Your child means the world to you, and keeping him or her safe is your top priority. While commuting between home, your parent’s place, the supermarket, and more, ensure that your child is protected while in tow with a reliable front-facing car seat. Forward-facing car seats are “in-betweener” seats. They’re meant for children who’ve outgrown rear-facing seats but haven’t grown enough to sit in a booster seat or with a seatbelt alone.
To identify the best forward-facing seats, we evaluated a number of options in terms of safety, convenience, price, and useful extra features. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at six of the best forward-facing car seats on the market right now.
When buying a car seat, it’s important that you get one that is a good fit for your child’s weight and height, as well as one that comfortably fits in your vehicle.
Now that you have seen our top 5 recommendations, find more detail on each of them, including why we picked them. When you’re ready, click the red button to get the best price on Amazon!
Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Car Seat
If you’re looking to buy a car seat, it’s a good idea to get one that’ll go the distance. The Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1, a premium car seat from Graco with multiple configurations:
The Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 convertible car seat is expensive. However, you are getting four different car seat configurations for the price of one. The All-in-1 has a wide weight range (4–120 pounds). As a convertible seat, it can be used in rear-facing and high backed booster positions as well as forward-facing. The seat comes with a remarkable 10-year warranty. This means that, if you’re willing to put up with its limitations, this might be the only car seat your child needs.
Installing your forward-facing seat correctly is extremely important when it comes to your child’s safety. This Graco seat, luckily, is easy to install in any position. The seat’s base has color-coded stickers. This helps to identify which belts go where. The Graco 4Ever can utilize your car’s seat belts, it’s LATCH system or a combination of the two.
- Graco uses energy absorbing EPS foam to absorb energy in case of accidents.
- Steel reinforcement enhances durability and strength.
- Top marks from the NHTSA for safety in every convertible configuration, including forward-facing.
- Includes Graco “Lock It Up” functionality: This is an indicator on the seat’s base that lets you know whether or not the seat’s locked into the base.
- Adjustable Harness and Headrest with six different configurable heights
- Machine-washable seat cushion.
- Integrated armrests and cupholder
- The crotch strap is a bit too short
- Not connectable in a car seat to stroller configuration
- A heavy seat at 23 lbs
Peg-Pérego Primo Viaggio Convertible
The Primo Viaggio’s sleek and chic Italian DNA is easy for everyone to see. This is a fashionable forward-facing car seat. But it’s not just a skin-deep deal: the Primo Viaggio offers a number of safety features not found in other models.
To absorb energy in case of a crash, this forward-facing seat features a steel backplate, side-impact protection, and expanded polystyrene. The seat also features a SAFE (shock-absorbing foam element) device. The SAFE is positioned under the car seat. It crumples during a crash to help absorb the force of impact. The seat is lined with jersey fabric to keep your kids comfortable, regardless of the weather.
If you’re willing to spend a bit extra on premium features and design, the Primo Viaggio is a good bet.
- Shock Absorbing Foam Element (SAFE) reduces damage in case of impact
- Adjustable side-impact protection for head, neck, and spine
- LATCH system makes installation simple and quick
- Energy management system with a steel backplate reduces forward movement on impact.
- Top tether – tether that hooks from the top of the chair to the vehicle which prevents the chair from moving forward in a crash.
- Padded seat and fabric – the padded fabric is both comfortable and durable
- For budget-conscious moms, this Italian import is definitely on the pricier side
- Quite heavy making it hard to move this seat between cars
Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One Car Seat
The Britax Frontier ClickTight seat is a toddler car seat with a number of unique features. This top-rated seat features Britax’s patented ClickTight feature, making it easy to install. All you have to do is lift the bottom of the seat, run the seatbelt through the seat’s belt-path for a secure fit, then put the seat bottom back on.
Britax Advocate ClickTight is the top-tier model in Britax’s car safety seat lineup. As a 2-in-1 convertible car seat, Britax Advocate ClickTight can be used as a rear-facing infant car seat for 5-40 lbs infants then converted into a forward-facing harness car seat for 20-65 lbs infants. A 7-position recline with an automatic level indicator is included to help your child find a comfortable position and also helps you to install this car seat at the correct installation angle.
- HUGS Chest Pads with SafeCell provide enhanced protection from forward movement in the event of a crash.
- Side Impact Cushion helps reduces crash impact energy by 45%.
- Base with SafeCell Technology lowers the center of gravity to prevent the child from being propelled forward in case of a crash
- Click & Safe – An audible lets you know that your child is strapped in safely to the harness.
- LATCH System – Makes installation a breeze with a push-button release.
- Very heavy at 33 lbs. The additional side cushions for impact protection take up even more space.
- Short harness – Some parents have complained that the harness is just too short, making it difficult to adjust as their little one grows.
Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat with Cup Holder
The Cosco Scenera Next is a budget-friendly option and is one of the most affordable forward-facing car seats available.
This is a no-frills budget model without too many extra features. However, it did great in safety tests and is easy to install. The Scenera NEXT supports children weighing between 5–40 pounds.
- Lightweight – at just 10.4 lbs this car seat is one of the lightest seats on the market.
- Scenera’s additional side-impact protection has proven to perform well in safety testing.
- Makes installation convenient.
- Features a built-in cup holder
- The seat only supports kids up to to 40 lbs and 43 inches tall, meaning less longevity
- Lack of padding often makes kids uncomfortable in the seat
- The harness straps are difficult to move and must be rethreaded each time for height adjustment
Evenflo Symphony LX Convertible Car Seat
Evenflo Tribute LX is another super lightweight option, weighing in at 9 pounds. Despite its small frame, the Tribute LX has a number of handy extras: An attachable cup holder, padded seat and backrest, and a plush headrest.
This seat is FAA-approved, making it suitable for airplane flights: it’ll easily fit rental cars, too, for when you’re back on land. As an added convenience, the Tribute LX is easy to clean: you just need to snap off its machine washable cover.
- LATCH system for easy installation
- Multiple Harness Positions that grow with your little one
- Energy Absorbing Foam that’s two times the federal crash test standard
- Lightweight and Compact at less than 10 lbs
- Difficult to recline without putting a towel or pool noodle underneath.
- Maximum height and weight are quite limited
Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seat
The Pria 85 is a premium forward-facing car seat designed with comfort in mind: it’s got plenty of padding and Maxi Cosi prominently advertises the seat’s “Cosi cushion and premium fabric.”
Compared to other Maxi Cosi models, the Pria 85 is much better at accommodating heavier children. The seat can hold children up to 85 pounds with a maximum height of 52 inches. The seat itself weighs around 18 pounds and is 11 inches wide and 13 inches long.
- Generous height and weight limits
- No-rethread harness with 9 height positions
- Deep headwings with Air Protect® technology are great for sleeping and SIP
- Relatively easy to install properly in most vehicles
- Comfortable – cover is well padded
- Features harness holders
- Cover is machine washable and dryer safe
- FAA approved for use in aircraft
- No lockoff device to help with a seatbelt installation
- No EPP or EPS foam
FACTORS TO CONSIDER: A quick buyer’s guide
Pick a seat that’s a good fit for your child
When buying a car seat, it’s important that you get one that is a good fit for your child’s weight and height, as well as one that comfortably fits in your vehicle. When you’re shopping for a forward-facing car seat, make sure to pick one that supports your child’s weight and height and will likely do so for at least one more year. Smaller profile seats are an obvious pick if your car is space-constrained or if you have to fit several children into the backseat at once. However, larger forward-facing car seat options, especially those that support a wider range of heights and weights, will last longer. This is because of the simple fact that your child will grow with time: the seat that supports their height and weight the longest will last the longest.
Keep an eye out for convenience add-ons
You should also consider the convenience factors. If your child regularly takes water or juice along with them, it’s a good idea, for instance, to get a seat with a built-in cupholder. Many of the seats in our list here are on the heavier side. They occupy a larger area inside your car. However, this means that there’s extra space for convenience features like cupholders. You’ll also see a number of seats that feature additional layers of padding. This not only enhances safety: it ensures that your child has a more comfortable moment-to-moment travel experience.
Make sure your Car Seat Meets Federal Standards
This is incredibly important from a safety perspective. Always make sure that crash testing has been done for the car seat model you’re looking at. It’s great if the seat exceeds federal standards for safety. Seats that do best in crash testing are likely to be the safest options for your child.
Never Buy a Used Car Seat
Never buy a used car seat. This is because there’s no way of really knowing what it’s been through. Be careful with used car seats even if the seller is a friend or relative: car seats are subject to wear and tear from their very first use. A new seat will always last longer and guarantee optimal safety.
Accidents and even something as minor as sun exposure can have an impact on a car seat’s safety functionality. Another risk with used seats is that they might’ve been part of a product recall batch due to safety issues. Always buy new for your child’s safety.
How long must a child be in a car seat?
In most states, children are required by law to stay in a car seat until age 4, and in a booster seat until age 8. It also varies by state. Forward-facing seats specifically are meant to be used when your child’s between the ages for a rear-facing seat and a booster seat.
When can a child stop using a forward-facing car seat?
It’s good not to rush your child out of a car seat. Typically, you should keep them in a forward-facing car seat until they have reached the weight and or height limits for that particular model. You should consider getting a booster seat after this.
Do I need to buy more than one seat?
Many forward-facing car seats on the market are actually convertible. This means that they can be used in rear-facing and booster seat configurations, too. If you get a great convertible seat like the Graco All-in-1, you might not have to buy additional seats at all.