Choosing a car seat for your child is a big and often stressful decision as a parent. We want what’s best for our kids and, with the amount of time spent in a vehicle, comfort is another top priority. Recaro’s 100 years of experience in designing seats for autos, airlines and race cars speaks to the engineering quality and safety that comes with its name. It should come as no surprise then that Recaro’s Performance Sport is one of the best hybrid car and booster seats on the market.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Recaro Performance Sport is that it serves as a combination seat. In other words, this seat is both a forward-facing harnessed seat as well as a booster seat once your child outgrows the forward-facing phase. Overall, the Recaro can hold a child between 20-65 pounds in harness mode and 30-120 pounds in booster mode as well as a child 27-50 inches tall in harness mode and 37-59 inches in booster mode. Best practices recommend keeping a child in the forward-facing position until they are at least 8 years-old and remain until they are ready for adult seat belts.
At 19” wide at the widest point and 17” at the base, the Recaro isn’t any larger or smaller than most well-known car seats and boosters. To maximize comfort for the child, there are three crotch strap buckles at 6, 7, and 8 inches.
Switching from the harness mode to booster mode is easy and just requires the removal of the crotch buckle, the HERO system, and the harness straps. The included manual breaks it all down but it’s all easy to restore if you want to utilize the seat for a younger child in the future.
When it comes to comfort, perhaps one of the primary functions of any car seat the Recaro does not disappoint. The high-quality memory foam seat pad combines with high-quality materials and fabrics that make the overall seat very comfortable for short or long trips. Additionally, the CoolMesh air ventilation assists in keeping your child’s back cool against the seat cool even in the warm summer months.
Finally, the integrated cup holder is a must for any child who demands water, chocolate milk or juice and, as a parent, you want that readily available to them. Oh, the misery of having to reach around to help find a lost bottle is something every parent dreads.
Fit & Safety
When it comes to safety, Recaro isn’t messing around. For example, there is metal reinforcement on the sidewings to provide extra protection against intrusion in a collision. It’s in specialties like this that Recaro’s background as a racing car seat manufacturer comes into play with decades of experience in making some of the safest seats in the world.
The EasyPoint five-point Harness makes adjusting the height of the seat easy. Unfortunately, adjustments require the seat to be uninstalled but involve just the simple lift of a level on the back to adjust the height of the seat which has the side benefit of automatically adjusting the height of the shoulder straps.
The HERO system itself offers a twist-resistant system that positions the shoulder pads properly to ensure the best fit for the neck, head, and shoulders. Fortunately, they do not slide up and down on the harness straps making positioning for the chest clip all that much easier. Recaro even built in a safety stripe system that’s racing inspired and designed to alert parents that if the stripe is not visible on the outside edge of the five-point harness, it’s twisted and, therefore, acts as a safety hazard.
Even a cursory glance online shows plenty of love from Recaro owners who appreciate the engineering that has gone into the creation of this seat. There’s not only a sense that this seat was built to protect, but to last as well and it is more than capable of standing up to everyday wear and tear.
Installing the Recaro isn’t the typical process and at first glance, it seems a little…awkward. Essentially, the seatbelt path isn’t enclosed behind the seat as per the norm for most car seats sold on the market today. Instead, the seatbelt is exposed and completely visible from the front of the seat. Now, you might think that it looks crazy and you’d be right. It feels like it shouldn’t look like this way. You might also think that the seat belt in the front of the seat might cause some discomfort to the child.
However, the reality is far different. There are very few complaints online about the child even acknowledging the seatbelt’s presence with most saying they didn’t even know it was there. You can route the seatbelt behind the fabric as well if you feel like it’s just too strange but it’s not necessary. The good news is that putting it up front saves a lot of address stress and scratched up hands from installation that typically happens when running the seatbelt through the back of the car seat. The only real concern is that, in some cases, the position of the chest strap on a seatbelt can run along the same path as the harness slot and it looks like it would be a problem. The good news is that it’s not. There’s no trouble adjusting the harness as needed so while it looks to be an issue, in practice it wasn’t anything more than optics.
Latch hooks are also provided which store in little pockets on either side of the belt path, hidden but readily accessible. If you’re installing with a lap-only seatbelt or in the middle of a three-seat car row, the latch hooks are a must. The top tether works just as any other seat and provides the extra stability needed to prevent rocking back and forth.
Ultimately, the Recaro receives a high recommendation as an overall excellent seat. There are some tradeoffs, most notable of which is that it’s not viable as an infant car seat which means you must purchase another seat beforehand. Some parents might balk at the idea of buying a seat and then another car seat just a few years later but the tradeoff is worthwhile for features like the HERO system and exceptional comfort. The bottom line is Recaro offers a world-class design with a reputation that excels in categories like automobile seat design. The dual-purpose of the car seat offers years of use even if you need to buy something for a newborn. Maximum protection, good ratings around the web and a price that’s in line with other car seats make this an outstanding choice for parents.
- High weight limit
- Built-in cup holder
- Easy-to-use belt path
- Installation is a snap, even with the awkward-looking seatbelt placement
- Excellent safety features
- HERO system receives rave reviews online
- Latch straps are shorter than we’d prefer
- Not good until after your child has reached a certain height and weight so you have to purchase something else to use during infancy
- Must uninstall to move seats
- No lock off for seat belt installation
- Only one cupholder
- Potential interference from seatbelt to harness