Advocates think the minimum requirement for the LATCH system weight should be increased. Whether or not they make this happen, car seats are just as safe when strapped in correctly using the seat-belt. Just make sure to double check your work!
I've heard many parents say they will turn their kid facing front at age 1, despite the new recommendations to wait until age 2, because they want their baby to be able to see out the front. Babies don't care! It's hard enough seeing out the window from their vantage point anyway and many babies are content reading or playing. As the child gets older, a booster seat is recommended. Again, I've heard parents say they don't want their 5, 6, 7 or 8 year old in a booster seat because the parent doesn't want to embarrass the child. All parents embarrass their children. You might as well start now and have a safer passenger!
These recommendations are put in place for a reason. My son is small so he will probably never grow out of the weight limit before the age limit. I care about him enough to keep him rear facing until he grows out of the car seat weight recommendations. I care about him enough to leave him in a booster seat until age 8 when he grows out of that too. Then he will stay in the backseat until he is tall enough to fit safely in the front seat. My son's safety is more important than how I perceive him to feel about where he sits. And if his friends make fun of him, they are not real friends.
From the day our little man was brought home from the hospital until he's too big to fit in his booster seat and tall enough to sit in the front seat, he'll sit in the seat that is safest for him.