I recommend the Cosco Easy Elite car seat for children age 2 years old and up in forward-facing mode. As a rear-facing car seat for infants and children under 2, the installation and some other drawbacks make this seat a bad choice. A better choice in the under-$100-range is the Safety 1st Guide 65.
The Cosco Easy Elite is a 3-in-1 car seat that is designed to accommodate children from 5-80 pounds. It is very cost effective, coming in at under $100, but isn’t quite as good as other alternatives as I’ll explain in this article. Here is the full list of compact convertible car seats.
- The Good
- The Not So Good
Long Range of Use
The Cosco Easy Elite car seat is designed for use from 5 to 80 pounds, as per the manufacturer. For rear facing, the weight limit is from 5-40 pounds which accommodates a decent range of extended rear facing. In forward facing, the Cosco Easy Elite can be used in two ways – forward-facing harness mode from 22-50 pounds and forward-facing belt-positioning booster from 40-80 pounds. When the child is ready to move to the booster mode, the harness is simply removed.
Definitely under $100, the Cosco Easy Elite car seat is a very cost efficient choice. Other convertible car seats that are an all in one solution from birth through booster cost 3 or even 4 times as much. So it’s a nice, cost effective option to have when you’re trying to save money, or need a seat for a second car etc.
Many parents noted that the car seat was not heavy which is great if you’re moving it a lot from vehicle to vehicle. At 14 pounds, it’s light enough to transport easily when necessary.
Great for older kids
Many parents reported this seat was a great solution for an older child who is forward facing. The children were comfortable, the seat was roomy and they didn’t mind sitting in it for extended periods of time. The seat didn’t dig into their legs as they hung over the seat.
The installation of the seat in forward facing mode is also much more user friendly than in rear facing mode. Being able to install the seat correctly greatly affects the seats ability to keep the child safe.
However, if you are looking at the Cosco Easy Elite as a solution for a baby, be sure to read on in the next section as to why it’s not a great solution for children in rear facing mode.
Parents reported that the seat was nicely padded and comfortable, and their children liked sitting in it. The headrest was nicely padded as well and it was a nice solution for long or short trips. The seat was a good fit for even really big kids at the height of the weight range in booster mode.
No re-thread harness
When the child has grown a bit and the headrest needs to be moved up, its a seamless process. The harness automatically moves with it and extends in length. This is a feature that used to be rare among car seats but is now pretty standard. What used to be a cumbersome process every time an adjustment had to be made is now simple and quick.
Machine washable cover
This might seem like a no-brainer, but most seats on the market today come with a cover that removes easily for machine washing and is dryer safe. The Cosco Easy Elite is no different. It also comes with a cup holder that removes and can be washed in the dishwasher.
The Not So Good
Not the best choice for rear facing
I read several reviews that mentioned the Cosco Easy Elite car seat was not the best performer rear facing. The parents had a hard time getting a tight fit when installing rear facing. This resulted in a very wiggly seat which is definitely not good. Rear facing mode is for smaller children and this is the stage when safety is of utmost importance.
The rear facing installation was cumbersome at best and completely unsafe at worst. Some parents were able to get a proper fit after a lot of finagling with rolled up towels to prop up the seat. But many parents ended up returning the car seat because they felt the installation was unsafe.
If you are considering buying this seat for rear facing use with a small baby or infant, I would probably research other seats that may be a better solution.
True 3 across choice?
The Cosco Easy Elite car seat is advertised as a 3 across solution in “most cars”. But many reviews I read said this was not true in their experience. I had trouble finding the accurate width for this seat. Walmart’s website quoted it as 20.29″, while other sources said 18″.
If the Cosco Easy Elite measures 20.29″ wide, it is definitely not the most narrow of the seats. Heck, the Chicco NextFit is 19″ wide and I know firsthand that it’s still too wide to be a 3 across solution for my SUV. Most car seats that are tried and true solutions for this scenario are 17″ wide. If it measures 18″, that would be much better, and possibly would work as a 3 across solution, depending on the vehicle.
So if you are considering this seat for its “3 across” benefit, you may want to do some research about your backseat width and the width of your other car seats. Don’t just take the manufacturer’s word for it in this case.
Also mentioned was the fact that this seat is not the most compact when rear facing. This means that people had to move the front seats up quite a bit in order to have enough room for a proper recline. The reviews I read that had trouble with this were not even sedans but SUV’s which typically have much more room. This probably depends on the vehicle, but something to be aware of!
Not a good solution for little babies
According to Car Seats For The Littles website, this car seat was not a good fit for teeny babies. Even though the manufacturer states the seat fits babies 5 lbs and up, it did not fit a 6 lb old baby well.
According to the manufacturer, the shoulder straps should be at or below the baby’s shoulders. On a 6 lb baby, the shoulder straps were much higher than the baby’s shoulders and the harness was much too loose. They also tried it on a 7 lb doll and again the scenario was the same. This is because the lowest harness setting is 10″ high, much too tall for an infant’s torso.
It’s hard to imagine how a 5 lb (minimum weight range) would fit in the seat if bigger babies were still much too small. The seat began fitting well with an 18 lb model and just barely then. So for this reason, I would definitely not recommend this seat for babies under 18-20 lbs.
Couple that with the possibility of a poor rear facing installation, and this becomes a terrible choice for little babies and smaller children.
Not a true all in one solution
This means that if you’re thinking of buying the seat because it’s enticing to have one car seat from birth on, you may want to think again.
Yes, it’s a cost effective choice. Yes, it’s a third or a fourth of the price of other all in one convertible car seats. But based on real reviews of this seat, it doesn’t begin to fit a child well until at least 6 months old or even a year old.
That’s a lot of time to be driving around unsafe. It’s just not worth it. I would definitely NOT recommend this seat for any child less than a year old.
Not easy to install safely
Part of my biggest issue with this seat is the difficulty with the installation of it. If you can NOT install the seat properly and consistently, it’s NOT safe and the probability of injury increases.
The level indicator on this seat is a line that is printed on the seat. I prefer the bubble level indicators, with acceptable range lines. With a line level indicator, it makes it a little more difficult to know whether the seat is actually level. You have to use your best judgement.
The NHTSA reviews car seats for ease of use, including ease of installation. This seat did not do so well. In Rear facing mode, it received 1 out of 5 stars for installation ease and in Forward facing mode, it received 3 out of 5 stars.
This further reinforces my opinion that this seat is best for older children rather than infants or smaller babies.
Overall, the Cosco Easy Elite is a good option for forward facing mode. If you have an infant seat that your baby is growing out of around age 2, and you’re looking for a seat to last the rest of the childhood, this would be a great option.
Because it’s recommended to rear face until at least the age of 2, I would not recommend this seat for any child under 2 years of age. The cumbersome installation rear facing is definitely a deterrent.