Which Vehicles Offer Built-In Child Booster Seats?

volvo v90 b6 awd 2022 02 black exterior front row wagon scaled jpg 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country | photo by Christian Lantry

Wouldn’t it be handy if family cars came with built-in booster seats for kids? And not just handy for parents with more than one vehicle, but also for grandparents, caregivers and anyone else who might need to transport a child safely. It’s an idea dating to the 1990s but never caught on broadly, and now just one automaker still offers an integrated booster seat option for some of its vehicles: Volvo.

Related: Which Cars Fit 3 Car Seats?

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While state requirements can vary, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends booster seats for children from as young as age 4 to age 12 — beginning when  children reach the recommended weight or height limit for their forward-facing child seat with harness. NHTSA recommends using a booster in the rear seat until the child is big enough for the car’s seat belts to fit properly without the added booster height. (The lap belt should lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt should be snug across the shoulder and chest, not crossing the neck or face.)

Volvos That Offer Boosters

Volvo first offered an integrated booster seat in 1990 in its 960 model. It now offers an integrated booster option in three of its 2022 vehicles: the XC90 mid-size SUV, XC60 compact SUV and V90 Cross Country wagon. All versions of these vehicles, including hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants, offer the boosters.

The XC90 offers a single seat that rises in the center of the second row. The $300 option is rated for children who weigh 33 to 80 pounds and are at least 38 inches tall. The XC60 and V90 Cross Country offer a pair of boosters in the outboard positions of the second row as part of a $1,250 set of options. The seats in these two vehicles are rated for children at least 37 inches tall and include two height adjustments: a higher position for children 33 to 55 pounds and a lower position for children 50 to 80 pounds.

Volvo continues to offer boosters “because they are a convenient feature that is extremely popular with our customers,“ spokesman Russell Datz told “I can’t speak to the decisions of our competitors, but I can say that we do extensive safety engineering and crash testing in order to be able to offer these — they’re certainly not the easiest feature to add to a car.”

What Happened to the Others?

The last rival to offer an integrated booster was Dodge, which had them for a decade in its now-discontinued Journey SUV until 2019. Prior to that, Chrysler Group (later Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now Stellantis) also offered second-row integrated boosters in its Chrysler- and Dodge-brand minivans — seemingly a perfect fit for the family vehicles. But the integrated boosters weren’t compatible with the company’s then-new Stow ‘n Go seats that fold down into the floor. The company told that minivan shoppers preferred the stowing feature to having built-in boosters. Stellantis confirmed that it no longer offers integrated booster seats in any vehicle.

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Former D.C. Bureau Chief Fred Meier, who lives every day with Washington gridlock, has an un-American love of small wagons and hatchbacks. Email Fred Meier

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