When my son was born 9 pounds and 7 ounces, we decided we'd better get a carseat that would last a little longer than the usual infant carrier types. We chose the Graco SafeSeat in Kendall pattern.
This carseat is rated for up to 32 inches, and 30 pounds. It was very easy to install the base in our Dodge Neon. Also, the base and seat fit very comfortably in our small car. My son also likes to be snuggled in his seat, so it must be comfy!
We have not been in an accident with this seat, thank goodness, but properly installed it is supposed to be very safe.
The only issue I have with this system is since the carseat is bigger and longer, it is of course, heavier. So I gave it a lower rating for portability. It's tough to carry this one around comfortably.
Overall, we're very happy with our choice of this travel system.