A car seat is one of the few products you’ll purchase for your child which could one day save their life. The guide which follows will help you understand car seat safety, the differences between the many available models, and how to choose the best convertible car seat for your child. please find below the list and detailed reviews of 5 best convertible car seats.
- Best Convertible Car Seats
- Convertible Car Seat FAQs
- What is a convertible car seat?
- What age are convertible car seats appropriate for?
- Do I need a separate infant car seat, or can I use a convertible seat starting at birth?
- I already own an infant car seat. Can I skip a convertible seat and go right to a booster seat?
- How long should my child remain in a rear-facing seat?
- Can I buy a used convertible car seat or get one secondhand from a friend?
- What is the safest convertible car seat?
- Should I spend extra money on a seat which advertises better side impact protection?
- What is the best convertible car seat?
- Safety Tips & Recommendations
1- Britax Boulevard G4 Convertible Car Seat
Britax has four different convertible seats in the G4 line with a 65-pound weight limit. Read on for my complete review of the Boulevard G4 and why I think it’s one of the best values in the Britax lineup.
ritax seats are very highly regarded for safety. Their convertible seats share many of the same safety features, but additional features are also what separate the different models.
First, the shared features found in the Boulevard: steel bars integrated in the sides of the seat to prevent flex in a crash, SafeCells in the base of the seat to compress and reduce crash forces, and the versa-tether system to slow forward movement when used forward-facing.
The Britax 65-pound limit lineup from lowest price to highest includes the Marathon, Boulevard, Pavilion, and Advocate. Compared to the least-costly Marathon, the Boulevard adds a couple of nice safety features:
HUGS Chest Pads with SafeCell Technology: these chest pads are affixed to the seat shell, and not just the harness straps. They’re designed to stay positioned properly in a crash and reduce forward movement of the child in the event of a crash.
True Side Impact Protection: this includes an extra layer of foam to better protect the head in a side impact.
Weight and Dimensions
Depth: 21 inches – The Boulevard occupies less room front-to-back than most car seats supporting up to 65 pounds. This makes it a good choice for smaller cars or when taller passengers are seated up front.
Width: 18.5 inches – The width of this seat is just below average. In most cars it will fit alongside another car seat when one of them is positioned in the middle.
Height: 26 inches – Height is also a bit under average, so this seat doesn’t block rear visibility quite as much as some seats.
Weight: 19.5 pounds – While this isn’t the heaviest convertible seat, with some weighing in at over 20 or even 30 pounds, it is on the heavier side. A lot of this is due to the steel reinforcement bars along the sides of the seat. If you fly frequently there are other seats which are easier to haul around, but the Boulevard isn’t too bad for occasional travel.
Overall, the Boulevard is a fairly compact seat given its height and weight limits and fits most vehicles well.
The instruction manual for the Boulevard G4 has improved from the previous generation. The illustrations are good and it’s pretty straightforward to follow.
LATCH installation for both forward and rear-facing are about as simple as it gets. If you’re using the seat belt installation method, it’s a bit more work to access the belt path and to push down on the seat while removing slack from the belt, but it’s no more of a challenge than belt installations for other seats.
The recline angle can be set to three positions (1-2 for forward facing, 3 for rear facing) and is done simply by pulling a lever underneath the front of the seat and rotating the seat on the base. The level is checked by comparing the level line indicator on the side of the seat to horizontal.
The average person should have no problem safely installing the seat with either method. So long as you take care to check that no straps are twisted, the recline angle is properly set, and that the seat can’t be moved more than 1” side-to-side or front-to-back, you can be confident it’s installed properly.
The Boulevard has a rear-facing limit of 40 pounds, which allows for rear facing well beyond 2 years as recommended by the AAP. This seat can also be used for infants as small as 5 pounds, and it does so quite well with the included infant positioning pillow. This makes the Boulevard a good choice if you wish to skip a separate infant car seat and go right to a convertible.
When installed forward facing, there is a weight limit of 65 pounds and height limit of 49 inches on this seat. You may notice that older models of seats such as Britax’s G3 line were advertised as supporting 70 pounds. This changed due to NHTSA safety regulations put in place in 2014. Because of this, 65 pounds is the highest weight limit you’ll find in new convertible car seat models, which the Boulevard matches.
The 49” height limit isn’t the highest out there, but it’s still high enough to fit most children until they reach 6 or 7 years of age. This does have a benefit – it keeps the seat shell shorter which frees up space when rear-facing and impacts rear visibility less when forward-facing.
This seat uses a no-rethread harness, which means you can adjust the height of both the headrest and the shoulder straps with one simple adjustment, rather than having to remove the shoulder harness and thread it into a higher or lower slot.
The harness buckle also has two positions for better fitment.
Fabric and Design
The available covers for the Boulevard are comfortable and durable. The top cover can be wiped down for small messes, or can be removed fairly easily and hand washed.
Britax offers a total of six colors for this seat – Desert Palm, Durham, Laguna, Onyx, Silver Birch, and Sterling. Desert Palm is only available at Toys ‘R Us and Durham is only available at Target; the prices do run a bit higher than the other colors which are available at Amazon.
Warranty and Customer Service
A one-year warranty is included on this seat, which is typical of nearly every brand.
Britax has outstanding customer service, to the point where I feel it’s a big selling point. If you have installation questions or need replacement parts, Britax is quick to respond and very friendly to work with.
All car seats have an expiration date after which they’re no longer safe to use. The Boulevard expires 7 years from the date of manufacture. Compared to the 6-year expiration date of many models, it’s good for one extra year of usable life.
Britax seats aren’t cheap, but they’re also far from being the most expensive. On each of their models, you’ll find premium features that match most of those on the priciest seats. In terms of quality, ease of use, and safety I do feel they’re a good value.
I think the Boulevard is one of the best choices for the money in the Britax lineup. While the Marathon is the least expensive seat supporting 65 pounds, the Boulevard costs only about $20 more. It adds a couple of very good features for this price difference: HUGS chest pads and an extra layer of side impact protection around the head.
The only accessory included with this seat is the infant insert. Cup holders are a popular addition, but are not included in the box.
Britax has a number of branded accessories available including the previously mentioned cup holder, a seat protector, waterproof liner, seat storage pouch, travel seat bag, and travel cart.
- Excellent safety features
- Easy installation
- Good range of adjustment
- High quality fabric cover
- Great customer service from Britax
- A bit heavy
- No cupholder included
If you’re looking for a safe convertible seat that’s easy to install and adjust, while not taking up too much space in your vehicle, Britax seats are a great choice.
2- Britax Advocate 70-G3 Convertible Car Seat
The Advocate 70-G3 is Britax’s top-of-the-line model. But is it worth the added expense over other models? Read on for my complete review.
Britax is well regarded for the safety of their seats, and the Advocate 70-G3 is touted as their safest seat.
The primary safety feature that the Advocate adds to the Britax lineup is its Side Impact Cushion Technology. Just looking at the photo of the seat, you’ll notice the large side cushions. While it’s not possible to find out detailed NHTSA crash data on seats, Britax has a reputation for researching the best in child safety features. If you’re looking for better side impact protection than the average seat, I would bet on the Advocate following through with their claims.
The seat also comes with HUGS chest pads that can be used for toddlers and older children to reduce strain in the event of a crash. Instead of using a cloth pad for ride comfort only, these pads will compress to absorb energy.
Like other Britax 70-G3 seats, the Advocate has steel reinforcement bars, an energy-absorbing Versa-tether system, and the recently-added SafeCell system in the base to absorb crash forces.
You can’t go wrong with a Britax seat in terms of safety, in my opinion. If you’re looking for the safest seat Britax has to offer, the Advocate is it.
Weight and Dimensions
When selecting a car seat it’s important to look at the size to make sure it will fit your vehicle. Here are the specs and how they compare to other seats:
Depth: 21” – Depth is average. Fits well in most vehicles. Not recommended for small cars with tall passengers in front when the seat used in the rear-facing position.
Width: 22” – This is currently the widest seat on the market. A large sedan, truck, or SUV is recommended if the seat will be installed in the center position and there will be additional seats or passengers in back.
Height: 26” – Average. The driver’s rear visibility isn’t impacted in most cases.
Weight: 21.6 pounds – Not the heaviest seat out there, but it weighs more than most. If you plan to travel a lot with the seat, consider a Britax Travel Cart.
Due to the enhanced side impact protection, the Advocate 70-G3 is a wide seat. If you have a roomy vehicle, it’s not a big issue. However, in smaller cars this reduces the available space for additional car seats and passengers in the back seat.
Seats in the Britax 70-G3 line have the same installation procedures. Both the LATCH and seatbelt installation methods for rear and front facing positions are straightforward, with LATCH being easier to tighten to the point of having the required 1” or less of seat movement.
The seat has a simple blue line to use as a leveling guide. It’s recommended to stay within a 15 degree range; if the line is even with the ground, it’s in the center of this range. With this seat you’ll need to “eyeball” whether it’s level, and use a pool noodle or rolled up towel to raise one end if needed. Some seats use a bubble level which is a better method than what’s available on the Advocate 70-G3.
The recline position is based on whether the seat is used forward or rear-facing and can easily be changed by pulling the handle and rotating the seat.
As for the instruction manual, it’s not the easiest to follow. Some illustrations and descriptions are better than others. If you’re unclear on a particular step, I recommend calling Britax for clarification.
When used in the rear-facing position, the Advocate can be used for children up to 40 pounds. This is a bit above the average weight limit, and means that most children can be seated rear-facing for around 4 years.
The minimum weight for the Advocate is 5 pounds, which is fairly typical.
The forward facing minimum for the Advocate is 20 pounds, but as with any seat I’d recommend using it in the rear-facing position well beyond 20 pounds.
As the name indicates, the Advocate 70-G3 can be used for children up to 70 pounds, which is on the high side. The height limit is 49”, which is more average. Most children will outgrow this seat in height before weight – anywhere for 6 to 9 years old.
It can be a bit trickier than some seats to get your child seated in the Advocate. This is due to the large side impact protectors. Otherwise, it’s an easy seat to use and adjust. The Advocate (along with the Pavilion) adds a Click & Safe harness indicator. Once your child is seated and the harness buckles are locked, simply pull on the harness adjuster strap until the indicator clicks. You’ll want to double-check the slack in the harness, but this system generally does a good job of adjusting the belt properly with one tug.
In some cases, the included harness straps may be outgrown before your child reaches the height/weight limit. If this happens, contact Britax and they should send you longer straps free of charge.
Fabric and Design
Britax has five different fabric options for the Advocate – Anna, Onyx, Opus Gray, Serene, and Zebra. One thing to keep in mind is that the Onyx seat uses a different material than the others. It uses a fabric which is a bit like a canvas bag. It’s not as plush as the others, but it’s easier to wipe clean and will be less warm for your child if you live in a hot climate. The other fabrics are very soft and fuzzy – they’re a good choice if the seat will often be sitting in a cold car during the winter since they’ll feel warmer.
Warranty and Customer Service
The Advocate has a 1-year manufacturer warranty, which is typical for car seats. Britax has a very good reputation for their customer service, even beyond the warranty, which is a big reason why Britax seats come so highly recommended.
The Advocate 70-G3 has a 7 year expiration date. This is a year longer than most seats on the market, which is helpful if you start using it when your child is an infant or if you plan to later use it for another child.
Some models by Clek, Diono, and Chicco can safely be used even longer if that’s a big concern for you.
While the Advocate is fairly pricey, it also has some of the best safety features available. It’s still far from being the most expensive seat on the market. I recommend purchasing from Amazon – they price Britax seats at 15-25% less than stores like Babies ‘R Us and Buy Buy Baby.
A removable insert is included with the seat for use with small infants. That’s all that’s included as far as accessories go.
- Some of the best safety features available
- Straightforward installation
- Good rear and forward facing size limits
- Harness is easy to fasten and adjust
- Great fabric choices
- Excellent Britax customer service
- Good overall value
- The widest of any convertible car seat
- Heavier than most seats
- Basic leveling system
- No cupholder included
If you’re looking for the very best in terms of safety features from a well-regarded company, the Britax Advocate 70-G3 is my top pick. Keep in mind that it may not fit small cars when taller passengers are seated up front, and in all cars it takes up more width in the back seat than most convertible car seats. If you have the cabin space in your car, truck, or SUV, the Advocate 70-G3 is the best Britax has to offer.
If the price is out of your budget, the Britax Boulevard, Marathon, and Pavilion are also great choices which have many of the same safety features at a lower cost.
3- Evenflo Tribute 5 DLX Convertible Car Seat
The Evenflo Tribute 5 DLX is one of my top picks in a budget-priced car seat. It’s available for around $60 at Amazon which is quite a bargain. How does it compare to other convertible car seats? Read on for my detailed review.
Tribute 5 DLX vs Sport vs Select
First off, I’d like to point out that the Tribute 5 DLX is a little different from the Tribute Sport and Tribute Select from Evenflo. Each of these seats has the same height and weight limits and uses the same structure, so they share the “Tribute” name. The “DLX” stands for “Deluxe.” The DLX adds infant head & body pillows, harness pads, and a cup holder. Between the Sport and the Select, the Select adds only the harness pads. For a small additional cost, the DLX is better padded and more comfortable – especially for younger babies.
The Tribute is a basic car seat, so it doesn’t have any enhanced safety features such as a reinforced frame or special side-impact bolsters. This is typical of reasonably priced seats. This seat, however, has passed all NHTSA crash tests.
Weight and Dimensions
Depth: 18” – This is a shallow depth which means the Tribute 5 DLX fits well in compact cars, even with taller passengers in front. Combined with a relatively short shell height, it’s one of the more compact seats available.
Width: 17” – This is a very narrow seat, with only the Combi Cocorro being less wide. When installed in the rear center seat of a smaller car, passengers on either side will still have room to sit comfortably. This seat is also well suited if you need to install more than one car seat in the same row.
Height: 25” – The low height means rear visibility for the driver is not affected, with the tradeoff of children outgrowing the seat earlier than many other (typically pricier) models.
Weight: 8.5 pounds – This is a very lightweight seat, which makes it ideal for traveling. It is FAA approved for flight use and as one of the smaller convertible car seats, it should fit most commercial airplanes.
With inexpensive seats, one thing you often sacrifice is a simple installation. The Tribute 5 does take a little work to install properly. There is no level adjustment, so you’ll need to use a rolled up towel or pool noodle if your car’s seats don’t provide the right incline. Also, there isn’t a bubble level indicator, but rather a line which you need to make sure is level with the ground.
The seat offers both LATCH and belt installation. Only one or the other should be used. Both methods are pretty easy aside from leveling.
The Tribute 5 can be used rear facing for infants as small as 5 pounds and weighing up to 35 pounds. The top anchor position of the belt cannot be used when rear facing. The weight limit and belt position mean it can’t be used rear facing as long as some other convertible seats on the market, but this is common for lower priced models.
The forward facing maximum weight is 40 pounds, while the height limit is 40”. These are low limits, so with the price of the seat and its small dimensions you do sacrifice the amount of time it can be used before being outgrown. Expect for this seat to last until your child is 4 to 4 ½ years old before it’s time to move onto a booster seat.
There are 4 different height positions for the shoulder straps. The bottom slot can only be used when rear-facing, while the top slot can only be used forward-facing. The crotch strap has two positions. The level of height adjustment isn’t great, but this is mainly due to the overall dimensions and height limit of the seat.
Fastening the buckles is straightforward. The harness is tightened by pulling an adjustment strap at the front of the seat. This strap can be a bit tough to pull tight enough, especially when used rear facing.
Fabric and Design
You won’t find as good of padding on budget seats as you will on seats such as those in the Britax line. However, the feel of the fabric on the Triumph 5 DLX is quite nice for the money. The cover is removable and machine washable. Unlike many seat covers which need to be air dried, this one can be dried in the dryer on a low heat setting.
Warranty and Customer Service
Evenflo offers only a 90 day warranty on the Tribute 5. This is shorter than the industry average of one year. I’m guessing this is a cost-cutting measure to keep the price down. People generally have very good things to say about Evenflo’s customer service, though, so it may be possible to get help even beyond the warranty period.
All car seats have an expiration date. The Tribute has an expiration date of 6 years from the date of manufacture. Six years is typical for all convertible seats under $100.
Though there are some areas where the Tribute doesn’t match higher-end models, it really is a good seat for the price. There aren’t a lot of good options below $100, and the Tribute is well below that price point at about $60. If you’re on a limited budget, I don’t think you can go wrong with this seat.
The Tribute 5 DLX model includes infant head and body pillows and a cup holder. The cup holder is a bit flimsy but does the job, and many other seats don’t even include one.
- Very reasonably priced
- Relatively small dimensions; good for travel
- Fabric is machine washable and dryer safe
- No recline adjustment or bubble level
- Low height and weight limits
- Harness takes a fair amount of effort to tighten
- Short 90-day warranty
The Evenflo Tribute 5 DLX is a great choice for the money. While high-end seats will allow for easier installation and can be used with older children, they can cost four times as much or more. In terms of features, it has other seats in its price range beat. If you’re looking to spend under $70, it’s my top pick.
4- Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat
The My Ride 65 LX is one of several convertible seats from Graco. How does it compare against other brands and the rest of the Graco line? Read on for my full review.
First off, Graco has an almost overwhelming number of seats to choose from. However, many of the seats are identical in construction but have small differences in options. Here is a brief comparison of the different My Ride seats:
vs. My Ride 65 DLX: The My Ride LX includes an infant head rest only, while the DLX includes an insert which adds support for both the infant’s head and torso. The DLX costs about $20 more.
vs. My Ride 70: This model is sold in Target stores only. As its name indicates, it has a 70 pound weight limit instead of 65 pounds. The height limit is the same as the My Ride 65 LX and DLX. The infant insert is not identical to the DLX, but also supports the head and torso. This model costs about $40 more than the LX.
So currently, there are three choices under the My Ride name. Since most children will outgrow their convertible seats in height before weight, I don’t feel the 5 pound higher limit on the My Ride 70 is worth the extra money. If you’ll be using the seat with an infant, I would go with the DLX. If not, I think the LX I’m reviewing here is the best value.
The My Ride 65 has rather large side impact wings and is touted as having been side-impact tested.
This seat doesn’t have any innovative safety features, but that’s to be expected as it costs about ½ what the higher-end competition does. Graco has been making seats since the late 90’s and does have a good reputation for safety. Of course, this seat has passed all NHTSA safety tests as required to be available on the US market.
Weight and Dimensions
Depth: 27 inches – This measurement is much higher than other seats, but only because Graco for some reason measured the seat fully reclined while other seats (Graco or otherwise) use an upright measurement. The forward-facing depth is at least a few inches shorter and would be considered average.
Width: 20.8 inches – The width of this seat is higher than a lot of its competition. This has a lot to do with the dual cupholder design. If you’ll be installing the seat on either the left or right side of a bench seat, or in a bucket seat, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you’d like to install it in the center seat, it will cut into the space available to either side.
Height: 26 inches – Height is a below average and doesn’t impact rear visibility as much as the average seat.
Weight: 15.8 pounds – This is a fairly light seat, which makes it easier to move between vehicles and travel with.
The instruction manual does a good job of explaining terminology at the start of the guide. It’s then broken up by installation type – forward or rear facing, LATCH or seat belt. It’s a fairly easy guide to follow. This seat earned a 4 star overall ease-of-use rating from the NHTSA.
The rear-facing LATCH installation is probably the one area where this seat is tricky to install. Due to their positioning, it can be hard to reach the LATCH belts to tighten them. You might find that the seat belt installation is easier when installing the seat rear-facing.
The My Ride does have a ball-level indicator which makes leveling the seat easier than the simple printed line used on many seats.
This seat has a rear-facing weight limit of 40 pounds, which is quite good. This allows children to remain rear-facing longer, which is of course the safest position.
Again, LATCH installation is tricky when rear-facing, so I would recommend the seat belt installation.
The My Ride has a weight limit of 65 pounds and height limit of 50 inches. These both compare well to most seats, even those costing twice as much.
The forward-facing installation procedure is straightforward, making this seat pretty easy to safely install.
Since this seat supports high weight and high limits both forward and rear facing, it’s important to look at what adjustments can be made and how easy it is to make them.
Some seats offer multiple positions for the crotch buckle. Unfortunately, the My Ride only has one position, which can make it a bit snug on older, heavier kids.
At the shoulders, there are 5 different slots for the harness. The range of adjustment is good with this seat for anywhere from newborns on up. You will need to rethread the harness through these slots to adjust the height of the straps, unlike some pricier seats that don’t require rethreading the harness. Rethreading isn’t too time consuming, but if you’ll frequently be seating children of different heights in one seat, consider the Size4Me 65.
This seat did have a recalled latch in early 2014 due to an issue with the buckle sticking. Most new seats should ship with the new and improved buckle – you can tell by whether the seat’s red buckle release button is square (new design) or round (recalled design). If you end up with the old design, you simply need to call Graco at 1-800-345-4109 for a replacement.
Fabric and Design
There are six different colors available for the My Ride 65 LX. The brighter “Ezra” and “Lana” colors are Wal-Mart exclusives, while the others are widely available and can be found a bit cheaper at Amazon. The fabric has a comfortable feel and can be wiped clean easily.
For bigger messes, the entire top cover of the seat is machine washable.
Warranty and Customer Service
This seat has a 1 year warranty, which is standard for most child car seats.
Customer service is an area where Graco stands out. Many parents are devoted users of Graco products because of their reliable and responsive support.
Every car seat is given an expiration date by the manufacturer, based on the materials used and the date it was made. The My Ride has a 6-year expiration date, which is typical. Many newer car seats in the $200+ price range have 7 year expiration dates, but 6 years is pretty typical for this price range.
The My Ride is a reasonably priced seat. It’s an excellent value if you’re looking for a seat with high weight and height limits – there are few options in this price range that support up to 65 pounds and 50”. Value is probably the best reason to choose this seat over its many competitors.
This seat is one of the few out there with two cup holders. This is great for keeping one drink cup and one snack cup for long road trips, or for other passengers to have a cupholder when there otherwise isn’t one.
A removable infant support is also included.
Since this seat has cupholders covered, the only other accessories you might consider are a travel bag, travel cart, or seat protector. Graco does not make these items, but there are plenty of universal products out there which will work. Though this seat is pretty wide, the J.L. Childress travel bag supposedly fits it fine.
- High weight and height limits
- Lightweight seat
- Easy installation
- Machine washable cover
- Dual cupholders
- Great value
- Wide seat
- No crotch buckle adjustment
- Harness must be rethreaded to adjust height
The My Ride 65 LX is one of the better values out there in a convertible car seat. The high limits for both height and weight extend the time you can use the seat both rear facing and forward facing. The easy installation helps ensure the seat can be used safely. Though it’s missing the no-rethread harness and crotch buckle adjustment found in pricier seats, it costs about half of what Britax and other fully-featured seats do.
5- Orbit Baby G2 Convertible Car Seat
The Orbit Baby Toddler Car Seat G2 has some great features such as being able to dock in a stroller system and rotating while installed in the car. But is it worth the hefty price tag? Continue reading for my complete review.
The Toddler Car Seat G2 uses side impact braces when installed without a base to provide additional impact protection. Also aiding in side impacts are large foam wings are built in to the upper sides of the seats along with an adjustable headrest with soft side wings.
While Orbit Baby’s convertible car seat is not as popular as their infant seats, they do have a good reputation for safety.
As with all car seats, detailed NHTSA crash data is not available. The NHTSA does rate ease-of-use, and the Toddler Seat G2 comes in at 2 stars rear facing and 4 stars forward facing.
Weight and Dimensions
Depth: 23” – The depth of the Toddler Seat G2 is a bit large, which doesn’t make it ideal for smaller cars with taller passengers up front.
Width: 18” – The width of this seat is slightly below average, so it doesn’t require too wide of a car to allow seating for other passengers in the back seat. When installed, the width shouldn’t interfere with access to the other seat buckles in most vehicles.
Height: 24” – On the low end, so it won’t obstruct rear visibility when the headrest is at lower positions, and minimally at higher positions.
Weight: 21.5 pounds – This seat is certainly on the heavy side. This is something to take into consideration if you like the seat for its ability to lock into the Stroller G2 and the optional car seat base. This is about twice as much as the infant car seat, so moving it around could become cumbersome as your baby grows.
Optionally, this seat car be used with the same Orbit Baby car seat base as their infant car seat. This base is not included, but is what allows the seat to swivel and dock which are two of its most helpful features.
Installing the base is simple, and locking the seat into this base is also straightforward, though it takes a bit of practice to line it up just right. A helpful indicator on the base shows up in red if it’s not docked correctly.
Without the optional base, it takes a little more work to install. You’ll first need to separate the two side impact braces, make sure the locking knob is unlocked, press the braces in place, then lock. After the braces are in place, you’ll continue with the LATCH or seat belt install. A level on the side of one side brace helps ensure the proper angle. It’s not a tough install, but more time consuming than some other seats if you don’t have the base.
This seat can be used rear facing starting at 15 pounds, so it can’t be used with newborns unlike many other convertible seats. The weight limit is 35 pounds, which isn’t bad, but not as good as a lot of others which support up to 40 pounds.
A big complaint with the Toddler Seat G2 is that it sits a little too upright – the seat back for the child doesn’t have much of an incline. Because of this, I recommend it only be used for babies with good head control. Even then, some babies sleep better at more of an incline, so keep this in mind.
The Toddler Seat G2 can be used up to a maximum of 65 pounds and 50”, which is quite good. Most children can ride in this seat until about 7 years of age.
Again, this seat sits fairly upright, but for older forward-facing children this should be less of an issue as they’ll have good head control.
This seat has 4 pairs of upper harness slot which offer a good range of adjustment. Adjustment can be done from behind the rear access panel without removing the seat from the car, which is nice. The crotch belt and headrest are also adjustable.
The buckles on this seat feel solid and secure. The straps, however, feel a bit thin and can tangle somewhat easily.
My biggest dislike about this seat is the adjuster strap which sits at the front of the seat. To get the harness to the proper snugness, you pull the adjuster strap straight out from the seat. The problem with this comes when used in rear-facing mode. The seatback of the car gets in the way and makes it difficult to pull tight. Of course, it’s very important not to have too much slack in the harness so this is a big drawback. This is not much of an issue when fastening your child front-facing, or better yet, with the base installed and the seat rotated toward the door.
Fabric and Design
Three gender-neutral colors are available for the Toddler Seat G2 – Black, Red, and Mocha. The cover is very soft, plush, and comfortable. It doesn’t wipe down as well as some other fabrics, but removes easily for washing.
Warranty and Customer Service
This seat has a 2-year warranty, which beats a lot of other brands’ 1-year warranties. Orbit Baby is also known for having very good customer service, so if you have problems, they should have you covered.
The expiration of the Toddler Seat G2 is 6 years. While this is a common lifespan for a convertible seat, it doesn’t match the 7 year lifespan of Britax and Combi seats or even the 8 and 9 years of Chicco and Clek.
If you already have the Orbit Baby car seat base, you’ll be able to take advantage of the swivel feature of this seat. The same goes with the ability to quickly dock the seat in the car. The price without the base is on the upper end, but not out of line with other high quality seats.
If you don’t already have the base, it becomes quite expensive to pair it with the seat.
This seat is not intended for newborns, so it doesn’t have a newborn insert. No accessories are included with the seat.
The Orbit Baby base is highly recommended to take advantage of the swivel and docking features. This is also the only convertible car seat you can lock into a stroller and a cradle.
- Swivel feature makes getting your child in and out of the car easier
- The only convertible seat available that can easily be removed and locked into a stroller
- High quality, soft cover material
- Easy installation when used with base
- Base is sold separately
- Harness adjuster is difficult to use when rear-facing
- Seating position is quite upright
Whether I recommend this seat comes down to if you already have the Orbit Baby car seat base. If you do, the price of this seat isn’t out of line with other high-end seats, and it has some great features such as swiveling and docking into a stroller. Some people wouldn’t want to be without these added features, and this is the only seat that has both.
If you don’t use the base, I’m afraid this seat doesn’t stand out among its competition. If you need to purchase the base separately, this makes the combo of seat + base the most expensive out there. In this case, I only would choose the combo if the cost is not a factor and you must have the swivel and docking features.
Convertible Car Seat FAQs?
What is a convertible car seat?
This is a child seat which gives you the option of using it as both a rear facing and a forward facing seat. They’re designed to fit a wide range of heights and weights, and so they’re very adjustable.
What age are convertible car seats appropriate for?
Most convertible seats can be used with infants as little as 5 pounds. They will continue to fit until your child reaches anywhere from 40 to 65 pounds and 40” to 52” in height, depending on the model. For example, a seat with a 40 pound maximum weight will fit from birth to about 4 years of age, while one with a 65 pound max weight will fit until around 7 years of age.
Do I need a separate infant car seat, or can I use a convertible seat starting at birth?
Many parents choose to start their babies out in infant seats simply for the added convenience. Infant seats can easily be removed from your car, carried, and locked into a stroller since they include a detachable base. In terms of safety, convertible car seats are just as safe for newborns and infants as long as the weight minimum is met and they are used properly. Look for seats which offer a newborn insert to best fit a small infant.
I already own an infant car seat. Can I skip a convertible seat and go right to a booster seat?
While your child may fit into a booster seat after outgrowing an infant seat, it’s not recommended. Booster seats are forward-facing only. It’s safest to keep your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible. Convertible car seats have higher rear-facing weight limits than nearly all infant seats. This means when your child outgrows the infant seat, they can use a convertible car seat in the rear-facing position until they grow another 10-15 pounds.
How long should my child remain in a rear-facing seat?
In many states, it is required by law for children below 1 year of age to be in a rear-facing car seat. Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents keep their toddlers in rear-facing seats until at least 2 years of age. It’s safest for children to remain in that seating position until the rear-facing weight limit of your convertible car seat is reached, which can be anywhere from 2 to 5 years of age depending on your child’s growth and the seat you choose.
Can I buy a used convertible car seat or get one secondhand from a friend?
It’s strongly recommended that you don’t in most cases. There are a number of reasons for this. First, you can’t be certain of the seat’s condition unless you know its history. Think of a car seat’s protective shell like a helmet. Once a child seat is in an accident, or even dropped, its ability to protect has likely been compromised. There is no easy way to examine a used seat to know whether the shell has been damaged.
Next, the materials in the seat are only designed to provide protection for a certain amount of time (typically 6-8 years) and so all seats are given an expiration date by the manufacturer. If you get a used seat that was purchased several years ago it may not be safe to use for long.
A used car seat may be missing the instruction manual, which is critical to proper installation, or accessories which are necessary for proper fitment of your child.
Finally, newer is better when it comes to safety. Car seats are improving all the time. The latest models from top brands are designed to be safer than their last generation of seats.
Only if you’re 100% certain of the seat’s history and the expiration date is far enough in the future should you consider it.
What is the safest convertible car seat?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests all car seats before they are approved to be sold in the United States. Unlike safety testing for cars, ratings on a 5-star scale are not available for comparing overall car seat safety in the event of a crash. Child car seats are basically given a pass/fail safety grading by the NHTSA; if a car seat is available for sale in 2016, then it has passed current crash safety standards.
You may have heard the phrase “the safest car seat is the one that’s used correctly every time.” Well, some seats are easier than others to install and adjust properly. Confusing instructions and difficult harnesses can make it hard to secure your child in the seat.
Fortunately, the NHTSA does provide “Ease-of-Use” ratings for car seats. These are 5-star ratings of the labels, instructions, installation features, and how easy it is to secure a child in the seat. The reviews and recommendations at CarSeatAnswers.com take these ratings into account.
Should I spend extra money on a seat which advertises better “side impact protection?”
Some models tout additional protective features; one of the more commonly advertised options is enhanced side impact protection. Keep in mind crash test data is not available, so you can’t see for yourself if an added feature really does make the seat safer in a crash. If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to go with an expensive top-end model to be confident your child is safe – the fitment of the seat and where it’s positioned in your car is far more important. On the other hand, if you can afford the fully-featured model and you trust claims made by the manufacturer, added safety features may offer more protection in certain types of crashes. Use your own judgment.
What is the best convertible car seat?
While there isn’t one car seat that will work best for everyone, some models really stand out for their high-quality materials, ease of use, and added safety features.
My top pick is the Britax Marathon G4.1. Ask nearly any owner and they’ll have nothing but praise for this seat. Britax puts a lot of effort into making sure their instructions are clear and their seats are as easy as possible to install and secure your child in. Steel bars are used to reinforce the structure and side impact protection is built in. The Marathon has a large range of adjustment and will fit children up to 40 pounds rear facing, or 65 pounds and 49” front facing. The fabric is easily cleaned and very comfortable for extended trips. While the full Britax convertible car seat line is excellent (including the Advocate and Boulevard) I feel the Marathon is the best value.
Note: If you plan to travel a lot with your seat, or frequently move it between cars, Britax also offers a ClickTight version of their Advocate, Boulevard, and Marathon seats. Though heavier and a little more costly, these seats are MUCH quicker to install with a seat belt – taking seconds rather than minutes.
Another great choice is the Chicco Nextfit. The Keyfit infant car seat system from Chicco is well known for its quality and safety; the Nextfit is Chicco’s convertible seat, and it’s just as great. It’s priced on the high end, but I’ve found it’s one of the easiest convertible seats to install and adjust.
If you’re looking for more versatility, along with higher weight and height limits, consider the Diono Radian RXT. Like the Britax and Chicco seats, it features a reinforced steel structure and side impact protection. This is a 3-in-1 seat which can be used rear facing, then front facing, and finally as a booster seat. It supports up to 45 pounds rear facing and 80 pounds / 57” tall forward facing, yet it is narrower than most seats so you can fit up to 3 side by side in most cars.
Which Seat is Safest for a Baby’s Car Seat?
Installation manuals for new car seats explain how to use the seat in various positions, whether you’re using a seat belt or LATCH installation. But which seat within your car is the safest?
Let’s break seat placement down by the configuration of your vehicle’s seats.
Cars and Trucks with 2 Seats
The back seat is considerably safer for a child seat, so safety experts recommend against 2-seat cars for babies if they can be avoided.
However, if you must seat a child up front, be certain that you can first disable the passenger side air bag. Most cars have a switch in the glove box or on the dashboard to turn this airbag off. Consult the owner’s manual for details. Also, it’s important to rear face the child for additional protection so long as the rear facing weight limit hasn’t been reached.
Cars and Trucks with a Back Seat
Most sedans, SUV’s, and extended-cab trucks have a rear bench with seating for three. You should install your child seat in the center of the rear bench.
If you have two car seats to install, there is more to consider.
Car accident data indicates there is a slightly lower risk of injury in the passenger side rear seats. Keep in mind, the difference is very small, and every accident is different. However, there is another advantage to child seats on the passenger side if the center seat is occupied. If you parallel park your car, the driver’s side faces toward traffic. With a child seat on the passenger side, you can safely get your child in and out of the car at the curbside when parallel parking.
Minivans and SUV’s with 3rd Row Seating
Most vehicles with 3rd row seating have a bench seat in the back row, but the middle row may have either bucket seats or a bench.
If you’re installing a single car seat, the closer to the center of the vehicle you can place the seat, the better. For cars with a bench in the middle row, install the seat in the center of the middle row. With bucket seats in the middle, install the seat in the third row.
What if you have two children in car seats? If you have bench seats in both of the back rows, use the center seats of both the middle and back rows.
With 3+ car seats, or 2+ seats in a vehicle with middle row buckets, some seats will need to be installed on the sides of the car. First, install child seats in your middle row, if it has a center seat. Then, install in the back row’s center seat. The next best position is the passenger seat of the middle row. If you still have another seat to install after that, use the back row’s passenger side seat.
I have two car seats to install in my back seat – one is forward facing and one is rear facing. Which should go in the center seat?
As you know by now, the center seat is the safest place in the car. If you have both an infant and a toddler in car seats, which should get the center position? The answer to this question isn’t obvious.
Generally, the thinking is that the least-protected child should get the center seat. A toddler in a forward-facing seat is protected less since the seating position isn’t as safe as rear facing. For this reason, installing the forward facing seat in the center and the rear facing seat on the passenger side is recommended.
However, some parents feel that since infants are more vulnerable, they should be in center seat of the car. If this is your preference, a toddler in the side seat should still be adequately protected if both seats are used properly. I do advise that you select a convertible car seat with side impact protection if you make this choice.
As always, be sure to carefully read through and follow the instructions provided with your car seat. Some child seats state that they can’t be used in the center seat of specific car models. Be sure to follow these exceptions and always install your seat properly. When in doubt, have your installation checked out at a child seat inspection station