RECARO was founded in 1906 in Germany. They have been making car seats for over 100 years?! Not quite, but they have been making seats for cars for that long. It wasn’t until 1998 that RECARO entered the child passenger safety scene. It’s now 25 years later and they have just introduced a new high back booster. RECARO was generous enough to provide one of their new Performance BOOSTER seats for me to review.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- High back booster weight range: 30-120 lbs.
- High back booster height range: 37-61″
- Highest booster guide position: 21″
- Expiration: 6 years
- Does not become a backless booster
- Push on lower anchor connectors + storage pockets when not in use
- 11 numbered headrest positions
- Side impact cushions
- Cool Mesh air ventilation cover for comfort
- EPS and Memory foam
- Does not become a no back booster
- Removable liners for cup holders for easy cleaning
- 2014 IIHS Best Bet
Let us start with opening the box. This booster comes in one heck of a box, it’s huge as it measures approximately 20″ x 24″ x 28″! This is because the seat is already assembled; there is absolutely nothing you have to do to prepare this seat for use. Take out of box, attach lower anchor connectors to vehicle (if your vehicle is so equipped), adjust headrest, buckle child in, and go.
This seat is meant to be used by children 30-120 lb. and 37-61 inches. RECARO gives no age limits, but CSFTL generally recommends children be 5+ before using a booster. The When to Switch article will help you know if your child is ready for a booster.
The first thing is this seat is monstrous. It’s very wide at 22 inches and deep at 18 inches. Almost too wide to get it buckled easily as it takes up the entire captain’s chair of the Town and Country. The seat belts in the Town and Country do not lock at the shoulder, but if they did, I can see them getting locked (which RECARO prohibits) as the kids were getting used to buckling such a wide booster. Being 18 inches deep means it’s going to give plenty of leg support for older, taller users. At its tallest it’s 33.5 inches tall with a top shoulder belt position of 21 inches. Despite how big this seat is, it weighs in at only 11.85 lb.
When you install the seat, the lower anchor connector straps are not adjustable. This means the seat is loosely installed on the seat. Lower anchors with this booster function as nothing more than a restraint for the unoccupied booster in a crash. Still a great feature, but I would have loved the ability to tighten them. Remember that lower anchors for boosters do not follow the same weight limits as harnessed seats because it is not holding the weight of the child, simply the weight of the booster.
Fit to Child
Olivia, trying out the Performance BOOSTER since a smaller model was needed. (She always rides harnessed as she’s not yet 5 and not ready for a booster). She’s 4.5 years old, 43 lbs., and 43 inches, so a big girl for her age. She’s already using headrest position 4 of the 11. You can see however how much room she has in the seat portion though since she’s on the slim side. The seat belt still fit her perfectly, but that space can lead to lots of wiggling for a younger user and body slump when sleeping.
This is Ilana, one of the two middle booster users. She’s 7 years old, 63 lbs., and 47.5 inches. She is using headrest position 7 of 11. You can see how well the seat belt fits her in the booster. Lap belt is low on her lap, shoulder belt is across her shoulder, and her ears are right in the middle of the headrest. You can also see how deep this seat is. This seat is not going to be the best choice for kids who barely meet the minimums to use it. It’s really a better choice for an older booster user, or at least a bigger booster user.
Next is Evan. He’s 9 years old, 60 lbs., and 49 inches. He too is using headrest position 7. Having the numbers on the side of the headrest is so helpful when multiple children of different heights are using this seat. Remember what number they use, set it, buckle, and go. The other excitement I had with this booster was it didn’t have retraction problems if the child leaned forward in the seat. They leaned forward and when the leaned back, the belt went back smoothly into the retractor when in the captain’s chairs. This is a huge problem in the Town and Country with a lot of boosters and we had no problems with this one! If you have a Chrysler/Dodge van, I know you’ll love that ‘feature’ too. In the third row it still had retraction issues and when used outboard it had a tendency to lean towards the middle. Not a safety issue but annoying possibly to the caregiver, who has to look at it, and the kiddo riding in it.
This is AJ, the big daddy of booster users in the house. He’s 10.5 years old, 100 lbs., and 56 inches, so he’s on his way out of booster land, but not quite yet. This booster states a lofty 120 lbs., 61 inch limit. You can judge for yourself if that’s a realistic limit. The bottom fit him well, it’s nice and wide, but he’s right at the belt guide and the torso area was very tight on him. Can you tell how AJ feels about this booster? Read more about WHY AJ still needs a booster and WHAT some of his favorites are. Unfortunately this does not become a backless booster so there’s no way really for him to use this seat comfortably. The back does separate from the bottom though for easier storage and transport, but not for use!
This is Addison, she was borrowed from a friend because although she’s almost 6, she’s super petite and wanted to see how she would fit. She’s two months from being 6 years old and is 40 lb. and 43″. Compare this to how Olivia fits and you can see how overall height means nothing for fit; so it’s always a good idea to try before you buy if at all possible. They’re the same height, but Olivia is on headrest position 4 and Addison needs position 1. This is on headrest position 2 though to demonstrate how not to use the booster. RECARO says a proper fit includes the child’s head being centered vertically between the top and bottom of the head restraint (pg. 15). Had this been how she fit on position 1, she would not be able to use this booster yet.
This booster is padded to the max in the bum area. There is a thick memory foam pad in the seat area that allows for a comfy ride. That combined with the EPS foam lined, deep head wings and torso support makes it a great place to nap without the worry of falling over and out of position. The kids haven’t gotten to use the booster for very long trips, but everyone keeps falling asleep so it must be pretty good. RECARO does claim to test their seats to the ADAC European side impact standards as there are no side impact standards in the US currently. It cannot be verified if it makes the seat safer, but it certainly does help with comfort!
While not my top choice for a three across, it did manage to work in the third row of the Town and Country. This was the RECARO Performance BOOSTER, a Combi Coccoro, and then a Safety 1st Incognito, Harmony Folding Booster, and a Harmony Youth Booster. Based on the fit of the other boosters, an Evenflo Amp should fit as well. The boosters used and the Coccoro are very narrow; this is not a booster that will generally work well in a three across. Also, in the third row only positions 1-10 could be used (1-7 if you manage a three across) because of the headwings being so large. They ran into the sides of the van and would not go any higher without causing the seat to tilt towards the middle.
- Lots of head/torso support
- Wide and deep seating area
- Has lower anchors
- Does not convert to backless
- Very wide
- Lower anchors don’t tighten so they only secure the seat when unoccupied they don’t make it any more stable for the rider
The Performance BOOSTER is big! Great feature for those taller, bigger kids in your life, but may not be the best fit for all vehicles and may be too big for more petite kids. The booster does have great head and torso support and is well padded for those particular booster riders.
All seven amazing colors (Vibe, Plum, Redd, Rose, Sapphire, Knight and Marine) can be found on Amazon.com. Marine was the amazing color that was reviewed. I know older kids appreciate having more sophisticated color and pattern choices. Prints are nice, but there’s something more mature about a good solid in a great color.
Giveaway is now closed, congrats to winner Laurie M!
Now to the most exciting part of the review! Not only was RECARO generous enough to let me review the Performance Booster, they were generous enough to offer one to one of our U.S. readers! Just follow the directions on Rafflecopter to enter; remember CSFTL recommends your Little be at least 5 years old to use this seat. Also be sure to show your thanks and keep up to date on all their new car seats and boosters by liking RECARO Child Seats on Facebook and Twitter!
While RECARO provided the booster for the review, I was in no way compensated for my opinions, as always, they’re mine and mine alone! Originally written by Jennifer Penick. Edits maintained by CSFTL.