Safety is our primary concern when it comes to anything that gets near our children, especially car seats.
However, when buying car seats, we often get distracted by other flashy features like advanced design, premium materials, and ease of use.
These are all essentials, don't get me wrong, but safety is the most important.
So, today, I've decided to focus solely on safety and present to you the safest car seat you can buy in 2022.
I've referred to crash testing reports and pointed out the essential car seat features that make each model bulletproof.
Table of Contents
- Safest Infant Car Seats
- Safest Convertible Car Seats
- Safest Booster Seats
- Let's Talk Safety...
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Safest Infant Car Seats
$$ — Chicco KeyFit 30 ~ 17 lbs - This is the infant car seat model with the best car crash results in the head injury criterion. It's well-designed and durable, as well, yet it can be hard to install with a seatbelt.
$$$ — Cybex Aton 2 ~ 9.5 lbs. Here, we have the most advanced rear-facing seat in the category. It has SensorSafe technology that alerts you if anything goes wrong. However, it is a bit pricey.
$$$ — Primo Viaggio 4/35 Nido ~ 10 lbs. Just half a pound heavier than Cybex Aton 2, this model is the best-designed lightweight infant car seat you can get. Its safety is upgraded with a load leg and an anti-rebound bar, so it's incredibly stable. But, it's also on the pricey side.
$$ — Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX ~ 9.75 lbs. This model from Graco is known for its TrueShield technology. It's additional side impact protection that shields your child more effectively than a standard rear-facing seat. But, the LATCH system is a bit outdated.
Everyone knows about Chicco KeyFit.
This infant car seat is probably the most popular model on the market, but that put aside, is it safe?
The answer is yes! This infant car seat is one of the safest models you can buy, and it's incredibly well-made, so it definitely pays off.
Although Chicco KeyFit 30 is not the latest model in that line, this particular model has higher safety ratings than most infant car seats, so we chose it over Chicco KeyFit 35.
Namely, the independent testing that BabyGearLab performed on this model has shown that Chicco KeyFit 30 has the best results in the group when it comes to head sensor testing-330.
And when it comes to the chest sensor testing, it scored 51, and the maximum allowed is 60, so it's satisfying in this category too.
Additional safety components are thick side impact protection that includes EPS foam and ultra-simple LATCH installation.
Straightforward installation is incredibly important for safety because it lowers the chance for incorrect installment and, consequently, injuries.
The seat also includes removable infant inserts, so you can provide proper head and neck support to your newborn, and the ReclineSure system helps you find a perfect recline angle.
And due to the SuperCinch tightened and One-Pull harness system, it's incredibly easy to tighten or loosen the straps.
As for the not so fabulous traits, this car seat is very hard to install with a seatbelt. And it is not that stable unless you use a lap belt.
So, the recommended installation is with a LATCH.
Here is a slightly more expensive but incredibly advanced model of an infant car seat, the only model with the SensorSafe technology that alerts you if anything goes wrong.
Another attractive feature of this seat is that it's one of the lightest models on the market, so it's great for traveling.
Now, let's cut to the chase.
Cybex Aton 2 is the second-safest infant car seat, based on the HIC test results. It scored 340, while Chicco KeyFit 30 scored 330.
However, Cybex Aton has better chest sensor test results, scoring 44, as opposed to Chicco's 46.
But Cybex has a secret weapon - the load leg.
Tests have proven that the load leg significantly improves the stability and sturdiness of the seat, making it ultra-safe even in an accident.
What is more, the seat also includes a linear side impact protection system.
This system supposedly absorbs initial forces and prevents the transfer of the impact to your child.
When it comes to the SensorSafe technology, it's a system that includes sensors placed in the chest clip.
And then, on your phone, you install an app that follows the sensors, so if your child is unbuckled, or the seat temperature is not adequate, or your child is in the seat too long, you get alarmed.
Due to the LATCH system, it won't be a hassle to install the car seat correctly.
What is more, you even get guides that help you locate the lower anchors easily.
But, as it is, these guides are not really that useful because it's hard to keep them in place.
Here is another high-end infant car seat with impressive crash test results and impeccable design that exudes safety.
It's Primo Viaggio, the most popular infant seat from the Italian brand Peg Perego.
Besides Cybex Aton, this is the lightest infant seat I reviewed, weighing exactly 10 pounds, while Cybex Aton is slightly under.
This seat is incredibly well-designed.
From the base to the canopy, it includes the highest-quality materials and top-notch padding to provide only the highest comfort to your little one.
For example, the seat itself includes two-stage removable cushions that provide proper neck and head support for your newborns as they grow.
Harness straps include padded covers, and the canopy has UPF 50+ rating with side mesh windows for better ventilation.
Therefore, your child is protected from the harmful UV rays but still has enough air in the seat.
According to BabyGearLab, Peg Perego Nido has a HIC test result of 430, being in the top five safest infant car seats on the market.
When it comes to the chest sensor test result, it scored 51, which is still under 60, so pretty good too.
One special characteristic of his seat is that it includes an anti-rebound bar and a load leg.
Therefore the motion in the event of an accident is maximally limited, making this car seat more stable and safer than other infant car seats.
The load leg can be adjusted between ten different positions, and it has an energy management foot that absorbs energy.
Also, the entire seat is lined with EPS and EPP foam, so it provides the ultimate comfort and protection to your little one.
Here we have another infant car seat under ten pounds. It's the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX.
This car seat was engineered to meet and exceed federal safety standards, so no surprise that it got great results in independent testing performed by BabyGearLab.
Namely, what we have here is a classic infant car seat that can be used in a rear-facing position only.
It's fairly lightweight, and the handle features a unique one-hand adjustment system, so it's a very convenient carrier too.
What differentiates this model from other infant car seats in the SnugRide SnugLock line is the TrueShield technology.
This is additional side impact protection that acts like a bulletproof shield in a crash, keeping your little one intact.
But, what does the testing say?
When it comes to the HIC tests, this model scored 606, while the chest sensor test score is 46.
So overall, both scores are under the allowed limits; hence this seat is more than safe for use.
As for the installation, it features a LATCH, so you can install it hassle-free in minutes.
However, the connectors are clips, not push-type, so it's slightly harder than with other models.
And it also has a level indicator and four recline positions, so it's very straightforward to find the perfect angle too.
You can also install this seat with a seat belt, but it's not quite effortless. Still, it's a great infant car seat.
Safest Convertible Car Seats
$$ — Graco Extend2Fit Convertible ~ 19 lbs - This Graco model has it all. It has the best crash test results in the group, affordable price, and durable structure. The only reason why you might skip it is the complex seat belt installation. But, it also includes a LATCH.
$$ — Britax Emblem ~ 19.5 lbs. Here, we have the second-safest convertible car seat on the market. It has almost identical crash test results as Graco Extend2Fit, but it compensates for what it lacks with a V-shaped tether, double side-impact protection, and easy installation. The quality could be better, though.
$$$ — Chicco NextFit Zip ~ 25.1 lbs. What else can we expect from Chicco but the topmost quality and flawless design. Not only safe, but this seat is very practical and easy to install. The only weak point it has is the zipper.
When it comes to convertible car seats, BabyGear has rated Graco Extend2Fit as one of the safest models on the market.
This model has passed its rigorous crash tests with fantastic results proving that indeed it offers the safety level as advertised.
There are different aspects of safety that this model excels at.
First of all, it allows extended use in a rear-facing position, which is the safest mode for a small child.
Then, the LATCH installation is pretty straightforward. Therefore, the chances for you to install it incorrectly are minimal, which again works in favor of general safety.
And then, we have the actual crash test results, which are more than impressive.
Namely, Graco Extend2Fit has the best combined sensor results in a group of similar products.
The head injury criterion is 214 Gs, and 1000 is considered high. So it's way below the limit. And the chest clip sensor result is 40, and the maximum allowed is 60.
These results were to be expected, given that this model features ProtectPlus technology, which refers to the combination of the most rigorous testing that Graco performs to ensure your child is protected in the frontal, side, and rollover crashes.
Other reasons why you want to get this seat are adjustability and ease of use.
It has a no-rethread harness with ten positions, six recline positions, and a 4-position footrest panel that offers more legroom and extended rear-facing use.
Besides all that, it's fairly lightweight, so you can bring it along for vacations.
Following Graco Extend2Fit, Britax Emblem is the second-safest convertible car seat you can get for the price.
What's interesting about this model is the fact that it has better crash results than more expensive models from this brand.
If we compare it to the Graco Extend2Fit, this model is slightly heavier, with a pound higher bottom-weight limit and a pretty similar design.
According to Baby Gear crash test results, this model has the head injury criterion of 218 Gs, so slightly higher than Graco Extend2Fit, but still fairly low.
And when it comes to the chest sensor, the result is 42, so again, almost identical to Extend2Fit.
Some reasons why you want to buy this car seat are the double-layer side-impact protection that offers excellent head support, a V-shaped tether for more mobility control, and Premium Push LATCH connectors for easy and precise installation.
What makes this seat different from other car seats is the SafeCell protection system which refers to the line of safety features incorporated to provide maximum protection.
The entire shell is lined with foam, so your child will be comfortable, not just protected.
As for the adjustability, it also has a no-rethread harness with ten positions and a three-position recline.
The frame is built of high-grade steel, and the seat comes with an impact-absorbing base.
With that in mind, even in the event of a crash, the base will absorb the impact forces and lower the transfer of the energy to your child.
Another thing you'll like is the removable cover. It's simple to remove and wash, so you can keep the seat clean at all costs.
The last convertible car seat I selected is this Chicco NextFit Zip model.
Chicco is a manufacturer with a cemented reputation in the industry, and all of its models are known to be safe but also incredibly well-designed.
Now, it is true that this model didn't score as low as the previous two models in the BabyGearLab's crash testing.
However, it does exceed federal safety standards, so it's perfectly safe for use, and it does exhibit a way better quality than the previous two seats I reviewed.
Namely, the HIC sensor test has a result of 369 Gs, which is still lower than 1000, and the chest sensor test's result is 46.
So, the results are definitely not bad, but slightly less impressive than what we saw in the two previous models.
But, as I mentioned, this model is way better than the previous two in quality. Hence, it is slightly more pricey.
It has a steel-reinforced frame and DuoGuard protection. DuoGuard protection includes a deep rigid shell covered with energy-absorbing foam.
Also, due to its advanced engineering, the installation is a breeze; therefore, you won't get it wrong.
It has a nine-position RReclineSure leveling system, SuperCinch LATCH connectors, and breathable materials.
But, the reason why this model has a "Zip" in its name is the cover and the padding that features a zip-off mechanism for easy removal and washing.
Therefore, your child's seat remains fresh and clean longer, contributing to overall safety.
Safest Booster Seats
$$ — Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 ~ 10.2 lbs - Besides fantastic crash test results, what this booster seat has to offer is adjustable side impact protection, easy installation, and ergonomic shape. The only thing I don't like is that you have to buckle it up even when not in use.
$$$ — UPPAbaby ALTA ~ 16.6lbs. What makes this model exquisite beside the impeccable crash test results are advanced side impact protection, high-quality design, and ease of use. It's one of the high-end booster seats worth buying. The only downside is the weight.
$$ — Diono Monterey XT ~ 15.2 lbs. If you're looking for a flexible booster seat that's ultra-safe; you found it. This model is the only booster seat that has adjustable width, so it really adapts to your child as he/she grows. The only thing I don't like is the LATCH clips.
Here we have one excellent high-back booster seat from Chicco, well-made and incredibly safe with some impressive crash-test results.
The seat features a two-in-one design, which means that it can be used as a high-back booster and a backless booster.
The first feature that indicates the safety level of this seat is the DuoGuard side-impact protection that includes a rigid shell and thick EPS foam throughout the seat, especially in the critical zones.
Next, it includes premium LATCH connectors with SuperCinch technology that allows you to tighten the straps easily and install the seat correctly every time.
Now, when it comes to the actual crash testing, we again refer to BabyGearLab. And according to their insights, the HIC result is 575, while the chest sensor result is 46.
This is pretty good, both results are under the limits, and although 575 seems very high, the best result in this category for the most popular booster seats is 390, so this is quite good.
One amazing feature is that the entire shoulder side protection can be adjusted. So there are ten different positions for the headrest and the side protection to choose from.
The seat has proven to be fairly easy to use.
Children can easily buckle themselves up, and due to LATCH connectors, the car seat installation is very straightforward. I like that you can tighten the LATCH system from the front.
Finally, the last reason why you should buy this model, in particular, is the ergonomic shape.
The seat is very comfortable and well-padded, which cannot be said for most booster models out there.
If you're interested in a high-end offer, take a look at this impressive booster seat from UPPAbaby.
Although the first thing that you notice on this seat is its stylish design, it actually has way more to offer, given its high safety ratings and fantastic engineering.
So, I'd like to start this review with the topmost feature - safety.
According to BabyGearLab, this very model is the safest booster seat you can buy. It has the HIC test result of 390, which is the lowest in this category of seats.
The chest sensor result was a bit less impressive, 53, but it's still under 60, so it complies with federal standards.
Now, the seat is incredibly easy to install. It has a premium rigid LATCH that is not only easy to install but strong enough to keep the seat in place when not in use.
If you remember the previous review, that was a downside of Chicco KidFit.
The active-support headrest can be adjusted together with the shoulder support, and you can choose between seven different positions.
However, it doesn't have the regular side-impact protection but special advanced pods for improved security.
Now, this is definitely not the lightest car seat you can buy in this category, but it is pretty narrow. And it comes with extras such as two cup holders.
Finally, for your convenience, the seat base fabric is removable and machine-washable.
So, if your little one spills any drinks, you can simply zip it off and throw it into a machine.
And the last booster seat I selected is from Diono.
This model exhibits excellent quality per price ratio, and it has great crash test results, so it's definitely worth the attention.
First of all, this is a two-in-one model that can be used as a high-back booster and backless booster seat.
It is incredibly adjustable and probably the only car seat on the market with adjustable width.
Therefore, it grows with your child and adapts to accommodate them perfectly over time.
Next, this car seat has a reinforced aluminum core that's packed with layers of side impact protection that guards your child's head, shoulders, and torso.
As for the crash tests results, the HIC result is 556, while the chest sensor test result is 42. In combination, these results are excellent for a car seat of this kind.
Now, besides the adjustable width, you can also adjust the headrest. And this seat offers you eleven different positions to choose from.
It also has fantastic weight capacity, the highest on the market, so it really allows you to keep your little one in a booster seat for as long as possible, which is the safety recommendation, after all.
The overall design of the seat is very sleek, but the comfort is not quite on point.
It's not bad, but according to comments and reviews, there are definitely way more comfortable models of booster seats on the market.
Another detail I don't like is that although the installation system is LATCH-based, the LATCH connectors are in the form of clips, which are not that convenient for use.
Let's Talk Safety...
Unless you're a child passenger safety technician, you probably can't determine the safety level of a car seat by yourself.
But, you can check if the seat meets the federal safety requirements.
These requirements are basically tests performed with dummies, using the forces that replicate impact in car crashes and determine the level of protection that each car seat provides.
The tests replicate frontal, side, and rollover crashes.
Now, to ensure the car seat will endure the impact forces in a crash, manufacturers use high-grade materials for the shell, then cover it with energy-absorbing foam to lower the transfer of the forces to your child and side-impact protection to guard the most vulnerable body parts of your child- head, neck, and shoulders.
The best car seats include a steel frame with thick EPS or EPP padding on top and a double layer of side impact protection.
Additionally, some car seats include stabilators such as anti-rebound bars or load legs.
What these do is basically limit the mobility of the seat in a crash, preventing rotation, thus keeping your child safe.
But, these are almost never used in a forward-facing position, but only with rear-facing seats.
How Can You Add to the Overall Safety?
You are actually the integral variable in the equation of child passenger safety. How?
Well, none of the above mentioned is relevant until you've chosen the correct car seat for your child's age and installed it correctly in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
According to AAP, the safest car seats for children are rear-facing seats.
They have proven much safer than forward-facing car seats, so the official recommendations are to keep your baby in this position for as long as possible.
Then when your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, you can put him/her in a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness.
Only when your little one is too heavy or too tall to ride in a forward-facing seat can you upgrade to a high-back belt-positioning booster seat.
These are safer than backless boosters, and you should keep your child in a booster until they are old and, most importantly, tall enough to use an adult seat belt.
Here are some age guidelines by the NHTSA you can follow, but remember that manufacturer's instructions on weight and height limits are more relevant than the child's age.
How to Install a Car Seat Correctly?
The most reliable way to make sure you've installed a car seat correctly is to find a CPS technician and check.
You can find the nearest CPS technician via this link.
However, if you want to install the seat yourself, here are some videos you can look at:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the number one safest car seat?
It's impossible to choose a single safest car seat on the market.
That is because we judge these seats by many different criteria, and it often happens that one car seat excels at one criterion, but some other model beats it at another.
Since rear-facing car seats are the safest, and we've chosen Chicco keyFit30 as the safest in this category, I'll go with it.
Are Graco car seats safe?
Yes! Graco produces some of the most popular car seats on the market.
They perform rigorous testing to ensure high-level engineering and topmost safety.
You can find everything in their offer, and their all-in-one seat is among the best-rated ones.
There have been some recalls in the past, though, but that only testifies that they have continuous quality assurance.
Is a car seat safer than a booster seat?
Yes, a rear-facing car seat and a forward-facing car seat are safer than a booster seat.
This is because these child safety seats have thicker seat cushions and more safety features that protect your child's body.
However, when your child outgrows the forward-facing harness, it is safer to move to a booster seat than keep him/her in a harness that doesn't fit.
Are high-back booster seats safer than backless?
Yes! High-back booster seats usually include a five-point harness strap, so they are safer than backless boosters that use only a seat belt to restrain your child.
Backless boosters basically lift your child, so the seat belt fits, while high-back boosters are restraint systems of their own.
Which convertible car seat has the best safety rating?
Graco Extend2Fit is a convertible car seat with the best crash test results in the 2022.
Although a budget seat, this model has the best results in multiple categories, and it's incredibly simple to use and install.
Is CLEK Foonf really safe?
This high-end car seat is definitely one of the safest options on the market. It has a steel magnesium frame, an anti-rebound bar, and GreenGuard fabric.
As for the crash test results, the HIC is 500, while the chest sensor result is 33.4.
So, it definitely complies with federal requirements, but it doesn't have the best ratings in the group.
That was all for today's talk.
I hope you learned a bit about car seat safety and you realized what the real priorities are when choosing the proper child restraint system.
If you wish to learn more about individual state laws on car seats, check out these articles on our page.
And if you have any additional dilemmas about the safest car seat, feel free to reach out.
I would like to mention once again today's winner in the infant seat category- Chicco KeyFit 30, with fantastic safety features and impressive test results.
- 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