The 4 Best Convertible and All-in-One Car Seats of 2024 Reviews by Wirecutter

Many states also require children under a year old to ride rear-facing in their car seat, and increasingly state laws require kids to stay rear-facing up to the age of 2 (though longer is better). Both the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (PDF) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children stay rear-facing for as long as possible. That is, “until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer,” according to the AAP. The British Medical Journal concluded in 2009 that a child is safer riding rear-facing until they’re 4 years old. In Sweden, a country with a notably low fatality rate for children in car crashes, kids typically sit rear-facing until they’re 4 years old.

Also, you can sign up with NHTSA to receive e-mail alerts about car seat and booster seat recalls. Graco is renowned for producing car seats for children of various age groups, facilitating convenient and safe car rides from infancy till the age of 12 years. If you are curious about what sets Graco car seats apart from its competitors, check out the following infographic. It highlights the special features of Graco car seats, helping you assess their worth and utility value.

For the rear-facing install, we think the car’s seat belt is a better choice than the LATCH method because it will save you from making the switch in the not-so-distant future. (And both methods require about the same amount of effort.) The Foonf can only be used rear-facing with LATCH for babies who weigh up to 25 pounds; about half of all babies will reach that weight by 12 months. To begin the process, first you’ll remove the seat cushion and set it aside; it comes off entirely, allowing access to the inner workings of the seat. Once the lid of the seat is off, you can position the Foonf on the vehicle seat at the correct angle—there’s a diagram on the side of the seat to guide you, based on your child’s age and weight. When it comes to making a car seat as simple as possible to install, Britax has figured out how to build a better mousetrap—period. The Britax Boulevard ClickTight is part of the company’s ClickTight family, which also includes the Britax Marathon ClickTight (our former top pick in this guide) and the now retired Britax Advocate ClickTight (still available at some retailers).

The Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 has two cup holders which we used for water bottles. A typical disposable water cup fits in them, as well as most sippy cups. While baby bottles also fit, infants using the car seat will most likely not be able to reach the cup holders themselves. Once the child outgrows the harness, the 4Ever converts to a transitional booster seat that will last about another year or so. We’ve added a rolled up washcloth behind the crotch buckle to help with the fit — this is permitted by the manufacturer.

The rear-installation pathway is overshadowed by the forward-facing path with color coding, which feels like a poor design. Adjusting the recline moves smoother than some of the competition, but it is low on the seat, so you need to adjust before pressing the seat against the back of the vehicle seat. The seat material can get in the way, so it’s up to the installer to handle this. It’s really only about average in difficulty and stability, and we think a lock-off would go a long way in improving this process.

For example, a manufacturer may make two seats that are nearly identical, except they have different infant height and weight limits. The term convertible refers to the fact that this type of car seat can be installed either rear-facing or forward-facing, whereas infant seats are meant to be installed facing the rear only. Although the laws vary, many states require that a kid remain in a car seat with a five-point harness—which all infant graco convertible car seat seats and convertible seats have—until they’re at least 40 pounds or 4 years old. It is similar in look and feel to our upgrade pick, the Clek Liing, but since the Liingo omits a base, it also lacks a load leg, the added safety feature on the Liing. If you’re choosing between the two for your primary infant seat, however, we believe that the Liing—and its base, which provides a better and more secure install—is worth spending more on.

Most vehicles and car seats are equipped to use the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system for installation, in which the seat attaches to the steel frame of your vehicle via under-seat anchors that are designed specifically for this purpose. The Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 uses its own InRight LATCH system, meaning that the tethers from the car seat need only to be pushed down on the corresponding steel anchors—so thankfully, there was no need to try and manipulate hooks with our fingers. And when we needed to remove the car seat for cleaning, disconnecting it was just as simple—all we had to do was push down on the red button and pull out the LATCH tethers. Regardless of whether a forward facing install uses the lower anchors or the vehicle seat belt, always attach the top tether to the tether connector on the vehicle.

graco car seat

Though this install method still felt very secure in our tests, it wasn’t quite as rock-solid as the LATCH method. Also, the SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX is not compatible with as many strollers from various brands as our other picks, including graco convertible car seat strollers from the popular Uppababy line. This seat is just as simple to install and use as the KeyFit 30, and it has some upgrades—including an anti-rebound base and a European belt path for easier no-base installs when you’re traveling.

Although the Foonf feels roomy to its passengers, this is one of the narrowest car seats on the market, at only 16.9 inches wide, making it a good candidate for families that need to fit three seats across. And it doesn’t have any parts that flare out to compete for space with neighboring car seats or riders. Although we enjoy the convenience of adjusting the harness and headrest as one unit, there’s a safety argument to be made for having the harness and headrest operate independently. According to pediatrician Alicia Baer of The Car Seat Lady website, with the Foonf, if the headrest were to come off in an accident, the harness system would still be intact. But with seats that have the headrest and harness as part of the same system, if something were to happen to one of the pieces in a collision, it would have an impact on the other.