10 best performing 1/2/3 car seats

The top-performing Group 1/2/3 car seats that will grow with your child from 9 months to 12 years, chosen from our rigorous MFM tests and reader reviews

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  • But first, a quick guide explaining what a 1/2/3 car seat actually is…

    There are currently multiple car seat groups in the UK that range from Group 0/0+ (newborn) to Group 2/3 (4-12 years). While many parents do it, buying a new car seat for every stage can get expensive.

    However, there are also combination, or multi-group car seats that cover a range of the groups.  A Group 1/2/3 combination car seat is suitable from 9kg to 36kg, which is roughly 9 months to 12 years.

    While multi-stage, particularly Group 1/2/3 seats are increasing in popularity among parents, it is worth bearing in mind a few pros and cons of the multi-group seat, which we've listed here.  

  • Jané Grand, £240 - MadeForMums Gold Award Winner for best multistage and combination car seats

    Age: 9 months to 36kg (9 months - 12 years)

    Recline: 3 positions

    Installation: Group 1 – using ISOFIX anchors and top tether; group 2-3 – using vehicle 3-point seatbelt and (optionally) ISOFIX anchors

    Weight of seat: 14kg

    Jané takes safety seriously, and even has its own research and testing centre, which is where the thoroughly tested, gold award- winning Grand was created.

    The seat has an impressive life span, lasting from around 9 months up to 12 years old, and a host of super-safe features. Made from impact-absorbing materials, it fits easily into the car using Isofix, and has an easy-to-use five-point harness for little ones.

    There are three recline positions and an adjustable backrest and headrest so you can find the perfect position to keep your child comfortably settled in their seat. And if your wee passenger has an accident (or a snacks-ident!) you can remove and wash the upholstery. 

    What our MadeForMums Awards Judges say about the Jané Grand:

    “I really like this. Design wise it is stunning, not overly complicated. It has a deep, wide seat for the comfort of the child.” Baby-wearing expert and mum of 2, Rachel Coy

    “What a fantastic product! Firstly, it looks great. The materials are all really high quality and the little leather and suede touches make it really smart looking. My son thinks now calls it his 'sports car seat' and is excited to climb into it (no more wrestling!). It was so quick and easy to install, and using the Isofix anchors and indicators meant my mind was put completely at ease that it was safely installed. The seat itself is quite deep, creating more leg room and making it very comfortable – perfect for long journeys and growing children. It is excellent value for money!” Mum of 2, Rachel

    You can buy the Jané Grand from: Amazon and Jané.

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  • Cosatto Hug, £244.95

    Age: 9kg – 36kg (9mths – 12yrs)

    Recline: 5 positions

    Installation: Group 1 – using ISOFIX anchors and top tether; group 2-3 – using vehicle 3-point seatbelt

    Weight of seat: 11kg

    Cosatto describes the Hug as a tough, protective “first class bodyguard for your VIP” with sturdy safety features such as extra-cushioned side impact protection, and an anti-escape five-point harness. The luxurious upholstery comes in a range of standout prints, including gorgeous florals and groovy stars.

    Read our review of the Cosatto Hug here.

    You can buy the Cosatto Hug from: Kiddies Kingdom, Amazon and Pramworld.

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  • Cybex Pallas M-Fix, £260

    Age: 9kg – 36kg (9mths – 12yrs)

    Recline: 12 positions

    Installation: Isofix or vehicle 3-point seatbelt

    Weight of seat: 9.3kg

    Looking like it could upgrade the appearance of even the sportiest of cars, the Pallas M-Fix comes in an array of dazzling colours and is one of the nicest looking car seats on the market.

    Opting for a cushioned impact shield instead of a safety harness while in Group 1 mode, the Pallas M-Fix can then be used with an adult seat belt in stages 2 and 3, like all 1/2/3 car seats.

    But where the Cybex version differs is with its safety tests and awards - it has won many.  And its safety performance in accidents has been rated excellent throughout its entire lifespan by German safety organisation ADAC and motor magazine Auto Bild.

    Here's the full review of the Pallas M-Fix

    You can buy the Cybex Pallas M-Fix from: Direct2Mum, Pramworld  and Amazon.

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  • Graco Nautilus, £159.99

    Age: 9kg – 36kg (9mths – 12yrs)

    Recline: 3 positions

    Installation: Vehicle 3-point seatbelt 

    Weight of seat: 9kg

    A very affordable, long-lasting Group 1/2/3 seat, the Graco Nautilus took our silver award in the 2017 multistage car seat category.

    The forward-facing car seat has side impact protection, 5-position headrest, and three- position recline.

    It’s simple to fit in the car, easy to adjust between the ages and comes with a cup holder and storage pocket that the kids will no doubt love.

    Our MadeForMums reviewers say “although this is a forward-facing option only seats, it is nicely-padded and good height for taller children.  I love the no thread feature when you adjust the head height. I also love the cup holder, it looks like an actual seat rather than a chair.”

    See our review of the Graco Nautilus

    You can buy the Graco Nautilus from: Amazon and Halfords.

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  • Recaro Young Sport HERO, £174

    Age: 9kg – 36kg (9mths – 12yrs)

    Recline: 1 position

    Installation: Vehicle’s three-point seatbelt 

    Weight of seat: 8.4kg

    An updated version of the Recaro Young Sport seat, this forward-facing car seat is universal fit, meaning it has to be installed using the car’s three-point seatbelt and is not ISOFIX or doesn’t fit into a base. 

    The ‘HERO’ safety system harness is one unit consisting of shoulder pads, belts and an inner headrest.  It is said to provide optimum safety and comfort for the head, neck and shoulders whilst preventing the belt from twisting or slipping.

    Our MFM mum reviewer was "very confident" when strapping her little boy into the Young Sport HERO and said he found it "very comfortable."

    We've got more on the Recaro Young Sport HERO in the full review.

    You can buy the Recaro Young Sport HERO from: Mothercare, Amazon and Halfords

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  • Joie Bold (Group 1/2/3), £175

    Age: 9kg – 36kg (9mths – 12yrs)

    Recline: 3 positions

    Installation: Vehicle’s 3-point seatbelt and Isofix

    Weight of seat: 12.9kg

    This forward-facing car seat from Joie has a no-rethread, 5-point harness up to 25kg, but you can use it as a belted booster seat from 15kg, if you want to. 

    The Bold features 3 recline positions, side impact protection and removable cup holder for the kids.  Installation-wise it is fitted in the car with ISOFIX, so there’s less room for installation error. 

    We've got the full, in-depth review of the Joie Bold here

    You can buy the Joie Bold car seat from: Halfords

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  • Graco Milestone, £149

    Age: Birth to 36kg (approx 12 years)

    Recline: 4 positions

    Installation: 3-point seat belt only

    Weight of seat: 9kg

    Amazing value for money, this car seat is one of a revolutionary breed of complete multi-stage, stretching from birth to 12 years. The idea, says Graco, is that this car seat will be ‘the only car seat you need to buy’. And considering at £179, it’s cheaper than many baby car seats that will last just over a year, that’s quite something.

    Our reviewer even found it quick to install, sturdy and easy to clean. It’s obviously a bit heavy to lug around and if rear-facing for longer is important to you, it may not be your best choice, but it’s massive in the value stakes.

    Read our full Graco Milestone review

    You can buy the Graco Milestone car seat from: Halfords, Amazon and Argos.

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  • Joie Every Stage FX, £250

    Age: Birth to 36kg (newborn – 12 years)

    Recline: 6 positions (2 rearfacing and 4 forward facing)

    Installation: Vehicle's 3-point seat belt, Isofix when forward facing and Isosafe when in booster mode

    Weight of seat: 13.92kg

    Winning the Joint Bronze Award for the best multistage car seat in the 2018 MadeForMums awards is the Joie Every Stage FX.

    A Group 0+/1/2/3 car seat that goes from birth all the way to 12 years it really is the only car seat you’ll ever need to buy.  And with the fantastic price tag of £200 (that’s £16.67 per year, 4.5p per day) it’s easy to see why our testers were impressed.

    The Joie Everystage also allows babies and kids to sit face rearward from birth up to 18kg (approx. 4 years) - longer than the Graco Milestone (our No 5), which offers rear-facing until your child weighs 13kg (approx. 15 months).

    The Everystage also features 5 recline positions, side impact protection, a 10-height headrest and side wings that widen as the headrest is raised. It also has a 5–point harness that simultaneously adjusts as the headrest is adjust, so there’s no need to rethread the harness.

    What our MadeForMums Awards judges say about the Joie Every Stage FX car seat:

    “One car seat that will see you through until 12 years! Amazing!  Six recline options, which is good and it’s rear facing.  An amazing buy - would be great for sharing between parents/grandparents/nannies etc. The also lies quite flat when reclined, which is a bonus,” Lucy, mum of 4.

    “Impressed with the longevity and the ease of use. Feels like a second car seat. Great value for money.”  Mum of 2, Sonali.

    “Outstanding value for money for a car seat that can last from newborn to 12 years. Recline function incredibly easy to use, well-padded and lovely, soft fabric. Seatbelt installation only may not appeal to all but great features for the price.” Magda, mum of 2.

    Read our full Joie Every Stage review  

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    You can buy the Joie Every Stage car seat from Pram Centre and Kiddies Kingdom

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  • Kiddy Guardianfix 3, £289

    Age: Birth to 36kg (newborn – 12 years)

    Installation: Vehicle’s 3-point seatbelt and Isofix

    Weight of seat: 8kg

    The folks at Kiddy have redesigned the Guardianfix carseat, and its successor comes with a number of improvements to keep little ones comfortable and safe.

    Look out for longer connectors, which make it easier to install the seat in the car. They also allow the seat to be moved sideways, so there’s more room for your child to safely climb in and out, and it’s easier to buckle up. This new feature also improves safety – in the event of a collision, the seat will slide sideways, moving your little one away from the impact zone.

    As well as meeting the very latest safety standards, the seat has a deeper reclined position, a 5-position legrest and new eye level indicator built into the headrest so parents can be sure it is perfectly adjusted to their child’s height.

    Choose from 8 colours, all with reflective panels so the seat can easily be seen in the event of an accident when dark.

    You can buy the Kiddy Guardianfix 3 from: Uber Kids and Amazon.

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  • Multimac, £1500-2000

    If you need a car seat that can easily fit 3 or 4 children in the back of the car then the Multimac is sure to be the best one for you.

    Made to fit most medium-sized cars, the Multimac can be used from birth to 12 years in a variety of combinations, one of which includes rear-facing to 3 years.

    Multimac Tether straps are bolted on to the rear seat belt buckle mountings in your car, leaving the adult belts in place.  That means you can fit the seat in easily and remove it quickly, if you need to, so adults can still sit in the back. 

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  • Pros and cons of 1/2/3 Group car seats...

    Built to last - These seats are usually built to last, that used to mean that combination group car seats were more expensive, but that's not the case anymore.  However, you do have to be mindful on how long you can use them for, we explain whether car seats expire here

    Heavy and less portable - The 1/2/3 seats are also more likely to be heavier and less portable than other car seats, and won’t be easy to move out of the car to the home. It also isn't compatible with a buggy to create a travel system.

    Not usually i-Size compatible - Group 1/2/3 car seats have traditionally been forward facing from 9 months, but this trend is changing with the new i-Size laws (more on this below) introduced in 2013 and UK regulations implemented in April 2015.  In a few years (thought to be 2018) all new infant car seats sold in the UK will have to be i-Size (ECE R129) seats. That means children will have to sit rear-facing until they are at least 15 months, eventually phasing out forward-facing from 9kg or 9 months car seats.  You can find out more about i-Size legislation here.

    Don't forget these important car seat safety guidelines:

    1. Car seat law - you need to use a car seat to transport your baby around in a car. Read the latest law update and the exceptions              

    2. Safety - should be your priority when choosing a car seat, not looks or budget bargains. While price is important, and not actually an indicator of how safe it is, don’t settle for second best – or secondhand.

    3. How it fits in your car - not all car seats fit in all cars, and incorrectly fitted seats can be dangerous – so make sure you get it professionally fitted. Some manufacturers also offer a quick online checking service, such as Britax’s Fit-Finder or Maxi-Cosi’s car fitting list. Have your car’s make, model and year of production close to hand for fast checking.

    4. ISOFIX - This is a type of fitting, which makes it easy to install your car seat correctly into your car. However, not all cars have ISOFIX - so check your car is compatible before buying. And remember, some ISOFIX car seats can also be fitted into a non-ISOFIX car with a seat belt. 

    Want more car seats?  We've got that covered...

    MadeForMums product reviews are independent, honest and provide advice you can have confidence in. Sometimes, we earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage. Our reviews and articles are written by parents who are professional journalists, and we also include feedback from our parent community and industry experts.