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2016 Infant Carseat Safety Ratings from Consumer Reports – 17 new models evaluated


The Safest Infant Carseats:  Best, Better or Basic?  How do infant seats compare?

Today, Consumer Reports released their second round of infant carseat ratings using their new test methodology for evaluating infant child safety seats. We feel these ratings are likely to be a big step forward and should help parents to compare the crash safety of carseats. In the long term, just like the 5-star rating system from NHTSA and the IIHS Top Safety Pick ratings for automobiles, more rigorous testing often leads to better product designs in the future.

Why did Consumer Reports create their own crash test for child restraints?

Consumer Reports wanted to provide consumers with comparative information on carseats. By developing their own crash test, the goal was to determine which carseats offered an extra margin of safety in certain crash conditions simulated by the new tests. We know all carseats sold in the U.S. should meet federal safety standards but we also know all carseats aren’t the same. The goal here was to determine which seats could hold up well even under tougher crash test conditions that were also more “real world” than the current tests.

How is this test different from the government’s FMVSS 213 crash test?  

The Consumer Reports crash test was developed to be more rigorous than the current federal safety standards. They also designed the test with more real world vehicle conditions in mind. This new test is performed at an independent, outside testing facility. It uses a contemporary vehicle seat with a lap/shoulder seatbelt and a floor below it, unlike the government’s FMVSS 213 crash test which has a 70’s era back seat test bench with lap-only seatbelts and no floor. There is also a “blocker plate” installed in front of the test seat to simulate the interaction that occurs between the carseat and the front seat in a real crash. This is important because in the real world we know children are often injured when they come into contact with the back of the front seat during a crash. Consumer Reports also chose to run their tests at 35 mph; the government’s crash test is 30 mph.

Consumer Reports - test buck

What is the rating scale?

The crash protection ratings will indicate a “BASIC,” “BETTER,” or “BEST” score for crash protection. The rating is based on a combination of injury measures. While we don’t know exactly where they drew the line between best and better, we do know that seats receiving a “best” rating for crash protection performed statistically better than other peer models for crash performance.

A seat can be downgraded to a “basic” rating if there are repeatable structural integrity issues or if the dummy records injury measures that are considerably higher than the other peer models tested. Seats with a “basic” rating are still considered safe to use because they do meet all the safety standards in FMVSS 213. Please try to keep in mind that these are VERY challenging new tests and there will always be some designs that outperform others.

CR also gives each seat a separate overall numeric score which is based on its crash protection rating and other factors like ease of installation with seatbelt or lower LATCH anchors and ease of use. Seats with high overall scores will have a “better” or “best” crash protection rating plus they are considered easy to install properly and easy to use correctly.

Below we have listed the crash protection rating for the infant seats that received either a “Best” or a “Basic” rating for crash protection.  If you want to see the full ratings for all the seats they tested, which include 22 additional models in the “Better” rating category (plus all the overall numeric scores and comments), they are available only to subscribers. An annual online subscription to is $26.

Infant Carseat Ratings

keyfitsurgeNot surprisingly, their top overall performers (combination of crash protection plus ease of installation and ease of use) are the Chicco KeyFit & Chicco KeyFit 30 models, which are also on our list of Recommended Carseats.

NUNA PIPA + BASE WITH LOAD LEGWe note that the Asana 35 DLX (our review of the Asana is coming very soon), Cybex Aton 2, Cybex Aton Q, & Nuna Pipa were all tested using their load leg feature. Thanks to the load leg, these seats were all top performers in crash protection. Unfortunately, a load leg cannot be used on the government’s FMVSS 213 crash test sled, as that sled does not have a floor. 

Below is a table of the infant carseat models which received a “Best” rating for crash protection, as well as those that only received a “Basic” rating. 

Carseats Made in the USA – 2016


Are you looking for a new carseat made here in the USA? Look no further! The good news is that you currently have choices in all different price ranges, from budget-friendly to premium.

Carseats Made in USA graphic 2016

The seats are organized alphabetically by manufacturer within each category (infant seat, convertible, combination & booster).

Check out our complete list of where carseats are made HERE.

*Tip: If you’re viewing from your phone – turn it sideways to see all 3 columns of the chart in landscape mode.  

Infant Seat Manufacturer Infant Seat Model Country of Origin
Britax B-Safe 35 USA
B-Safe 35 Elite USA
 Dorel (Cosco/Safety 1st/Eddie Bauer) onboard 35, onboard 35 Air & Surefit USA*
*Models sold individually (that are not part of a Travel System) are made in USA. Models sold with stroller as a Travel System are made in China but production molds and components are shipped from the USA.
Evenflo Nurture USA
Maxi-Cosi Prezi USA
Mico (all models) USA
Recaro Performance Coupe USA
Convertible Seat Manufacturer Convertible Seat Model Country of Origin
Britax Advocate USA
Boulevard USA
Marathon USA
Roundabout USA
Advocate ClickTight USA
Boulevard ClickTight USA
Marathon ClickTight USA
Dorel (Cosco/Safety 1st/Eddie Bauer) Cosco Apt 50 & Apt 40RF USA
Cosco Scenera (Discontinued) USA
Cosco Scenera NEXT USA
Eddie Bauer Alpha Elite 3-in-1 USA
Eddie Bauer Deluxe 2-in-1 USA
Eddie Bauer XRS 65 USA
Safety 1st Advance 65 USA
Safety 1st All-in-One Sport USA
Safety 1st Alpha Elite USA
Safety 1st Complete Air USA
Safety 1st Chart Air USA
Safety 1st Grow & Go (all models) USA
Safety 1st Continuum & MultiFit USA
Safety 1st Elite EX 100 Air+ USA
Safety 1st Guide 65 USA
Safety 1st onSide Air USA
Evenflo Tribute USA
Triumph USA
Momentum USA
SureRide (Titan 65) USA
Symphony USA
SafeMax Convertible USA
Maxi-Cosi Pria (all models) USA
Recaro Performance Ride Assembled in USA
Performance Racer Assembled in USA
Combination Seat Manufacturer Combination Seat Model Country of Origin
Britax Frontier ClickTight USA
Pinnacle ClickTight USA
Pioneer G1.1 USA
Dorel (Cosco/Safety 1st/Eddie Bauer) Cosco Highback Booster USA
Eddie Bauer Deluxe Harness Booster USA
Safety 1st Summit USA
Safety 1st Vantage USA
Evenflo Chase USA
Maestro USA
Secure Kid USA
Transitions USA
SafeMax Combination USA
Recaro Performance SPORT Assembled in USA
Booster Seat Manufacturer Booster Seat Model Country of Origin
Dorel (Cosco/Safety 1st/Eddie Bauer) Cosco Ambassador/Highrise (Backless) USA
Cosco Pronto (Highback) USA
Cosco Stack it! (Backless) USA
Eddie Bauer Deluxe BPB (Highback) USA
Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (Highback) USA
Safety 1st Incognito Kid Positioner (Backless) USA
Safety 1st Store ‘ Go (Highback & Backless) USA
Evenflo Amp (Highback) USA
Amp LX (Backless) USA
Big Kid Sport (Highback) USA
Big Kid Elite (Backless) USA
Recaro Performance BOOSTER Assembled in USA ©2016 All Rights Reserved

Proper Transport of the Non-Critical Pediatric Patient in an Ambulance (aka how to properly install a carseat on a stretcher/cot)


On this warm, sunny, spring day – parents were obviously busy doing something other than coming to our check event. That left us techs with a little free time. At one point, some of the fabulous volunteers from the local ambulance corp showed up and the conversation quickly turned to transporting babies and young children in ambulances. I think I shocked a few of the local techs when I admitted that I had never actually installed a carseat on an ambulance cot (What? Something involving carseats that Kecia has never done??? Alert the presses! Lol.) Yes, I understand how it’s supposed to be done. I’ve read the research papers and I’ve seen several presentations on the subject at various CPS conferences over the years but I had never actually done it myself. Well, wouldn’t you know it – a short time later, an ambulance pulls up. Yes, boys and girls – it’s play time! 😀

It was actually a fairly simple install on this nice, new Stryker cot with this particular convertible (original model Cosco Scenera).  For the record, the only type of conventional carseat that should ever be installed on an ambulance stretcher/cot is a convertible. You need to be able to secure the carseat on the cot using two different beltpaths and this is only possible if the carseat has separate beltpaths for the rear-facing and forward-facing positions. Obviously, this setup is only going to work if the child actually fits in the convertible (and that will vary depending on the child and the specific convertible model being used) and if the child can tolerate being transported in the semi-upright position.

First we reclined the carseat into the position meant for a rear-facing installation. Then they showed me how to raise the head of the cot until we had it flush against the back of the convertible. Next we routed the straps nearest the rear-facing beltpath through that beltpath and routed the straps nearest the forward-facing beltpath through that beltpath. They helped me tighten everything up and Voila! Then we strapped in our “non-critical pediatric patient” for good measure (and for the photo op)! Finally, the guys showed me how to load this particular stretcher into the ambulance and secure it. I have to say, I was really impressed with this particular Stryker Powered Ambulance Cot. The hydraulic system was sweeet!


On this particular day, this exercise was all about learning something new in a relaxed and friendly environment. However, in reality, pediatric transport in an ambulance can range from “as safe as possible under difficult circumstances” to “downright scary for no good reason”. Why does it vary so much? Because currently there are no federal guidelines for  pediatric transport in an ambulance. Therefore,  EMS services are free to transport patients in any way they deem appropriate. Personally, I wouldn’t allow my kids to be transported to the hospital in an ambulance unless they really needed to be attended to by a medic on the way there. Unconscious? Not breathing? Massive head trauma? Get him into the ambulance fast and I’m not going to care or worry about how he’s restrained. Broken foot? Get in the car and I’m driving you to the hospital myself.

For more information on the subject see “Crash Protection for Children in Ambulances”:

Our entire Mythbusting Series – now in one convenient place!


Here are CarseatBlog – we like setting the record straight. There are so many persistent myths and general areas of confusion in the field of child passenger safety. Some that have persisted despite two decades of attempts to educate parents and caregivers (hello infant carseats on top of shopping carts!). The internet and social media have both helped and hurt the cause. Not all the information we see shared online is accurate, even if the source is well-intentioned.

However, you can trust that we’ve done our homework, looked at published, peer-reviewed studies, talked to car seat engineers and other experts in our field, and drawn on our own years of experience in the field and with our own kids (several of whom are driving themselves by now). We’re “seasoned” experts in the CPS field (that’s code for old, Lol) but we also understand the limits of our expertise and we look to our resources that have more specific areas of expertise whenever necessary.

With all that said, we wanted to make sure our entire Mythbuster Series was easy to find so when something relevant comes up, you know where to find the mythbuster article that you’re looking to share.

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