Weight: 30 to 100 lbs. as high back booster (backless, 40 to 100 lbs).
High back mode: Best Bet.
Backless mode: Best Bet.
NHTSA ease of use rating: Three out of five stars (regular model).
Backless: Three out of five stars
Version with Safety Surround: Three out of five stars.
Pros: Top choice in booster market—both affordable and well designed.
Cons: No five-point harness; little side impact protection.
Comments: This is our top pick as a great, affordable belt-positioning booster seat (no harness). As a reminder, your child must be mature enough to sit in a belt-positioning booster—even though these seats start at 30 lbs., we suggest waiting until your child is at least four years of age. Keep a toddler in a harnessed seat until they outgrow it by weight or height.
The TurboBooster features padded armrests that are height adjustable, EPS foam, hide-away cup holders and a one-hand adjustment for the headrest. The seat pad removes for cleaning; the TurboBooster converts into a backless booster for older kids.
As usual, Graco makes this seat in more than a dozen colors and styles. Hence, you’ll find a basic version for $45 at Walmart and upgraded models for $75 in specialty stores. What’s the difference? Just the fabric pad. More money, nicer fabric.
So what are the drawbacks to the Graco TurboBooster? Well, unlike the Graco Nautilus or Britax Frontier, this seat lacks a five-point harness. Hence this seat is for older toddlers who’ve outgrown a harnessed seat. And the TurboBooster requires quite a bit of assembly with various screws (that’s the reason this seat only earned three out of five stars in the government’s ease of use rating).
One flaw for the TurboBooster, the lack of side impact protection, was recently addressed: Graco has added “Safety Surround” side impact protection to one version of the TurboBooster (dubbed the Highback TurboBooster with Safety Surround, $80—a Target exclusive). See our review of the Graco My Ride 65 for details on Safety Surround.
Reader feedback on the TurboBooster is quite positive; even the 1800+ reviews on Amazon are 90% positive (four and five stars). The few dissenters wish the TurboBooster was better designed for napping toddlers. And more than a few parents wish this seat had LATCH to keep it secured when unoccupied. (Graco’s Affix is similar to the TurboBooster but adds LATCH).
The backless version of the TurboBooster has similarly positive reviews with a cavet: the seat doesn’t have much padding, so folks with long commutes or upcoming long-distance trips may want to pass.
Bottom line: this is a good option for older toddlers who no longer need a seat with a five-point harness. If you can spare the extra cash, go for the version with the Safety Surround padding (see picture, bottom). Rating: A