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Shop the 6 best car seats for your growing family

Whether you’re running to the store or you’re on a cross-country road trip, the best car seats for kids keep them safe and comfortable on the road.

Published Jul 25, 2023
7 min. reading time
one of the best car seats for babies from KeyFit 35

Driving is how most families in America get around. And if you want to keep your child safe in the car (and avoid breaking the law), you need to make sure they’ve got a car seat that’s appropriate for their height, weight and age.

Today, car seats are recommended from infancy up until the age of 12 to 13, depending on the height and weight of the child. Car seats keep your little one safe and secure when you drive, and dramatically reduce the risks of injury in an accident. They often have cup holders and other accessories for their comfort, too.

But what’s the best car seat for your baby, toddler or older child? That’s a great question, and we’ve got the answer. Read on to get the details on some of the top car seats from manufacturers, such as Graco and Chicco — and shop our top picks.

Read more: See the best car accessories selected by our editors

Our top picks for the best car seats

Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat in grey, black and pink
Best overall car seat
Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
$249.99 at Target
front facing Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat in black
Best budget car seat
Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat
$139.99 at Target
black, grey Infant Car Seat with guard and handle
Best infant car seat
KeyFit 35 Zip ClearTex Infant Car Seat
$299.99 at Chicco
rear-facing Extended-Use Convertible Car Seat for babies
Best toddler car seat
NextFit Max ClearTex Extended-Use Convertible Car Seat
$299.99 at Chicco

Best overall car seat


  • Suited for: Birth to 12 years

  • Dimensions: 25.16 H x 22.52 W x 19.25 D in 

  • Weight: 21 pounds

Pros & Cons
  • Suitable for a wide range of ages

  • Removable fabric cover

  • Features built-in cup holders and storage pockets

  • Front-facing harness is difficult to tighten

  • Frame can be difficult to clean

The Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat transitions seamlessly from a rear-facing car seat for infants to a front-facing car seat for toddlers, and even into a booster seat for older kids. It also has a 50-pound rear-facing limit, as well as a 100-pound front-facing limit. Rear-facing seats are considered to be safer for kids, so this feature lets you keep your child rear-facing for longer before they transition to the front-facing mode.

It’s also fully JPMA-certified, with fire-resistant polyester fabric and Graco ProtectPlus Engineered safety features. This has earned it some of the highest crash test safety scores on the market.

The 10-position headrest and advanced safety harness system make it easy to get your child in the right position before you hit the road. Installation only takes seconds, too, thanks to the advanced InRight LATCH system.


  • Suited for: 2 to 12 years

  • Dimensions: 33.5 H x 10.47 W x 18.9 D in 

  • Weight: 17.9 pounds

Pros & Cons
  • Slim, lightweight, and easy-to-install design

  • Features three different installation modes

  • Adjustable four-point safety harness

  • Cannot be used for infants

  • Cushion padding is thin

Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can get a car seat that will offer the performance and features you need. While it’s not appropriate for infants, this Graco Tranzitions car seat is an affordable option if you’ve got a toddler who no longer needs a rear-facing seat. It supports kids between 22 to 65 pounds in front-facing mode, and between 40 and 100 pounds in the highback booster and backless booster modes.

The comfortable seat pad keeps your little one comfy, while the removable cover makes it easy to clean. Cup holders help their drinks and other small items stay in place, and this lightweight car seat is easy to move and install.

Best infant car seat


  • Suited for: Birth to 3 years

  • Dimensions: 24 H x 16.5 W x 28 D in 

  • Weight: 19 pounds

Pros & Cons
  • Easy to install and remove 

  • Compatible with Chicco stroller systems

  • Five adjustment positions

  • Non-convertible design

  • Heavy compared to other infant car seats

Studies have shown that infants and young toddlers are the safest in rear-facing car seats. That’s why this rear-facing seat from Chicco is built specifically for infants and toddlers between 4 to 35 pounds.

While it’s not as versatile as a convertible 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 car seat, it’s an excellent option for parents who want the best protection for infants and young toddlers.

Not only that, but this car seat is easy to install and remove. The base remains in place when you remove the seat, and you can buy multiple bases for each of your vehicles. The car seat itself snaps easily onto Chicco’s stroller systems, so you can take it on the go. A 50 UPF sun shade keeps your little one safe from the sun outside, too.


  • Suited for: Birth to 8 years

  • Dimensions: 26 H x 22.75 W x 19 D in

  • Weight: 26.5 pounds

Pros & Cons
  • Built for both rear-facing and front-facing use

  • Easy to adjust in both modes

  • Heavy-duty design for plenty of protection

  • May be too small for kids who are tall for their age

  • Blocks middle seat in smaller cars

This car seat is an excellent choice for toddlers, but it’s appropriate for infants between 4 to 11 pounds when used in rear-facing mode with the included newborn positioner. The weight limit is 50 pounds in rear-facing mode, but you can swap it to the forward-facing mode for kids up to 65 pounds.

This car seat also uses a nine-position Easy-Extend Headrest System that moves with the harness to keep your little one safe and comfortable. A rigid shell, steel frame, and energy-absorbing foam make this one of the best car seats when it comes to impact resistance and durability. It also features ClearTex fabric, which has been lab-tested for low chemical emissions.

Best convertible car seat


  • Suited for: Birth to 12 years

  • Dimensions: 26.81 H x 19.88 W x 22.36 D in 

  • Weight: 25 pounds

Pros & Cons
  • Slim enough for smaller cars

  • All-in-one design is suitable for infants, toddlers, and older kids

  • Lightweight for easy installation and removal

  • Takes up quite a bit of space in rear-facing mode

  • Washable cover can be difficult to remove

This convertible car seat is from Graco’s SlimFit line, which means it’s less bulky and takes up less space in your vehicle, making it one of the best car seats if you drive a smaller sedan rather than an SUV or crossover.

In rear-facing mode, it’s suitable for infants and toddlers from 5 to 40 pounds. It can transition to forward-facing mode for kids between 22 and 65 pounds, and the highback booster mode accommodates kids between 40 and 100 pounds. 

Rotating cup holders help maintain the slim size of this car seat, since they can be folded away when they’re not in use. It has four reclining positions and 10 headrest positions to keep your child safe and comfortable.

Other handy features like an integrated harness storage compartment as well as a built-in level that ensures proper installation with the InRight LATCH system.

Best car seat for travel


  • Suited for: Birth to 12 years

  • Dimensions: 27 H x 19 W x 21.5 D in 

  • Weight: 25 pounds

Pros & Cons
  • Suitable for kids of all ages

  • Simple adjustment for comfort and safety

  • Slim, space-saving design

  • Heavier than some comparable car seats

  • Difficult to install in rear-facing position

If you and your family travel often, the OneFit ClearTex All-in-One Car Seat is an excellent choice. It’s comfortable and durable enough for road trips, and while it’s a bit heavy, it fits onto most plane seats with no issues, either.

The base is removable and can be separated from the seat, too, which makes it easier to carry around. The fabric cover is durable and easy to wash, and the dark color helps hide stains and messes, which is a nice feature.

It’s suitable for kids of all ages, too, with a rear-facing mode that is rated for 5-40 pounds. The forward-facing mode is rated for kids between 25 and 65 pounds, and it can also be used as a booster seat for kids between 40 and 100 pounds.

What to look for when buying a car seat 

Whether you’re the proud new parent of an infant or you’ve got a toddler or an older kid, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when shopping for the best car seats. After all, a high-quality car seat can be a big investment. 

  • Height and weight recommendations: Every car seat has different weight and height recommendations. You’ll want to keep these in mind, and make sure you choose a seat that will fit your child based on their height and weight. If your child is too small or too large for a specific car seat, their safety will be seriously compromised.

  • Convertibility: A great car seat can grow with your kids. Many car seats are convertible, which means they can grow with your child and transition from rear-facing seats to front-facing seats, then eventually booster seats. If you choose a convertible car seat, you can save quite a bit of cash.

  • Adjustability: The best car seats have adjustable armrests, headrests, and other components. Every kiddo is different, and being able to fine-tune the fit of your child’s car seat is important not just for their safety, but for their comfort, too.

  • Ease of installation: If you have multiple cars and need to switch your child’s car seat between vehicles often or if you’re a traveling family, we recommend finding a car seat that’s easy to install safely and remove quickly.

  • Replacement parts: Most car seat manufacturers sell replacement parts for their car seats. Kids put their car seats through a lot of wear and tear, so repairability and the availability of replacement parts are important things to keep in mind. Repairing a car seat instead of buying a new one can save you some serious cash. However, keep in mind that you MUST throw away a car seat if you’ve been involved in a crash, or if the expiration date (usually six years) has passed.

Which car seats get our vote? 

With so many impressive car seats on the market, it can be difficult to select the right one for your family's needs. And clearly, we're big fans of all of the car seats in this roundup. But to help you narrow down the selection, these are two standout choices.

We recommend the Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat as the best car seat for most kids. Not only is it easy to install, but it’s at the top of the heap when it comes to safety ratings — and can be used for kids of just about any age.

If you’re on a tighter budget or want a slimmer seat, though, we’d recommend the Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat. It’s comfortable and also has a great safety rating, but it’s lighter and thinner. This makes it easier to maneuver, and a better overall option if you have a smaller vehicle and are short on space for your child’s car seat.

Prices updated on 07/25/2023. We are not responsible for any changes to the prices mentioned above.

Written by
Eric Liston

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Eric Liston is a freelance writer focusing on consumer product reviews, digital technology — and helping readers find the right items at the right price. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him gaming, cooking or disc golfing.

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