List: IIHS Evaluates Booster Seats, Is Yours a Best Bet?

By Jason Davis | October 13, 2011
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety today announced its annual Booster Evaluation results, and the great news for parents is that a record 31 seats have been designated as Best Bets. To achieve Best Bet status, a booster must correctly position a vehicle safety belt on a typical 4 to 8 year-old in almost any car, minivan, or SUV. Boosters designated as Good Bets provide acceptable fit in most vehicles. IIHS engineers evaluated 62 booster seats, many with dual highback and backless booster modes, and some seats received Best Bet status in only one configuration. Also, ratings are not determined by crash results, but by seatbelt fit. IIHS engineers assess belt fit with test dummies that represent an average-size 6-year-old. The engineers then measure how lap and shoulder belts fit the dummy in each booster under four conditions representing the range of belt configurations in real-world vehicles.
Seatbelt placement is an important issue that more parents need to be aware of, and until we put out a more thorough report, we've included IIHS' photos of correct and incorrect belt placement. Though the pictures will show better than words, it's important to note that the lap belt should fit across the child's thighs, and not at the bottom of the abdomen. The shoulder belt, also, should not fall off the shoulder or rest near the child's neck. Fortunately, booster seat manufacturers have continually upgraded features as a result of IIHS testing. There were, according to IIHS, 10 best bets for 2008, 9 for 2009, and 21 for 2010. Best of all for 2011, the price range for the 31 best bets start at just $15, making safety affordable at any income level. BEST BETS Britax Frontier 85 Britax Frontier 85 SICT Britax Parkway SGL (highback mode) BubbleBum Chicco KeyFit Strada (highback mode) Clek Oobr (highback mode) Cosco Pronto (highback mode) Cybex Solution X-Fix Diono/Sunshine Kids Monterey (highback mode) Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (highback mode) Evenflo Big Kid Amp Evenflo Big Kid Sport (backless mode) Evenflo Maestro Evenflo Symphony 65 e3 Ferrari Dreamway SP (highback mode) Graco Argos 70 (highback mode) Graco TurboBooster – Baldwin (highback mode) Graco TurboBooster Elite (highback mode) Harmony Cruz Youth Booster/Harmony Carpooler Harmony Dreamtime (backless mode) Harmony Dreamtime (highback mode) Harmony Olympian/Secure Comfort Deluxe Harmony Youth Booster Seat Kids Embrace Dale Earnhardt Jr. Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (highback mode) Recaro ProBOOSTER Recaro ProSPORT Recaro Vivo Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (highback mode) Safety 1st S1 Rümi Air The First Years B570 Pathway GOOD BETS Britax Parkway SG (highback mode) Combi Kobuk Air Thru (backless mode) Combi Kobuk Air Thru (highback mode) Evenflo Symphony 65 Maxi-Cosi Rodi (highback mode) NOT RECOMMENDED Evenflo Chase Evenflo Express Evenflo Generations 65 Evenflo Sightseer Safety 1st All-in-One Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite Source: IIHS