Searching for the best convertible car seat with the crash test results is such an uphill task. This is because, although all manufacturers claim that their seats are safe, they do not provide actual crash test results conducted on their car seats(except Clek).
When it comes to the safety of a car seat, the only requirement by law so far is that the car seat should meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 213. Although we were limited in the number of tests we could conduct ourselves, our dedication to providing the most comprehensive analysis and comparison of the safest convertible car seats remained unwavering.
To ensure accuracy, we compiled crash test results from reputable organizations such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Association of American Pediatricians (AAP). We also considered insights from BabyGearLab (accessible without a paywall in the US) and Consumer Reports (CR) over the years. These comprehensive analyses have allowed us to refine our 2024 recommendations.
That said, below is our list and reviews of the Best Convertible Car Seats with crash tests.
Reviews of the Best Convertible Car Seats Crash Test
Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB
In this 2024 update, our aggregate crash test ratings on convertible car seats showed that the Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB is one of the top-performing car seats in terms of safety. It scored high in both front and side-impact crash tests, earning it our top recommendation for parents looking for a car seat with advanced safety features.
CR rated this Advocate brand at the top with an 85% rating with a ‘Best’ score when it comes to safety rating.
Another notable aspect of the Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB is its SafeCell Impact Protection. What makes Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB the safest car seat in my aggregate analysis of five different crash tests is the excellent is all its features aside from SafeCell Impact Protection.
It features an impact-absorbing base, steel frame, and V-shaped tether that work together to reduce crash forces by up to 40%. This system also keeps your child securely in place during a collision, further minimizing the risk of injury. Read more about the 5 benefits of ARB with pros and cons to consider.
It is also designed with strong steel frames to stabilize and minimize seat rotation in the event of a side-impact collision, as well as an energy-absorbing base to reduce crash forces. Featuring a convenient 14-position quick-adjust harness system, this product allows you to effortlessly customize the fit as your child grows, eliminating the need for re-tethering. Avoiding re-tethering not only saves time but also decreases the chances of incorrect installation. This feature is especially important for parents who frequently switch car seats between vehicles.
Advocate stands out and gains an advantage over Marathon and Boulevard by incorporating three comprehensive layers of side impact protection. These include an energy-absorbing shell, side cushions, and a quick-adjust headrest, providing enhanced safeguarding for the head and neck.
Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB exceeds federal safety standards as it has been tested and approved for use on aircraft, making it a versatile choice for families that travel frequently. The ClickTight installation system ensures a secure and tight fit every time, eliminating guesswork and the potential for incorrect installation. The design also offers ease of use with an audible click sound that confirms when the seat is properly installed.
While some users found it to be heavier and not as easily portable compared to the Emblem brand, the superior safety features make it safer than Emblem and all other ClickTight line of products.
Britax Emblem is among the best in class when it comes to your child’s safety. It was given outstanding crash test scores by the Baby Gear Lab, even more than Britax high-end models. NHTSA gave it a four-star rating for overall ease of use and for better comfort, this seat has adjustable non-rethread shoulder straps and comfort padding.
This car seat is a valuable investment that your child will use from 5 to 40 pounds in the rear-facing mode and 20 to 65 pounds forward-facing. It’s comfortable with high quality and super soft fabric, generous foam padding, and two recline positions.
In terms of safety features, the car seat is engineered with an impact stabilizing steel frame for superior strength and stability. It is also equipped with two layers of side impact protection and a quick-adjust foam-lined shell for head and neck protection. Plus, an impact-absorbing base that minimizes collision force.
Other great features include 10 headrest positions, a no-rethread harness, lower anchors and built-in lock-off for LATCH and seatbelt installation, and a removable machine washable cover.
Unlike Britax Boulevard ClickTight model that costs almost $150 more, Britax Emblem has a manual LATCH strap and required much more effort to install. The process itself isn’t long or complicated but if you prefer an easy-to-install option with Latch hooks and clips, you can get the ClickTight model with average crash test results, rated lower than Britax Emblem.
We have a full comparison of Britax Emblem and other Britax models such as Marathon, Allegiance, and Boulevard.
Graco Extend2Fit is the number one top option for families in the US, and with good reasons. The top one is that it is one of the few seats that offer an extended rear-facing weight range. The APP recommends kids face the rear as much as possible, beyond 2 years. Graco accommodates kids – up to 50 pounds rear-facing and forward-facing from 22 to 65 pounds. It is also a favorite among parents because it provides 5 inches for extra legroom with its 4 position leg extension.
The Extend2Fit is constructed with a steel-reinforced frame that provides strength against impact. It provides side impact protection that has been crash-tested and found to exceed federal standards. It was among the top-ranked by Baby Gear Lab for excellent crash test results. It got 4-star ratings from NHTSA for overall ease of use in rear-facing and forward-facing modes. It also got an excellent rating for its ease of installation using LATCH in the rear-facing by Consumer Report.
The Extend2Fit has lots of user-friendly features. It has an InRight LATCH system that makes installation quick and easy. Moreover, it includes an easy-to-read level indicator to ensure you install the seat correctly every time. And, a Fuss Free Harness Storage to keep harness straps out of the way, so it’s easy for you to get the baby in and out of the car seat.
The seat has 10 headrest positions that provide a great fit as your child grows. The harness and headrest move along in one motion, and no rethreading of straps is needed. It has 6 recline positions, 2 crotch strap positions, dual cup holders, and machine washable covers.
Evenflo Tribute LX
You might doubt how reliable Tribute LX convertible is when you learn of its low pricing, but it is a solid and safe car seat for kids up to 40 pounds-5 to 40 pounds rear-facing and 22 to 40 pounds forward-facing. The car seat has been crash-tested using two times the amount of force the Federal Crash Test Standard for side structural integrity to ensure your little one is surrounded in safety.
NHTSA gave the seat a two-star rating for overall ease of use both in the forward and rear-facing modes. Consumer Report gave it moderate to low ranking for ease of installation and overall ease of use after conducting its crash tests. Baby Gear Lab crash tests gave the seat high ratings for having additional safety features than the competition.
The Tribute LX is super lightweight and compact, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a travel car seat that can easily be lugged, switched between cars, and air travel.
The car seat is comfortable even for long trips with sufficient padding and a head pillow, and it’s easy to install using Latch anchors. Moreover, it comes with a removable cup holder to keep drinks close and machine washable seat pads.
- Great for travel; ultra light and compact
- Structurally solid built for safety
- Easy to install
- Easy to clean
- Low pricing
- Your child will outgrow it fast; the max weight limit is only 40 pounds
- Cheap quality straps, no padding, and they get twisted
- Has some sharp plastic edges that may make installation uncomfortable
- You may need to place a rolled towel when installing in rear facing mode in some cars.
Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB
Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB may be pricey, but it’s one of the best convertible seats in the market. It has shining results on Consumer Reports for easy installation, overall ease of use, comfort, and quality. It was ranked highly after Baby Gear Lab crash tests, and NHTSA gave it 4 stars on the overall ease of use in rear-facing and 5 stars in forward-facing mode.
This is one of Britax’s premium models and is flashy; it comes in tons of creative color and pattern options that set it apart. It accommodates kids in the rear-facing mode from 5 to 40 pounds and forward-facing mode from 20 to 65 pounds/ up to 49inches tall.
In terms of safety features, it is engineered using a steel frame, has two layers of side impact protection, and uses a V-shaped tether to minimize seat rotation, which is all part of Britax’s unique SafeCell impact protection. And that’s not all; it also has a steel anti-rebound bar to minimize crash force.
The car seat provides superior comfort with plush padding and premium quality fabrics and 7 recline positions. It comes with Quick-Adjust 14 position headrest that easily adjusts without rethreading the harness.
For a secure, fool-proof installation, the Boulevard ClickTight has an automatic level indicator that ensures correct seat installation at the proper angle. The seat also comes with a smooth, non-skid base to prevent marks or damage to your car, unlike some other car seats.
- High quality and durable
- Has two layers of side impact protection
- Easy to use, ClickTight Installation system
- Straps are easy to adjust and fasten
- Superior comfort
- Keeps your car free of damage or marks with its smooth non skid base
- Classy colors and pattern designs
- Very heavy and bulky
- Not easy to clean, has removable covers but require to be hand washed
The manufacturer describing Clek Foonf says it’s designed like a tank with advanced side impact protection formed by multiple layers of energy-absorbing foam EPP, adjustable headrest, deep side wings, and steel and magnesium substructures. Additionally, it is also equipped with an anti-rebound bar to provide enhanced stability and minimize force during a frontal or side-impact collision.
Concerning crash testing results, Clek Foonf received an average result from Baby Gear Lab. Consumer Report also gave it an average score, while NHTSA gave it 2 stars on the overall ease of use in the rear-facing mode and 3 stars forward-facing.
The Clek Foonf seat is made using superior fabrics that are stain, water, and odor-resistant, which is easy to maintain. Plus, it’s GreenGuard certified as free of harmful chemicals, including flame retardants. It has a narrow profile and sits higher than the standard seat, making it a great option for those with small cars or who want to fit three seats across the back seat. It also features a Rigid-LATCH system that makes installation easy and accurate.
Clek Foonf is another seat with impressive rear-facing limits (14 to 50 pounds), allowing your child to rear face until 4 years of age. Recommended forward-facing limits are from 22 to 65 pounds/ 49 inches tall. You can also use the car seat with an infant, but you buy the insert separately.
- Durable construction
- Extended rear facing weight range
- Provides advanced side impact protection
- Narrow dimensions; can fit three across
- GreenGuard certified
- Easy to clean and requires minimal maintenance
- Shoulder height strap adjustments require unhooking and rethreading
- Difficult installation using the Latch system
- Very expensive
If you value the quality construction and safety of the Britax brand but don’t want to spend a lot, you might want to consider Britax Allegiance, which is their most affordable version.
The Allegiance had outstanding results from Baby Gear Lab testing. The Consumer Reports gave it an average score with ratings for ease of installation while the NHTSA gave the seat four-star ratings on the overall ease of use.
Like all other Britax models, Allegiance is designed with a steel integrated frame and foam-lined shell (one layer, higher-end models have more layers) for side impact protection. It is also constructed with an impact-stabilizing steel frame and an impact-absorbing base.
The seat fits kids weighing between 5 to 40 pounds rear-facing and 20 to 65 pounds forward-facing. It features 10 headrest positions adjustable without rethreading the harness, a three-position recline, and removable covers.
The Allegiance can be installed using both vehicle seat belts and LATCH. The built-in lock-off and lower anchors make installation quite easy and simple.
- Superior quality and durable
- Britax patented safety system that exceed federal standards
- Cover comes off easily for cleaning without rethreading the harness
- Most affordable compared to other Britax models
- Cover is not machine washable
- Not easy to install, no level indicators
Nuna Rava is perhaps the fanciest car seat in the market today. It is known for being incredibly easy to use and super comfy for the little ones. Regarding crash testing, it had impressive high ratings by the Baby Gear Lab. The NHTSA also gave it a four-star rating for overall ease of use in both rear and forward-facing modes.
The car seat is constructed using a steel frame and has a steel-reinforced belt path to prevent twisting. Additionally, it has Retractable Side Impact Protection “pods” for your child’s head and neck protection. The other aspect that makes the Rava safe is that it has an extended rear-facing weight capacity of up to 50 pounds.
Again this seat has premium comfort and style. Its fabrics are not only super soft to the touch but also breathable, free of flame retardants and chemicals, hypoallergenic, and antibacterial as well. The padding is plush. This makes the Rava luxurious and safer than your average car seat.
For the hefty price, it comes with all the convenient features that make parents’ lives a lot easier. It has LATCH connectors, Reveal +Open True Tension door for the easiest installation, no-rethread harness, two crotch buckles that shorten or lengthen by sliding, dual flip cup holders, and machine washable fabrics.
The car seat serves children from 5 pounds with insert up to 65 pounds. It has 10 recline positions and 10 different headrest heights that easily adjust as your child grows for a perfect fit and comfort.
- Premium quality
- Side impact protection
- Extended rear facing weight limits
- No-rethread harness
- Five recline levels at the touch of a button
- Easy seat belt install
- Retractable cup holders
- It’s one of the most expensive convertible seat on the market
- Since the True Tension Doors are not lock-offs, they may confuse parents who are not used to locking seatbelt in other cars’ seats.
- It’s a bit hard to put covers back on the seat after cleaning
Consumer Reports Crash Protection Results:
Consumer Reports conducts various tests to evaluate the safety of vehicles, including crash protection tests. These tests are designed to assess how well a vehicle protects its occupants in the event of a crash. Consumer Reports crash protection evaluation involves several aspects:
- Analysis of Crash Test Data: Consumer Reports reviews crash test results from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). These organizations conduct crash tests that simulate front, side, and rollover crashes. They provide ratings based on how well vehicles protect occupants in these scenarios.
- Safety Features: The presence and effectiveness of safety features such as airbags, electronic stability control, automatic emergency braking, and others are also considered. These features can significantly affect the outcome of a crash and the overall safety rating of a vehicle.
- Child Seat Compatibility: For families, the ease of installing child seats is evaluated since proper installation is crucial for protecting younger passengers.
- Owner Feedback: Consumer Reports also collects feedback from vehicle owners about their experiences, including any safety issues or accidents. This real-world information can provide additional insights into a vehicle’s safety.
Consumer Reports has two classes of car seat crash protection categories; Best and Better.
- Best: The “Best” category signifies that a car seat offers exceptional crash protection compared to others on the market. This rating is given to car seats that not only meet but exceed standard federal safety requirements. Car seats in this category typically feature advanced materials, design elements, and construction techniques that contribute to superior crash performance. They may offer additional side-impact protection, more robust harness systems, and enhanced stability. Essentially, a “Best” rating indicates that the car seat provides the highest level of protection available, according to Consumer Reports’ testing.
Below are all the convertible car seats rated ‘Best’ by CR:
|Crash Protection Rating
|Chicco NextFit Zip
|Britax Boulevard ClickTight
|Britax Advocate ClickTight
|Britax Marathon ClickTight
|Chicco NextFit MAX
|Baby Jogger City Turn
|Baby Trend Trooper
- Better: The “Better” category indicates that a car seat provides good crash protection that meets federal safety standards and possibly includes some additional safety features or design elements that improve upon the basic requirements. However, these car seats may not incorporate as many of the advanced safety features or materials found in those rated as “Best.” A “Better” rating still signifies a safe and reliable choice for consumers but suggests there are other options available that could offer enhanced protection in certain crash scenarios.
|Name of Car Seat
|Cosco Scenera NEXT
|Graco Contender 65
|Safety 1st Jive
|Safety 1st Guide 65
|Safety 1st Guide 65 Sport
|Cosco MightyFit 65
|Graco Contender Slim
|Evenflo Sonus 65
|Cybex Sirona M
|Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 5-65 Convertible
|Maxi-Cosi Pria Sport
|Cybex Sirona S
What to consider when purchasing Safest Convertible Car Seat crash test ratings
Choosing a convertible seat is an important undertaking, and a lot has to be taken into consideration. Here are some factors to consider:
Safety: Ensure that your car seat meets and exceeds federal safety and crash performance standards. All NHTSA-rated car seats are safe. The convertible car seats listed here have also been tested by credible independent bodies and also have great safety ratings by parents.
Ease of installation: a car seat may have all the best safety systems in place, but if you can’t install it correctly or secure your child properly, it will not provide desired safety for your child. To prevent improper installation, buy a car seat with a fail-safe installation system. Today, most cars are equipped with LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), which makes it a lot easier to install car seats properly.
Ease of use: check features that make it easy to install, adjust to other modes, and get your child in and out. You can gather this info from sites like NHTSA, and Consumer Reports, and also by reading reviews of parents who have had experience using the seat.
Check out NHTSA Ease of Use Ratings for 92 Car Seats(list & table). For safety, go for the seats that scored 5/5 on the ‘Securing a Child’ ranking feature.
Car compatibility: car seats will fit differently in different cars. So, measure your backseat dimensions and compare them to the seat dimensions to see if it will fit. This is especially important if you have a small car.
Height and weight limits: Every car seat model has its own limits. The best convertible car seats are those that allow extended rear-facing weight range. The APP recommends the past 2 years; up to 4 years is even better.
Longevity: Convertible cars are designed to last for years. The best ones expire after 10 years, but some also go for only 7 or 8 years. The rule is never to use a car seat after the expiration date, even if it seems in perfect condition. So, check how long you have before the seat expires.
Lifestyle: most people buy a convertible seat to keep in their car seat, but if you are a frequent traveler, the seat’s dimensions and weight will be an important factor for you.
Additional Tips on Safest Convertible Car Seats:
You should be cautious when interpreting the crash test results by these different organizations such as Consumer Reports and BabyGearLab. In the latest reports, you’ll realize that some brands ranked as ‘excellent’ by BabyGearLab such as Graco Extend2Fit has been rated in the 70s by CR which gave Graco Extend2Fit a ‘Better’ status and not Best as it scored 75% below 4 of Britax’s brands.
On the other hand, CR awarded Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB ‘Best Rating’ scoring 85% while BabyGearLab gave it an ‘Above Average’ rating which is pretty confusing.
Be Cautious with Confusing Non-Aligned Ratings
There are no Federal guidelines on what to follow or on how to test various car seats and each organization has its subjective criteria to rank the car seats. For example, CR does not do side-impact protection testing and this does not feature in their overall scores.
Therefore, it is vital to consider more than one source of information when deciding on which convertible car seat to purchase.
I have found forums that are moderated by certified baby car seat experts such as Car Seats for Littles with over 290k members to be very helpful.
I also believe the NHTSA can do better than it currently does with its 5-star system. Imagine how frustrating it is to have to decide between 5 brands rated 4 stars by NHTSA with no specific score such as 75 or 77 to differentiate all the 4-star brands.
Why Installation Matters in Convertible Car Seat Safety:
Regardless of the car seat’s crash test results, the installation of a convertible car seat is equally crucial for ensuring the safety of your child. Improper installation can significantly decrease the effectiveness of the car seat in case of a crash. According to NHTSA, three out of four car seats are not installed correctly, leaving many children at risk.
In this 2024 update, we took a bold step and considered ease of installation is a key safety factor and you’ll realize that ClickTight technology by Britax brands such as Marathon, Boulevard and Advocate made them the Top 3 out of 23 brands tested.
But what makes ClickTight technology so special?
ClickTight allows for a quick and easy installation process by utilizing vehicle seat belts instead of the LATCH system. This not only makes it easier for parents to install, but also ensures a secure fit without any margin of error. This is especially important for convertible car seats, as they are used for a longer time and could potentially be moved between different vehicles. Graco Extend2Fit which was ranked top by BabyGearLab uses LATCH installation and is known to be complicated to install compared to ClickTight technology.
ClickTight technology has been praised for its ability to prevent installation mistakes that are common with the LATCH system. This includes not installing the car seat tightly enough, or using the wrong anchors or weight limits. With ClickTight, these issues are eliminated, providing an extra layer of safety for your child.
Other notable features to consider in a convertible car seat:
- Side-impact protection: This is crucial as side-impact crashes are responsible for one-fourth of all fatal accidents involving children. Look for a car seat with a sturdy shell and energy-absorbing foam to protect your child’s head and body from impact.
- Adjustable harness: As your child grows, the harness will need to be adjusted accordingly to ensure a proper fit. Look for a car seat with an easy-to-adjust harness that can be changed without having to rethread the straps.
- Recline options: Convertible car seats are used from infancy to toddlerhood, so having multiple recline options is important for your child’s comfort and safety. Make sure the car seat has clear indicators to guide you in adjusting the recline correctly.
Factors that Determine Convertible Car Seat Safety Ratings:
- Anti-rebound bar: This feature is attached to the foot of a car seat and helps reduce rotation in case of an accident. It also prevents the car seat from sliding forward. Studies have shown it to reduce impact force by up to 1/3, although some sources claim that it can reduce body, neck, and leg injuries by 40%. Read the pros and cons of ARBs here. Our top recommendation on this 2024 update, is Graco Extend2Fit which achieved excellent seat and baby stability rating in the event of front collision thanks to its ARB.
- Steel frame and reinforced structure: In a collision, car seat frames made of steel can absorb energy better compared to plastic frames. Additionally, a reinforced structure with built-in shock absorbers can also help reduce the impact force on your child in case of an accident. Britax One4Life ClickTight was our top recommendation for this feature as it scored high in both front and side-impact crash tests.
- Five-point harness: This type of harness is designed to distribute the impact force evenly across your child’s body in case of a collision. It also keeps your child securely fastened to the car seat, reducing their chances of being ejected from the seat.
- Side-impact protection: Car seats that have energy-absorbing foam or air pads, expendable wings, and deep headrests have been proven to be effective at minimizing the impact of side collisions on a child’s head and neck.
- Steel Frame: A strong steel frame provides better protection in the event of a crash by absorbing and distributing impact forces. This also allows for more stability and less movement during an accident.
- About the Author
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Hi there! I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at Safer For Baby. I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at email@example.com.