Warning, you are now about to get an answer from THE most opinionated car seat mamma! Just remember, you asked for it! ;-) Anything made by Dorel Juvenile group is absolute crap & should be put in the garbage. This would be seats like Cosco, Safety 1st (Air Protect), Maxi Cosi, Eddie Bauer, Disney Baby. They consistently have product recalls, only meet but the bare minimum safety standards (like getting a “C” on a test) and put through new models before new features have enough time to be safety tested (thus the recalls). They ought to be called… Safety LAST!! My favorite all around Car Seat Brands are Britax and Diono. You can’t go wrong with either one. Then, you should look into a seat with allows the child to extended Rear-Face for as long as possible. For this I recommend the Britax Marathon 70 but this can be a little large for a smaller car when rearfacing. So you may want to check out Diono’s Radian RXT which is pricey but will the only seat you need. For a more mid-range priced but still quality seat, the Graco My Ride 65 gets high marks and will last pretty long as well. As always… never take a car seat 2nd hand unless you are sure a) it has NEVER been in an accident and b) is not expired (if not expry is listed, check the manufacture date on label & add 6 yrs). And remember, the guidelines are now that toddlers should be kept rear-facing UNTIL age TWO and they meet/exceed the height/weight limits of their seat. As for how to determine which is best, check out their standards, see if they EXCEED the safety tests and another good reference since the US doesn't really publish our testing data, go check out international data on safety seats and find the same brands here. And, if you can get your hands on ANY seat made in / for use in Sweden... they rocks the socks off anything made in the US. They have the most stringent safety standards for car seats and consequently the LOWEST mortality rate for car crashes.