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Best combination car seats

A combination seat is one of those baby gear choices that leaves most parents dumbfounded. And it’s not the parents’ fault, either.

There are way too many moving parts – both figuratively and literally.

Get this decision right, and you end up with a product that will make your life easier from birth to toddlerhood.

Get it wrong, and you’ll end up frustrated at best and putting your baby at risk at worst.

Give us 5 minutes of your time, and we’ll make sure you fall into the first group.

ImageBest Baby Pillows For Flat Head SyndromeFeaturesPrice
Best Overall
Diono Radian 3RXT combination seat
  • Most complete all-around
  • Comprehensive safety features
  • Extra compact design
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Chicco MyFit 3-in-1
  • Highest parent ratings
  • Advanced side-impact protection
  • The seat base is memory foam
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Diono Radian 3R
  • Extra high back bolster
  • Made of high-density plastic and reinforced steel
  • Designed for prolonged rear-facing use
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Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1
  • One-motion adjustment for the harness and headrest
  • Open-loop belt guides
  • Machine washable harness cover and seat pad
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CYBEX Sirona M Convertible Car Seat
  • 12 headrest positions and 10 recline angles
  • Advanced SensorSafe Technology warns of dangerous changes in the seat
  • Reinforced for side impacts – absorbs 25% force
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Safety 1st Grow and Go
  • Backless booster – convenient for multi-kid use
  • Adjustable crotch strap
  • Harness holders make it easier to move
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Evenflo Maestro
  • Two forward-facing use modes
  • Designed and made in the USA
  • The up-front harness adjustment is centralized
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Chicco MyFit 2-in-1
  • Designed for simple harness-to-belt transition
  • Dual-foam padding and ergonomic design
  • Features an industry-leading side-impact protection (DuoGuard)
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Best combination car seat – our top 8 picks:

Diono Radian 3RXT combination seat

Diono Radian 3RXT, 4-in-1 Convertible Extended Rear and Forward Facing Convertible Car Seat, Steel Core, 10 Years 1 Car Seat, Ultimate Safety and Protection, Slim Design - Fits 3 Across, Gray Slate

The Diono Radian 3RXT and the Chicco MyFit were always going to scuffle for the top spot – we knew that from the get-go.

In this update, Diono takes the cake by a slim margin.

The 3RXT is an all-in-one convertible that actually performs well in all modes and will keep your baby comfortable from birth up to 120 pounds.

It is by far the superior pick for parents driving around with more than one kid in the back seat, because it’s extra compact. You can easily fit three of these across the back seat of most cars.

Main features at a glance:

  • Steel alloy core and frame
  • Reinforced aluminum sidewalls
  • Travel-high wedge system for newborns
  • The seat fabric is machine washable
  • Memory foam used for the seat base
  • Adjustable headrest for additional protection

Main benefits

First of all, this is a high-end seat that ticks all the quality and safety boxes and will save you a pretty penny in the long run by eliminating the need for other seats.

Diono Radian 3RXT, 4-in-1 Convertible Extended Rear and Forward Facing Convertible Car Seat, Steel Core, 10 Years 1 Car Seat, Ultimate Safety and Protection, Slim Design - Fits 3 Across, Gray Slate

That’s not the unique part – other seats meet the same criteria.

They do cost more, but they exist.

What’s unique about the Diono combo seat

What’s unique about this Diono is its proprietary slim-fit design. It’s one of the very few seats that’s narrow enough to easily fit three across the back seat without sacrificing comfort or safety.

For most owners who love the 3RXT, it’s not about three seats – it’s about the extra room when you fit one or two.

What we love about it

In a crowded market where pretty much any piece of gear claims to be “versatile” but underdeliver, the ones that really do it all still stand out.

Diono Radian 3RXT, 4-in-1 Convertible Extended Rear and Forward Facing Convertible Car Seat, Steel Core, 10 Years 1 Car Seat, Ultimate Safety and Protection, Slim Design - Fits 3 Across, Gray Slate

That’s the case with the Diono 3RXT – it’s all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a true all-in-one at a reasonable price point.

Read more about it here –  DIONO Radian review.

Chicco MyFit combo car seat – top-rated by parents

Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Car Seat, Gardenia

Chicco MyFit has been one of the most popular combination seats for a few years now. It found its way to the top of this list within a year of hitting the market and never left the top 3.

It is one of the very few products I ever reviewed to hold a 95% or higher parent approval rating consistently. Those numbers are a phenomenon in their own right.

Let’s dig into what sets this Chicco apart.

Main features at a glance:

  • The frame is reinforced steel
  • Convertible from a 5-point harness to a booster
  • Extra tough side-impact protection
  • Proprietary installation system (LATCH connectors and Lock Sure belts)
  • Ergonomically contoured seat with extra padding
  • 4 recline positions and 9 headrest positions

What we love the most about this Chicco combo

We love to see a product that’s universally loved. When you do what we do – test, analyze and review baby gear, you come to understand that pleasing every parent and baby is an impossible feat.

Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Car Seat, Gardenia

The 1% of parents who didn’t like this Chicco got a faulty seat on arrival – which is where Chicco’s customer service comes in.

These numbers are as close to perfect as it gets.

Diono Radian 3R

Diono Radian 3R, 3-in-1 Convertible Rear & Forward Facing Convertible Car Seat, High-Back Booster, 10 Years 1 Car Seat, Slim Design - Fits 3 Across, Gray Slate

All the basic features of the Diono 3R are similar to the top-rated seat overall, the 3RXT.

The few differences that set them apart are:

  • The 3RXT has a slightly higher weight capacity in booster and rear-facing modes. the forward-facing capacity is the same (22-65 lbs)
  • Features of the 3RXT that aren’t there in the 3R: infant insert, cupholder, Super Side impact protection, adjustable headrest)
  • The size of the two seats is identical, while the 3R is a peg lighter.

Features at a glance:

  • Designed to prolong rear-facing use
  • Higher back bolster makes for a seamless transition to booster mode
  • Sturdy core – high-density plastic and reinforced steel
  • Designed to fit three seats across the back of the car
  • The listed life of the seat is 10 years – from birth to booster
  • Strap type is a 5-point harness

What we like about it

Radian 3R is the original 3-across design. It’s a basic version of the 3RXT, and we love it for all the same reasons – the main one being the fact that it performs well in all modes.

Diono Radian 3R, 3-in-1 Convertible Rear & Forward Facing Convertible Car Seat, High-Back Booster, 10 Years 1 Car Seat, Slim Design - Fits 3 Across, Gray Slate

Bottom line – if an adjustable headrest and an infant insert are not a must-have for you, the 3R will do just as good of a job at a lower price point than the 3RXT.

Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Seat – top value for money

Graco Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat, Proof

This Graco is probably one of the two most popular combination seats out there, with tens of thousands of user reviews – over 95% of them singing praises.

Features at a glance:

  • Meets or exceeds all safety standards for the rear, frontal, side, and rollover crashes
  • Lightweight – ideal for dynamic parents
  • The headrest and the harness are easily adjustable in one motion
  • 8-position headrest adjustment
  • It comes with two handy cupholders
  • The belt-guides are open-loop, which helps with proper positioning of the car seatbelts
  • Machine washable seat pad, harness covers, and body support

What we like about it

We can’t say that this is the best combination seat out there, but it’s fair to say it’s top value.

Most of the other seats on this list cost two or three times more.

Graco Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat, Proof

No gimmicks and thingamajigs here – just your basic combination seat that still ticks all the boxes we look at – especially safety-wise.

CYBEX Sirona M Convertible Car Seat – most advanced

CYBEX Sirona M with SensorSafe Convertible Car Seat, 5-Point Harness Chest Clip with Built-in Sensor, LSP: Linear Side-Impact Protection, Latch System, Fits Infants and Toddlers from 5-65 lbs

The Cybex Sirona M features SensorSafe technology that sinks with the vehicle’s system and your cell phone to warn you of any increased risk for the baby. If the temperature is too high or a harness is loose, you’ll get an alert about it.

Main features at a glance:

  • 10 recline angles for the seat and 12 headrest positions
  • Advanced SensorSafe Technology syncs the seat, the car, and your cellphone to warn you of any risks
  • Reinforced for side impacts – Linear Side-Impact Protection (LSP) can absorb up to 25% more force in side-impact collisions
  • Exceeds US safety standards
  • Made in Germany, the seat adheres to the strictest European safety tests

What we liked about it

If you’re into technology and like the added peace of mind that comes with safety sensors, this is the seat for you.

CYBEX Sirona M with SensorSafe Convertible Car Seat, 5-Point Harness Chest Clip with Built-in Sensor, LSP: Linear Side-Impact Protection, Latch System, Fits Infants and Toddlers from 5-65 lbs

On a more personal note, we absolutely love the luxurious design. This one is a stunner and conversation-starter.

Safety 1st Grow and Go

Safety 1st Grow and Go 4modes All-in-One Convertible Car Seat Booster Bundle, Carbon Ink

We mentioned that Graco Tranzitions is one of the two most popular seats. Well, this is the other one.

It’s advertised as “better than a convertible car seat” because it features an extra backless booster, making it more diverse.

Main features at a glance:

  • The extra backless booster makes it more convenient for big families where more than one kid will be using it
  • The headrest and the harness are easily adjustable in one motion
  • Multiple adjustment options for the crotch strap and the harness
  • Harness holders keep the straps out of the way, making it easier to move the seat
  • Machine washable and dryer-safe seat pad

What we love about it

“She slept through … a car accident!!” reads one of the reviews we saw.

Those words are a good illustration of what we love about this seat – the second-to-none comfort.

Safety 1st Grow and Go 4modes All-in-One Convertible Car Seat Booster Bundle, Carbon Ink

It’s also one of the more parent-oriented designs, except for the initial installation, which could be easier.

You can see it compared to Graco 4 Ever here.

Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster Seat

Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat, Sport Layton

The Evenflo Maestro is the second-best budget combo seat on the list.

Features at a glance:

  • Two forward-facing modes
  • Centralized adjustment of the up-front harness
  • Shoulder belt guides for easier seat belt positioning
  • Two generously sized, built-in cup holders
  • Designed and made in the US

What we liked about the seat

Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat, Sport Layton

The value proposition of the Evenflo Maestro is its strongest selling point. It’s not basic but still doesn’t feature any of the price-jacking gizmos. It will be the choice of a conservative buyer looking to save money without going basic.

Chicco MyFit 2-in-1 Harness & Booster Car Seat

Chicco MyFit Zip Air 2-in-1 Harness + Booster Car Seat for Toddlers and Big Kids, 5-Point Harness, Belt-Positioning Booster, Zip-and-Wash Fabrics, 3D AirMesh for Breathability, Q Collection, Black

Out of the 8 top picks, two belong to the Chicco MyFit series, which speaks volumes about the series.

Main features:

  • Simple transition from the harness to the seatbelts
  • Adjustable headrest (nine positions)
  • Ergonomically designed seat with dual-density foam padding
  • Proprietary two-zone side impact protection (DuoGuard)
  • The shell of the seat is reinforced with a steel frame

What we love about it

One of the main fortes of this Chicco is its versatility. It’s also what we love about it.

Chicco MyFit Zip Air 2-in-1 Harness + Booster Car Seat for Toddlers and Big Kids, 5-Point Harness, Belt-Positioning Booster, Zip-and-Wash Fabrics, 3D AirMesh for Breathability, Q Collection, Black

There are a few ways to install it, which means moving from one car to another is as easy as pie.

This is a huge plus for families with multiple vehicles.

Choosing a good combination car seat

The rest of the guide is for reference purposes and should give you all the know-how to choose well in the unlikely case that you don’t like any of our picks.

Some questions we’ll answer about combination seats:

  • What’s unique about a combination car seat? Is there money saved in the long run, and is it notably safer?
  • How is it different from other types of child safety seats?
  • Finally, how do you choose the best combination car seat?

The definition of a combo seat

A combination car seat is a front-facing car seat that comes with a 5 point internal harness.

This car seat can later be converted and used as a booster seat for older children meaning that they can be used for an extended period, saving you money in the long run.

If you’re looking for a 3-in-1 or convertible car seat – click here for our top picks.

Weight limit of a combination seat

Since it’s advisable to have your child ride in a 5 point harness for as long as possible, you should go for a combination seat with a harness weight of 80 pounds or greater.

Graco Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat, Proof

When you’re looking to buy a combination seat, try to find one with high weight limits, high harness strap slots, and a reasonably tall shell.

“The harness offers enhanced safety since, in the instance of a crash, it spreads the impact of the crash over a greater proportion of the kid’s body than a shoulder seat belt or a lap belt would.”

High harness, tall shells

High harnesses and tall shells are a must if you want to get the most out of the seat and use them for years to come.

Given that you can only use the safety seat as a forward-facing car seat, not all combination seats will be a good choice for babies.

Children under the age of two need to ride in lightweight infant car seats or rear-facing child seats.

If you feel that your child is not old enough for a combination car seat, you can go for infant seats. 

However, you need to make sure that you go for the best infant car seats – models will offer both of these advantages.

The advice of having the child in the rear-facing mode for as long as possible still applies when it comes to combination seats, so only go with combination car seats if you’re looking for something for a slightly older infant.

Finally, if your baby is premature, consulting your pediatrician is a must when choosing a car seat.

Related read: best car seat for preemies

Go for foam

We always advise parents to go for a foam-lined safety seat as these usually offer the best side impact protection. Check that the liner is comfortable and sturdy enough for the maximum safety of your child.

Straps of the seat

You’ll have to move the harness straps as the child gets older, so it’s important to check if the harness height of your combination car seat is appropriate.

Diono Radian 3R, 3-in-1 Convertible Rear & Forward Facing Convertible Car Seat, High-Back Booster, 10 Years 1 Car Seat, Slim Design - Fits 3 Across, Gray Slate

Most modern models allow you to adjust the harness without uninstalling the seat.

Hefty harness

You’ll be using this seat for years, moving the headrest and the harness up and down. The harness fabric needs to be hefty enough to take the “abuse” without changing properties.

I say “without changing properties” because it’s not likely to snap, even in the cheap seats. But it can lose some of its heft and get too soft for easy operation.

Latching & buckling

Most good combination seats will not require you to adjust the height of the harness through un-latching or unbuckling.

Look for a seat with wide and thick harness straps. These are not easily twisted and make for safer harnesses, especially if you have a fussy baby on your hands.

Wider straps also distribute the force of the restraint on the body, so it is not felt quite as much at contact points.

Note: Smooth out the straps whenever you use it to make sure it’s not twisted.

Important features of combination car seats

It is essential to go for seats with wide shoulder belt guides as these allow the shoulder belt to slide freely. The broader guides minimize any dangerous slack in the installation and use of the seat belt.

Tight latching

A good latch is a feature you want on your seat in booster mode as it allows you to use lower anchors that ensure a tighter installation.

Tighter installation means a lowered risk of the seat moving during an accident.

Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Car Seat, Gardenia

If your combination car seat does not support LATCH in booster mode, make sure you re-buckle each time the seat is used.

Harness weight limits

Most of the combination child seats reviewed here can be used with harnesses until your child is between 40 and 50 pounds (18 to 23 kg).

After that, you can change the combination car seat into the booster seats by getting rid of the harness straps and moving the belts.

Often, the maximum harnessed weight does not apply to the maximum weight listed for the seat. This means you’ll need to check for maximum weight for internal harnesses and maximum weight from the car safety seat manual.

Related reading: When to move from infant to convertible car seat

Conclusions and takeaways

If you decide against buying a combination car seat today, make sure you bookmark this page for future reference – I update it every two months to reflect the market developments.

Diono Radian 3RXT, 4-in-1 Convertible Extended Rear and Forward Facing Convertible Car Seat, Steel Core, 10 Years 1 Car Seat, Ultimate Safety and Protection, Slim Design - Fits 3 Across, Gray Slate

I’m confident it is THE go-to source for choosing a combo seat that’s worth your hard-earned buck.

Stay smart

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