Best Compact Convertible Car Seats

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If you're in a hurry and just want to find out what the best convertible car seat for small cars is, I'd recommend the Graco Milestone All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat.

If you drive a small car, you will want to be careful about which car seat you choose. Some will not fit at all, and others will leave people sitting up front with little to no leg room. The right one, however, will keep your little one safe and comfortable without making things too cramped for other people in the car.

In this article, I am breaking down the best convertible car seats for small cars, and in the end, I'll choose the winner.

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What Is A Convertible Car Seat?

Infants sit in rear facing car seats. When they get a little older and heavier, they are able to sit facing forward.

A convertible car seat is a car seat that can be used as both a rear-facing and forward-facing positions. So, if you get a convertible car seat, you won't have to buy another one when your child switches from facing backward to facing forward.

Some convertible car seats are also able to function as booster seats for older children, but this is not the case for all of them. If a convertible car seat does serve as a booster seat as well, it's called and All-In-One.

How To Find The Best Convertible Car Seat For Small Cars

If you want to find the best convertible car seat for small cars, you want one that is compact. Beyond that, there are a number of other features that are important to look at for compact convertible car seats. Many of these features would be important in any car seat for that matter.

Car Seat Size

If you're looking for a convertible car seat that will fit in a small car, you will want to check the dimensions. The most important dimensions for small cars are the depth (front to back) and the width.

However, it's also important to check the height. Most car seats are capable of reclining. So, the height will let you estimate how much room you will need when the car seat is reclined.

Is The Car Seat Easy To Install?

Some car seats are incredibly difficult to install, and others are not so bad. If you plan to install the car seat in one car and leave it there for years, this might not be the most important thing to consider. It might be a pain to do once, but then it's over and done with.

On the other hand, if you plan to switch the car seat between vehicles frequently, this is actually quite important.

By the way, it's worth pointing out that everyone is going to have a different experience in terms of installation. Some people are naturally better than others at things like this. In addition, any given car seat might be easy to install in one model car and hard to install in another model. Still, I think this is an important consideration.

Car Seat Features

Here are a few things to look for in convertible car seats:

  • Adjustable Recline. Being able to recline in at least a couple different positions increases the probability that your little traveler will be comfortable. This is particularly nice if you're going on a long ride and want to encourage napping.
  • Cup Holders. If your little traveler has easy access to food and drinks that's generally a good thing. These also double as a place to store toys.
  • Weight Limit. Look at the weight limit for both rear facing and forward facing positions. Generally, you will be pretty well covered with a convertible car seat but it's something to check nonetheless.
  • All-In-One. Some convertible car seats can also be used as booster seats, meaning they are really all-in-one car seats. This is a nice bonus.

My Top Compact Convertible Car Seat Picks

I have taken a look at the vast world of convertible car seats, and narrowed things down to my top five below. Each of these car seats has different features that could make them the right fit for you, depending on your particular wants and needs. I do have a favorite, but I believe any one of these would make a great choice.

Chicco has a really strong brand, and is known for producing high quality products. The Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat is no exception.

This car seat measures 20.5 inches front to back, 19 inches in width and is 26 inches tall. So, it's a great fit for smaller cars.

When rear facing, it accommodates children weighing 5 - 40 pounds. When facing forward, it's suitable for kids weighing 22 - 65 pounds.

Your little traveler will always be comfortable in this car seat, as it can recline into 9 different positions. This can be really useful since different kids have different preferences. It's also nice to be able to easily recline for a nap in the car.

In addition, this car seat comes with a removable insert that gives extra padding to newborns.

There is a removable cup holder which can be put on either side. One side might be more convenient for you than the other, depending on where you place the car seat in your car.

Parents report that this car seat is easy to install. Depending on how often you plan to move your car seat between vehicles, this might or might not be important to you. However, it's worth pointing out that a lot of car seats can be a bit frustrating to install. So, the Chicco gets a lot of credit here.

This car seat is priced on the expensive end of the range, which is not entirely surprising given the overall quality. If money is no object, this could be your best option.

PROS
  • 9 different recline positions
  • Removable cup holder for use on either side of the seat
  • 2 ride right bubbles confirm that the seat angle is correct
  • Easy to install
CONS
  • On the expensive side

This one really stands out from the crowd with a remarkably stylish look.

This car seat measures 16.1 inches front to back, 16.9 inches in width and is 28.4 inches tall. Of all of the car seats we looked at, this one has the smallest footprint (in terms of width and front to back). So, if you have a really small car, or want to fit three car seats in the back, this could be the one for you.

When rear facing, it accommodates children weighing 5 - 45 pounds. When facing forward, it's suitable for kids weighing 20 - 65 pounds. In addition, as an all-in-one car seat, the booster seat is for kids weighing 50 - 120 pounds.

This car seat is made of steel, and is heavier than others. This is a negative if you need to transport it. However, it's also an indication of how sturdy this car seat is.

It comes with a removable cup holder, which is quite nice. It's also easy to clean in the event that your little one spills a drink or some food.

One issue parents report is that this car seat is fairly difficult to assemble and install. If you plan to install it once and leave it in place, the initial challenge might not be a deal breaker. On the other hand, if you're going to be moving this between vehicles regularly, you might want to look at other options.

This one is on the expensive side. However, it's very high quality. In addition, the fact that it can function as a booster seat means it might be the only car seat (or booster) that you ever need to purchase. That helps offset the high price, and may even save money in the long run.

PROS
  • All-in-one car seat: rear facing, forward facing, booster seat
  • Compact, with a very small foot print
  • Remarkably stylish
  • Removable cup holder
CONS
  • Heavy
  • Only one recline level
  • Difficult to assemble and install

This car seat is affordably priced, and delivers a fantastic amount of value. If you are on a tight budget, this could be the best option for you.

This car seat measures 24.5 inches front to back, 19.2 inches in width and is 24.2 inches tall.

When rear facing, it accommodates children weighing 5 - 40 pounds. When facing forward, it's suitable for kids weighing 22 - 65 pounds. It an also function as a booster seat for older kids weighing 40 - 100 pounds.

This seat can be adjusted to three different recline positions, so your little traveler will always be comfortable.

The seat pad is removable and also machine washable and dryer safe. Over time, car seats can get pretty dirty with the inevitable spills that happen. I can say from experience that they get cleaned a lot more often if it's easy to do so.

The two cup holders are great for drinks, snacks and toys. As long as those things are in reach, your little one should be happy.

On the negative side, parents report that this car seat can be difficult to install.​

In addition, it can be a bit tough to loosen and tighten the straps. While installation might be something you do very rarely, adjusting the straps is an every day occurrence. So, this is something to take into consideration.

All in all though, this one is priced affordably and it's an all-in-one. So, you'll save a small fortune if you buy this one and it's the only one you ever need.

PROS
  • Affordable and provides and extremely good value
  • All-in-one: rear facing, forward facing, booster seat
  • Adjustable three position recline
  • Two cup holders
CONS
  • Difficult to install
  • Tough to loosen and tighten straps

Graco has earned a well-deserved reputation for quality, and they have really delivered with this car seat. In fact, this is my favorite convertible car seat for small cars.

This seat measures 21 inches front to back, 17.5 inches in width and is 21 inches tall.

When rear facing, it accommodates children weighing 5 - 40 pounds. When facing forward, it's suitable for kids weighing 20 - 65 pounds. It also functions as a booster seat for kids weighing 30 - 100 pounds.

It can recline into 4 different positions, which helps to make for a comfortable ride.

It also has a removable insert for infants. This extra bit of padding helps ensure that little passengers are snug and secure.

This car seat includes a removable cup holder. So, a snack or drink will always be within reach.

This car seat is easy to install, and earns high marks from parents. That is no small feat when it comes to car seats.

Generally, the negatives for this one are pretty minor. Some parents reported that the cup holder is difficult to remove or could be in a better position. Really though, there are no major deal breakers here.

For all that this car seat delivers, it's also reasonably priced. When you combine the pricing with the fact that it's an all-in-one, this car seat delivers an extraordinary amount of value.

PROS
  • All-in-one: rear facing, forward facing, booster seat
  • Easy to install
  • 4 position recline
  • Removable cup holder
CONS
  • Some parents reported issues with the cup holder

This is a thoughtfully designed convertible car seat with some interesting features.

This seat measures 22.8 inches front to back, 21.2 inches in width and is 29.5 inches tall.

When rear facing, it accommodates children weighing 9 - 40 pounds. When facing forward, it's suitable for kids weighing 22 - 70 pounds.

The thing that stands out most with this car seat is that it's very comfortable for kids. One reason for this is that the fabric is self-wicking and draws liquids away from the skin. In the winter, this doesn't matter much. But, it makes a big difference on long trips when the weather is hot.

The car seat is adjustable and can recline in three position. This, of course, also helps to keep your little one comfortable.

It comes with a cup holder. So, your passenger should have a snack or a drink handy at all times.

The biggest issue that parents reported is that it can be difficult to adjust the straps. The main reason is that you need to press a small button when adjusting. While some parents dislike this, others noted that it actually is kind of a nice security feature since it's hard for small children to tighten or loosen on their own.

Parents also reported that this car seat can be difficult to install.

PROS
  • Self-wicking fabric keeps little ones dry
  • Can reclines into 3 positions
  • Has a cup holder
CONS
  • Difficult to adjust straps
  • Difficult to install

Final Thoughts

There are some really nice convertible car seats for small cars out there. I could make a strong case for any car seat on this list. Depending on your budget, some options might be better than others. That said, I think the Graco Milestone All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is the best option for most parents.

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