I’ve decided to document how various combination (harness/booster) seats fit my now 4.5-year-old,    42 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) Prospect as a booster.  This seat is also sold as the Adjustable High Back Booster.

First impression right out of the box was a good one.  The headwings were deep, the fabric on the sides was soft and plush and the seat was well padded.  I plopped DS into it and that’s when reality hit.  This seat must have gone through the whole design and production process without anyone bothering to try a real kid in it!  Honestly, that is the only logical explanation for how poorly designed this seat is.  My 4.5 year old was really squished inside.  Check out the video and pictures:

 

Anyhow, I hope they didn’t pay the person who designed this seat a big retention bonus or anything like that.  Even with the headrest in the tallest position (last picture at the bottom) my poor kid was very uncomfortable.  The fact that it does such a poor job positioning the seatbelt in booster mode is almost a secondary complaint in this case.   

In these photos the headrest is positioned in the middle setting and that should be the right height for him. 

   

The Good:  The shoulder belt fit snugly across his chest.  I also like their weight and height minimums for booster mode.  40 lb and 43″ for using it as a booster with the back, 48″ minimum for using it backless.  I was going to take off the back and try it out as a backless booster but DS isn’t anywhere near the 48″ minimum height so I didn’t bother. 

 

The Bad:  Only super-duper skinny kids with no shoulders will fit comfortably in this seat.  Also, the lap belt was positioned too high.  It wasn’t touching the tops of his thighs where it should be.  Lap belts that are positioned near the soft abdominal area instead of across the strong hip bones are more likely to cause injuries in a crash.    

Bottom Line: Of all the combo seats I’ve tried so far – this one is the worst by far just because he didn’t even fit in it!  You can see in the pic below that even on the tallest height setting he angled his shoulders to try to squeeze one side under the headwing.  At least the other combo seats we’ve tried could accommodate a 4-year-old even if most of them did a lousy job as a belt positioning booster.

Tallest Height Setting

Tallest Height Setting