Rear Facing Only Car Seats in Small Spaces

25 Seats Face-Off

If you have a small car, you know how difficult it can be to fit a rear facing only car seat in it. We decided to put 25 rear facing only car seats to the test and find which seats take up the least amount of front to back space. Remember that all seats fit differently in different vehicles, so even though you find a seat that takes up less front to back space, that doesn’t mean it will fit correctly in every vehicle. It’s always suggested that you try before you buy.

How the test was done:
Each seat was installed in either the 2nd row of a 2007 Kia Rondo, 1998 Honda CRV, or 2nd row of a 2012 Nissan Quest.  All seats were installed with their base at the newborn recline, unless otherwise specified, with the vehicle seats in a static position.  Photos were taken in different vehicles, but the vehicle seat was lined up to the same position by measuring with the same car seat in each vehicle.  Each carry handle was in the least obtrusive driving position.

locking clip, installation, measurement, seat belt

Locking Clip Measurement

A standard locking clip was used to measure the amount of space between the front seat and the rear facing only seat.  Seats are arranged from smallest to largest.

1st Contender – Cybex Aton (original)
Weight Range – 4-32 lbs
Height Maximum – 30 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell
Notes:
This one was far enough away from my seat that there was more room than 1 locking clip, so I used 1 upright and one horizontal locking clip to measure.

CSFTL Review

Britax B-Safe

Britax B-Safe

2nd Contender – Britax B-Safe (discontinued)
Weight Range – 4-30 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell
Notes:
This one was far enough away from my seat that there was more room than 1 locking clip, so I used 2 upright locking clips to measure it rather than 1 horizontal clip.

CSFTL Review

3rd Contender – Chicco Keyfit 30
Weight Range – 4-30 lbs
Height Maximum – 30 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

CSFTL Review

4th Contender – Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX
Weight Range – 4-35 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the head support

5th Contender – Ingenuity InTrust 35 Pro
Weight Range – 4-35 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the head support

 CSFTL Review

6th Contender – Graco SnugRide Classic Connect (discontinued)
Weight Range – 4-22 lbs
Height Maximum – 29 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

 CSFTL Graco SnugRide Comparisons

7th Contender – Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30
Weight Range – 4-30 lbs
Height Maximum – 30 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

CSFTL Graco SnugRide Comparisons

8th Contender – Graco Click Connect 40
Weight Range – 4-40 lbs
Height Maximum – 35 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the head support
Notes:
This infant seat adjusts for older children, thus why there are 2 pictures of front to back space. The first picture is of the seat at newborn level, the 2nd at the position for an older child. The newborn level can still be used for older children, but they may be more comfortable in the more upright position.

CSFTL Graco SnugRide Comparisons

9th Contender -Baby Trend Inertia 
Weight Range – 5-32 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the head support
Notes:
This infant seat adjusts for older children, thus why there are 2 pictures of front to back space. The first picture is of the seat at newborn level, the 2nd at the position for an older child. The newborn level can still be used for older children, but they may be more comfortable in the more upright position.

CSFTL Review

10th Contender – Evenflo Embrace 35
Weight Range – 4-35 lbs
Height Maximum – 30 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell
Notes:
Unlike the Evenflo Discovery (Contender #24) the handle can be either down (with 1.5 inches between handle and vehicle seat) OR in the anti-rebound position towards the child’s feet. For this comparison, I put it in the anti-rebound position.

11th Contender: Safety 1st Onboard 35
Weight Range – 4-35 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

CSFTL Review

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30-30

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30-30

12th Contender – Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30/30 (discontinued)
Weight Range – 5-30 lbs
Height Maximum – 30 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell
Notes– This infant seat requires the handle position at the head of the seat, as shown in the photo.

Nuna, Pipa, space, measurement, installation, infant car seat, review, small space

Nuna Pipa

13th Contender – Nuna Pipa
Weight Range – 4-32 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

CSFTL Review

14th Contender – Summer Infant Prodigy (discontinued)
Weight Range – 4-35 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

CSFTL Review

15th Contender – UPPAbaby MESA
Weight Range – 5-35 lb
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the head support

CSFTL Review

16th Contender – Safety 1st Comfy Carry
Weight Range – 4-22 lbs
Height Maximum – 29 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

Urbini, Petal, space, measurement, installation, infant car seat, review, small space

Urbini Petal

17th Contender – Urbini Petal
Weight Range – 4-35 lb
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

CSFTL Review

18th Contender – Kiddy Evolution Pro
Weight Range – 4-35 lb
Height Maximum – 37 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

One thing to notice with the Kiddy is that it sits very high up, so it may fit well in some vehicles, if it clears the seat back, but not in others due to the how high it sits on the base.

19th Contender – Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35
Weight Range – 4-35 lb
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

CSFTL Review

20th Contender – Baby Trend Flex Loc
Weight Range – 5-30 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the head support
Notes:
This infant seat also requires the handle to be down when driving, thus making it just barely able to fit.

***Baby Trend has since changed their requirements for the handle position.  It is now allowed in ANY locked position.  Find out more.***

Urbini Sonti

Urbini Sonti

21st Contender – Urbini Sonti
Weight Range – 4-35 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell

The Sonti is only offered with the Urbini Emi Travel system.

GB Asana 35 AP

GB Asana 35 AP

22nd Contender – GB Asana 35 AP
Weight Range – 4-35 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the head support

 CSFTL Review

Britax Chaperone

Britax Chaperone

23rd Contender – Britax Chaperone (discontinued)
Weight Range – 4-30 lbs
Height Maximum – 32 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the head support

CSFTL Review

Evenflo Discovery

Evenflo Discovery

24th Contender – Evenflo Discovery
Weight Range – 5-22 lbs
Height Range – 19-29 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell
Notes:
This infant seat requires the handle to be down when driving and requires 1.5″ from the handle to the front seat. This seat is incompatible in this seating position due to the handle resting on the seat back.

25th Contender – Combi Coccoro
Weight Range – 3-33 lbs
Height Maximum – 36 inches OR 1 inch from the top of the head to the top of the seat shell
Notes: This is a convertible car seat, not a traditional infant seat, however it is a popular choice for newborns because of it’s great fit and overall small profile.

CSFTL Review

Here are the seats’ rankings from smallest front to back to largest front to back:

Even Smaller: 1 upright + 1 horizontal locking clip

Cybex Aton

Smallest: 2 upright locking clips
Chicco Keyfit 30
Britax B-Safe
Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX
Combi Coccoro

Middle of the Road: 1 horizontal locking clip
Ingenuity InTrust 35 Pro
Graco SnugRide Classic Connect
Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 and Click Connect 40 at the newborn level
Baby Trend Inertia (newborn level)
Evenflo Embrace 35 (handle in the anti rebound position)
Safety 1st Onboard 35
Baby Trend Flex Loc (Handle in upright position)
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30/30
Nuna Pipa
Summer Infant Prodigy

Just barely: 1 upright locking clip
Baby Trend Inertia (toddler position)
UPPAbaby MESA (plus a bit of room)
Cosco Comfy Carry
Urbini Petal
Kiddy Evolution Pro


No Room to spare – almost or barely touching the seat back
Graco Click Connect 40 (most upright position)
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35
Baby Trend Flex Loc (Handle in the lowest position)
Urbini Sonti
GB Asana 35 AP
Britax Chaperone


Largest – Incompatible in most vehicles
Evenflo Discovery

Remember the best seat is the one that fits your vehicle, your child, your budget, and you can use correctly 100% of the time, so make sure to try any seat before you buy it.  To find out more about CSFTL recommended rear facing only seats please check out our Recommended Seats page.

Originally written by Angela Tastad. Edits maintained by CSFTL.