Evenflo has made safe, affordable carseats for decades, and they aren’t new to booster seats either. Spectrum is the newest member of the Evenflo family with some unique and innovate features. My first impression upon taking it out of the box was that it was very streamlined and modern looking. I know booster seats can be pretty run of the mill when it comes to looks, but Spectrum has some special touches that add to its unique appearance.
There is some assembly required when it comes out of the box but it isn’t difficult if you follow the directions in the manual. There are no tools (or screws) required and it doesn’t come in a million pieces like Ikea furniture.
(say that 10 times fast!)
- Weight 40 – 110 lbs.
- Height 44 – 57”
- 4 year age minimum. I got all nerdy over the spread in the manual regarding how to know if a child is appropriate to ride in a booster.
- Adjustable headrest with 8 height settings
- Lyf+Guard side-impact protection technology in the head rest
- Does not require a vehicle head restraint when used in high back mode
- 6 year lifespan before expiration
- Dual cupholders/snack trays
- Machine washable cover that can also be thrown in the dryer!!
Let me touch on Lyf+Guard (pronounced lifeguard). This technology is new to Evenflo and consists of two side-impact “pods” on either side of the headwings. These have multiple layers that are designed to compress upon impact and reduce the transfer of energy to the child and thus reducing injury. It does make the headrest wider overall (about 20” across), but I didn’t find any issue with it being awkwardly large.
Spectrum is also one of several Evenflo seats that has been rollover tested. The Evenflo Rollover Test is a dynamic test that simulates roof-to-ground contact. Evenflo believes this type of impact is responsible for the majority of injuries in a rollover event and they are designing seats to protect children in these types of crashes. Please keep in mind that there is no current federal standard for rollover testing. However, I personally feel that any additional testing done above and beyond what’s required by federal standards is a positive thing and certainly does not hurt.
- Highest (8th position) shoulder belt guide setting: 22”
- Lowest belt guide setting: 14”
- Width at the armrest: 18”
- Seat depth: 15”
- Weight: 11 lbs.
As you can see from the measurements above, Spectrum is TALL. It’s taller than most other boosters currently on the market. The fact that it’s so tall and so reasonably priced is a winning combination. This is how Spectrum looks next to a Graco Nautilus in top height booster setting. Notice the lower seating position of Spectrum plus the additional height.
Fit to Child:
I found Spectrum to be a great fit on my 50 lb, 50” 6-year-old. He’s only on the 3rd height setting, the shoulder belt fits nicely across his chest and the lap belt sits on his lower pelvic area instead of his belly. It has just the right amount of recline to encourage him to sit straight and back in the seat. The head wings provide nice depth around his head but aren’t confining. The ergonomic armrests curve inwards toward the child and the belt path is really easy to access for him to buckle himself. Liam commented multiple times about how cushy the bottom portion of the seat is. A lot of booster seats have just a thin padding over the plastic but Spectrum offers more than that and helps keep boney little tushes comfortable.
In backless mode, it fit my son fairly well, although he is nowhere near ready to use it this way due to him shifting around too much. The back portion and headwings remind him to stay in place in highback mode, but he has way too much freedom to ride safely in backless mode at this point in time. Spectrum does come with a seatbelt adjuster strap, although I did not need it for the shoulder belt to lay across him correctly. A vehicle headrest would be needed if using it in backless mode, and mine would need to be raised higher if he were using the seat in this mode. Converting from highback to backless mode was flawless. You simply pull the plastic tab on the bottom and it slides right out for backless or clicks into place for highback.
Fit to Vehicle:
I had no issue with the Spectrum in my 2005 CR-V. It fit nicely on my flat seats and the back fit nicely against the seat back. The Lyf+Guard pods on the sides of the headrest fit just inside my doorframe with no contact. The seatbelt slid easily in the shoulder belt guides and did not get hung up when Liam buckled himself.
- The most obvious thing that stands out is the Lyf+Guard technology. We’ve seen similar side-impact protection technology on harnessed seats but it’s nice to see it on a booster seat.
- Good belt fit in both highback and backless mode
- Ease of use. It’s protective, yet open. Liam had no problems getting in and out and buckling/unbuckling himself.
- Really tall. At 22″ to the bottom of the shoulder belt guide, Spectrum is one of the tallest boosters on the market.
- Comfort. Spectrum is nicely padded on the bottom, the cover is smooth and cool, and the armrests are shaped naturally towards the body.
- It stays together when you pick it up! I know this sounds petty but I cannot stand when I pick up a booster seat and it falls apart. Even though this booster converts to backless mode, it wasn’t flopping around or driving me crazy when I was carrying it. My shins thank you, Evenflo.
- Cover is machine washable and dryer-safe (machine wash separately in cold water, delicate cycle, tumble dry 10 – 15 minutes on low heat).
- Price. At $59.99 MSRP, you really can’t beat the price with the features you’re getting.
- Made in the USA! Piqua, Ohio, to be exact.
- Colors. The Spectrum comes in some super fun fashions for older kids. They’re bright and cute and live up to the Spectrum name. The fashion I received for review is a gray/black combo called “Foggy”, but the rest are very bright and lively. Here are a few choices, but there are even more to choose from.
- I realize Lyf+Guard is designed to absorb energy but I was disappointed that there was no EPS foam anywhere on the seat.
- The cupholder was a bit difficult. It’s more of a little drawer that slides open, and you can use it for drinks, snacks, and the little toys that seem to follow kids everywhere. However it was really hard to open, and Liam wasn’t able to do it himself. I wasn’t able to do it from his angle either, and had to do it for him from the side. We resolved it by just leaving it halfway open at all times and he was able to open it the rest of the way as needed, but it would be nice if they were a bit more child-friendly.
Overall, the Evenflo Spectrum is a great new booster at an incredible price. It has some innovative and fun features that appeal to both parents and kids. I love the Lyf+Guard technology and how tall it adjusts, appreciate their focus on studying performance in rollover collisions, love the colors available (goodbye, boring gray!), and really like the look of it in general. It’s a stylish, modern booster seat that will keep your older kiddos safe and comfortable until they are big enough to pass the 5-Step Test and transition to using just the adult seatbelt!
Thank you to Evenflo for providing the Spectrum booster for this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog.