Graco TurboBooster Review — Updated Model

(Last Updated On: October 27, 2017)
Graco TurboBooster

Graco TurboBooster

The Graco TurboBooster has been a solid, well-fitting, popular booster seat for many years for good reason!  It is lightweight, very simple to assemble and use, and fits a wide variety of children well.  It’s also budget friendly, making it a good choice for many families.  The TurboBooster we know and love has seen a few small but important updates so we’ll take a look at this old friend with fresh eyes.

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • High back booster weight range: 30-100 pounds
  • High back booster height range: 38-57 inches tall
  • Backless booster weight range: 40-100 pounds
  • Backless booster height range: 43-57 inches tall
  • Expiration: 10 years
  • Replace after any crash
  • Does not require a vehicle head rest behind it
  • No overhang allowed
  • Required to be flush against the vehicle seat back

Features

  • Two cupholders
  • U-shaped hooks on bottom of the backrest that securely connect the back to the base
  • IIHS Best Bet

Measurements

  • Seat pan depth: 14 inches
  • Width of high back at widest point: 17 inches
  • Width of seat bottom with cup holders folded in: 17 inches
  • Width of seat bottom with cup holders extended: 21 inches
  • Internal seating width: 11 inches
  • Height with headrest fully extended: 28 inches high
  • Highest booster guide position: 19.25 inches high
  • Weight, high back mode: 6.6 pounds
  • Weight, backless mode: 3.3 pounds

Carpooling Essentials

  • Easy to set up without (very much or any) adult assistance
  • Easy to carry
  • Consistent belt fit

Assembly

The TurboBooster comes out of the box in five pieces: two armrests, a bottom, and two back pieces. The manual, registration card, screws for the armrests and the shoulder belt positioning guide for backless mode come in a plastic bag.

Do NOT throw away the screws!

Don’t throw away any of it, actually – it’s all very important!  Be sure to fill out the registration card  or register your seat online right away.

Graco TurboBooster assembly

The manual has clear assembly instructions.  Here’s an overview:

First, put the lower back support and the headrest pieces together, then attach the soft goods.

Graco TurboBooster screws in the armrests

Graco TurboBooster screws in the armrests

Next, attach the two armrests to the bottom part of the booster, and install the screws that came in the package with the manual.

The TurboBooster will not perform as intended in a crash without the screws – don’t forget them!

Graco TurboBooster assembly

Graco TurboBooster assembly

To attach the high back portion of the booster to the bottom, line up the U shaped hooks on the bottom of the backrest with the bars on the base.  Make sure that none of the soft goods are in the way, and lift the backrest up.  It will click into place, then the booster is ready to be used!

Improved Base to Back Connection

The new connectors are a great design improvement – the backrest and bottom portions of the older versions of this seat notoriously fell apart if you tried to move it from car to car. This new version, however, is pretty darn secure, and can be moved with ease.

The final assembly step is to route the shoulder portion of the vehicle seat belt through the shoulder belt guide, then make sure that the lap belt is under the armrests.

Headrest Adjustment

Graco TurboBooster headrest adjustment

Graco TurboBooster headrest adjustment

To adjust the height of the headrest and belt guide, squeeze the red handle at the top of the seat, then pull up.  Do this as the child grows to ensure that the red belt positioning guides are slightly above the child’s shoulders.

Vehicle Headrest

Graco TurboBooster gap between booster and vehicle seat

Graco TurboBooster gap between booster and vehicle seat

When using the TurboBooster in high back mode, it does not require a vehicle head rest behind it. The manual specifically states that the vehicle headrest should not create a gap between the vehicle seat and the booster seat. If the head restraint pushes the headrest forward, adjust or remove it so the seat will sit flush against the seat back.

Check your vehicle manual to make sure that removing the head rest is allowed — if the head rest is creating a gap and cannot be removed from the vehicle, you’ll need to try a different seating position. Remember, though, that in backless mode, the child must have head support to the tops of their ears.

Overhang

Graco TurboBooster does not permit overhang

Graco TurboBooster does not permit overhang

The manual prohibits the booster from extending off of the vehicle seat in any way.  This restriction could make the TurboBooster incompatible in some shallow seating positions. Be sure to check how the booster fits on the vehicle seat when choosing where to use it in your car.

Fit to Child

High Back Mode

5 Years Old

Graco TurboBooster 5 years old

Graco TurboBooster 5 years old

This model is 5 years old and at the top of the charts for both height and weight.  He’s 47 inches tall and a solid 84 pounds.  He is new to non-harnessed car seats, but is booster training in his dad’s truck on short drives around town. Believe it or not, he still fits within the weight and height limits of his Britax Frontier in his mom’s car!

When using the TurboBooster in high back mode, the shoulder belt crosses his collarbone, but is a little high on his neck. The lap belt is nice and low on his hips, touching his thighs.

The first few times he tried to climb into the TurboBooster, the seat moved around on him a bit, and he had to get out and start over.  After a few tries, though, he figured out how to climb in without moving the booster seat out of position.

He does not have much hip room to spare in this seat, but he claims it’s “comfy” regardless.  He is able to sit all the way back, and properly route both the lap and shoulder belt portions under the armrests. When he tries to buckle the seat belt, he has to rotate around and lean over fairly far to connect the belt pieces, but he’s learning quickly how to remove the extra slack this creates and to ensure that the shoulder belt remains in the belt guide.

More About Our Model

A wider booster would likely be more comfortable for this model, but he has no complaints about this seat.  The headwings and high back are a good reminder for him to sit up straight,  though I doubt he has room to slump because he has broad shoulders and behind. He particularly likes the cupholders, and the fact that they slide in and out. Perfect for hiding treasures!

Since he is at the top of the charts for height and off the charts for weight, this seat will not last him as long as most other children. But if your little is of average height and weight, this is a great seat that will fit them well.

Note About the Shoulder Belt Guide

The vehicle seat belt does slip out of the shoulder belt guide rather easily in the course of regular use.   It is very easy to slide the belt right back in, but make sure that someone checks every time the child buckles in that the shoulder belt is still in the guide.

6 Years Old

Graco TurboBooster: 6 years old

Graco TurboBooster: 6 years old

This model is 6 years old.  He weighs 42 pounds and is 42 inches tall.  The TurboBooster fit him well, he was able to buckle himself in without any issues, and he found the seat comfortable.  It’s this kind of consistent belt fit that makes us such big fans of the TurboBooster!

We removed the padding insert in the headrest with this model.  The TurboBooster fit him better without that insert.

8 Years Old

Graco TurboBooster 8 years old

Graco TurboBooster 8 years old

This kiddo is 8 years old.  She weighs 45 pounds and is 46 inches tall.  The TurboBooster fits her well.  She finds it very comfortable and she likes the slide out cupholders.

7 Years Old

Backless Mode

Graco TurboBooster 7 years old

Graco TurboBooster 7 years old

This model is 7 years old, weighs 100 pounds, and is 54.5 inches tall.  She is right at the weight limit for the TurboBooster, and close to the height limit of the high back booster portion of the seat.  Even though she is within the stated limits of the seat, she has already outgrown it in high back mode. The headrest is too low, making the vehicle seat belt curve below her shoulder.

When we took the back off the seat, she got a much better fit in the TurboBooster.  She doesn’t have a lot of room to maneuver the seat belt, but she’s a booster pro and was able to buckle herself in with no issues.  The shoulder belt fit was great, so we didn’t have to use the seat belt positioner that comes with the seat.  This is the same booster she uses in her mom’s car, so she was an old pro.

7.5 Years Old

Graco TurboBooster: 7.5 years old

Graco TurboBooster: 7.5 years old

This model is 7.5 years old, weighs 63 pounds, and is 50 inches tall.  She’s got plenty of room to grow and enjoys the novelty of the occasional backless booster ride.  The TurboBooster is easy enough for her to carry around and set up in the vehicle so it would be a great carpool option for her!

Important Information: Where to Find

FAA Approval

Graco TurboBooster FAA label

Graco TurboBooster FAA label

The TurboBooster requires a lap and shoulder belt, so it (like all boosters) is not FAA approved. However, the backless portion of the seat is light and compact enough that it could easily be carried on board the plane and stored in the overhead bin. Then you will be sure to have it at your destination.

The label prohibiting use on aircraft is on the bottom of the backless portion of the seat.

Manual Storage

There is a handy spot on the bottom of the backless booster portion of the seat to store the manual.

Expiration

Graco TurboBooster manual storage and date of manufacture

Graco TurboBooster manual storage and date of manufacture

This TurboBooster has a 10 year expiration. You can find this information in the manual, and also stamped on the bottom of the seat.  The date of manufacture label is on the bottom of the backless portion of the seat, too, and will show when the seat was manufactured.

Pros

  • Budget friendly
  • Does not require vehicle head support
  • Converts to backless mode
  • Has cup holders
  • Easy to use
  • U-shaped hooks on bottom of the backrest that securely connect the back to the base

Cons

  • Narrow seating area
  • Requires assembly, specifically screws in the armrests
  • Booster cannot hang over the edge of the vehicle seat
  • No lower anchors

Overall Thoughts

I have very few complaints about the TurboBooster. It provides a good belt fit for both the shoulder belt and lap belt for most booster ready children. It is easy to put together and use, it is reasonably priced, and, according to my model,  relatively comfortable.  It is lightweight, making it a good choice for travel, and easy to move between cars.  The cupholders are a nice bonus, but make sure no perishables get tucked away in there – that could be gross!  All in all, this updated version of the seat takes everything we liked about the earlier version and makes it better.

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