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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 it the right booster seat 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 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.
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 complained about 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
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 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 it 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 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″.
Where to buy the Graco Turbo GO
One “high class problem” of the Graco Turbo GO’s bargain price is that it isn’t eligible for free shipping on some websites.