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Car seats are one of the most important pieces of gear you’ll buy for your child. And, for good reason. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for children and a properly utilized car seat can reduce the risk of serious injury and death by up to 82%. So, choosing a car seat that fits your vehicle, child, and lifestyle shouldn’t be something you take lightly.
Though all seats pass the same safety standards, they’re not all identical. If you have a compact car, you have less backseat room than other vehicles. This affects car seat purchasing because some rear-facing seats take up more room than others. So, we’ve found a roundup of car seats that’ll fit most small vehicle backseats in terms of depth.
Here are our top picks for small vehicle car seats:
12 Best Car Seats for Small Cars
Best Infant Car Seats for Smalls Cars
When choosing an infant car seat, numerous factors come into play, especially if you own a compact vehicle. One key aspect to consider is the space the seat occupies from front to back. Clek Liing ranks as one of the most compact infant car seats on the market, making it ideal for smaller cars.
Other features parents like about the Clek Liing are its advanced safety features like a load leg and rigid lower anchors. The fabric is free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants and there are options that contain no flame retardants at all.
Read our full review of the Clek Liing.
Install Clek Liing YouTube Video here.
Next up is the Chicco KeyFit 35, another excellent option for compact cars. We like the added easy lower anchor installation, smooth harness tightener, and machine washable padding. For parents who are concerned with flame retardants, Chicco makes this seat in a ClearTex fabric that has no added chemicals.
Lastly, the Nuna Pipa Urbn offers a unique solution for city dwellers with compact cars. This infant seat is not only compact but also baseless, making it convenient for transferring between vehicles. What sets this seat apart is its rigid lower anchors, which are attached directly to the infant carrier—making it the first seat of its kind. Installation and removal are as quick and easy as clicking a seat into a base. Currently, this seat is available exclusively as part of a travel system. All of Nuna’s seats are flame-retardant-free.
Best Convertible Car Seats for Small Cars
As your child outgrows their infant seat, a convertible car seat becomes essential. One of our favorite options is the Graco TrioGrow Snuglock. This convertible seat is not only a rear-facing car seat and a forward-facing car seat, but it also has a high-back booster mode, although it is short-lived. It has 3 rear-facing recline options. The most upright rear-facing recline, which is suitable for any child who can sit unassisted, makes the seat very compact. Parents appreciate its no-rethread straps and the SnugLock lock-off, which simplifies seat belt installation. It’s also a great option in many vehicles that have non-removable headrests.
Read our whole review on the Graco TrioGrow Snuglock.
The Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 is a favorite for any vehicle, but especially a small car. It offers extended rear-facing for up to 50 pounds, which is a huge plus for safety. Despite the extended rear-facing capabilities, it’s still compact enough for a small car with 4 rear-facing recline options. Other features to love include the machine washable fabric, no-rethread straps, an adjustable headrest, and dual cupholders.
Read our whole review on the Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1.
The Graco Slimfit3 LX was specifically designed for tight backseat scenarios, which includes 3-across situations! The Slimfit3 is only 16.7 inches wide and even in rear-facing mode there’s enough room for most front-seat passengers to sit comfortably with 2 recline options. It also features no-rethread straps, removable cup holders, and machine-washable padding.
Rotating car seats like the Graco Turn2Me are becoming increasingly popular for their ease of use. The Graco Turn2Me only rotates in rear-facing mode, but it is currently the most compact of all swivel seats on the market! It has 49 inches and 40-pound limits for the rear-facing mode.
The Nuna Rava is another compact convertible car seat. This one is the most compact on the list, but also one of the most expensive. It does offer extended rear-facing up to 50 pounds, which we love here at Safe in the Seat. This seat has 5 recline options for the rear-facing mode and no level indicator so it can be as upright as you can get it as long as your child can sit unassisted! Beyond the great fit, the Nuna Rava has an easy seat belt installation and all of the fabric options are flame-retardant-free!
With three modes, the Nuna Exec is a long-lasting choice. Although its stated limits are 57 inches and 120 pounds, it realistically fits children until about age 7 or 8. The seat offers four rear-facing recline options, an anti-rebound bar, magnetic harness holders, and flame-retardant-free fabric.
The Uppababy Knox has four rear-facing recline positions and can be nearly vertical for children weighing at least 25 pounds. It has advanced safety features, including multi-directional tether and side impact pods, but can be very challenging to install. The seat also has no-rethread straps, removable cup holders, buckle pockets, and some of the fabric options are free of chemical flame retardants.
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight offers lots of adjustment capabilities with 7 recline positions and 14 headrest positions. The versions with SafeWash fabric are machine washable and machine dryable, as well as flame retardant free. The seat belt installation on this seat is as easy as you can get.
Read our whole review on the Britax Boulevard ClickTight.
The Safety 1st Jive is an affordable convertible car seat that works well in small vehicles as long as the child is above 22 pounds and can sit unassisted. It has machine-washable and dryable fabric and dishwasher-safe cup holders. Weighing only 10 pounds, this is also one of our favorite travel car seats.
Read our whole review on the Safety 1st Jive.
Use this list to find the right car seat for your compact car!
We hope this list helped you find the perfect seat. If you’re still unsure, don’t worry! You can use our car seat buying kits to be matched with the best car seat options for your vehicle, preferences, lifestyle, and kiddo.
And, of course, for all the best car seat advice, browse the Safe in the Seat blog and stay up to date with our safety info on Instagram. Every day, we share new tips to help everyone in your family stay safe in their seats!
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