Quantcast

Reviews Archive

Recaro Performance SPORT Harness Booster Review: Performance Indeed

Recaro Performance Sport ReviewWhen my daughter turned 4 in March, I let her start riding forward-facing in the car even though she technically still fit rear-facing in a few of the convertible seats we owned. Thanks to trusted friends with trusted seats to lend, plus some reviews CarseatBlog needed, we’ve been able to try out just about every forward-facing combination seat out there. I’ll admit that by the time we got to the Recaro Performance SPORT, I was a little burned out on trying new seats, and I wasn’t optimistic it would do anything to wow me. Boy was I wrong!

The Performance SPORT is similar to the discontinued Recaro ProSport model but has some nice updated features, which I’ll get to in a minute. You can also read our review of the original ProSport here.

First, the Performance SPORT stats:

Height/weight range harness: 27-50″ and 20-90 lbs (and at least 1 year old)

Height/weight range booster: 37-59″ and 30-120 lbs

Photo Oct 02, 2 55 40 PMWidest exterior measurement: 19″ (at torso wings)

Narrowest part of base: 11.25″ (at very back)

Widest part of base: 17″ (toward front)

Seat back: 27″

Seat depth: 14″

Crotch strap positions: 6″, 7″, 8″

Seated Shoulder Height Measurements:

Lowest harness height (of 4): 12″

Highest harness height (of 4): 18″

Highest booster height: 20″

The Performance SPORT features seatback and harness heights similar to many other combination seats on the market, with four harness height positions, the highest of which is about 18″ tall. There are some seats with higher top slots, but 18″ should be sufficient to get most kids to the point where they are big enough and mature enough to safely transition to booster mode on this seat.

How is the Performance SPORT improved from the previous ProSport model? It features a quick-flip recline mechanism, a HERO system to help keep the harness from twisting (more on this in a bit), memory foam for comfort, and temperature-balancing fabrics.

The Performance SPORT feature side-impact protection (tested to European standards), premium push-on LATCH connectors, a no-rethread harness, and EPS foam.

Graco Argos 70 Elite Review: Reliable & Versatile

argosGather ’round as I tell you a tale of bygone days, when dinosaurs roamed the land and there were no affordable, higher-weight-harness combination seats with tall top harness slots that worked well in all modes of usage. Ah, it was a bleak era indeed, until one day the clouds parted and the Graco Nautilus emerged! It was affordable and reliably harnessed those taller, larger, older kids. There was much rejoicing. Could things get any better? Oh, yes, they could. The Nautilus begat the Argos 70, and the Argos 70 begat the Argos 70 Elite, and…

Ahem. Sorry about that.

My point is that the Nautilus was really a groundbreaking seat when it debuted in 2007, and since then Graco has built upon its success. These combination seats install easily, fit kids well, and they’re versatile – converting from a harnessed seat into a high-back booster and then eventually into a backless booster. The Argos Elite has some really nice features that make it an excellent choice for anyone looking for a next-step seat after a convertible.

What sets the Argos apart from the Nautilus? The Argos harnesses to 70 lbs vs. the Nautilus’ 65 lbs. The Argos Elite features a lockoff for seatbelt installations (a feature also available on the Nautilus Elite) and a no-rethread harness that can be adjusted from the front while the seat is installed. The Elite version of the Argos also includes width-adjustable headwings and fabric-covered armrests with additional pockets. All versions of the Nautilus and Argos feature steel reinforcement, EPS foam, and have identical dimensions.

Nauti-Argos Comp Chart

 

Graco Argos 70 Elite Specs & Measurements:

  • Height/weight range harness: 27-52″ and 20-70 lbs (and at least 1 year old)
  • Height/weight range high-back booster: 38-57″ and 30-100 lbs
  • Height/weight range backless booster: 40-57″ and 40-120 lbs
  • Widest exterior dimensions: 20″ (front of seat at armrests)
  • Narrowest part of base: just over 12″ (at the back)
  • Interior measurement of headwings at closest setting: 7″
  • Interior measurement of wings at widest setting: 10″
  • Height of seatback (before adjuster handle): 29.5″
  • Seating area depth: 14″
  • Crotch strap slots: 6″ and 7″
  • Lowest harness slot: 14″
  • Highest harness slot: 18.5″
  • Highest booster guide: 20″

Recaro Performance BOOSTER Review – feeling the love!

Recaro Performance Booster - RedRECARO has been in the booster seat business since at least 2000, when the innovative Recaro Start was first introduced. Three of Recaro’s previous boosters – the Vivo, the ProBOOSTER, and the ProSPORT (combination seat) – were all rated “best bets” in the IIHS 2012 booster ratings. Its latest entry into the booster market, the Performance Booster, makes its debut in a few weeks.

 

Performance BOOSTER Specifications:

The weight rating for the Performance Booster is 30-120 lbs. It can be used by kids who are 37-62” tall. Recaro does not list a minimum age for this booster, instead stating in the manual, “A child is always safest in a child restraint system that has a 5-point harness system built in. Recaro cannot recommend what age your child has to be in order to ride in a belt-positioning booster, please refer to your state’s law, as each state is different.” Neither the Recaro website nor the manual indicated a seated shoulder height, but I measured it at 14”-21”.  The side impact protection “wings” of the seat extend up quite tall – even when the headrest is in the top position, the top of the wings nearly reaches the bottom of the headrest. The Recaro site does list seat cushion measurements – at 22” wide and 18” deep, it has quite a large footprint. The seat does not taper significantly toward the back, so “puzzling” opportunities for three-across situations may be limited.

Naked Performance Booster

 

Fit to child and vehicle:

After about a week of frequent use (10+ hours of use over the week), I’ve found that the seat fits my 7-year-old daughter very well. She is 49” tall and weighs about 51 lbs. With the headrest adjusted about halfway up, the shoulder belt was placed nicely over her shoulder, away from her neck. The lap belt lay properly over the tops of her thighs, nowhere near her belly. (And the manual indicates several times that the lap belt should not be over the belly.) The deep seat provided good thigh support as well, and the deep headrest was not so deep as to be difficult to see around.

leg support  Recaro Performance Booster - lap belt fit

 

In both our 2003 Ford Focus wagon (driver side) and my dad’s 2009 Honda Odyssey (driver side) the fit was good. The seat is easy to install in both vehicles. The Performance Booster is wide and filled the captain’s seat in the Odyssey, but she had no trouble buckling. I expected her to have trouble buckling in our Focus, where the seatbelt anchorages are fairly close together, but she actually had no trouble at all. However, because the seat is so wide, it basically turned my 3-passenger back seat into a 2-passenger back seat, even when paired with a narrow convertible for our preschooler.

 

I have three kids who pretty much represent the entire height and weight range of the Performance Booster. It was perfect for my 7-year-old, and she will fit in it for quite some time. My nearly 4-year-old is near the bottom of the limits, at 38.5” and 32 lbs. The seat did not fit her well at all – it was too wide, and so deep that I’m sure she would slide forward to bend her legs at the edge of the seat. I would not use this seat for a child her size, regardless of age. In fact, I plan on keeping her harnessed for a while yet. My 12-year-old, on the other hand, is near the top of the limits at 58” and 115 lbs. He has always had a short torso (a car seat mom’s dream!) but even so, his shoulders were several inches above the booster’s belt guides. It’s a shame the seat doesn’t have a backless mode, though, because he said it was wide and deep enough that it probably would have fit him quite well as a backless. (Unfortunately, it can easily be taken apart at the hinge like other similar boosters that do have a backless mode, which may lead parents to improperly use it as a backless booster.)

 

Of course, fit can vary greatly depending on the child and the vehicle, so it’s always best to try before you buy, if possible.

 

Cover:

Recaro’s special “CoolMesh” fabric is intended to allow air to flow through the seat to help keep the rider cool. We did not use the Performance Booster during extremely hot weather, but it did get warm and my daughter did not complain about being hot, even without the a/c turned on. The rest of the fabric feels similar to nylon – not plush at all – and comes in seven great colors. Sapphire, Plum, Redd, Vibe, Rose, Marine & Knight.

Recaro Performance Booster - BlueRecaro Performance Booster - PlumRecaro Performance Booster - ReddRecaro Performance Booster - VibeRecaro Performance Booster - RoseRecaro Performance Booster - Marine

 

LATCH:

The Performance Booster includes push-button lower LATCH attachments. The LATCH webbing is not adjustable, and the manual makes it clear that the LATCH attachments are intended only to prevent a “tossed object” in the event of a crash. The LATCH attachments measure about 11.5″ long, including the webbing and connectors. The seat is definitely not snug with the LATCH connectors attached to the lower anchors. There are two handy storage pockets on the side of the seat for use when transporting the seat or using it without LATCH. One advantage of the flexible LATCH over rigid LATCH is that the connectors won’t be in the way when installing without LATCH for whatever reason. I found it a little tricky to unhook the LATCH attachments in my Focus – I needed to move the booster out of the way to reach the attachment that was farther away, but the size of the booster and the size of the backseat resulted in me bumping my head on the vehicle both times that I had to remove the booster from the car.

 

Advantages:

  • Good height range to fit kids until they pass the 5-Step Test
  • The side of the headrest support is labeled in increments of 1-11, which make it easier to adjust.
  • High and deep side wings with tons of EPS foam for head and torso protection in side-impact crashes
  • Well padded and comfortable
  • Deep base provides good leg support for older kids
  • LATCH attachments for securing booster
  • Does NOT require support from either vehicle headrest or high seatback
  • Dual integrated cupholders
  • Clear, well-written manual
  • Assembled in the USA

 

Disadvantages:

  • Very wide
  • No backless mode
  • May not fit kids at the upper/lower ends of the height and weight limits well
  • Flexible LATCH attachments can not be adjusted
  • No minimum age for use

 

Kids’ point of view

lap and shoulder belt fitBeing 7 years old, my daughter has plenty of opinions and is more than happy to share them with me. She says that she loves the Recaro Performance Booster. The headwings aren’t so deep that she has to lean forward to see around them. The seat is well-padded and comfy under her rear end. The arm rests give her a perfect spot to lean her arms, and it’s easy to buckle. She also loves the cupholders. And don’t forget the color – purple (“Plum”) is one of her two favorite colors.

 

Conclusion

Overall, the Recaro Performance Booster is a very nice seat. My daughter and I had a hard time finding anything to dislike about it. My biggest complaint was its sheer size, but not everyone has a five-passenger vehicle for a five-person family. We’ll just switch to a narrower booster when we’re all in the car. Barring issues due to vehicle space, this seat will probably work well for most average-sized kids in the 5-10 age range.

 

Thank you to RECARO Child Safety for providing the Performance Booster used for this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog.

Note: We initially stated that the Recaro Performance BOOSTER required buckling when unoccupied even when attached with the LATCH attachments to the lower anchors in the vehicle. This was a misunderstanding on our end. That information was incorrect and the review was edited to remove the misinformation. To clarify – if the Performance BOOSTER is secured to the vehicle’s lower LATCH anchors using the LATCH connectors then you do NOT need to secure the booster with the seatbelt when it is unoccupied. We apologize for any confusion we created! 

 

The Noggle: Keeps Your Noggin Cool

NoggleWhen I first caught wind of the Noggle, the seasoned technician in me thought, “great – another product I’m going to have to tell parents to not buy because it isn’t safe.” We see plenty of “innovative” products hit the online market every year, each one trying to fill a niche from a frustrated parent who tinkered around until they jiggered something together to put to market. Most of the time we cringe and slap our hands over our eyes in an attempt to shield ourselves from the dangers these well-meaning folks present. Where does the Noggle fall on the scale of “would I use this for my kid?” products? Well, I don’t think I’ll let my kid use it because I’ll be keeping it for myself, lol!

What the Heck Is the Noggle?

It’s a tube that connects to your air vent to essentially elongate the vent and provide air to wherever you need it in your vehicle. It’s ideal for rear-facing children who don’t have access to air vents or 3rd rows where air vents are lacking. For instance, the 3rd row in my 2011 Acura MDX doesn’t have air vents, so when I have passengers back there, we have to crank up either the air or the heat, depending on the season, so they can be comfortable. With the Noggle, all I have to do is attach it to an air vent that a front passenger gives up and stretch the Noggle to the 3rd row. When the Noggle arrives at your doorstep, you get the Noggle itself (in either 6 or 8 foot lengths), a rectangular vent adapter, a circular vent adapter, 2 reusable zip ties, and instructions.

Noggle Includes  Noggle Length Inside  Noggle Attachment

Noggle Length

It’s ideal for people who travel with pets in crates in the cargo area, like we do. What we’ve done in the past for our pup is put our (now out of production) Cold Seat in the freezer before our trip for Bailey to lay on during the trip. Now with the Noggle, she can have her own air vent (I’ll willingly give up my front air vent since I’m always too chilly on trips).

Here’s a video of the Noggle in action:

 

 

Advantages

The biggest advantage is that you can place warm or cold air wherever you need it in your vehicle. As long as you have a working vent and a long enough zip tie, you can move the attachment piece to your heart’s desire. It’s easy to install and the amount of time required for installation is however long it takes you to thread the zip tie through your vent.

Another advantage is that you can leave the adapter installed on the vent, but remove the Noggle when you’re not using it. Today I had a full car of passengers, so I disconnected the Noggle so my son could sit in the passenger seat without 8 feet of Noggle in his lap.

 

Disadvantages

As with all items that aren’t screwed on or installed with a seat belt or LATCH, the Noggle does have the capability of coming free in a crash. I’d like to see less hard plastic at the end where it’s attached to the air vent. In a full-on frontal crash, theoretically, that plastic piece will be heading straight forward and not toward anyone, but in a side impact, it will pop off the holder on the vent and pop someone in the side of the head. Ouch! It’s something to consider as you’re staying nice and cool (or warm, depending on the season). Also, because the attachment piece isn’t fully sealed to the dash, there’s air escaping from the sides instead of going straight into the Noggle tube. A simple rubber gasket around the edge would probably fix that problem for future iterations of the Noggle.

Noggle Attached

Final Word

Overall the Noggle is a great comfort product and may aid in keeping kids rear-facing for longer during the hot summer months. Gone are the days of sweaty, grumpy rear-facing kids and the long hot summer vacation drives with choruses of, “Mommy! Daddy! I’m hot!” coming from the way back.  The Noggle comes in a variety of colors and sells for around $55.99.

 

Thank you to the Noggle folks for providing us with our sample for review!

2013-2014 Mercedes Benz GL 450 Video Review: Kids, Carseats and Safety

Rather than bore you with a wall of text, this review of the 2013 Mercedes Benz GL450 4Matic will be primarily a video and photo review.  As usual, there will be an emphasis on seating kids, vehicle safety and carseat compatibility.  The GL-Class was updated for 2013, with the main improvement for families being slightly more interior space.  There were also updated powertrains, a revised dashboard and console design, exterior styling refinements and the addition of some advanced safety features.  Unfortunately, the Driver Assistance Package with DISTRONIC PLUS, Blind Spot and Lane Keep Assist adds almost $3,000 to the $64,000 base price.  My loaded 4Matic model with just about everything was an eye-popping $96,610 sticker price, but expect the street price of the more fuel-efficient GL350 BlueTEC to be well under $70,000, even with the Driver Assistance Package.

 

 

The second row is wider than any midsize SUV I’ve tested, and most of the smaller full-size SUVs as well. The middle seat is wide enough for narrower carseats and there is no funky crossover of seatbelts and LATCH anchors! It’s not adjustable for legroom, but does provide a good amount of space as it is.  There are also plenty of cupholders and spaces for storage.

 

 

It doesn’t stop there.