Web site: kidsembrace.com
Type: Combo booster
Weight: 22 lbs. to 65 lbs. with harness; booster 30 lbs. to 100 lbs.
IIHS: Highback version: Best Bet.
NHTSA: High-back version: Four out of five stars both in booster and harness mode.
Pros: One hand harness adjustment; 2-position crotch strap; wrap around headrest. Cartoon themes = toddler happiness.
Cons: Straps can be twisty. Backless version isn’t recommended.
Comments: As parents of toddlers know, getting their “buy in” to a new situation is crucial to everyone’s happiness. Hence, we can see the point of the KIDSEmbrace themed car seats, featuring the likes of Sponge Bob, Dora the Explorer, Cinderella, Batman and Spiderman.
Even though they look jokey, these are actually well-designed boosters. Sold on Walmart.com for $130 and other sites for up to $150, KIDSEmbrace’s boosters are well priced and may be the solution to toddlers who balk at sitting in a “baby seat.” The booster has a one-hand harness adjustment, two-position crotch strap and side impact headrest. Parent feedback is relatively positive—it’s easy to install and use. Best bet is how the IIHS rated these seats, which also scored decent ease of use ratings from the NHTSA.
In our last review, we criticized one big negative for these seats: a low top harness slot. Well, Kids Embrace has addressed this problem—their new models have a 17″ top harness slot. The similar Graco Nautilus has an 18″ top slot, so Kids Embrace is now in the ballpark.
As for the cartoon characters, we realize some folks turn up their nose at the commercialism. But if a Batman car seat gets your kid excited about that long road trip, where’s the harm? These seats are safe and generally well reviewed by parents. Are the Kids Embrace as cushy as other more expensive seats? No. Is there extensive side impact protection? No. But you do get a decent seat that your toddler will (probably) never argue about sitting in.
So we’ll raise the rating on these seats this time out.
FYI: KIDSEmbrace makes a backless booster seat. The previous IIHS rating for this seat is Not Recommended. That means the seat does not “provide good belt fit” and therefore we also will not recommend KIDSEmbrace backless booster seat. (Note: in the 2015 ratings, the IIHS didn’t issue a new or revised rating for the backless version of this seat for some reason. We are referencing the PREVIOUS rating for this seat).
Rating: B (Highback version only)