After thorough testing, the best car seat for kids five and older is the Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster. One of the key benefits of the Graco Tranzitions is its versatility. With three different modes, it can be used for children at various stages of development and weight ranges.
This means you can buy a single car seat that can grow with your child and be used for several years. It also features a five-point harness system that can be adjusted to fit children of different sizes and provide a secure fit. The seat ranks 4.8/5 stars (out of more than 3700 ratings as of April 2023) and #2 in Child Safety Booster Car Seats.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42% of children killed in car crashes in 2020 were unrestrained, and 46% of car and booster seats were misused.
A report by the NHTSA further found that from 2019-2020 276 children between the ages of four and seven died in car accidents.
Choosing the correct car seat, and using it correctly, for your older child is crucial. But it can be tricky. There are many things you have to consider, and the specifics can make the choice overwhelming. I’ve tested a few and have compiled a list of the best car seats for children five and older to help you decide on the best choice for your family.
Top Car Seats For 5-Year-Old Children
- 3-in-1 harness booster helps protect your child, from toddler to youth
- Grows with your child from forward-facing harness (22-65 pounds) to highback booster (40-100 pounds) to backless booster (40-100 pounds) to continue to meet industry standards, we have increased the weight minimum from 30 to 40 pounds
- No-rethread simply safe adjust harness system allows the headrest and harness to adjust together in one motion.Do not use bleach
- Works with children from 22 to 100 pounds
- Narrow design and light weight make it very portable
- Headrest height is super easy to adjust with a single hand
- Very sleek, comfortable fabric
- Does not have a steel reinforced frame
- No storage area for the harness once removed
- You may find the LATCH clips annoying vs. push button method
The Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster seat, designed for children between 22 and 100 pounds, can be used as a forward-facing harness seat, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. It comes with a Simply Safe Adjust Harness System, which allows you to adjust the harness and headrest height in one motion.
- Weight: 20.5 pounds
- Dimensions: 19.88 x 17.4 x 26.5 inches
- Height limit: 57 inches
- Weight limit: 100 pounds
- Easy to install and adjust.
- The 3-in-1 design makes it an excellent long-term investment.
- Provides a high level of comfort and support for your child.
- It can be bulky and difficult to move between cars.
- The cup holder is not very sturdy.
An upgrade from the Pinnacle, this seat can be used as a 5-point harness (25-65 lbs) and a belt-positioning high back booster (65-120 lbs). It accommodates an extra inch and 20 pounds more than most boosters on the market, which means your child stays safer for longer.
As with all Britax seats, you’re getting exceptional safety features, starting with the three layers of side-impact protection and a V-shaped tether to keep the seat fully restrained. The SafeCell crumples beneath the seat absorb crash impact, and the steel frame keeps the seat stable under any circumstances.
With a 9-position headrest, this seat is a great option for tall kids, and the armrests, cupholders, and soft fabric make for a comfortable ride. Bonus: you can remove the machine-washable cover without uninstalling the seat OR rethreading the harness!
- Colour-coded belt guide
- SafeWash fabric that’s easily removed
- 5-point and high back booster
- Good for tall and heavy kids
- Easy installation
- Steel frame
- SafeCell crumples
- Easy-to-wash fabric
- Three layers of side-impact protection
- Can be used for taller kids with longer
- Comes with comfortable harness pads
- The cover is naturally flame retardant
- Easy to install
- Straps can be hard to adjust
- Not very comfy for long car rides
- Pricier than other seats
The Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus Harness-2-Booster is a convertible car seat that can be used as a harness seat for children weighing 25 to 65 pounds and as a booster seat for children weighing 40 to 120 pounds.
- Weight: 26.5 pounds
- Dimensions: 25 x 24 x 42 inches
- Height limit (Harness mode): 49 inches or less
- Weight limit (Harness mode): 25-65 pounds
- Height limit (Booster mode): 49-62 inches
- Weight limit (Booster mode): 40-120 pounds
- ClickTight installation system allows for easy and secure installation.
- SafeCell Impact Protection system provides multiple layers of protection in the event of a collision.
- Adjustable 5-point harness and headrest offer a customized fit for growing children.
- Multiple recline positions ensure a comfortable ride.
- Built-in cup holders provide a convenient place for drinks and snacks.
- Easy-to-remove covers make cleaning a breeze.
- Some parents have reported difficulty tightening the harness enough to secure their child properly.
- The car seat is relatively heavy and bulky, which may make it difficult to move between vehicles.
- The crotch buckle may be too short for some larger children, making it difficult to buckle them in comfortably.
- Some parents have reported difficulty adjusting the headrest due to its stiffness.
- 2-in-1 Booster - Forward-facing harness (22-50poundss) converts to belt-positioning booster (40-110 pounds)
- Dual Cup Holders: Two built-in cup holders keep drinks and snacks within reach - allowing the driver to stay focused on the road
- Upfront Harness Adjust: Central, front access to the harness adjuster provides an easy way to adjust a child's harness for an accurate, snug fit
- Shoulder Belt Guide: Automatically position the vehicle belt in the proper position for your child
- Easy to Clean - Wipeable and machine-washable car seat pad removes for easy cleaning
- 9 lb weight means it's easily portable between cars
- The cover is machine washable and quality, despite the low price
- Good-sized cupholders will fit those odd-shaped cups
- Fewer recline and adjustment options than in other models
- LATCH installation wasn't the easiest we've seen
The Evenflo Maestro Sport harness booster car seat is designed for children weighing between 22 and 110 pounds. It comes with a five-point harness that can be used for up to 50 pounds, and then it can be converted to a belt-positioning booster seat. This car seat also features a headrest that can be adjusted to six positions.
- Weight: 11 pounds
- Dimensions: 18 x 20 x 27 inches
- Height limit: 57 inches
- Weight limit: 110 pounds
- Lightweight and easy to move between cars.
- Affordable price point.
- Provides good comfort and support for your child.
- The cup holder may not be suitable for larger cups.
- The harness can be difficult to tighten and loosen.
The Maxi Cosi Magellan XP Max is an all-in-one baby car seat that accommodates children from 5 to 120 pounds and can be used as a rear-facing, forward-facing, or booster seat. It meets federal safety standards and features an adjustable headrest and recline positions, a 5-point harness system, and advanced side impact protection.
The car seat is highly recommended for its versatility, comfort, and safety features. It provides parents with the convenience of a single purchase that can last through multiple stages of their child's growth, giving them peace of mind while on the road.
- Soft, plush fabric and padding
- Easy to tighten
- ClipQuik magnetic chest clip
- Washable, removable seat and cup holders
- Expensive- but it’s the only seat you’ll need!
The Maxi-Cosi Magellan XP Max all-in-one convertible car seat is designed for children between 5 and 120 pounds. It comes with a three-in-one design that includes a rear-facing seat, a forward-facing seat, and a booster seat. This car seat also features a 14-position headrest that can be adjusted with one hand.
- Weight: 25.6 pounds
- Dimensions: 25 x 21 x 24 inches
- Height limit: 57 inches
- Provides a long-term solution for your child’s car safety needs.
- Easy to adjust with a 14-position headrest and three-in-one design.
- Comfortable seat with ample padding and support.
- It comes with a cup holder and a storage compartment.
- Easy to install and remove from the car.
- Relatively expensive
- It may not fit well in smaller cars due to its size and weight.
- The straps can be difficult to tighten and loosen.
- The cup holder may not be able to accommodate larger cups or bottles.
When Diono set out to design a car seat, they really put a lot of thought into what parents are looking for. Just by looking at it, you can the Diono Cambria High Back Booster Car Seat is different from its competitors.
It easily converts to a backless booster and is available in various colours and patterns. Diono has created its own safety system to protect your child from the front, rear, and side.
This system includes a structural headrest, a rigid latch, energy-absorbing foam, a magnesium back frame, and belt guides.
The fabrics are stain-resistant and spill-resistant, with the exception of the luxury automotive fabric used on the Diono Cambria
They resist moisture and odour-causing bacteria and contain no flame-retardant chemicals.
- Easy to Install
- Rigid-Latch System
- Easy to Clean Removable Seat Cushion and Cover
- Suitable for Cars without Head Restraints
- Great Test Results
- High Quality
- Smaller and Compact – Ideal for Smaller Vehicles
- Pricier than Most
- May be too Wide for Some Cars
- Armrest Makes it Difficult to Remove the Child
- Recline Feature Can Only be Used with the Rigid-LATCH System
- Weight: 40-120 pounds
- Dimensions: 16.1 x 20.1 x 29.9 inches
- Height limit: 38-63 inches
- Multiple recline positions provide flexibility and comfort during travel.
- Removable and machine-washable cover for convenient cleaning.
- Enhanced safety during side-impact collisions.
- Easy installation and ensures a secure fit.
- Can be used for an extended period as the child grows.
- May not be compatible with smaller vehicles or multiple car seats.
- The range of recline may not be as extensive as other car seats.
- Relatively heavy, making it less convenient for transportation. to tighten and loosen.
Types of 5-Year-Old Car Seats
Booster seats help your 5-year-old feel more grown-up. They are less restrained and look more like an adult seats. When choosing a booster seat, you will have two choices: high-back and backless.
High-back booster seats are comparable to car seat. They are small with a back and a bottom and are placed on your rear passenger seat. They have back and head supports.
These provide extra support to the head and neck, making them especially beneficial for children who still fall asleep when traveling in the car or for long road trips.
The high-back has a guide to thread the shoulder belt, and on some, the backrest can be adjusted for height. Most high-backs come with padded headrests. Some high-backs are available as a 3-in-1 combination that can convert from rear-facing to forward-facing to booster seat. Some high-backs have a removable back – converting it to a backless.
Backless booster seats are the final stage before your child is ready to go without a safety seat. They only have the seat element, giving the booster extra height so that it can be safely strapped in. They don’t offer any neck or head support.
This type of booster has seatbelt guides that position the seatbelt over the correct place on the child’s body. They are compact and lightweight and typically less expensive. They are easy to transport for long and short trips. This is especially pleasing if you travel.
When Do You Need a Booster Seat for Your 5-year-old?
You shouldn’t necessarily go by age when thinking about switching over to a booster seat. Kids grow at different rates. It basically boils down to the height and weight of your little one.
If your little one exceeds or is close to exceeding the height and weight limits of their current seat, it is definitely time to consider moving up to a booster seat. Here are some questions to consider:
What Is the Right Age, Height, and Weight for A Booster Seat?
The child should be between four and eight years old and at least 35 inches tall. They should weigh between 40 and 80 pounds and be less than 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Are they Riding Comfortably?
Your child should be riding comfortably in his/her seat without having to slump over or pull their knees up.
Will They Still Be Safe in a Booster Seat?
Yes. Like child car seats, booster seats have to meet the specified requirements established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). If you fall into either of the first two questions, it’s time to look into choosing a car booster seat for your child.
The great thing about investing in a booster seat is it will last until your little one is between 8 and 12 years old, depending on their rate of growth. This is usually up to 4 feet 9 inches tall and 120 pounds.
Is it Easy to Install?
Car seats are typically installed using either the LATCH system or the seatbelt system. The LATCH system is almost always easier to install thanks to the built-in anchors and tethers.
Choosing a car seat that has both the LATCH system and the seatbelt system is best for those who move the seat from car to car or travel.
How Safe is It?
Safety comes first! That’s the primary reason we purchase car seats for our children. To ensure their safety. When choosing a seat for your five-year-old, consider how easy it is to install. Does it have side impact protection? Is it easy to hook and unhook?
Does it have various installation systems in case you are travelling or moving from car to car? How well did it do in crash tests? Does it have other safety features?
Is it Durable?
If you intend to keep your car seat for quite some time, durability is a must. Look for booster seats that have a heavy-duty frame.
Is it Easy to Clean?
For the booster seat cover, choose a fabric that is durable, easily washable, and waterproof. Most seat covers are easily wiped down or machine washable. Almost all are water-resistant.
Booster Seat Safety for Young Children
When your little one reaches the age of five, they are probably getting too big for their original child car seat. Depending on the make and the model, most forward-facing car seats accommodate children who weigh between 40 and 65 pounds with a height up to 44 to 49 inches. Be sure to refer to the owner’s manual to verify weight and height limits. Other safety considerations:
5-Point Safety Harness
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends children between the ages of four and seven use a forward-facing child car seat with a 5-point safety harness until they reach the weight and height limit permitted by the seat.
It increases safety in the occurrence of an automobile collision. The 5-point safety harness is actually a mandate in NASCAR race car competitions.
LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. It consists of built-in hooks and straps on the booster seat that anchor to the hardware inside your car. The LATCH system can be used in place of seatbelts. In most cases, LATCH is not used or needed for booster seats.
Height on Backless Booster Seats
For the backless booster seat, be sure your child’s ears do not go above the top of your car’s seat. This will ensure proper head protection and prevent whiplash. If your child’s ears do go above your car’s seat, consider choosing a high-back booster seat.
Your car’s seatbelt should always make contact with your child’s chest and shoulders, coming across the top of their thighs and without touching the stomach area.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Car Seat Should Your Five-Year-Old Be In?
A five-year-old child should be in a forward-facing car seat with a harness, ideally in the vehicle’s back seat. The type of car seat appropriate will depend on your child’s weight and height.
Most five-year-olds will fit in a combination car seat, one that can be used as a forward-facing harnessed seat and then converted into a booster seat as your child grows. It is essential to check the weight and height limits of the seat to ensure that it is appropriate.
Should My Five-Year-Old Be in a Car Seat or Booster?
According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), all children should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least two years old or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer. After that, children should ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they reach the highest weight or height the car seat manufacturer allows, usually around four years old.
Does My Five-Year-Old Need a 5-Point Harness?
The AAP recommends that children ride in a 5-point harness until they reach the highest weight or height the car seat manufacturer allows, usually around 65 to 80 pounds and 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Do I Need a Car Seat for My Five-Year-Old on a Plane?
There is no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirement for children over two to use a car seat or any other form of restraint during a flight. Instead, the FAA recommends that older children use the airplane seat belt provided by the airline and that parents ensure that the seat belt fits snugly across their thighs and hips.
Best Car Seat for A Five-Year-Old with a 5-Point Harness
The KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat is the best seat with a 5-point-harness. There are two position points at each shoulder, two at the child’s hips, and one where the harness buckles between the legs to give your child the best possible protection.
Best Booster Seat for a Five-Year-Old
The Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster Car Seat is the best-rated booster seat on Amazon for five-year-olds and older. It’s Graco Protect Plus Engineered, which means it’s made with a combination of the most rigorous crash tests that helps protect your child in frontal, rear & rollover crashes. It’s designed for kids aged four to ten, 40 to 100 pounds, and from 43 to 57 inches tall.
Best Convertible Car Seat for a Five-Year-Old
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight is the best convertible car seat for a five-year-old. This car seat is suitable for children between 5 and 65 pounds and can be used as a rear-facing car seat for infants, a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness for toddlers, and a belt-positioning booster seat for older children. It has a patented ClickTight installation system that makes it easy to install securely and quickly, as well as a 14-position harness and 2-position buckle to ensure a comfortable and secure fit for your child.
Best Travel Car Seat for A Five-Year-Old
The BubbleBum Inflatable Backless Booster Car Seat is the best travel car seat for a five-year-old. This lightweight, compact booster seat is inflatable and can be deflated and folded to easily fit into a backpack or carry-on luggage. It is suitable for children between 40 and 100 pounds and has been tested and approved by the NHTSA.
Choosing the correct car seat for your family will put your mind at ease. Buy any of the products mentioned on Amazon, Target, or BuyBuyBaby.