Feature-wise, the Evenflo Big Kid Amp is very similar to the top-rated backless booster seat, the Graco Backless TurboBooster (*Est. $25). Both boosters are identically priced, lightweight, have cup holders and accommodate children from 40 to 100 pounds and up to 57 inches tall. The Amp does a better job ensuring a good seatbelt fit in more vehicles than the Graco backless booster in tests at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, unlike the Graco backless booster, the Evenflo hasn't undergone frontal crash testing at ConsumerReports.org -- and experts say that in side crashes, backless seats don't protect children as well as high-back seats like the top-rated Graco Highback TurboBooster (*Est. $50). On the plus side, parents say the Evenflo Big Kid Amp's seat cushion is soft, comfy and easy to clean. The unusual elastic cup holders are also a hit, although one Amazon.com contributor questions their long-term durability.
The latest report from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety backs up its booster seat rankings with rigorous fit testing using a crash test dummy. Britain's Which? magazine and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia conduct studies to judge the safety of backless boosters in side crashes. For the owner's perspective, we turned to user reviews at Walmart.com and Amazon.com.
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1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The Evenflo Big Kid Amp earns a Best Bets rating from the IIHS based on its top performance in the organization's fit testing.
Review: Booster Evaluations for 2010: Best Bets, Editors of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Sept. 8, 2010
Amazon.com is a top source of baby-gear reviews, and the Evenflo Big Kid Amp gets a decent number of posts. None of the user reviews here express any reservations about the Amp; parents agree that it's a simple, easy-to-use seat.
Review: Evenflo Big Kid Amp No Back Booster Car Seat -- Blue, Contributors to Amazon.com
Just over 40 Walmart.com contributors weigh in on the Evenflo Big Kid Amp no-back booster seat. Posts here are on the short side, but owners all express satisfaction with this booster.
Review: Evenflo AMP No Back Booster Seat, Red, Contributors to Walmart.com
4. Which? magazine
Backless booster seats don't protect children as well in side crashes as high-back boosters, says Which? magazine (the U.K.'s answer to ConsumerReports.org). Which? calls for backless boosters to be phased out.
Review: Backless Booster Seats a Safety Risk, Which? Says, Editors of Which? magazine, June 21, 2010
5. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Children in backless boosters suffer more injuries in side crashes than children in high-back boosters, a study by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia shows.
Review: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Researchers Release New Findings on Protecting Children in Side Impact Crashes, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Press Release, Sept. 13, 2005