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IIHS Gives Most New Booster Seats a "Best Bet" Rating

IIHS Gives Most New Booster Seats a "Best Bet" Rating

By Jeff Youngs, November 07, 2012
In its most recent round of child booster seat evaluations, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated 15 of 17 new models introduced during 2012 as "Best Bets," meaning that the booster seats properly position adult lap and shoulder belts on children 4 to 8 years of age. According to the IIHS, the two booster seat models that do not provide proper seat belt fit and which should be avoided are the Safety 1st All-in-One and Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite, both made by Dorel Juvenile Group Inc.

"Dorel should redesign the All-in-One and Alpha Omega Elite to improve booster function," said Anne McCartt, Institute senior vice president for research. "Parents who own these seats should use them with the built-in harness as long as possible, up to Dorel's recommended height and weight limits."

These two Dorel-produced Safety 1st models are called "3-in-1s," which means they can be used as rear-facing and forward-facing child restraints with a built-in harness and then, as the child grows, converted to a booster seat by removing the built-in harness and using a vehicle's lap and shoulder belts for restraint. The IIHS says that while these seats "should work well as child restraints, they aren't the best option for boosters because they leave the lap belt too high on the abdomen and the shoulder belt too far out on the shoulder."

Consumers who purchase safety seats that prefer a 3-in-1 type of seat can choose from four IIHS "Best Bets." The IIHS recommends the Evenflo Symphony 65 e3 and three models from Diono LLC: the RadianR100, RadianR120 and RadianRXT.

McCartt advises parents to transport children in harness-equipped child safety seats, installed in a vehicle's back seat, for as long as possible, up to the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer. The IIHS says that many models can be used until a child weighs 65 pounds, and then a booster seat is required until a child is 4 feet 9 inches tall and weighs at least 80 pounds.

If your child is ready for a booster seat, the IIHS gives 47 models a "Best Bet" rating for 2012. These "Best Bet" models retail for as little as $19 to as much as $300. The IIHS notes that among the newest seats to achieve a "Best Bet" rating, the backless Graco TurboBooster COLORZ, the highback TurboBooster, and the backless Harmony Carpooler all retail for $50 or less.

The new booster seat rankings include the latest models, plus older top-rated designs still on the market. The full list of "Best Bet" boosters follows:

Britax Frontier 85
Britax Frontier 85 SICT
Britax Parkway SGL (highback mode)
BubbleBum
Chicco KeyFit Strada (highback mode)
Clek Oobr (highback mode)
Cosco Pronto (highback mode)
Diono Monterey (highback mode)
Diono RadianR100
Diono RadianR120
Diono RadianRXT
Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (highback mode)
Evenflo Big Kid Amp
Evenflo Big Kid Amp High Back (backless mode)
Evenflo Big Kid Sport (backless mode)
Evenflo Maestro
Evenflo Secure Kid LX/DLX
Evenflo Symphony 65 e3
Ferrari Dreamway SP (highback mode)
Graco Argos 70 (highback mode)
Graco Backless TurboBooster
Graco Nautilus (highback mode)
Graco TurboBooster (backless mode)
Graco TurboBooster (highback mode)
Graco TurboBooster COLORZ
Graco TurboBooster Elite (backless mode)
Graco TurboBooster Elite (highback mode)
Graco TurboBooster Safety Surround (backless mode)
Graco TurboBooster Safety Surround (highback mode)
Harmony Carpooler
Harmony Cruz Youth Booster
Harmony Dreamtime Booster (backless mode)
Harmony Dreamtime Booster (highback mode)
Harmony Olympian
Harmony V6 Highback Booster (backless mode)
Harmony V6 Highback Booster (highback mode)
Harmony Youth Booster Seat
Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro
Kiddy World Plus
Kids Embrace Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (highback mode)
Recaro ProBOOSTER
Recaro ProSPORT
Recaro Vivo
Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (highback mode)
Safety 1st S1 Rumi Air/Essential Air
The First Years Pathway B570

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