Parents with compact or subcompact vehicles looking for the best car seats for small cars have a variety of options. Most major car seat manufacturers offer various models that accommodate the infant or baby’s height and weight as well as being able to fit in smaller vehicles.
The trick is to know the dimensions of the car seat and to get recommendations from the car seat manufacturer or go on sites to cross-check car seat dimensions to see if the car seat you’re considering will fit easily in your vehicle. There’s nothing like actually trying to fit the seat in the car, however, since you’ll need to know both how to install it correctly as well as feel comfortable doing so.
Be sure to check out ease of use ratings available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Graco SnugRide 35 – Top rated by consumer publications and rigorously safety-tested, including side impact testing, the Graco SnugRide 35 infant car seat is just 16.7 pounds with the base and 7.5 inches without the base, making it one of the lightest infant carriers on the market. The dimensions are also proportionately smaller than other brands at 15.6 inches high, 18.7 inches wide and 30.7 inches deep. This car seat is for infants and babies from five to 35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall. Babble.com reports that owners of two-door cars say the Graco SnugRide, because of its compact size and light weight, make it easy to get the car seat in and out of the car.
- Chicco KeyFit – With its removable newborn insert, the Chicco KeyFit infant car seat, rated the No. 1 infant car seat in America, accommodates babies from four to 22 pounds. Next to the Graco SnugRide, the Chicco KeyFit is probably one of the easiest infant car seats to install. The base features a spring-assisted level foot, two precision bubble levels, and center-pull LATCH adjustment to guarantee quick, easy installation from either side of the vehicle. The Chicco KeyFit is also compatible with the Chicco
Cortina, Cortina Together, Trevi and 53 strollers. The Chicco KeyFit has a four-star ease-of-use rating from the NHTSA.
- Maxi Cosi Mico – This is an infant car seat with a very low weight and height limit, only accommodating infants and babies up to 22 pounds and up to 29 inches tall. It’s been called the perfect urban car seat, especially if parents are going in and out of taxis or a car service, since the car seat can be easily secured without a base. The Maxi Cosi Mico has a four-star NHTSA ease-of-use rating.
- Evenflo Serenade – With its five-star NHTSA ease-of-use rating, the Evenflo Serenade accommodates infants and babies from five to 35 pounds and up to 32 inches in height. The Evenflo Serenade infant car seat is side impact tested and meets all federal safety standards and is designed and tested for structural integrity at energy levels approximately twice the federal crash test standard.
For more information on car seats in general, check out Consumer Reports car seat guide.
Bottom line: Finding the best car seats for small cars will take a bit of research, but the security you’ll feel from getting exactly what you need for your precious cargo will be more than worth the effort.