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.       

This week we’ll be looking at the Graco Cargo as a booster.  This seat has been sold as the Cherished Cargo, Treasured Cargo, Grand Cargo, Ultra Cargo, Platinum Cargo and as a booster only (without harness) as the My Cargo.  The model pictured below is the Ultra Cargo.

In the first two pictures the shoulder belt is not threaded through any guide on the side of the seat.  You can see that the belt is touching his neck which means that in this situation he needs the guide to position the belt properly.  In the last two pictures the shoulder belt has been threaded through the middle guide.  

The Good:  The shoulder belt makes decent contact with his chest which was a pleasant surprise. 

The Bad:  Lap belt fit isn’t good.  It isn’t really touching the tops of his thighs.  Also, threading the shoulder belt through the guide properly was very difficult and took a considerable amount of time and effort.

Bottom Line:  Lap belt fit isn’t optimal.  It’s not the worst I’ve seen but there is certainly room for improvement.  Shoulder belt guides are awful.  There are definitely other boosters on the market that would do a better job positioning the adult seatbelt on a child and are easier to use properly. 

FYI – I’ve seen pictures of a new Cargo design that appears to have different shoulder belt guides but I haven’t seen this model IRL so I can’t comment on it.