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2016 Diono Monterey Belt-Positioning Booster Review

Monterey Grey

The Diono Monterey has long been a well-loved belt-positioning booster by kids and parents alike. It fits kids of a wide range of body types due to its ability to change width to accommodate growing shoulders and its adjustability to grow with the tallest child. The Monterey is a dual-mode booster, which means it can be used in either high-back or backless mode, so it has versatility built in. The cover is well-padded and soft and kids love the comfort it provides. The booster seat bottom has plenty of leg support for long-legged kiddos while the headrest provides a comfortable resting place with tons of EPS foam for heads. The Monterey is a booster that will easily last your child until they pass the 5-Step Test and can safely transition into an adult seat belt.
Editors' Pick
Because of the value you get for the size range child the Monterey will fit, we chose it for an Editors’ Pick on our Recommended Carseats List.

Weight and Height Limits:

40-120 lbs.; 38-63” tall

Monterey Overview:

  • 11 position headrest
  • Can be installed with lower LATCH connectors
  • Lined with EPS foam
  • Torso wings reinforced with aluminum
  • Torso wings adjust in width up to fit shoulders up to 20”
  • Energy absorbing AirTek™ foam provides cushioning and increased airflow for a more comfortable ride
  • 2 recline positions aids in vehicle compatibility and comfort
  • Retractable deep cup holders

Measurements:

Belt guide heights: 15 ¾”-22”
Inside shoulder width: 14”-17 3/4”
Inside hip width: 11 ¼”
Seat depth: 14”
External widest point: 19 1/8” at torso wings, 18 ¾” at armrests
Seat weight: 15.2 lbs.

The Monterey comes out of the box in 2 pieces, and it can be used backless once your child grows too tall for the back. To assemble the back securely to the base, you’ll lay the backrest face down on the ground and line the base up so the backs are facing each other. Once the hooks of the backrest are lined up to the bar on the base, rotate the base cushion toward the backrest front until it clicks.

Monterey Grey Monterey Bloom Monterey Surf

Fit to Child:

The Monterey received a 2015 IIHS Best Bet rating in highback mode only and a Check Fit rating in backless mode. It’s easy to get a customized fit for kids who may be squeezed out of other boosters.

To adjust the height, pull up on the handle on the back of the headrest to adjust the headrest height. The shoulder belt guides are on the outside of the headrest; they’re marked by red lines on the fabric of the headrest. You’ll want the shoulder belt guides to be above the shoulders so that the shoulder belt falls in the middle of the shoulder for best fit. On the back of the booster is a dial you can turn to widen or tighten the width of the torso wings. Once your child is within 1 cm (about a 1/3”) of the shoulder belt guide when the headrest is in its top setting, it’s time to take the back off and use the booster backless. If the tops of your child’s ears go over the top of the *vehicle* seat back/headrest, then it’s time for a new booster or different option. If the tops of your child’s ears go over the top of the Monterey’s headrest and there’s still a vehicle headrest behind the Monterey, the back can come off and it can be used backless.

Just because the Monterey got a Check Fit while in backless mode doesn’t mean it’s dangerous to use in that mode, it means . . . check the fit on your child. You want to look for a shoulder belt that sits in the middle of the shoulder or slightly toward the neck and a lap belt that is touching the thighs.

Bryson in Monterey Ellie in Monterey

Our models are Bryson who is 6, 52 lbs., and 46” tall, and Ellie who is 6 and about 50 lbs.

Fit to Vehicle:

The Monterey has lower LATCH connectors that can be used for installation of the booster. This is an optional feature. Why attach a booster using LATCH? It keeps it from becoming a projectile in a crash. The seat belt is what is restraining your child and we all know that once kids switch to a booster, they don’t have the time or patience to buckle their boosters in when they jump out of them, so we LATCH them in.

Monterey in MDX

The lower LATCH connectors are upside down on this booster. No, your booster isn’t defective—it was designed this way. Go with it, but be prepared that it will be hard to uninstall. That’s why the smart CPS technicians will make *you* uninstall any upside down connectors when you come to have your carseats checked ;). Here’s the great part, though: with the Monterey, you can install the lower LATCH connectors either upside down or right-side up. It doesn’t matter—I verified it with Diono and if you call them, they’ll tell you the same thing. Why doesn’t it matter in this case? See the above paragraph.

Cover/Maintenance/Ease of Use:

The cover is hand-wash in cold water and line dry. You may need a flat-head screwdriver or butter knife to pry off the plastic fasteners that hold the cover to the booster.

FAA/Lifespan/Crash:

Because belt-positioning booster seats require the use of lap/shoulder belts, the Monterey cannot be used on an airplane. That doesn’t mean you can’t take it with you on the plane, though, and tuck it into an overhead bin as you travel so your child has a safe booster to sit in at your destination.

The Monterey has a lifespan of 8 years. Diono wants you to replace it after a severe crash.

Advantages:

  • 11 position headrest
  • Can be installed with lower LATCH connectors
  • Lined with EPS foam
  • Torso wings reinforced with aluminum
  • Torso wings adjust in width up to fit shoulders up to 20”
  • 2 recline positions
  • Retractable deep cup holders

Disadvantages:

  • Fairly wide
  • Shoulder belt guides hidden by fabric
  • Requires head support from the vehicle (cannot be used in seating positions that don’t have a head restraint)

The Diono Monterey sample used in this update was provided by Diono. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.