I’ve decided to document how various combination (harness/booster) seats fit my youngest son in booster mode. In these photos he is 5-years-old, 46 lbs and 45 1/2″ tall. He’s at the size where most parents would be thinking about switching from the 5-pt harness to the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt in booster mode if they had this particular seat. Even though the Evenflo Symphony65 has a 65 lb weight limit for the 5-point harness (please note: the original Symphony model is only rated to 40 lbs), realistically most kids will probably outgrow the harness by height before reaching that weight. While technically he still fits height-wise in the 5-point harness, he’s close to being too tall for it. He’s also well within the age and size range to use this seat in booster mode. As with all the previous combo seat as booster reviews that I’ve done - I’ve used 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″. In the most recent round of IIHS booster fit testing, the Symphony65 model was rated a “Good Bet”. After seeing the belt fit on my son (whose size is currently comparable to the 6 year old Hybrid III dummy) I would have to agree. Actually, I think the belt fit on my child in my vehicle using the Symphony65 is better than good – I think it rocks!
In these pictures the adjustable headrest is positioned above his shoulders in the 3rd tallest height position (there are a total of 4 height positions for the headrest). The seat is adjusted to the fully upright position (#3), which is the required position for booster mode.
The Good: Everything – in this situation. Lap belt is low, touching the tops of his thighs (no where near his soft abdominal area). Shoulder belt is positioned properly across his collar bone and making contact with his chest. Head support for sleeping seemed adequate and my son thought the seat was comfortable.
The Bad: Honestly, the only negative I can comment on is that it doesn’t adjust very high. It definitely won’t accommodate most kids until they’re tall enough to pass the 5-Step Test and ride without a booster. This means you will probably still need to purchase another booster seat after this one is outgrown. Officially, the seat is rated to 100 lbs and up to 57″ tall in booster mode but that’s a pipe dream as far as I’m concerned.
Bottom Line: Based on Ulrike’s positive review of the original Symphony model, the 8-year lifespan, plus the increased weight limit on the 5-point harness of this newest model - I’d say we finally have a good 3-in-1 seat to recommend for those parents who really want a seat that can be used rear-facing, forward-facing and as a booster. Just don’t expect it to fit your child for as long as most dedicated boosters will.