What is a Top Rated Convertible Car Seat?
There are only 2 products on my list of “Top Rated Convertible Car Seats 2014” and I have reviewed each of them below. I should point out that I am not making any ludicrous claims that they are the “best” or “safest” car seats on the market in 2014 since such a claim would be impossible to back up with any evidence.
What Do the Safety Tests Show?
Now, it would be great for parents if there was an independent organisation that carried out and published the results of comprehensive tests of convertible car seats so that they could be ranked in order. You could then just look for the seat that was #1 on the list and buy it.
Unfortunately, the world of car seat buying is not that simple. Despite some people’s claims about certain child car seats being the safest or one particular seat being safer than certain other ones, there are in fact no such tests to back up such claims. Therefore, you should treat any such claims will extreme caution.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the organisation in charge of road safety issues in the USA. However, they are very careful to point out on their website and in their press releases that they DO NOT carry out detailed safety tests designed to measure particular seats against each other. A car seat is either assessed as safe enough to be used or not safe enough to be used.
So, whilst all car seats rated by NHTSA meet Federal Safety Standards & strict crash performance standards, those tests do NOT enable you to rank specific seats against one another.
However, the NHTSA does carry out “Ease of Use” tests on individual car seats and they very helpfully publish those results.
How are the “Ease of Use” ratings useful if they are not “Safety Ratings” per se?
Recent research indicates that up to 75% of car seats are improperly fitted – thus making them potentially unsafe. So, the logic behind the NHTSA’s “Ease of Use” ratings is that a car seat is more likely to be safe if it is easy to fit it correctly in your vehicle. Obviously, there is no point buying a seat with the very best safety features if you are then going to fit it incorrectly.
How Do You Choose the “Safest” Car Seat for Your Child?
According to the NHTSA, the safest car seat is the one that:
- is appropriate for your child’s age, height and weight
- fits in your vehicle correctly
- is easy to use
Once you have purchased a car seat for your child, you can take it to an NHTSA Child Car Seat Inspection Station for them to show you how to correctly install and use it. They will usually perform this check free of charge and you can find your nearest station here.
The 2 Top Rated Convertible Car Seats 2014
If you have already done a little research into convertible car seats, you are probably expecting seats such as the Britax G4 Series, Recaro ProRide, Recaro Performance Ride, Chicco Nextfit 65 and Diono Radian RXT to be on the list of Top Rated Comvertible Car Seats. However, they are not.
Although all of those car seats are excellent in their own specific ways, none of them scores a 5-star overall “Ease of Use” rating.
The only seats that do receive a 5-star overall “Ease of Use” rating are those in the First Years True Fit Series. They latest models from that group are:
#1 First Years True Fit C650 Recline
The True Fit Recline C650 model is designed as a rear-facing seat from birth up to 35 lbs, and forwards-facing up to 65 lbs.
Its other key features include:
- Removable headrest for better rear facing installation
- Easy to read center angle indicator with two position settings
- fully lined with EPP foam & deep side wings
- Easy to adjust, no rethread harness
- Multi-position crotch strap adjustment
- Built in lock offs for both rear and forward facing installation
- Latch connectors with external latch storage
- Color coded belt paths for easy installation
#2 First Years True Fit C680 SI
The True Fit SI C680 model is designed as a rear-facing seat from birth up to 35 lbs, and forwards-facing up to 65 lbs.
Its other key features include:
- Fully lined with EPP foam and deep side wings
- LATCH and color coded lock-offs for easy installation
- Side impact tested to international standards
- Rebound Energy Management System and center angle indicator for rear facing installation
- Removable headrest
- No rethread harness is easy to adjust and comes with removable shoulder pads
- The easy-off seat material facilitates cleaning
The main difference between the SI and the Recline model is that the SI has the Rebound Energy Management System and the Recline does not.
Since there is little (if any) difference between the prices of the Recline and the SI, I would prefer the SI due to the fact that it comes with the Rebound Energy Management System.
Choosing the Best Convertible Car Seat
The truth is that parents have never been in a better position In fact, one of the problems in making a choice is that there are possibly too many different car seats to choose from and the risk is that you get bogged down analysing the “marketing hype” claims of the different manufacturers. There are a great many excellent convertible car seats on the market today. All of them have passed the strict federal safety tests and your decision is happily one where you choose between lots of different “very good” car seats, which is a very nice position to be in.
Although I have reviewed the NHTSA’s top rated convertible car seats above, I am not suggesting that these are the “best” convertible car seats on the market or that they would be the best for you child. In order to make any such assessment, I would need to know a lot more information including your child’s size and weight, your vehicle make and model, the number of other car seats to be installed on the same row and your budget.
However, the seats mentioned above are both excellent seats that have been assessed by the NHTSA as being the easiest to use correctly and, for some people, that will mean that there is a much greater chance of them being fitted correctly and safely.
After purchasing any child car seat, you should always read the User Manual thoroughly before using it. It is also advisable to visit your local Fire Department or NHTSA Child Car Seat Inspection Centre to ensure that the seat is definitely suitable for your child’s specific requirements and that you have installed it correctly. These services are usually provided free of charge.
You can find your nearest NHTSA Centre here.
Do You Need More Help?
I know from personal experience that choosing the best car seat for your child can be a daunting and confusing process. If you need any further advice or assistance whatsoever, please feel free to contact me and I will do my very best to help.
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