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PLEASE VISIT OUR NEW LISTING OF RECOMMENDED SEATS AT CARSEATBLOG OR VISIT OUR OUR UPDATED LIST AT CAR-SEAT.ORG FOR INFORMATION AND QUESTIONS. THE INFORMATION BELOW IS NOT CURRENT AND MANY MODELS ARE DISCONTINUED.



Convertibles

My top choices, based on my experience, as well as the reviews I've read here are:

1) Britax Roundabout
Weight limits:
· 33 lb. rear facing
· 40 lb. front facing
Features:
· EPS foam (like you find in bike helmets) to help protect the head
· Built in locking clips, which make installation much easier in many vehicles
· Easy to use tether which can be used both front and rear facing
· Twist-free straps
· Easy to use harness adjuster (There are seats which take my full strength to get just barely tight enough. The recommendation is that you should only be able to fit one finger between the child and the straps at his collar bone.)
· Any harness slot may be used front facing (most convertible seats only have the top slots reinforced for front facing use.)
· Well padded.
Cons:
· Price! They are very expensive—approximately $200-$230 for the Roundabout and $250-$260 for the Advantage.
Britax Roundabout
Roundabout


2) Britax Marathon
Britax Marathon
Marathon
Weight limits:
· 33 lb. rear facing
· 65 lb. front facing
Features:
· EPS foam (like you find in bike helmets) to help protect the head
· Built in locking clips, which make installation much easier in many vehicles
· Easy to use tether which can be used both front and rear facing
· Twist-free straps
· Four sets of harness slots to fit taller and shorter kids well
· Any harness slot may be used front facing (most convertible seats only have the top slots reinforced for front facing use.)
· Well padded
Cons:
· Price! It retails for $220-$250.


2) Britax Wizard
Weight limits:
· 33 lb. rear facing
· 65 lb. front facing
Features:
· Side impact protection
· "Infinite" harness adjustablility (you turn a knob to move it up or down)
· EPS foam (like you find in bike helmets) to help protect the head
· Built in locking clips, which make installation much easier in many vehicles
· Easy to use tether which can be used both front and rear facing
· Twist-free straps
· Well padded
Cons:
· Price! It retails for $250-$270.
Britax Wizard
Wizard


2) Combi Avatar
Combi Avatar
Avatar
Weight limits:
· 30 lb. rear facing
· 40 lb. front facing
Features:
· Deep side wings help provide side impact protection
· EPS foam (like you find in bike helmets) to help protect the head
· Built in locking clips, which make installation much easier in many vehicles
· Tall seat back will allow for taller kids - rear facing & front facing
· High top harness slots will accomodate most children to 40 lb
· Very nice recline feature
· Twist-free straps
· Well padded
Cons:
· Price! It retails for $160-$200.
· Bulk - this is a tall & heavy seat compared to most with 40 lb weight limits


5) Cosco Touriva
[The Touriva 22-110 is available through Walmart & Walmart.com for $49.] The latest version of this seat is greatly improved, with nicer straps, two piece chest clip and better padding! Other versions are not nearly as nice but cost the same.
Weight limits:
· 35 lb. rear facing
· 40 lb. front facing
Features:
· Affordable price $40-$55
· High rear facing weight limit
Cons:
· Twist-prone harness straps
· Stiff harness adjuster
Cosco Touriva
Touriva


6) Evenflo Titan 5
Evenflo titan 5
Titan 5
Weight limits:
· 30 lb. rear facing
· 40 lb. front facing
Features:
· Taller shell than the Roundabout, Triumph or Touriva
· Two crotch strap positions
· Four sets of harness slots
· Affordable at $60-$75
Cons:
· Harness adjuster is very, very stiff
· Straps can be twisty compared to some other brands


3) Evenflo Triumph
Weight limits:
· 30 lb. rear facing
· 40 lb. front facing
Features:
· EPS foam
· Unique harness adjustment system that uses knobs and a "memory harness." The system can take a bit of getting used to (read the instructions!), but once you do, it’s great!
· Smaller shell may allow a good fit in smaller cars
· Harness height can be changed without uninstalling the seat
· Nicely padded
· Moderately priced at approximately $120
Cons:
· Smaller shell means the Triumph may be outgrown sooner than other seats, especially rear facing
· Straps can be twisty compared to some other brands
Evenflo Triumph
Triumph


4) Graco ComfortSport
Graco Comfort Sport
ComfortSport
Weight limits:
· 30 lb. rear facing
· 40 lb. front facing
Features:
· Straps are less twisty than many seats
· Moderately priced. This seat comes in several versions, ranging from $60 to $140.
· Models produced after July 19, 2005 have EPS foam to help protect the head
· Nicely padded
· Taller shell than the Roundabout, Triumph or Touriva
· Cup holder
Cons:
· Harness adjuster can be difficult to access rear facing in some vehicles


The seats I listed above all have a rear facing weight limit of at least 30 lb (remember, toddlers must stay rear facing until they weigh at least 20 lb and are a minimum of 1 year old, and longer is safer - see "Rear-facing - Unmatched Safety" and "Rear-facing car seats: What you need to know"). They are compatible with a wide variety of vehicles, though you should always make sure a seat fits in your vehicle before making a final decision. They all have reasonable harness slot heights (lowish bottom slots and tallish top slots). They all have a 5 point harness, which generally provides better protection in a crash than an overhead shield does (see "Five-Point Harness or Shield - Choosing a safer seat" for more ).

There are perfectly fine seats that did not make my list. Some have compatibility issues with many vehicles (but might fit your vehicle perfectly). Some have exceptionally low harness slots and might be outgrown much sooner than another similarly priced seat. Some are more difficult to use without being any less expensive. However, if you can say, "Yes." to each of the following questions, the seat may be the right one for you.

Booster/Combo Seat

Features to look for in a combo seat are:
1) Front adjuster (some seats make you uninstall the seat to adjust the harness)
2) Higher harness slots so the seat isn't outgrown by height significantly before 40 lb (Cosco/Safety First/Eddie Bauer seats have notoriously low harness slots -- lower than the slots on many convertible seats!)

The seats that I would consider (in alphabetical order) are:

1) Century NextStep MX
Century NextStep
NextStep
There are two versions of the NextStep. The one on the left has cup holders, slightly more padding and costs a little more than the version on the right. Both versions have 2 positions for the crotch strap/buckle and a snap-in head support. Both seats also have a 100 lb. weight limit when used as a booster, although most kids will be too tall before they weigh that much. Century NextStep MX
NextStep


2) Evenflo Comet
Evenflo Comet
Comet
Of all the seats listed, this is the one with significantly more features. First, this seat is lined with "energy absorbing foam" (like you find in a bike helmet); it is the only combo booster in the US to have it. This means instead of striking hard plastic in a crash, your child's head will impact on the foam. It has a knob harness adjuster that you turn to adjust the harness tightness. I've heard that it takes a little getting used to, but that it is very nice (easier to use than traditional adjusters) once you figure it out. It has 3 positions for the crotch strap/buckle. It also has a system which makes it very easy to change the harness slot height without uninstalling the seat. It is nicely padded, and has padded armrests. It comes with a cup holder. (The Comet replaced the Evenflo Apollo, which was an almost identical seat. The Apollo had a "memory harness". the Comet does not.)


3) Evenflo Express and Chase
Evenflo Express
Express
The Express is the "bare bones" version of the Chase. The Chase has "Comfort Touch". padding, which makes it more plush. It also has armrests (be sure to route the lapbelt *behind* the armrests, not under them, when using this seat as a belt positioning booster.) Both seats have an adjuster on the harness itself, which can be a little confusing at first, but I think it requires a lot less strength to adjust once you figure it out. (Some people hate the on-the harness adjuster; I happen to like it better than the adjuster on the Graco CarGos listed below.) If you have an "escape artist" child who pushes the chest clip down and wiggles his/her arms free, even when the straps are nice and snug, this set up can sometimes be a solution. They have 2 crotch strap/buckle positions. The should belt positioners on these seats are molded into the plastic shell, which can allow excess slack to retract more easily than on seats with adjusters which are simply fastened to the fabric cover (see our FAQ). These seats come with cup holders. Evenflo Chase
Chase


4) Graco Ultra/Platinum Cargo
Graco Ultra Cargo
Ultra Cargo
These two Graco seats generally provide the most side support for a child falls asleep in the vehicle, and they are often the first recommendation for a younger child for that reason. (They still do not provide as much side support as most convertible seats.) The Platinum CarGo is slightly more expensive and supposed have more padding, but some parents have found that the Ultra CarGo actually feels more plush when they try it in person. Both seats come with a cup holder and a pocket/snack holder.  Other versions of the Cargo may not have a front harness adjustment and are therefore not recommended. Graco Platinum Cargo
Platinum Cargo

I encourage you to try them out and get the one that you personally like best. Look at how they fit your child, how they fit your vehicle [especially if it needs to fit next to one/two other seat(s)], and how much growing room is left (remember, your child should stay harnessed until 40 lb if possible). Try the harness adjusters to see which ones are easiest for *you* to use. Budget-wise, these seats generally run $60 to $110 and go on sale for less several times a year.


PLEASE VISIT OUR NEW LISTING OF RECOMMENDED SEATS AT CARSEATBLOG OR VISIT OUR OUR UPDATED LIST AT CAR-SEAT.ORG FOR INFORMATION AND QUESTIONS. THE INFORMATION ABOVE IS NOT CURRENT AND MANY MODELS ARE DISCONTINUED.