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Which Cosco Travel Car Seat Should You Pick? (2023)

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This article, written by certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Melissa Conn, is a detailed Cosco travel car seat comparison and may contain affiliate links.

Lots of families aren’t looking to spend a fortune on a travel car seat. They want a cheap, lightweight seat to take on the go so they won’t be upset if it gets lost or damaged along the way (which can be a very real issue if you check your car seat).

So often other parents respond with “oh get the Cosco travel seat!” But which Cosco travel car seat is right for you? There are more options than you might think!

In this head-to-head comparison I’ll show you the important differences between the Cosco Scenera Next DLX and its cousins the Cosco Onlook and Cosco Mighty Fit convertible car seats, and later I’ll share some Cosco travel booster seats for older kids.

A quick note on where to buy Cosco car seats… Cosco has a semi-exclusive relationship with Walmart for some of their products, so that’s where you’ll often find the best prices on their car seats. But if you’re married to your Amazon Prime account (I don’t blame you), you can find some of the Cosco carseat options for around the same price or just a little more.

A second tip for you is that Cosco is manufactured by a company called Dorel Juvenile Group, which also manufactures mid-level Safety 1st car seats and the higher end Maxi-Cosi car seats. In many cases there are clones between the three brands, and which one is cheaper can vary. So you’ll see me call out those identical seats from time to time in case you’re able to get a better deal or more padded cover from Safety 1st or Maxi-Cosi.

Convertible Cosco travel car seat basic stats

First, here’s a quick synopsis of each of the Cosco travel car seats you’re probably considering.

Cosco Scenera Next DLX convertible car seat

Key stats:
-Weight 7lbs
-Shell height 23”
-Max harness height 13.5”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs, 19-40”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-40lbs, 29-43″

✔ Compact
✔ Lightest convertible car seat
✔ Low price

✘ Low size limits
✘ Hard to install in some cars
✘ Limited padding for patterned covers
✘ No extra protection in headwings
Requires top tether for forward-facing

The most popular convertible car seat for travel is the Cosco Scenera Next DLX. What makes the Cosco Scenera car seat so insanely popular and one of the best car seat for travel options? It’s as easy on the scale as it is on the wallet! The Cosco Scenera Next is the lightest convertible car seat and the cheapest convertible car seat as well, making it an ideal toddler travel car seat.

You might also see the Cosco Scenera Next (not DLX), which has patterned covers available. Don’t do it! Yes, you can save a few extra dollars and you might be drawn in by the cute patterns. But in the Cosco Scenera Next vs Cosco Scenera Next DLX there’s a clear winner: the DLX. Those solid colored covers offer much more padding than the regular Cosco Scenera Next convertible car seat and will keep your child more comfortable when you travel. There’s just no competition when it comes to Cosco Scenera Next vs DLX in terms of comfort.

If you want more comfort upgrades but aren’t concerned with the branding or the ultra-low price tag, Cosco now offers the Cosco Scenera Deluxe convertible car seat. What is the difference between Cosco Scenera Next and Deluxe? They’ve basically taken the Cosco Scenera DLX and added a head pillow, lower back pad and strap covers – plus an extra $10 on the price tag. These are good changes that will appeal to many parents who don’t like the idea of their precious cargo riding in such an unpadded seat. I’m sure that my kid who complained about his original (non-DLX) Cosco Scenera Next would have been pleased!

Another version available for 2023 is the Maxi-Cosi Romi. It uses the Cosco Scenera Next shell but adds Maxi-Cosi’s flame retardant free PureCosi cover in addition to a head pillow and harness covers. Be sure to grab the monthly coupon (three letter month and 20, like APR20 for April) to save 20% at one of my favorite stores. That puts the price tag around $100 for this version, plus you’ll accumulate valuable rewards towards future purchases. But if you’re comparing the Maxi-Cosi Romi vs Cosco Scenera Next, know that at their core they’re the same seat.

It’s good to know that the top harness slots are just 13.5” high, so some kids will outgrow the Scenera Next forward-facing even while they still have another year or two rear-facing. Remember, when your kid is forward-facing the straps need to come from above their shoulders. For rear facing, short shell means that very few kids will get to 40″ with the required 1″ above their heads.

Cosco Onlook/Safety 1st Getaway convertible car seat

Key stats:
-Weight 8lbs
-Shell height 24”
-Max harness height 16”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs, 19-40”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-40lbs, 29-43” (the 43” limit may not be realistic depending on how long your child’s torso is)

✔ Low price
✔ Compact front-to-back when installed more upright

✘ Same size limits as Scenera but more expensive
✘ Extremely wide near the head
✘ Hard to install in some cars
✘ Limited padding for patterned covers
✘ No extra protection in headwings
Requires top tether for forward-facing

Some of the newest members of the Cosco travel car seat family are the Cosco Onlook and the Safety 1st Getaway. They replaced the Cosco Apt 50, which has been discontinued.

The Cosco Onlook is much the same as its younger sibling, the Cosco Scenera Next. It’s one of the lightest weight convertible car seat options, well-priced and gets the job done with minimal frills. The shell height is similar to the Scenera Next so it won’t buy you any extra time rear-facing, but thanks to the higher harness height, skinny kids kids can comfortably forward face in the Cosco Onlook until at least 4 years old. It’s a solid choice if you want a convertible car seat for travel that allows for extended rear facing but you don’t have a big budget.

Keep in mind that the Onlook/Getaway is wider than other Cosco travel car seats so it won’t fit 3-across.

Cosco Mighty Fit 65/Safety 1st Jive/Safety 1st Guide 65 convertible car seat

Key stats:
-Weight 11lbs
-Shell height 24”
-Max harness height 17”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs, 19-40”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-65lbs, 29-49”

✔ First from infancy to elementary school
✔ Somewhat narrow convertible car seat

✘ Tall shell won’t fit well rear-facing in compact cars and economy airplane seats
✘ Doesn’t last as long as the Evenflo Sureride
✘ Won’t fit newborns well
Requires top tether for forward-facing

True to form, you can get multiple versions of the Mighty Fit 65 as well. You’ll see a lot more differences when you compare the Cosco Mighty Fit 65 vs Cosco Scenera Next. The most noticeable difference is that the Mighty Fit is actually a pretty long-lasting car seat thanks to its reasonable 17″ top harness slots and generous forward-facing size limits.

The same car seat shell has now been re-covered and turned into the Safety 1st Jive convertible car seat as well as the Disney Baby Jive. It has a different shape head pillow and adds a body support that should improve fit for young babies (but probably still isn’t enough for newborns). The Jive also comes with a second cup holder, which is a nice touch.

The Mighty Fit/Jive/Guide does require a substantial recline for babies up to 22lbs and the shell is taller than the seats listed above, so it’s not a great choice if you’re traveling with a small infant.

Convertible Cosco travel car seat comparison

You probably came to this page to figure out which Cosco travel car seat you should buy. Take a look at this comparison table to understand the differences between the three Cosco convertible car seats:

Cosco Scenera Next DLX
Cosco Onlook
Cosco Mighty Fit 65
Weight7 lbs8 lbs11 lbs
Rear-facing size limits5-40lbs, 19-40”5-40lbs, 19-40”5-40lbs, 19-40”
Forward-facing size limits22-40lbs, 29-43″22-40lbs, 29-43”22-65lbs, 29-49”
Shell height23”24”24”
Max harness height13.5”16”17”
Max width17.5″22″18.5″
Check pricesCheck Price

Ok, so the numbers definitely help to paint a picture. But here are some additional comments that you should definitely read before you buy one of the Cosco convertible car seats for travel:

Cosco Scenera Next DLX: It’s the cheapest of the bunch but will also last the least amount of time. It’s often outgrown at the same time forward-facing and rear-facing. Here are the ways it can be outgrown, in order from most common to least common in my experience:

  • Rear facing with less than 1″ of shell height (by far the most common)
  • Forward facing with shoulders above the top harness slot (often at the same time as above)
  • Rear facing at 40″
  • Either direction at 40lbs
  • Forward facing at 43″

But while it fits your child, it’s extremely light and extremely narrow – even in a European car you might be able to get three-across. If any car seat will fit in a budget airplane seat, it’s going to be the Scenera (or this one, which I like even better) since the Cosco Scenera Next width is just 17″. And there’s just no way to beat the Cosco Scenera Next weight – only 7 pounds! Find the best prices here.

Cosco Onlook: The biggest downside of the Cosco Onlook vs Scenera is the width. It’s SOOOOO wide – 5″ wider than the Scenera! It definitely isn’t going to fit on a budget airline line Spirit if you end up in a spot with fixed arm rests and it won’t work for 3-across in a small rental car.

The upside compared to the Scenera Next is that you can probably get another year of forward-facing out of it since the shell and harness slots are higher. However, if your child is heavier than she is tall then she may hit the 40lb weight limit before reaching the height limit. Personally, this would be my last choice of these three Cosco toddler travel car seats. Find the best prices here.

Cosco Mighty Fit 65/Safety 1st Jive: If you’re comparing the Cosco Scenera Next vs Cosco Mighty Fit, you’ll really have to consider who’s going to be riding in the car seat. The Scenera Next fits a newborn or infant much better than the Mighty Fit 65, but the Mighty Fit 65 will last several years longer – often into early elementary school. I don’t recommend it for a baby under 22lbs, as you’d have to have the seat extremely reclined and it won’t fit well on planes or in small cars.

The other downside of the Mighty Fit is that it weighs 50% more, though it’s still light enough to be considered “travel worthy”. For the Mighty Fit 65, you’ll need to install the seat using the seatbelt (and top tether) once your child hits 40 pounds. The Cosco Onlook convertible car seat and Cosco Scenera both cap out at 40lbs anyway. Find the best prices here.

None of these Cosco car seats will give the same kind of fool-proof installation as the really fancy seats with built in lock-offs and tension panels (like Britax ClickTight and Graco SnugLock car seats). We found that Cosco car seat installation required a little more sweat, especially in rental cars with leather seats. But the trade-offs might be worth it to you since they’re all so light and so affordable!

It’s also worth noting that all Cosco car seats require you to use the top tether when you install forward-facing. That’s great for safety since it decreases head movement in a crash. If you’re traveling in the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia or New Zealand you should always plan on using the top tether anyway. However, if you’re traveling outside of those areas you are unlikely to find a top tether in your rental car or taxi. If you’re in that position, you would have to make a judgement call on whether or not to install the car seat forward-facing without the top tether. If your child is still under 40 pounds, the best option in that situation is to move the harness straps down below the shoulders and install rear-facing.

Cosco travel car seats for big kids

I’d be a rich lady if I had a dollar for every time someone asked what car seat to buy after the Cosco Scenera Next! The right answer depends on how big and how old your child is – unfortunately there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer.

If your child has outgrown the Scenera or Onlook early because they’re tall or have a long torso/big head, you might want to scroll back up and read about the Cosco Mighty Fit 65. It often lasts until a safe booster age (at least 5 years old and 40lbs).

Cosco and its sibling Safety 1st have a few more tricks up their sleeves for children who are big enough and ready to forward face.

Cosco Finale harness booster seat

Key stats:
-Weight 8lbs
-Max harness height 16.5”
-Forward-facing size limits 30-65lbs, 32-49”
-Highback booster size limits 40-100lbs, 43-52”

✔ Lasts from age 3 to ~age 5-6
✔ Extremely low price
✔ Very narrow
✔ 10 year expiration

Requires top tether, which may not be available in all countries
Terrible booster mode
✘ LATCH not allowed in booster mode
✘ Sparse padding on the seat

The next lightweight Cosco car seat for travel is the Cosco Finale DX, also sold as the Safety 1st Grand. This is a forward facing car seat and it has a 30lbs minimum. Very few children use it until age 3, but some kids don’t weigh enough even then.

The Finale is just as affordable, lightweight and travel-friendly as the Scenera. The downside is that its realistic usage period is similarly short. The top harness slot is similar to the Cosco Mighty Fit above.

Even though the Finale offers a booster mode, it rarely fits kids properly. Cosco recently told buyers not to use the shoulder belt guide built into the shell because it causes the seatbelt to get stuck, and without the guide often the seatbelt hovers in front of the child. I recommend that you pretend the booster mode of this seat doesn’t exist as you’re evaluating the travel car seats by Cosco.

None of this means that the Cosco Finale travel car seat is a bad seat, particularly given the price point. You just need to understand and respect its limits.

While I generally recommend the Cosco Finale DX, there is a less padded Cosco Finale available as well that’ll save you $10. You can also step up a little to the Safety 1st Grand. What’s the difference between the Cosco Finale and the Safety 1st Grand? The Grand adds an optional, adjustable head pillow and a second cup holder.

Safety 1st Greener Baby Comfort Ride

Key stats:
-Weight 10lbs
-Max harness height 16.5”
-Forward-facing size limits 30-65lbs, 32-49”
-Highback booster size limits 40-100lbs
-Backless booster size limits 40-100lbs

✔ Lasts from age 3 to ~age 8
✔ Value price point for 3-mode seat
✔ 10 year expiration

Requires top tether, which may not be available in all countries
✘ Sparse padding on the seat

There’s a new lightweight harness booster on the block from Cosco/Safety 1st! It’s more expensive than the Cosco Finale but will also last a lot longer. It’s called the (and I can’t make this up) Safety 1st Greener Baby Comfort Ride Booster Car Seat. But behind the too-long name there’s a lot of potential, though the seat is brand new to the market so there isn’t much information yet.

What we do know is that this seat starts at 30lbs like the Finale. The maximum harness height is similar, though it has a no-rethread harness that is adjusted by raising the headrest.

For its highback booster mode, the Greener Baby Comfort Ride Booster Car Seat has a shoulder belt guide attached to that adjustable headrest. That’s a huge improvement since it should make the booster mode function better and last much longer. Many kids will be able to use this seat as a highback booster seat until they’re around 7 years old!

Once the back is outgrown, parents should be able to remove it and use the seat as a lightweight backless booster for travel. It may not be wide enough to truly fit kids at the top of the stated weight range, but families who buy this seat at 3 years old can comfortably plan on at least 4 years of use. That’s great value compared with the Finale, and I won’t be surprised if we eventually see a less-fancy version of this new seat in the Cosco brand.

Cosco Rise LX backless booster seat

Key stats:
-Weight 2 lbs
-Backless booster size limit 40-100lbs, 43-57″

✔ Extremely light
✔ Bargain price
✔ Good seatbelt fit
✔ Narrow enough for 3-across
✔ Updated LX version has more padding

✘ Doesn’t fold

The Cosco Rise LX (and original) are the booster seat in its simplest form: you put it down on the seat and then your kiddo buckles and runs the seatbelt under the arm rests to place it properly on her body. If your child is on the shorter side, there’s also an attached adjustable shoulder belt guide to bring the seatbelt down low enough to cross her collarbone.

That’s it. At 2 pounds it’s one of the lightest booster seats on the market. It’s also incredibly affordable, coming in right around $20. I’ve used it for multiple kids ranging from 6 to 10 and the fit is good on all of them. Even if you never plan to use it for travel, this is a great one to have on hand as a spare since it’s the cheapest booster seat you can buy.

The Cosco Rise is also one of the narrowest booster seats at just 15″. That makes it a viable booster seat for 3-across, especially since it’s narrower at the back where your child will need to reach the buckle. We managed to squeeze one into the middle seat of our old CR-V between another narrow booster seat and an adult!

The biggest downside of the original version is the sparse padding, including none on the arm rests. This isn’t the seat my kids typically want to ride in for more than about 30 minutes, and we probably wouldn’t choose it for a long road trip if we had another choice. I recommend that you spring for the LX for just an extra $3-5, as it has more padding including on the arm rests.

Note that the minimum height for this booster seat is 43″ – many kids won’t reach that until almost 6 years old. Our son didn’t get there until almost 7 years old, so parents of shorter kids may need to look elsewhere. On the other end of the spectrum, the Rise may not offer quite enough thigh support for the oldest booster riders since the seat is on the shallower side; at 11 years old, my son usually refuses it.

At 2 pounds, the Cosco Rise booster seat is one of the lightest booster seats available. It’s also extremely affordable! If your child is ready for a backless booster and you don’t need one that folds, this Cosco booster seat for travel is hard to beat.

As with all booster seats, your child will store it on the plane rather than sitting on it. Check out these important tips for flying with a booster seat.

Lightweight Cosco car seat FAQs

Is a Cosco car seat safe?

Yes. While Cosco car seats don’t have some of the fancy “extras” like side impact pods and anti-rebound bars, they still pass the same standardized Federal testing as car seats costing ten times as much.

Are Cosco car seats FAA approved?

You bet! And the Cosco Scenera car seat and Cosco Mighty Fit 65 will even fit in some of the smallest airplane seats. While the Cosco Apt 50 is FAA approved, it may be too wide for some planes (especially if the arm rests don’t move).

How long is a Cosco car seat good for?

Cosco car seat expiration dates vary by model. Cosco Scenera Next expiration is 8 years, Cosco Onlook expiration is 8 years and the Cosco Mighty Fit 65 expiration is a whopping 10 years.

Who makes Cosco carseats?

Cosco is a division of Dorel Juvenile, which also owns Safety 1st (and numerous other brands). That’s why you’ll see many Cosco and Safety 1st car seats that seem to differ only in name.

How do I wash my Cosco Scenera next?

The Cosco Next car seat cover can be machine washed and dried. Hallelujah!

How much does the Cosco Scenera weight?

The Cosco Scenera Next weighs just 7 pounds.

How do you put the Cosco Scenera on a plane?

Installing the Cosco Scenera Next on a plane is simple. Find the correct belt path for your child’s direction – under the knees for rear facing, behind the back for forward facing. Route the aircraft seatbelt through the holes in the shell on each side and buckle. Push your hand down in the seat and then pull the tail of the seatbelt like you would for yourself.

Can the Cosco finale be rear facing?

No, the Cosco Finale is a forward facing seat only.

Does Cosco Finale fit on plane?

Yes, the Cosco Finale is narrow and easy to use on a plane.

If these aren’t right for you, check out other lightweight convertible car seats or jump to the best travel car seats by age.

I hope this guide has helped you figure out which Cosco travel car seat is right for you! Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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6 thoughts on “Which Cosco Travel Car Seat Should You Pick? (2023)”

  1. Great article! As a grandparent, I’d like a car seat that can be easily taken in & out & doesn’t weigh too much. We might use it once or twice a month & i don’t want it in the back seat the rest of the time.
    Do you have a recommendation? The car is a 2019 Honda CRV.
    Thanks for your help,
    Julie Babb

    • Hi Julie,

      Thanks for stopping by! Could you tell me your grandchild’s age, weight and height? That’ll help determine the best choice for your needs 🙂



  2. I am about to buy one of these and am so confused by the links. You say for comfort to get the DLX but the link doesn’t appear to be to the DLX help! I want the comfy one so I was to make sure I order the right one. Thanks!

    • Hi Calindy!

      Thanks for stopping by. I know it’s super confusing – Walmart has the basic Cosco Scenera Next and the DLX sharing the same listing, and then the Deluxe (which sounds a heck of a lot like “DLX”) has its own listing 😛 In this listing, the DLX version has solid color padding rather than a print in the middle. The Cosco Scenera Deluxe is like the DLX but with optional additional pads for the back, head and shoulder straps. I hope this clarifies the differences for you!

      Safe travels,


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