this will depend on your vehicle, so test it out yourself.
It also has a five-point harness to move between five heights and three buckle positions to keep your child relaxed. Other comfort features include the plush padding combined with other premium materials for the highest level of comfort. The Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX meets all ASTM and JPMA standards and has an additional one-year warranty.
The Safety 1st Guide 65 is a convertible that you can use in extended rear-facing and front-facing positions for children up to 65 pounds and 52 inches tall. Despite this, it is surprisingly light and compact, fitting three-across in most cars. As a result, the Safety 1st Guide 65 is an excellent option for expanding families that need to use several car seats simultaneously, or for parents who have a small vehicle and need a car seat that doesn’t take up too much space.
The Guide 65 comes with an easy-to-adjust headrest. The headrest is adjusted by gently pulling out a metal bar on the back of the seat and moving it up or down into the necessary slots. It would be best if you always locked the headrest’s bar above the harness slots in use.
It also includes detachable newborn body pillows for improved fit and comfort over time. A great feature that not many other models do is a narrow width, allowing expanding families to fit up to three car seats in the back seat of a vehicle, making it easier to transport multiple children in comfort and safety.
The Britax Allegiance is a less expensive Britax car seat that includes many of the company’s most common features and innovations. It has a 10-position harness that doesn’t need to be rethreaded, a removable cover for quick cleaning, and simple LATCH installation with clear labels on the seat itself, requiring little manual reference. The Allegiance is smaller and lighter than other Britax convertible car seats, and it has a comfortable carrying handle on the top that makes getting it into and out of a vehicle a breeze.
The Britax Allegiance is one of the more affordable options available and offers far more than that. It’s easy to use and passed the crash test with flying colors. It is, however, a little on the challenging side if you have trouble with installations. When removing the seat, the ClickTight feature and LATCH strap adjuster add security, but they can be a little stubborn.
Just like many others on this list, this will be the only car seat you will buy for your child as long as it is maintained well. It starts as a rear-facing harness and adapts as your child grows. Its measurements are 24 x 21.5 x 20 inches making it a great fit for compatible car seaters.
It can accommodate children with weights up to 40 pounds in its rear facing mode, weights up to 65 pounds for the forward-facing mode, weights up to 100 pounds in the booster seat mode, and 120 pounds for the backless booster mode. For the height, it supports up to one inch below the handle for the rear-facing mode, 22-27 inches for the front-facing mode, 52 inches for the booster mode and 57 inches for the backless booster mode.
Some of its extra features include a five-point harness, ten position headrest, six-position recline, integrated cup holders, and a steel-reinforced frame. You will have no problem with installation as it uses the LATCH system, which ensures a firm grip and hassle-free installation process.
The Graco Admiral 65 is a rear-facing stroller for babies weighing 5 to 40 pounds. At 22 pounds, you can turn them around, but they should remain rear-facing as long as their head is at least an inch below the headrest. When your child is ready to turn around, the car seat will accommodate a child weighing 22 to 65 pounds and standing up to 49 inches tall.
The Graco ProtectPlus Engineered Testing Standard was also used to test the car seat. This testing standard establishes stringent standards for accident safety. Front-impact, rear-impact, side-impact, and rollover protection are all examined. Furthermore, this assurance ensures that the car seat meets or exceeds the Department of Transportation’s car seat protection requirements by at least two times and that it remains intact and undamaged when subjected to extreme cold or heat in the car.
The Britax ClickTight has 23 x 18.5 x 23.5 inches, making it an average size in the compact segment. Britax are typically known for their ease of installation and the ClickTight Convertible doesn’t fail in that regard. It uses a ClickTight compartment below the seat to make this feature solid. You can also use the latch system to install this device, and it could be particularly beneficial in very small vehicles that are easy to get cramped.
There are 14 positions for its harness, and the highest is at 19.4 inches, all very useful for accommodating your child as they grow in size. A great additional feature is the Click and Safe Snug Indicator, which tells you when the harness is tight enough after pulling tightly to your child. It is built from a steel frame and impact-absorbing base that makes the seat have a sturdy feel. Along with the V-shaped tether, it forms part of the SafeCell Impact Protection on the Britax car seat.
A great feature we noticed are the headwinds that have a deep contour to give extra side-impact protection. Seat harness also has a foam lining so your child can relax comfortably in the seat. It is easy to recline this seat from 7 different angles, and it has a recline indicator to let you know when to stop.
This is similar to the other Diono car seat on the list, except this is cheaper and has a different design. It measures 16 x 17 x 28.25 inches, and it can accommodate children in rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seat modes. These have a weight limit that ranges from 5 to 125 pounds and allows kids to stay in the rear facing car seat longer (till they’re 50 pounds).
Like the other Diono car seat on this list, it spots an automotive-grade steel design construction made to shield and give the car seat a strong base. Since it has a similar size to the 3RXT, you can probably fit three of these in your vehicle, too, with relative ease.
The SuperLAtch system makes installment easy, and drives a loud click when you install it correctly, and it has keyed in place. Additional features are memory foam comfort and air protection, making sure your child stays safe in the advent of an accident or crash. The Diono Radian 3R meets all the federal regulations, and its ability to fold flat is an added feature when you want to travel with it on an airplane.
This is perhaps the best option for tall kids on this list as it has extended rear-facing capabilities that lets you keep your children in the rear-facing mode for a longer time, even if they’re growing fast. You can use this car seat both as a forward-facing and rear-facing harness heights until your child reaches 50 pounds, then you can transition into a booster.
You can set three of these comfortably in most family-sized vehicles without any hassles. A feature that really surprised us is the 12-position headrest, especially considering the price tag on this car seat. Other great features are its extendable leg rests and memory foam seat.
Danio Radian 3RXT has three buckle and five shoulder positions and the ability to fold flat for easy travels. Common words that kept popping up in all the reviews are “user-friendly” and “compact”. It has dimensions of 28.5 x 16 x 15 inches, and it is primarily for tall children, which means it might not fit in smaller than usual cars.
Any of the above convertible car seats will be excellent choices for your children. However our all-time best is the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat. It is an excellent choice that hits all the right spots offering numerous features, many safety features, and FAA approval.
Of all the convertible car seats we’ve reviewed, the best space-saving convertible car seat is the Diono 2019 Radian 3RXT All-in-One Convertible Car Seat. It was designed as a car seat to fit three across, which proves it passes the ultimate functionality test.
Like our final thoughts said, our best pick is the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat. It ticks all of the right boxes and has an amazing value for the quality. It also has rear-facing and front-facing car seat modes, which many parents are going to love.
From all the reviews we’ve gathered online, the Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant is the smallest infant car seat. Even though it is the smallest, it is important to note that you cannot use this car seat as a forward-facing car seat.
Fitting three car seats into one car is not as difficult as it sounds, although you have to follow a step-by-step guide. There are a lot of videos on YouTube that can help you with this. Just make sure to practice along with the videos, and you’ll become a master in no time.
From our extensive research, the narrowest car seat is the Diono 2020 Radian 3R. It can fit into the thinnest spaces, and you should have no trouble with installation.
This should be when your baby has passed the weight or height limit of the infant car seat. This typically varies for children, and you should be on the lookout. As we’ve said before, convertible seats can accommodate newborns, so you can forget about an infant car seat altogether and start with a convertible car seat from when your baby is born.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should keep your children in a rear-facing position for as long as you can. Generally speaking, that should be until they are four years old. A way to determine this is to note the height and weight limitations the manufacturer set for rear-facing. When your child reaches this limit, you should move them to a forward-facing position safely.
The next stage after your child outgrows the forward-facing height and weight restrictions are the booster mode. Typically, this is around when they’re five years then you should be able to transition them without any hitches. You shouldn’t be in a rush to move your children to the booster seat as it requires a certain level of maturity. The child should sit comfortably without any supervision and not slouch or lean over when they’re on the booster seat.
We have been covering content about parenthood and lifestyle products for many years. Our writers are also parents with children of their own, and they also use these convertible car seats. You can rest assured that anything we write about these car seats is from the first-hand experience to give you the most truthful and accurate review possible.
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