Just because you have a compact car doesn’t mean you need to struggle with fitting a big car seat into the back, thanks to the many car seats designed for smaller vehicles.
But what’s the best car seat for small cars?
From Graco to Britax, every famous baby gear brand is working hard to make the best car seat for small cars. Depending on your budget and preferences, each brand has something special to offer, but they have one thing in common – compactness!
But let’s not forget that the key role of a car seat is to provide protection and comfort when you’re on the road, regardless of its size. So, just offering a better fit for your small car is not enough.
Thankfully, many of these car seats are also convertible, meaning that they will grow with your baby and save you some cash in the long run.
So, without further ado, here are my 14 picks for the best car seat for small cars.
For all of you busy moms, here’s a quick list of our top picks!
|Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat||Prime||Buy Now|
|Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat||Prime||Buy Now|
|Graco SlimFit 3 in 1 Convertible Car Seat||Prime||Buy Now|
1. Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat
The Guide 65 car seat model by Safety 1st is a great fit for both small cars and small budgets. As it’s a smaller model, you can easily switch it between cars, reassured that it’ll fit without a fuss. This convertible seat is not heavy either, which is a bonus.
Apart from being compact for smaller cars, the seat boasts a headrest that can be adjusted into multiple positions.
Guide 65 also has side impact protection.
This kind of protection is really important in car accidents because many vehicles are hit from the side, which creates a need for car seats to have extra protection in this area.
In the rear-facing position, the minimum weight limit is 5 pounds and maximum 40 pounds.
In the forward-facing position, the minimum weight limit is 22 pounds while the upper is 65 pounds.
As you can see, the weight range allows your child to use this car seat for a number of years until he switches to a booster seat.
As far as cleaning goes, the seat pad is not machine washable, but you can wash it by hand.
There is a removable cup holder included, too, which is a great feature once your little one gets old enough to carry his own drink and it prevents sippy cups from sliding under the seats.
You can customize the seat for your child’s comfort by rearranging or removing the pillows. The 5-point harness can also be readjusted. When we talk about the best car seat for small cars, this Safety 1st model certainly deserves a place on this list because it’s a great blend of affordability and quality.
2. Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
The Evenflo Tribute LX is also one of the best car seats for small cars. It’s quite affordable and comes in four colors to choose from.
While the minimum rear-facing weight of this Evenflo model is the same as of the Safety 1st Guide 65 car seat (a minimum of 5 pounds), there are different limitations in the forward-facing mode. In this mode, the minimum weight of the child should be 22 pounds and maximum 40 pounds, so you will need to purchase a booster seat earlier.
On the plus side, the seat pads are okay to clean in the washing machine.
The shoulder strap can be positioned in four ways so that your baby can stay comfortable in the seat even as he gets bigger.
There is also a drink holder included and you can remove it, too.
As this is a lightweight model, it will be easy to move between cars or bring it on a plane.
3. Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
One of the best features of the Graco Extend2Fit car seat is that you can adjust it to give some extra legroom space to your little one. This only works in the rear-facing position.
This compact car seat can be used for a long time in the rear-facing mode as it has an upper limit of 50 pounds while the lower limit is 4 pounds, making it the perfect infant seat for newborns, too.
In the front-facing mode, the limit is 65 pounds. Since weight is not always the best indicator of the car seat’s limitations, Graco mentions that the height limit for this seat is 49 inches.
When it comes to recline positions, the Extend2Fit car seat has 6, so you can make sure your little one is riding in the most comfortable position possible. But the headrest’s versatility is even more impressive – you can adjust it to 10 different positions.
This is so that your baby’s head and neck stay comfortable and well-supported as he grows.
Extend2Fit was also built to take years of wear and tear with its steel frame, so durability is guaranteed.
This car seat is available in 10 different designs, so it’ll be pretty easy to find one that suits your taste!
4. Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
If you are looking for a car seat that will fit in your small car and is versatile enough to grow with your little one, the SlimFit model by Graco will be the only car seat you will ever need.
Not only does it work as an infant car seat but also transforms into a toddler booster seat for when your child outgrows it. This is a great feature and will give you peace of mind because you can be certain you won’t need to buy another seat.
As a rear-facing car seat, it fits babies from 5 to 40 pounds. In the forward-facing mode, your child should weigh a minimum of 20 and maximum of 65 pounds. Afterward, he can start using the belt-positioning booster seat.
The seat is made from a comfortable, plush material that your child will enjoy sitting in, even on longer drives. The seat cover can be taken off for washing as needed. There’s plenty of support for the head, too, so when your munchkin falls asleep in the car, he can rest comfy.
You can recline the seat to 4 different positions and there are 2 cup holders for drinks, snacks, or toys – whatever your child needs during the ride.
The latch system is really simple to use and you will hear a click once the car seat has been properly installed, so you can relax knowing that your baby is safely strapped in.
As for safety features, this car seat has been designed to withstand all sorts of accidents while protecting your child.
Even though this model is less budget-friendly than some of those listed above, it’s definitely one of the best convertible car seats on the market and it’s no surprise that it’s getting rave reviews on Amazon.
5. Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat
If you are looking for an all-in-one, infant-to-toddler car seat, then the KeyFit 30 won’t be your cup of tea. This is an infant car seat only, so it’s not suitable for babies heavier than 30 pounds.
Also, this car seat can be used as part of a Chicco 3-in-1 baby stroller, so keep this in mind if you’re planning on shopping for a stroller soon. Switching it between the car seat base and the stroller is really easy – you can do it with one hand.
One of the best parts about this car seat is the SuperCinch feature. With this, you can make the straps as tight as you would like without working up a sweat. Anyone who has ever had trouble tightening the straps will definitely appreciate this feature!
The easy installation is further improved by the bubble level indicators on the seat that let you know it is properly positioned – a helpful feature for first-time parents.
There is also an infant insert to keep your child’s head supported during his first car rides that you can later remove. The 5-point harness comes with shoulder pads that will prevent the straps from digging into your baby’s skin.
To keep it short, the Chicco KeyFit 30 car seat is easy to use, even for first-time parents, and it’s one of the best infant car seats around.
6. Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
The Britax Boulevard is a strong contender for the title of the best car seat for small cars. Not only does it fit in snug back seats, but its safety standards are up to par, too.
For example, the inside of the seat contains energy-absorbing foam, which is incredibly important in the event of a car crash. This foam absorbs the forces released during a crash, keeping your child safe and sound, and preventing injuries.
The foam also prevents other objects from coming into contact with your child and harming him. Plus, there is a V-shaped tether in the back that adds an extra layer of protection in case of an accident, and the frame is made from steel.
Apart from being safe, this car seat boasts ease of use, too. For example, to install it in your car, all you need to do is press on the dial, lift up the seat, thread the seat belt and buckle it in, and lower the seat back into its proper position. You will hear a click that will let you know you’ve done it successfully.
This makes it really easy for people who are not the primary caregivers (such as grandparents or nannies) to use it without you having to give extensive instructions. This car seat is truly hassle-free.
The cover is made from high-quality material that you can remove if it gets dirty and the fabric is breathable, which is great news for all of you who live in warmer climates and need breathable fabrics.
Whether you use it in front-facing or rear-facing mode, this car seat will be a great companion to all of your family trips.
Obviously, the Britax Boulevard is on the higher end of the price scale, so you might be interested in giving Britax Marathon a look, too, as it’s a bit more budget-friendly.
7. Cosco Scenera NEXT Car Seat
While Cosco Scenera might not be the absolute best car seat for small cars, it’s a favorite of parents who need to travel by plane or need a smaller car seat to use while on vacation.
It’s true that it’s not as high-tech as the Britax model above, but it still comes with safety features that will ease your concerns.
The headrest, for example, is equipped with extra protection to keep your child safe in the event of a crash. There are 5 harness heights, too, so you can readjust them as needed for a good fit.
Many seat pads by other brands can be hard to clean or need to be hand-washed, but the Cosco one is straightforward as you can pop it in the washing machine and the dryer.
As far as weight limits go, both the rear-facing mode and front-facing mode are okay for kids up to 40 pounds, but the latter has a lower limit of 22 pounds. In any case, you should aim to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible for safety reasons (you can read more about this further down).
8. Diono 2020 Radian 3RXT
The Diono Radian 3RXT car seat might just be the best car seat for small cars. It’s designed to be narrow enough so that you can fit 3 of them in your back seat while remaining a high-quality and safe car seat from birth to as long as your child needs a car seat.
You can transform it from a newborn car seat to a high-back booster seat as the years go, and you won’t need to spend money on another model – unless you have more kids, of course.
This car seat is designed to allow kids to sit in the rear-facing mode until they reach 50 pounds, which is a fantastic feature considering that most other brands only go up to 40 pounds.
In the forward-facing mode, the maximum weight that’s recommended is 65 pounds, but kids up to 120 pounds can use it as a booster seat.
The car seat includes a steel core for maximum protection in case of a car crash. It also comes with an infant insert to provide extra support to the youngest babies. You can remove the cover for machine washing when your baby makes a mess. There is a cup holder included for your tot’s drink, too.
What’s more, this car seat has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which means that you can take it with you when you’re flying. This all-in-one convertible car seat comes in 8 gorgeous colors, from black to bright purple, so take your pick!
9. Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seat
The Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 model is a fantastic choice if you would like to transition from an infant car seat to one that will grow with your baby in the years to come, while saving you car space.
It has a minimum weight limit of 14 and maximum of 40 pounds in the rear-facing position, and a minimum of 22 and maximum of 85 in the front. As such, it’s not going to be suitable for tiny infants, but will be adjustable to your baby’s growth.
Pria 86 boasts a simple design that allows you to quickly remove and wash the seat cover as needed. Plus, you can put it in the dryer. The cushions keep your little one safe from impact in the event of an accident.
There is also a small cup holder on the side for a drink or snack. The car seat includes holders for the harnesses so that they don’t cause trouble when you’re getting your baby in or out of the car.
At first sight, this car seat might look too small for a toddler, but this model allows you to adjust the height and make it just right for your child.
The material allows air to circulate so your little one won’t get too hot while sitting in it during long rides.
Although this car seat is a little pricey, you will be able to use it for a long time as it can fit a child as heavy as 85 pounds, so it’s a great investment.
10. Chicco NextFit Zip Max Convertible Car Seat
If you’re worried that your child’s car seat will require you to slide your front seat all the way up to the dashboard, the Chicco NextFit Zip Max will ease your concerns.
Its clever design allows your child to have extra space while rear-facing, and you won’t need to slide any other seats forward. Plus, this mode has a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds, which is really impressive and puts it slightly above the competition.
In the front-facing position, the limit is 65 pounds, so there is lots of room for it to grow with your child.
The NextFit Zip Max includes a special breathable material on the backrest to prevent uncomfortable sweating. When you need to clean the seat pad, simply pull on the zipper to take it off.
In the event of a car crash, your baby will be protected by energy-absorbing foam and a sturdy frame.
There are 2 cup holders, one on each side, for snacks, drinks, or toys.
This model is easy to install as well, and makes it easy to tighten the straps with its SuperCinch feature.
11. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat
The Safety 1st Grow and Go car seat is an affordable model that was designed to adapt to your baby’s growth from 5 to 100 pounds, so you don’t need another car seat.
Although it’s a budget-friendly option, the Grow and Go still has important safety features. The sides of the car seat are created to keep your child safe in case of an accident.
The Grow and Go is designed to do just what its name describes, which is to grow with your child. It transforms from an infant car seat into a front-facing one, and later you can use it as a booster seat, saving you plenty of money in the long run.
There are 2 cup holders, one on each side, and the seat is made from a soft, cushiony material that will make long drives more comfortable. This Safety 1st model also comes with holders for the harness that keep it out of the way when you’re placing your child in the seat.
You can take the pad off for cleaning – it’s safe for both the washing machine and dryer. There are a dozen different designs for you to choose from, so what are you waiting for?
12. Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Graco promises that you will be able to rely on their 4Ever 4-in-1 convertible car seat for as many as 10 years, which is a pretty impressive statement to make – and it’s true.
This car seat has 4 different ways you can use it – in rear-facing mode for kids up to 40 pounds, in forward-facing mode for kids up to 65 pounds, as a highback booster for kids up to 100 pounds, and as a regular backless booster seat for kids up to 120 pounds.
You can find Graco’s InRight Latch system in this model as well, and it will help you install the car seat quickly and without causing you to break a sweat.
The car seat can be adjusted into 6 different reclining positions, so that car naps can be as comfortable as those in a proper bed. The headrest offers ten different ways of adjusting and it will follow every growth spurt.
Graco 4Ever also includes storage space for the harness so that you can pack it away when your child outgrows it, and the bubble level indicator will let you know that the car seat is properly positioned.
Safety is an important feature of this model, too. It was put through rigorous testing to make sure it can withstand car crashes.
13. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible
The Primo Viaggio car seat by Peg Perego is one of the safest car seats around, and even though it comes at a higher price point, it’s definitely worth it.
It comes with energy-absorbing foam that is placed not only on the sides of the car seat but in the middle, too, so that it can provide more protection for your baby. What’s more, there is a special Shock Absorbing Foam Element feature at the bottom of the car seat. It’s there to absorb the force of the impact caused by a car crash, protecting your little one from injury.
Then, there is an additional steel plate added to the back of the car seat that prevents the car seat from flying forward in an accident. As you can see, Peg Perego has put a high premium on safety, so you can have peace of mind.
Apart from that, the Primo Viaggio convertible car seat is comfy, too. It can be reclined as needed and the material feels luxurious to the touch.
Although it doesn’t have a booster seat feature, this is still a fantastic choice for your small car that will keep your child protected and comfortable until he graduates to one.
14. Graco TurboBooster LX Highback Booster Seat with Latch System
When it comes to the best car seat for small cars, we can’t forget about older toddlers who still need a car seat but are too big for the forward-facing mode of most models.
The Graco TurboBooster car seat is a great affordable option for small cars, especially as your kids get taller and take up more room in the back seat.
The car seat can be used as a backless booster, too. The height of the headrest can be adjusted in 6 ways using just one hand. Plus, there is a cup holder. Since it’s very light, you won’t have any trouble switching it between cars, and installing it is quick and painless, too.
Why it’s important to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat
When you’re on the road, there is always a chance that you could get into a car accident, regardless of how careful you try to be.
From careless drivers to those who drive under the influence, there is no way of guaranteeing that you won’t have an accident.
This is why the importance of a car seat should not be underestimated.
Car seats have saved countless lives and I’ve heard numerous stories of parents whose cars were nearly totaled but that their kids were unharmed and without a scratch thanks to their car seats.
You have noticed by now that most car seats for small cars have certain limitations with regards to weight, whether it’s rear- or forward-facing. And offering a bigger weight range in the rear puts a brand at a significant advantage. But why is that?
This is because of guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which recommends that kids should ride in a rear-facing position until they reach the limit of the particular model. Most kids, depending on their growth, can ride like this for a few years and usually reach the limit between the ages of 3 to 5.
Prior to these guidelines, the recommendations were that kids should ride in this mode at least until the age of 2. As a result, many car seat manufacturers are now racing to make seats that can be used in the rear-facing position for as long as possible.
When your child is riding while facing forward, this puts them at a higher risk of getting a serious head or neck injury in a car crash. The force of an impact usually causes the head to jolt forward and the car seat can’t absorb as much of the force, creating a situation where your child could get seriously injured.
In addition, your child’s legs are at a bigger risk of injury when facing forward.
On the other hand, when the car seat is facing the rear, it can better absorb the force of the impact, keeping your child safer from injury, especially the head and neck. The body curls up so that it’s less exposed, which makes for extra protection.
If your child can reach the back seat with his legs, this doesn’t mean you should immediately switch the car seat so that it faces forward. You should only do so when he reaches the limitations set by the manufacturer.
Even though there are kids that don’t like riding like this, it is a safer option and could save their life in a car accident, which is the most important thing. Since there are convertible car seats available to go all the way up to 50 pounds in the rear-facing mode, you can keep your little one protected for a number of years.
Since these 14 picks really are the cream of the crop when it comes to the best car seat for small cars, you can continue using your same little car to run errands or go on trips with your baby in tow. No need to get a new car or dreaded minivan!
If I were you, I would definitely go for a convertible car seat that you can adjust to your baby’s growth. While they might cost a pretty penny, they will save you in the long run as you won’t have to purchase another car seat unless you decide to have another baby. And considering the average cost of having a baby, every penny counts!
Also, pay attention to the weight limit of the rear-facing seat. The bigger the limit, the longer can your child ride safe and protected in your car.
I hope you were able to find the car seat that’s perfect for you and your vehicle. Until next time.
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