Top 5 Budget-Friendly Convertible Car Seats for 2020
|Model and Link to Amazon||Our Rating|
|#1. Graco Contender 65|
|#2. Safety 1st Grow & Go|
|#3. Graco MyRide 65|
|#4. Evenflo Triumph LX|
|#5. Evenflo Tribute|
Since we're only considering cheap convertible car seats under $150, we are not focused on the extras. We're not expecting the huge side impact protection, super plush padding, quick-connect LATCH systems, adjustable harness height without rethreading, or stylish patterns and colors. We went back to basics a bit, focusing on weight, ease of use, basic comfort, safety, and reliability. We were looking for something to fulfill somewhat basic needs: not too heavy, easy to get in and out of the car, not too bulky/large, easy to buckle/unbuckle, decently comfortable and supportive padding, good build quality, and something that seems sturdy and like it won't fall apart any time soon.
Before we start, we want to point out that it's getting more difficult every year to find a good quality convertible car seat for under $150. For the past 3 years, the Britax Roundabout G4.1 was at the top of this list, but it was discontinued recently.
Not on such a restricted budget? Be sure to also check out our full reviews of all the best convertible car seats.
Here are the Budget-Friendly Convertible Car Seats for 2020!
This is an awesome budget convertible car seat that is versatile, safe, and has some great features, especially at this price point. It supports rear-facing from 5-40 pounds, and front-facing from 20-65 pounds, making it have a slightly higher upper weight end than the Britax. In our opinion, however, you're unlikely to be using this seat on a child over 45-50 pounds, at which time you'll want to switch to a booster seat. In any case, this seat uses a 5-point harness, is side-impact tested, uses EPS energy absorbing foam, and uses the LATCH system (the older style, not the InRight system they use in their more expensive models). But here's the awesome part of this seat: it uses an adjustable headrest and shoulder harness positioning system that does not require re-threading! That's extremely rare for a convertible car seat in this price range, and an excellent convenience factor that is worth considering. It also includes an infant insert, a cup (or snack) holder, two recline settings, and in our testing we found it to be very comfortable with sufficient padding in all the right places. The cloth was also soft and easy to clean. Overall, this is an excellent convertible car seat, and we found it comfortable, versatile, and well built. Interested? You can check out the Graco Contender here.
This budget convertible car seat option is quite similar to the Graco Contender, having some great versatility and features, and a price usually around $125. It supports rear-facing from 5-40 pounds, and front-facing from 22-65 pounds, but also has a booster configuration that supports from 40-100 pounds. So while the Graco and Britax are great for infant and toddler, this grows quite a bit as your baby becomes a big-kid and needs a booster. Relative to a forward-facing car seat, the booster is basically accomplished by simply changing the recline setting to make the seat more upright and removing the harness. Of course, you're dealing with the limited seat width and depth inherent to an infant and toddler seat, so things could get pretty tight when trying to use this as a booster. Like the Contender, this uses a 5-point harness, is side-impact tested (and has extra protection in the headrest), uses the LATCH system (older style), and has 2 cup holders. Like the Britax, it has 3 recline adjustments, which is nice. Just like the Contender, this also has the adjustable headrest and shoulder harness height that does not require rethreading. Rare at this price point, so definitely a plus! From what we could tell, however, this doesn't have EPS energy-absorbing foam as a safety feature. Also, we thought some of the plastic parts felt a bit weaker, such as the cup holder and headrest adjustment slides. We did like the fabric softness and comfort, however, and thought this was a great comfortable option! Interested? You can check out the Safety 1st Grow & Go here.
One of the less expensive options on the list, coming in at around $30-40 cheaper than the Contender, is the MyRide 65, which competes with some of the better seats out there. It's not pretty, and the better color/pattern options are about $20 more expensive, but it's got some great features. The MyRide 65 is a true convertible car seat with a great weight range. Rear-facing is suitable for babies from 5 to 40 lbs, and forward-facing is suitable for toddlers from 20 to 65 pounds, which is a bit higher on the upper end than the Britax Roundabout. That's a fantastic range for a convertible seat, nevermind one for this low price; that's the same range you get from the $250+ Britax car seat. By the way, the Britax seats are some of the best out there if you're willing to spend the money. But back to the MyRide 65. Yes, it has a 5-point harness. Yes, it has the LATCH system! Yes, you can remove the cover and throw it in the washing machine. Yes, it has a removable newborn insert and headrest. It is side-impact tested, has 2 great little cup holders, supports children up to 49" tall, and only weighs about 16 lbs. Our reviewers thought that it was definitely the biggest bang for the buck, and also thought it was very comfortable and supportive for a $99 car seat. So, what are the negatives? Well, it doesn't have some of the convenience features you'll get with pricier options. First, like the Roundabout you need to rethread the shoulder straps to adjust them. Second, unlike the Roundabout (which has 3 recline settings), there are no recline settings to fit varied vehicle seat configurations. Finally, a couple moms didn't like the angle of the chest strap tightening belt, which requires you to pull straight down in order to tighten. Problem is, straight down is the vehicle's seat, so that doesn't work out very well. Under $80 online. Interested? You can check out the Graco MyRide 65 here.
Evenflo makes some great baby products at some of the lowest possible prices (see our review of other Evenflo seats here). The Triumph LX is a great overall option, the highest-end convertible car seat made by Evenflo, and also happens to hover right around that $150 price point. This convertible car seat has a good weight range, supporting infants as low as 5 pounds rear-facing with the included infant insert, all the way up to 65 pounds front-facing. You can do rear-facing up to 40 pounds, and front-facing from 22-65 pounds. Unlike the Evenflo Symphony, it does not convert into a booster seat. But it does include most of the other goodies that come with that seat, like the quick-connect LATCH system, two cup holders that are integrated right into the seat, a 5-point harness, a conveniently located recline lever in the front, adjustable headrest, no-rethread adjustable shoulder harnesses, and some thick layers of side impact cushioning. In our testing, we noticed a couple things that really stood out. First, we loved how there was no strap up front for tightening the shoulder harnesses. Instead, they put two large ratcheting knobs on the bottom; to tighten, you simply spin the knobs and you're good to go. To loosen, you push a button. We loved that feature, as it completely prevents issues with the tightening strap being jammed up against the back seat when rear-facing. Second, the shoulder straps adjust at the top of the straps themselves, which is not quite as good as the straps adjusting along with the headrest, but definitely better than re-threading as your baby grows! Third, the price is really excellent for all these features, and we found the materials to be decent quality: the fabric was soft where it needed to be, the cover was easily removed for machine washing, and it's a big sturdy seat. Downfalls? Well, some vehicles with super plush back seats might have issues with the tightening knob digging into the seat cushion and making them hard to turn. Speaking of hard to turn, we found that the knob was much harder to turn when it was cold out (like 10 degrees F). Other than that, you're getting some really great bang for the buck here, and we highly recommend this as a great budget convertible car seat! Interested? You can check out the Evenflo Triumph LX here.
Here's another excellent contender for a budget convertible car seat, and it's even a bit cheaper than the Graco MyRide, coming in at only around $50-80 depending on the color/pattern you select. Our test moms thought the Evenflo was easier on the eyes than the MyRide, and they liked the simple color patterns, some with just colors and some with some cute patterns (like flowers or paisley). The Evenflo Tribute is good from 5 to 40 pounds when rear-facing, and from 22 to 40 pounds when front-facing. That's a 25 pound lower weight limit than the MyRide, which can be inconvenient if you're not one of the parents who switches to one of the best booster seats by then. Like the MyRide, it has the 5-point harness, a removable and machine washable cover, includes the LATCH system, has a cup holder (sort of dangling on the side), and is side-impact tested. It also uses those pesky shoulder straps that need to be re-threaded as your baby grows. But adjusting the length of the shoulder straps is much easier than with the MyRide, since the strap pulls straight forward (rather than down) for tightening. Unlike the MyRide, is only supports kids up to 40" tall, and does not include an infant insert. It does have a removable head pillow, but in our opinion, this is not sufficient to keep a newborn head sufficiently stabilized in a car seat. From our testing, we suggest this seat is suitable from about 12 months to up to 40 pounds. So, it has a pretty limited range of use, but then again, it's really cheap. In terms of comfort level, it's comparable to the MyRide: not great, but no complaints from the kids. Also, it is only about 9 lbs., which is extremely light for a convertible car seat. So, there are a lot of good things going on here, but also a lot of limitations relative to the MyRide.
Coming in at only about $80, Evenflo is the king of budget convertible car seats! The Sonos can be used rear-facing as an infant car seat from 5-40 pounds (19" to 40" tall), then front-facing as a toddler car seat from 22-50 pounds (28" to 50" tall). In the context of other convertible car seats, that's a very restricted weight range: when you hit 40 pounds and transition to front-facing, you'll find that you will grow out of it within another year or two (10 pounds later). In contrast, most other convertible car seats support at least a 65 pound child front-facing. For features, it comes with an upper LATCH anchor hook, a lower LATCH connector strap (with the classic hook-style anchors), five shoulder harness heights (rethreading required), two crotch strap positions (newborn/infant and toddler), an adjustable headrest pillow (using velcro), two cup holders, and a removable and washable cover. In our testing, we liked a few things about this car seat: the bottom cushion is super soft and comfortable, keeping bums happy on long trips. The harness clip and buckle were easy to use and adjust, there is plenty of air flow to keep the back cool and ventilated, and the seat itself is pretty lightweight and easy to swap between vehicles. And the price - we love a cheap convertible car seat when it provides nice functionality, safety, and comfort. Now, let's get into the cons. There were a lot of things we didn't like about this seat: the fabric felt cheap and isn't soft to the touch, the recline indicator is hard to read and therefore the seat was hard to install, the cup holders can't be used for snacks because they are elastic bands on one side, and the entire seat feels somewhat low quality in terms of construction and fabrics. Also, the harness height requires rethreading, we didn't see any energy-absorbing foam, no steel-reinforced frame, and minimal side impact protection. We don't expect much from an $80 car seat, but this one left a bit too much to be desired. Interested? You can check out the Evenflo Sonus here.
If your kid loves Disney, this is really the budget car seat for you. The little girls in our group went wild over the Minnie version of the seat. It's a bit different than the others on our list because its strength is in its style rather than its functionality. The Minnie has its cute pink color, swirly stitching, Minnie signature, and bowtie and Minnie ears. The Mickey has similar features but is black and deep red. These seats are super cute and pack some basic functionality. First, it has a 5-point harness with front length adjustment, side-impact protection, is LATCH equipped, has 3 crotch buckle locations, 5 harness heights, and 2 little cup holders. But the weight capacity isn't so great, with 5 to 40 lb. rear-facing, and 20 to 40 lb. front-facing maximums. The maximum height is 43". Those numbers are pretty poor overall. Like the MyRide and Titan, it also has those annoying thread-through shoulder straps that are a pain to reconfigure for a growing baby. It was also really difficult to figure out how to attach Minnie's or Mickey's ears to the car seat, though we figured out that you have to thread the little black straps on the back of the ears through the slots above the shoulder strap slots, all the way to the rear of the seat. It does actually have 2 advantages relative to the Titan: first, it has 2 cup holders, and second, it includes the LATCH system. With its restrictive weight and height limits, and what we thought seemed like not the best build quality, this seat is not worthy of a higher place on our list. But, given that it's definitely the cutest car seat below $100 for kids who love Disney, it's holding strong in this position on our list. We found it online for about $65 for Minnie, and about the same for Mickey.
This comes in 4 different colors, click the image to see more options. Like the MyRide, this Safety 1st budget convertible car seat has a weight range from 5 to 40 lbs rear-facing, and 22-65 lbs. front-facing. Those are excellent ranges for a convertible car seat under $100. It also has a huge height limit of 52" tall! It has the 5-point harness, side-impact protection, adjustable head rest that our testing kids thought was soft and comfy, and overall compact dimensions that leave enough space in our back seat for up to 2 other car seats or whatever else life throws your way. If you have a particularly small car, like a compact or coupe, this is a great car seat option. Like all the other models on this list, adjusting the shoulder straps requires re-threading through the back of the seat. It comes in at 14 lbs., which is middle of the road for weight. We thought the infant inserts were plush and provided ample padding, but we worried a bit that the lowest shoulder strap setting wasn't quite low enough for a newborn baby. The buckles were easy enough to use, and the fabric was soft and seemed like it would be easy to clean. It is also equipped with the LATCH system, which is a great bonus. The build quality didn't seem quite as good as the Graco or Evenflo, but this is likely because it doesn't feel as substantial since it's a much more compact seat overall. So, this is a great 4th option, especially if you have a smaller car or need to fit 3 car seats in a row. We found this online for about $90.