The Best Forward-Facing Car Seats for Kids Who Want to See the Road Ahead

Ride safely and comfortably for years with the Britax Marathon ClickTight

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Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

After riding their whole lives looking back through the rear window, your kid may finally be ready to transition to a forward-facing car seat. They're probably looking forward to, well, looking forward, but first you need to make sure it's safe to do so. And buying the right car seat is just one of the steps you need to take.

Reviewed & Approved

The Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat has a great combination of safety and comfort features that will make the transition to facing forward go smoothly. If you want to splurge, we recommend the Nuna Exec All-in-One Convertible Car Seat.

"The [American Academy of Pediatrics] recommends that kids ride rear-facing until maxing out the rear-facing capacity of their convertible seat—either reaching the weight limit (usually 40-50 pounds for convertible seats sold today) or the height limit (typically when the child’s head is 1 inch below the top of the seat)," Alisa Baer, MD, pediatrician and co-founder of The Car Seat Lady, LLC, tells Verywell Family. Even if you don't plan to make it quite that long with your child facing backward, in many states you'll have to wait until they're at least 2 years old.

There is no such thing as a "forward-facing car seat" exactly. You'll either be using a convertible car seat (which faces rear and forward), an all-in-one seat (which also converts to a booster), or a harness-to-booster combo. While every car seat on the market meets the same U.S. safety standards, it is important that you shop for one that fits your car, your child, your budget, and most important, one that you will use properly every time. We carefully looked over these factors for you, including design, value, ease of cleaning, material, and age, height, and weight recommendations.

Here are the best forward-facing car seats for your child.

Best Overall: Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

4.8
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Easy installation

  • No-rethread harness

  • Extra safety features

Cons
  • Cover must be hand-washed


  • No booster option

Who else recommends it? Tom's Guide also picked the Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat.

What do buyers say? 86% of 900+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

The Britax Marathon ClickTight earned our top spot in this list because it's the complete package when it comes to safe car seats, which will be very comforting when it comes time to turn your child's seat to the forward-facing position. 

This well-padded seat has a steel frame, a patented plastic cell shock-absorbing system, and side-impact protection (though this is hard to verify because of an industry-wide lack of side-impact testing standards). ClickTight installation system locks in the car's seat belt easily and leaves no doubt that you've secured it correctly. We love that the seat has seven different recline positions and a harness you don't have to rethread to adjust when your child grows.

Product Weight: 27 pounds | Dimensions: 23 x 18.5 x 23.5  inches | Age Recommendation: Not Listed | Weight Limit: 5 to 45 pounds (rear-facing); 20 to 65 pounds (forward-facing)

Best Splurge: Nuna Exec All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Nuna Exec Car Seat

 Courtesy of Pottery Barn Kids

Pros
  • Dual flip-open cupholders

  • Washable covers

  • Longevity

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Heavy

While this seat is on the pricier side, it’s an all-in-one feature that easily converts from a rear-facing to a forward-facing seat and then to a booster seat making the price tag worth it. Constructed of steel, the seat weighs almost 27 pounds, so it’s best for installing in a car and leaving it.

Parent reviewers praise the well-thought-out design and high-quality materials. Recommended for kids from 6 months through 4 years old, your investment can be justified with how long this one seat is useful for.

Product Weight: 26.6 pounds | Dimensions: 22.5 x 18.5 x 26-33 inches | Age Recommendation: 6 months to 4+ years | Weight Limit: 25 to 65 pounds (forward-facing) and 40 to 120 pounds (booster)

Best Budget: Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat

3.8
Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • No booster conversion

Whether you’re using this as an everyday car seat or an extra seat for traveling, grandma’s car, or anything else, it’s a budget-friendly option that can work well for many families.

Parents love that this seat weighs just 9 pounds, so it’s a breeze to carry through airports or move from car to car. Safe for babies and kids from 5 to 40 pounds, it won’t convert into a booster but is at an ideal price point for a multi-car family.

Product Weight: 9.29 pounds | Dimensions: 18.5 x 22 x 25.5 inches | Age Recommendation: Not listed | Weight Limit: 22 to 40 pounds (forward-facing)

Best Convertible Booster: Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Car Seat

Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Car Seat

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Eight-position adjustable headrest

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • Reports of difficult installation

If you’re done with rear-facing seats but not sure what’s next, look no further than this easily convertible seat. The Graco favorite goes from a forward-facing harness seat to a highback booster and then transitions to a backless booster.

Lightweight and portable, parents find it’s just as comfortable and safe as much higher-priced competitors. The eight-position headrest is easy to adjust with one hand, and kids will appreciate the two (easy-to-clean) cup holders that keep snacks and drinks nearby.

Product Weight: 14.97 pounds | Dimensions: 19 x 17.4 x 26.5 inches | Age Recommendation: Not listed | Weight Limit: 22 to 65 pounds (Harness) and 40 to 100 pounds (Highback and Backless)

Best for Tall Kids and Slim Fit in a Car: Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Car Seat

Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Car Seat

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Armrests

  • Accommodates tall children

  • Narrow fit for multiple seats

Cons
  • Heavy

If you're struggling to solve the "three across" conundrum in your car's backseat, this narrower option is for you. It’s one of the few harness-to-boosters that work in many three-across situations. Often praised for its high capacity five-point harness, the seat accommodates even the tallest kids until age 6.

A built-in locking device for the seatbelt makes installation easier and more secure. The focus on comfort is not lacking—there are nine headrest positions, four recline positions that are adjustable only before installation, and two collapsible cup holders to keep your kid comfy.

Product Weight: 25 pounds | Dimensions: 24.5 x 20.5 x 26.25 inches | Age Recommendation: Not listed | Weight Limit: 25 to 100 pounds

Best for Sleeping: Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Booster Car Seat

Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Booster Car Seat

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Narrow design

  • Pad is machine washable and dryer safe

Cons
  • No armrests

This booster seat has a lot to love. It’s narrow on the outside but still incredibly roomy in the seat, so it’s a good choice for either bigger kids or a crowded back seat. The lack of armrests saves room and also makes it safer since it eliminates the common risk of routing the lap belt over the armrests.

Parents appreciate that the seat can be secured in the back of the seat via rigid LATCH, keeping it stationary even when there’s no kiddo sitting in it. With an exceptionally well-designed headrest, it’s great for dozing off during a ride.

Product Weight: 17.25 pounds | Dimensions: 28.5 x 17.75 x 15.2 inches | Age Recommendation: Not listed | Weight Limit: 40 to 120 pounds

Best Backless Booster: Graco RightGuide Portable Seat Belt Trainer

Graco RightGuide Portable Seat Belt Trainer

 Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Open-loop belt guide

Cons
  • No armrests

The final step in car seat use is a backless booster, which is used to help introduce your kiddo to using only a seatbelt in the backseat of your car. This seat is designed to accommodate a child weighing between 50 and 100 pounds and between 43 and 60 inches in height. Weighing just 1.8 pounds, this seat is easy to move from car to car, so it’s perfect for playdates or travel.

Narrow on the outside, roomy on the inside, the seat works for bigger kids or crowded back seats. The open-loop belt guides help kids know where to thread the seat belt, and these guides fold flat onto the seat when not in use.

Product Weight: 1.8 pounds | Dimensions: 11.75 x 12.34 x 2.5 inches | Age Recommendation: 5 to 12 years old | Weight Limit: 50 to 100 pounds

Final Verdict

The Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat is easy to install correctly, which goes a long way toward making it one of the safest options when used as a forward-facing seat. It's also nicely padded, with several reclining options and harness adjustments for your little one's maximum comfort. If you're in the market for a convertible booster, the Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 is a fantastic option.

How We Selected the Best Forward-Facing Car Seats

We researched the top-selling and top-reviewed convertible car seats, all-in-one car seats, and booster seats on the market, comparing safety ratings from agencies and competitors, as well as customer ratings to come up with this list. After consulting with Alisa Baer, MD, pediatrician and co-founder of The Car Seat Lady, LLC, we also looked at the key safety features, weight limits, and installation methods to narrow down our choices to bring you the best options for forward-facing car seats and boosters.

What to Look for When Buying a Forward-Facing Car Seat

Size

When you're searching for the best forward-facing car seat for your child, be mindful of its size in relation to the size of your backseat. "Car seats are not rectangles, so measuring the car seat at its widest point won’t tell you necessarily if it will fit where you need it to in your car," Dr. Baer says.

If you already have a car seat or two installed, trying to fit in an additional seat might be tricky. "Some car seats are very narrow in certain areas that allow them to fit in different vehicle contours and puzzle nicely next to other car seats better than some," Dr. Baer adds. Opting for a slim-fit seat like the Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Seat can help.

Longevity

If you are ready to invest in a car seat that is going to last through your little one's milestones, it is important that you stay mindful of the seat's longevity. Car seats that can accommodate your child as they grow from a toddler to a big kid can ensure that you don't have to repeatedly replace the car seat. The Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 can be converted from a forward-facing seat for your toddler to a backless booster for an older child.

"I recommend that parents focus on getting a convertible seat that is narrow on the outside and roomy on the inside that they’ll use until their child is likely around 6 years old," Dr. Baer says.

Portability

For multi-car families or kids that like to rack up the stamps in their passports, a car seat that can be easily removed and re-installed is essential. Lightweight options are most suitable for families that are always on the move, live in a walking city that relies on taxis and Ubers for further destinations, or simply use multiple cars regularly. Weighing just 9 pounds, the Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat is super lightweight and perfect for moving from car to car.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How old must a child be for a forward-facing seat?

    Some states require a child remain rear-facing until 2 years old, but most experts agree that it is best and most safe to keep your child facing rear for even longer, until they exceed their seat's weight and height limits for facing that way. "Following AAP [recommendations], most kids can remain rear-facing in their convertible seats until age 3 to 5," Dr. Baer says.

  • How do I install a forward-facing seat?

    When it comes to the installation of a forward-facing car seat or booster seat, you want to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Just like infant seats or rear-facing car seats, every brand is different and has specific guidelines on how to install your car seat correctly for optimal safety of your precious cargo.

  • What can you expect to pay for a forward-facing car seat?

    Forward-facing car seats are available at a variety of low and high prices, and the one you pick will largely depend on your budget. Convertible car seats that transition into a booster may cost you more upfront, but you won't need to buy a booster down the road. Depending on your needs for the forward-facing car seat, you can expect to pay anywhere from as low as $45 to on the higher end of $800, with an average price around $150 to $350.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of a 10-year-old son, 7-year-old son, and 3-year old daughter. With three kids, she feels like her car seat days will never end, so the “mama-mobile” minivan comes in handy. 

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Car seats: information for families. HealthyChildren.org.

  2. Car seats and booster seats | nhtsa.

  3. Best toddler car seats. Tom's Guide. https://www.tomsguide.com/best-picks/best-toddler-car-seat

By Maya Polton
Maya has more than 15 years of experience in digital media and communications and specializes in writing about family, food, and lifestyles. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Tufts University and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University.