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5 Good Value Kids Convertible Car Seats 2015

Updated on January 12, 2015
As a Father of five I've had my chance to use the good and the bad among convertible car seats. Here's a look at a few of my favorites in 2015.
As a Father of five I've had my chance to use the good and the bad among convertible car seats. Here's a look at a few of my favorites in 2015.

Saving Money With a Convertible Car Seat

As a Father of five children I've had quite a lot of experience with car seats - the good, the bad, and of course, the ugly. There are a lot of reasons to use a convertible or all-in-one car seat. One reason that I've used them in the past is simply because I tend to have tall babies.

This can present problems for car seats that are simply made for babies. Another reason is that you can save quite a bit of money over the 4 main stages; rear facing down, rear-facing up, forward-facing up, and then forward-facing up in a booster.

Also, if you have a small or compact car and are able to fit an infant carrier in the back, then you shouldn't have any problem fitting a convertible car seat in your car.

2015 Update: The Britax Marathon 70-G3 has been one of my favorite convertible car seats for years. I now recommend its sucessor the Britax Marathon G4.1.
2015 Update: The Britax Marathon 70-G3 has been one of my favorite convertible car seats for years. I now recommend its sucessor the Britax Marathon G4.1.

5 Good Convertible Car Seats for the Money in 2015

Britax Marathon 70-G3

As a parent, my child's safety is my number one concern-especially in the car. Britax is by far the leading manufacturer of convertible car seats right now, and for good reason. All of their seats are jam-packed with safety features, and the Britax Marathon is no exception. It's a little pricey, but I consider buying a car seat to be an investment in my child's safety.

The Britax Marathon protects your child in five ways. First, it keeps the child inside the car. Second, it slows down the child's body in the event of a crash. Next, it keeps your child's movement in an accident to a minimum. It deflects the forces of the crash away from your child, and lastly, it keeps your child's brain and spinal cord safe. It accomplishes all of this with a combination of features; the most important ones are its SafeCell technology, which absorbs the impact of the crash and reduces the forward motion of the seat; its Versa-Tether anchors, which are made of an advanced webbed material to further reduce the child's forward rotation; and the seat's side impact protection, which features an EPP lining in the seat's shell that absorbs energy around the child's head and chest in a side-impact accident.

The Britax Marathon's high price is balanced by its high-quality materials, like the EPP lining and webbed tethers that I mentioned above, as well as integrated steel bars within the seat. The Marathon should be used in the rear-facing position for children between 5-40 pounds; in the forward-facing position, it can hold a child up to 70 pounds.

Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat, Onyx
Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat, Onyx

Updated Version of the 70-G3. Now available.

5 stars for the Britax G4.1

Safety First Alpha Omega Elite 3 in 1 Convertible Car Seat

A lot of convertible car seats can be used in two positions: rear-facing and front-facing. The Safety First Alpha Omega Elite 3 in 1 can do one better-it can be used in three positions: rear-facing, front-facing, and as a belt-positioning booster seat. That means it could be the only car seat you have to buy for your child-it will support him from when he weighs five pounds until he weighs 100 pounds!

The Alpha Omega Elite features ProTech EPP energy-absorbing foam in its cushioning-EPP foam is quickly becoming the standard in safety for car seats across the board. It also has a five-point harness, which is really an important feature to have; five-point harnesses keep a child much safer than the old three-point ones did, simply because they hold the child down in more places.

Any kid would hate to be put into an uncomfortable car seat-wouldn't you?-but that's not a worry with the Safety First Alpha Omega Elite. In the rear-facing position, you can choose from three reclining positions for your infant, and the seat includes an infant head support. The head rest has four positions, so it can grow with your child. The seat also has a removable cup holder for your child's sippy cup. And I love that it features pivoting armrests; armrests are great for when your child is in the seat, but they only get in the way when you're trying to wrestle your child out of his seat, so it's great that these armrests can be moved out of the way.

The Safety First Alpha Omega Elite 3 in 1 can be used in the rear-facing position for babies from five to 35 pounds, forward-facing for a child weighing between 22 and 40 pounds, and as a belt-positioning booster for a child weighing from 40 to 100 pounds. Remember that your child's height should also be taken into account when you're thinking about changing his car seat position.

Diono RadianR100 Convertible Car Seat

The Diono RadianR100 Convertible Car Seat has some good points. It combines some of the best features of other good seats. You can use it in three different positions, rather than two- rear-facing for an infant weighing five to 40 pounds; forward-facing from 20 to 65 pounds; and as a booster up to 100 pounds. Its frame is made of steel, and the sides are reinforced with aluminum, which is a sturdier construction than you'll find in some of the cheaper convertible car seats. In the front- and rear-facing positions, the seat has five shoulder strap positions and three buckle positions, so it can grow with your child for a long time. It also has a SafeStrap harness that will absorb some of the impact in an accident, and EPS foam padding on the sides of the seat.

Unfortunately, the Diono RadianR100 has one mark against it: it has a three-point harness, rather than a five-point harness. Technically, a three-point harness does meet safety standards, and it will be effective in most car accidents. But a five-point harness has been shown to be even more effective, so consider that before purchasing this seat.

The RadianR100 has one feature that's pretty cool: it folds nearly flat, to a height of about eight inches. That makes it easy to take this seat through airport security-it sits easily on the x-ray conveyor belt. Also, when it's folded flat, you can use the car seat's straps as straps for an adult to carry it around backpack-style. That would be another great feature in an airport, or anywhere that you'd need to carry the seat along with you.

The First Years True Fit Recline Convertible Car Seat

I've never seen another car seat quite like the First Years True Fit Recline. First off, the recline feature makes it look comfortable enough that I wish they made these in my size. And it's easier to use than other convertible seats-in fact, it got five stars for "ease of use" from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For example, rethreading the straps on a car seat when your child grows is usually a huge hassle. But The First Years assures the customer that not only does it have a no-rethread harness, but it also has color-coded belt paths for when you install the seat in your car. Adjusting the angle of the seat when it's rear-facing versus forward-facing is very important for safety, and the True Fit Recline has an easy-to-read indicator for just that purpose.

Unlike some car seats in a similar price range, the First Years True Fit Recline convertible car seat can only be used rear-facing or front-facing; it does not also have a booster seat capability. So the weight range for this seat is narrower than that of other seats-it can be used for a child weighing from five to 35 pounds in the rear-facing position, and in the front-facing position from 35 to 65 pounds. Depending on your child's height, though, you may only need those two positions before your child can graduate to a regular seat belt.

The First Years True Fit SI C680 has a couple more features that make it very convenient to use. It has an easy-to-release removable head rest, which gives the driver of your car more leg room when the car seat behind him is in the rear-facing position. Also, the padding snaps right off if you need to clean it. With all of these features for comfort and ease-of-use, you may be wondering about safety features, but don't worry-it comes with some great safety features as well, like a five-point harness and substantial side wings. This seat also meets international standards for side-impact crash testing.

A Good Under $100 Convertible Car Seat

Graco ComfortSport Convertible Car Seat

The Graco ComfortSport Convertible Car Seat is an inexpensive, basic seat that is great for families on a budget. It comes with just the basic features, but don't worry-it still meets all of the national safety standards. For example, this seat can be used as a rear-facing or a front-facing car seat, but it does not convert to a booster.

In the rear-facing position, it can be used with children weighing five to 35 pounds; in the front-facing position, children from 20 to 40 pounds can ride in it. It uses EPS foam, which is generally the standard in foam for car seats; it absorbs energy well in an impact, which helps protect your child from injury. It comes with a head support for infants, which can be removed once the baby grows out of it. And it also has a level indicator to help parents install the seat correctly.

The ComfortSport does have a five-point harness, which is better than the three-point harness that sometimes appears in other car seats at this price point. The seat's cover can be removed for washing, which is always a relief to parents. It also comes with a cup holder, but to be honest, I've never seen a convertible seat that didn't come with one. Parents love sippy-cup holders, after all-anything to help little ones stay happy in the back seat. Speaking of keeping little ones happy, I like that this seat also rides a little higher than some other seats-that means more hassle getting the child into the seat, but it's easier for the child to see out the window.

Which Convertible Car Seat is the Best?

Who Makes the Best Convertible Car Seat?

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Do You Use a Convertible Car Seat?

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    • Diaper Bag Blog profile image

      Stanley Green 3 years ago from Czech Republic

      Hi... maybe adding video reviews from YouTube would make your lens more interactive and would give readers better overview about the product

    • JengoJengo LM profile image

      JengoJengo LM 4 years ago

      Nice lens. I think the most important thing for me is if the seat cover is easily removable for washing!