Meet the seats: Convertible car seats from Diono
So you’re looking for a convertible car seat and you’ve heard of this popular brand called Diono. You’ve gone to their website (us.diono.com), marveled at their user-friendly and clear-cut website, and admired the stamps for the multitude of awards the brand has acquired over the years. But… how do you choose which Diono seat is right for you? There are so many!
Here’s where we come in at Magic Beans: our job is to help narrow down the choices and clear up any confusion between the different models and how they apply to real-life, every day parenting situations. At Magic Beans we carry four of the most popular and practical Diono car seats.
All of these seats have some strong similarities: they are all very narrow in comparison to most convertible car seats, but with their sturdy steel frames and reinforced aluminum sides, they are heavier than some of the options out there. Despite their weight, the four Diono car seats that we carry are what Diono calls Convertible + Booster, what we term at Magic Beans as a combination convertible and booster seat, meaning that when you’re done using the seat as both rear-facing and forward-facing and your child grows out of the five-point harness, you can still use them as booster seats. So along with incredible quality, they offer a lot of longevity from a seat that won’t wear down over time!
On top of this, all models also come equipped with some standard cross-model features:
- Safestop energy absorbing harness
- Rear facing tether capabilities
- Unique SuperLATCH system
- Energy absorbing EPS foam panels on all sides
- Rubber bottom grips for no-slip installation
- Folds up for convenient travel and are FAA certified
- Removable fabric for easy cleaning
When it comes to the subject of installation, don’t fear. All Diono convertible car seats install the same way, whether you’re taking advantage of their SuperLATCH system, or just using the lap and shoulder belt. Though they are not as easy to install as Britax’s 3-step process, requiring a bit more finesse and some tightening, you can rest assured that once you install a Diono, you will get a tight, secure install that won’t require too much regular retightening, though it’s always good to check every now and then to make sure there’s never any wiggle in your install beyond one inch. (Not sure if you’ve got it right? There are plenty of places to get your car seat installation checked!)
Now that we’ve gone over some of the generic details about Diono (and there are a bunch more as shown on the Diono Car Seat Comparision chart found here), let’s get into the details of the four seats that I’ve grown to love during my time as a Magic Beans Gear Guru!
Diono Radian RXT – On sale for $287.99
When it comes to Diono convertible car seats, usually the first one that I show to customers is the Radian RXT. The Radian has the unique feature of being one of the skinniest convertible car seats on the market, so it’s often my go-to seat when I work with a customer who needs to fit multiple car seats in their vehicle (especially three across). The Radian is 17 inches at the widest point, making it quite optimal for most cars that will be carrying more than one child. The fabric of the RXT is also what I like to call a bit more utilitarian than some of the other models’ fabrics. Most color choices are patterned (great for hiding stains), and are easy to wash because they aren’t too porous.
The RXT can be used from 5 pounds to 45 pounds in rear-facing mode, and 20-80 pounds in forward facing-mode with the 5-point harness. In booster mode, it goes up to 120 pounds (40-57 inches in height) while offering two layers of side-impact protection around your child. Overall, for the strength, durability and longevity of this seat, you’re really getting a lot of bang for your buck. This car seat also offers a very open area which delivers an easy in and out for your baby, and plenty of airflow for those little ones that always seem to run hot!
Diono Radian R100 – On sale for $223.99
Diono also offers what I like to consider a lighter-weight version of the Radian RXT, known as the R100. The major differences between the Radian RXT and the R100 are that the R100 is lacking the second level of side impact protection as well as the infant insert. This does not mean that it is not as safe as the RXT, as both of these car seats are “NCAP crash tested, the industry benchmark for verifying child seat performance in severe accident conditions,” to quote the Diono site. The R100 is an option that I most often suggest when someone is looking for something like a Radian RXT but would like something a little less heavy. It’s also a really great option if you’re looking for a seat for an older child who is already forward-facing and almost ready for a booster, but not quite out of the 5-point harness.
Diono Rainier – On sale for $299.99
The Diono Rainier is the go-to option for those who are looking for the versatility of the Radian RXT but want a little bit more oomph in their child’s seat. At a price point that’s a bit over the steady cost of the RXT, the Rainier offers a plusher seat with their new “extra deep side walls,” lined with energy absorbing foam to provide even more side impact protection.
Because of this, the Rainier is a bit wider than the RXT and therefore doesn’t offer the 3-across option, but there’s still plenty of room to fit an adult between two side installed Rainiers in most standard-sized vehicles. The Rainier also comes in a variety of fun colors to suit any kid’s or parent’s desire!