Convertible Car Seat review: Cosco Easy Elite 3-in-1 Convertible Car SeatPrice$100

Type: Convertible seat, booster.

Limits: 5 to 40 lbs. rear facing,
22 to 50 lbs. forward facing.
40 to 80 lbs. booster mode.

NHTSA ease of use rating:
All modes: four out of five modes

Pros: Under $100 for three seats: convertible (rear-facing), convertible (forward-facing) and booster (belt-positioning).

Cons: Walmart exclusive. Requires rolled-up towel to correctly angle seat in rear-facing position. Doesn’t fit smaller babies well (under 10 lbs.). Hard to tighten harness, say readers.

Comments: A combination seat morphs from a convertible  (rear and forward-facing) to a booster car seat—these seats are pitching to parents as “3 in 1” seat miracles that work from birth until age 8. Cosco’s track record in this category has been mixed—yes, its sister brand Safety 1st has a hit with the Grow & Go (reviewed here) three-in-one. But there is also stinkers like the infamous Cosco Alpha Omega, a seat that sucked in just about every way possible.

The Easy Elite 3-in-1 looks like a great deal on paper—no rethread harness, machine washable pad, side impact protection and a narrow footprint. That’s impressive for a seat that sells for about $100.

But take it out in the real world and the frustrations begin. More than a few readers said tightening the harness on the Easy Elite isn’t anything close to easy. Even though the Easy Elite includes an infant insert cushion, this seat doesn’t fit smaller babies under 10 lbs in safe manner, in our opinion. And seat’s overall size means kids will outgrow the booster seat mode by height long before they reach that 80 lbs weight limit.

Echoing the installation concerns, NHTSA’s ease of use ratings chimes with a one-star rating for this seat “installation features” (although the seat four out of five stars overall).

On the plus side, the booster mode safety belt fit with the Cosco Easy Elite is much better than Cosco’s past efforts in this category.

Bottom line: if you want an all-in-one seat, consider the Safety 1st Grow & Go. Yes, it costs $70 more but fits newborns better and overall performance far outshines the Easy Elite. We realize that under $100 price tag is tempting, but as with Cosco’s previous attempts at all-in-one seats, the Easy Elite falls short. Rating: D