Expecting parents figure out pretty quickly that there are a ton of things to buy for their new baby. One of the most important (and most expensive!) is the car seat. Fortunately, there are myriad options on the market, and it’s not necessary to spend a fortune to keep your baby safe while on the road. To help new parents pick the very best car seat for their budget, we searched dozens of options to find the very best car seats under $200. To narrow down our list to 20, we considered such factors as:
- Price and value
- Overall safety record
- Unique safety features
- Comfort level for both baby and caregiver
- User friendliness, especially when it comes to installation
- Weight and height limits
Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat
The Cosco Scenera NEXT convertible car seat may not be fancy, but it does its job well. Plus, it’s extremely affordable. The Scenera NEXT is widely available and easy to find, comes in a variety of interesting fabric patters, and consists of a single shell to cut down on various unnecessary parts. It also weighs in at an easy pounds, is simple to install, and can be installed upright to provide smaller babies with greater neck control. Many parent reviewers mention that the seat is ideal for bringing on an airplane.
Evenflo Tribute Sport
Appropriate for children weighing five to 40 pounds, the convertible Evenflo Tribute Sport car seat is often recommended for those with smaller cars or those who need to fit multiple car seats into a single vehicle. Weighing in at 24 pounds, the Tribute isn’t a seat you’ll want to be lugging around a whole lot. Still, that heavier weight is an indication of the Tribute’s top-rated safety features, which include up-front, five-point harness adjustment and an energy-absorbing shell for structural integrity during impact.
Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
Okay, so it doesn’t have the same bells and whistles as many of the other carseats on our list, but the Evenflo Tribute LX is a respectable product that’s easy on both the eye and wallet. First of all, the Evenflo Tribute LX is loaded with all of the necessary safety features that meet or exceed the Federal Safety Standards. It’s also compact, weighs fewer than 10 pounds, has a removable cup holder, and comes with a machine-washable pad for easy cleaning. Even if you don’t choose the Evenflo Tribute LX as your primary carseat, this is the perfect seat for a secondary vehicle, Grandma and Grandpa’s house, or traveling.
Disney Baby Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat
What Disney-loving tot wouldn’t want to ride around town in the Disney Baby Apt 5o convertible car seat? Available in both Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse designs, this adorable car seat is just as safe as it is cute. Side-impact protection keeps Baby safe in the event of a collision, while a five-point harness system ensures the child is always snug in their seat. The seat can be used right from birth and can be kept rear-facing up to 40 pounds. Some of the Disney car seat’s features of pure convenience include a headrest in the shape of mouse ears and two cup holders.
Graco MyRide 65
For many parents, there is no other option than a Graco car seat. Like nearly all other Graco seats, the My Ride 65 can remain rear facing until the child is 40 pounds — longer than most other brands on the market. When the child is ready, the seat can then be faced forward and used until the child weighs 65 pounds. Graco is also well known for its safety standards. Each seat, including the My Ride 65, goes through extensive crash tests to ensure the seat can withstand side impact crashes. The seat is also one of the least expensive on the list, making it all the more appealing.
Eddie Bauer XRS 65
The Eddie Bauer XRS 65 is a great option for car seats priced under $150. First of all, the XRS 65 is convenient. Use it in its rear-facing position from birth to 40 pounds, or flip it to forward-facing at 22 pounds and use all the way to 65 pounds. It’s also compact enough to ensure caregivers can fit three across just about any backseat. Finally, this Eddie Bauer car seat model is safe. A five-point harness ensures the baby is always secure in the seat, while an adjustable (and ultimately, removable) head support keeps the child comfortable at all ages. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the seat includes a cup holder. This may prove especially convenient on long road trips when the child is older.
Safety 1st Guide 65
Priced under $100, the Guide 65 convertible car seat by Safety 1st is a compact seat that doesn’t skimp on safety. It’s designed to fit safely into smaller vehicles. The Guide 65 consists of a five-point harness system, adjustable headrest for the growing child, and plenty of energy-absorbing padding to keep the child safe in the event of a collision. Conveniently, the Guide 65 is also convertible. It can be positioned rear-facing from five to 40 pounds, and forward-facing from 22 to 65 pounds.
Baby Trend Inertia
The Baby Trend Inertia is a great option for parents intent on purchasing an infant car seat on a budget. Affordable and stylish, the rear-facing Inertia fits children from five to 32 pounds and up to 32” tall. Its extensive list of safety features includes:
- a five-point non-rethreading harness
- an eight-position headrest
- energy absorbing foam on the sides
- a specially reclined position to promote easier breathing.
Finally, the Inertia includes a rigid base and a level indicator that makes this seat a breeze to install.
Evenflo Advanced SensorSafe Titan 65
- three layers of ComfortTech density foam
- an easy-access harness
- six shoulder harness positions
- two crotch buckle positions to ensure the child sits in the seat safely from five pounds all the way up to the seat’s 40 pound max
But what makes the Titan 65 really special is its SensorSafe sensor technology that connects to a plug-in receiver in the car to remind parents that their child is in the seat. This unique technology is Evenflo’s way of preventing the approximately 40 accidental hot death cars that occur annually.
Safety 1st OnBoard Plus
Safety 1st is a highly respected name in car seats, and the OnBoard Plus is one of the brand’s best products. Some parent reviewers point out that the OnBoard Plus lacks some of the excellent features seen in other seats of the same price range. For example, this car seat must be used with its base and the cushions are not removable. However, reviewers do draw attention to the unbeatable safety features. These include:
- energy absorbing foam throughout
- a four-position harness
- three different buckle locations
There is also the fact that the OnBoard is the first infant car seat to use an air protect cushion system that protects baby’s head in the event of a side-impact crash.
Graco Contender 65
Graco is one of the leading brand names in baby gear, so you can be sure that you’re purchasing a top product when you purchase the Graco Contender 65. This convertible carseat can be installed rear facing for infants weighing up to 40 pounds. For children weighing 20 to 65 pounds, it can be installed facing forward. Additionally, the Graco Contender 65 is packed with safety features, including:
- a Simply Safe Adjust Harness System
- a headrest which can adjust to eight different positions, and side-impact safety exceeding U.S. standards.
Evenflo Triumph LX
There is a reason Evenflo is all over our list of the best car seats under $150 — they make great products! Yet another example is the Triumph LX, Evenflo’s high-end model. The convertible Triumph is designed to safely support babies as small as five pounds (rear facing) and as big as 65 pounds (forward facing). Parents and caregivers can depend upon such features as:
- a quick-connect LATCH system
- a 5-point harness
- no-rethread adjustable shoulder harnesses
- lots of side-impact cushioning.
Luxury features include two cup holders, an adjustable headrest, and a lever that makes reclining the seat extremely convenient.
Graco SnugRide ClickConnect 35
In recent years, different car seat brands are working hard to provide parents with safe seats that are also lightweight and easy to carry. Graco’s SnugRide ClickConnect 35 infant car seat weighs in at only 7.5 pounds — though it can accommodate babies up to 35 pounds. As its name suggests, this seat provides for a comfortable, snug ride. It also includes a removable newborn head support. Parent reviewers like the fact that the SnugRide ClickConnect 35 is easy to get in and out of the car, easy to connect to the stroller, and easy on the arms, eyes, and wallet.
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1
The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is conveniently designed to be a child’s one and only car seat. When used in the rear-facing position, the car seat can accommodate infants between five and 40 pounds. From there, simply switch the seat to forward facing. When the child is big enough to need only a safe booster seat, the Grow and Go converts into a belt-positioning booster to ensure he or she remains safe until they weigh 100 pounds. Other impressive features on the Grow and Go include side impact protection, an easy-to adjust harness with QuickFit capabilities, and a removable seat pad for easy washing.
The Combi Shuttle’s stellar safety record makes this infant car seat an easy addition to our list. The Shuttle is packed with features like:
- a reclining base for easier breathing
- an anti-rebound bar
- the ability to be installed safely without its base
Something to keep in mind: While the Combi has a recommended weight maximum of 35 pounds — a bit more than the standard rear-facing seat — it is most ideal for a smaller child due to its tighter straps and permanently placed groin buckle.
Maxi-Cosi Mico AP
We’ve included three different Maxi-Cosi seats on our list of the best car seats of 2019. Of those three, the Mico AP is the most affordable. The Mico AP is a great starter seat for an infant weighing five to 25 pounds. It’s available in a variety of colors and is compatible with myriad strollers. Keep in mind, however, some affordable adaptors may be necessary. It’s also lightweight enough to carry around with ease.
Britax B-Safe 35
The Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat is an ideal choice for parents looking for a compact car seat for their infant. The Britax B-Safe fits easily into a smaller car, and doesn’t take up as much room as some of the other seats on our list. Plus, it’s extremely safe thanks to features like a narrow seat and sidewalls filled with energy-absorbing foam. While this seat is designed to be safely used without its base, parent reviewers say that baseless installation is tedious and challenging. Alternately, installing this car seat with its base is “a cinch.” The Britax B-Safe 35 infant car seat works for children weighing four to 35 pounds, and measuring up to 32 inches in height.
Evenflo Symphony Elite All-in-One
Stylish and affordable, the Evenflo Symphony Elite All-in-One fits children from five to 110 pounds, making it the only car seat you’ll ever need to buy! Not bad for an investment of less than $200! Like most seats on our list, the Symphony supports children in the rear-facing position (from five to 40 pounds) and the forward-facing position (22 to 65 pounds). It can then be converted into a high-back booster chair to support children up to 110 pounds. But that’s not all! Thanks to Evenflo’s exclusive LATCH technology, installing the Symphony correctly is incredibly easy. Other attractive features include a five-point adjustable harness, side-impact protection, and a multi-position recline for ultimate comfort.
Graco Size4Me 65
Priced at $180, the Graco Size4Me 65 is an excellent choice of a dependable car seat. This seat is carefully designed to protect children from 4-40 pounds in its rear-facing position, and 22-65 pounds in its forward-facing position. Caregivers can be sure that children are always properly secured thanks to features like the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System, an eight-position adjustable headrest, and a LATCH system that makes proper installation a breeze every time. Should the worst happen, the Size4Me 65 has been rigorously crash-safety tested, and meets or exceeds all U.S. safety standards.
Chicco KeyFit 30
Thanks to its top-of-the-line safety features, stylish look, and affordable price point, the Chicco KeyFit 30 may just be the most popular infant car seat on the market today. Everything about the KeyFit 30 is easy to use, including the simple-to-install base which can be tightened with a single tightener and provides parents with a “click” to signify proper positioning. Plus, the KeyFit 30 works with most strollers on the market today, ensuring parents have even more options for choosing the very best for their baby.