The Cosco Easy Elite multimode car seat is a cross between the long-lamented Alpha Omega/Alpha Omega Elite/ 3-in-1 car seat and the newer, largely fantastic Grow and Go. This budget option retails for around $100 and has a lot of nice features along with a few shortcomings.
Safety 1st has a number of convertible and multimode seats. We’ve created a handy comparison chart to detail the differences between models.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Rear facing weight range: 5-40 pounds
- Rear facing height range: 19-40″ or head even with the top of the shell
- Forward facing weight range: 22-50 pounds
- Forward facing height range: up to 45″
- High back booster weight range: 40-80 pounds
- High back booster height range: up to 57″
- Lowest harness position: 10″ *2020 update: the Easy Elite now ships with a much lower lowest harness position that seems to fit newborns well. We will update this review with an exact measurement as soon as we are able to.
- Highest harness position: 16.75″
- Highest booster belt guide: 18″
- Expiration: December of the 10th year after manufacture
- Lower anchor weight limit: 40 pounds
- No rethread harness
- Smooth cover
- Padded headrest
- Infant insert
- Shell height: 26″
- Three position adjustable crotch strap: 4, 5, and 6 inches
- Width at widest point: 18″
No Rethread Harness
The Easy Elite’s movable headrest easily adjusts up or down for quick adjustments. It is a smooth mechanism to operate and has several settings.
The sides of the headrest are very plush and padded, but the cover is actually rather smooth. Even though these sides offered lots of soft cushioning, it still felt very open to our models.
For kids who have sensory concerns, a smooth cover and a soft, but open, headrest can make car rides much more enjoyable.
This padding can be used for extra support in rear facing mode, but will not improve the fit for smaller babies.
Large, clear, easy to read labels on the seat show how to install the Easy Elite. The belt paths on the seat are color-coded. There are even QR codes on the seat that connect users to installation instructions.
I installed the Easy Elite in two vehicles. I found it fairly easy to use.
The lower anchor connectors are shipped on the inside of the seat in a blue package and users must remove them from the package before installing or using the seat. Either the lower anchors or vehicle belt can be used to install the Easy Elite. The lower anchors may be used until the child weighs 40 pounds.
According to the manual, the tether is always required for forward facing use. The top tether is essential safety equipment for any forward facing seat because they reduce forward head movement during a crash. Using the top tether is required by law in Canada.
Installation with the Lower Anchor Connectors
The Easy Elite has standard hook-style lower anchor connectors, and although they’re considered basic, I found them easy to use. In this vehicle, a 2003 Grand Prix with cloth seats, I could easily use the noodless installation method as demonstrated in our Safety 1st Guide 65 review and stand behind the seat to gain leverage when installing it in rear facing mode. Remember to only check for movement at the belt path, where the seat should move no more than 1″ side to side or front to back.
A rolled towel or pool noodles can be used to install the Easy Elite at the correct recline angle.
Vehicle Seat Belt
Before installing the Easy Elite with the vehicle seat belt, the lower anchors must be stored in visible spots on the sides of seat.
To install the Easy Elite at the correct angle in my Honda Odyssey, I needed a large tightly rolled towel.
The manual states to pull the cover up and pull the vehicle belt from the inside of the car seat.
This is a helpful trick for many rear facing installations and with the Easy Elite. The vehicle seat belt must be locked whenever installing a car seat in your vehicle. Want to read more about how to lock your vehicle belt? Our Lock it Up article can help with that!
The Easy Elite was a cinch to install both forward facing in the middle of a Pontiac Grand Am with a lap only belt and in the third row of this Honda Odyssey. It’s nice to see that a “basic seat” can be very easy to use.
Fit to Child
2 Weeks Old
This little human model weighs 6 pounds, 3 ounces and is 20 inches long. She was born 4 weeks early and is now 2 weeks old! Despite the stated height and weight minimums of this seat, it doesn’t fit her. The straps are coming from above her shoulders, and the harness is too loose for her.
Despite its 5 pound and 19 inch minimum limits, the Easy Elite multimode seat does not have a low enough bottom harness setting to accommodate our Huggable Images newborn doll.
To fit properly, the harness straps must be at or below our doll’s shoulders. The 10″ lowest harness slot is several inches above the shoulders of our Huggable Images doll.
Unfortunately, this means that she cannot safely ride in this seat and suggests quite strongly that the Easy Elite is not likely to fit human newborns well either. Fortunately, there are other convertible seats that will fit newborns at birth.
In forward facing mode, installing the Easy Elite with the lower anchors is straightforward- clip them on and tighten. The anchors can be used until the child’s weight is 40 pounds.
Forward Facing Harness Mode
4 Years Old
Our 4 year old model still weighs 34 pounds and is 39 inches tall. She was happy that the Easy Elite’s headrest was soft and padded, and liked that she had room to cross her legs in front of her if she wanted. A common complaint of newly forward facing children is that their legs dangle, and the open, low profile, seat pan on the Easy Elite can help to accommodate Littles who prefer to cross their legs while in the vehicle. It may also be a nice option, provided the child fits, for parents who have children with braces or splits on their legs who need a wider pan with low sides to accommodate club shoes, leg casts, or similar.
5 Years Old
At 40 pounds and 42 inches tall, our 5 year old model is on the small size for her age — she’s got more room to grow in the Easy Elite in forward facing harness mode than some larger children may have.
The top harness position is around 16.75″, which means that smaller kids will be able to use the harness until they’re ready to use a belt positioning booster. The angle of the seat when in forward facing mode meant that it wasn’t too upright, and Eibhlin felt relaxed and secure.
At 5.5, some kids are ready to start using a belt positioning booster, but Eibhlin is still riding in a 5 point harness in the car most of the time. She’ll learn what is expected of her while using a booster in the car slowly, and doesn’t mind being in a 5 point harness since she knows it is a safer option for her right now. Learn more about when to switch your Littles from harness to booster.
Before switching modes on any car seat, make sure that your Little meets all of the height, weight, and maturity requirements for using the seat in that next step.
The lower anchors and tether anchor cannot be used to secure the seat to the vehicle in booster mode, so this seat needs to be buckled in when there isn’t a child in the seat.
The shoulder belt doesn’t have to be in the shoulder belt guide for use in booster mode. With the headrest raised to the tallest setting., this model feels a little cramped in the Easy Elite.
Important Information: Where to Find
FAA Approval: A sticker on the left hand side shows a helpful image of an airplane, situated next to the FAA approval notice. The Easy Elite is allowed on airplanes in harness mode only, but may not fit well in rear facing mode, especially for children under 22 pounds because of the required recline for children of that size.
Expiration: The Easy Elite’s expiration date is stamped on the back of the seat, over the spot where a locking clip would be stored (a locking clip does not come with the Easy Elite).
Manual: The manual is stored inside the kickstand. It tucks in tidily to this perfect spot for keeping the manual handy.
Manufacturer Information: The sticker on the right side of the seat shows the date of manufacture, model number information, and contact information for the manufacturer.
At under $100, the Easy Elite multimode seat is a budget-friendly option for families with toddlers who have outgrown their rear facing only car seats. It may be more difficult to fit the seat in some vehicles at the reclined level required for children who weigh less than 22 pounds.
While we’re thrilled to see a harnessed seat with a 2 year minimum for forward facing use, the fact that it does not fit babies at the smaller end of the stated limits is disappointing. The belt fit of the Easy Elite in booster mode is much improved over its predecessor, the Alpha Omega Elite/3-in-1 multimode seat, but it seems that that most kids will outgrow the Easy Elite well before the stated height and weight limits.