We recently purchased the new Recaro Vivo booster after using a Britax Parkway for almost 2 years (our daughter is 7 now). We liked the Parkway just fine, but the Vivo blows it away. First of all, the construction of the Vivo is just on a whole different level. I would expect the Vivo to cost $40-50 more than the Parkway, which seems almost flimsy in comparison. For the Vivo to be the same price is a real bargain. The plastic is thick and solid, the headrest is reinforced with steel. The mechanism to raise and lower the headrest seems to be extremely well designed, and makes a distinct clicking sound at each height level. The Parkway head section starts to bend when it is raised up high, but the Vivo doesn't do that due to two steel rods reinforcing the headrest.
Recommend this product?
The side impact protection seems to be significantly better than the Parkway. The side wings for the torso have EPS foam (like that used in bike helmets), while the Parkway only has EPS around the head. The Vivo has protection around the hips too (but no EPS there). The Parkway head wings are around 6-6.5" deep compared to 8" on the Vivo. Despite being so deep, they are more comfortable for my daughter and she sits with her head back more. With the Parkway, the ergonomics of the seat caused her to keep her head more upright, such that it was actually outside of the wings. I didn't feel they were really offering much protection at all for that reason.
I have also found that the Vivo works better in our second car (a 2006 Honda Accord). The Parkway is unstable on the center seat of that car (due to a slight hump). The Vivo sits firmly on the hump. I actually bought it only to use in the Accord, but now we're using it as our primary seat in our Sienna because I like it so much better than the Parkway.
I can only think of a couple of negatives regarding the Vivo. The Vivo keeps the belt really low on the child's lap, which is a good thing. However, for a very small child (who should not be in a booster anyway!), the belt path may be too far forward. My DD is 49" and around 50 pounds. It is slightly harder to buckle because it has arm rests that the belt must pass under, but that shouldn't be a big deal for most older children. It was a pain to connect the base to the back when I opened the box, but once I learned the trick of pushing down with my hands directly on the armrests it was fine. The blush fabric is very nice and plush, but I think I like the Tiffany fabric on our Parkway a little better.
IMPORTANT: I just wanted to add that three year old, and even most four year old, children should not be in this or any other booster. They need to be in a harnessed seat!
These videos show the safety of a 5-point vs. a booster (the difference is shocking and would be even more so if the 5-point in the video were tethered):
There are a number of 5-point harness seats with higher height and weight limits that will fit children until they are over five years old. These include the Britax Regent (this one could last to age 8 or longer), Sunshine Kids Radian 65, Cosco Apex, Recaro Signo or Como, Britax Boulevard, Britax Marathon, Fisher Price Safe Voyage.
Amount Paid (US$): 99
Age Range of Child: 6 to 8 Years