Baby No.3 has just welcomed the world, and you need a car seat?
But, how does a new car seat fit in when you already have a toddler and a preschooler with seats of their own?
This car seat guide will review the top 8 car seats that fit 3 across, so you no longer have to worry about tight space!
Most of them are travel-friendly, so if you plan on carpooling or a big family vacay, make sure you check out my best car seats option listed below!
Many of the car seats on the market are not suitable for 3-across installations, so it's essential you know which one is a safe bet, so you don't have to waste your money or your time!
Table of Contents
- Best 3-Across Car Seats on the Market - Top 8 Picks
- #1. Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat - Overall Best
- #2. 2018 UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat - Best Infant Car Seat
- #3. Safety 1st Jive 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat - Best To Install With Car Seat Belt
- #4. Graco SlimFit3 LX 3 In 1 Car Seat - Best Grow With Me Car Seat
- #5. Diono Radian 3R 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat - Up To 10 Years Of Use
- #6. Graco Milestone 3 In 1 Car Seat - The Slimmest Car Seat
- #7. KidsEmbrace High-Back Booster Car Seat - Best For Marvel Fans
- #8. mifold hifold fit-and-fold Highback Booster Seat - Best For Traveling With Kids
- Buyer's Guide
- Final Words
$$ — Chicco KeyFit 30 ~ 17 inches wide - Easy to install with LATCH, comfortable for smaller infants, and is compatible with Chicco strollers. It can be heavy with the base. Suitable for: Babies from 4-30 pounds.
$$$ — 2018 UPPAbaby MESA ~ 17.5 inches wide - Includes an SPF canopy, compatible with VISTA and CRUZ strollers without the adapter, narrow design and is great for taller babies. Not so comfortable fabric. Suitable for: Babies from 4-35 pounds.
$$ — Safety 1st Jive 2-in-1 ~ 18.13 inches wide - Easy to fit between two convertible seats, machine-washable fabric, narrow and slim for smaller vehicles. Not as comfortable as a rear-facing seat. Suitable for: 5-40; 20-65 pounds.
$$ — Graco SlimFit3 LX 3 in 1 ~ 16.7 inches wide - Easiest car seat to clean even when installed with three seats across, grows with your child, and has been rigorously crashing tested. Bad placement of the label will make some kids uncomfortable. Suitable for: 5-40 lbs; 22-65 lbs; 40-100 lbs.
$ — Diono Radian 3R 3-in-1 ~ 17 inches wide - Offers up to 10 years of use and longer rear-seat riding position, comfortable padding with exceptional safety qualities. Difficult to install. Suitable for: from 5-120 pounds.
$$ — Graco Milestone 3 In 1 ~ 16.25 inches wide - Easy to adjust harness, one of the slimmest harnessed seats that fit perfectly in the middle seat, safe and crash tested. Difficult to loosen the straps. Suitable for: from 4-100 pounds.
$ — KidsEmbrace High-Back Booster ~ 16.5 inches wide - Accommodates to growing kids with the adjustable headrest, one of the lightest car seats that work great for traveling. Could use more padding. Suitable for: from 40-100 pounds.
$ — mifold hifold fit-and-fold ~ 13.5 inches wide - The best foldable car seat for traveling is lightweight and easy to install in most cars. Not so comfortable. Suitable for: from 40 to 100 pounds.
Best 3-Across Car Seats on the Market - Top 8 Picks
Do you agree that the first car seat does not need a special introduction?
If you need a three-across slim infant seat, I recommend one of the two options.
Infant seats are pretty bulky and often heavy due to all the layering and the reinforced shell. However, not this one.
Chicco has created a safe and sturdy infant seat without excessive weight and a design many smaller vehicles cannot handle.
This one comes at the top of the list not only for its narrow design but also for its effortless installation.
In addition, the car seat uses the SuperCinch LATCh mechanism that allows for a secure fit in every vehicle.
With the help of the RideRight bubble level indicator, you will always know whether you have installed the seat correctly or not.
One of the additions I love the most about it is the narrow handle frame, which makes installing two more car seats with wide armrests.
This is great if you have a preschooler and an infant.
But, once you try it out, you won't regret a dime spent on it! So let's check it out.
First, we need to discuss installation.
The UPPAbaby Mesa car seat is currently the only one among infant car seats that utilize the technology of self-retracting LATCH connectors and tightness indicators.
The tightness indicator will be the most helpful addition if this is your first time installing an infant seat.
When the light turns green, you know you have installed the seat properly using LATCH anchors or the vehicle seat belt buckles.
Many parents love the fact that Mesa offers enough headroom for bigger babies!
Usually, infant seats have very little room due to the limited use, so it's a challenge finding a seat for a taller baby. Plus, it has a slightly larger weight limit for babies than Chicco.
If you are a lucky parent of triplets, you will be happy to know that the rear-facing Mesa uses a low-profile base that does not damage the vehicle seats.
In addition, the headrest is reinforced with EPP foam that keeps your baby's head stable.
The Safety 1st comes forward with their 2-in-1 convertible car seat your kid can use for years!
It can be installed in the rear-facing and forward-facing seat, depending on the age and weight of the kiddo.
What's the one thing that makes this car seat great?
I cannot only talk about one thing for starters because numerous features make this car seat worthy of purchase!
Starting with safety, the brand delivers one of the best safety mechanisms.
For instance, this convertible car seat has a 5-point harness that is extremely easy to adjust on any occasion!
In addition, it has an up-front adjustment, so even if you have a squirmy toddler, you won't experience difficulties.
In addition, the side-impact protection is there to make sure your kid is safe at all times. You can easily adjust the most comfortable fit as your kid grows since the car seat has removable inserts and cushions.
Plus, all of the fabrics and layers are machine-washable.
The Safety 1s Jive car seat is unique because it has removable cup holders on both sides!
Although the car seat allows for installing three car seats with the cup holders attached, removing them will give you an even better fit!
Graco never leaves unnoticed whenever the topic of smaller vehicles or narrowest seats comes up!
This is one of the most popular narrow car seats on the market that works great as a space-saver and has served you for years.
Graco SlimFit3 LX has three modes of use.
You can install it as a rear-facing seat, forward-facing, and as a high-back booster seat for big kids.
With this kind of dimension, you can easily fit three child seats even if they are far apart in age!
In addition, the big weight limit will allow the car seat to grow with your child.
As for the safety features, Graco takes big pride in them! Let's start with the breathable seat cover.
The mesh airflow design will not allow your kid to get overheated and sweaty but will promote ventilation in any seating position!
If you want the seat installed in forward-facing mode, you can do so with the belt lock-off that allows easy installations and quick conversion.
You can also have easy third-row access for a quick clean-up.
It's often a problem to clean 3 across car seats as you would usually have to uninstall all of them to take out the fabrics, right?
Well, not with Graco! The fabrics are easy to remove without taking the harness apart, and they are machine-washable!
Moving on, we have the Diono Radian 3R!
This is another top-rated 3-in-1 car seat that offers up to 10 years of use, so if you have a growing family, I suggest you pay attention to this one.
For starters, this car seat offers one of the best safety systems you can find in narrow seats.
It has a reinforced steel core made from automotive-grade high-density plastic and steel to provide the best stability when installed.
The Diono includes aluminum reinforced sides that have thick padding and evenly distribute crash force to offer the full side impact protection.
One of the features that make Diono so great is the prolonged rear-face riding!
Other car seats would have a low weight limit for rear-seat riding, but this one allows your kid to ride in it until 50 pounds!
Even when installed as a 3-across car seat, the Diono offers enough legroom and commotion to all passengers, not just the ones in the back seat!
However, a lot of the parents complain about the vague manual description. It's rather challenging to install the car seat when you don't clearly explain where anything goes.
Here we have another Graco car seat that wins in the category of slim car seats! If you were looking to get narrower car seats, the Milestone is the perfect pick!
It's only 16 inches wide, so it allows for three across installations in the back seat and does not feel cramped up at all!
In addition to this, Graco offers years of use. The comfortable design will follow your kid's growth from a young age to preschool!
One of the things I value about Graco Milestone is its incredible safety features and rigorous crash tests.
This one is engineered to protect your little one in the rear, frontal, side, and rollover accidents.
When you install three across car seats, it's often difficult to reach them for harness adjustments, especially the one that's in the center seating position.
Well, to make the task a bit more manageable, Graco includes the no-rethread harness that is super easy to adjust.
Plus, you can even adjust the headrest in now motion!
In addition, the headrest can be adjusted in 10 different positions, all to fit the child's growth.
Graco convertible seat also has rigid lower latch anchors that make an audible click, so you know you have installed the car seat properly.
If your kid refuses to get in their booster seat, just wait till they take a look at this one! It's designed for all Marvel fans, so if your kiddo loves Spiderman, they will love this car seat!
The design is not the only good thing about this car seat, but it sure is cool, isn't it?
If you plan on installing three of the KidsEmbrace car seats in the back, you can get one of each Marvel character.
They have a wide selection of heroes such as Batman, Minnie Mouse, and even Frozen characters!
It's one of the lightest booster seats and car seats in general on our list, so it's great if you plan on traveling with it.
In addition, since it's so slim, it won't take up too much room in the back so that other passengers can be comfortable as well.
It comes with one cupholder, which can be placed on either left or right.
However, when installing other seats, I suggest you set the cupholder on the opposite side as it can take some space.
As the seat accommodates bigger kids, it's great to know the headrest is adjustable in three different passions.
So as your kiddo grows, you can easily adjust it and offer a comfy fit.
Lastly, I present to you the best travel option!
This is a great car seat if you want to save up on space, especially air travel. How so?
Although this car seat is not FAA approved, you can still pack it up, fold it and have it ready when you land and take a rental.
There is no need to carry bulky car seats at the airport; this one fits in your purse! Yes, it's that compact!
In addition, the mifold hifold has a multi-fit technology that accommodates up to 243 individual settings.
Although the car seat manufacturers say that these are safe car seats for kids older than four years old, I would still advise you to use them when your kid is ready for a big kid booster.
Some kids are still not ready for seat belt child restraints, so you don't want to rush things and prematurely switch to this type of seat.
Nonetheless, the mifold hifold car seat meets and exceeds all federal regulations and is safe to use worldwide except in Australia and Taiwan.
The slim design will allow you to carpool with 3 passengers in the back seat with no problem!
However, the car seat does not offer the best comfort, so it's possibly only suitable for traveling and not everyday use.
1. How to Determine if Your Car Can Fit 3-Across Car Seats?
This is a common issue that parents have trouble with.
Once the third child comes into the world, they will inevitably need a car seat of their own.
However, the back seat can get a bit cramped up, so how can you shop safely if you are not sure your car can fit 3-across seats?
Here is a list that will make a choice a bit easier:
- Cars that fit 3-across: full-size cars; SUVs; minivans; full-size SUVs (some pick-up trucks; sedans; and CRVs)
- Cars that don't fit 3-across: two-door vehicles; subcompacts; four-passenger cars and sports cars.
2. Measures Are Your Friend
Before you go on and order your new car seats, make sure you have measured out everything you need to fit 3-across.
You need to allow enough space between the seats to buckle the child in safely, especially if they have moved on to seat belt restraint.
Measure out every single detail on the car seat!
Sometimes measuring the width is not enough as some car seats have a wider base and slim frame. This can be the most common issue.
See if cupholders are removable. If not, they are one more thing stopping you from safely installing 3-across.
Often, parents won't buy the same three car seats from a brand. Sometimes they will only need an infant car seat or booster one.
In this case, make sure all three-car sets are compatible with one another in terms of measurements.
3. Contact Your Local Child Passenger Safety Technicians
If you are not sure whether you have installed 3-across seats safely and properly, it's always a good idea to contact your local CPST.
They can inspect whether the seats have enough room between them and give you tips for easier installation.
When I go around my local visits, I always give parents tips on different car seat combinations.
For instance, installing the infant car seat first may not work for everyone, while other vehicles fit it best in the middle seat.
4. Tips for Installing 3-Across Seats
- Start With The Middle Seat
Installing a car seat in the middle first will give you a clear concept of how much space you have left for other seats.
It's always best to install the rear-facing infant seat in the middle as it's easier to access it when you need to adjust the harness.
- Know Your Limits
Measuring out the car seats will be the first thing you do before another one.
Some are not compatible to be installed with others, especially if they have a wider frame and armrests.
- Tried And Tested
Some stores will allow you to test out the model in your car before purchasing. In this way, you can be 100% positive the car seat can fit or not in your vehicle.
Also, make you install the other two car seat pre-hand to see how the third one will join the party.
Which car seats can fit 3 across?
These are some of the best three across car seats with a slim and narrow design, perfect for carpooling, traveling, or everyday rides with kiddos!
Which car seats are the narrowest?
These are a few of the go-to seats with a narrow and slim design.
Graco and Kids Embrace car seats are just at the 16-inch width, while the mifold hifold big kid booster is a whopping 13 inches wide which is perfect when traveling light!
Does Graco Tranzitions fit 3 across?
Yes, Graco Tranzitions does fit 3 across!
It's only 17.5 inches wide, so it's perfect if you want to install more convertible, infant, or booster seats in the back.
Plus, it's lightweight and designed to grow with your kid, so it's impressive if you plan on using it only for carpooling or traveling!
Is it safe to put 3 car seats across?
It is safe to put three across car seats.
However, you do have to follow specific regulations when installing them.
For instance, you have to find the appropriate child seats with a slim and narrow design whose installation won't interfere with the installation of the car seat next to it.
Always follow the car seat manufacturer manual and install it according to the instructions.
This seat should not move once installed, and it should be installed either with lower latch anchors or a seat belt.
When installing 3-across, start with the middle seat installations and then move on to other seats.
Does Diono Rainier fit 3 across?
Yes, Diono Rainier does fit 3-across installations. However, the seats work only if you have a bigger vehicle.
Diono Rainier has a narrow base, but the headings are wider than most car seat models.
Therefore, if you have a smaller car, it's best to opt for a slim car seat from top to bottom.
Can I fit 3 car seats in a Chevy Equinox?
You could fit at least two car seats in the Chevy Equinox if you want your child to be the most comfortable.
However, if you absolutely must install 3-across, I suggest you find ultra-slim car seats with a narrow frame.
Who says that three is a crowd? No way!
With these top 8 car seats I have picked out for you, it's safe to install 3 across and enjoy the road trip with your kids.
They are slim with a narrow frame, so you can easily combine them with the car seat you already own.
Installing 3 across can be a challenge sometimes, but make sure you follow all the instructions and contact your local CPST if you have any further questions!
Till next time!
- EASIEST INFANT CAR SEAT TO INSTALL – Simple, accurate and secure installation – every time – with two bubble-level indicators and spring-loaded leveling foot for proper base angle in vehicle...
- COMPATIBLE WITH CHICCO STROLLERS – Infant car seat clicks securely into the stay-in-car base and compatible Chicco strollers for a convenient car seat and stroller combo. A two-position carry-handle...
- FROM DAY ONE – Car seat includes a removable infant head and body support insert to accommodate newborns and smaller infants on their first rides. The Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat is designed...
- ADJUSTABLE CANOPY AND WASHABLE SEAT PAD – Features include large, removable canopy that provides shade from the sun and machine washable seat pad for easy cleanup, ideal for baby travel.
- Top-Rated Infant Car Seat in America