Once upon a time, traveling with child restraints was a bulky, heavy, complicated endeavor. In recent years, more lightweight travel options have appeared, especially in the realm of booster seats. The downside to some of these options is that while they’re highly portable, they tend to lack the structure and support kids are used to. Enter the new Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong, which might be the perfect marriage of portability and convention.
TurboBooster TakeAlong Specifications
- Weight range: 40-100 lbs. (highback and backless)
- Height range: 43-57 inches (highback and backless)
- Age range: 4 years and older (highback and backless)
- Lowest belt guide: 14″
- Tallest belt guide: 19.25″
- Base, widest point without cup holders: 15.5″
- Base, widest point with cup holders: 18.5″
- Width of base at back of seat: 15.5″
- Width at torso wings: 17.5″
- Seat depth: 14″
- Internal width at armrests: 11.5″
TurboBooster TakeAlong Features
- Available in highback (converts to backless) or backless-only models
- FastAction fold strap for easy disassembly
- Six headrest/belt guide positions (highback use)
- Two retractable cup holders
- EPS foam in head portion
- Detachable belt guide (backless use)
- Carry bag for backless portion
- IIHS Best Bet Rating
Before we look at how the TurboBooster TakeAlong fits with cars and kids, let’s take a look at what makes this seat unique: It’s folding and portability.
Sometimes trying to get the back off of a highback booster can be a bit of a struggle (and other times they fall off on their own). The Turbo TakeAlong has neither of these problems: The back stays on securely, but when you want to remove it, you simply pull up on the strap in the center of the seat. That detaches the back and allows the bottom portion to fold up.
If you have the backless-only version (or if you only want to take the backless portion with you), you can just take that folded-up portion alone or you can put it in the included carry bag.
Folded, the backless portion is a mere 16″ x 9.5″ x 8″.
(The bag includes a small pouch for the detachable belt guide or, theoretically, keys or other small items.)
If you want to take the back with you, simply press down on the bottom to make it a “normal” seat again, then slide the back into the armrests. The back has a built-in handle that makes it easy to carry.
Stored with the back, the seat measures 27″ x 17″ x 9.5″ (This exceeds the size for most carry-on luggage, but since this is a safety device and not luggage, airlines might allow it to be stored onboard if there’s room.
Here is a video showing how easy it is to fold, store, or transport.
Fit to Vehicle
Although this is called the *TurboBooster* TakeAlong, the TakeAlong has a different shell, and the measurements are slightly different from the original TurboBooster. With both cup holders folded in, the TakeAlong’s base is 15.5″, compared to about 16″ for the regular TurboBooster. That half-inch might not be a big deal to most people, but it could make the difference between fitting or not fitting in a tight situation.
Here are some comparison photos with the regular TurboBooster and the Affix to give you an idea of the similarities and differences. (TurboBooster on the left, TurboBooster TakeAlong in the middle, Affix on the right.)
Here are comparisons of the backless TurboBooster and backless TakeAlong. (I apologize for not keeping them in the same order. The TakeAlong is the blue one, with the handle in the middle.)
And then here they are back-to-back. (I’ll point out in advance that the TurboBooster does not have the required screws installed in this photo. It was assembled quickly for this comparison. The TurboBooster TakeAlong does not require screws, thankfully.)
Finally, here’s a photo of the two seats from above. You can see how the back is shaped a bit differently.
Like the traditional TurboBooster, the TakeAlong seems like it will fit well in a variety of vehicles.
I used it without issue in my 2014 Honda Civic and in both the second and third rows of my 2010 Honda Odyssey. In fact, we recently had to move my 9-year-old to the third row, and the TakeAlong fit the narrow seating positions better than any of the other boosters I had available.
Note that Graco does not allow the TakeAlong to hang over the front of the vehicle seat. The booster isn’t unusually deep so that shouldn’t be a problem for most people, but keep it in mind if you have a particularly shallow vehicle seat.
Graco also says that the vehicle headrest shouldn’t create a gap behind the TakeAlong when used in highback mode. If it does, remove the headrest (if allowed by the vehicle manufacturer) or try a different seating position.
Graco does allow the TakeAlong to be used with inflatable seat belts found in some Ford Motor Company vehicles. Other types of inflatable seat belts are still incompatible for use with the booster.
Fit to Child
The traditional TurboBooster has a reputation for providing a good belt fit on a wide range of kids, and the TakeAlong seems like it will, too. It provided an excellent fit for my two booster-age kids.
My daughter is 9 years old, about 52″ and 50 lbs. and wears a size 8 shirt. She’s using the top belt guide position on the TakeAlong but still has a decent amount of room before she outgrows it.
Here she is in our Civic and the second row of our Odyssey, with the highback TakeAlong:
My son is 6 years old, about 48″ and 45 lbs. and wears a size 6 shirt.
The backless TakeAlong includes a detachable shoulder belt guide if needed to help the shoulder belt lay properly along the middle of the child’s shoulder. I didn’t need it with my kids in my vehicles, but that can vary.
I’ve seen some people express concern that the pull strap in the middle of the seat might be uncomfortable. My kids didn’t complain at all, and honestly, I don’t think they even realized it was there (and my daughter is a bit of a princess-and-the-pea-type when it comes to comfort). My daughter had been riding in some very high-priced, highly padded booster seats and actually begged to keep using the TakeAlong.
Ease of Use
The TurboBooster TakeAlong does require a bit of assembly, but nothing too intensive. The backless portion is really easy: Simply press down in the middle of the seat until it flattens and you hear it click into place.
If you’re using the highback version, you’ll also need to attach the headrest to the back. After that, attaching the back to the base is as easy as lining it up and clicking it in.
Once assembled, the seat is extremely easy to take apart, fold, and put back together. (The video above shows my 9-year-old doing it herself.)
I like that the backless portion can be stored in a carry bag, but I wish they had a carry bag for the highback portion, too, even if it were sold separately. When disassembled and slid into the bottom for carrying, the booster is MUCH easier to carry than other conventional models, but it would be nice to be able to sling it over a shoulder, too.
The cup holders on the Take Along fold in when you don’t need them. You simply snap out the outer part, then turn it around and snap it back in. It took my 9-year-old a minute to figure it out, but she can now easily do it on her own.
The built-in belt guide on the highback version is easy to separate to put the seatbelt into, but shouldn’t allow the belt to slide out. We haven’t had any issues with it at all.
Cover Removal/Maintenance: The TakeAlong obviously has separate covers for each part, and each one removes (and is replaced) relatively easily, using a combination of flaps, snaps, and loops.
The bottom seat cover has a velcro flap that allows you to remove it without taking off the carry handle. However, if you need to remove the small cover from the carry handle, too, that is also easily done by twisting a retainer clip underneath the seat and pushing it through (similar to how you’d remove a crotch buckle, if you’ve ever done that).
The cover can be machine washed separately on cold, then drip-dried.
Lifespan: 10 years from date of manufacture
Crash replacement: Should be replaced after any crash
FAA Approval: Like all other belt-positioning boosters, the TurboBooster TakeAlong is NOT approved for use on an airplane. (Booster seats require lap and shoulder belts, while airplanes have lap belts only.)
- More portable than most traditional booster seats
- Easy to fold/reassemble
- Back doesn’t fall off
(In all fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but might be issues for some parents)
- Less portable than some less conventional seats designed specifically for travel
- Lacks travel bag for highback mode
- In highback mode, exceeds allowance for carry-on luggage
- Made in China
If you’re looking for a booster to take on vacation or to store in your car as a spare, the TurboBooster TakeAlong is definitely worth considering. The backless portion, folded, is easy to carry and could be stored in a backpack. You can’t stick the highback inside your purse like you can with some of the boosters designed specifically for traveling, but it’s still much more portable than most other options. Another big advantage is that once it’s assembled, the TakeAlong acts like any other conventional booster seat, providing kids with the structure and support they’re used to.
Thank you to Graco for providing a TurboBooster TakeAlong for our review. No other compensation was provided and the opinions and comments are entirely those of CarseatBlog.