June 2017 update: Recaro is withdrawing from the US market. There may still be some seats available online while stores sell out existing stock.
Booster type: Combo
Weight: 20 to 120 lbs.; five-point harness to 65 lbs. Up to 59”
IIHS rating: Best Bet.
NHTSA ease of use rating:
Harness mode: Three out of five stars
Booster mode: One out of five stars.
Pros: Very comfortable, EPS foam, side impact protection.
Cons: Price. May be hard to see in person given limited retail distribution. Tools required to disassemble the seat for cleaning.
Comments: Recaro’s Performance Sport is a combo booster that has a five-point harness for kids up to 65 lbs. and then converts to a high-back booster to 120 lbs.
Like its sister model, the Recaro Performance Booster, side impact protection is the focus here. You also get a harness height adjustment that works without re-threading, EPS foam for crash protection, and extra seat padding. The Performance Sport also features LATCH connectors, which is handy to keep the seat in position when not occupied. Other features: new mesh pockets that can hold cups, additional memory foam in the seat and Recaro’s new HERO system (headrest optimization system). And new this year, breathable mesh and fancier cup holders.
Reader feedback on this seat has been very positive and it earned a Best Bet from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. On the downside, we heard a few complaints that the side wings can get protest votes from toddlers who think they are too confining, block their vision, etc. (you may want to sit your child in this seat first before buying). And that might be a tad difficult, since this seat isn’t carried in as many retail stores as other brands (Buy Buy Baby has it online only, not in stores as of this writing, for example).
The NHTSA gave this seat only one-star in booster mode for ease of use, criticizing Recaro for not labeling the belt path. The NHTSA also said conversion of this seat from harness to booster mode is difficult and hand tools are needed to disassemble the seat for cleaning.
While we respect the NHTSA’s ratings, we note the real world feedback from parents who’ve used the Performance Booster is much more positive. Priced at about same level as the Britax Frontier, we give the Recaro Performance Sport our top rating. Rating: A