Best Car Seat for Small Cars – The Ultimate Guide

Car Seat for Small Cars

Are you looking for a car seat for a small car? The size of the car seat is of little importance for those individuals with larger vehicles and abundant space, but small car owners often have limited choices.

Of course, child safety is of top priority for any parent and you want the peace of mind that the car seat you use is offering the best possible safety and security.

Thankfully, there are many excellent car seats that are both compact and secure, often making them more suitable for small car owners.

Quick Picks: Best Infant Car Seats for Small Cars Compared

Car Seat for Small Car Type of Car Seat Side Impact Protection 5 Point Safety Harness Dimensions
Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car SeatInfant (Rear Facing)No Yes27.5 x 17 x 24 inches
Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car SeatInfant (Rear Facing)YesYes26.5 x 17.75 x 25 inches
Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car SeatRear Facing & Forward Facing Yes Yes18.5 x 22 x 25.5 inches
Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car SeatRear Facing & Forward Facing YesYes22.8 x 21.2 x 29.5 inches
Diono Radian RXT All-in-One Convertible Car SeatRear Facing & Forward Facing Yes Yes16 x 17 x 28.5 inches

Top Picks 

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

If you are looking for a car seat for a newborn or young infant and have a small car, then the Chicco KeyFit is a popular choice. It also comes with a base and has a reputation as one of the easiest infant car seats to install.

The Chicco can be installed into most vehicles using either a single seat belt or a LATCH system, giving you both options. This is ideal for those who own an older vehicle or who may be thinking about purchasing a more up to date car in the near future.

When in the base, the car seat handle can be kept in three different positions, ideal for sleeping and napping babies. The seat itself is well cushioned and comes with a large canopy to provide ample shading and protection from the rain. The handle itself also allows you to easily check the seat is connected to the car seat base by lifting and also allows you to conveniently move it from the car and carry.

With regards to safety, the Chicco comes equipped with a 5 point harness and features a carrier shell lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam for improved impact protection. It is also compatible with some other Chicco travel systems and strollers.

Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat

The Britax B-Safe is another brilliant infant car seat, ideal for owners of small cars with limited space. It is designed for young infants and is designed to be used in conjunction with other Britax products including various travel systems and regular Britax strollers.

The Britax B-Safe has a reputation as one of the safest infant car seats available. The car seat construction is reinforced with a steel frame and impact absorbing base. Both which can help provide additional security during a potential collision by absorbing additional impact forces.

The installation of the Britax is incredibly straightforward and it is compatible with both LATCH systems or seat belts. It’s also made in the USA and comes with a very large canopy, carry handle and removable newborn body pad and 5 point safety harness.

Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat

If you are on the hunt for a convertible car seat, which is designed for older infants (typically above age 2), then the Evenflo is a good budget option. The compact design and relatively small dimensions also make this car seat ideal for small cars.

As mentioned, the Evenflo is a convertible car seat. This means it can be installed and used rear- or forward-facing.

Convertible car seats have a higher weight limit when in rear-facing mode than infant car seats, meaning older kids can still be in the rear facing position as is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Made in the United States, the Evenflo has all the essential safety features, including a 5 point safety harness, which can be easily adjusted as your child continues to grow. As well as a side impact protection. The car seat has also passed all applicable federal safety standards, which includes key side impact testing.

Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat

Another superb convertible car seat option is the Maxi-Cosi Pria. This premium car seat has a solid reputation among users and the lightweight and small design make it a great choice for small car owners.

This car seat is premium and that is reflected in the car seats overall design, safety features and the materials used. The car seat is very well padded and will no doubt provide optimum comfort for almost any infant.

The fabrics the chair is lined with are also extremely durable and waterproof, making it extremely easy to keep clean and maintain a high level of hygiene. The actual seat pad can be unstrapped and cleaned in the washing machine.

In terms of safety features, the Maxi-Cosi is equipped with Air Protect Side Impact Protection that provide infants with additional protection in the event of a collision. It’s also equipped with a 5 point safety harness that is very easy to adjust as your child continues to grow.

In terms of installation, the process is very simple. You can incline the seat to three different positions, allowing you to adjust it based on your car and your child’s age, weight, and height.

Diono Radian RXT All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

The Diono is ideal if you are looking for an all-in-one convertible car seat perfect for smaller cars and vehicles. It is typically able to be used from birth until a child reaches 120 pounds.

The car seat design itself is made with ultimate space saving in mind since it’s designed to fit three of them side by side, ideal for large or growing families.

It’s also made to be both rear facing and forward facing and can be adjusted and inclined as required, making it possible to adapt as your child develops.

In terms of safety, the chair itself features a steel frame construction that is wrapped in a thick plastic. It also has side walls made from aluminum metal and energy absorbing EPS foam. In combination, these safety features help provide maximum impact protection in the event of a collision.

The seat is also extremely comfortable, well-padded and has a removable car seat cover. This is machine washable and absorbent, helping you to maintain a high level of cleanliness and keep your child as comfortable as possible throughout the journey.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Car Seat for Small Cars 

Before you choose a car seat for small cars, it’s certainly useful to think about some of the features that can really make a difference. Not only can these help you secure a more durable and higher quality car seat, but also a safe car seat to ensure your infants are as secure and safe as possible during the car ride.

Age, Weight & Height of Your Child 

Before you choose a car seat, it’s important that you know your infant’s current height, weight, and age. All reputable car seat manufacturers will provide guidelines on how to set up and install the car seat, but also for who the car seat is appropriate for based on age, weight, and height.

Bear in mind that as children continue to grow and develop you will need to regularly check if the car seat is still appropriate. Some car seats allow you to make slight adjustments, but you will ultimately need to buy a car seat designed to accommodate a larger body as your child continues to grow.

Type of Car 

Make sure to check your vehicles owner manual and read up on sections that cover child safety and other features that can impact your car seat choice. This includes the likes of seat belts, belt path, seat dimensions and in newer vehicles the LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children system). From this, you can determine what types of car seats will be most appropriate for your car.

Type of Car Seat 

The type of car seat you choose is also important as it usually decided based upon your child’s age, weight, and height. Of course, all children develop and very different rates, but here are some general guidelines:

Infant car seats: These are typically the first type of car seat used for infants since they are lightweight, portable and can often be used with a stroller travel system. They are normally rear-facing as this is the safest position for young infants. They are usually used until a baby’s head is within 1 inch of the car seat shell or when they exceed the manufacturer’s height limits.

Forward-Facing Car Seats: The next major type of car seats are the ones that face forward in the car. Children can only use forward facing seats when they are above age 2 or when they have met the necessary height and weight requirements.

Booster Seats: Once your child is too big to use a traditional car seat, they will be ready to use a booster seat that raises them up and works in conjunction with the cars seat belts. They are typically appropriate for kids around 8 years of age or when they meet the weight and height requirements. They should never be used in the passenger seat.

Ease of Installation 

Ensure you choose a car seat that is easy to use and install as it’s no good getting one that will take a lot of time and effort. It may cause a lot of inconvenience and wasted time in the mornings. Ideally, it should be a simple process that can be completed in a few simple steps. Car seats that come with easy to follow picture based instructions are often useful.

Car Seat Safety Features 

The most important part of car seat safety is ensuring it is installed correctly in your car and that it the correct type for your child based upon their age, weight, and height. Other than that there are some key safety features that definitely do make a difference, which are not present in all car seats.

5 Point Safety Harness: The best way to ensure your children are as safe as they can be is to choose a car seat equipped with a 5 point safety harness. This will secure them at the waist, shoulders, arms, and legs, ensuring they are secure and that any impact forces are equally distributed.

Side Impact Protection: Some car seat brands offer car seats fitted with side impact protection, which can possibly help to absorb some of the forces during an impact further helping to guard your baby.

Car Seat Maintenace & Hygiene 

Babies, toddlers, and kids, in general, can be quite messy with crumbs, food and other culprits often causing quite the cleanup operation. Therefore, car seats that have easy to clean materials are preferred including waterproof and non-absorbent fabrics.

Final Words 

Although having a small car does limit your car seat choice in some respects, there is little doubt that there is a car seat available that will likely fit into your car. Just ensure you read your car owner’s manual and check the car seat dimensions will fit before you make a decision.

In terms of choosing a certain type of car seat, it is largely a personal choice. However, it has to be said that some avoid the convertible variety as they don’t believe they offer as much comfort and security as regular car seats.

Instead, some people prefer to make separate purchases e.g. a rear-facing car seat and then a forward facing car seat when their child is ready. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision.

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