The 10 best car seats for children from 4 years
Which are the top car seats to keep your little one safe as they grow bigger? We've tested and rated loads of different models to discover the best, in a range of prices and styles
Once your child has outgrown their toddler car seat, they will be ready for a booster car seat, which typically lasts from ages 3 or 4 until age 12. You'll often seen these referred to as group 2/3 seats.
This category of car seats divides into two main types: high-backed booster seats or booster cushions (which do not have a back). The ones we’ve chosen here are all high-backed booster seats as they offer the most support and protection.
Best car seats for age 4+ at a glance
- Best for abdominal support: Britax Romer Kidfix i-Size Car Seat, £239
- Best for small spaces: BeSafe iZi Flex Fix iSize, £219
- Best for simple installation: Cybex Solution M-Fix SL Group 2/3 Car Seat, £115.99
- Best budget buy: Joie Trillo LX Group 2/3 Car Seat, £70
- Best for entertainment: Recaro Mako Elite 2, £169
- Best for naps on the go: Cybex Solution Z i-Fix, £171.95
- Best for innovation: Maxi-Cosi Rodifix AirProtect Group 2/3 Car Seat, £149.99
- Best for style: Silver Cross Discover Car Seat, £174.99
- Best for colour options: Recaro Monza Nova 2 Seatfix Select Group 2/3 Car Seat, £129
- Best folding car seat: Chicco Fold & Go iSize Air, £169
To help you decide what car seat is best for your child (and your car) we’ve extensively researched the market to bring you options from a range of brands at a range of prices. We’ve quizzed more than a thousand parents about the car seats they’ve used as their kids grow, and rigorously tested and reviewed hundreds of car seats, including more than 50 for age 4+.
We’ve also taken into account safety testing carried out by ADAC, a leading tester of car seats in Europe, which is recognised throughout the industry for its stringent safety standards. ADAC does not test all car seats, and if a seat has not been tested by ADAC this does not make it unsafe to use. However, where a seat in our list has been tested by ADAC we’ve provided the score. In these tests a low score is best, and all the seats on this list that have undergone the testing have scored “Good” or better.
For more recommended car seat options, have a look at our best swivel and rotating car seats too.
When do I move to a high-backed booster seat?
Car seat standards are generally based on height and weight suitability rather than age, so exactly when you need to move your child into a high-backed booster seat depends on which growth percentile they are on. The seats in this list are often referred to as being suitable from around age 4 but it can depend on the model.
It can be tempting to move to a booster seat as quickly as possible as they tend to be lighter and less bulky than toddler seats, but there is no rush to move your child out of their toddler seat if they still fit. If your toddler car seat has extended rear-facing capabilities, it makes sense to take advantage of that as long as you possibly can. Toddler seats also have a 5-point harness that offers more support for small bodies than the seatbelt used to fasten a booster seat. Some newer seats suitable for toddlers – such as the Axkid One 2 and the Axkid Minikid 3 – can be used until they reach 25kg in weight, which can be age 6 or 7, and there's absolutely no need to change before then.
What to look for when buying your car seat
Fitting– Car seats either fasten using the car seat belt or Isofix connectors that click into your car's frame. Some may also have a tether strap. No one method is safer than another so long as the seat is fitted correctly, but many people find Isofix to be more convenient and straightforward, therefore less prone to error. You will need to check the cars you will be using have Isofix connectors in the right place if you wish to use an Isofix seat.
Safety – Safety is obviously they key issue for any car seat. The big change for this age group is that most car seats will no longer have a built-in harness. Instead the child will be secured using the adult seat belt, which will also thread through the car seat in some way. All car seats in the UK will have been tested to one of two European standards, either ECE R44/04 or the newer ECE R129. R129 seats have been tested for side impact as well as front and rear impact collisions.
Longevity – The law requires that children up to 12 years old / 135cm in height must use a child car restraint where seat belts are fitted. This means you'll be using this seat for a long time, so you'll want to consider how it adapts and grows with your child.
Weight – Car seats vary significantly in weight: we found some that are under 5kg and others that weigh in at 8kg or so. Think about how often you’re going to remove it from the car, or move it to another. If you’re likely to keep switching it around, a super lightweight booster may suit you best. However, a heavier seat is likely to feel more sturdy, be roomier and offer more comfort, and possibly offer more extended safety features.
Portability – Is there a carry handle? This might be important if you will be moving around a lot. Some seats also fold, which might be useful if you need to stash it in the boot or take it on holiday.
Ease of installation – Once you’ve done it a couple of times, installing your car seat should be a quick process. Read the instructions thoroughly, as each car seat will be different. If you are using only a seat belt, then make sure the seat feels secure and doesn’t wobble or move around.
Comfort – A comfy seat generally means a happier child, especially on long journeys, so remember to think about things like padding and cushioning. Some seats are wider for comfort, but may be harder to fit in your car, especially if you need 3 seats in a row. Is there a ventilation system for hot days? Will the headrest be comfortable? Will the seat suit taller kids?
Coverings If you’d like the option to wash messy covers, look for covers that remove, so you can put them in the washing machine, rather than simply sponge. Don’t forget fabric finish – a natural bamboo cover might be less sweaty, for example. And is there a choice of colours?
Extra functions/details Some car seats have additional features like cup holders, in-built headrest speakers and so on. A seat with lots of headrest/recline positions or designed for comfortable sleeping may be particularly important for you, for example.
Price – Car seats can vary wildly in price depending on their features, fabrics and accessories, but most of the ones on our list are between £100 and £250. A higher price point doesn't necessarily mean a safer or more secure seat, but some seats have been tested beyond the legal requirements for extra reassurance and these often come at a premium because those tests are expensive to perform.
Here are the best child car seats from 4 years
1. Britax Römer Kidfix i-Size, £219
– Best for abdominal support
Suitable for: 15 - 36kg / 100-150cm | Weight: 6.7kg | Dimensions: H 63cm x W 48cm x D43cm (lowest position) | i-Size: Yes | Installation: Isofix or car seatbelt | Recline positions: No | Headrest positions: Up to height 83cm | ADAC test: 1.8 (good)
This high-back booster is made in Germany by Britax, who are masters in safety and have 50 years of research and experience behind them. This is a brilliant all-round booster seat that features a whole host of excellent features including ventilation panels, removable fabrics, and advanced side impact protection. It can also be fitted either using Isofix connectors or your vehicle's seatbelt.
Its standout feature, though is its innovative lap belt rest, which sits just in the optimal position across your child’s pelvic bone. The smart SecureGuard system fits between your child’s legs, and effectively adds a 4th contact point to a 3-point seatbelt. The result: it keeps kids’ abdomens better protected.
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That’s not the only added safety feature here. There’s a shock-absorbing foam pad over the chest too, to reduce the impact of any jerky head movements. These features of the Kidfix really reassured parent tester Cali, who said, "I was really nervous moving from a harness seat but this one has a foam pad for the seat belt to help protect neck and chest and bit to keep the seat belt from digging into the abdomen and side impact protection."
Pros: Good value price, easy to sit in
Cons: Doesn’t recline
2. BeSafe iZi Flex Fix iSize, £219
– Best for small spaces
Suitable for: 15-36kg/length 100-150cm – age 4-12 | Weight: 7kg | Dimensions: H 64cm x W 42cm x D52cm (lowest position) | i-Size: Yes Installation: Integrated ISOFIX connectors, 3-point harness | Recline positions: Yes | Headrest positions: Up to height 82cm | ADAC test: 1.9 (good)
If you’ve two or three kids, you’ll want a seat that fits three in the back in the rear – and this seat fits the bill brilliantly (the detachable bumpers come off). It’s designed to be ultra-slim so your child won’t feel wedged in or claustrophobic, and it's good if you’re generally squeezed for space in the back.
Reviewer Anna, who used it with her 5-year-old daughter, loved how easy it was to use. “The seat has clear guides, and the diagonal strap is held in place,” she said. She liked the lap clip that keeps the lap belt in place, and the extra pad that goes high across your child’s chest.
When it comes to safety, BeSafe’s name should be a clue to how seriously they take safety. It meets the latest R129 regulations (in fact, it was the first Group 2/3 seat to ever do so) thanks to its SIP+ extra side-impact protection.
In all, reviewer Anna felt this was a sturdy seat for a high-back booster, which do tend to feel more lightweight than seats for younger children. She found it slightly tricky to fit, but once in place it feels sturdy.
It’s comfy too, growing with your child – its highest seat position is 82cm. Plus the shaped headrest is designed for naps, and adjusts via a lever to reach a max height of 82cm.
Pros: Slimline, carry handle, great quality, side impact protection
Cons: Seats not removable to wash, expensive
Read the full MadeForMums BeSafe iZi Flex Fix i-Size car seat review
3. Cybex Solution M-Fix SL Group 2/3 Car Seat, £115
– Best for simple installation
Suitable for: 15-36kg, length 100-150cm/group 2/3 – age 4-12 | Weight: 5.8kg | Dimensions: H 63cm x W 54cm x D42cm | i-Size: No Installation: Integrated ISOFIX connectors, 3-point harness | Recline positions: Yes | Headrest positions: 12 | ADAC test: 1.7 (good)
Forget being squeezed into a rigid, tiny seat. Featuring no less than 12 headrest positions, this good-looking seat is designed with comfort in mind, whatever the age and size of your child. It also features a gentle recline function. There are body support cushions to keep younger kids contained – a clever consideration, helping this seat work for you all the way from age 4 to 12. Plus there’s air ventilation, to keep things cool on hot days.
If you're looking for a simple, easy to use car seat, this one isa doddle to install thanks to the ISOFIX fitting, and feels sturdy once fitted (although do be aware if your car has particularly curved and "sculpted" seats.
When it comes to safety, the seat offers a Linear Side Impact system for protection, using protective side cushions, as well as shoulder and head protectors. This is reflected in its good ADAC rating. Finally, we love how you can remove the covers for washing – always a bonus with messy children in the back.
Pros: 12 headrest positions for comfort, easy to install thanks to ISOFIX, washable covers, side impact protection
Cons: Fit not so good in cars with ‘sculpted seats’
4. Joie Trillo LX Car Seat, £70
– Best budget buy
Suitable for: 15-36kg, length 100-150cm/group 2/3 – age 4-12 | Weight: 5kg | Dimensions: H 69-84cm x W 55cm x D39cm | i-Size: No Installation: 3-point harness with ISOSAFE locks | Recline positions: 7 positions | Headrest positions: 7 | ADAC test: 2.0 (good)
If you’re looking for a reliable seat at a competitive price, this seat comes in under £100, but gives you the reassurance of knowing it performed very well in ADAC testing.
The seat has Joie's Guard Surround Safety panels for extra protection at the sides, as well as side wings and adjustable head support.
The seat is fitted using the car seatbelt, but also has ISOSAFE connectors: little hooks on the back that fasten to the ISOFIX connectors in your car to keep the seat in place, adding extra stability.
Our M4M reviewer, Susannah, tried the original Trillo car seat with her 4-year-old daughter, who especially loved the bonus cup holders that pop out from the sides of the seat: “Poppy loved the fold out cups as both a novelty and a handy addition – they were most useful for storing her favourite plastic tat of the day,” she noted.
Other great additions include removable, washable covers and a memory foam cushion.
Read our full MadeForMums Joie Trillo car seat review
Pros: Competitively priced, headrest adjusts, cupholder
Cons: Fitting may be unfamiliar
5. Recaro Mako Elite 2, £199
– Best for entertainment
Suitable for:15-36kg/100-150cm/group 2/3 – age 4-12 | Weight: 7g | Dimensions: H 80.5cm x W 53cm x D44cm | i-Size: Yes Installation: Isofix connectors, 3-point harness | Recline positions: No | Headrest positions: Adjustable | ADAC test: 2.0 (good)
Do your kids get bored quickly in the car, especially on long journeys? Ours too – but you could consider this clever seat to avoid reliance on screens. It has built-in, surround-sound headrest speakers and a connection point for an MP3 player so you can play what they fancy, from chart hits to podcasts – while parents can still listen to their own tunes in the front.
However, rest assured this isn’t just a gimmicky seat. It also scored well in ADAC tests, and complies with the latest standard, R129, thanks to the detachable Advanced Side Protection which should offer extra peace of mind.
The height-adjustable headrest will grow with your kids, and ISOFIX connectors keep fitting it easy and offer extra stability.
Pros: Built-in speakers, ISOFIX, ventilation system, covers machine washable
Available from: Kiddies Kingdom
6. Cybex Solution Z i-Fix, £171.95
– Best for naps on the go
Suitable for: Child weight 15-50kg/height i-Size 100cm-150cm group 2/3 – age 3-plus | Weight: 7.2kg | Dimensions: H 62.5cm x W 53cm x D 40.5cm | i-Size: Yes Installation: ISOFIX, 3-point harness | Recline positions: Yes | Headrest positions: 12 height settings | ADAC test: 1.9 (Good)
Snoozing in the car is a given for children, and the Cybex Solution Z i-fix has a patented headrest design to stop little heads tipping forward while sleeping. This not only offers comfort during but keeps heads in a secure position when they're awake too.
This high-back booster seat has a high overall ADAC rating, showing that it should offer excellent protection in a crash – the best-rated in its group in 2020, according to its maker. Safety features including an energy-absorbing shell to reduce the shock factor.
MFM reviewer Anna said, "both my children really liked the seat and found it comfortable. This matched the experience of another MFM reviewer, Puneet, who said the Cybex Solution Z was “the softest and most comfortable carseat” she had ever used, and with four children, she’s seen a fair few!
In particular, Puneet liked the green indicator lights that help you install the seat properly, via Isofix. (Though you can also use a standard seatbelt.) Our tester also said it felt sturdy, and loved the plush, high-quality, luxury finish.
This well-designed seat received a coveted RedDot Award 2019 for its ergonomic features, user friendliness and well-protected head area.
Plus, this easily adjusts in height and width, including with one hand – ideal when you have a shopping bag in the other – and will grow effortlessly with your child. It has an impressive 12 positions so this seat really should last the distance from young child to pre-teen. And the covers can be washed to boot.
Read the full MFM Cybex Solution Z i-fix car seat review
Pros: Long-lasting very safe, one-hand adjustment for height and width, tilting headrest
Cons: On the pricy side
Available from: BabyBabyOnline
7. Maxi-Cosi Rodifix AirProtect Group 2/3 Car Seat, £149.99
– Best for innovation
Suitable for: Child weight 15-36kg/3.5-12 years | Weight: 6.15kg | Dimensions: H 63.5cm x W 51cm x D 49cm | i-Size: No Installation: ISOFIX, 3-point harness | Recline positions: 2 | Headrest positions: xx | ADAC test: 1.9 (good)
Around since the 1980s, Maxi-Cosi is a respected name in car seats, and this high-backed booster’s innovative side impact system and ultra-padded headrest helped contribute to its high ADAC test score and overall popularity. The patented AirProtect headrest is designed to offer extra protection, reducing risk of head or neck injury by 20%.
Our MFM reviewer Eddi tested this seat out and about with her 5-year-old daughter. She reported: “Georgie immediately commented how comfortable the seat felt. There’s more padding around the head, neck and sides than in some other car seats.”
Eddi liked how the Rodifix felt sturdy while still relatively light and easy to lift, pointing out its “no faff” installation, using Isofix, was “very easy and quick”. A press of the button means two bars slide forward and slot straight into the Isofix hooks in your car.
Plus it’s another seat that’s height and width adjustable to accommodate growing children – the side wings adjust outwards to give more space.
If looks are important to you too there are some cool colours available – we’re fans of the retro brown Cognac shade, as well as the Authentic Red. You can even buy accessories, including a cupholder and a cooler cover for summer.
All in all, we think this is an excellent choice if safety and comfort are your priorities.
Pros: Extra head protection, ultra-comfy, easy to install
Cons: Can be tricky to get hold of instore
8. Silver Cross Discover Car Seat, £175
– Best for changing temperatures
Suitable for: Child weight 15-36kg/height i-Size 100cm-150cm group 2/3 – age 3-plus | Weight: 7.1kg | Dimensions: H 66-81cm x W46-57cm x D31cm | i-Size: No Installation: ISOFIX, 3-point harness | Recline positions: No | Headrest positions: Adjustable | ADAC test: Not tested
Silver Cross is known for making performance products with a heritage twist, and the Donnington version of this seat features the trademark diamond-stitched pattern many devotees adore the British name for.
However, it isn’t just about style. This high-back booster seat scored highly with our mum tester for being comfy and easy to install, as well as ticking all the safety boxes. The bamboo fabric is another tick, offering temperature-regulating qualities that work brilliantly all year round.
M4M reviewer Anna, mum to a 3 and 5 year old, reported: “The Discover promises style and comfort with its diamond stitching back design and bamboo fibre fabrics, and features an adjustable headrest, Isofix connectors and expanding side wings too. I looked lovely and comfortable and felt compact and lightweight. It was also very easy to lift out of the box, which is a great bonus.” On the downside, she did report that it seemed quite narrow and snug, so perhaps not the best choice if your child is on a higher percentile.
Find car seats fiddly to fit? You’re not alone. Luckily, Silver Cross has an app to help you install your seat correctly – though our tester found wasn’t an issue with the Isofix connectors attached. You can also fit the seat with a normal 3-point belt if your car doesn’t have Isofix.
Pros: Looks good, easy to fit, lightweight, bamboo covers, app for easy fixing
Cons: On the snug side, slightly pricy
Read the full MFM Silver Cross Discover car seat review
9. Recaro Monza Nova 2 Seatfix Select Group 2/3 Car Seat, £129
– Best for colour options
Suitable for: Child weight 15-36kg - group 2/3 – age 4-plus | Weight: 6.8g | Dimensions: H 67-86cm x W56cm x D45-54cm | i-Size: No Installation: ISOFIX, 3-point harness | Recline positions: No | Headrest positions: Height adjustable | ADAC test: 2.0 (good)
Recaro may not be as well-known in the UK as some of the brands on this list, but it's been established in Germany for over 100 years, known for making cars and aircraft as well as its car seats. It's renowned for being especially hot on safety and this seat scored well in its ADAC test.
This is another Recaro seat with a built-in MP3 speaker to entertain on those long journeys. Our parent tester, Claire, used the speaker feature with her two sons, age 5 and 7, and reported: “My husband, initially cynical about the MP3 system, was very surprised at the sound quality and felt the volume was well-controlled.”
In particular, Claire (and her kids) loved how comfy it was: “Recaro have built a car seat that’s so comfortable it had my children almost fighting to sit in it!” She also felt this was a seat that would last the distance up to age 12, liking how easy it was to adjust the headrest with the handle at the back.
Another seat with Isofix, she added: “This seat is easy to install and not as heavy as some seats, so is simple to move between vehicles.”
This high-back booster has plenty of great safety features, including advanced side protection, crash pads and foam supports. The Seatfix locking armrests might be comfy for little elbows to rest on, but also offer extra hip protection. There is also an extra-deep headrest designed to protect forward-jerking if your kids nod off (which they undoubtedly will…).
For lovers of colour this seat delivers – it comes in a not-too-garish dusty pink, and a rather fetching ‘frozen blue’. However, you can also choose a solid safe black or grey, if you prefer.
Pros: In-built speakers for entertainment, ventilated seat, height-adjustable headrest
Cons: Covers not removable for washing
Available from: Kiddies Kingdom
10. Chicco Fold & Go iSize Air, £159
– Best folding car seat
Suitable for: Child weight 15-36kg/height 100cm-150cm/age 3-12 years |Weight: 6.2kg | Dimensions: H 67-84cm x W 45-54cm x D 61cm | i-Size: Yes Installation: ISOFIX, 3-point harness | Recline positions: 4 | ADAC test: 2.7
Super-easy to carry and store, this compact high-back booster folds down on itself – so if you need something simple to move around or stash in the boot, this could be a great choice for your family. It features a handy carry strap and at around 6kg, isn’t too tricky to lug between cars. You can fold it one-handed, too.
Despite being portable, parent users like how this seat doesn’t scrimp on other features. Built to i-Size regulations, it’s fully adjustable, and will grow with your child, both in height and width – great for taller kids or those filling out as they get older. The height shifts using an easy-access handle in the headrest. We also love how there are four recline positions — someone many seats don’t offer.
This booster is a doddle to fit using Isofix connectors and a three-point seat belt: at its slimmest, you could fit three in a row in the back if you needed to, depending on your family’s size.
This seat doesn't have quite as high an ADAC rating as some others on our list – it scored Good in all but one category, resulting in a Satisfactory rating overall due to the fact the buckle was considered tricky to use, plus a fear the seat could be fitted/used incorrectly. By reading the manual thoroughly and practicing fitting and buckling the seat you may decide you can minimise any concern here, but it's worth taking into account if this seat will be moved between cars and fitted by multiple family members or childcare providers. When it comes to safety features, there's an extra belt positioner to reduce front impact, and a side safety system for extra protection. There is also something called a ‘safe pad’, which protects loved ones’ chin and chest further in the event there was a crash.
No-one likes a sweaty bottom, and this seat will keep kids cool thanks to an air circulation system, with 3D mesh (crucial during our ever-hotter summers). A handy Fit Kit label on the headrest also means you can see at a glance how to fit and use the seat.
Pros: Compact, easy to install and carry, good quality, side impact protection
Cons: No seatbelt pad, not as sturdy as some none-folding boosters
Available from: Boots
Cheryl Freedman has been working as a journalist for 20 years, and began writing about parenting when her son was a baby back in 2009. She's written reviews and features for MFM, testing everything from booster seats to strollers and writing guides to breast-feeding, infant nutrition and more.
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