Test Results: Best Car Seats for 2022
The folks over at Good Housekeeping have been testing child car seats for years, and their latest results are in. Here’s what they found.
Best Car Seat for Infants: Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat
Best Convertible Car Seat: Britax Boulevard ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar Convertible Car Seat
Best Booster Car Seat: Diono Monterey XT Latch 2 in 1
Best All-in-One Car Seat: Graco 4Ever DLX
Best Combination Car Seat: Doona Car Seat & Stroller
To find the best car seats on the market, the choice was relatively simple. Do we (1) enlist a bunch of gearheads and car nerds like ourselves to acquire, examine, and test every child car seat on the market, figuring it out as we go and hoping we get it right? Or do we (2) lean on the 120-plus years of product knowledge and testing expertise of our friends at Good Housekeeping? As you may have guessed, we packed up our egos and took the easy route.
When it comes to testing products—notably those intended for child safety—Good Housekeeping takes things seriously. The venerable home and lifestyle magazine has been awarding its highest honor to products and services for over a century. Today the Good Housekeeping Institute employs dozens of engineers, scientists, testers, and editors whose job is to evaluate products and inform consumers. Their lab takes up an entire floor of the Hearst Tower in Manhattan. For us, that’s right up the block.
We reached out to Rachel Rothman, chief technologist and executive technical director of Good Housekeeping, who oversees product testing at the Institute. The GH Institute still puts thousands of products to the test every year to determine the best of the best. The Good Housekeeping testing lab evaluates everything from home goods and appliances to garden tools and outdoor furniture to automobile gadgets and, you guessed it, child car seats. Rothman oversees the testing and evaluation of it all.
The Best Child Car Seats of 2022
For its May 2022 issue, Good Housekeeping tested dozens of new child car seats, and selected winners in key categories: Best for Infants, Best Convertible, Best Booster, Best All-In-One, and Best Combination. When it comes to consumer products and testing procedures, the folks at the Good Housekeeping Institute are the best in the business.
“At the Good Housekeeping Institute, engineers and analysts assess car seats for how easy it is to properly install a car seat in a variety of vehicles, as well as how simple it is to secure a child,” Rothman said. “We look at the ease of releasing and carrying the seat and more. We ultimately want to make sure the car seats work for the individual family.”
Here are the top-rated child car seats in 2022, according to Good Housekeeping.
Best Car Seat for Infants
KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat
Good Housekeeping’s testing lab picked the Chicco KeyFit 30 as the Best Infant Car Seat, saying, “This infant car seat stood out to our lab experts for its ease of installation, which is crucial to ensuring your child’s safety. The carrier also clicks from the car-seat base directly into a range of compatible strollers, making the entire transportation process a breeze. Plus, it’s approved for infants as little as four pounds with removable support for head and body.”
The rear-facing KeyFit 30 is designed for infants from four to 30 pounds and up to 30 inches tall. It comes in four distinct styles and a variety of colors.
Dimensions: 27.5 by 16.8 by 24.0 inches
Weight: 16.6 pounds (with base)
Harness Type: 5-point
Best Convertible Car Seat
Boulevard ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar was Good Housekeeping’s pick for the best convertible car seat. The team’s findings about the Britax: “The higher height and weight limits allowed kids to stay rear-facing longer, which the American Pediatric Association advises for increased safety.” Convertible car seats can accommodate young children well into toddlerhood. They’re more expensive, but most parents believe they’re worth it. Because the seats “grow” with your child, you won’t have to size up just because your child did.
Dimensions: 18.5 by 23.5 by 23.0 inches
Weight: 29.4 pounds
Harness Type: 14-position adjustable
Best Car Booster Seat
Diono Monterey XT Latch
For the best booster, the Institute found that the high-backed Diono Monterey XT “achieves a more custom fit than other options. You can also remove the back completely for kids who don’t require the added support. The expanded weight and height means it can safely accommodate children up to 120 pounds and 63 inches tall, with a wide comfortable seat and two retractable cupholders.” While the wider seat can be a blessing, it means less space for others in the back seat.
Dimensions: 26.0 by 16.0 by 20.0 inches
Weight: 13.9 pounds
Harness Type: Seatbelt
Best All-In-One Car Seat
Graco 4Ever DLX
While a convertible car seat will last a few years, an all-in-one might be the only child car seat you’ll ever need. The GH Institute found that this Graco 4Ever DLX car seat “transitions from a rear-facing car seat to forward-facing car seat to high-back booster to backless booster, allowing your child to fully utilize the 10-year life span of the product. Our experts love that it installs easily with LATCH and is highly adjustable with a 10-position headrest, six-position recline, and a no-rethread harness. It also comes with two cupholders and machine-washable seat pads.”
Dimensions: 20.0 by 21.5 by 24.0 inches
Weight: 22.8 pounds
Harness Type: 5-point
Best Combination Car Seat
Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base
The Doona Car Seat & Stroller has a clever design. It transitions from rear-facing car seat to complete stroller in seconds. GH said of the Doona: “This car-seat-and-stroller combo is a single piece. It expands and retracts quickly and can easily be fitted into the car-seat latch base without disturbing your little one. Our reviewers were impressed with its all-in-one design and safety features.”
Dimensions: 23.6 by 26.0 by 17.3 inches
Weight: 16.5 pounds
Harness Type: 5-point
What to Look for in a Child Car Seat
With so many brands and models on the market, consumers can have a hard time deciding which one to purchase. So what are the top considerations if you’re shopping for a car seat? Here are some tips from the Good Housekeeping testers, engineers, and editors based on their testing process and findings:
Getting a secure fit of the car seat was the most difficult aspect of the test; many seats required lots of strength to be secured according to the instruction manuals and achieve the recommended movement of less than one inch when secured.
Make sure that the car seat isn’t up against the front seat when installed; you won’t be able to take it out otherwise.
There are traditionally three different types of adjustment for shoulder straps: (1) basic changing slots, 2) headrest and shoulder-strap adjust, and (3) independent variable shoulder and headrest adjustment.
Covers vary from being straightforward to being a nightmare to take off and clean; infant seat covers are generally easiest. Some can be machine washed in a gentle cycle with mild detergent; others are hand wash only. Extra care is required when cleaning the buckle, harness system, and plastic frame. Mild soap and water must be used to avoid degradation of materials.
Tips for Shopping for a Car Seat
Always check the store’s return policy on car seats because some seats will fit better in certain cars than others and every car seat will fit every vehicle differently. So make sure you can return it if it doesn’t fit.
Get a seat that suits both the weight and height of your child, and one they won’t outgrow in a matter of weeks. Car-seats specs should be noted on the packaging.
Know the height and weight limits of your model, and keep track of your child’s weight and height. As soon as your kid hits the maximum of either, it’s time to move on to a bigger car seat.
Look for car seats that are compatible with LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), an easy-to-use system of straps that connect to hooks in the crook of the back seats of most modern cars.
Measure the available space in your back seat before deciding which car seat to buy. If you’re purchasing a convertible seat, check all the dimensions, as you’ll want it to fit in your car for years.
Be sure to register your product with the manufacturer after purchase, so you can be notified of recalls. You can also sign up for notifications directly with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.