Displaying details for Graco Backless TurboBooster
The Graco Turbobooster Backless is part of the Car Seats test program at Consumer Reports. In our lab tests, Booster Seats models like the Turbobooster Backless are rated on multiple criteria, such as those listed below.
Booster fit (with back) A rating that reflects a booster seat's ability to correctly position the lap and shoulder belts in various test vehicles using a child-sized dummy, when used as a highback booster. Additionally, it includes an assessment of the booster's compatibility with vehicle seats and interior components.
Booster fit (no-back) A rating that reflects a booster seat's ability to correctly position the lap and shoulder belts in various test vehicles using a child-sized dummy, when used as a backless booster. Additionally, it includes an assessment of the booster's compatibility with vehicle seats and interior components.
Ease of use Our evaluation of how easy each seat is to use, including items such as the clarity of labels and instructions, the ease of achieving an appropriate belt fit, and the transition between highback and backless modes where applicable.
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Who says a travel booster seat has to cost an arm and a leg? Graco is one of the biggest car booster seat manufacturers on the planet and in recent years they’ve come out with some interesting folding booster seats for the masses! While the target use is probably more to build a great booster seat for carpooling, it could make a great option for globetrotting families and is a nice addition to the growing list of folding car seats.
But is this Graco booster seat the right choice for your family? In this in-depth, hands on Graco Turbo GO review you’ll find out what it is, how to use it and you’ll see some helpful real world comparisons with other booster seats. Let’s GO!
What is the Graco Turbo GO booster seat?
At first glance, the Graco Turbo GO is a really simple backless booster car seat. It has a nice big seating area, huge belt guides… and not much else. There are no cup holders. There is no contoured padding. There are no lower anchors to keep it in place when it doesn’t have a kid sitting on it. It’s just… a backless booster seat.
But the Graco Turbo GO does have one really nifty trick. When you want to take it on a plane, store it in the trunk for emergency use or even send it with your child for a carpool it miraculously folds in half. No fussy levers, switches or triggers and no adjustments required.
Just grab the back and give it some good old fashioned elbow grease while you’re looking at it upside down and it’ll fold sort of like a book! Its huge red belt guides move along with the back half of the seat so that they’re safely stored on the sides when its folded and they automatically go right back into place when you click it open. While younger, smaller booster riders might have to practice a little to give enough force it should be no problem for the older kids who are the target audience for this specific Graco booster car seat.
For reference, the Graco Turbo GO width is approximately 15″. It weighs about 3 pounds, in between the Bubblebum and the more traditional GoFit backless booster car seat.
Read more: The best portable booster seats for travel
Want to know all my best secrets? Click here to learn how to travel with your car seat like a pro!
Who is this Graco backless booster seat for?
I alluded above to older kids being the target audience. While the minimum weight for the Graco Turbo GO is 40 pounds, the minimum height is 43″. On average kids will hit that height between 5 and 6 years old, though my older one didn’t make it until 7 years old and my 5.5 year old is nowhere close.
For backless boosters in general, I recommend a minimum age of 6 years old. Even at 5 (or 6) years old, many kids still need the support of a highback booster (or a harnessed car seat) to sit properly 100% of the time. A highback booster is generally more comfortable for them as well. If you want a folding highback booster for your 5 or 6 year old, definitely consider the hifold – you can read my in-depth review here.
If you need a backless booster seat for travel or quick carpool rides, the Graco Turbo Go could be a great choice if your 6 year old is big enough and mature enough. For full-time use, I would consider the Graco Turbo GO for ages 7 and up.
Got an even bigger tween? Read my review of the Graco RightGuide to see if that might be an even better option.
How to use the Graco Turbo GO
As I mentioned above, the Graco Turbo GO is extremely simple to use. Just unfold it, put it on the car’s seat and your kid is ready to buckle in! While every booster seat has different rules about whether the shoulder belt goes under the belt guide or over the belt guide, on the Graco Turbo GO the shoulder belt goes under the belt guide.
If your child needs the shoulder belt to be a little lower, there’s an adjustable shoulder belt guide included. The Graco Turbo GO offers more of a boost than something like the Bubblebum, so some kids may get a good fit without the adjuster – just make sure the shoulder belt is making good contact between the neck and the edge of the shoulder.
My impressions of the Graco Turbo GO
Overall I think the Graco Turbo GO is a nifty little seat! Is it as revolutionary as some travel booster seat? No. But that’s ok. It does its job, functions well and take up a little less space than booster that don’t fold. Even if your family isn’t planning much travel, the Graco Turbo GO is a solid choice to fold up and throw in the trunk for an unexpected carpool, as it’s one of the cheapest booster seats around.
The seatbelt fit very well on my 8 year old, who is 47” and around 55 pounds. He had no trouble buckling it himself, though I had a bit of a hard time adjusting the shoulder belt guide! It definitely won’t slide anywhere unexpectedly, but give yourself time and patience to adjust it the first time.
We’re lucky to have quite a few booster seats in our arsenal, and which one we take depends on the circumstances of each trip. But the Graco Turbo GO will definitely join the rotation as our kids get bigger and outgrow some of the other super-portable options.
I will say that my son immediately noticed the lack of padding. Maybe he’s spoiled by the plush padding on his usual booster seat, but I understand why Graco had to go with a bare-bones cover to accommodate the folding mechanism. But I wouldn’t play to use it for a long road trip, lest there be too many complaints from the peanut gallery. If you’re planning for long drives, check out these extra-comfortable booster seats.
Advantages of the Graco Turbo GO
Disadvantages of the Graco Turbo GO
- Doesn’t fold as small as some other options
- Minimum height rating forces out some kids who are mature but small for their ages
- Limited padding compared to high-end backless boosters
- No carry handle
- Shoulder belt guide is difficult to adjust
Comparison to other travel booster seats
Graco Turbo GO vs Bubblebum
There’s no denying it: the Graco Turbo GO is much bigger to tote around than the Bubblebum inflatable booster seat. It’s heavier and it takes up a lot more space.
Read more: Bringing your booster seat on an airplane
While that’s not ideal if you’re traveling ultra-light, it can have some advantages. For older kids, they’ll find the Graco backless booster seat to be much more spacious. You can see above just how much wider the Graco is (kids can’t be sitting on the silver border of the Bubblebum).
It’s also more stable on the seat, which alleviates some concerns about the Bubblebum’s “tippyness”. On the other hand, the Bubblebum may be more comfortable if your child still fits well.
Between the Bubblebum and the Graco Turbo GO, it really depends on your child’s age/size and how your family plans to use it. You can read my in-depth Bubblebum review here.
Graco Turbo GO vs Graco RightGuide
The Graco RightGuide is an ultra-compact low-profile booster seat intended for big kids and tweens. The RightGuide is quite a bit smaller than the Turbo GO and fits even better in a carry-on.
While the Turbo GO starts at 40lbs and 43″, the RightGuide can’t be used until kids are at least 50lbs – the size of an average 7 year old. That said, the lap belt fit of the RightGuide is better for skinny kids than the Turbo GO in my opinion.
The downside of the RightGuide (other than the high starting weight) is that it may be incompatible with some vehicles depending on how the buckles are situated. You can read my in-depth Graco RightGuide review for the detailed pros and cons.
Graco Turbo GO vs mifold
The Graco Turbo GO folding backless booster seat and the mifold are ideally suited to similar ages: big kids who still needs boosters to get a correct seatbelt fit. The mifold is much, much smaller and lighter than the Graco Turbo GO.
While the mifold belt fit can sometimes be worse-than-ideal in some cars and for some kids, the Graco Turbo GO does a good job of ensuring a safe ride for kids in the allowed size range. The mifold lap belt guides can also be a little tricky for kids to do on their own, while the Graco Turbo GO is pretty fool-proof to set up.
Read my mifold review to get a sense for the lap belt fit concerns.
Graco Turbo GO vs Chicco GoFit
Our son often rides in our “second car” in a Chicco GoFit backless booster seat. While that’s not specifically a travel booster seat, we’ve taken his Chicco backless booster seat on numerous flights so it makes a reasonable comparison if you’re debating a foldable booster seat versus a traditional one.
The seating areas of the Graco Turbo GO and the Chicco GoFit are pretty similar. As you can see below, when the Graco backless booster car seat is folded for transportation it’s quite a bit smaller! That makes it easier to fit under an airplane seat or in a carry-on. While we can sometimes fit the Chicco under the seat in front of our kids, on some planes we need to squeeze it into the overhead bin.
The Chicco GoFit has a nice carry handle built in – it’s actually where the back would attach if you had purchased the Chicco KidFit highback booster seat, which is our son’s primary booster seat. So it won’t fit in a backpack, but it’s easy enough to carry around. That said, the weight difference is noticeable: 3lbs for the Turbo GO versus 5lbs for the GoFit.
In terms of creature comforts, the Chicco is the clear winner. It offers much more padding and two cup holders! While I still don’t recommend putting kids under 6 years old in a booster seat full-time, if you need to use one for travel or short trips the Chicco is a better choice for younger and/or smaller riders since it starts at 38″.
Graco Turbo GO vs Graco Turbo TakeAlong backless booster
There are actually two Graco folding booster seat options. I don’t have the full-featured Graco Turbo TakeAlong backless booster seat, but my nephew uses it for travel and it works out great for their family. When it’s unfolded to use, it looks just like the original Graco Turbo booster – right down to the shape of the seatbelt guides and the kid-pleasing dual cupholders. As you can see in the photo above, the Turbo TakeAlong has a handle in the middle to allow the left and right sides to fold together with the handle becoming the top.
Both of these Graco booster seats have the same size limits for kids. Check out this quick comparison of the two Graco travel booster seat choices:
Which one to choose between these two depends on your family’s needs in a Graco big kid booster seat. If you want one to mostly use at home but will travel with it every now and then, you might prefer the Turbo TakeAlong due to its extra padding and cup holders. For true globetrotters who have a full-featured booster seat at home, the Turbo GO’s lighter weight, slightly smaller package and lower price tag might make it the ideal cheap booster seat for travel and backup.
You can explore the full range of Graco car seat booster options here.
Where to buy the Graco Turbo GO folding backless booster car seat
One “high class problem” of the Graco Turbo GO’s bargain price is that it isn’t eligible for free shipping on some websites.
-Weight 3 lbs
-Backless booster size limit 40-100lbs, 43-57″
✔ Very light
✔ Bargain price
✔ Good seatbelt fit
✘ Doesn’t fit as nicely in a kid backpack as Bubblebum
✘ Petite kids can’t use it even if they’re mature enough
✘ Limited padding
Read reviews and check prices
Graco Turbo GO booster seat FAQs
A child can sit in a backless booster seat when he or she meets the seat’s minimum size and age requirements and can sit correctly for the entire ride. While a high back booster seat isn’t inherently safer than a backless booster seat, it often helps new booster riders remember to sit up safely and offers additional support for car sleepers. I usually recommend that kids wait until 6 years old to ride in a backless booster seat, but some are ready at 5.5 and others aren’t ready until 7 or 8.
If your 5 year old meets the minimum size requirements of the seat (40 pounds and 43″ for the Graco Turbo GO) and the law of your state and she can sit still without messing with the seatbelt for the entire ride, she can safely use a backless booster seat. Many 5 year olds still benefit from riding in a forward-facing harnessed car seat – you’ll find lots of options here.
No. A typical 4 year old is much less likely to sit properly in a booster seat than an older child – you can read recent research here. Since the seatbelt can only do its job if the child is sitting properly, a 5-point harnessed car seat is a better choice at that age. Read about lightweight car seats for your 4 year old.
A great lightweight option for 4 year olds is the Ride Safer travel vest. It’s more compact and lighter than nearly every backless booster seat but the top tether and the structure of the vest provide the additional support younger children need to stay seated properly. Read more about it here.
Most backless booster seats require children to weigh 40 pounds (fully clothed). A child who is mature enough to ride in a backless booster seat but weighs 30-40 pounds can use the Ride Safer travel vest. Read more about it here.
Backless booster height requirements vary – a lot. Some start at 38″ (like this one and this one) while others start at 43″ (like this one and this one). Make sure your child also meets the minimum weight and age for the booster seat you’re considering and that he’s mature enough to sit properly 100% of the time.
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Booster type: High back and backless booster
Weight: 30 to 100 lbs. as high back booster (backless, 40 to 100 lbs).
Price: $50 to $90. Backless version is $25.
High back mode: Best Bet.
Backless mode: Best Bet.
NHTSA ease of use rating: Three out of five stars (regular model).
Backless: Three out of five stars
Version with Safety Surround: Three out of five stars.
Pros: Top choice in booster market—both affordable and well designed.
Cons: No five-point harness; little side impact protection.
Comments Booster Car Seat review: The Graco TurboBooster is our top pick as a great, affordable belt-positioning booster seat (no harness). As a reminder, your child must be mature enough to sit in a belt-positioning booster—even though these seats start at 30 lbs., we suggest waiting until your child is at least four years of age. Keep a toddler in a harnessed seat until they outgrow it by weight or height.
The TurboBooster features padded armrests that are height adjustable, EPS foam, hide-away cup holders and a one-hand adjustment for the headrest. The seat pad removes for cleaning; the TurboBooster converts into a backless booster for older kids.
As usual, Graco makes this seat in more than a dozen colors and styles. Hence, you’ll find a basic version for $45 at Walmart and upgraded models for $90 in specialty stores. What’s the difference? Just the fabric pad. More money, nicer fabric.
Graco Highback TurboBooster featuring Safety Surround
So what are the drawbacks to the Graco TurboBooster? Well, unlike other, similar seats this booster lacks a five-point harness. Hence this seat is for older toddlers who’ve outgrown a harnessed seat. And the TurboBooster requires quite a bit of assembly with various screws (that’s the reason this seat only earned three out of five stars in the government’s ease of use rating).
One flaw for the TurboBooster, the lack of side impact protection, was recently addressed: Graco has added “Safety Surround” side impact protection to one version of the TurboBooster (dubbed the Highback TurboBooster with Safety Surround, $70). See our review of the Graco My Ride 65 for details on Safety Surround.
Graco makes three other versions of the TurboBooster including the TrueShield ($50 to $90) with advanced side impact protection and a weight limit up to 110 lbs. and the Latch System ($63 to $83) with a one-hand latch system to keep it from moving around in the car when your child isn’t using it.
And yes, Graco has a version of the TurboBooster with LATCH, which keeps the seat tether to the car when unoccupied.
The third and newest version is the TurboBooster TakeAlong, a folding booster for carpoolers. Due out in January, 2018, this seat runs $99 (or $49 for backless; both include a carry bag). Check out our video below for the cool fold and carry feature:
Wow! Watch this preview video: Graco TurboBooster Takealong booster car seat: $99 for highback; $49 backless. Jan 2018. Tag your carpooling friends! #abckids17
Posted by Baby Bargains on Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Reader feedback on the TurboBooster is quite positive; even the 1800+ reviews on Amazon are 90% positive (four and five stars). The few dissenters wish the TurboBooster was better designed for napping toddlers.
The backless version of the TurboBooster has similarly positive reviews with a caveat: the seat doesn’t have much padding, so folks with long commutes or upcoming long-distance trips may want to pass.
Bottom line: this is a good option for older toddlers who no longer need a seat with a five-point harness. If you can spare the extra cash, go for the version with the Safety Surround padding (see picture, bottom). Rating: A Booster Car Seat review: Graco TurboBooster
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