MadeForMums reviews are independent and based on expertise and testing. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our product choices.

The 10 best car seats – from 4 years

We’ve found the best Group 2/3 car seats for your child, including ISOFIT and belted options, tried and tested by parents

THUMBNAIL

If your kids have outgrown their first-stage car seat, you’ll need a replacement to keep them safe and secure during the next stage of life. Group 2/3 car seats cater for roughly ages 3.5 to 12 years and are designed for children that weigh 15 to 36 kg (33-79lbs), unless they are i-Size approved, in which case they will use length or height as a size guide.

Advertisement

To help you decide which group 2/3 car seat is best for your family and your car, we’ve analysed and extensively researched the market, testing up to 300 car seats.

Each of our top 10 recommended group 2/3 car seats, below, has been used regularly by a journalist with a child in the relevant age group over a period of at least 2 weeks. We’ve also combined these results with feedback from parents, as well as testing results by ADAC who is one of the lead safety testers of car seats in Europe.

See our pick of the best car seats from 4 years

What to consider when choosing a group 2/3 car seat?

How does a group 2/3 car seat fit in your car?

This category of car seats are forward-facing high-backed booster seats. These seats use the car’s 3-point seat belt, which secures both the child and the seat. The seat will have red guides through which the seat belt must be threaded correctly. The belt should then rest securely over your child’s thighs.

Some booster seats use an ISOFIT system to keep it securely in place, in addition to using the car’s seat belts. These seats will feature connectors that slot into special anchorage points built into the seat of your car. This makes the seat more stable, secure and simpler to use. However, it’s still the car seat belt that will strap your child in.

You can find out if an ISOFIT car seat is approved for your car model by asking the manufacturer, or checking on their website. Some booster seats use ISOFIT, but can also be secured using only your car seat belt if you don’t have this system.

Are group 2/3 seats i-Size-approved?

i-Size is a Europe-wide car seat regulation that categorises seats by height, not weight and age. i-Size seats also use Isofix, as research indicates this method is far easier for parents to install car seats safely and correctly (only 20% of parents install car seats correctly when using a seat belt, according to Maxi-Cosi studies). The first i-Size seats were for group 0+ and 1 car seats, but now more group 2/3 seats are becoming available.

How much do group 2/3 car seats cost?

There’s a large price range in this category. The most basic high-backed booster chairs can cost as little as £30-40. For something sturdier, comfier and with more advanced safety features, you could pay as much as £250. You should be able to purchase a decent mid-range booster car seat for £100 to £130.

What about size and weight of the seat?

Group 2/3 car seats can weigh as little as 4.5kg or as much as 11kg – around 7kg means it’s sturdy but still portable. In terms of size, they can be as slim as 40cm wide (meaning it’s easier to squeeze in 3 side-by-side in the back). Or they can be as wide as 55cm or more.

Do group 2/3 seats include booster cushions, and when can I use one?

Yes, this category can include booster cushions that don’t have a back. On some high-backed car seats, the back can also be removed once children weigh 22kg. However, it’s recommended, for additional safety, that you keep the back in place, as a booster seat or cushion alone offers no side or back protection during a crash.

Regulations also mean that backless booster seats can no longer be manufactured for children under 125cm and less than 22kg (often around age 6, though this will vary). It’s legal to use one that was made before February 9 2017 (when regulations came into place), but still recommended that you choose a seat with a back.

At what age do group 2/3 seats last until?

These seats last until your child is 135cm tall, or 36kg (11/12 years old). Children must legally use a child car seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm (4ft 5in) tall.

What features should I look out for in a group 2/3 car seat?

Size – Do you want something slimline to have more space in the back of our car? Or would you like extra width for a comfier fit your child? Depth might also be relevant if they are on the tall side.

Weight – Will you be moving it from car to car – in which case, you might want something fairly light and portable.

Safety features – Seats that say they have added side impact protection will offer extra peace of mind, as they are designed to absorb and distribute the impact of side crashes with extra protection. Different brands will have different safety systems so take some time to read what each seat offers in terms of safety.

Comfort – Is the seat well-padded? What does the fabric feel like? What about the headrest? Does it recline, if your child likes to snooze in the car?

Longevity – Will the seat accommodate your child comfortably as they grow? How many height positions does it have in the headrest, and does it widen at the same time?

Installation – Always check seats are compatible with your car if you have Isofix. If you don’t, will the seat still feel secure and sturdy enough, and are you confident you can fit it accurately? We recommend you get your car seat fitted by a trained car seat installation advisor (appointed by the manufacturer) if you can.

Extras – Something like a cup holder might seem like a small, unimportant feature, but it’s something that kids enjoy using. And happy children mean a calmer car journey.

Here’s our pick of the best car seats for age 4 plus:

1. Joie Traver, £79.99

An affordable, comfy all-rounder

Suitable for: 3.5 years/15kg to 12 years/36kg | Weight: 5.68kg | Dimensions: H40.9cm x W55.5 cm x L85.4cm | i-Size: No | Installation: ISOFIT connectors or/and seat belt | MFM Review Star Rating: 4.3 stars

The Joie Traver is a solid bet if you’re looking for a group 2/3 car seat that won’t break the bank, but feels sturdy and safe.

This is a particularly tempting seat option if comfort is a priority. MFM reviewer Joe, who tested the seat with his 3-and-a-half-year-old, commented that it was “a lot more comfortable and less restrictive than some of the more expensive seats in the class”. Memory foam cushions and padded armrests add to the ultra-comfy feel, as well as the 7 height positions on the headrest which can nifty be adjusted with one hand.

The seat attaches using the ISOFIT system, for simple, secure fitting. And at a light, 5.68kg, it’s easier to switch between vehicles than some heavier models. However if rear space is an issue, one of the drawbacks is that the seat is on the wide side.  This was also something highlighted in ADAC testing.

A MFM Triple Tested Best Buy, judges and MFM reviewer Joe were also impressed by the Traver’s safety features including the ‘Guard Surround Safety’ side impact panels. These offer extra peace of mind and protect your child’s head, body and hips. This was also reflected in ADAC testing where the seat scored highly with a “very low risk of injury” in the event of a side collision.

Pros: Comfortable, easy to install, good value, light
Cons: On the wide side

Read our full MadeForMums review of the Joie Traver

Available from: Amazon, Halfords and Smyths Toys

2. BeSafe iZi Flex Fix iSize, £249.00

Exceptional safety features in a compact design

Suitable for: 4 to 12 years/100cm to 150cm | Weight: 7kg | Dimensions: H64cm x W52cm x L42cm| i-Size: Yes | Installation: Isofix only | MFM Review Star Rating: 4.3 stars

Until recently, iSize, the regulation that measures children for car seats by height rather than weight or age, was restricted to group 1 car seats. The iZi Flex Fix, from Scandinavian brand BeSafe, was the first group 2/3 seat to conform with iSize. Yes, this seat is definitely on the pricey side, but what you’re paying for is superior safety features – which is, after all, the whole point of a car seat.

BeSafe’s SIP+ system exceeds current safety regulations, with the seat’s side panels deforming like a car’s crumple zone under pressure. There are additional side-impact bumpers (removable, so watch that they don’t get lost). And there’s a lap-belt guide, to help you position the belt correctly, which we all know can be tricky. Plus the ISOFIT system means this seat feels secure once locked in place.

At 7kg, this seat isn’t the absolute lightest around by a couple of kg, but it’s still portable and has a handle – 66% of parents surveyed by MFM gave this seat 8/10 or higher for easy transferring between cars.  “It’s very lightweight, versatile and adjustable,” said MFM reviewer Anna, mum to a 5-year-old, “but it’s packed full of features that will do their best to keep your growing child safe.”

At just 41cm, this seat’s compact design won’t take up too much space in your car either, though parents report children don’t feel squeezed. This allows for 3 seats to be placed together side-by-side in the rear, so it’s ideal for bigger families. In fact, ADAC rated the seat highly for allowing “space for the child” whilst taking up little “space in the car”.

Pros: Conforms to i-size, slimline, carry handle, recline, strong side impact protection
Cons: Higher price point, detachable bumpers could possibly get lost

Read our full MadeForMums review of the BeSafe iZi Flex Fix i-Size

Available from: Uber Kids, John Lewis and Natural Baby Shower

3. Maxi Cosi Kore Pro i-Size, £219

Best for establishing independence

Suitable for: 4 to 12 years/100cm to 150cm | Weight: 6.1kg | Dimensions: H58.5cm x W44cm x L51cm | i-Size: Yes | Installation: ISOFIT connectors or/and seat belt | MFM Review Star Rating: 5 stars

Maxi Cosi is a huge name in car seats, and the Kore Pro i-Size is its first i-Size Group 2/3 seat.

MFM reviewer and mum of 2, Jo, was impressed by its solid shell, and safety features including the Side Protection System Plus (SPS), which combines shock absorbers and energy-absorbing material. The Kore Pro is another ISOFIT compatible seat, so again easy to install, with a secure feel.

This seat features a nifty feature called Click Assist (what distinguishes it from its sibling, the standard Kore i-Size). This built-in light helps your child find and secure their buckle even when it’s dark. It’s designed to encourage independence, and is a potential godsend for parents who’d had their fill of twisting around in dim conditions. While admitting this feature is a little gimmicky, MFM reviewer Jo found it useful in low-light situations like multi-storey car parks.

This seat also scores well on the comfort factor. One MFM user, commented, “even though my wee one was at the minimum height, it was a comfortable and safe seat.” The comfort is also improved by the smooth motion that raises the headrest and ‘grows’ the rest of the seat at the same time, which was our MFM reviewer’s favourite feature. However keep in mind that there is no recline function.

Pros: Click-Assist light, easy to adjust, slimline
Cons: Higher price point, no recline function

Read our full MadeForMums review of the Maxi-Cosi Kore Pro i-Size

Available from: Maxi-Cosi, John Lewis and Amazon

4. Britax Kidfix III M, £210

Best for taller children

Suitable for: 3.5 to 12 years/15 to 36kg | Weight: 7.5kg | Dimensions: H67-85cm x W54 x L43cm | i-Size: No | Installation: ISOFIT connectors or/and seat belt | MFM Review Star Rating: 4.6 stars

Made by Britax, another trusted car seat name, the Kidfix III M is a sturdy high-backed chair that is extra-hot on safety features. This includes additional side impact protection which twists out of the seat on the side of the car door for extra protection.

It also features SecureGuard, a patented design feature which helps keep the seatbelt in an optimal position over your child’s lap, and acts as a fourth attachment point.

This smart feature really hit the mark with our MFM reviewer, Anna, mum to a tall 5-year-old. She said, “I really like this – it helps with the transition from toddler to booster seat, as it takes the guesswork out of the seatbelt fastening.” She was also a fan of the Isofix installation. “It felt very secure, with not much give in the seat.”

This is a chunky seat (20% larger than similar models, according to Britax themselves) – its generous dimensions, also highlighted in ADAC testing, mean it’s designed to accommodate taller children with its longer seated area. The seat’s comfort was one of the most popular features, according to 100% of parent reviews on Boots. However, this means it may not be for parents who need to line up 2 or 3 seats in the back.

Pros: Additional side impact protection, SecureGuard keeps seatbelt in optimal position, spacious for taller children
Cons: Bulkier than some, higher price point

Read our full MadeForMums review of the Britax Kidfix III M

Available from: Britax, Uber Kids and Kiddies Kingdom

5. Cybex Solution Z-Fix, £189.95

Offers outstanding ergonomic comfort 

Suitable for: 3.5 to 12 years/15-36kg or 100-150cm | Weight: 7.14kg | Dimensions: H62.5cm x W53cm X L40.5cm | i-Size: Yes | Installation: ISOFIT connectors or/and seat belt | MFM Review Star Rating: 3.9 stars

Created by German company Cybex, this luxurious, sculptural chair is praised for its ergonomic design, user-friendliness and great safety features.

The latter include a focus on protecting your child’s head – Cybex safety pads are part of the headrest, designed to guide you child’s head into a safe position in the event of an accident. This seat also features added side impact protection, which offers increased safety of around 25% in the event of a side-impact collision according to Cybex.

MFM reviewer Puneet was particularly impressed by the reclining feature on the headrest: “It was by far the best feature for me – it’s really easily reclined and a much comfier position for a sleeping child.”

The seat has 12 height settings and clever automatic width-adjustment, so should easily adapt for growing children. It can also be changed with one hand –  ideal for time-stretched parents. MFM reviewer Puneet found it to be a great fit for her 2 kids: “It was equally comfortable for both my 5 and 8-year-old, so it’s great if you’re hoping to use it for children of different sizes and ages.”

We also like the integration of the smart air ventilation system to keep things cool for kids, a growing issue during our long, hot summers. However our reviewer did find the fabric on her Autumn Gold model marked easily, which was also reflected in ADAC testing where the seat received a ‘satisfying’ mark for cleaning.

Pros: Reclining headrest, lots of adjustment levels, well-ventilated
Cons: Fabric marks easily

Read our full MadeForMums review of the Cybex Solution Z Fix

Available from: Amazon, Halfords and Uber Kids

6. Silver Cross Discover, £150

Quality fabric from a heritage brand

Suitable for: 3.5 to 12 years/15 to 36kg | Weight: 7.2 kg | Dimensions: H65 x W44.5 x L41.5cm | i-Size: No | Installation: ISOFIT connectors or/and seat belt | MFM Review Star Rating: 4 stars

This seat from heritage brand Silver Cross sits firmly in the mid-price range, and boasts features including ISOFIT connectors for easy installation and expanding side wings that protect from impact. There’s also 5 headrest positions – so less adjustable than some competitors, but still fairly flexible.

The quality bamboo seating fabric is hypoallergenic and antibacterial, and designed to be cool against your child’s skin – a win for 50% of Amazon reviewers as well as our MFM reviewer Anna, who tested the seat with her 5-year-old. In the heat of summer, “My daughter never complained of stickiness,” she reported.

If you find installation instructions daunting (who doesn’t), this seat arrives with an app, Car Safety Made Simple, which takes you via a QR code on the side of the seat to the installation guide, though Anna thought that this was possibly an inessential gimmick.

While the Discover doesn’t necessarily flaunt numerous “bells and whistles” (such as cup holders or side pockets, for example), it feels sturdy and compares well to similar mid-range seats. Anna especially liked the fact this seat was lightweight and easy to install thanks to the Isofix, but did feel it may be “on the snug side” for taller kids.

Pros: Quality bamboo fabric, app to help with installation, stylish
Cons: Less adjustable than some seats, snug for taller kids

Read our full MadeForMums review of the Silver Cross Discover

Available from: Silver Cross, Amazon and John Lewis

7. Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Air Protect, £150

Best for extra head and neck protection

Suitable for: 3 to 12 years/15 to 36kg| Weight: 6.15 kg | Dimensions: H63.5cm x W49cm x D51cm | i-Size: No | Installation: ISOFIT connectors or/and seat belt | MFM Review Star Rating: 4.6 stars

Another entry by Maxi-Cosi, pros in making robust car seats that last the distance. The Rodifix booster is cheaper than the Kore Pro, but still scores highly on a number of counts, and users report that it feels safe, sturdy and is easy to install.

MFM reviewer Eddi, who used the seat with her 5-year-old, also highlighted the ease and simplicity of installation: “Unlike some other car seat models where you have to faff around trying to get fiddly fixtures working, this operates with a simple press of a button on either side of the seat so that two bars slide forward and slot straight into the Isofix hooks in your car.” ADAC testing also found installation to be “very easy and quick”.

The Rodifix’s features also include Special AirProtect technology, designed to give the best possible side protection and reducing the risk of head and neck injury by 20% according to Maxi-Cosi.

This is another seat that also offers simultaneous height and width adjustment to make life easier (and comfier). Another potential plus point for comfort is the 2 recline positions which might be handy for younger kids – however, tester Eddi found these, in practice, a little stiff to use effectively with her 5-year-old.

Pros: Easy to install, extra head and neck protection, simultaneous height and width adjustment
Cons: Stiff recline function

Read our full MadeForMums review of the Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Air Protect

Available from: Maxi-Cosi, Amazon and Halfords

8. Diono Monterey 2 CXT, £139 

A modern, streamlined option

Suitable for: 3-12 years/15-36kg| Weight: 7.1 kg | Dimensions: H65 x W49.5 x L41cm | i-Size: No | Installation: ISOFIT connectors or/and seat belt | MFM Review Star Rating: 4.8 stars

This mid-range group 2/3 car seat has a great range of features to entice parents. The previous version of the Monterey was the first-ever car seat to expand in height and width, back in 2007, and its successor, the Monterey 2, has developed on this with metal reinforcements and increased side impact protection. The AirTek foam seat padding is a big safety plus, giving it a soft, plush feel as well as absorbing energy.

Out of the box, the seat comes in 2 parts that are clicked together, and Isofast fixings clip onto the Isofix metal rods in the car – you just pull on fabric straps to secure it into place. Our MFM reviewer, Janet, mum to a 6-year-old, found the Monterey 2 easy to install, and reported that it felt secure and sturdy once fitted. She said, “My kids are quite active, and I think it will survive them constantly moving while sitting in it!”

With 11 headrest positions and 2 recline positions, it also offers superb comfort for growing kids. Children will also enjoy the fact that it comes with retractable, extra-deep cup holders each side. Janet said, “These were a huge hit with Jasmine. She opens them as soon as she settles into the seat – even if she’s got nothing to put in them!”

Keep in mind that some testers report the seat cover is hard to clean with ADAC testing scoring it down for the fact it has to be hand washed.

Pros: Easy to install, recline, cupholders included, AirTeak foam padding
Cons: Cover isn’t machine washable

Read our full MadeForMums review of the Diono Monterey 2

Available from: Diono and Amazon

9. Graco Affix, £60

Best lightweight, budget option

Suitable for: 3 to 12 years/15 to 36kg| Weight: 4.5 kg | Dimensions: 41cm x 60cm x 102cm| i-Size: No | Installation: ISOCATCH connectors and 3-point seat belt | MFM Review Star Rating: 4.3 stars

The Graco Affix is a tempting budget option, available for under £50 if you shop around. This neat booster seat is lightweight, so a good bet if you’re using it for travelling, in taxis or frequently swapping between cars. It weighs a mere 4.5kg, but MFM reviewer Rebecca, mum to 5-year-old Fergus, reported, “Despite being light, it does feel sturdy. It feels pretty solid to me.”

With 6 headrest positions, one-handed adjustment and protective sidewings with built-in impact protection, this seat mirrors the features of some of the more expensive options in this category.

The seat is installed using ISOCATCH metal clasps which you clip into the connectors in your car (you can just use the 3-point seatbelt if your car doesn’t have these) and secure by pulling the front tether. Although our reviewer, Rebecca, found it tricky to install, one MFM user said it was “so easy to put into the car”. So it may just be a case of getting used to a new installation method.

MFM users also reported that kids loved the in-built cupholder – something even more expensive models can often lack. One user commented, “My daughter loves the cup holder it has as it makes her feel grown up.”

The lack of recline or width-adjusting features, plus its light weight, means this may not be a day-to-day booster seat for everyone. But if you’re on a budget, or need a spare or something for travel, it’s definitely worth considering.

Pros: Affordable, light weight, portable, cupholders a win with kids
Cons: No recline or width-adjusting features

Read our full MadeForMums review of the Graco Affix

Available from: Amazon, Smyths Toys and Uber Kids

10. Mifold Hifold Fit and Fold booster, £155

Unique foldable design ideal for travel 

Suitable for: 3 to 12 years/15 to 45kg| Weight: 4.6 kg | Dimensions: H75.5cm x W48cm x L39.7cm | Dimensions folded: H25cm x W34.4cm x 34.4cm | i-Size: No | Installation: 3-point seat belt | MFM Review Star Rating: 4.4 stars

Lightweight and compact, this unique folding booster seat is well worth a look if you’re after something ultra-portable for travel or less frequent use in other people’s cars – it even sports a carry handle.

What sets this seat apart from backless seats is its additional features that ramp up its safety profile considerably. As our MFM reviewer said, “The Hifold is unlike anything on the market – a super-compact travel booster, that includes a headrest and extra side-impact safety.”

It’s also easily adjustable to multiple heights and widths – in fact, there are 243 combinations, according to Mifold. There’s no ISOFIT here, however – you’ll only be using your car’s seat belt to fit it. You might also need to watch the instruction video and read the instructions carefully to get things right when fixing, according to Anna.

Anna was especially impressed by the fact that it wasn’t just one for older children. “The fact that it has guides for both the lap and shoulder belts as well as headrest protection makes me much happier and more confident to use this booster for my younger child,” she said. “This product is a real game-changer for me.”

However, if safety is your main concern, it’s worth considering that this isn’t necessarily a booster seat designed for day-to-day use – a lightweight, folding booster inevitably won’t have the same crash protection as sturdier seats.

Pros: Foldable, compact, slim, lots of adjustment options, offers more protection than portable backless booster seats
Cons: Not designed for daily use, lacks padding, pricey for travel booster

Read our full MadeForMums review of the MiFold HiFold Fit and Fold

Available from: Kiddies Kingdom, Pramworld and Huggle

Advertisement

Read More…

Comments ()

Please read our Chat guidelines.