In the world of combination (forward facing harness to booster) car seats, we have a lot of excellent choices these days. Things have come a long way since just a few years ago when five point harnesses with weight limits above forty pounds simply did not exist. Today I took a look at a great option from RECARO: the ProSPORT. This seat has been replaced with the RECARO PerformanceSPORT.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Forward facing weight range: 20-90 lbs (newer versions have a 65 lbs limit)
- Forward facing height range: 27-59”
- Highback booster weight range: 30-120 lbs
- Highback booster height range: 27-59”
- Highest harness position: 17.75”
- Highest booster guide position: 20″
- Expiration: 6 years
- Lower anchor weight limit:
52 lbs unless vehicle gives a lower weight40 lbs per August 2014 recall
- No rethread harness
- Recline option
- Crotch buckle positions: 4.75”, 6”, or 7”
- Can use lower anchors in booster mode
First, I tried the seat out with my son – he’s 4.75 years old, weighs 36 pounds and measures 41” tall. With the harness set on the highest of its four positions, he had tons of room to grow. The harness height and headrest adjust very simply by pulling the lever on the back of the seat to raise or lower for the proper position with no re-threading, the straps should sit at or just above the child’s shoulders. There are also three harness lengths to provide a snug fit for all sizes of children. The recline wedge on the bottom of the seat can be used in either upright or recline position in both harness and booster mode. RECARO thought about safety, but also convenience with handy storage pockets on the side of the seat for the manual as well as the lower anchor connectors.
Once installed in the vehicle, my son fit comfortably on the third of the four harness positions – one downfall of the seat is that there is significant space between the harness positions, and because the headrest moves with the harness positions it places the headrest a good distance above the child’s head when initially moving up to the next harness position. A fifth position would be perfect to eliminate that large distance between positions.
The seat can be installed using lower anchors up until the child weighs 52 pounds (unless the vehicle states a lower limit), with a lap/shoulder belt, or a lap only belt, for which the top tether is required. It installed easily in my 1998 Honda CR-V using the lap/shoulder belt and top tether. The open belt path and red guides made it easy to see where to route the belt and achieve a secure installation.
I did, however, experience two slight issues once installed:
First, the belt guides sit slightly forward of the restraint’s seat back, and because of the open belt path design, the child’s back goes right against that and the seat belt protrudes against the child’s back. My son complained several times about the seat belt hurting his back. I have been told RECARO offers a foam insert to help with this issue, although I did not confirm that with RECARO for this review.
Second, when installing with a lap/shoulder belt, the shoulder belt covers the opening for the harness when it is in the second and third harness positions. I spoke with RECARO and they said there is no harm in the seat belt sitting there, but it does put pressure on the harness somewhat uncomfortably. Their suggestion was to use a locking clip to install rather than the seat belt’s locking retractor, because that would leave the shoulder portion of the belt loose and it would not put pressure on the harness strap opening.
Next, I tried the seat’s belt positioning booster fit. My four-year old isn’t yet mature enough to ride in a belt positioning booster, although he does meet the height and weight requirements for the booster function of this seat. We tried this in the driveway, only for purposes of checking the belt fit. The lap guides are somewhat narrow to thread the seat belt into, and the width of the seat makes it somewhat cumbersome to buckle, but once buckled, the fit is excellent. The headrest is on the second position rather than the 3rd, allowing the shoulder belt to fit evenly across his torso, and the lap belt sits nice and low on his hips, touching the tops of his thighs.
The ProSPORT also allows use of lower anchors when in booster mode to secure the seat from becoming a projectile if it is unoccupied in a crash.
Overall, I found the RECARO ProSPORT easy to use and install correctly. The fabric feels very durable and was comfortable for my son, and I love the Blaze color. The ProSeries Safety Stripe system features white stitching on the edges of the harness to help ensure the harness is not twisted before buckling the harness. There are two mesh storage pockets on each side of the seat, they are on the small side though, and my son complained he couldn’t fit a cup in them.
The ideal is for all children to remain in a five point harness until they are mature enough to ride in a belt positioning booster, and the ProSport’s generous height and weight allowances will allow most kids to do so, and then make a properly fitting booster later. Aside from a few quirks, this seat is a great option for any preschooler on up!
RECARO has since updated the ProSPORT to the PerformanceSPORT, as of mid 2014 the harness weight limit has dropped to 65 lbs, and the PerformanceSPORT features the HERO harness pads that attach to the cover and keep the harness from twisting. You can find the PerformanceSPORT on Amazon.com. RECARO did not provide a seat for this review nor sponsor this post. Opinions are all my own!
Originally written by Emma Douglas. Edits maintained by CSFTL.