IIHS Names 47 Booster Seats Best Bets

Forty-seven booster seats have been named Best Bets by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These models include brand-new boosters as well as older designs that are still on the market; prices range from $19 to $300.

"Booster manufacturers have risen to the institute's challenge to improve seat design, giving parents more choices than ever when shopping for a booster that will provide a good, safe fit for their children," Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research, said in a statement.

IIHS' list of evaluated booster seats, including high-back and backless boosters, has grown to 91 for 2012. The institute looks at seat belt fit with the boosters and uses a test dummy that represents the average 6-year-old. The fit of lap and shoulder belts on the dummy are measured in each booster under four conditions exemplifying real-world belt configurations. The booster seats are not crash-tested because the car's seat belts do the heavy-lifting, keeping the child safe in a crash.

The institute rates the boosters as Best Bet, Good Bet, Check Fit (which means the seat may fit some but not all children well) and Not Recommended.

Two booster seats were not recommended by IIHS. Both seats — the Safety 1st All-in-One and Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite — are made by Dorel and can be used as rear- and forward-facing child-safety seats with a built-in harness. When the child is large enough, the harness can be removed and the seat converts to a booster. These safety seats work well as child-safety seats, but when used as a booster, it positions the lap belt too high on a child's stomach and the shoulder belt also isn't properly positioned.

Booster seats are for kids ages 4 and older who've outgrown their forward-facing child-safety seat, but aren't big enough for the car's seat belt. A booster elevates a child so the seat belt is correctly routed across the child's chest and lap. A child can move out of the booster seat once they're 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Best Bet

  • Britax Frontier 85 
  • Britax Frontier 85 SICT 
  • Britax Parkway SGL (high-back mode) 
  • BubbleBum 
  • Chicco KeyFit Strada (high-back mode) 
  • Clek Oobr (high-back mode) 
  • Cosco Pronto (high-back mode) 
  • Diono Monterey (high-back mode) 
  • Diono RadianR100
  • Diono RadianR120 
  • Diono RadianRXT 
  • Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (high-back 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 (high-back mode) 
  • Graco Argos 70 (high-back mode) 
  • Graco Backless TurboBooster Graco Nautilus (high-back mode) 
  • Graco TurboBooster (high-back and backless modes) 
  • Graco TurboBooster Colorz Graco 
  • TurboBooster Elite (high-back and backless modes) 
  • Graco TurboBooster Safety Surround (high-back and backless modes) 
  • Harmony Carpooler 
  • Harmony Cruz Youth Booster 
  • Harmony Dreamtime Booster (high-back and backless mode) 
  • Harmony Olympian 
  • Harmony V6 Highback Booster (high-back and backless modes) 
  • Harmony Youth Booster Seat 
  • Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro 
  • Kiddy World Plus 
  • Kids Embrace Dale Earnhardt Jr. 
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (high-back mode) 
  • Recaro ProBooster 
  • Recaro ProSport 
  • Recaro Vivo 
  • Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (high-back mode) 
  • Safety 1st S1 Rumi Air/Essential Air 
  • The First Years Pathway B570

Good Bet

  • Britax Parkway SG (high-back mode) 
  • Combi Kobuk Air-Thru (high-back and backless modes) 
  • Evenflo Symphony 65 
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi (high-back mode)

Check Fit

  • Britax Parkway SG (backless mode) 
  • Britax Parkway SGL (backless mode) 
  • Chicco KeyFit Strada (backless mode) 
  • Clek Olli Clek Oobr (backless mode) 
  • Clek Ozzi 
  • Cosco Ambassador 
  • Cosco Highback Booster 
  • Cosco Pronto (backless mode) 
  • Cosco Top Side 
  • Diono Monterey (backless mode) 
  • Diono SantaFe 
  • Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (backless mode) 
  • Evenflo Big Kid Amp High Back (highback mode) 
  • Evenflo Big Kid LX (high-back and backless mode) 
  • Evenflo Big Kid No Back Booster 
  • Evenflo Big Kid Sport (highback mode) 
  • Ferrari Dreamway SP (backless mode) 
  • Ferrari Ola Graco Argos 70 (backless mode) 
  • Graco Nautilus (backless mode) 
  • Graco Nautilus Elite (high-back and backless modes) 
  • Graco Smart Seat Maxi-Cosi Rodi (backless mode) 
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (backless mode) 
  • Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (backless mode) 
  • Safety 1st Go Hybrid 
  • Safety 1st Summit 
  • Safety 1st Vantage 
  • Safety 1st Ventura 
  • The First Years Compass B505 
  • The First Years Compass B530 
  • The First Years Compass B540 
  • Volvo Booster (backless mode) 
  • Volvo Booster (highback mode)

Not Recommended

  • Safety 1st All-in-One 
  • Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite

IIHS counts booster seats that can be used in high-back and backless modes as two separate models.

NHTSA Recommends Kids Stay in Car Seats, Boosters Longer

Car Seat Basics Part Three: Beyond the Booster

More Safety News


More From Cars.com