Pros: Thick padding; wrap-around headrest; secure belt guides; easy to use; great price
Cons: Can't think of any
My 3 1/2 year old son was in need of a new car seat. I originally wanted to keep him in a traditional 5-point harness style car seat as long as possible, but his previous seat had seen better days (it went through a bout of the stomach flu and some of the fabric covering was not washable) Since he was already 3 1/2, it didn’t make much sense to purchase another regular (and more expensive) car seat. I decided on a high back booster because he would be able to use it until he outgrows booster seats altogether.
Why I Chose the Evenflo Big Kid Deluxe
My biggest concerns when shopping for a seat is safety and durability, but price does come in to play as well. I fully intended on purchasing a Graco Turbo Booster (highback) seat. We already own two of these for our 5 year old, and really like them. The Graco booster seats usually run about $60, but I’ve seen them on sale for $50, and as I was shopping around hoping to find one closer to the $50 mark, I noticed that the Evenflo Big Kid Deluxe Booster was on sale for $39 (regularly $59!) at Target. My first thought was, “too bad its an Evenflo, because it sure is a great color” (the color was just what caught my eye, I would never make purchase like this based on color). My only prior experience with an Evenflo product was a double stroller, and quite frankly, it was cheaply made and fell apart after only one year of occasional use. When comparing booster seats, the basic Evenflo boosters, while 5 to 10 dollars cheaper than their Graco counterpart, seemed to be of lesser quality when compared.
The Evenflo Deluxe model however, looked better than nice! Unlike the basic model, the Deluxe Booster had thick, dense padding on the seat and head rest. The frame of this seat seemed to be very solid, and the seatbelt guides appeared easy to use, yet designed in a way to still be secure. The seat can be height adjusted to accommodate a growing child, plus the back is removable (once the child is over 40 lbs.) making it a backless booster seat. In addition, this deluxe model had arms that fold up making it easier to fasten the seatbelt, cup & snack holders that pull out from each side, and lights for night time activities. Yes, I said lights. Can you believe it--lights on a car seat! I bought the Evenflo Big Kid Deluxe Booster because it appeared to be of good quality for an outstanding price. I hoped that because this was a deluxe model, it would be comparable to my trusty Graco Turbo Booster--just less expensive!
The fabric (Sea Oats) on our seat has a neutral color palette, although there are two or three other colors available. The grey material that makes up the center portion of our seat is very soft. The remaining fabric is tan and beige and looks like it was made to coordinate with my car’s interior. I think it is one of the more attractive booster seats available.
We’ve been using the Big Kid Deluxe Booster for a few months now, and I am pleased with the purchase. I have been pleasantly surprised to find that it is every bit as nice, if not nicer than our Graco seats. It took just a few minutes to assemble following the simple instructions. The seat can be adjusted to fit the child by pulling on an adjustment handle located on the back of the seat. The seat itself weighs only a few pounds and is easy to carry.
Once placed in the vehicle, the seat belt is very easy to thread through the guide and fasten. The belt positioning guide above the shoulder is shaped like an elongated “G” so that the belt stays securely in place. It has never come out of the guide, so I feel good knowing that the seat belt remains in the proper position across my son’s shoulder keeping him belted properly. The arm rests pivot upward making it easy to fasten the seat belt as well. All of the guides and belt contact points are marked, making it easy to see where the belt needs to go. This is especially useful when someone with less experience using the booster is driving with my kids.
The padding is very thick and according to my son, it is “very comfy”. Of the booster seats I have seen, none had as much cushioning as this model. Because my son is comfortable, he does not fidget and squirm out of his seat belt. The thickly padded head rest curves around the sides of my son’s face which allows him to sleep in the car. I figured that the booster seat would make it hard for a child to doze off because the seat’s design is more upright than a standard car seat, so I was surprised at how often he has fallen asleep while in this seat!
Another thing I like about this product is that not only is the padded wrap-around head rest comfortable, it is an important safety feature. This headrest helps protect the child’s head in a side impact collision. While all high back booster seats have a headrest, many seats in this price range don’t protect on the sides or have the extra cushioning of the Big Kid Deluxe. Of course, the Evenflo Big Kid Deluxe meets or exceeds all safety standards.
I have to admit that the lights seemed a bit frivolous to me. My son loves buttons and switches, so initially I didn’t put the batteries in because I thought he would just constantly turn them on and off--driving me nuts! Also, since it is summer and it doesn’t get dark out until after 9 PM, my son hasn’t been in the car at night for more than a few minutes. For the purpose of this review I did install the batteries to see how the lights worked (and removed them so they don’t wear out). The seem bright enough for a child to read a book or play a travel game. I suppose that in the future, the lights may come in handy if we are traveling at night because the rear overhead interior light would not have to be on.
Here is a List of Features
• Extra thick padding on seat and headrest
• Lights on both sides of head rest (each requires 3 AAA) batteries
• Pull-out drink and snack holders on each side of seat (4 compartments total)
• Cushioned armrests that pivot to make fastening seat belt easier
• Adjustable height and seat depth (6 positions)
• Converts to a backless booster
• Machine washable cover
Proper Use Information
According to Evenflo, the Big Kid Deluxe Booster can be used by children who weigh at least 30 lbs. and 38” tall, and are at least 3 years old. Kids weighing at least 40 lbs. can use the seat as a backless booster as long as the seatbelt lies in the proper position across the child’s shoulder. This, as well as other highback boosters, should not be used in vehicles without standard shoulder/lap belts.
Overall, we love this seat. The good quality and great price are what sold me on this seat, but the extra features like lights, pivoting armrests, and extra snack holders are certainly nice. While fortunately we haven’t been in an accident, I feel confident that the Evenflo Big Kid Deluxe Booster is a good choice for keeping my son safe!
For more information including fabric colors and where to buy, visit evenflo.com
Please check out my other car seat reviews
Graco Turbo Booster
Graco Quattro Tour Travel System
Safety First Enspira Convertible Car Seat