I’ve decided to document how various combination (harness/booster) seats fit my 4-year-old, 41 lb, 43″ tall son in booster mode.  He’s at the size where most parents would be switching from the 5-pt harness to the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt in booster mode if they had a combination seat with a 40 lb limit on the harness.  In each case I’ll use the same seating position in my van – driver’s side captain’s chair in a 2005 Ford Freestar.     

The IIHS booster study compared the fit of various boosters using the 6-year-old Hybrid lll dummy who weighs 51.6 lbs (23.41 kg) and has a standing height of almost 45″.  I thought it would be even better to show belt fit on a child who was just over the 40 lb weight limit for the 5-pt harness.  I’ve decided to focus exclusively on combination seats because of their popularity.         

This week we’ll be looking at the Dorel (Cosco/Safety 1st/Eddie Bauer) Vantage Point as a booster.  This seat has also been sold as the Vantage Booster, Surveyor Booster, Comfort High Back Booster, Alpha Sport Vantage Booster and the Eddie Bauer Vantage High Back Booster.  It’s all the same seat – just different covers sold under different Dorel brand names. 

The seat in my pictures below has a recent DOM and has the new, deep cut-out sides for the lap belt.  Walmart had this model and an old 2005 model of the same seat displayed on the shelf and the difference in the shells was obvious.  Apparently, the same changes that Dorel made to the Highback Booster (with harness) shell was made to this model as well.  I was hopeful but skeptical that this change would result in a better fit of the lap belt when the seat was used in booster mode.

In the first picture you will see that I have not threaded the shoulder belt through the guide.  In this case, the shoulder belt (which is height-adjustable in my van and has been lowered to its lowest position) ) seemed to fit him well enough.  However, since most parents will use the guide – the rest of the pics show the guide being used.  My son is using the guide in its highest position.

The Good:  Truthfully, there’s nothing really good to say here.  The shoulder belt fit is okay.  It’s typical of what I’ve been seeing with these one-piece shell combo seats.  It’s not fantastic but it’s acceptable.  

The Bad:  Even with the new, deeper lap belt guides – the lap belt is still too high.  I’ve been debating whether or not the deeper cut-outs make any difference and I think it does.  But not enough.  The lap belt still isn’t touching the tops of his thighs where it should be.      

Bottom Line:  The overall fit with seatbelt is marginal even with the new, deeper cut-outs on the sides.  I’m not impressed.  The Vantage Point can be a decent harnessed seat but with those low top harness slots many kids will outgrow the harness by height before hitting the 40 lb weight limit.