Kids are expensive. Everybody told us so, but we never realized HOW expensive. Face it; priorities matter. Safety is a complete non-negotiable. And, unfortunately, safety is often the most expensive of all.
When you’re shopping for car seats, you can easily land yourself in quicksand. Many retailers will try to sell you a seat for every growth stage. This is a money-spinner for them and a bottomless pit for you.
It’s a lot more worthwhile to think about getting a car seat that will accommodate your child (safely) through their growth. That is until they’ve grown out of car seats entirely.
We’re going to look at Diono car seats in particular in this article.
Diono has more than two decades of design and engineering under the belt. They’re based in Seattle, and their products are proudly made in the USA. They claim more than a million kids sit in Diono car seats every day.
Our top picks for today are:
- Diono Radian 3R All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
- Diono Radian 3RXT All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
- Diono Everett NXT
- Diono Monterey XT LATCH
- Diono Rainier All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
All of these car seats have been designed and built according to Diono’s uncompromising quality and safety standards. And they’re all built with convenience and value for money in mind.
#1 Diono Radian 3R
This is an all-in-one convertible. The seat can fit three kids in the back. Weight-wise, it’s good for newborns, and it will accommodate children up to 100-pounds.
This design is forward-thinking. It allows a rear-facing position, which studies have shown to be safer for children. This is significant and puts the Radian 3R high up on our list.
The seat is ultra-stylish – it will look good in just about any car. The fabric is comfortable and soft but cleans easily. And it’s super-absorbent. All of these features work together to make your child’s riding experience as comfortable as possible.
If there is a spill, and these are inevitable, simply detach the cover from the seat and wash on a delicate setting.
The build quality is quite astonishing. The seat has an alloy frame. And it has aluminum sidewalls with EPS foam to absorb the impact should you get in an accident.
And, for comfort, the seat is dressed in memory foam.
This memory foam was also designed to protect the child in the unfortunate case of an accident.
Diono uses super-LATCH technology in all their car seats. You’ll know the seat is secured properly because the latch makes a specific click when it slips into place. Listen out for that, and you know you’re in.
The bottom has a rubber base. It’s non-slip, so even on rough terrain with a lot of jarring, the seat won’t move.
- It’s convertible
- It can face the rear
- The seat has an alloy frame
- The fabrics are all machine washable
- You can fit three of these seats in a single back seat
- The frame is a steel alloy
- It can safely accommodate kids up to 100-pounds
- Exploring little fingers could accidentally unlatch the chest clasp
- Installing it in the rear-facing position could be a challenge
#2 Diono Radian 3RXT
The weight range of this seat goes up to 120-pounds. The headrest will adjust twelve ways. It’s perfect for using through all the stages until the child outgrows the car seat altogether.
The color choices are great on this Diono model. It’s a car seat and a fashion statement in one. For up to 45-pounds, this seat will support rear-facing installation. And the seat will keep your child completely safe until he or she reaches around 120-pounds.
This seat is also approved by the FAA for safe air travel.
The headrest will adjust twelve ways, and along with the fully adjustable shoulder positions and sizes, it will comfortably accommodate your child all the way up to the point they no longer need the seat.
Material on this Diono is easily removable and cleans easily. Remove, machine-wash on a delicate setting, and re-fit. Done and dusted!
For busy moms, this is a godsend.
The steel alloy frame of this seat was engineered around impact protection, and it will withstand just about anything you can throw at it. There are panels on the side, also made of reinforced aluminum, and also on the headrest.
The whole seat was designed and built with the best child protection technology available on the market.
As they do on their other seats, Dione also uses memory foam to cover the seat. This foam was specifically made for additional impact protection.
- The side-impact protection is a brilliant feature
- The fabrics are all washable and super absorbent
- Rear-facing weight – up to 45-pounds
- Reinforced support for the child’s head, as well as aluminum side protection
- It will handle kids weighing up to 120-pounds
- It will definitely grow with your child
- Various features on the seat are fully and easily adjustable
- The EPS foam provides an extra layer of protection
- The steel alloy reinforced frame
- It takes time to make the adjustments
- Although it will fit three seats on the average back seat, it’s difficult to install this configuration
#3 Diono Everett NXT
This is a high-back booster that will work for kids between 40 and 120-pounds
This seat has seven headrest settings for your kid’s comfort and is covered in plush, durable fabric. The absorbency of the cover is excellent, and it is machine washable. Removing and replacing it is a cinch.
Diono uses its unique impact-absorbent foam in this seat. This patent provides an extra layer of protection in case of a collision. The aluminum frame is lightweight and easy to maneuver but designed with impact absorbent engineering, much like automobile bodies.
The LATCH feature is built into this seat’s design as well – which means you’ll always know by the click that the seat is properly secured.
- It weighs in at 8.9 pounds.
- Designed and built for kids between 4 and 12 years old
- The headrest adjusts to seven different positions
- The design is completely ergonomic
- It really is lightweight and easy to maneuver
- It will safely accommodate kids up to 12 years old
- The LATCH system provides a lot of peace of mind
- It lacks the headrest adjustability of the other Diono seats
#4 Diono Monterey XT LATCH
This Diono features a backless and a high-back for the price of one. The colors are great, and it has the durability and safety standards of Diono to back it up.
Once your child gets to 40-pounds, this seat is perfect. It will grow with your child until the little one reaches 120 pounds.
The headrest adjusts more than eleven different ways with an easy-to-reach knob on the back. Proper fit and comfort are paramount in this seat. All it takes is a little time upfront, and you’re done. Until the next growth spurt!
You can also expand the width of the seat (with the same adjustment knob on the back) and widen it by up to twenty inches.
The aluminum frame of this seat makes it easy to carry and a breeze to store.
The latch system makes installation really easy – under a minute. You can take the back off the seat and convert it into a rear-facing seat too.
The reinforced sides and the EPS impact-absorbing foam are standard on this Diono seat.
- It will accommodate children from 40-pounds to 120-pounds
- It’s really easy to install
- The seat features cup holders too
- The headrest adjusts to 11 different positions
- The seat features aluminum siding for reinforcement
- The EPS protection foam is a winner all the way
- The headrest that adjusts eleven different ways
- The seat’s base may be too wide for some vehicles
- This seat is not a fully convertible, all-in-one in the classic sense
#5 Diono Rainier
This Diono is an all-in-one convertible. It accommodates a rear-facing position for children up to 45-pounds and comes in two different colors.
There’s nothing quite as frustrating as having to struggle to put something like a car seat together because we don’t do it all that often. We lack the natural instincts to know what goes where.
This seat from Diono makes installation a breeze with its LATCH system. It takes mere minutes from start to click!
The design of the seat is low enough to allow the child to get into and out of the seat by themselves once they’re old enough. Buckling up is a cinch – and the LATCH system comes into play here too. Every time you hear the click on a Diono, you know you are secured and ready to go.
The reinforced alloy frame from Diono is arguably the best on the market. The protection this frame offers through its unique design and safety features is genuinely second to none. It’s real peace of mind in a car seat.
If you need to remove it, the seat folds flat and has straps on the back that make it easy to haul it around. The flat fold also makes it really easy to store. Not much space is required.
- The seat supports a rear-facing configuration
- The frame is Diono’s reinforced alloy design
- It’s an absolute pleasure to install and remove
- Easy access for the child
- It folds for easy handling and storage
- It has (drumroll, please) cup holders!
- Really easy for a child, especially when it gets a bit older and more mobile
- Storage and maneuverability is great with the folding function
- It may not fit in all cars
- The seat is rather big and bulky
How to Choose the Right Model?
A car seat is primarily about safety. As your little one outgrows one car seat, you’ll have to consider another for their safety. Or do you buy a seat that will grow with the child?
Let’s look at a couple of options and explain what is available and why.
A Car Seat for Infants
For most parents, this is the first purchase. A seat like this is only for rear-facing installation, and it is often a carrier that simply connects to a base that is more or less permanently installed in the car.
This type of seat is designed to keep infants and smaller babies safe and is generally for children weighing from four to forty pounds.
Kids outgrow these seats before they get to 40-pounds, as a rule of thumb. When the crown of your child’s head is one inch or less from the top of the car seat’s shell, they’re too tall to be safe in the seat.
A Convertible Car Seat
Once your child outgrows an infant seat, a convertible seat is the next logical purchase. This should happen on or before your child turns one. Not later than that.
These seats are either forward or rear-facing.
These seats have a rear-facing weight limit that is higher. This is great because the American Academy of Pediatrics has strongly recommended a rear-facing position as the safest option when transporting a child.
If your child is younger than one year and weighs less than twenty pounds, the car seat should ideally be installed to face the rear. Most of the seats will allow for a rear-facing installation for children weighing up to forty or even fifty pounds.
Although manufacturers allow grace for forward-facing installation after the age of one, most safety experts recommend a rear-facing installation right up to the limit the seat will allow.
States like WA, VA, SC, RI, PA, OR, OK, NJ, NE, ME, LA, IL, DC, CT, and CA insist children younger than two rides facing the rear.
The seat can then be replaced with a booster seat to allow a forward-facing position.
Many of these seats will accommodate weights up to sixty-five pounds, but remember, these seats aren’t a great fit for small infants. It also lacks the convenience of a carrier you can detach.
A Booster Seat
Once your child exceeds the height and weight specifications of the harness of a forward-facing seat, a booster seat is a next step up. It uses the car’s seatbelt to secure the child.
A booster seat raises your child so that the seatbelt fits well. It should always cross over the sternum and lay flat on the collarbone. Below, it should cross the thighs and not the abdomen.
These chairs are usually either high-back or backless.
The high-backs are recommended because of the better seat-belt position. They also are more comfortable for kids, and they do provide added side-impact protection.
The booster laws in many states are becoming stricter. Children up to 80 pounds and nine years old are required to be secured in booster seats in some states.
The Great Old All-In-One
These seats will accommodate your child all the way from birth to when they’re ready for a booster seat. That’s excellent value. But remember, because they do so many things, they don’t necessarily do any one thing perfectly.
Generally, an all-in-one will handle weights from four to fifty pounds. That’s for rear-facing installations. In a forward-facing harness, these seats are usually good for weights ranging from around twenty pounds to around sixty-five pounds. And then, for thirty to a hundred and twenty pounds in booster mode.
The all-in-ones are generally heavy and large. They don’t have anywhere near the convenience of a detachable carrier and are mostly not good for smaller babies. Also, vehicle size comes into play – if you drive something small, you may struggle to install one of these.
A Toddler Booster
A toddler booster is only for kids who have reached the appropriate height, weight, and age to sit in a forward-facing position.
They’re also designed to be forward-facing only. The toddler boosters usually have a harness, and then they will transition to a general booster when the child is tall and heavy enough.
A toddler booster is usually for kids between twenty and ninety pounds.
These seats are less expensive than convertible seats, and they offer a safe alternative for children who are not ready for a full booster or a seat that will handle the transition.
A car seat should be right at the top of your priority list. You shouldn’t even consider leaving the hospital without one!
Safety is top of mind. And you’re covered on all fronts in that regard. Manufacturers in this segment of the market are responsible, and a brand like Diono leads the way.
The safety standards are stringent, and most of the reputable manufacturers exceed those prescribed standards anyway.
These car seats are also feature-packed. Designers and engineers spare no expense to make sure that your comfort and convenience and your baby’s comfort and safety are catered for in every conceivable way.
Happy, HAPPY travels!