The Best Convertible Car Seat for Small Cars You Need to See

Looking for a parking spot makes you feel honestly grateful for your compact car; they fit almost anywhere. Right?

Yet, as the kids come along, you realize you haven't thought it all through. The car seat your cousin gave you does not fit, the convertible seat you found is too big, and where to put the stroller, bags, toys, diapers? It can turn into a real nightmare.

But, hear me out: The industry works for us.

Once a particular problem occurs, they look for a solution that would bring them an increase in sales. Hence, convertible cars seats for small cars.

You heard it well; there are car seat models specially designed to fit your small car without compromising the device's safety or functionality. However, choosing the highest-quality car seat does require a bit of experience, trial and error method, or friendly advice.

That's why we're here.

We consulted parent's reviews, customer ratings, detailed descriptions, and manufacturer's advice to compose the ultimate list of the best convertible car seat for small cars.

So, what do you say, are you on board, or you're buying a new car?

3 Top-Notch Recommendations

We selected the eight best models on the market, but we gave a slight advance to the 3 top-notch recommendations.

So, check out the comparison table we made before you dive deep into the reviews.

The 8 Best Compact Car Seats

Now we proceed to the main content- the reviews!

Here we present accurate descriptions, comments, and remarks of the top 8 compact convertible car seats, from reliable manufacturers only, we found.

Pay close attention and purchase wisely!

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat - The Best Convertible Car Seat for Small Car

There is definitely a reason why Graco absolutely dominates the car seat market.

Their car seats are the most frequently both car seats on Amazon, with this particular model having more than 20000 reviews.

What pushed them to the top of corporate ladders is the proven quality and functional design that parents simply love.

To my mind, Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat is the best convertible car seat for compact cars because it features high adjustability, compact dimensions, and functional design that allows your kid to ride in a rear facing position longer while providing extra leg space to you in the front.

It has been tested in compact and midsize cars, so it will most probably fit your small car as well.

The car seat measures 22.1 inches in depth, 19.2 inches in width, and 25.2 inches in height. It can be installed in a rear facing mode and forward facing mode (RF 4- 50 pounds, FF 22-65 pounds).

What is more, this exquisite car seat features a four-position extension panel that enables your kid to ride in a rear facing direction longer with five inches of extra space.

Plus, with six recline positions and ten headrest positions, your little one will experience perfect comfort every time.

Finally, the seat has a one-second In-right LATCH system, harness compartment, and no-rethread harness. Therefore, it is pretty easy to install and use. 

Also, ProtectPlus engineering makes sure your child is perfectly safe in the side rear, frontal, and even rollover crashes.

The most important thing is that the seat meets the Federal Safety Standards and is approved for aircraft use.

  • Two positions
  • Can be used rear facing longer
  • Perfectly safe car seat
  • Six recline positions
  • Tested for small cars
  • No-rethread harness
  • Quite affordable for a Graco seat
  • No booster mode

 Graco SlimFit 3 in 1 - The Best Three-in-one Convertible Compact Car Seat

Graco strikes again

With so many fantastic models, this brand is simply unavoidable. I had to include another one of theirs, but this time a three-in-one car seat version.

Three-in-one convertibles are very rare among compact car seats mainly because they are usually bulkier, as they accommodate kids up to 4-7 years.

The seat is 16.25 inches deep, 25.5 inches high, and 19.75 inches wide when it comes to dimensions. It includes three modes: the infant car seat, forward facing, and belt positioning booster.

Rear facing accommodates kids from five to 40 pounds, front facing from twenty-two to 65 pounds, and the booster from 50 pounds to 100pounds.

This Graco SlimFit 3 in 1 car seat exceeds the FMVSS 213 US Safety Standard and features side impact protection with a five-point harness system. It also includes ProtectPlus engineering for crash protection and extreme temperature conditions.

As for the installment, It is a piece of cake with the In-right latch system, one-second attachment, and four-position reclines.

Plus, the unique rotating cup holders move inwards to save more space and make the entire seat slimmer.

You don't have to worry about skin irritations and allergies since this seat incorporates high-quality materials, plush cushions, and EPS foam. When the seat is no longer clean, you can take the pads off and wash them in the washing machine, simple as that!

This seat is excellent for small cars; the customer's claim they were able to fit three across their compact vehicle with ease. In this case, make sure the other seats are compact as well.

It is better to opt for at least one infant car seat as they are smaller, and once your kid outgrows it, use the convertible your other kid used to drive in.

However, as cool as it is, there is one downside of this car seat: it is not approved for airplane use.

  • Slimfit car seat
  • Safe
  • Machine washable
  • Side impact protection
  • Easy to install
  • Three-in-one
  • Five-point harness
  • Not FAA-approved

It is no surprise that parents are highly suspicious and cautious when buying car seats. That is why cheaper models are seldom chosen and mostly stand on the shelves as an alternative for trips or taxi use in other countries.

However, Cosco car seats meet all the federal standards and can be used on aircraft.

This compact car seat measures 17 inches in length, 22 inches in width, and 23.5 inches in height. Cosco designed it to be just the right size, not too small, not too big, giving more space to parents in the front seat.

It includes two modes, rear facing for infants up to 40 pounds in weight, and forward facing for a child up to 65 pounds in weight.

Notably, with a five-point harness, you can adjust it between five heights and three buckle positions to provide your child with the ultimate pleasure.

Additionally, the Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX seat includes the plush padding in combination with other premium materials for the ultimate comfort. The cover is machine washable and dryer safe. Hence you can always keep it clean and safe for your child.

As for safety, this seat meets ASTM and JPMA safety standards and comes with a year warranty.

Allegedly, you can fit three of these seats in the back of your car. That's how compact they are. Yet, it all depends on the car, so I wouldn't take this literally.

Either way, the car seat is honestly compact and high-quality despite the affordable price, so I definitely do recommend it for the ones on a tight budget.

We could argue about the seat's negative side, but aside for missing the booster mode, I don't see anything worth mentioning given the price. Do you?

  • Affordable
  • Perfectly safe
  • FAA-approved
  • Machine washable
  • High weight limits
  • Compact
  • Five heights
  • No booster mode

Diono 2019 Radian 3RXT - The Best Compact Convertible With European Design

Diono, one of the best car seat brands, has its representative among compact car seats as well.

In fact, It designed quite a challenging device with an extraordinary slim design and upgraded comfort. We give you the incredible Diono Radian 3RXT.

First of all, the seat measures 16.14 x 16.93 x 28.35 inches and features a unique sleek design, allowing you to fit three across with no fuss. What is more, it can be folded flat for more comfortable carrying and travel convenience.

The seat follows the growth of your child. 

You can use it in a rear facing mode from standard five to forty-five pounds, forward facing mode from twenty to 65 pounds, and in a booster mode from fifty to one hundred and twenty pounds.

When it comes to the materials, the seat imitates the exquisite European design, with reinforced automotive-grade steel construction and particular nest insert that helps your little one snug in safely and comfortably.

Plus, the bottom memory foam and energy absorbing foam lines keep everything super-soft and gentle for the sensitive skin of your child.

Moreover, the SuperLatch system allows easy installment, yet super secure. And, the side impact protection keeps your child safe and sound in the case of an accident.

At last, the seat meets federal safety standards and is FAA-approved; therefore, you can use it on an airplane. This is very important for infants, since the safest place for them on aircraft is in a rear facing car seat, despite the law that allows holding your baby in a lap.

All in all, this is one heavy-duty, honestly compact, and functional car seat that will serve you for more than ten years.

It is comfortable, safe, and specially-designed to fit three across, so it honestly could be a good investment.

  • Safe
  • Ultra-comfortable
  • Sleek
  • Memory foam
  • Longer rear facing use
  • All three modes
  • FAA-approved
  • A bit over the budget

Britax One4Life ClickTight - The Best One-For-Life Compact Convertible Car Seat

Britax brings another all-in-one compact car seat, designed to follow your child's growth until he/she is ready to use a safety belt only.

What makes it unique is its high adjustability and practical design embodied in a pretty compact car seat that fits even the smallest cars.

The seat measures 20.5 x 19.5 x 25 inches and accommodates infants from five to twenty pounds, toddlers from twenty to fifty pounds, preschoolers from twenty-two to 65 pounds, and big kids from 40 pounds to a hundred and twenty pounds in weight.

I guess you are mostly concerned about safety, so you'd be thrilled to know that there are two layers of impact protection on both sides.

Plus, the unique SafeCell technology crumples to absorb the energy during crashes, and the V-shaped tether prevents the seat's movement of the seat in crashes.

As for the materials, this incredible One4Life ClickTight seat has a reinforced steel structure and air-ventilated mesh with built-in cooling channels, so your child feels comfortable.

The adjustability is honestly fantastic, the headrest can be adjusted among fifteen different positions, and the seat reclines in nine positions with simple, quick push technology.

I have to admit that the Britax4life seat is a bit expensive; some parents may not be able to pay more than $300 for a car seat

Yet if you think about it, it pays off in the long run. You will be using the seat for more than ten years; it is perfectly safe, federally approved, and can be used on aircraft.

I genuinely believe this seat to be an excellent choice

  • Includes a booster seat
  • One for life
  • Safe
  • Super-adjustable
  • Easy installment
  • Breathable
  • FAA-approved
  • Pricey

Maxi-Cosi Magellan Xp - The Best Five-in-One Design

Now, I've seen many convertible car seats, but this is the first time I'm seeing a model that literally follows your kid's growth stage by stage.

It does not only include a rear facing, forward facing, and booster mode but allows adjustments between these major transitions so that you can accommodate your kid 100% accurately.

Let's see what this is all about.

Honestly, I am a bit skeptical about the dimension. Namely, in an upright position, Maxi-Cosi Magellan XP seat measures 19.5 x 24.5 x 24.13 inches (W x D x H), and when reclined, it measures 19.5 x 32 x 20 inches (W x D x H).

Hence, the seat is narrow when compared to other models, yet I would check the measurements carefully If I had a compact vehicle since it's not that small.

The seat features five modes, baby rear facing (five to twenty-five lbs), toddler rear facing (twenty-two to 40 pounds), toddler forward facing (from twenty-two to sixty-five pounds), child forward facing (from forty pounds to sixty-five pounds), and a belt positioning booster seat (from forty lbs to a hundred and twenty lbs).

Many modes are enabled with the vast diversity of adjustments, seven reclining positions, and fourteen headrest positions.

Aso, Maxi-Cosi Magellan XP seat features a unique torso side protection with three height positions and additional AirProtection technology.

The installment is a piece of cake since the seat has a one-click LATCH connector, hideaway harness, and integrated belt lock-offs.

Notably, the seat exceeds all federal regulations and is approved for use in an airplane with the internal harness.

  • Unique five-in-one design
  • Adjustable
  • Easy installment
  • Functional
  • Super-safe and comfortable
  • Easy to clean
  • Hideaway harness
  • /

Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat - The Best Luxurious Compact Convertible Car Seat

Have you ever heard of the Clek Incorporation? 

This company produces luxurious yet ultra-safe car seats, designed according to strict European standards in Canada, yet for the American market.

They strive to create the ultimate car seat that would be a perfect blend of comfort, safety, and beautiful appearance.

Among their broad palette of products, we found this one - Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat, the perfect compact seat for small cars.

As they themselves claim, the Foonf convertible car seat is built like a tank.

It features solid metal under construction with a unique REACT safety system. This system uses the energy absorbing crumple technology to protect your child in the case of a frontal collision. The same technology is used in cars generally.

The safety is reinforced with a steel anti-rebound bar in the front of the seat, limiting the seat's rotation in the case of a collision, protecting your child, once again.

This car seat can be used in the rear facing and forward facing positions. The weight limits are 14-50lbs RF, and 22-65lbs FF.

Thanks to the rigid LATCH-system, it easily converts to a forward-facing car seat and includes three smooth recline positions.

I guess you'd be glad to know that the seat is entirely tailored in 100% Merino wool, which is fantastic insulation, keeping your child cold in summer and warm in winter. It has no brominated and chlorinated flame retardants.

The seat is less than seventeen inches wide and has superior side impact protection with energy absorbing foam layers. So you can easily fit this seat in whatever small car you own.

Importantly, this exquisite piece of baby equipment can be used in an airplane as well and meets the national safety standard.

  • Luxurious materials
  • No flame retardants
  • Easy to install
  • Incredibly safe
  • 100% Merino wool
  • Two modes
  • Very expensive

Diono 2020 Radian 3R - The Best Super-Slim Design

And last but not the least is another Diono Radian model, this time 3R pretty similar to the other Diono car seat we reviewed. Yet this model is around a hundred dollars cheaper from the Radian 3RXT and slightly different in design.

This model measures 16 x 17 x 28.25 inches, while the 3RXT measures 16.14 x 16.93 x 28.35 inches.

Diono Radian 3R can accommodate children in rear facing, forward facing, and booster seat mode (from five to a hundred and twenty pounds). Yet it allows kids to ride in a rear facing position longer until they gain 50 pounds.

Just like the Radian 3RXT, Radian 3R features automotive-grade steel construction, designed to shield and provide a stable base.

What is more, it also has a famous Diono Radian slim design enabling you to fit three across your back seat with ease.

The unique SuperLatch system enables easy installment with an audible' click' that ensures you installed the seat correctly. Furthermore, with air protection and memory foam comfort, your child is super-secure in the case of an accident or crash.

Unlike Radian 3RXT, this seat does not incorporate a cup holder and a newborn insert. Yet you can purchase it additionally for a newborn child.

This seat meets the federal regulations and can be used in an airplane. It folds flat for more convenience during travel and carrying.

  • Four stages (rear facing infant, rear facing toddler, forward facing toddler, and booster seat)
  • Safe
  • Comfortable
  • Foldable
  • Adjustable
  • Easy installment
  • No infant insert

How to Choose The Best Convertible Car Seat For Small Cars? - Buyer's Guide

As always, we prepared a buyer's guide with useful tips and tricks that will transform you into a car seat master.

Yet, this time the manual is more special since we are dealing with small cars specifically, and therefore the tips are adequately adapted.

Before we start with tips, I would like to give a few pre words

Car seats, convertible ones at least, usually include a booster seat mode. Because the booster seat is designed to accommodate a child up to seven years, it can be pretty bulky, so the car seat, convertible one, can be too big for small cars. 

Many of the seats we included in our list are designed to fit most compact cars, yet if you have a too-small model, I would look for the options that have only rear and forward facing mode.

Now, the tips!

1. Check the Dimensions of Your Car and the Seat

best convertible car seat for small cars 2021

This is an essential and crucial tip! 

You cannot buy an adequate convertible seat if you haven't measured the back seat of your car. 

Now, the measurement you should care for the most is the width. Yet, beware that for a convertible seat, sixteen inches is the narrowest it can go.

2. Check the Weight Limitations of the Seat

Always check the weight limitations, and opt for the car seat that allows your kid to remain in the rear facing direction the longest (RF mode should be allowed for at least 40 pounds).

3. Choose the SlimFit Editions

Manufacturers are aware that small car seats are in demand due to increased sales of compact cars and the need to fit more than one car seat in one car

Therefore, many brands produce special SlimFit editions that obviously indicate that the car seat is particularly designed for small cars. 

Hence, it’s the best to choose these ones.

4. Check the Positions the Car Seat Can Be Used in

top rated convertible car seats for small cars

As I previously explained, if your car is really compact, then go for a conversion car seat that can be used in the rear and forward facing direction.

But if the seat's dimensions allow it, the best car seat would include a booster too.

5. Additional Features

As the car industry advanced, the best car seats have evolved appropriately.

That is why the best car seats nowadays have many advanced features such as no-rethread harness, one-click installments, LATCH systems, reinforced materials, etc

Hence, if you're looking for an honestly best car seat, check these out.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most space-saving convertible car seat?

I would give this title to the fantastic Diono 2019 Radian 3RXT since it was intentionally designed to fit three across, which is the ultimate test of functionality.

what convertible car seat is best for small cars

What is the best convertible car seat for a small car?

The best convertible car seat for a small car is the top pick we selected, Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat.

It features the incredible value per quality ratio and includes both rear facing and forward facing mode.

What is the smallest infant car seat?

Parents most frequently suggest Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant car seat as the smallest infant car seat.

Yet, this car seat cannot be used as a forward facing car seat.

How to fit three car seats in one car, compact?

Here are some useful videos that may help you install three car seats in one car.

We intentionally included the video instructing how to install three Diono Radian convertible car seats; since, as we mentioned, they were specially designed for this purpose. See here and here.

What is the narrowest car seat?

Diono 2020 Radian 3R seems to be the narrowest convertible seat we found.

Final Thoughts

I hope that this article will leave the compact car owners satisfied and relieved.

As you could see, there are many models you can fit in a small car perfectly. Some of the best convertible car seat for small cars were even designed to help you fit three across, so no worries needed.

I believe all of the models on this list are high-quality car seats, safe and comfortable, and worthy of your money.

Yet, my favorite remains Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat.

Aside from being a reliable choice, the seat includes both rear facing and forward facing mode, adjustable features, reinforced safety, and the FAA-approval.

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat | Ride Rear Facing Longer with Extend2Fit, Redmond, Amazon...*
  • Convertible car seat grows with your child from rear-facing harness (4-50lbs) to forward-facing harness (22-65 pounds)
  • Made of Steel reinforced | Product dimensions – 20.75” D x 19” W x 24.5” H | Product weight – 19.25 lbs.
  • Up to 50 pounds rear facing, allowing your child to safely ride rear-facing longer.Do not use bleach
  • Graco ProtectPlus Engineered | Simply Safe Adjust no-rethread headrest and harness adjust together
  • Extend2Fit 4-position adjustable extension panel provides up to 5" additional legroom, allowing your child to safely ride rear facing longer

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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