It seems like a smart move for automakers to offer integrated child-safety seats in cars, but only two manufacturers currently provide integrated booster seats as an option: Volvo and Dodge. Of those manufacturers, only certain models in their lineups have the available integrated booster seat feature.
What is an integrated booster seat? It's a booster that pops up out of the rear seat's bench, raising the child up to create a better fit for the seat belt. When the booster is not in use, it can be stowed into the seat's bench. This feature is great if it fits your child properly, as the integrated safety seat is made specifically for that vehicle. A secondary benefit of the integrated booster is it will not be at risk of becoming a projectile in a collision.
Volvo offers integrated dual-stage boosters on its all-new 2015 V60 wagon as well as the XC60 SUV and XC70 wagon, all for $500. These booster seats can be adjusted to two heights, allowing the booster to adjust as the children grow.
The highest setting on the dual-stage booster seat is for children measuring 37 to 47 inches tall and weighing between 33 and 55 pounds; the lower setting is intended for children between 45 and 55 inches tall and 48 and 80 pounds, according to Volvo. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that children remain in booster seats until they're 4 feet 9 inches, or 57 inches, tall.
There are standard integrated boosters in the second row of Volvo's 2014 XC90, but they are not dual-stage boosters.
For 2014, Dodge offers integrated booster seats on the Journey crossover only. On the Journey, the booster seats are a $225 option, but if selected on all trims but the SXT they're tied to a Flexible Seating package that adds another $1,500 to the crossover's price. On the SXT trim, choosing the $225 booster seats adds a choice of two Quick Order packages that each cost $995.
It seems like integrated booster seats are a perfect match for minivans, but they're no longer offered on the Chrysler Town & Country or Dodge Grand Caravan. "While the built-in booster feature had been available in Chrysler Group minivans, they were tied to the captains' chairs that did not stow," said Wendy Orthman, Chrysler PR manager. "More often than not, consumers chose the stowing feature instead. Ultimately, the boosters were eliminated in the vans when the new Super Stow N' Go seats were introduced in our current model Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country."
Would you spend extra money for an integrated booster seat? Tell us in the comment section below.