2021 Recommended Car Seats List: Community Picks

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Looking for seat recommendations to start your shopping with? Start here! This is a list of crowd-sourced suggestions for seats that our community loves and loves to suggest, as recommended by community members. Please support our forum by using our links to any retailer like:

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BuyBuyBaby.com

Experts know that the "best" seat is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle, fits your budget, and will be used properly every single trip. This means there's no single best seat for every situation, and it also means that *your* best seat might not be on this list. That's OK! The list below contains seats which are generally found to be easy to use and to fit a fair variety of children and vehicles well. There are inexpensive and pricey seats on the list. While all seats have to meet the same basic safety standards, some seats may have features which make them more comfortable or easier to use.

Speaking of safety, it's not unusual to hear a parent say they purchased this seat or that one because "it was the safest." While some seats may have features which could improve their performance in a crash, there aren't any reliable, comprehensive crash test comparisons for US and Canadian seats. This means that there's no way to tell if one seat is actually safer than another in the real world. Fortunately, a properly used seat provides excellent protection in most crashes. I hope the below list aids you in your search, and if you have any questions, please ask them on our forums!

Within each category, seats are listed roughly in order of increasing price. Price ratings are based on typical retail prices as of January 30, 2021, with the following key for all seats except boosters:
$: Less than $100
$$: $101-$150
$$$: $151-$200
$$$$: $201-$300
$$$$$: Over $300

Rear Facing Only Seats (rear facing with a carrying handle, also known as "infant seats")


  • Graco Snugride Click Connect 30/35/35LX ($-$$): 4-30/35 pounds; some variation in features between models. Look for a base with a seatbelt lockoff.
  • Evenflo LiteMax, SafeMax, and LiteMax DLX ($-$$$): 3*-35 pounds; Fit to small babies and preemies is excellent; more compact than previous Evenflo models with incorporation of an anti-rebound handle position. Features range from basic on lower end models to high-end features like sensor-containing chest clip and load leg on base on higher trim models. (*Note: use for children with weight 3-4 lbs. and height from 15.75-17” is with physician approval and is retroactive, stated in Evenflo FAQs. This is a great option for discharge of smaller healthy babies.)
  • Graco Snugride SnugLock (various models) ($$-$$$): 4-35 pounds; features vary slightly with model. Built in tightening and locking mechanism in base.
  • Chicco Keyfit 30 ($$$): 4-30 pounds. Easy to install with LATCH or seatbelt, compatible with a number of Chicco strollers. A perennial favorite, far and away the most often recommended by our community.
  • Nuna Pipa ($$$$): 4-32 pounds. Rigid lower LATCH, load leg ("stability leg"), seatbelt lockoffs on base, extra large canopy, compatible with several high-end strollers.
  • Clek Lling ($$$$$): 4-35 pounds. Rigid lower LATCH, load leg, built in belt-tensioning system in base, UPF canopy with peekaboo window, narrow for 3 across, recline adjusts after installation of base, excellent fit for small and large babies.

Other community picks: Cosco Light n Comfy Elite ($), Britax B-Safe 35 ($$$), Chicco Fit 2 ($$$)


Convertibles (rear or forward facing)
(In this list, we have included 3-in-1 or all-in-one seats in this category.)

  • Cosco Scenera NEXT ($): RF 5-40 pounds, FF 22-40 pounds; a good choice for an inexpensive seat.
  • Evenflo Sureride/Titan 65 ($): RF 5-40 pounds, FF 22-65 pounds; inexpensive seat with extremely high top harness setting so that it lasts a long time.
  • Graco Contender 65 ($$): RF 5-40 pounds, FF 20-65 pounds; shell as tall as the more expensive Graco convertibles at a bargain price with a few less convenience features; fits average to large newborns with newborn insert.
  • Graco MySize 65 ($$$): RF 4-40 pounds, FF 20-65 pounds; nice tall harness and very tall shell. If using for a newborn, look for a model with an infant insert.
  • Graco Extend2Fit ($$$): RF 4-50 pounds; FF 22-65* pounds. Roomy yet compact seat has a panel that allows more leg room rear-facing, low-priced option for heavier children to rear-face longer. *Please note: The Extend2Fit requires a recline for forward facing children under 40 lbs. that is so extreme it results in widespread incompatibility in this mode. We do not recommend this seat if you have a lighter-weight child whom you intend to turn forward-facing before they reach 40 lbs. due to installation difficulty in that mode. (Once 40 lbs. the seat can be installed more upright which resolves the installation issues.)
  • Britax Boulevard Click Tight ($$$$): RF 5-40 pounds, FF 22-65 pounds; nearly foolproof seatbelt installation, very tall shell.
  • Chicco Nextfit ($$$$): RF 5-40 pounds, FF 22-65 pounds; "SuperCinch" tightening system for installation, good ease of use, long-lasting.
  • Clek Fllo ($$$$$): RF 14-50 pounds, FF 22-65 pounds; for use with an infant must purchase the (not yet for sale) infant insert; the "little sister" to Clek's high-end Foonf; Crypton fabrics, easy seatbelt installation, narrow footprint makes it good for 3 across.
  • Nuna Exec ($$$$$) (all-in-one): RF 5-50 pounds, FF 25-65 pounds, booster 40-120 lbs. and at least 4 years; a truly deluxe premium seat that performs all modes well and often fits well with other seats next to it.

Other community picks: Britax Allegiance ($$$), Graco Sequence ($$$), Graco Milestone/Landmark (all in one) ($$$$), Graco SlimFit3 LX/True3Fit LX (all in one) ($$$$), Nuna Rava ($$$$$)


Combinations/Harnessed Boosters (forward facing with harness or as a booster without harness)


  • Graco Nautilus ($$): 20-65 pounds harnessed; High backed booster to 100 pounds; Backless booster to 120 pounds. Tall seats available in many colors, can also be used as backless.
  • Chicco MyFit ($$$): 22-65 pounds harnessed; booster 40-100 pounds. Multi-position recline with built-in lockoffs and a narrow-contoured base make this a choice for comfort and for simpler installation in many vehicles, though not suited for vehicles with forward-of-the-bight seatbelts.
  • Graco Nautilus SnugLock ($$$$): 20-65 pounds harnessed; booster to 100 pounds high backed, 120 backless. The highly-compatible design of the Nautilus with the added benefit of the SnugLock automatic tightening and locking mechanism for simple install with or without locking shoulder belts.
  • Britax Grow With You ClickTight ($$$$): 25 lb - 65 pounds harnessed; Booster to 120 pounds. Highest harness of any seat currently available, nearly foolproof seatbelt installation.


Other community picks: Evenflo Maestro ($), Cosco Finale ($), Harmony Defender ($$), Graco Tranzitions SnugLock ($$$), Ride Safer Delight Travel Vest ($$$)


Dedicated Boosters (positions the seatbelt properly)
Since boosters tend to be less expensive than harnessed seats, the price rating has been adjusted as follows:
$: Less than $20
$$: $21-$50
$$$: $51-100
$$$$: $101-150
$$$$$: Over $150

High-backed Boosters

  • Graco Highback Turbobooster ($$): 40-100 pounds. Removable back, widely available, inexpensive. Nearly universal fit-to-child.
  • Chicco Kidfit ($$$): High back booster 30-100 pounds, backless booster 40-110 pounds. Cushy cover, comfortable seat, and removable back make this a community favorite.
  • Graco Highback Affix ($$$): 40-100 pounds. Removable back, LATCHable. Fits children like the TurboBooster.
  • Britax Highpoint ($$$$$): 40-120 pounds. Extremely tall seat is great for tall or long-torsoed children. SG clip is an anti-submarine feature that helps keep the belt positioned low on the child's lap, below the hips. Flexible LATCH.

Other community picks: Safety 1st Store n Go ($$), Evenflo BigKid Amp ($$), Britax Skyline ($$$), Diono Monterey XT ($$$$), Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 ($$$$$), Nuna Aace ($$$$$)


Backless Boosters

  • Harmony Youth Booster ($): 30-100 pounds. A cheap, lightweight booster good to have for a spare, carpool rides, or everyday use in a smaller vehicle.
  • Graco Backless Turbobooster ($): 40-100 pounds. A classic, this booster has been a favorite for years because of good belt positioning, wide availability, and variety of designs.
  • Bubblebum ($$): 40-100 pounds. Inflatable booster is easy to take along for travel or carpool, positions the belt well on most booster aged children.
  • Graco RightGuide ($$): 50-120 pounds. A nearly heightless booster that is great for older children who have outgrown a traditional booster, but still need a bit of belt positioning. Intended for 5 years and up.

Other community picks: Evenflo Backless Amp ($$), Chicco GoFit ($$), Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong ($$), Diono Solana 2 ($$$)
 
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