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Best Convertible Carseats for Extended Rear-Facing: the definitive guide for savvy shoppers!

ERF - Liam with phone and csb logoIf you’re in the market for a convertible carseat that will allow you to keep your child rear-facing for “as long as possible” – you’re in the right place! This guide will help you navigate many of the most popular options currently available in the U.S. market and help you to identify which seat(s) may in fact allow your child to stay rear-facing for as long as possible.

First, let’s define the term “Extended Rear-Facing” because that term is often thrown around loosely and to my knowledge there isn’t a general consensus in the Child Passenger Safety field of what that term means exactly. In its most basic sense, Extended Rear-Facing can be defined as use of a carseat in the rear-facing position beyond the bare minimums generally established and accepted by carseat manufacturers for forward-facing usage. Since many (but not all) convertible and combination carseats still allow toddlers as little as 12 months and 20/22 lbs. to use the seat forward-facing – you could define Extended Rear-Facing as anything beyond 12 months and 20/22 lbs.

ERF-foonf-side-viewHowever, that’s not what most parents and advocates think of when they hear the term. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends waiting until at least age 2 to turn a child forward while NHTSA and the CPS Technician Certification Curriculum define “Best Practice” as rear-facing to the limits of the carseat.

For the purposes of this guide, we will focus our attention on the convertible seats that have proven themselves to last longer than most of the seats on the market today, specifically in the rear-facing position. For the record, this isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive list so there are probably a few good ERF seats that weren’t included simply because I didn’t have access to them during the project period.

Convertible seat recommendations have been sorted into two groups. The first group is a list of seats that are most likely to be outgrown by weight (at 40 lbs.) rather than by height. The second group is a list of seats with very high weight limits that are more likely to be outgrown by height. It’s up to you to try to figure out which of those two categories will accommodate your child in the rear-facing position for as long as possible.

CDC growth chart boysIf you already have your child’s stats from a recent visit to the doctor – great. If not, use the links below to the CDC Growth Charts and plot your child’s height and weight on the graph.

Boys under 2 years oldBoys over 2 years old
Girls under 2 years oldGirls over 2 years old

Keep in mind that just because a baby might be 20 lbs. at 5 months old doesn’t mean he or she will be 40 lbs. by age 2. A baby’s weight gain almost always slows down – usually by 9-12 months old as they become more mobile. However, if mom is 5’9″ and dad is 6’3″ and built like a linebacker then it’s reasonable to assume that this child’s growth pattern may continue to be way above average.

  • If your child is above the 75th percentile for height but average or below average in weight then you want to look at convertible seats in the first group because these seats aren’t likely to be outgrown by height before your child reaches the maximum rear-facing weight limit of 40 lbs. The seats in this group are also a good choice for children who have a very long torso (for example: wear pants in 12 months size but need onesies that are 18 or 24 month size).
  • If your child is above the 75th percentile for weight but average or below average in height then you might want to focus on the seats in the second group that are rated beyond 40 lbs. in the rear-facing position. 
  • If your child’s weight and height are average, slightly above average or below average, and your child doesn’t have a very long torso, then ANY of the seats on this list will last your child a very long time in the rear-facing position and you should make your decision based on all the other factors.

In all the pictures below, my beautiful, gracious and very accommodating model is 40″ tall and 34 lbs. at 4 years old. She is average (around 50th percentile) in both height and weight for a 4-year-old.

*Please note: most of the pictures purposely depict misuse because I was attempting to show how much growing room she still had height-wise. In cases where the carseat had an adjustable head rest, I raised it to its maximum height to show how much growing room there could be for a taller child. The proper placement of harness straps on a rear-facing carseat is to have the straps coming from a point that is “at” or “slightly below” the child’s shoulder level.

Convertible seats that your child won’t outgrow by height before reaching the 40 lbs. RF weight limit:

Britax ClickTight Convertibles (Marathon CT, Boulevard CT & Advocate CT)

These new CT convertibles from Britax are so tall that there is no way any child could ever outgrow them by height before reaching the 40 lbs. RF weight maximum! The Marathon CT doesn’t adjust as tall as the Boulevard CT (pictured) and Advocate CT models but is still tall enough to be a true extended rear-facing seat. We have a complete review of the Boulevard CT here

ERF - Britax Boulevard CT ERF - Britax Boulevard CT ERF - Britax Boulevard CT

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs.; Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., up to 49″ tall
  • Features: ClickTight installation system, no-rethread harness with 14 height positions, base with 7 recline positions, allows RF tethering, optional anti-rebound bar (ARB) will be available in early 2015
  • Pros: Easiest convertibles to install with seatbelt using CT system; CT system acts as a lockoff device; rebound management features via RF tether or ARB; various energy-absorbing features built in; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF; well padded; fits newborns well; Made in USA
  • Cons: Heavy; designed for seatbelt installations so it’s not especially LATCH-friendly; Marathon model not as tall as Boulevard and Advocate models but still tall enough to be a true ERF seat.

Chicco NextFit

Even tall, skinny kids will be able to rear-face in the NextFit until they reach the 40 lbs. weight limit. We have a complete review of the Chicco NextFit here.

ERF - Chicco NextFit ERF - Chicco NextFit ERF - Chicco NextFit

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs.; Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., up to 49″ tall
  • Features: SuperCinch LATCH system; no-rethread harness with 6 height positions; base with 9 recline positions; 2 position chest clip; lockoffs for seatbelt installation
  • Pros: Easiest seat to install with LATCH (up to 40 lbs.); easy seatbelt installation using lockoff; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF; can use LATCH rear-facing to the limit of 40 lbs.; extremely well padded; fits newborns very well
  • Cons: Heavy and bulky; Can’t use SuperCinch to install with LATCH once child weighs more than 40 lbs. and is forward-facing

Evenflo SureRide (aka Titan 65)

This is the rare extended rear-facing seat available for less than $100! The model pictured is the Titan 65 model with SureSafe (has premium push-on lower anchor connectors) that is available exclusively at Walmart. Evenflo does limit the child’s height to 40″ tall which is very conservative because as you can see this 40″ tall child has a mile of growing room left above her head. Still, it’s a nice seat at a great price that will get most kids to age 3-4 rear-facing.

ERF - Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 ERF - Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 ERF - Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., 19-40″; Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., 28-54″
  • Features: 6 sets of harness slots; SureSafe model has premium push-on lower LATCH connectors (all other models have basic hook-style connectors)
  • Pros: Fits newborns well; lightweight; budget-friendly; can use LATCH up to 50 lbs. (forward-facing), made in USA
  • Cons: Large gap between harness slots 3 and 4; deep sides make loading and unloading RF child cumbersome; continuous harness; no lockoffs for seatbelt installation; 40″ standing height limit for rear-facing is limiting

Graco Size4Me/MySize/Headwise/Fit4Me

The Size4Me and its clones (MySize, Headwise and Fit4Me) are popular mid-price-point convertible seats that are impossible to outgrow by height before reaching the 40 lbs. weight limit. We have a complete review of the Graco Size4Me here.

ERF - Graco Size4Me ERF - Graco Size4Me ERF - Graco Size4Me

  • Specs: Rear-facing 4-40 lbs.; Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., 49″ or less
  • Features: No-rethread harnes with 8 height positions, separate lower LATCH anchor connector straps for both RF & FF belt paths, premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • Pros: Fits average-sized newborns well; no need to switch the LATCH connector strap from RF to FF belt paths because they give you a separate strap for each; can use LATCH rear-facing to the limit of 40 lbs.; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF
  • Cons: No lockoffs for seatbelt installation; sparsely padded; rated down to 4 lbs. but may not be a good fit for smaller newborns or preemies

Graco 4Ever All-in-One & Graco Milestone All-in-One

The Graco 4Ever All-in-One and Graco Milestone All-in-One are rear-facing/forward-facing/booster seats that work well in all modes. Both the 4Ever (pictured) and the Milestone are seats that just can’t be outgrown by height in the rear-facing position. Look how tall they are! We have a complete review of the Graco 4Ever here and a complete review of the Graco Milestone here.

ERF - Graco 4Ever  ERF - Graco 4Ever ERF - Graco 4Ever

  • Specs: Rear-facing 4-40 lbs., (Milestone starts at 5 lbs.); Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., 49″ or less
  • Features: No-rethread harness with 10 height positions, 4Ever base has 6 recline positions (3 for rear-facing), Milestone base has 4 recline positions (2 can be used for rear-facing), both models can be used as a booster when harness is outgrown, premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • Pros: All-in-One (RF/FF/Booster) features grow with your child; can use LATCH rear-facing to the limit of 40 lbs.; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF
  • Cons: Heavy and bulky; No lockoffs for seatbelt installation

Maxi-Cosi Pria 70  (model without TinyFit)

Maxi-Cosi does limit the rear-facing child’s height to 40″ tall which is conservative because as you can see this 40″ tall child still has plenty of growing room left above her head. Still, it’s a nice seat with a ridiculous amount of padding that will get most kids to age 3-4 rear-facing. We have a full review of the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 with TinyFit here.

ERF - Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 ERF - Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 ERF - Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 ERF - Maxi-Cosi Pria 70

  • Specs: Rear-facing 9-40 lbs., 40″ or less; Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., up to 52″
  • Features:  No-rethread harness with 9 height positions, deep head wings with Air Protect technology, premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • Pros: Low sides make it convenient to load and unload child from seat; narrow; very well padded; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF; can use LATCH rear-facing to the limit of 40 lbs.; Made in USA
  • Cons: No lockoffs for seatbelt installation; headwings are deep and close together which might bother some kids who aren’t used to it; only models that come with TinyFit insert are suitable for use with newborns; 40″ standing height limit for rear-facing is limiting

Safety 1st Advance 70 Air +

Safety 1st does limit the rear-facing child’s height to 40″ tall which is very conservative because as you can see this 40″ tall child has a lot of growing room left above her head. Still, it’s a nice seat with a deep protective shell that will get most kids to age 3-4 rear-facing.

ERF - Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air+ ERF - Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air+ ERF - Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air+

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., 19-40″; Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., 34-49″
  • Features: No-rethread harness with 10 height positions, 4 position base (2 positions for RF), Air Protect + technology
  • Pros: tons of RF legroom; can use LATCH to the RF weight limit of 40 lbs.; Made in USA
  • Cons: Very wide, deep sides make loading and unloading RF child cumbersome, takes up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF; no lockoffs for seatbelt installation, 40″ standing height limit for rear-facing is limiting

 

Convertible seats with RF weight limits beyond 40 lbs. (more likely to be outgrown by height than by weight):

Diono Radian RXT/R120/Olympia

These seats all have a rear-facing weight limit of 45 lbs. but they aren’t as tall as many of the models listed above. They are still very popular ERF seats and are especially well-suited for kids who are more heavy than tall. Olympia is part of the new Diono convertible line up but it has a 45 lbs. rear-facing weight limit like the Radian R120 (pictured) and Radian RXT. We have a complete review of the Radian RXT here.

ERF - Diono Radian R120 ERF - Diono Radian R120 ERF - Diono Radian R120

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-45 lbs., up to 44″ tall and requires at least 1.5″ of shell above head; Forward-facing 20-80 lbs., less than 57″ tall
  • Features: 5 sets of harness slots, aluminum reinforced 12 position adjustable headrest, full steel frame, allows RF tethering, folds flat for travel or storage
  • Pros: Optional Angle Adjuster (not pictured, sold separately) allows the seat to be installed more upright for older kids who have complete head and neck control; rebound management features using RF tether; low sides make it convenient to load and unload child from seat; narrow
  • Cons: Heavy; takes up a lot of room front-to-back without optional Angle Adjuster; LATCH limit for rear-facing is 35 lbs.; lacks lockoff for seatbelt installation; finicky install in some vehicles, may not fit newborns well

Diono Rainier & Pacifica

These newest convertible models from Diono add depth for increased side-impact protect and are now rated to 50 lbs. rear-facing but they aren’t any taller than the previous Radian models. Like the Radian models, the Rainier and Pacifica are a great options for ERF, especially for kids who are more heavy than tall. We have a complete review of the Diono Rainier here.

ERF - Diono Rainier ERF - Diono Rainier ERF - Diono Rainier

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-50 lbs., up to 44″ tall and requires at least 1.5″ of shell above head; Forward-facing 20-90 lbs., less than 57″ tall
  • Features: 5 sets of harness slots, aluminum reinforced 12 position adjustable headrest, full steel frame, allows RF tethering, folds flat for travel or storage
  • Pros: Optional angle adjuster (not pictured, sold separately) allows the seat to be installed more upright for older kids who have complete head and neck control; rebound management features using RF tether; low sides make it convenient to load and unload child from seat; narrow
  • Cons: Heavy; takes up a lot of room front-to-back without optional Angle Adjuster; LATCH limit for rear-facing is 35 lbs.; lacks lockoff for seatbelt installation; finicky install in some vehicles, may not fit newborns well

Clek Foonf & Clek Fllo

The Foonf and similar Clek Fllo convertibles are highly regarded for their advanced safety features and high rear-facing weight limits. They aren’t as tall as many of the models listed above but since they are rated to 50 lbs. in the rear-facing position they are another great ERF option, especially for kids who are more heavy than tall. We have a complete review of the 2014 Clek Foonf here.

ERF - Clek Foonf ERF - Clek Foonf ERF - Clek Foonf

  • Specs: Rear-facing 14-50 lbs., 25-43”, able to sit upright alone, head is at least 1” below top of headrest; Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., 30-49” tall
  • Features: 5 sets of harness slots, structural headrest, anti-rebound bar (ARB), REACT safety system, lockoffs for seatbelt installation
  • Pros: Advanced safety features, rebound management using ARB, narrow, Crypton super fabrics
  • Cons: Very heavy, pricey, LATCH limit for rear-facing is 25 lbs., current models aren’t suitable for young babies but that will change in the future when the “Infant Thingy” insert becomes available.

Looking for info on which convertible seats take up the least amount of room when installed rear-facing? Check out our popular Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison.

rear-facing in prius

Special thanks to my lovely little assistant and her mom, who is a fellow CPST-I. I couldn’t have completed this project without their help. If you’re wondering how one bribes a 4-year-old to sit and smile in carseat after carseat….

Will work for sushi - clara

 

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2015 Toyota Camry Video Preview

2015ToyotaCamry1The 2015 Toyota Camry isn’t “All-New”, but it is heavily refreshed.  It is one of the most comprehensive mid-cycle model refreshes in Toyota history.  Toyota claims about 1/3 of the vehicles’ parts are new and from the outside, only the roof remains unchanged from the 2014 model.  This major refresh is made necessary in part by strong competition from the all-new Hyundai Sonata and Subaru Legacy that are both vying for best-in-class honors this year.

The new gaping maw treatment  up-front on SE models is a more aggressive look than before, and the new XSE trim (photo, right) adds an upscale sport version that the Camry previously lacked.  Perhaps the black grill is a bit large and devoid of much detail other than mesh, but the treatment is definitely an improvement overall.  The LE and XLE versions are less aggressive, but more stylish and less bland than before.  Hybrid models (photo, below) are also carried over and offer exceptional fuel economy.

2015ToyotaCamryHybrid1

 

You can check out all the fine details at Toyota’s Camry webpage, but I want to focus on safety, carseats and kids in back.  One major drawback of this popular family sedan is that the full array advanced safety features is only available in the Advanced Technology Package on the XSE V6 and XLE V6 trim levels.  That boosts the price to nearly $35,ooo, a full $10,000 more than the least expensive 2015 Subaru Legacy with the top-rated Eyesight system of advanced safety features.  That’s really a shame, because the 4-cylinder LE model is otherwise quite competitive; great value, good fuel economy and a nicer front grille treatment than the SE/XSE trims.

On the plus side, the 2015 Camry has already secured a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, with top results in all their crash tests.  With the optional Technology Package, it earns a Top Safety Pick+ rating, though it has only a Basic frontal crash warning system.  It lacks an autobrake feature found on some competitive systems.  At this time, the government has not completed side impact testing on the 2015 Camry.  The NHTSA did complete the frontal crash testing and the new model earned 4-stars for the driver and 5-stars for the front passenger.

As for carseats, here’s a quick overview:

Thank you to Toyota USA for the preview of the Camry, Sienna and Yaris.

Get Your 2014 Amazon Early Black Friday Carseat Deals Here!

Amazon has started their 2014 Black Friday deals early!

Here’s a sampling:

Britax Advocate G4 $249.99

Advocate G4 Review HERE

ADV G4

You save $130! on the Onyx fashion! Other fashions also discounted.

Britax B-Safe $119.99

B-Safe Review HERE

Britax B-Safe

Save $60 for a great rear-facing only infant seat in Red!

Britax Boulevard G4 $209.99

Boulevard Review HERE

BV G4 

Save $112!

Britax Roundabout G4 $139.99

Britax Roundabout Review HERE

Britax Roundabout G4 - silverlake

Save $40 on Silverlake fashion!

Britax Frontier 90 $230.99

Frontier 90 Review HERE

Frontier 90

Onyx fashion only. You are saving $99! Desert Palm fashion is on sale, too, for $247.

Britax Marathon G4 $202.99

Marathon Review HERE

MA G4

You save $87.00

Britax Pavilion $199.25

Pavilion Review HERE

Pavilion G4

Save $140.74 on Onyx!

Britax Pinnacle $259.99

Pinnacle Review HERE

Britax Pinnacle 90- Manhattan

This carseat is $110 off! Manhattan fashion only. Cityscape and Broadway fashions are also discounted.

Diono Radian RXT  $237.99

RadianRXT Review HERE

Radian RXT - shadow

You save $102 on Shadow, Cobolt, Plum, Storm & Daytona fashions.

Diono Rainier  $251.99

Rainier Review HERE

Rainier Orchid

You save $108 on all fashions – Orchid, Graphite, Shadow & Black Houndstooth

Diono Olympia $195.99

Olympia Review HERE

Diono Olympia - Graphite

You save $84 on both Graphite and Shadow fashions.

Evenflo SecureKid LX $82.49

SecureKid Review HERE

Evenflo SecureKid LX - Kohl

Save $47.50

Evenflo SureRide $67.49

sureride

You save $32.50 on “Paxton” fashion and get a seat with 19″ top harness slots!

Evenflo Symphony DLX $137.82

Symphony Review HERE

Evenflo Sym65 - Ocala

Saving $92.17!

Graco Argos 65 $129.99

Argos

Savings of $70!

Graco Head Wise $119.99

Headwise Review HERE

HW

Save $80 on all available fashions!

Graco Nautilus $123.49

Nauti Matrix

Matrix fashion only. You save $66.50!

Graco Size4Me $116.99

Size4Me Review HERE

S4M

It’s available in Go Green, Nyssa, and Pierce. Happy shopping and saving $63!

Graco Click Connect SnugRide 40 $142.99

SnugRide 40 Review HERE

SR40

Save $77! Green “Fern” or Pink “Azalea” fashion

Find All CarseatBlog Reviews Here

 

ABC Expo 2014: Strollers! What’s New from Orbit Baby, Baby Jogger, UPPAbaby & Quinny

Orbit Baby O2

Orbit Baby:

Orbit doesn’t have anything new this year on the car-seat front, but they do have a very cool new stroller in the works: The O2 Hybrid is a combo jogging/regular stroller compatible with Orbit stroller seats, bassinets, and car seats using Orbit’s patented SmartHub system. 

The stroller uses a piston system to raise or lower the seat depending on the situation. In City Mode, the seat is higher up, giving the baby/child a better view of the world, and giving mom/dad a better view of the child. It provides for easy steering for malls or casual strolls.

In Performance Mode, the seat sinks down and back, lowering the center of balance for the stroller to make it safer and easier to steer when running with a locked front wheel.

You can see here how the seat rises and lowers:

The stroller features an adjustable handle; red- and green- coded pedicure-friendly brakes, and a design that allows it to stand when folded.

The O2 Hybrid should be available in Summer 2015 for $600 standalone or $900 as a travel system.

Orbit Baby O2 jogger stroller rf Orbit Baby O2 jogger stroller rf reclined

Baby Jogger:

Vue Double (Coming Spring 2015)

Baby Jogger Vue Double Baby Jogger Vue Double side

Baby Jogger Vue Double Baby Jogger Vue Double

Vue Single

Baby Jogger Vue Baby Jogger Vue with Nuna Pipa

Vue Lite (Coming Spring 2015)

Baby Jogger Vue Lite Baby Jogger Vue Lite Red Baby Jogger Vue Lite inside

City Mini

Baby Jogger City Mini Baby Jogger City Mini

City Select

Baby Jogger City Select

UPPAbaby:

2015 VISTA is updated and this model can comfortably hold 2 MESA infant carseats, or two bassinets or 2 toddler seats. Or any combination of those, facing in any direction. Truly an amazing engineering feat!

UPPAbaby Vista 2015 2015 Uppababy Vista

2015 Legacy (Coming Spring 2015)

2015 Uppababy Legacy

Quinny

Moodd

Quinny Moodd Stroller DSCN5537 DSCN5538

Quinny Yezz Stroller

Quinny Yezz stroller Quinny Yezz