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Best Booster Seats for Kids From Consumer Reports' Tests

Our experts examine dozens of models for safety, belt fit, and structural integrity
John Powers/Consumer Reports
/ Source: Consumer Reports

This article is part of our Best Product Reviews series, a collaboration with Consumer Reports. Shop TODAY and Consumer Reports are editorially independent. If you purchase something through our links, we both earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time. Learn more about Shop TODAY and Consumer Reports

Children pass many milestones on their road to adulthood, including going from an infant car seat to sitting independently with a seat belt. A key step on that journey is a booster seat, which gives the child enough height to position the car’s seat belt most effectively.

All boosters might seem alike, but our extensive testing of 44 models shows that there are significant differences among models and types (see our full booster seat ratings).

That’s why we evaluate the structural integrity of booster car seats in our simulated crash tests and assess how the seat belt fits on a test dummy representing an average-sized 6-year-old. The booster seats are subjected to a simulated 35-mph frontal crash to ensure that load-bearing components and key positioning features remain intact. All booster models we rated fared well in our crash structural integrity tests.

Proper belt fit is crucial. We check belt fit in five vehicles with different seating and belt geometries. (The shoulder belt should cross the middle of the collarbone and sternum, and the lap belt should sit across the upper thighs.) In our fit-to-vehicle evaluations, we also simulate typical child movement by moving the dummy around to determine whether the belt remains in place.

We also rate each booster for how easy it is to use, which includes an evaluation of its labels and instructions.

Below, we present our top booster seat picks, meaning those models that stood out in their categories. A few are designated as CR Best Buys for their combination of performance and price.

High-Back-to-Backless Boosters

Nuna AACE

High-back mode: 40-110 pounds, 38-60 inches

Backless mode: 50-120 pounds, 38-60 inches

The Nuna Aace is an expensive, heavy, and bulky seat. However, it comes with excellent labels and instructions, and provides very good belt fit in high-back mode.

Graco Turbobooster Grow

High-back mode: 40-100 pounds, 43-57 inches

Backless mode: 40-110 pounds, 43-57 inches

The Graco TurboBooster Grow is a well-rounded booster for belt fit and ease of use. Adding versatility, it comes with an innovative detachable RightGuide seat-belt trainer (essentially the top portion of the bottom cushion that has its own belt guides). This removable RightGuide portion of the seat is super lightweight and portable, making it handy for carpools and playdates or for any kids you might not transport every day. The TurboBooster Grow’s balance of performance and price marks it as a CR Best Buy.

Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle Plus 120

High-back mode: 40-120 pounds, 39-63 inches

Backless mode: 40-120 pounds, 39-63 inches

The Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle Plus 120 is a high-priced, well-rounded booster for ease of use and belt fit in high-back and backless modes. It is a heavy seat that might not be best if you’re moving it between vehicles often.

High-Back-Only Boosters

Diono Everett NXT

High-back mode: 40-120 pounds, 38-63 inches

A CR Best Buy, this high-back-only booster from Diono provides an excellent belt fit. There is no minimum age requirement for use, which may lead some parents to use this seat for children before their body structure is strong enough and before they are behaviorally ready for the belts alone. Caregivers should opt for a booster only after their child has exceeded the height or weight limit of their forward-facing harnessed car seat.

Maxi-Cosi RodiFix

High-back mode: 40-120 pounds, 43-57 inches

The Maxi-Cosi RodiFix is a well-rounded booster for ease of use and belt fit, albeit at a high price. Keep the owner’s manual stored with the booster because there is minimal labeling available on the seat itself. Also be mindful when moving the booster that the seat recline easily disengages, causing it to change position. And be sure to lock it back in place for safe usage.

Backless-Only Boosters

Graco Rightguide

Backless mode: 50-120 pounds, 43-60 inches

The Graco RightGuide is a compact, portable option to keep as a spare booster for carpools and playdates. Some booster seats with a thick bottom can position a child’s head too high in a middle seating position, which might not have an appropriate height head restraint. This thin-bottomed backless booster doesn’t elevate the child much, allowing greater flexibility in what seating positions and vehicles it can be used in. The RightGuide requires the belt to be rethreaded into the lap-belt guides with every use, so it’s best suited for older kids who can do this on their own or with supervision. Its balance of performance and price designates it as a CR Best Buy.

Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle 120

Backless mode: 40-120 pounds, 39-63 inches

The Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle 120 is expensive, especially for a backless booster, but it does have higher weight and height limits than most, allowing for prolonged booster use. As a backless booster, it lacks the better shoulder belt fit, side protection, and comfort of a high-back booster.

Chicco Gofit

Backless mode: 50-120 pounds, 38-60 inches

The Chicco GoFit is a lightweight backless booster that comes with a carry handle. It has very good belt fit but—as is the nature of backless designs—lacks the better shoulder belt fit, side protection, and comfort of a high-back booster.

Check out our full booster seat ratings.

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