Figuring out what customers like is the eternal challenge for every retailer, and there’s a lot of contradictory info out there: on the one hand, studies confirm that everyone is drawn to novelty, with many people operating under the assumption that the newest product must be the best (and they’re often right, but not always). On the other hand, parents are careful shoppers, keeping a sharp eye on cost and prizing products that are durable and long-lasting. Millennial mamas are particularly frugal and practical and do a ton of research before they buy, which, if you’re a Millennial, is probably what brought you here to Spilling the Beans!
Both the Nuna Rava Convertible Car Seat and the Diono collection of convertible car seats/boosters offer a ton of practical value for your dollar, providing top-notch protection and great features. But as with every product in our selection, they’re designed to fit different families and different needs.
The Rava is one of this year’s hottest new releases, from an up-and-coming European brand that has made a huge splash in recent years. Nuna always adds something a little surprising and special with each product, and the Rava is no exception: the new Simply Secure installation system makes it incredibly easy to install with a seat belt, and every feature is streamlined to simplify installation and use to the point where it’s truly a thing of beauty.
On the other hand, Diono is one of our perennial recommendations, a brand we’ve championed since long before they changed their name from Sunshine Kids back in 2011. Their steel-reinforced car seats are incredibly strong, they fold for travel, and they can be used for the ENTIRETY of the time your child needs a car seat, from infancy all the way up until they can sit in the car with a regular seat belt and without a booster. Diono car seats couldn’t be more practical, and their reputation is superb: Diono is particularly famous for awesome customer service.
Of course, there’s a lot more to consider than just the new/old factor here, so let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
The single most exciting thing about the release of the Nuna Rava Convertible Car Seat is the installation system, optimized to take all of the confusion and fuss out of installing your car seat with the safety belt. As you can see in this video, all you have to do is open the True Tension door in the seat, thread the belt through the color coded guides, buckle it, and click the door shut for a perfect, tight install – no tugging or pushing (or swearing, either).
You can install it with LATCH too, but the Rava was created in part in response to a 2014 change in car seat regulations that would require you to keep a close eye on the combined weight of your kid and their seat and switch from LATCH to the safety belt after you hit a certain weight limit (which differs by seat and by manufacturer). And who on earth wants to reinstall their convertible car seat? NOBODY. We prefer a one-and-done approach, and we’re sure you do too.
Diono convertible car seats all utilize deluxe push-on SuperLATCH connectors, which give you a reassuring click and visual indicator to let you know they’re locked. You can also install your Diono car seat with a seat belt. It’s not quite as easy as the Rava and can be a bit finicky depending on the design of your car, but they’ll give you a great, tight installation. As with all car seats, we recommend that you get your installation checked by a professional – find one near you here!
All of the seats we’re reviewing today have steel frames, so they’re pretty weighty, not something you want to lug around a lot. Here are the Rava and the three Diono seats in our current selection, ranked by weight:
- Diono Rainier Convertible & Booster Car Seat: 28.45 pounds
- Nuna Rava Convertible Car Seat: 27.2 pounds
- Diono Radian R100 Convertible & Booster Car Seat: 26 pounds
- Diono Radian RXT Convertible & Booster Car Seat: 24 pounds
The Diono seats have a unique folding feature that makes them more compact for travel – they’re made to fold flat and have a carry strap. So if you must take your Diono abroad, at least it won’t be that awkward. You can also purchase a Diono Car Seat Travel Bag, which you can carry like a backpack or a duffle.
As noted above, the Diono seats are designed to last your child about as long as a car seat possibly can. While most of our customers opt for an infant car seat for the earliest months, simply because they’re more portable, you can use all three of these Diono seats from birth up to at least 100 pounds. You can use them in three modes:
- Rear-facing with harness;
- Forward-facing with harness;
- Belt-positioning booster seat.
That last stage is essential for your child’s safety because until your child is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall, the safety belt won’t fit their smaller body correctly unless they’re boosted a little higher up. Plus, many seats, including the Rainier and Radian RXT (as well as the Nuna Rava), provide additional protection with an adjustable-height headrest.
Each Diono seat has a few slight variations, but they all will last a long, long time, and the Rainier is the most deluxe of the three: in particular, it lets you keep your child rear-facing up to a whomping 50 pounds! Rear-facing is safest, and we highly encourage parents to keep their kids facing backwards in the car for as long as possible, right up until you hit that weight limit. The Rainier also allows you to keep your child buckled with a five-point harness up to 90 pounds, the highest of any seat. This is a plus because kids need to be ready to sit properly, with their back up against the seat, before you can switch from a five-point harness to a belt-positioning booster; parents of kids with special needs like the reassurance that if their child takes a bit longer to make the transition, they can still use the harness.
The Nuna Rava has a more conventional design and weight limits for a convertible car seat, designed for use from birth to 65 pounds. However, it’s also designed for extended rear-facing, with a rear-facing weight limit up to 50 pounds, and it has one more cool feature to make it more comfortable for your kid: laid back leg room! Just pop out this nifty extension when your lanky tot starts to get cramped, to give them a little more space.
FIT IN YOUR CAR
Diono car seats (with the exception of the Rainier) are famous for their ability to fit three-across, so if you are dead set against buying a minivan, you can fit three kids cheek-to-jowl right across the back seat. However, because they convert to boosters, Diono convertible car seats are also quite tall, which means that when they’re installed rear-facing, they may force you to push the front seats up farther than you’d like. This might not be a problem if you start out with an infant car seat and then graduate to a Diono, or if you install in the center position, but there’s only one sure way to find out: come to one of our stores, and we’ll bring out the floor model and see how it fits in your car.
As for the Rava, at 19 inches wide, you definitely can’t install three across. However, as we noticed when we tried installing it in a BMW at the dealership in Rockland, MA, it nestles really nicely into the car’s seat, so it won’t intrude into your space up front – very nice!
There’s a lot more to say about all four of these car seats, and I encourage you to explore them in depth in more of our blogs and videos! Here are a few to check out:
- Nuna Rava Convertible Car Seat Video Review
- Diono Car Seat Comparison (NOTE: with the 2016 redesign, the Olympia has been discontinued)
- A New Look For Diono
- The Best Convertible Car Seats of 2016
Got questions? We’ve got answers: drop in and visit us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact our stores or online customer service team. We want to make sure you find the baby gear that perfectly matches your parenting lifestyle, and we won’t quit til we find the right fit!