My friend bought 2 Britax Two Way elites for her 18 month old and her 4 year old. The seats last to 25kg and she had the 18 month old rear facing and the 4 year old harnessed front facing. The other day the 4 year old had to ride in her little brother's rear facing seat... and loved it. She then refused to travel front facing so her mum had to switch her seat around. When you ask her why she wanted to travel backwards she says it's "more fun" and she can "see all the cars!"
Keeping kids rear facing IS safer. There is absolutely no doubt at all - not opting for rear facing because it is "impractical"...... poor, poor excuse! Your child's safety is anything BUT impractical, you wouldn't not use a smoke alarm because it's impractical that it goes off when you burn the toast, and you certainly would make sure you correctly fitted the baby gate - and that is massively impractical! There's nothing more frustrating than trying to get up/down the stairs with baby/laundry and having to negotiate those annoying clips! But it keeps little one safe, so we use them no questions asked - and car safety is top of my list.
However, you've got to use a rear facing car seat properly (as with any car seat, of course) and have to understand why you're buying it - it's no good just getting it because endless evidence has stated it's safer then don't fit it or use it properly! The seat is only safer when installed correctly and used correctly.
I also hate it when mum's and dad's are pressured into rear facing by rear facing advocates. They either ignore the advice bacause someone is questioning their decision or wind up feeling awful for having a front facing seat - and that helps nobody! I'd personally much prefer someone to come to me with a properly used and installed, decent quality front facing restraint!
The information needs to be made more available, big manufacturers need to be pushing safety before profit (not that that'll happen) but sites like this need to be ensuring parents are receiving unbiased, honest facts.
Personally I wouldn't use front facing, but it's each parents decision to make - I just wish there was more advice!
I have a rear facing car seat for my two year old, which my older daughter used up until she was around 3. She stopped using it not because she got too big for it, but because my younger daughter daughter grew out of her baby carrier seat, so needed a bigger seat.
It's a Britax model which uses Isofx (also safer than a seat belt) and is not sold by Britax itself but by a specialist car seat company - Britax gave me the info for them as I had read that Britax made rear facing seats.
I read the research 3 years ago that it was safer to travel backwards, and can't belive a)it hasn't been made public sooner and b)people haven't taken any notice. I told all my friends about it but not one bought a rear facing seat. Several times people have expressed sympathy for my daughter saying 'poor thing facing backwards - she can't see anything'. in fact the opposite was true - she could see clearly out of the back window as well as the side windows unlike a forward facing seat where they are looking at the back of your seat.
What people don't understand is this is not a toddler squashed into a baby carrier - the seat is designed for that age group and is higher and larger and has leg room.
I hope more people finally wake up to the fact there is a safer way to travel!