The Best Compact Convertible Car Seats with Pros, Cons & Recommendations

 

Welcome to the Best Compact Convertible Car Seat Award Ceremony

For the past two months I’ve crammed my three kids in the back seat and drove around for endless miles by doing chores to give you the clear answer which are the best compact convertible seats meanwhile my husband was at home relaxing and binge watching series, honey you owe me a big one!

Look:

Finding the perfect compact convertible car seat comes down to three things the maximum size you can fit, the amount of safety features you require and of course your budget. As soon as you know this it will be easy to pick the right car seat.

You see I’m a mom of three who retired from being a corporate drone. Since I have these perfect angles (mostly when they are asleep) I thought I test out the car seats to show you which are the best of the best.

I’m ranking the top 5 convertible seats on: space taken up, safety features, ease of install and of course investment cost.

Now you can rest assuder that no matter which you pick it will be a guaranteed winner because only the best of the best are listed here.

Show it to me already!

 

The-Best-Compact-Convertible-Car-Seats

 

#1 Diono Radian 3RXT Convertible Seat – Best Compact Convertible Car Seat

Best-Compact-Convertible-Car-Seat-OverallSize: 16.14” x 16.93” x 28.35”

We have a WINNER!

This car seat is your best option if you have a compact car or you have very little space available.

Heck, I have tested the Diono Radian 3RXT in a Prius and you know how “huge” those cars are and the front occupant wasn’t even close to kissing the dashboard.

I love this tall car seat; it has all the safety features that you will ever need. The steel frame gives peace of mind that my child is safe and sound no matter what happens. Being this tall makes it different from all those “little kid” seats.

It’s one of the narrowest car seats on the market. This means that you will be able to do 3 across with ease with this car seat with ease.

Don’t even get me started with the looks. It’s simply beautiful it’s like putting your little one on a throne. Diono offers a great selection of vibrant colors.

You will be able to use the Radian for up to 10 years and if you value extended rear-facing, you can use it up to 50 pounds or 4 years old. Now that’s safety.

This is why it’s top on my list:

  • Made for Space Saving in Mind: The width is just under 17″ which makes it the perfect balance between comfort for your child and being compact
  • The Safest Compact Convertible Seat: No matter if you value extended rear-facing or want a steel frame to protect your little one no matter what this car seat has it all and it will do a great job protecting
  • No More Cursing During Install: Yes, it’s true you won’t be making any donations in the swear jar because it’s so simple to install the seat.

This isn’t the perfect car seat since with everything it has a few drawbacks.

First of all, it’s a heavy-duty car seat emphasis on heavy. It really weighs 30 pounds without any kids in it. This means that you won’t be hauling it around anytime soon and swapping between cars might be difficult.

Also it seems that Diono has started some kind of cost-saving experiment. The thing is that compared to the previous model the padding seems lighter and the cover feels cheap. If you can look past these then you will get an amazing seat that will serve your child for 10 years.

All-in-all the Diono Radian is a great car seat and has all the safety features that you would ever need. Plus it looks like a “big kid” seat so you won’t have any issues down the line. Just in case you want something that pops the red color is simply breathtaking.

Now you need to move fast. Since it’s a very popular car seat the stocks are low. Hurry! Grab one while they’re still in.

Pros
  • It’s the perfect fit for compact cars and parents who want to do three across with ease.
  • It’s the safest car seat money can buy as it has all the bells and whistles to keep your little one safe.
  • It’s so comfortable that kids fall asleep all the time without experiencing dreaded head flops.
Cons
  • It’s heavy for all the right reasons, and you won’t be tempted to swap between cars.
  • The padding seems to be lighter than on the previous model.

 

#2 Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Seat – Best Car Seat For Compact Car

Best-Car-Seat-For-Compact-CarSize: 23” x 18.5” x 23.5”

The Britax Boulevard won the Best Compact Convertible Car Seat award.

As you have seen the dimensions, it will fit in your car. I have friends who are using it in a Prius. If it fits in the Prius, then it will definitely fit in your car.

The main reason why Britax Boulevard won was its size. Sure some convertibles are smaller by a half an inch, and they don’t offer the protection that you’re getting with Britax.

If you go with the convertible option, then you’re getting the best of both worlds. If you have a smaller child, you can mount the seat in rear-facing position. That’s the beauty of this compact seat that the first row will not be crowded. Usually, the forward facing mode doesn’t take up a lot of space.

Besides being compact, it’s the safest one to go with. It has a five-star safety rating. And I highly recommend getting the ARB because it’s a lifesaver. Since we’re talking about safety, it’s built like a tank. By having a steel frame, you get the most protection at the expense of weight.

Thanks to the ClickTight tech, the installation is a breeze.

Besides being a compact convertible, it gives the best protection, it’s easy to install, and it will last for many years to come. This is why it has won the award.

Pros
  • Opting for the ARB bar is a life changer
  • It’s a GAME CHANGER chair that lasts for ten years
  • This car seat is a beauty the colors are so alive
Cons
  • It’s a challenge to transfer in and out from the car
  • It’s a wide chair, and three-across will not be possible

 

#3 Graco SlimFit Convertible Seat – Best Convertible Car Seat For Tiny Car

Best-Convertible-Car-Seat-For-Tiny-CarSize: 26.81” x 19.88” x 22.36”

Graco SlimFit Convertible Seat won the Best Convertible Car Seat For Compact Car award.

If you have a compact car, it’s extremely hard to put in or tighten those bulky car seats. The Graco brand thought about you. As their name suggests, the SlimFit was made for compact cars.

It’s not only small in size, but it has space-saving in it. According to Graco, you’re saving 10% in space. This means that 3 across is doable in a small car. You don’t have to get a bigger and more expensive car.

The main reason why convertibles atre one of the best solutions is that you’re getting a lot of mileage for the money. These car seats aren’t outgrown that fast.

The Graco Slimfit gives you peace of mind that your child is safe and comfortable. Best of all, you don’t have to sacrifice the first row either. That’s the problem with bigger seats. You will be able to install it, but getting the kids in and out of the seat will be a chore. Not to mention that the front row will have no room to spare.

Even in rear-facing mode, you will be able to enjoy comfort. As you know, Graco products are not over the top expensive and give you many years of use.

Pros
  • It’s a perfect car seat who wants three across
  • It has everything you need: safety, comfort, and sturdiness
  • Easy to use no manual threading of straps everything is automatic
Cons
  • You will need to force of Hulk to strap it down right
  • Not much tilting options if you want to mount it in rear-facing mode

Top related article: Are Graco car seats safe?

 

#4 Graco Nautilus Convertible Seat – Most Compact Car Seat

Most-Compact-Car-SeatSize: 18” x 20” x 28”

The Graco Nautilus didn’t make it on the list because it’s not a convertible. It caters to kids from toddlers and up. Other than these two small issues, it’s a good addition to compact cars.

The good news is that besides being small in size this will be the last car seat you will ever have to buy. The upper weight limit is set to 120 pounds so that you will be getting a lot of mileage out of this car seat.

Did you know that the Nautilus is one of the highest-rated car seats according to Consumer Reports? They went heavy on side protection. The thing is that brands start to neglect protection for older kids. Not with the Nautilus, you get the best side impact protection for the head and the torso as well.

Space is essential in smaller cars, so if you have an older child, this car seat will be perfect. Now the most space is taken up by rear-facing car seats with the Nautilus you don’t have that issue. It’s front-facing only.

There’s a newer version of Nautilus Convertible Seat, which relies on SnugLock Tech. That small upgrade made the install effortless.

The only reason why this car seat didn’t make it in the top is that it’s not a convertible.

Pros
  • It’s top-rated on Consumer Reports
  • It’s super easy to install just listen to the “Click” sound
  • Padded side protection for older kids not many car seats offer this
Cons
  • The material stitched on by elastic that par won’t last
  • There’s no leveling guide, so you have to guess

 

#5 Chicco Keyfit 30 – Bonus Best Infant Car Seat For A Compact Car

Chicco KeyFit 30 Best Infant Car Seat For A Compact CarSize: 27.5″ x 24″ x 17″

I thought that it would be a good idea to throw a bonus car seat in the mix. Infant carriers aren’t that big like convertibles. And when every inch counts, it’s a good idea to know which carrier is the best for a compact car.

From all the carriers, the Chicco Keyfit 30 was the winner.

The only way to install these seats is in rear-facing mode. This is where the problems start with smaller cars. The Keyfit 30 is different. It’s one of the smallest yet safest infant car seats you can get.

According to Consumer Reports, it’s the highest-rated infant carrier on their site.

With babies, you have days and days. I like to call the Keyfit 30 as the instant tranquilizer. Whenever my baby had a bad day, I would place her in and rock her a bit. She quiets down so fast. It’s one of the most comfortable car seats you can get.

The installation is a breeze. You can use the base or without it. Once the base is in, all you have to do is click the carrier part in.

Now you know which the best infant carrier for compact cars is. Best of all, you’re not sacrificing safety.

Pros
  • It’s the highest-rated car seat according to Consumer Reports
  • It’s easy to transfer them in and out from the car
  • You can install it in 5 minutes, and it is just as easy to adjust
Cons
  • It’s not compatible with most shopping carts
  • The canopy doesn’t drop low enough

 

Honorable Mention: Clek Fllo Convertible Seat – Best compact toddler car seat

Clek Fllo Best Car Seat For Compact Car

Size: 22” x 16.9” x 26”

The Clek Fllo won the Best Car Seat For Compact Car award.

At first glimpse, this car seat is bulky. And looks are deceiving. Check out the dimensions, and you’ll see what I mean.

The design team did an excellent job creating this car seat. It’s the most comfortable car seat I have ever tested. A good friend of mine had some issues with her little one. She didn’t want to travel by car. Every time they left, she was crying throughout the whole trip.

They were at the end of their wits. They tried a bunch of car seats, and nothing helped. Then they found the Clek Fllo. The little one liked it so much that she went quiet as soon as you placed her in.

This tells you something about the level of comfort. Another important thing you have to know about this seat is its fabric. Clek was the first one to pass all the tests without the use of polluting chemicals. Yes, you’ve read it right. They don’t use any harmful flame retardants. The secret is merino wool.

If you have a little one who has sensitive skin, this is the most ecofriendly car seat you can get. The truth is that the price is higher than other car seats.

Now you can’t beat their safety records the great fabric and that it’s an ideal seat for a compact car.

Pros
  • It looks good in the car, and it’s safe at the same time
  • It’s safe tests show that it has the least toxic chemicals and fire retardants
  • It’s the narrowest car seat you can buy. Two of these in the backseat, and there’s still room in the middle for an adult.
Cons
  • The resistive stain fabric is a good idea until a peeing accident. It fills all the hidden crevices so it will smell.
  • It’s hard to fly with this car seat. TSA agents warn against it.

 

Buyer’s Guide for Compact Convertible Car Seats

That was a hell of a list. As a bonus, I want to give you a buyer’s guide. I’ve compiled this for myself since I’m reviewing so many car seats. I wanted to have my system so I can stay consistent.

This little guide will help you instantly how to look at car seats. If you see something that you don’t like, you will be able to eliminate it, thus saving your time.

Before we get to the actual system, there are two important pieces of advice you should keep.

The first one is related to how you position the car seat. As you know, the safest place is in the middle of the car. The truth is that only a handful of people would be able to use that. So here’s the second safest place which is right behind the driver.

My second piece of advice is related to the installation. The biggest problem nowadays is that most car seats are poorly installed. If the mounting isn’t correct, then the car seat won’t provide the best protection possible. So you have to make it tight. Remember the golden rule that the wiggle room should be less than an inch.

If you want to be absolutely sure, then you can always reach out to a licensed professional.

I have a quick checklist on which I go through when I check out a car seat. If you like, you can put it to good use.

 

Safety

Safety is top of my list. This is the reason why parents are looking for car seats in the first place. Now let me put your mind at ease. All car seats on the market are safe. If there would be issued, then they would be immediately recalled.

Most car seats are tested for front and rear collisions. Some brands did more than the bare minimum. If you see the sign SIP, it means that it has side impact protection. This is an all too common crash. Now your child will be protected from that as well.

This came to me as a surprise, but only a handful of car seats offer rollover protection. As you know, these are the deadliest crashes. I know of a few car seats that have been tested in real rollover crashes. The car was destroyed, but the kids were safe.

 

Size Limits

This is very important to know ahead of time. By choosing the right car seat, you will be able to save money in the long run.

Here’s the secret of saving money without compromising on safety. You have to get it for a longer time. It’s a good idea to consider the all in one car seat solution because those car seats are lifers. You buy it once, and you use it until your child doesn’t need it anymore.

Another thing to check here is if it offers extended rear-facing mode. As you know, this seating provides the most protection for kids. It’s recommended to keep kids rear-facing until their second birthday.

In some countries, 4 years is the norm.

 

Install

The installation is the bane of the existence of car seats. Some are so complicated to install, while others are a breeze. On their defense, there were some significant improvements.

Every brand has made efforts to remove the amount of force needed for the install. If car seats are easier to install, then there will be less poorly installed car seats on the road.

It’s always a good idea to check out the manual for the install. If all else fails, you can go on YouTube and find a video there.

I’ve just noticed that Amazon has a service that gets your seat installed for a fee.

 

Fabric

It’s crucial to get the right fabric. I mean, that will get the most wear and tear. Kids will have accidents and spills, and you have to know how easy it is to remove and wash.

Besides the Clek products, all car seats are washing machine friendly. With the Clek, you can do spot cleaning.

 

Conclusions on the Best Compact Convertible Car Seat

We have reached the end of this best article. By now you should know which car seat is the best fit for you. No matter the size of your car, there’s the right car seat above. Get the one that works the best.

You have probably picked your favorite already and that’s great. Also I’ve kept my promise and only showed oyu the best car seats to save you time.

Maybe you can help me out with a little something. Can you please share on social media how this article helped you? It would mean a lot for me. Thank you.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is the most compact convertible car seat?

The most compact convertible car seat is the Graco Slimfit convertible car seat.

What is the smallest convertible car seat?

The smallest convertible car seat is the Clek Fllo convertible car seat.

What is the best convertible car seat?

The best convertible car seat is the Britax Boulevard convertible car seat. No wonder the Britax Boulevard won the best convertible car seats award.

Which seats for small cars didn’t make it to the list?

If you have a small car you can look at these backups: cosco scenera next, maxi-cosi pria 85 backless booster, safety 1st high-back booster seat, Graco 4ever all-in-one car seat, maxi cosi pria 70 infant seats, nuna rava, chicco nextfit zip, evenflo symphony elite, graco extend2fit and britax car seat.

Which of these small car seats can fit three across?

If you want the full article on the best 3 across then check it out there. From the list, the diono radian 3RXT can do this because it’s only 17 inches wide. Also another contender would be the Clek Fllo as well it’s 17 inches wide.

What are the weight limits for the best car seats for small cars?

If you have a small car every inch counts. So here are the weight limits. Typically the upper weight limit for forward facing is 65 pounds. If you want to do extended rear facing then it’s 50 pounds. But typically rear facing is 45 pounds. The upper weight limit for a booster seat is 120 pounds. The weight range for a booster seat is 22 pounds up to 120 pounds. For 3 in 1 the rear facing weight limit is 40 pounds occasionally 50 pounds. For all in one car seat the rear facing weight is the same around 40 pounds. The forward facing weight limits are 65 pounds. The weight ranges for a front facing car seat are 22 to 65 pounds. The warranty is usually 10 years. With 10 years it will serve you with multiple children. The rear facing weight ranges are 5 to 40 pounds. It makes no difference if it’s an all in one car seat or a belt positioning booster seat. These would be the height and weight limitations for all in one car seats.

Which is the best infant car seat for small cars?

For small car the best infant seat would be the Chicco keyfit 30. This infant car seat has it all what you need. If you’re interested in the infant seat check out my other articles for seats like the Clek Liing infant car seat (infant seat).

What kind of safety features do these best car seats have for a small car?

For small car these best car seats come with the following safety standards. They come with side impact protection and energy absorption. To install there’s the latch system and the seat belt. The booster seat can only be installed with the seat belt. Many parents know that already. When it comes to safety standards I’ve only chosen those that have the highest. For infants it’s a great idea to choose a rear facing seat with anti rebound bar. The chest clip should be at armpit level to accommodate children the best. The leg rest is a great bonus because it provides leg room. The eps foam is an absolute must. You see during the impact force the eps foam absorbs that energy and protect your child. You can find a safety seat with a load leg. For many parents the adequate head support is the most important thing. All the seats above play by the safety guidelines. It’s a good idea to keep your child rear facing as long as possible. For small cars the best choice would be the best convertible car seat that allows to fit three across. The 5 point harness will accommodate children even elementary school kids safe. For the best crash protection the seat also has energy absorbing material built in. As you know energy absorbing foam is an absolute must on the back seat.

What cool stuff also features should you look with these small car vehicle seats?

Check out the leg room space in seat rear-facing mode. Does it have a grow and go function? Does it have an easy installation? What about cup holders or there’s just one cup holder. How many recline positions does it offer and of course the ease of use? Many parents look at this data. We shouldn’t forget if the cover it’s machine washable. For many parents the back seat legroom is important. This is why I’ve chosen these car seats to provide the most leg room in seat rear-facing mode. The car seat’s cover is easy to clean. The cup holder is a great bonus. The rear and forward facing position recline gives great comfort and not to mention the multi position headrest. The seat cushion is nice and soft. The seat comes with seat comes with harness and headrest adjustments. Also the seat comes with harness holders, headrest positions, harness heights, seat angle. If you want to accommodate children for long time in forward facing mode then you need something that offers at least 40 pounds in rear facing and 65 pounds in forward facing mode. The front seat is meant for older kids. Now the front seat laws are different state by state.

How long can you use an infant insert with these seats?

The infant insert is meant to be used until your little one reaches 11 pounds. It’s the same with maxi cosi pria pria 70 or any other best budget car seat, all in one seat in forward facing mode.

Which are the best convertible car seats for small cars (smaller car, small vehicles)?

The best convertible car seats for small cars would be: britax boulevard and clek floo. If you don’t mind the price tag then the best convertible car seat would be the clek you can use it as a forward facing car seat or rear facing car seat (ride rear facing). This clek convertible car seat is a convertible car seat grows with your child. What you’re getting with this car seat is: vehicle seat pad, latch system for small car, machine washable cover, a high quality car seat, no rethread harness, energy absorbing foam, six reclining positions, side impact protection for the baby’s head, steel alloy frame, adjustable headrest, eps energy absorbing foam, latch straps (rigid latch), extra leg space from the front seat, deep rigid shell, three buckle positions. The additional features include: child comfortable on air travel,  two cup holders, adjustable features, plush padding. All in all a great car seat for small cars. Being a convertible car seat means that you can install it forward facing or rear face mode.

Are compact car seats child safe?

Yes compact car seats are child safe.  These car seats have everything to keep your child safe you name they have it all let it be: eps energy absorbing foam, adjustable headrest, high crash tests ratings, three buckle locations, latch systems, you can even do three seats in a row (three car seats), based on a steel alloy frame, lower anchors. There are car seats for everybody let it be: for tall kids (taller children, tall children), forward facing toddler seat’s rotation, affordable car seats, machine washable covers, folds flat, great safety features, proper fit in tight space, long rides. On of the biggest recommendations would be to keep your baby stay rear facing as long as possible. Also install correctly as mentioned earlier. Car seat safety is top priority for car seat manufacturers because they are not allowed to sell dangerous seats. The car seat models come in all shapes and sizes: for a small car, for a tight budget, for larger vehicles with vehicle belt, there are a few that are at a reasonable price while still being a comfortable ride. It’s a good idea to look at my comparison table and also the owner’s manual for more info.

What are the best options for multiple car seats in the vehicle?

Let it be convertible seats, backless booster seat, rear facing infant seat, with or without latch system and especially convertible seats there are some good options when you’re looking for a new car seat. The best way to pack them together would be adding a rear facing infant then a convertible car and finally booster seats (booster mode) and all these can fit on the back seat. Other seats like all in 1 car seat grows as the child grows (or adapts to child’s growth).

How important is car seat installation for small cars?

Car seat installation for small cars is very important when you get your new seat. Most car seats can be installed on the front and the back seat. Car seats for small cars need the proper installation even in booster mode. Always check the seat weight before the purchase and also check out the additional features for that particular model.  Make sure it’s installed correctly and the baby baby comfortable levels. Some all in 1 car seat options have the folds flat feature. Also the cover is typically machine washable. There’s the graco 4ever which is a good choice for a small car it’s specially designed to keep the child’s head safe in baby rear facing mode if the seat correctly has been installed. The child restraint is the 5 point harness and later you can upgrade to the vehicle belt. The seat weight is comfortable.

Last Updated on August 20, 2022 by Danny Reid