Graco Turbobooster

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Background: I have the Graco Turbobooster (with back) in Samantha manufactured in February 2007. The seat is a high back booster (no harness straps) that later converts to a backless booster. I am currently using this seat for M, who is almost 9 years old, weighs about 62 lbs and is 49 inches tall. M was previously in a seat belt with no booster but as I became more educated I wanted her in one, the seat was purchased in January. She travels with me on a regular basis, occasionally for 1-2 hours at a time. The seat is regularly used in my car, a 1990 Honda Accord (ELR with sliding latchplates, for tech nerds) and in my mom's car, a 2000 Dodge Stratus (ELR with locking latchplates).

Pros:
High back - This feature allows us to get the shoulder belt in the perfect position. With the head rest positioned according to the manufacturer's instructions and using the attached belt guide, it comes out just perfectly over her shoulder. It's also very important in my mom's car which has low seat backs so this provides the head support she needs.
Side Impact Protection - I'm not sure if this seat is marketed as having side impact protection or not, but the wings around the head make me feel confident that her head would be protected in a side impact collision.
Features - Since I was putting her BACK into a booster I needed something that would appeal to her. When I saw the pink and purple diamond pattern I was certain that it would remind her of Hannah Montana, therefore making it cool, and I was sure right, she calls it her Hannah Montana seat. She also loves the cup holders, which are sturdier than those in the Bolero (my other seat), and takes her cups home from restaurants even if they are empty just so she can use that feature.
Sleeping - Unlike the flimsy Bolero wings, the Turbobooster's side impact protection wings serve as great little pillows for sleeping kids. One of the things I had noticed when she was in a regular seat belt was that when she fell asleep her head tended to droop over or even out of the seat belt, totally unsafe. Now it's cushioned right there against the seat wings and she looks so much more comfortable, not to mention safe.
Price - I paid $40 with free shipping. It's a GREAT booster for that price.

Cons:
Ease of use - Even though she's almost nine, I still have to buckle her in every time. I could probably teach her to do it with a little work but so far it has been too cold to spend that long outside. The belt has to be threaded underneath the arm rest, which does not lift up, and it takes a little technique to get it through tight and safe. She can, however, unbuckle herself most of the time.

Other points:
Size - It's almost too wide for my car, and almost too narrow for M. In my car the space between the buckle stalks and the lap/shoulder belt is pretty small and I have to kind of work with it to keep the buckle stalk from coming out behind the seat. M is not getting any smaller and already she fills the seat up width-wise at the hips, so even though she's average it might be better for skinnier kids.
Comfort - She has never complained, but then, she's not the kind of kid who complains. She loves her booster. I see increased comfort when she's sleeping due to the side impact protection wings but I'm not sure how comfortable the seat part is, or the back. It must not be too bad, or she would have spoken up.
Avaliability - Most stores have one or two patterns for the turbobooster. But if, like me, you are looking to convince a skeptical kid to ride in a booster and want a certain pattern, you'll probably have to order it online.



Overall, it does its job. The turbobooster is nothing super special, it's a plain old booster, but the variety of patterns is great for kids who are skeptical about boosters and it's certainly a good value for the money. I would recommend this seat definitely for seat check replacements and as a second seat, but I would also probably recommend it, depending on the child's measurements and needs, as a regular seat for an older child. Overall I - WE - are very satisfied. I give it four stars.
 
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