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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.
Read more: The best portable booster seats for travel
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.
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
- Medium weight for backless booster seat (heavier than the Bubblebum or Harmony Youth Booster, lighter than the Chicco GoFit)
- Easy to use
- Good seatbelt fit
- Extremely affordable
- Comes in multiple kid-friendly colors
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
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.
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.
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.
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.