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Super Extended Rear-Facing Carseats

Want to keep your child rear-facing until 2 years for safety?  Almost any current convertible carseat in the USA will allow that for most kids.  A decade ago, Extended Rear Facing meant keeping a baby rear-facing beyond 1 year AND 20 pounds.  Britax set the trend of ERF convertibles over 10 years ago with the original Britax Marathon and Wizard that allowed kids to remain rear-facing well beyond 2-years old.  Today, other models have set the bar even higher.

Here are some of the top contenders for Super-ERF carseats that have among the highest weight and/or height limits in the USA.  They can all accommodate even the tallest and heaviest kids rear-facing beyond 2 years old and many kids rear-facing until 3, 4 or even 5 years old.  These aren’t the only great ERF carseats; we update our complete list of rear-facing convertible carseat height and weight limits periodically.  In no paritcular order:

Diono Rainier

Diono Rainier, currently around $340 at Amazon.com.  Diono’s new upscale all-in-one carseat.  Check out our preview of the Diono Rainier.  Up to an industry-leading 50 pounds rear-facing and up to 44″ tall.  Includes a tether that can be used rear-facing to reduce rebound.  The Diono Pacifica has similar ratings. The Diono Olympia and slightly narrower Diono Radian RXT have a 45 pound rear-facing weight limit and above average rear-facing height limits as well.

 

 

Clek Foonf

The Clek Foonf, currently starting under $380 at Amazon.com.  Matches Diono’s Rainier with a 50 pound rear-facing weight limit, a narrow profile and an anti-rebound bar.  It has a taller shell and rear-facing seated height limit than the Diono models, but a slightly shorter 43″ standing height limit. Please see our full review of the Foonf.  The new Clek Fllo will have similar ratings.

 

 

Graco Size4Me

Graco Size4Me 65, around $150 at Amazon.com.  A more typical 40-pound rear-facing weight limit, but arguably the tallest usable rear-facing seated height limit on the market.  Here is CarseatBlog’s full review of the Size4Me (Previously known as the Size4Me 70).  The Graco Headwise 65, Graco MySize65 and Graco Fit4Me 70 have similar ratings.  All are great values for Super Extended Rear-Facing.  The new Graco 4Ever All-In-One has similar ratings as well.

 

 

Safety1st Elite Air 80

Safety 1st Elite Air 80, under $220 at BabiesRUs.  While rated to 40 pounds rear-facing, it probably has the tallest seated height limit currently available.  Unfortunately, that limit is somewhat hampered by a 43″ standing height limit that may reduce its rear-facing potential for the tallest children.

 

Consumer Reports Updates Convertible Carseat Ratings – July 2014

CR rockThe updated ratings on convertible carseats are published and the results are going to make some people happy and others not so happy. There’s just no way around that. Parents who already own top-rated convertible seats are going to be happy while those that own seats at the bottom of the lists may be less-than-pleased. Some may even question whether they made a mistake buying “X” carseat instead of “Y” carseat.

Before we get to the CR top rated picks, let’s talk about what the “BEST” convertible carseat is. We say this all the time as Child Passenger Safety Technicians, but it’s the truth, hence why it’s repeated so often. The BEST carseat is the one that fits your vehicle (installs tightly), fits your child (is appropriate for their age/weight/height), and that you can use correctly on every single ride. And of course it needs to fit your wallet too. The best carseat is not necessarily the most expensive carseat you can (or can’t) afford. And it’s not necessarily the carseat that matches the rest of your nursery collection or the one that everyone raves about online.

While we think our Recommended Carseats list is a great place to start, the seats on our list aren’t going to work for everyone and every situation. Remember – what works best for *your* child in *your* vehicle might not be the best choice for your sister or your neighbor or your friend, and that’s important. For example, a loosely installed carseat or one where you can’t easily adjust the harness to be snug on your child is not safe. A convertible carseat that doesn’t fit rear-facing in your car is not going to be the best choice for your child either.

The Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison – Size Matters!

It’s important to point out that this round of ratings is based on crash test results using their previous testing methodology (30 mph, FMVSS 213 standard bench, testing with 3-point lap/shoulder seatbelt or LATCH and no blocker plate). Convertible seat testing with their new crash test methodology is underway, but those results will not be published until some time early next year. For more info on Consumer Reports’ new crash testing program please see our previous blog on the subject:

The Safest Infant Carseats? New Crash Protection Ratings and Methods from Consumer Reports

Currently CR evaluates carseats on several points, including fit-to-vehicle, ease-of-usage, price and crash test performance. We can’t comment on specific scores but after our meeting with CR last year, we do have a general idea of how their ratings are assigned within these categories.

They brake down the convertible carseat ratings into 3 categories:

  • Convertible seats rated to 40 lbs.
  • Convertible seats rated to weights higher than 40 lbs. (what we call “higher-weight harness” convertibles)
  • All-in-One seats that can be used rear-facing, forward-facing and also as a belt-positioning booster.

In the up to 40 lbs. category, the Cosco Scenera, Scenera 40RF, Cosco Apt 40RF and Safety 1st onSide Air were their top rated picks. I don’t think the Scenera 40 RF is still being made or sold anywhere but the “regular” Cosco Scenera, the Cosco Apt 40RF and the Safety 1st onSide Air are all widely available and they are all budget-friendly seats (under $100) too. Just don’t expect them to fit your child for as long as larger competitors. These are basic, budget-friendly seats for infants and toddlers that should last many kids until at least age 3 and some to age 4. They also make great travel seats.

Cosco SceneraCosco Apt 40 RFSafety 1st onSide Air - stock

In the over 40 lbs. category, the Chicco NextFit is the top rated convertible seat followed closely by the entire Britax convertible lineup – Britax Advocate G4, Britax Boulevard G4, Britax Pavilion G4, Britax Marathon G4 and Britax Roundabout G4. The Britax Roundabout G4 and the Evenflo SureRide were rated as “Best Buys” because they offer good value for their price but they also received good scores in all categories.

Chicco NextFit - blogBritax Advocate G4 - OnyxBritax roundabout G4 - onyx

In the “All-in-One” category – the Evenflo Symphony was the top rated seat among the 5 models tested.

Evenflo Sym65 - Ocala

You can find their newest ratings on convertible seats at their website, www.consumerreports.org. Unfortunately, you have to be a paid subscriber to see the full ratings report.

CarseatBlog’s Updated List of Recommended Carseats for Preemies & Multiples!

Huggable Images Preemie Doll in Cosco Light 'n ComfyWe’re happy to announce that we’ve updated our list of Recommended Infant Carseats for Preemies & Multiples! Since we last updated that list, we’ve reviewed (or are in the process of reviewing) several new or updated infant seats that we feel comfortable adding to the list. And even one convertible seat!

Please join me in welcoming the Cosco Light n’ Comfy Elite, Evenflo SecureRide 35 (aka Serenade), Graco SnugRide 35 LX Click Connect, Graco SnugRide 40 Click Connect, Nuna PIPA, Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35UPPAbaby MESA and the Maxi-Cosi Pria Convertible (specifically, the model with the TinyFit insert).

All of these seats have a minimum weight rating of 4 lbs, fit our Huggable Images preemie doll well, are easy to use correctly and are relatively easy to install properly in a variety of vehicles.  While many parents may not think fitting a 4 lb. preemie is important, we know from experience that babies sometimes come earlier than expected and are well under the typical 7 pound newborn size.  We have links to the full reviews for each of these seats as well as other important information on our page dedicated to preemies and carseat issues.

Additionally, we’re very pleased that four of the seats now on the list are priced under $100! The Cosco Light n’ ComfyEvenflo Embrace LXSafety 1st Comfy Carry Elite Plus and Safety 1st onBoard 35 are all “budget-friendly” carseats.  And let’s face it – price and value are always important but those factors take on special meaning if you’re operating on a tight budget and/or if you’re faced with the reality of having to buy two, three (or more!) of everything.

Here at CarseatBlog we really appreciate the fact that CR manufacturers are paying more attention to the needs of preemies and low birthweight babies. With fourteen infant carseats and one convertible now on our list, in all different price ranges, this is a giant leap in the right direction. We have several other seats under review at the moment so hopefully we’ll be able to recommend a few more options in the near future!

Great Coupon Code Carseat Deals at Amazon

Some nice deals on some of our Recommended Carseats this week at Amazon.com:

Save $30 on select Britax convertible and combination carseats with coupon code BRITAX30.  The Britax Boulevard G4 as low as $226 and the Britax Frontier 90 as low as $234.

Save 20% on select carseats and baby gear with coupon code SUMMERGEAR.  The Evenflo Maestro in Wesley is only $64!  The Graco SnugRide 35 Click Connect is $104 in Tangerine.