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 with parents of children in the 2-5 age group.

First up - the Evenflo Chase/Express/Vision/Traditions combination seat.  The model shown is the Express.  It is almost identical to the Chase.  The only real difference is that the Chase has little add-on arm rests.  The arm rests on the Chase can easily be removed and reattached (almost like a cup holder), so there is no structural difference between the 2 models.

In the first picture you will notice that the shoulder belt is a little too low – too far towards the edge of his shoulder.  That was caused by using the lower belt guide on the side of the seat.  In the 2nd and 3rd pics I’ve moved the shoulder belt up by routing it through the upper belt guide.  This improved the angle of the shoulder belt on him but also prevented the belt from making contact with his collar bone which isn’t ideal.  This also creates a comfort issue since the belt rubs against his face if he moves in that direction.

The good:  Honestly?  Nothing good I can say about how this booster fits my child in this vehicle.

The bad:  The lap belt is placed too high – positioned dangerously over his soft abdomen instead of low across his strong hip bones.  Ideally, it should be touching the tops of his thighs.

Bottom line:  Lap belt fit is horrible and shoulder belt fit is far from ideal.