The First Years Compass high-back booster seats are unique: They fold up, so you can more easily switch them between cars or carry them along for taxi rides. The First Years offers a few different versions of this seat, but experts say The First Years Compass B570 Pathway is the best of the bunch. Unlike the others, it has an adjustable shoulder-belt guide that makes it easier to get the proper belt fit for each child and each vehicle -- in fact, fit-tests at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety find that the B570 Pathway gives a better fit more often than the other Compass seats without the adjustable belt guide. The B570 Pathway also includes LATCH connectors to keep the booster tethered to the car, even when it's unoccupied; with other boosters, you're supposed to fasten the seatbelt even when there's no child in it, to keep the booster from flying dangerously around the car's cabin in a crash. Children can use the B570 Pathway until they are 57 inches tall and 100 pounds. If you don't need the fold-up feature, the cheaper Graco Highback TurboBooster (*Est. $50) provides an equally good belt fit in tests.
The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports fit-tests 72 booster seats, including The First Years Compass B570 Pathway and other Compass models. Experts at CarSeatBlog.com praise the Pathway's advanced features, especially its adjustable shoulder belt guide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests other Compass boosters for ease of use, but its findings can also be applied to the Compass Pathway booster. User reviews at Amazon.com are another good source of information on the Compass B570 Pathway.
1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The First Years Compass B570 Pathway earns a spot on IIHS's Best Bets list of booster seats. IIHS fit-tests the seats in a variety of vehicles and picks the ones that deliver a proper belt fit in almost any car, SUV or minivan. Other Compass boosters without the B570's adjustable shoulder belt guide don't work well in as many vehicles; they fall into the "other tested seats" category and aren't highly recommended.
Review: Booster Evaluations for 2010: Best Bets, Editors of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Sept. 8, 2010
Child-passenger safety technicians Darren Qunell and Kecia Healy do a short video review of The First Years Compass B570 Pathway features. Qunell praises the LATCH connectors, flip-out cup holders and contoured crash-foam headrest, and Healy calls the adjustable shoulder belt guide "an awesome innovative feature."
Review: Kecia Loves It!, Darren Qunell, April 11, 2010
3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awards its highest 5-star ease-of-use rating to both The First Years Compass Pathway B530 and B540. NHTSA doesn't test the newer B570, but it is similar to the other models except it adds LATCH connectors and an adjustable shoulder belt guide.
Review: Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings -- Booster, Editors of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The First Years Compass B570 Pathway gets overwhelmingly positive reviews from the more than two dozen owners who have posted here. However, criticisms are posted: Some children have a hard time buckling their own seatbelts in this seat, and some parents say the seat is bulky (although it does fold up).
Review: The First Years Compass Pathway B570 Adjustable Belt Booster, Contributors to Amazon.com