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20 July 2021

The best child car seats for older children

Find out which types of Isofix and belted child car seats from Group 2/3 are best for older children as they grow, and why it's not recommended to use backless booster seats.
HF
Hannah Fox
Child in child car seat

Child car seats are designed to protect children's soft bones and vulnerable internal organs from birth to the age of 12, or 135cm, when your child will no longer legally need to use a car seat in the UK.

In the table below we've rounded up 10 of the best car seats for children aged four and older. They're i-Size and Group 2/3 car seats that are the top-scoring models in our rigorous car seat crash tests.

We’ve also picked three of the worst Don't Buy child car seats, so you know which ones to avoid, as they didn’t provide a suitable level of protection in our crash tests.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Top 10 best child car seats for older children

  • 76%
    £90.00

    This high-backed booster seat is a Group 2/3 car seat designed to take your child from around four years (18kg) until they reach 36kg in weight, which is about 12 years old. It uses Isofix to attach to your car.

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  • 76%
    £160.00

    This Best Buy multigroup seat provides a good level of protection in a crash, both as a Group 1 seat and as a Group 2/3 seat. It can be used from 9kg to 36kg, which is generally one year to 12 years old, and it has Isofix connectors which make it easy to install. The well-padded seat can be reclined and it offers good leg support, so it should provide a comfortable ride for older children.

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  • 76%
    £176.00

    Suitable from 9kg to 36kg (roughly one to 12 years old), this car seat is a Best Buy that’s good value for money. It gets four stars for overall safety and it’s very easy to use, which is no mean feat for a multi-group car seat. In Group 1 mode it uses an impact shield to hold your child in place, but as a Group 2/3 seat your child is secured using the adult seat belt.

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  • 75%
    £130.00

    This Group 2/3 high-back booster seat has advanced side-impact protection and an additional attachment point to help ensure the best lap belt position. It gets a good four-star rating overall for safety, and if you use the optional Isofix connectors it means you don't need to remember to secure the car seat when it's not in use.

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  • 74%
    £190.00

    This i-Size high-back booster seat is approved to the latest regulations, and is suitable for use with children between 100 and 150cm tall, which is around age three to 12 years. Read the full review to find out how it performed in our tough crash tests.

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  • 74%
    £170.00

    Billed as being ideal for adapting to your growing child, this i-Size high-backed booster car seat should safely take your child from four to 12 years old. Read our review to find out how much protection this car seat offers in a crash, and whether it’s worth investing in.

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  • 74%
    £80.00

    This car seat has no major weaknesses and is among the cheapest Best Buy Group 2/3 car seats currently available. The level of overall crash protection is good, it's straightforward to install and easy to use. You can adapt it to comfortably fit your growing child, and the Isofix connectors allow you to securely attach it to your car, even when it's not in use.

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  • 74%
    £179.00

    The side-impact results in our crash tests were impressive enough to make this high-backed booster seat a Best Buy. It’s a Group 2/3 car seat for children from 15kg to 36kg (approximately three and a half to 12 years). It can be installed in the car using the Isofix mounts for a stable fit, and it uses the adult seat belt to hold the seat and your child in place.

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  • 73%
    £105.00

    This car seat claims to give a safe ride for children aged four to 12 years, despite being a conveniently light weight. Our tough tests put those claims to the test – read our car seat review for our expert verdict.

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  • 71%
    £169.00

    Just shy of a Best Buy, this high-backed booster seat is a decent all-rounder, with good crash-test scores, easy installation and lots of features to give your child the most comfortable ride possible.

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Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of July 2021.

Want to see more choices? Browse all our best child car seats we've reviewed

Low scoring car seats for older children to avoid

As well as recommending the best, we think it’s also important to highlight the child car seats for older kids that you need to avoid.

Below are the low-scoring car seats for kids aged between 4 and 12 we've labelled Don't Buys because the samples we tested weren’t as safe as they should be.

  • 42%
    £200.00

    This multi-stage car seat is approved for use from birth up to 36kg, which is around 12 years old when your child will no longer need to use a car seat. Although it’s a well-padded seat and comfortable seat, a combination of poor frontal crash-test results and complicated installation means we've had to limit the score to 42%. This means it falls below our Don't Buy threshold.

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  • 38%
    £249.00

    This multi-group seat is difficult to install and it had disappointing crash test results whether it’s used rearward-facing or forward-facing. In our tests this seat scored poorly for frontal-impact when used rearward-facing in Group 0+/1 mode and forward-facing Isofix Group 1, as well as belted-only in Group 2/3 mode for older children.

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  • 0
    £40.00

    This backless booster seat looks like a good option for parents, as it's small and easily transportable, so you can take it on holiday. But our crash tests show that it provides virtually no side-impact protection and little front-impact protection, plus the seat belt cut into the neck area on our crash test dummies. For these reasons it’s a 0% Don’t Buy.

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Pricing and test scores correct as of July 2021.

Child car seat law for older children

Child car seats distribute the crash forces over as wide an area as possible and protect your child from being injured by coming into contact with the vehicle interior.

According to UK law, every child must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135cm/4ft 5in tall, whichever comes first.

In many other European countries the cut-off is higher, at 150cm/4ft 11in, and many child car seats for older children sold in the UK can be used with kids up to 150cm tall.

Find everything you need to know about car seat law in our guide to car seat laws in the UK and abroad.

High-back booster seats and backless booster seats compared

Your child's bones continue to strengthen as they grow older, and once they reach around four years old you can swap to a high-back booster seat (Group 2/3 or i-Size).

These car seats raise your child and help guide the adult seat belt across them, so that it lies properly across the chest and pelvis. They also have a protective headrest and side wings, which will help protect your child's head in a crash.

Maxi Cosi brand rear facing car seat

Backless booster seats can be cheaper and seem more convenient to use (especially if you need to move the child car seat between cars), but they offer very little protection in a crash, particularly if you’re hit from the side, and they have no way of keeping the shoulder strap of a three-point adult seatbelt in the right place on a child.

Find out more in our guide to booster seats for children and booster seat law and go to our car seat weight groups explained to find out more about what car seat is right for your child.

* In February 2021, Which? surveyed 2,021 parents with children under five.

Video: how to fit a high-back booster seat

What are the best child car seats for tall children?

If you want to keep your in a child car seat for as long as possible for safety reasons, but they have reached or now exceed the 135cm/4ft 5in height threshold, there are still some options available to you.

We’ve tested child car seats that can be used up to 150cm/4ft 9in, and in some cases up to 160cm/5ft 3in.

They include: