15 answers

Car Seat for Compact Car

I have a 9month old and another baby on the way. I drive a honda civic. I will need to get my 9 month old a front facing car seat when he turns 1 year, and then the new baby will ride in the baby carseat (rear facing) when he/she are born. The baby carseat ONLY fits in the middle seat, and so I will need to get a FRONT facing carseat that can fit next to the baby carseat. Since my honda is pretty compact, I need a front facing carseat that will fit this tight area.

So does anybody know of a front facing carseat that fits well into compact cars?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi! We have the Sunshine Radian in the back of my husbands 2 door car, it works great!! It is super narrow and I love the fact that my son can be in a 5 point harness for so long, well worth the money.

More Answers

Based on the advice you've received so far, it sounds like the SunshineKids carseat is the way to go. I wanted to weigh in on the comments about Britax. I have two Britax Marathon carseats and I absolutely love them, but I drive an Audi A4 and they barely fit. When my youngest was rear-facing, the carseat could only fit behind the driver's side (my side) because it left absolutely no leg room for a front passenger...good thing I have short legs!
Some stores, like Right Start, will let you take the floor models out to your car for a test fit. Strollers too!

1 mom found this helpful

The booster someone mentioned won't help you- they're only for kids over 4 and 40 lbs. Why will the baby seat only fit in the middle? That doesn't make any sense to me, and with that small of a car (I drive a bug, so I feel your pain!) I can't imagine fitting a toddler seat on the side- there isn't one that's that small because they have to be large enough to wrap around the child. But the Graco one is one of the least bulky (and cheaper, and just as safe). I would check out if there is a way to put the infant seat on one side- we don't use the base on ours, and it makes it fit on the side better. We just buckle it into the shoulder belt and lock the belt (like the directions say!)

Hi! We have the Sunshine Radian in the back of my husbands 2 door car, it works great!! It is super narrow and I love the fact that my son can be in a 5 point harness for so long, well worth the money.

When I was looking to buy car seats for my daycare I looked for the most narrow dimensions I could find. 17 inches in the most narrow I could find. Measure your car to see if that will fit. I found these two. I bought the cheaper one and its fine. Works well in my van where I needed to have three car seats in a row. I was worried about the lack of padding on it, but it doesn't seem to bother the kids. However, I only have the kids in the seat for short trips to the library, etc. The second seat is a little more pricey, but maybe more comfortable.


Keep your children rear facing as long as possible, well after they are a year old, MUCH safer. Look online you'll find videos of what happens front facing... MOST carseats are designed to be rear facing till about 100lbs. Drive safe.

Does the existing seat only fit in the center because that is where the LATCH hooks are located? If so, just know that you can also use the normal seatbelt to secure that seat without the LATCH hooks and it is just as, if not more, secure that way. Using the normal seatbelt would allow you to move the existing seat to one side, and install the new seat on the other side. Check the booklet that came with your carseat. It should give you information on installing the seat without LATCH restraint systems. Good luck!

I don't know about compacts, as I drive a mini van. Based on what I read of Natalie's response, I think the Sunshine Kids seat looks like a great investment for your needs. It will allow your baby so stay in 5pt harness to 80 lbs. That is FANTASTIC!

I don't know if you have a petite girl, or a tall well proportioned kid like mine. My kid had outgrown the 40 max convertable at 24 months. He was also 40" tall. A LOT of the forward facing seats only use 5pts to 40 lbs, then you are supposed to use "belt positioning" part of the booster. At TWO, I was not ready to trust him with a regular seatbelt. We bought a very large seat by Britax that uses 5pts to 80 lbs. I would in most cases recomend it to everyone, but with your limited space, it wouldn't work.

If the Sunshine Kids seat will fit in your car, I think the long term investment is WELL worth while for your child. If you want info on more seats, this site has every US available seat, approx $$, and weight limits. http://www.aap.org/family/carseatguide.htm

Wanted to add, I see a lot of people chiming in about "A car seat can fit anywhere in the back seat..." I know for us, when our son was born, and I had a Contour, we HAD to put him in the middle if anybody was going to be in the front seat. There just wasn't enough leg room left if he was on the passanger side, and Hubby COULDN'T fit in the driver seat if we put the baby behind him. So, I totally get how the baby needs to be in the middle.

Hope you find what you need!

Here is a video that caused me to wait on the front-facing car seat. Just something to think about....


Best wishes,


Keep your children rear facing as long as possible. It is MUCH safer. Britax has very high safety ratings and their seats are designed to have babies rear facing until long after their first birthday. Do some research online and talk to safety experts & CHP and you'll be convinced that rear facing for as long as possible is best. Britax also has car seats for kids up to 80 lbs. which are far safer then booster seats.

Sunshine Kids Radian 80
We just bought it.
It's on the more expensive side, but is WORTH every penny.
If you look it up online you'll see why.
It's slim, so you can fit 3 across easily
You can keep your child in a 5-point harness up to 80 pounds.
the frame is made of steel alloy, so it's heavy, but so sturdy.
has energy absorbing foam
it folds compact for easy storage
comes with a carry strap for transporting
airline approved
We LOVE it. We'll never need to buy another carseat again!
We ordered ours online from tinyride.co and didn't have to pay tax or shipping.
Good Luck!

The response from Natalie is the best carseat. they are the smallest seats and work very well. My friend has 2 boys and she has 2 of the carseats and we are able to fit all 3 seats next to eachother in the backseat of my van.

Congrats on your second and expanding your family! Like several others have mentioned, the Radian Sunshine is a great one for compact cars and safe---it is one that the CHP gives out to parents who can't afford their own or have a defective seat, so if the CHP will use it, it is good enough for me! I have a Radian 200 in my husband's car and a huge Britax in mine and the baby likes both equally.

I would also mention to you that over 70% of carseats are installed incorrectly, so your local CHP (CA Highway Patrol--you can find the number in 411) installs them for FREE, just to make sure they are done right. Congrats and have fun being a Mommy of two!

Browsing on other sites for the same issue I found this seat - Fisher Price Safe Voyage Booster Car Seat - I guess it is made by Britax for Fisher Price and it is actually very cheap - like 40 bucks. I don't have one yet but am def going to check it out.

I, too, drive a Civic (a 2004) and had to figure this out! We have a Graco infant seat for our youngest (5 month old) and the 2 year old has two different seats, one in my car and one in my husband's (a 2005 Matrix). The Britax Roundabout fits really well, though it's pricy ($220 at Toys R Us). The newest one, a Graco Pedic fits pretty well too. It was only $99 at TRU. We used to have a Fisher Price seat but I don't think they make them anymore. Good luck... by the way, the only double stroller that I can fit in my trunk is the Joovy Sit and Stand. I really wanted a traditional Graco two seater, but they're just too long once they're folded. Good luck!

I bought the Radian80 Sunshine Kids convertible car seat (I think that's the name) and it advertises being one of the most narrow and safest car seats. Also, is good until the child reaches 80 pounds, so it potentially is the last car seat we will need. I bought two for my compact station wagon, so both of my kids have one, and we can put another person in the back seat. My daughter is still rear facing, so we have it turned around. One thing, is it is really tall in the back, so it doesn't fit very well that direction, but once we turn it forward, both will fit great.

good luck!

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