2014 Updated Convertible and Combination Car Seat Lists

The new IIHS Booster Seat Ratings just came out, and it’s really fun to see how well manufacturers are responding to the ratings by improving their designs. Some of the ratings did apply to seats that I had written about before. Some ratings improved from before, and one seat did not do very well at all. Additionally, a seat was just reintroduced to the US market, and I wanted to include it in the list of combination seats. So, below you will find an updated list of seats that I suggest for both convertible car seats and combination car seats.

First, though, some caveats and disclaimers: 

There is no right right car seat for everyone.  You need to pick a car seat that works for your budget, that will fit your child and, especially in the case of convertible car seats, will fit in your car.  Additionally, I do not make any money on the sale of any brands that I will list below.  This is just my opinion based off of 5 years of experience as a Child Passenger Safety Technician. These are not listed in any specific order, either.

Convertible Car Seats

#1- The Recaro ProRide 

I like the ProRide for a few reasons. It’s got some of the highest limits both forward and rear facing. This means it’s going to do a good job of keeping your child rear facing for a long time and allowing your child to stay forward-facing in a 5 point harness for as long as possible.

  • Cost: $220-$260
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-40lbs and 49″
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-65lbs and 22.5″ when seated
  • Dimensions: 27-29″H x 19″W x11″D
  • Weight: 20lbs
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture
  • Other features: Side-impact protection, Adjustable head support, Recline level indicator, no-rethread harness adjustment

#2- Diono RadianRXT

Things I love about this car seat include it’s steel frame, that you can use the LATCH to anchor it to up to 80 pounds, that it’s also a booster, that it’s narrow frame means you can fit three into the back seat of many cars, and that you can tether it rear-facing. Yes, it’s a little pricey, but it’s the only car seat you really need to ever buy (in theory). In 2014, the IIHS rated this seat as a “Best Bet” when used as a booster seat.

  • Cost: $250-320
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-45lbs and 44″
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-80lbs and 57″
  • Dimensions (HxWxD):28.5″H x 17″W x 16″D
  • Weight: 26.15lbs
  • Expiration: 8 years from date of manufacture in harness mode, 9 years in booster mode
  • Other features: Side-impact protection, Adjustable head support, Expandable sides, Adjustable cup holder

#3- Combi Coccoro

While the two seats I listed above are FABULOUS at being able to be used for the long-term, if you have a smaller car or 2 kids in the back seat of your 4 door car (or, in a 2 door car), then you might need a seat that’s more compact so it’ll actually fit in your backseat rear-facing. This is also a really nice, lightweight seat.

  • Cost: $175-$210
  • Rear-facing limits: 3-33 lbs. and 40″
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-40lbs and 40″
  • Dimensions: 17″ L x 15.50″ W x 28.25″ H
  • Weight: 11.75 lbs.
  • Expiration: 7 years from date of manufacture
  • Other features: Side-impact protection, Can be tethered rear and forward facing, starts at a very low birth weight, a very good seat for preemies, buckle has a visual cue to tell you it’s buckled correctly

#4- Evenflo SureRide DLX

For families looking for a cost-effective option, this is a good seat.  It has some features of the more expensive seats above, like high height limits in the forward facing position.  It does not have some of the nicer features of the other seats, and it can’t be tethered in a rear-facing position.  Also, you’ll find it’s missing some of the “ease of use” features the other seats have. But I will say I do like Evenflo seats and was thrilled to find this seat.

  • Cost: $85-$110
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-40 lbs. and 40″
  • Forward-facing limits: 22-65lbs and 54″
  • Dimensions: 24” High x 18.5” Wide x 28” Long for rear-facing; 28” High x 18.5” Wide x 20” Long in forward-facing mode
  • Weight: 10.5 lbs.
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture
  • Other features: Side-impact protection, made in the USA, fold-down cupholder

#5- Diono Rainier

As much as I love the Radians, The new Rainier has a few things up on them. First, the lifespan of use is 12 years from date of PURCHASE, whereas the Radians are good for 10 years from date of manufacture. The Rainier is also a little more padded and has higher weight limits. The one downside is that the Rainiers are wider, so you can’t get 3 in the backseat of a smaller car. This seat was rated as a booster by the IIHS for the first time in their 2014 list. It was given the grade of “Not Recommended”, so I can’t really say this would be a good choice to keep using as a high backed booster.

  • Cost: $290
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-50 lbs. and 44″
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-90 lbs and 57″
  • Dimensions: 16 x 17 x 28.7 inches
  • Weight: 28.4 lbs.
  • Expiration: 12 years from date of purchase
  • Other features: Also a high back booster, can be tethered rear-facing, folds for travel

#6- Graco MySize 65 

OK, I do like this seat. I like that you can adjust the harness without un-installing the seat. I like that there are 2 separate sets of lower anchor straps so you don’t have to move the lower anchor straps when you go from rear-facing to forward facing. I like the recline settings. The infant insert is nice, too. The main downside is the lower height limit for forward facing.

  • Cost: $180
  • Rear-facing limits: 4-40 lbs. and 44″
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-65 lbs and 49″
  • Dimensions: Overall Height: 26″ x Width: 22.3″ x Depth: 19.3″
  • Weight: 19.34 lbs
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture (stamped on back)
  • Other features: integrated cup holder, ease of install, upgraded LATCH connectors

Combination Car Seats:

All of these seats were rated as “Best Bets” in 2014 by the IIHS. There was a change in this, as the Britax had been rated as a “Check Fit” last year. Manufacturers do tweak designs on the same model, so older seats may not be designed as well. Just another argument for the wise investment that goes with a new seat.

#1) The Evenflo Maestro

Full disclosure: this was the combination car seat I bought for my son after he outgrew his convertible car seat. He was able to stay in in with a 5 point harness until November of last year, and he was 5 years old then. He’s still using it now as a booster seat. I don’t love it as a booster (I don’t like how the shoulder portion of the seat belt is threaded), but I do like that you can secure it with the LATCH as a booster to keep it in place in case you have to stop suddenly or get in a crash.

  • Cost: $70
  • Harnessed limits: 22 – 50 lbs and 28 – 50 inches
  • Highback booster limits: 40 – 110 lbs and 43.3 – 57 inches
  • Dimensions: 19” W x 20.5” D x 27” H inches
  • Weight: 11 lbs.
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture

#2) Evenflo SecureKid DLX

For a step up in price from the Maestro, the Evenflo SecureKid has some really great extra features to make it more comfortable for your child and easier for you to install.  The headrest is adjustable, and the lower anchors have retractors that automatically tighten the install as you push on the seat. As far as I can tell, you can only get the seat from BabiesRUs, and as of the date this post was published, is only available for preorder.

  • Cost: $160
  • Harnessed limits: 22 – 65 lbs and 28 – 50  inches, or 17 inches when seated
  • Highback booster limits: 40 – 110 lbs and 43.3 – 57 inches
  • Dimensions: 26” High x 19” Wide x 21” Deep
  • Weight: 14 lbs.
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture

#3) Recaro Performance Sport

If you read my post on convertible car seats, you know that I really love the Recaro ProRide. For a combination car seat, the Recaro Performance Sport is really great too.  You can’t use it rear-facing, but if your child has outgrown his or her convertible car seat, this is another great option. This seat has an adjustable headrest, has memory foam cushions, and has some extra features, like color-coding slots and a white stripe on the edge of the harness, to make sure the straps aren’t being threaded incorrectly. Also, the seat meets both US and European crash test standards; the requirements to pass European tests are more stringent than in the US.

  • Cost: $200
  • Harnessed limits: 20 – 65 lbs and 27 – 50  inches
  • Highback booster limits: 30 – 120 lbs and 37-59 inches
  • Dimensions: 25” High x 1.5” Wide x 14” Deep
  • Weight: 25 lbs.
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture

#4) Britax Pioneer 70

The Britax Pioneer is also on the higher side for price, but it’s long life means that you’ll get your money’s worth. As with the Recaro, Britax seats pass European and US crash test standards. One feature this has that the other seats don’t is a harness that you can adjust the height of without rethreading. My only quibble with Britax seats is that they can a little tricky to install using the vehicle seat belt; though as always, if you read the manual and follow the directions, you should be fine. This was rated as a Best Bet by the IIHS in model year 2014. In 2013, this seat got a “check fit” rating from the IIHS for use as a belt-positioning booster; this means you’ll have to take extra care to teach your child what proper belt placement is.

  • Cost: $185
  • Harnessed limits: 25-70 lbs and 30-54  inches, 18.5 inches seated
  • Highback booster limits: 40 – 110 lbs and 45-59 inches
  • Dimensions: 19″ W x 34″ H x 21″ D
  • Weight: 21 lbs.
  • Expiration: 9 years from date of manufacture

NEW! IMMI Go Seat

This seat was just brought back on the market, and it’s a really interesting design. It’s made to be super portable, very easy to install when using LATCH, and can convert into a backless booster. Because of the design, it requires the use of a tether to install it. It’s small dimensions make it very handy to use when you need to get 3 seats across a small backseat, and it’s perfect for families that travel a lot.

  • Cost: $199
  • Harnessed limits: 22-55 lbs when installed with LATCH, 22-65 lbs when installed with a seat belt, and 31-52  inches
  • Backless Booster Limits: 4 years of age, 40 – 100lbs, 43 – 57 inches
  • Dimensions: 16.5″ W x 16.5″ D; Height is determined by the seat the vehicle is attached to
  • Weight: 10 lbs.
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture

Have any questions about this list? Let me know below!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


− 7 = one