Child seat for the small car.
December 10, 2014 9:42 AM   Subscribe

We're looking for recommendations for car seats that can fit a child who weighs between 20 and 65 lbs, fits nicely in a small hatchback, and has relative ease of placing/retrieving the child for a two-door car.

Our wee baby has nearly outgrown her infant car seat, so we're moving up to the convertible/child seat world. While one of our family cars is a Volvo station wagon and can therefore accommodate any size car seat, the other is a Hyundai Accent two door hatchback, and is a bit more tight on space.

She is generally in that car on her way to and from daycare, when the car is also full of my partner's work equipment. We are currently using a Graco infant car seat with a base in each car, which has worked nicely, but does not appear to be an option once we go to the next stage of car seats.
posted by palindromic to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In our Honda Fit once we switched to front-facing seats they were all roughly equivalent once installed. Some of the larger ones we tried were a pain to get in but once installed they were fine.

If you're trying to fit three across or two car seats and a passenger that's another game and good luck with it.

We had a larger rear-facing seat for one child for two or three months. It was a very tight squeeze. I'd skip straight to front facing if practical and safe.

Specifically we've been using Britax seats including one of their larger front-facing seats.
posted by samhyland at 9:54 AM on December 10, 2014

I assume she still needs to be rear-facing if she is just outgrowing her infant seat. We skipped the infant seat and have been using a convertible car seat from the beginning with our 6 month old.

The Graco MySize fits in the back of our 2004 Corolla rear-facing and is one of the only seats we tried which would still allow someone to ride comfortably in the front seat. We just got a Graco Size4Me for my mom's Civic. These are both four door cars though, so I don't know how these seats would work with a two door in terms of getting baby in and out.

Car seats in general are ridiculously large, but we have been happy with how the Graco works in our small car.
posted by zanybutterfly at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2014

I always talk up my Chicco Nextfit convertible seat. Convertible seats tend to be kind of bulky, but I think you can't beat the Nextfit for ease of installation. We're always fighting over who gets to have it in their car (we also have a Britax Boulevard, which is a nice seat too and relatively easy to use compared to some of the less expensive ones, but the adjustable cinch straps on the Chicco are the clincher - here's a video review with a demo).

I'm trying to keep my daughter rear facing until she turns 2 for safety. The Chicco makes that easier than the Britax because it has this easy reclining feature with many different positions. Only problem is that when it's reclined back, that gets in the way of the front seat being pushed back or reclined for taller people - if you most often drive with no one in the front passenger seat (or at least no one really tall) and can have the car seat behind the passenger side, that would probably work best.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:12 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

We have the Chicco Nextfit in our 4-door Honda Civic, which is a very compact car, and it fits nicely rear-facing in the center while still leaving enough room for two 6-foot-tall adults to ride in front. I'll second treehorn+bunny that installation is stupidly easy for that seat, and the adjustable recline is nice. However, on the downside, it is a bit of a pain to get the baby in and out of the seat with the higher sides--we have to lift and twist the baby up near the ceiling to clear the car seat, which might be extra difficult in a 2-door car.

I believe that in most states you legally have to leave a kid rear-facing until age 1, and it's highly recommended you wait until at least age 2 to flip them forward-facing in a convertible seat. I agree that forward-facing is going to be much easier for getting the kid in and out when you're dealing with a 2-door car, but the trade-off in terms of safety is fairly significant (although the chances of a crash are small, so I think people can legitimately end up in different places about the best thing to do). If you can find a car seat with low enough sides that getting the kid into and out of the seat while rear-facing isn't too onerous, and that buys you more time rear-facing, I'd consider that option pretty seriously.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:28 AM on December 10, 2014

I've been pretty happy with our Evenflo SureRide in our Honda Civic.
posted by Anne Neville at 11:39 AM on December 10, 2014

We have a Diono Radian, which we got because it accommodates a taller height than other convertible seats on the market, but we've since learned that it has the added bonus of being narrower than other seats (without being narrower for the seated child), particularly the Britax. Another bonus, it folds! Which means it is super easy to transport through the airport if the need ever arises (we folded it and stacked it on top of our rolling suitcase).
posted by vignettist at 11:46 AM on December 10, 2014

+1 on the Diono Radian. We have 2 of them (well, 2 of the previous branding and 2 new ones) in our Honda Fit and Odyssey, one forward facing and one rear. They're great, very sturdy, and nicely narrow. My wife did a lot of research and that's what she settled on.
posted by jeffkramer at 1:09 PM on December 10, 2014

We have two Radians in the back seat of an old VW Golf, with lots of room to spare. They were the only ones we found that fit so well.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:30 PM on December 10, 2014

Are you near a babies/toys'r'us? They will let you bring the floor model out to your car to check the fit. We had to return two car seats before I found that out.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 1:33 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also have a Radian, it fits fine in the middle back seat of my small car, but since it's a 4-door it's not so difficult. It's super heavy, though. If your baby is a bit older (and doesn't prefer to lay back), they sell an angle adjuster that gives you more room between the front and back seats when rear-facing. We bought the Radian specifically for extended rear-facing of a tall child, my son is 2 years old, over 3 feet tall, and perfectly happy and comfortable rear-facing in it.
posted by Safiya at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2014

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