Originally Posted by MarineWife
That's not correct about the weight limit for the Evenflo Maestro. Here's what it says on the Evenflo website:
The Maestro Booster car seat is for use:Forward Facing with 5-Point Harness 22 - 50 lbs.
Forward Facing with Vehicle Seat Belts 40-110 lbs
I was just pricing these. The go for around $80. The Graco Nautilus goes a little higher in the 5-point harness, up to 65 lbs., and is about $130. I haven't seen anything that uses a 5-point harness past 65 lbs. So, I guess it depends on how important it is to you to keep him in the 5-point harness for as long as possible. Longer is better according to everything I've read.
Yup. that's what I said. 50 lb limit. We're not talking about boosters here. The child is not yet 4 years old, and even 4 years is not a good age to put children in boosters. Most kids are not ready to sit still yet in a belt positioning booster at only 4 years old. Depending on the temperament of the child, 5 or 6 are more typical ages when a child is ready to use a booster correctly.
The booster function. of the Maestro is of limited usefulness. If the child is chubby and hits 50 lbs before outgrowing the seat by height, the booster will be usable for a short period of time. No 110 lb kid will actually physically fit in that car seat. Very few 50-65 lb kids will fit. If the OP's child only weighed 35 lbs I'd recommend it in a heartbeat, but 45 lbs is too close to the end of the seat's usefulness in my opinion.
The Secure Kid is the next least expensive harness-to-booster combination seat, and it would be a much better fit for her child. The harness limit is 65 lbs, is as tall as the harness on the Maestro, and the booster head rest adjusts so it will last longer in booster mode as well.
There are other car seats that are rated for higher than 65 lbs (Graco Argos, Britax Frontier 85, Maxi-Cosi Pria, Peg Perego convertible, Diono Radian, and several others) but with the exception of the Frontier 85 most of these seats will be outgrown by height by an average-build child at around 55 lbs anyway. The Frontier 85 is usually outgrown (in the harness) at around 65 lbs, although it's "rated" to 85 - which is useful for chunkier children and it makes a super tall high back booster. But NONE of these seats fit the OP's criteria of "as cheap as possible" (they range in price from about $175 to about $350).