What is the Best Car Seat? Chicco vs. Britax vs. Graco

Best Infant Car Seat
Chicco KeyFit 30
Pro Bullet Easy installation
Pro Bullet Narrow width for smaller cars
Best Toddler Car Seat
Britax Pioneer
Pro Bullet Booster seat conversion
Pro Bullet Sturdy steel frame
Best Booster Seat
Chicco KidFit
Pro Bullet Lightweight
Pro Bullet Easy assembly
Best Convertible Car Seat
Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1
Pro Bullet Converts for infants, toddlers, and big kids

*Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2019 at 1:24 p.m. MST.

Overview

Whether you’re a new parent or you’ve been doing the childrearing thing for ages, choosing the right car seat for your kid is a big decision.

Fortunately, every car seat on the market has to pass the same safety-testing standards, so they can all keep your child safe in a crash. All you have to do is figure out what works best for you: do you need an infant car seat you can attach to a stroller? Or do you need a convertible car seat that will last from your baby’s first steps to their first football game?

Ahead, we’re looking at the top-rated car seats for your child’s safety.

Our picks for best car seats


Chicco vs. Britax vs. Graco

*Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2019 at 1:24 p.m. MST.


Best infant car seats: Chicco vs. Britax

Chicco KeyFit 30 review: Best infant car seat

Best infant car seat
Chicco KeyFit 30

    Tech specs:

    • Dimensions: 27.5 x 17 x 24 in.
    • Weight: 16.6 lbs.
    • Lifespan: 6 years

    *Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2019 at 1:24 p.m. MST.

    Pros and cons of Chicco KeyFit 30

    Pros
    • Pro BulletEasy installation
    • Pro BulletRemovable supports for premature or small babies
    • Pro BulletNarrow width ideal for smaller cars
    • Pro BulletChicco stroller compatibility
    • Pro BulletLATCH system installation
    Cons
    • Con BulletNot convertible
    • Con BulletSmall canopy

    Why we recommend Chicco KeyFit 30

    Chicco is known for quality and reliability, and the Chicco KeyFit 30 is no exception. It’s highly rated, easy to install, and compatible with Chicco brand strollers. And at only 17 inches across, it works well in smaller vehicles too.

    Chicco KeyFit 30 features and flaws

    The rear-facing Chicco KeyFit 30 fits infants between four and 30 pounds or 30 inches tall. It includes a base that stays in your vehicle so you can remove the seat and place it in a compatible stroller when you’re on the go.

    The KeyFit is especially safe and comfy for smaller infants, including premature babies: it comes with removable newborn head and adjustable body supports for smaller babies.

    Customers mainly complain about the KeyFit’s canopy, saying that it doesn’t stay extended. If that gets frustrating, remove the canopy completely while in the car and invest in a window shade.

    ASecureLife’s recommendation: The Chicco KeyFit has great ratings and will be a good fit for most newborns. Use it to keep your baby safe while you’re driving from errand to errand, especially if your car (or baby) is on the smaller side.

    >>Buy the Chicco KeyFit 30.

    Britax B-Safe 35 review: Runner-up infant car seat

    Runner-up infant car seat
    Britax B-Safe 35

      Tech specs:

      • Dimensions: 26.5 x 17.8 x 25 in.
      • Weight: 12 lbs.
      • Lifespan: 6 years

      *Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2019 at 1:24 p.m. MST.

      Pros and cons of Britax B-Safe 35

      Pros
      • Pro BulletEasy and versatile installation
      • Pro BulletBritax, BOB, and Duallie travel system compatibility
      • Pro BulletSturdy steel frame
      • Pro BulletLATCH system installation
      Cons
      • Con BulletBulky size

      Why we recommend Britax B-Safe 35

      The Britax B-Safe 35 is a rear-facing infant car seat that accommodates babies up to 35 pounds and between 14 and 32 inches tall. It’s a bit bigger than the Chicco KeyFit 30, so it won’t fit as easily in smaller cars. And it’s not as adjustable for smaller infants. But the Britax B-Safe is still a solid, reliable car seat with great reviews.

      Britax B-Safe 35 features and flaws

      he B-Safe is easy to install. You can either use LATCH or built-in seat belt lock-offs to install the base in your back seat, although we recommend the LATCH system. The base stays in your car, but the car seat itself locks right into the base when you get an intense chocolate craving and need to hit the grocery store.

      What is LATCH?
      Definition

      ISOFIX is the international standard for points of attachment for car seat safety in passenger vehicles. It has different names, depending on what region you’re in, but in the US, it’s referred to as LATCH, or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.ISOFIX car seats—car seats installed using a vehicle’s LATCH fittings—are easy to install. Whenever possible, we recommend installing your car seats with ISOFIX or LATCH for added security.

      The B-Safe is also super sturdy and gives your baby ultimate protection, thanks to its steel frame, impact-absorbing base, and side-impact protection with energy-absorbing foam. Plus, users say it’s easy enough to put in and take out of the car and put into a compatible stroller, like the Britax B Free or the BOB Revolution Single Jogging Stroller.

      ASecureLife’s recommendation: If you don’t mind the extra bulk, the Britax B-Safe is an ultrasecure car seat for infants. With its steel frame and energy-absorbing foam, it’s a good way to keep your kid safe on the road.

      >>Buy the Britax B-Safe 35.


      Best toddler car seats: Britax vs. Evenflo

      Britax Pioneer review: Best toddler car seat

      Best toddler car seat
      Britax Pioneer

        Tech specs:

        • Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 28 in.
        • Weight: 21 lbs.
        • Lifespan: 9 years

        *Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2019 at 1:24 p.m. MST.

        Pros and cons of Britax Pioneer

        Pros
        • Pro BulletHarness to booster conversion
        • Pro BulletSolid steel frame
        • Pro BulletAdjustable headrest
        • Pro BulletLATCH system
        Cons
        • Con BulletHeavy

        Why we recommend Britax Pioneer

        If you’re shocked at how fast your kid grows, consider the Britax Pioneer. It converts from a harness mode for toddlers to a booster seat for bigger kids, so it will last you more than a couple of years.

        Britax Pioneer features and flaws

        he Pioneer is especially good for growth spurts: you can adjust the height of the seat to nine different positions with the push of a button. In its forward-facing harness mode, the Britax Pioneer works for kids between 25 and 70 pounds. Once they’re 40–110 pounds and ready for a big person seat, you can convert it to a booster.

        The Britax Pioneer is on the heavier side at 21 pounds thanks to its steel frame and energy-absorbing base. It won’t be heaven to switch cars, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that the heftiness of the seat helps slow and reduce forward movement if you’re ever in a car accident.

        ASecureLife’s recommendation: The Britax Pioneer is a no-brainer: it’s solid, highly adjustable, and will last your kid through the terrible twos, the thunderous threes, and beyond.

        >>Buy the Britax Pioneer.

        Evenflo Maestro Sport review: Runner-up toddler car seat

        Runner-up toddler car seat
        Evenflo Maestro Sport

          Tech specs:

          • Dimensions: 17 x 18 x 27.5 in.
          • Weight: 9.6 lbs.
          • Lifespan: 6 years

          *Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2019 at 1:24 p.m. MST.

          Pros and cons of Evenflo Maestro Sport

          Pros
          • Pro BulletInexpensive
          • Pro BulletLightweight
          • Pro BulletIdeal for travel
          • Pro BulletInstalled with LATCH system
          Cons
          • Con BulletLower weight limits

          Why we recommend Evenflo Maestro Sport

          As far as car seats go, the Evenflo Maestro Sport is extremely affordable. It’s also super lightweight, making it a good fit for frequent flyers. It does have lower weight limits than other harness/booster combination car seats like the Britax Pioneer, but overall it’s a decent, affordable option for toting toddlers.

          Evenflo Maestro Sport features and flaws

          In its toddler-friendly harness mode, the Evenflo Maestro Sport supports little ones 28–50 inches tall and weighing 22–50 pounds. Once your child gets a little bigger, they can use the booster conversion with your car’s seat belt. The booster setup is best for kids 44–57 inches tall who weigh between 40 and 110 pounds.

          No matter which setup you choose, you’ll be able to easily tote the Evenflo Maestro Sport between cars or through the airport. At 9.6 pounds, the Maestro Sport is one of the lightest car seats available.

          ASecureLife’s recommendation: The Evenflo may not be as sturdy as other car seats, but its lightness makes it ideal for traveling. We like it as an affordable option to keep on hand for traveling or as a back-up car seat.

          >>Buy the Evenflo Maestro Sport.


          Best booster seats: Chicco vs. Graco

          Chicco KidFit review: Best booster seat

          Best booster seat
          Chicco KidFit

            Tech specs:

            • Dimensions: 28 x 19 x 8.5 in.
            • Weight: 10.2 lbs.
            • Lifespan: 8 years

            *Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2019 at 1:24 p.m. MST.

            Pros and cons of Chicco KidFit

            Pros
            • Pro BulletBackless booster conversion
            • Pro BulletLightweight
            • Pro BulletEasy assembly
            • Pro BulletLATCH installation
            Cons
            • Con BulletWide base that may take up a lot of room

            Why we recommend Chicco KidFit

            The Chicco KidFit is a two-in-one belt-positioning booster car seat with impressively high ratings online, where customers say the seat is plush, comfortable, and perfect for long trips. It also has side-impact protection to keep your kid’s head and shoulders safe and 10 height adjustments for those never-ending growth spurts.

            What does belt-positioning mean?
            Definition

            A belt-positioning booster ensures that your car’s adult-sized seat belt correctly fits over your child.

            Chicco KidFit features and flaws

            The Chicco KidFit has two different modes. As a highback booster, it supports children 30–100 pounds and 38–57 inches tall. It can also be used as a backless booster for children weighing between 40 and 110 pounds, between 38 and 57 inches tall. That’s a higher weight maximum than the comparable Evenflo AMP.

            To keep your little ones comfy on road trips and in bumper-to-bumper traffic, the KidFit has double padding and a contoured seat. Its backrest also moves into two different positions so it can adapt to the shape of your vehicle’s seats. With all those bells and whistles, the KidFit base is on the bigger side, so it may not work for smaller cars.

            ASecureLife’s recommendation: If your kids are growing out of their toddler car seats, the Chicco KidFit could be a good upgrade. It’s a solid, well-rated booster seat that will keep your child safe—and comfortable—whether you’re running errands or driving across the state to see your in-laws.

            >>Buy the Chicco KidFit.

            Graco Backless TurboBooster review: Runner-up booster seat

            Runner-up booster seat
            Graco Backless TurboBooster

              Tech specs:

              • Dimensions: 15 x 16 x 8.5 in.
              • Weight: 5.1 lbs.
              • Warranty: 10 years

              *Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2019 at 1:24 p.m. MST.

              Pros and cons of Graco Backless TurboBooster

              Pros
              • Pro BulletLow price
              • Pro BulletPadded, height-adjustable armrests
              • Pro BulletLightweight and easy to transport
              Cons
              • Con BulletNo LATCH straps

              Why we recommend Graco Backless TurboBooster

              The Graco Backless TurboBooster gives a little extra boost for kids that weigh between 40 and 100 pounds and stand between 43 and 57 inches tall. It’s relatively light and easy to transport, and the seat cushions are removable and machine washable to help you deal with those mystery stains.

              Graco Backless TurboBooster features and flaws

              The TurboBooster is a great compact booster seat, so it’s easy to transport from car to car when you’re carpooling. It doesn’t connect with a LATCH system like the Chicco KidFit, but customers say that the seats still manage to stay in place.

              ASecureLife’s recommendation: The Graco Backless TurboBooster is a good step before you let your kids go full big kid in the back seat. Use it for older kids who are almost there, but not quite.

              >>Buy the Graco Backless TurboBooster.


              Best convertible car seats: Graco vs. Diono

              Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 review: Best convertible car seat

              Best convertible car seat
              Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1

                Tech specs:

                • Dimensions: 19.2 x 22.5 x 25.2 in.
                • Weight: 21.6 lbs.
                • Lifespan: 10 years

                *Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2019 at 1:24 p.m. MST.

                Pros and cons of Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1

                Pros
                • Pro BulletInfant, toddler, and big kid conversion
                • Pro BulletAdjustable headrest
                • Pro BulletLATCH system
                Cons
                • Con BulletWide base that may not fit smaller vehicles

                Why we recommend Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1

                The Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 is spacious, sturdy, and long-lasting. Its conversions keep your kids safe at every stage of childhood.

                Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 features and flaws

                The Extend2Fit is essentially three different car seats. As a rear-facing seat, it works well for infants 4–50 pounds. From there, you can convert it to a front-facing harness seat for toddlers between 22 and 65 pounds. Then you can use it as a highback booster for big kids between 30 and 100 pounds.

                The Graco Extend2Fit also has a few features to make it comfortable for your growing babes. A four-position extension panel gives rear-facing toddlers up to five inches of additional legroom, and an adjustable headrest with 10 positions grows with your kid.

                ASecureLife’s recommendation: Instead of purchasing a car seat for every stage, try the Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1. You’ll be able to use the same car seat for a few years and train your kid with a harnessed, highback booster before letting them graduate to a booster seat with full seat belt responsibilities.

                >>Buy the Graco Extend2Fit.

                Diono Radian 3R review: Runner-up convertible car seat

                Runner-up convertible car seat
                Diono Radian 3R

                  Tech specs:

                  • Dimensions: 16.1 x 16.9 x 28.4 in.
                  • Weight: 28.5 lbs.
                  • Lifespan: 10 years

                  *Amazon.com price as of 09/10/2019 at 1:24 p.m. MST.

                  Pros and cons of Diono Radian 3R

                  Pros
                  • Pro BulletInfant, toddler, and big kid conversion
                  • Pro BulletSturdy steel frame
                  • Pro BulletLATCH system
                  • Pro BulletFolds flat for easy storage
                  Cons
                  • Con BulletCup holder sold separately
                  • Con BulletHeavy weight

                  Why we recommend Diono Radian 3R

                  The Diono Radian is a heavy-duty car seat, with an integrated steel frame, reinforced memory foam, and an energy-absorbing foam lining—which is a long way of saying it’ll keep your kid safe day in and day out. It’ll last your kid a while, since it converts from a rear-facing seat for infants, to a front-facing seat for toddlers, and to a booster seat for bigger kids.

                  Diono Radian 3R features and flaws

                  The Diono Radian is heavy duty—emphasis on heavy. At 28.5 pounds, it’s one of the heaviest seats on this list. Fortunately, when you’re not using it, you can fold it flat for storage.

                  You can set up the Radian as a rear-facing seat to protect infants up to 40 pounds or as a forward-facing seat to keep toddlers up to 65 pounds safe. If you have a bigger kid, you can convert the Diono Radian to a booster that’ll keep your kiddies between 50 and 100 pounds safe. No matter the age, you’ll likely want to purchase a cup holder.

                  ASecureLife’s recommendation: The Diono Radian is a solid three-in-one car seat that will last your kid from infancy to the “Why are you still growing?” phase. It’s on the heavy side, but it’s a good sturdy car seat that will keep your youngins safe.

                  >>Buy the Diono Radian 3R.


                  Other car seats we considered

                  Doona Infant Car Seat and Stroller

                  The Doona Infant Car Seat and Stroller gets an honorable mention for best infant car seat. Except it’s more than a car seat: The Doona easily converts into a stroller. It’s super convenient, particularly if you live in a bustling city where you take public transportation often. At about $500, we can’t recommend it if you don’t need that quick conversion to the stroller.

                  Cosco Scenera Car Seat

                  Cosco Scenera

                  The Cosco Scenera is a convertible car seat that protects infants between five and 40 pounds and toddlers between 22 and 40 pounds. And thanks to its size, it’s good for travel too, whether you’re driving or flying. If you’re willing to buy an affordable, additional car seat for travel, the Cosco Scenera should be on your list. It’s not as highly rated as our other convertible recommendations, but it’s a solid backup.


                  How to choose a car seat

                  Child restraint seats keep your kids safe in the car and decrease their risk of getting hurt in a car accident. To figure out what type of car seat you need, consider your baby’s age, weight, and height. And be sure to consult your owner’s manual for tips on installing it correctly. If you’re not sure you’re doing it right, find a Child Passenger Safety technician to help out.

                  Infant car seats protect children up to about age two. Height and weight restrictions vary, but car seats for infants typically keep kids safe up to 35 pounds and 32 inches tall. Infant car seats are always rear-facing and usually come with infant inserts to provide additional support and padding for newborns. With rear-facing seats, shoulder straps come through the car seat slots and sit just below your child’s shoulders.

                  Rear-facing vs. front-facing car seats
                  Protip
                  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping kids in rear-facing seats for as long as possible to protect the head, spine, and neck.1 For most car seats, kids are good to stay rear-facing until they’re around 40 pounds.

                  For children roughly between ages two and four, get a forward-facing toddler seat. These seats often use a five-point harness and usually convert to a booster. Again, height and weight restrictions vary, but you’ll typically use the forward-facing harness for kids up to 50 inches tall weighing 50–60 pounds. Here, the car seat’s shoulder straps will sit at or just above your child’s shoulders.

                  Belt-positioning booster seats use your car’s safety belts and are designed for kids between ages four and eight or up to about 57 inches tall. Like all child restraints, they should be used only in the back seat of your car.

                  Convertible seats, or three-in-one seats, grow with your child, converting from a rear-facing infant seat to a forward-facing harnessed seat for toddlers, then to a booster seat for bigger kids. The main drawback with convertible seats is that they can’t be taken out of the car and snapped into a stroller like infant car seats can. Instead, you’ll have to have a separate stroller or a baby carrier to transport your little one.


                  Car Seat frequently asked questions

                  How long are car seats good for?

                  Depending on the type of seat that you choose, car seats are good for 6–10 years. Most car seats have an expiration date on the manufacturer's label on the side or base that take into consideration wear and tear.

                  If you’re in a crash, you’ll need to purchase a new seat even if it’s not hit its expiration date.

                  >>Check out our full article on how long car seats last.


                  Our recommendation

                  Car seats are the best way to keep your children safe while they’re riding in the car. The best car seat for you and your family will depend on a few factors like your baby’s age, height, and weight, and the size of your car.

                  If you have an infant, we recommend the Chicco KeyFit 30. It’s highly rated, easy to install, and is compatible with Chicco brand strollers.

                  >>Buy the Chicco KeyFit 30.

                  If you’re looking for a front-facing seat for a toddler that converts into a booster seat, consider the Britax Pioneer. It has a sturdy steel frame, is highly adjustable, and will last your child for a good few years.

                  >>Buy the Britax Pioneer.

                  For big kids, we like the Chicco KidFit. It converts from highback booster to backless booster, and it’s a good way to start transitioning out of using a car seat.

                  >>Buy the Chicco KidFit.

                  And if you want a convertible, 3-in-1 car seat that will last your kid from infancy to big kid-hood, we like the Graco Extend2Fit. It’s spacious, comfortable, and long-lasting.

                  >>Buy the GracoExtend2Fit.

                  Sources:

                  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, “AAP Updates Recommendations on Car Seats for Children