5 Best Convertible Car Seats for Small Cars (2020)

A car seat for a baby or toddler is definitely something you need if you have a small one riding with you. The problem with smaller cars is that the seats are often narrower compared to a bigger vehicle. This means there is a restriction in the amount of space available to mount the car seat.

Buying just any convertible car seat means you could end up with a product that is too big for your car. Mounting such a product could put your baby in danger – something you want to avoid as a parent. With this in mind, there are some options that are more portable on the market, which we will share in this post. 

We Recommend

Best price/value ratio

Britax Boulevard
Car Seat

Best lightweight

Combi Coccoro
Car Seat

Best for the money

Chicco NextFit
Car Seat

How Small Convertible Car Seats Are There?

There are many small convertible car seats on the market today. This makes the process of choosing one harder. You should, however, understand the basics of these seats. Consider the average sizes and the features that you should expect. 

Most convertible car seats that are portable will support children up to the age of about seven years. The maximum weight of these is generally set to about 65 pounds, with a height limit of around 52.5 inches. 

Safety features are also commonly introduced. Multiple layers of impact protection foams are often added to help secure your child. Patented technologies are also being used to make the installation of these products easier. 

The average car seat tends to come with specifications where the length and width would reach past 20 inches. A common measurement would be around 26.81 x 19.88 x 22.36. These dimensions may be too large for a smaller car. 

If you have a small car, then you need a seat that is more compact. Consider opting for a car seat that comes with a length and width that both falls under 20 inches. A common example would be 19 x 18.25 x 29.5. While the height is more than the larger car seat, this provides better coverage for your child – especially as they grow up. 

Choose A Seat That Lets Your Baby Stay Rear-Facing Longer

Seats can often be used as either rear-facing or front-facing. There are studies that show (1, 2) having a child in a rear-facing position seems to provide a better level of protection for the kid. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also suggested that parents become aware of the benefits that a rear-facing car seat can offer their child. The suggestion is made in comparison to front-facing car seats. 

Taking these suggestions into account, you should consider opting for a car seat that will allow your child to remain in a rear-facing position for longer. This means you should preferably choose a seat that can be used both ways. When you choose a car seat that can be used as both a rear and front-facing seat, then you gain added convenience from your purchase. 

You will be able to install the seat in a rear-facing position and keep your child in that position for a longer period of time. You can also choose to switch to a front-facing position for short periods of time. 

There are some seats that offer you the ability to switch between these two positions quickly. This can definitely be beneficial, reducing the need to take the seat out and re-install it completely.

Safety Tips For Using Convertible Car Seats Properly

There are a few ways that you can improve the overall safety of your child while using a convertible car seat. Proper usage of these products is one particularly crucial fact. Here are a few tips to help you make a car seat safer for your child:

  • Avoid dressing your child in a bulky coat when they are placed in the car seat
    Make use of the seat every time your child is with you in the car
  • Find the right angle of the headrest based on your child’s length
  • Tighten the harness to the appropriate level
  • Prefer a rear-facing position over a front-facing position
  • Look at the safety label – it should meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 – if the seat exceeds this standard, then it is even better (3)
  • Ensure the seat comes with a five-point harness for added protection
  • The seat should come with clear instructions
  • The latch system used should be able to provide effective security to hold the product to your car’s seat
  • Look for a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rating – opt for a seat with a four or five star NHTSA rating
  • Always install the car seat in the back of your car – and not in the passenger’s seat
  • Make sure to properly tighten the seat belt when you install the car seat
  • Harness straps should be directed at the same level or just below your child’s shoulders when they are strapped in
  • Avoid using lower anchors and the regular seat belt at the same time (4)

What NOT To Do When Choosing A Car Seat

While some factors will help you buy the right seat, you should also understand a few things that could cause you to buy a seat that will not prioritize your child’s safety. Below, we list a few factors that you need to avoid doing when you go out to shop for a car seat:

Always avoid buying a car seat in a secondhand shop or even privately from someone who already used it. When you buy a secondhand seat, it may have already reached close to its expiration. This could put your child in danger as the seat may not be as sturdy as it should be – making it easier for the seat to slip out of its lock.

Consider how long the car seat will last – some companies may offer you an expiration date. The expiration date tells you for how long you can use the seat and when it will be time to get a new one. This is also important if you are planning to have another child – there are cases where the expiration date could serve for two children.

Never buy a car seat that cannot hold your child’s weight or one that has a lower height limit recommendation that your child’s current height. Never opt for a car seat that is too big for the seat that is located inside your car. Avoid buying a car seat that can only be used in a front-facing position.

How To Choose The Right Convertible Car Seat For A Small Car?

When you decide to buy a convertible car seat for a small car, you need to take a few factors into account. This will help you buy a seat that is still safe and appropriate for your growing child. Remember that you do not want to invest in new seats continuously, so make sure the seat supports a child up to an older age, while also being sturdy and easy to use.

Ease of installation: The installation process can sometimes be complicated. Some brands have unique latch systems. These systems quickly lock into position. The names of these systems will differ between brands.

Ease of adjustment: Adjusting the seat should be easy too. Consider a seat that can be used in both front and rear-facing positions. Look for seats with multiple positions when reclining the product. You also want a seat that has several positions in which the headrest can be adjusted.

Comfort and fabric: Different fabrics can be used in these seats. Ensure an energy-absorbing foam is used for added protection. On the outside, the material should be used that adds to the comfort of the seat. Polyester is the most common material used.

Safety extras: Impact protection is one of the most important safety features to look for. Make sure side impact protection is offered too. The harness should also have a latch that locks so that your child cannot get out of the seat by themselves.

Weight/height limits: Consider how long you want to use the car seat for and the current height and weight of your child. It is common to find a car seat that supports a weight of up to 65 pounds. These will usually be compatible with a height of up to 52.5 inches. Larger options are available too, sometimes going up to about 120 pounds.

Size limits: You should take note of the seat’s dimensions. Make sure it will be compatible with your small car.

Best Convertible Car Seat For Small Cars

1. Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat

First up is the Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat.

This is a heavy-duty car seat that comes in four different colors that you can choose from.

Each color also features a unique design, providing a great selection of options to match your style.

The seat can be used as both rear or a forward-facing car seat.

This gives you greater flexibility when installing the seat in your car. It also allows you to customize the direction in which your child will be facing during transit.

There is a single layer of impact protection built into the Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat. This helps to protect your child against impact, including something as awful as a car crash.

The 10-position harness provides an added level of protection for your child. Additionally, the harness can also be adjusted quite easily. This makes it easy to adjust the size of the harness as your child continues to grow.

Check the price of Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat here

What we liked

  • Four color and designs to choose from
  • Can be cleaned without the need first to remove the harness
  • Has ten positions to choose from
  • The latched connector features a push-button installation
  • Can be used as rear-facing or front-facing seat

What we didn’t like

  • Lower weight limit when used as a rear-facing seat

Dimensions: 26 x 18.5 x 21
Seat weight: 19.5 pounds
Weight capacity: five to 65 pounds
Height capacity: 52.5 inches
Fill materials: Foam
Safety features: Single layer impact protection, impact-absorbing base
Best for: Infants and toddlers

2. Combi Coccoro Streamlined Convertible Car Seat

The Combi Coccoro Streamlined Convertible Car Seat is one of the more colorful options on the market. 

This one does come at a premium price. Consider if your budget can fit into the price tag before deciding on this particular car seat. 

The car seat is lightweight. This makes it easier to carry the seat around, should there be a need for this. 

It also makes handling the seat – such as switching between the rear and front-facing positions – significantly easier for you. 

The manufacturer claims it is about half the weight of leading competitor options.
The Tru-Safe impact protection helps to keep your kid safe while you drive. This is achieved through a layer of foam that can effectively absorb impact

The foam is included in such a way to protect your child’s spine and neck, as well as their head. The Combi Coccoro Streamlined Convertible Car Seat features a comfortable padding interior. This reduces discomfort, especially with longer travels.

Check the price of Combi Coccoro Streamlined Convertible Car Seat here

What we liked

  • A lightweight option that is easy to handle
  • A mere 15.5 inches wide for better portability
  • Fits most car seats – including the majority of small cars
  • The seat is exceptionally easy to clean
  • Features Tru-Safe impact protection technology

What we didn’t like

  • Premium price
  • There are only three colors to choose from

Dimensions: 23 x 15.5 x 22 (front-facing); 17.5 x 15.5 x 28 (rear-facing)
Seat weight: 14.3 pounds
Weight capacity: three to 40 pounds
Height capacity: 40 inches
Fill materials: Energy-absorbing foam
Safety features: Tru-Safe impact protection foam layer
Best for: the young toddler

3. Maxi-Cosi Magellan All-In-One Convertible Car Seat

The Maxi-Cosi Magellan All-In-One Convertible Car Seat gives you a significant number of options to choose from

A car seat is also a sturdy option that comes with five different modes you can take advantage of. 

The color options that you can choose from include Night Black, Midnight Slate, Onyx Bliss, Aegean Storm, Blue Opal, Emerald Tide, and Violet Caspia. 

The seat has one of the best maximum weight support systems on the market. Children of up to 10 years can be seated in this product.  

The seat also comes with side impact protection. The headrest can be adjusted in 14 different positions. Installation of the Maxi-Cosi Magellan All-In-One Convertible Car Seat is very easy. The product uses a one-click latch system. This means no need to spend hours trying to mount the product to your car seat. 

Machine washable fabrics are used in the manufacturing of the car seat. Added layers of foam help to provide a more comfortable seat for your child. 

Check the price of Maxi-Cosi Magellan All-In-One Convertible Car Seat here

What we liked

  • Support for children up to 10 years of age
  • Built-in side impact protection
  • 14 different positions for headrest
  • Seven recline positions to choose from
  • The seat comes in seven different colors

What we didn’t like

  • Higher pricepoint for some parents
  • There is a lack of bright color options

Dimensions: 25 pounds
Seat weight: 24.88 x 19.56 x 24.63
Weight capacity: Five to 120 pounds
Height capacity: 54.5 inches
Fill materials: Foam
Safety features: EZ Out Harness System, side-impact protection
Best for: Children up to 10 years

4. Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

The Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat is a heavy-duty option. This car seat puts an emphasis on protecting your child. 

The product features two-layer impact protection, which is superior to many of the alternative options you will find. 

Side impact protection is also provided. The seat uses a patented ClickTight installation system. This makes mounting the seat extremely easy. 

It also ensures the seat is securely installed to prevent accidents

The seat can be used as a front-facing car seat or adjusted to be a rear-facing seat instead.
You can choose between six colors and design options. These include Circa, Cool Flow Grey, Cool Flow Teal, Poole, Trek, and Vector. 

A snug indicator allows you to ensure the harness has been locked in place. This is an added level of security for your child. A steel frame is also used to make the product more secure and durable.

Check the price of Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat here

What we liked

  • A compact option that still supports older children
  • Can be used in the rear and front-facing position
  • Two layers of impact protection
  • Supports up to 65 pounds in weight
    14 different harness positions

What we didn’t like

  • The product comes with a premium price tag
  • Limited variations in both colors and designs

Dimensions: 23 x 18.5 x 23.5
Seat weight: 29.4 pounds
Weight capacity: five to 65 pounds
Height capacity: 52.5 inches
Fill materials: Foam
Safety features: Two-layer impact protection, Click and Safe Snug indicator
Best for: Infants and toddlers

5. Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat

Last up is the Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat. This is a premium car seat. It features high-quality materials. 

There is also advanced protection to help reduce your child’s risk of falling or being hurt in case of an accident. 

The convertible function of the seat makes it an excellent choice if you have a small car.

The Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat offers you nine different positions when using the recline feature. 

A bubble level indicator helps you position the seat correctly. You can use this product as both a rear and a front-facing seat in your car. The headrest can be adjusted in six different positions.

The seat features a Super Cinch Latch system. This is an exclusive latch system by the Chicco brand. This makes it easier to attach the product to your car seat. It also helps you understand how tight the harness should be adjusted to protect your child. 

Check the price of Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat here

What we liked

  • Highly adjustable car seat
  • Can be used as front-facing or rear-facing car seat
  • Compact size is ideal for small cars
  • Super Cinch Latch system provides better stability when installing
  • Accommodates growing children

What we didn’t like

  • No alternative color or design options to choose from

Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 29.2
Seat weight: 25.1 pounds
Weight capacity: Five to 65 pounds
Height capacity: 52.5 inches
Fill materials: Foam
Safety features: SuperCinch Latch Tightener
Best for: Infants and growing children

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