• Recommended Car Seats for Extended Rear-facing

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids stay rear-facing until reaching the rear-facing height or weight limit for their seat. Buying a seat with high height and weight limits will therefore allow your child to sit rear-facing for longer.  

4y5m 35lbs rear-facing in Foonf

Which seats do we recommend for extended rear-facing?

Picking a car seat with both a high height AND weight limit for rear-facing, as well as generous room for the legs, will help ensure your child stays rear-facing for as long as possible.

Kids usually outgrow rear-facing seats in height. For most seats, a child is too tall for rear-facing when the child’s head is 1 inch below the top of the seat. Leg length doesn’t typically affect how long a child can stay rear-facing. However, we know that the more scrunched a child’s legs look, the more likely a parent is to turn the child forward-facing, even though this leg position is not unsafe or uncomfortable! Therefore, seats that offer more rear-facing leg room often let kids ride rear-facing longer. 

Our top picks for extended rear-facing:

High rear-facing capacity: The Foonf can be used rear-facing until a child is 44 inches or 50 lbs. This means even a 95th percentile boy can use this seat rear-facing until his 4th birthday. 

Fantastic safety features: The Foonf allows rear-facing for a very long time (already a great safety feature). When used rear-facing the mandatory anti-rebound bar adds stability, prevents rebound, and adds leg-room and the optional q-tether can provide added safety as well. The Foonf also has Rigid LATCH for forward-facing installations, which is a fantastic safety feature we highly recommend. Finally, the straps pull very smoothly, making it easy to get your child buckled in properly on every ride.

Extremely narrow on the outside but still super comfy: The Foonf is narrow and streamlined on the outside but very roomy and comfy on the inside, even for bigger kids. Great for installation next to other car seats.

Fits well behind the driver or passenger: The Foonf can sit fairly upright so it’s a great choice for placement behind even a taller driver or passenger. (Older kids often prefer to sit more upright in the car) Because it sits quite high off the vehicle seat, the Foonf can cause an obstructed view out the rear window when installed in the center of many vehicles, especially as a child grows and the headrest moves up.

Longevity: The Foonf has a 9 year lifespan so it’s also a good candidate to pass down to younger siblings.

Optimized for a seat belt installation when used rear-facing: With built in seat belt lockoffs, the Foonf can be placed slightly over towards the door to accommodate another car seat or passenger next to it. A seat belt installation also means there’s no need to worry about LATCH weight limits when used rear-facing.

High rear-facing capacity: The Fllo can be used rear-facing until a child is 44 inches or 50 lbs. This means even a 95th percentile boy can use this seat rear-facing until his 4th birthday.

Fantastic safety features: The Fllo allows rear-facing for a very long time (already a great safety feature). When used rear-facing the optional anti-rebound bar adds stability, prevents rebound, and adds leg-room and the optional q-tether can provide added safety as well. 

Extremely narrow on the outside but still super comfy: The Fllo is narrow and streamlined on the outside but very roomy and comfy on the inside, even for bigger kids. Great for installation next to other car seats.

Fits well in the center seat: The Fllo installs very nicely in the center of most vehicles due to its easy seat belt installation. Because its narrow it typically allows both front seats to come back all the way.

Longevity: The Fllo has a 9 year lifespan so it’s also a good candidate to pass down to younger siblings.

Optimized for a seat belt installation when used rear-facing: Because it comes with built-in seat belt lockoffs, the Fllo fits very nicely in the center seat, where a LATCH installation is not typically possible. The Fllo’s built in lockoffs mean the seat can be placed slightly off-center to accommodate another car seat or passenger next to it. A seat belt installation also means there’s no need to worry about LATCH weight limits when used rear-facing.

Extremely high rear-facing capacity: The Graco Extend2Fit can be used rear-facing until a child is 49 inches or 50 lbs. This means even a 95th percentile boy can use this seat rear-facing until his 4th birthday. Often 5 and 6 year olds will fit comfortably rear-facing in this seat. 

Very easy installation with LATCH (especially the 3-in-1 model): The Extend2Fit and Extend2Fit 3-in-1 install quite easy and quickly with LATCH on the side seats. The 3-in-1 model is easier to install because of a nicely designed slit in the fabric cover which allows you to pull the lower anchor strap easily with more leverage.

Good fit in smaller vehicles or behind tall front seat passengers due to leg extender and multiple recline options: The Extend2Fit works really nicely behind taller adults! The leg extender can be extended to accommodate a child’s long legs, or can retract to allow a tall adult to sit in front of the car seat. Likewise, the seat permits multiple recline positions. With many options–reclined with foot extender out, upright with foot extender out, reclined with foot extender halfway out, etc,–you are likely to find one that works for both the child and the adult in front of them.

Longevity: The Extend2Fit has a 10 year lifespan so it’s also a good candidate to pass down to younger siblings.

Optimized for a LATCH installation: We find this installation very easy for parents to master. However, it means the car seat must usually go on the side seats and not in the center.

Budget-friendly: Definitely more budget friendly than some of our other recommendations!

Comprehensive List

Listed alphabetically below are seats for keeping “off-the-charts” kids rear-facing as long as possible. All of the seats listed have rear-facing weight limits of 45 pounds or above. (Note that all of these are also great for keeping smaller kids rear-facing as long as possible too!)

Manufacturer Models allowing extended rear-facing
Clek Fllo Foonf
Cybex Eternis S
Diono Rainier 2AXT Radian 3RXT
Evenflo Everystage DLX
Graco Extend2Fit Extend2Fit 3-in-1
Nuna Exec Rava
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Kinetic
Safety 1st Grow and Go EX Air 3 in 1

How do big kids fit in these seats?

We tested the Foonf, the Extend2Fit and the Rava out with two big kids:

6 year 10 month old girl, 45 pounds and 47 inches

4 year 1 month old boy, 38 pounds and 43 inches

Both kids are within the rear-facing height and weight limits for the seats EXCEPT the girl is too tall for rear-facing in the Foonf because she’s over 43 inches tall. 

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Big Kids in Diono Radians

 

Installation issues with bigger kids

Lower Anchors vs Seat Belt

Remember that there are lower anchor weight limits – so when using any of these seats you will eventually need to install them with a seat belt in order to use them to their maximum rear-facing capacity.

Separate from these weight limits, some seats are more likely to install securely with LATCH, while others prefer a seat belt installation when rear-facing. We’ve noted this in the chart and included a selection of installation videos below.

Car seat model Lower anchor weight limit Preferred installation method
Clek Fllo 35 lbs Seat belt. Well designed seat belt locking device allows a secure installation in almost any vehicle.
Clek Foonf 25 lbs Seat belt. Well designed seat belt locking device allows a secure installation in almost any vehicle.
Diono Radians, Olympia, Pacifica, Rainier 35 lbs LATCH, with effort. 35 lb limits the seats usefulness, as a rear-facing seat belt installation is very difficult.
Evenflo Everystage DLX 40 lbs LATCH. Excellent for effortless LATCH installation, no force needed.
Graco Extend2Fit and Extend2Fit 3-in-1 45 lbs LATCH. Excellent for using LATCH as long as possible.
Nuna Rava 35 lbs Seat belt. Well designed seat belt locking device allows a secure installation in almost any vehicle with a locking seat belt.
Safety 1st Grow and Go EX 3 in 1 40 lbs LATCH

Installation videos for selected seats:

Comparing features

Exterior width

Which ones are the narrowest? The Clek Foonf & Fllo and the Diono Radians are the narrowest on the outside – but are very roomy on the inside. The Nuna Rava is also pretty slim on the outside, but less roomy on the inside.

Leg room

Most leg room: The Clek seats, and the Graco Extend2Fit when the foot rest is pulled out, offer the most amount of rear-facing leg room.

Medium leg room: The Diono seats – by virtue of having very low sides offer a generous amount of leg room, particularly to children wishing to sit frog-legged, cross-legged or with one or both legs over the edge of the seat.

Least leg room: The Nuna Rava is the most cramped in the leg room of these extended rear-facing seats.

Front-to-back space in the car

For use behind a taller driver: Surprisingly, the Clek Foonf, Diono (with angle adjuster), Graco Extend2Fit’s and Nuna Rava all stand a good chance at fitting behind a taller driver, especially when the driver sits fairly upright. All of these seats can be installed more upright for kids who can sit upright unsupported, and the more upright the car seat, the less room it will take up into the front seat. 

If you have very little room in back AND want your baby to be more reclined:  Nuna Rava or the Graco Extend2Fit without the foot rest pulled out are your best bets.

Notes for specific seats:

Diono: Use an angle adjuster (sold separately by Diono for $10) to sit the Diono more upright.

Clek Fllo: Removing the anti-rebound bar will typically sit the car seat more upright (although you are removing a safety feature).

Clek Foonf: Will take up 1.5 inches less room into the front seat than a Fllo (using the anti-rebound bar) so we’d suggest Foonf (not Fllo) if you are tight on space.

Graco, Nuna & Safety 1st: Multiple recline positions are allowed for rear-facing. Choose the most upright position permitted to make more room in front.

If you have very little room in back AND want your baby to be more reclined:  Nuna Rava or the Graco Extend2Fit without the foot rest pulled out are your best bets.

Forward-facing longevity

Longest lasting: The Diono, by a tiny margin, has the highest top shoulder strap slot on all of these seats, and will last a tiny bit longer forward-facing.

Almost as long-lasting: The Graco Extend2Fit & Clek Foonf/Fllo will fit most kids until they are ready to transition to a booster. The average kid will get until about their 6th birthday (forward-facing) in a Clek.

Outgrown soonest: The Nuna Rava will be outgrown the soonest forward-facing as it has the lowest top shoulder strap slot of all of these seats. 

Booster mode usability

A note about longevity and these seats’ booster modes 

Diono: The booster mode on the Diono seats is outgrown at the same time the child outgrows the forward-facing harness mode – so you’ll need to buy the child a booster when they outgrow the Diono forward-facing.

Graco & Safety 1st: These turn into boosters but they will not fit a child in booster mode long enough, and you’ll still end up buying a high back booster that can accommodate a taller child eventually.

User friendly straps

If you are buckling your child in snugly in these seats, it’s necessary to loosen the straps each time you take your child out, and tighten them each time you buckle your child in.

User friendly straps are therefore really important–because you must use them every single time you use the seat! 

Winner: Clek seats, hands-down, have the most user-friendly straps – they pull the smoothest of any seat we’ve found and the straps simply don’t twist.

Runner Up: Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 model (ONLY this model). The straps on this seat pull very smoothly due to a roller system on the back of the seat. This model lost top place because its straps tend to twist more than do the straps on the Cleks.

Third place: Other Graco Extend2Fit models, since their straps can be a little stiff to tighten on smaller kids. Straps pull smoothly for rear-facing bigger kids.

Fourth place: Safety 1st straps require some muscle to pull tight.

Last place: Diono. These straps are the most difficult amongst this bunch of seats. Specifically, tightening them on a rear-facing child is much harder than it is on other seats. You’ll have to use your bicep to pull these tight enough.

Motion limiting features (Anti-rebound bars, load legs, Swedish and Australian tethers)

Anti-rebound bars: These prevent a rear-facing car seat from rebounding towards the back of the vehicle during a frontal crash, avoiding a forward motion for the child. Mandatory on Clek Foonf and optional on Clek Fllo. 

Load legs: See this page for all you could ever want to know about load legs. Currently not offered on any convertible car seats sold in the US.

Tethering for rear-facing: See here for a discussion of the Australian tether system, currently offered by Clek

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FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this page. No monetary compensation was provided, however, a few of the reviewed products were supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate the review. All opinions are those of The Car Seat Lady, LLC.