Any car seat sold in the United States must meet certain federal safety standards and is therefore considered safe to use. However, the best car seats are not only safe, but provide years of use, feel comfortable, and are easy to install and adjust.

After testing a number of top-rated car seats, our review team has found several child car seats that are worth recommendation. In this review, we’ll suggest car seats for various ages and help you find the best car seat for your child’s age and size.

5 Best Car Seats

Graco Xtend 2fit

  1. Chicco Fit4
  2. Nuna Bugaboo Turtle Air
  3. Chicco MyFit
  4. Evenflo Chase
  5. Baby Trend EZ Ride

To find more options specific to your child’s age, check out our articles on the best infant car seats, the best convertible car seats, and the best toddler car seats.

#1 Best Convertible Car Seat: Chicco Fit4

chicco fit4

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The Chicco Fit4 is a convertible car seat with four configurations, nine recline positions, and ten headrest positions. It can accommodate children from birth up to 100.0 pounds, transforming from rear-facing mode to a high-backed booster. We’ve rated the Fit4 higher than any other car seat because it is easy to install and uses soft, high-quality materials.

Key Features

  • Approximate cost: $360
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 100.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 57.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 25.0 pounds

Our Experience

chicco fit4

Among the car seats we tested, the Chicco Fit4 may be the simplest to install. The instruction guide is easy to follow, and you can access a more detailed user manual online (by scanning the QR code plastered to the frame).

This car seat is large. Most convertible car seats take up a lot of space and therefore may not be suited for small cars. We managed to install and use this car seat just fine in a small sedan, but if you’re sitting in the front seats and need a lot of legroom, the Fit4 may be too big.

What Customers Are Saying

The Chicco Fit4 has an average Amazon rating of 4.8 out of 5 based on more than 1,600 reviews. About 88 percent of reviewers rate the Fit4 a full 5 stars.

Many positive reviews say the Fit4 is easy to install. Parents like the SuperCinch Latch tightener, which is easy to adjust and has a secure feel.

The most frequently mentioned downside to the Fit4 is its size. It can be difficult to maneuver, and drivers with small cars find it hard to get into their vehicle. While we installed the Fit4 in a sedan with no issues, this convertible car seat is much bulkier than infant and toddler car seats.

#2 Best Infant Car Seat: Bugaboo Turtle Air

bugaboo turtle air

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One of the more expensive car seats, the Bugaboo Turtle Air earns its price tag. It is made from comfy ultra-soft Merino wool and uses a no-rethread five-position harness. This lightweight car seat weighs around 7.0 pounds and is compatible with the Bugaboo stroller travel system.

The rear-facing Turtle Air is designed for infants and newborns and can accommodate children between 4.0 and 32.0 pounds.

Key Features

  • Approximate cost: $480
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 32.0 pounds
  • Height range: 32.0 inches or less
  • Car seat weight (excluding base): 8.6 pounds

Our Experience

bugaboo turtle air

The Turtle Air’s belts and buckles are simple to adjust, and the merino-wool lining is softer than any other car seat we tested.

We couldn’t get the anchor clips to attach to our vehicle because the straps didn’t reach far enough. However, it wasn’t difficult to install the car seat using the shoulder belt, which hooks neatly through the designed path.

Once the base is attached, the Turtle Air infant carrier is easily detached with a click of a button. Lower-quality infant car seats can be difficult to detach, but the Turtle Air slides out nicely and is less likely to disturb a sleeping infant.

Overall4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

There are just 10 customer ratings for the Bugaboo Turtle Air on Amazon. Every reviewer gives the Turtle Air 5 stars, but this is a small sample size. On Target.com, the Turtle Air has just over to 30 ratings, with an average score of 4.6 out of 5 stars.

Few negative comments about the Turtle Air exist online. Most parents are surprised by the light weight and appreciate the high-quality materials. Nearly all reviewers mention this infant car seat being easy to use and install.

Some people say the canopy can get in the way when not in use, but we didn’t have any issues with it during our test installation.

#3 Best Toddler Car Seat: Chicco MyFit

chicco myfit

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The Chicco MyFit is a convertible car seat that transitions from a five-point harness to a belt-positioning, high-back booster. It’s a good choice for parents who want a toddler vehicle seat that will also fit their child as they grow.

The MyFit has four recline positions and nine headrest positions, offering a lot of adjustability. The soft padding and removable inserts protect any child with comfort.

Key Features

  • Approximate cost: $210
  • Weight range: 25.0 to 100.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 57.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 25.0 pounds
  • Machine-washable padding

Our Experience

chicco myfit

We found the MyFit very easy to install. It uses LATCH system connectors that are easy to tighten. The built-in level helps ensure proper installation, and the recline adjustment works fluidly. Explanatory stickers also help ensure proper installation by providing positioning guides.

Overall4.7 out of 5
Ease of Installation5 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

The MyFit has  a near-perfect 4.9-star average rating based on more than 2,000 reviews. About 91 percent of reviews rate this toddler car seat a full 5 stars.

Positive reviews mention the plush padding and light weight of the MyFit. A few users report getting into an accident while using this seat and that their child was unharmed. Many positive reviews also say the seat is very comfortable. The head support prevents a child’s head from dropping forward.

One reviewer claims the mechanism to attach the MyFit using a seatbelt (instead of the lower anchor tethers) doesn’t work – at least not in the reviewer’s Honda Pilot. Another negative review complains that the cupholders are too low for some children to reach.

#4 Best Budget Toddler Car Seat: Evenflo Chase

evenflo chase

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The Evenflo Chase is a low-priced toddler car seat for children between 22.0 and 110.0 pounds. This well-reviewed seat is nicely padded for a car seat in this price range and is simple to install and adjust.

While it lacks some of the adjustability of more expensive models, the Chase sacrifices little when it comes to safety. Rigorously tested for side-impact protection, the product meets or exceeds federal car seat safety standards. This is a good car seat if you’re looking for a low-cost option.

Key Features

  • Approximate cost: $80
  • Weight range: 22.0 to 110.0 pounds
  • Height range: 28.0 to 57.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 11.0 pounds
  • Machine-washable padding

Our Experience

evenflo chase

The Chase is easy to maneuver because it is one of the lightest car seats (only 11.0 pounds). While the materials don’t match up to the Bugaboo Turtle Air, the padding and seat are high quality compared to other car seats in this price range.

Though lightweight, the Chase isn’t the easiest car seat to install. It has the metal clamp style of anchor clasp and doesn’t attach and detach as smoothly as high-end models.

Overall3.8 out of 5
Ease of Installation4 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials3.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

The Chase boasts 4.7 stars from more than 7,900 Amazon ratings. About 79 percent of reviewers rate the Chase a full 5 stars. It scores highest in the “easy to install” category, with an average rating of 4.6.

Many positive reviews say the seat is an incredible bargain for the price. Especially for older toddlers, the seat is comfortable enough for short and mid-range trips. This car seat is also considered safe. More than one reviewer reported getting into an accident while using this car seat, and their kid was protected.

Negative reviews typically note the comfort of the Chase. The seat doesn’t recline as far as others, causing sleeping children to sometimes lean forward. One reviewer doesn’t like that there are no shoulder pads, because the harness straps dig into his child’s arms.

#5 Best Budget Infant Car Seat: Baby Trend EZ Ride

baby trend ez ride

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The Baby Trend EZ Ride is a rear-facing infant car seat that includes a stroller. While many infant car seats are compatible with strollers, you typically must purchase them separately, with the car seat and stroller together costing upward of $300. The EZ Ride is a safe car seat that includes a stroller for a low overall price.

Key Features

  • Approximate cost: $140
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 35.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 32.0 inches
  • Car seat weight (excluding base): 8.8 pounds

Our Experience

baby trend ez ride

The EZ Ride is not especially difficult to install, but by the standards of the best car seats, it’s more difficult than average. The straps are hard to tighten, and the anchor clasps are tricky to remove.

Like most infant car seats, the EZ Ride carriage is detachable from the base and can connect to a stroller. While this car seat works, it’s still hard to detach from the base and may require some shaking. It’s unlikely you could detach the carrier without waking a sleeping baby.

The materials are soft and easy to clean, but the nylon padding seat cover is less comfortable than a wool lining or the soft lining of other high-budget car seats. But for the cost, this seat does the job.

Overall3.5 out of 5
Ease of Use3.5 out of 5
Adjustability3.5 out of 5
Quality of Materials3.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

The EZ Ride has more than 9,800 reviews on Amazon and an average rating of 4.7 stars. About 93 percent of reviewers give this infant car seat a minimum of 4 stars.

Like with many of the best car seats, Amazon reviews claim the EZ Ride succeeds at its most important task: keeping your child safe. At least one person says this seat saved their daughter’s life when they had a wreck.

Most positive reviews praise the EZ Ride’s versatility and low cost. Reviews on ease of use are mixed. Some users believe the system works great. Other reviewers note, as we did, that the EZ Ride can be difficult to adjust and that it’s not easy to detach the seat from the base.

Our Review Standards

Our review team tested more than a dozen car seats. To select products for testing, we searched Amazon for top products by looking at customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and prices. We only chose car seats that comply with United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

During testing, we compared adjustability, material quality, and ease of use to determine our rankings. We also considered customer opinions as represented by reviews on retailers’ websites such as Walmart, Target, and Amazon.

Ease Of Use

Even a car seat that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) guidelines is unsafe if installed incorrectly. When a car seat is simple to install and includes easy-to-follow directions, the chance of user error is lower.

A car seat’s anchor clips can make a big difference with ease of installation. While testing car seats, we encountered two types of anchor clips: a simple metal anchor and a LATCH anchor that buckles similar to a seatbelt (both displayed below). The LATCH anchor is easier to attach and release. Seats with this type of anchor scored higher in the ease-of-use category.

Plain Metal Anchor

car seats hooks

LATCH Anchor

car seats hooks

Adjustability

Though small babies are typically of similar size, older children often come in various shapes, heights, and weights. You’ll need to adjust any car seat to fit your child and your car. Features such as a built-in level, adjustable headrest, and multiple harness positions are useful in this regard. Car seats with more harness positions and incline positions scored best in this category.

Quality Of Materials

Better materials mean a more comfortable ride for your child. It’s also helpful when a car seat has machine-washable fabrics for easy cleanup. Car seats with soft materials, extra padding, and quality stitchwork scored best in this category.

Car Seat Testing Process

To test the best car seats, our review team installed each product into a sedan. In addition to inspecting the materials of each seat in person, we noted the ease or difficulty of the installation process. We also tested each adjustment mechanism to ensure it worked smoothly.

You can attach most car seats using the car’s built-in infant seat anchors or using the seatbelt. For our testing, we installed each seat using the built-in lower anchors when possible.

Types Of Car Seats

The right car seat for you depends on your child’s weight and height. NHTSA guidelines describe the type of car seat you need at each age. Any car seat you purchase will list the recommended height and weight limitations.

Infant Car Seats

These rear-facing car seats are designed for newborns, but be aware newborns will likely outgrow them after a year. An infant car seat typically has two parts: a base you leave installed in your vehicle and a detachable carrier that can often double as a carriage for a stroller. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, until they reach the maximum weight or height limit their seat allows.

Toddler Car Seats

Experts recommend your baby switches to a forward-facing car seat once reaching a certain size. Car seats for toddlers are typically suitable for children between ages two and seven. Many toddler car seats can be transformed into booster seats to accommodate older children.

Convertible Car Seats

You can use convertible car seats as rear-facing seats for infants and forward-facing seats for toddlers. Some convertible car seats are adjustable enough to accommodate children through their entire car seat period. Convertible car seats have the disadvantage of often being larger and heavier than infant or toddler car seats.

Car Seat Buyers Guide

After determining the type of car seat you need, you should keep a few considerations in mind when seeking the best car seat for your child and budget.

Installation

Even the top-rated car seat is only safe if installed properly. Make sure you fully understand every feature of the car seat you buy. Read the instruction booklet before installation.

After installing a car seat, you should have a child passenger safety technician inspect your installation. Find the nearest inspection location using the NHTSA locator.

Car Compatability

Convertible car seats are bigger than infant car seats. Keep this in mind if you have a sedan or sports car. Bucket seats can also affect the ability to install two car seats side by side. If you or your partner are tall, your legroom may be limited by a bulky rear-facing car seat in the back. Another consideration is your car’s upholstery material. A 30.0-pound car seat with a 40.0-pound toddler might mark up leather seats. If you have leather seats, you might want to invest in seat protectors.

Portability

Do you intend to leave your car seat attached, or will it often move between vehicles (or from car to airplane)? If you plan to lug around your car seat, it’s better to purchase one that’s lightweight and easy to install and detach.

Safety Tips

All car seats sold in the U.S. should meet federal safety standards. However, some car seats are recallable, and an improper installation can render a seat unsafe.

  • Register the car seat online: This should be one of the first steps of buying a car seat. A one-time registration will opt you in to regular updates and notices from the manufacturer.
  • Check national standards: Every car seat for sale in the U.S. should meet or exceed state and federal safety codes and undergo a New Car Assessment Program crash test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Parents can follow organizations such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the American Academy of Pediatrics for regular reports about child passenger safety.
  • Review the expiration date: The best convertible car seats usually have an expiration date between six and ten years. You can find the date printed on your product or in the user manual. If you’ve misplaced the manual, call the manufacturer.
  • Have your installation inspected: Take your car seat to the nearest inspection station so a certified child passenger safety technician can make sure it is properly installed and adjusted.

Besides looking at safety standards and details from the manufacturer, you should assess what safety features are important to you as a parent. Do you want added padding or flame-retardant material included in the design? Or do you want the seat with the best crash test rating?

FAQ: Best Car Seats

*Data accurate at time of publication.