booster seats are critical for properly restraining a child who has outgrown a forward-facing child restraint but isn't big enough for the vehicle safety belt. manufacturers are doing a much better job designing boosters that consistently provide good belt fit across a range of vehicles. things have changed a lot since our first booster ratings in 2008.
back then, only a quarter of the seats we evaluated got the top rating of best bet. this year 48 out of 53 get the highest rating. the shoulder belt should fit snugly at the center of the shoulder. it shouldn't write off the shoulder or up on the neck or face. the lap belt should lie flat across the upper thighs, not up on the soft tummy.
two new booster seats, both made by dorel, get the lowest rating of not recommended. the cosco easy elite and the cosco highback 2-in-1 dx have the same problem. both seats put the lap belt too high up on the belly. three other new seats are rated as check fit - the peg perego viaggio flex 120, the lil fan club seat 2-in-1 in highback mode and the britax parkway sgl in backless mode.
the check fit rating means the seats may not work for all children in all kinds of vehicles. parents looking for a good booster have more choices than ever. unfortunately we can't declare a total victory, because a few manufacturers continue to sell subpar boosters.