One of the biggest priorities for parents when car shopping is child safety. Of course, shopping for a vehicle with a high crash-test safety rating is a must. However, some vehicles also have special features specifically designed with child safety in mind. That being said, only one automaker offers vehicles with built-in booster seats for children.
Three Volvo vehicles offer built-in booster seats for children
Built-in Volvo booster seat | Volvo
According to Cars.com, there used to be a small handful of vehicle manufacturers that offered a built-in booster seat for owners’ children. However, the sole remaining manufacturer to still offer built-in booster seats is Volvo. That shouldn’t be all that surprising, considering Volvo is renowned for its dedication to prioritizing safety.
Current models that Volvo offers with the built-in booster seat are the XC90 full-size SUV, the XC60 mid-size SUV, and one of the very few station wagons still in production, the V90 Cross Country wagon. Depending on the model, the built-in booster seats are either on both sides behind the front captain’s chairs or in the middle between the two outside rear seats. The cushions, when not set up for use by a child, fold flat into standard car seats for adult passengers.
The seats, however, are not standard. In the case of the XC90, the only booster option is for the center seat in the second row. The option starts at $300 and is suitable for children weighing between 33 and 80 pounds and are at least 38 inches tall. The XC90’s booster seat is also available with additional cushioning to effectively make it a full-blown car seat.
The built-in booster offering for the XC60 and V90 both make use of the outer two seats in the second row. Volvo includes them as part of a $1,250 set of interior options. They offer two different height adjustment options depending on the child’s size. The highest is suitable for children between 33 and 50 pounds, and the lower position is for children 50 to 80 pounds.
The addition of a built-in booster seat is extremely appealing to many parents and convenient enough that one might think other automakers would adopt the concept.
Why don’t more cars have booster seat options from the factory?
Volvo cares about the safety of all people, especially our smallest most delicate passengers. That’s why in 1978 we released the world’s first booster cushion – and have now built them in as standard on selected models. #StandForSafety pic.twitter.com/3nDkaefYeu
— Volvo Car India (@volvocarsin) October 22, 2019
Cars.com states that the most recent competitor to offering a built-in booster seat was the Dodge Journey until the 2019 model year. Chrysler and Dodge minivans also used to offer a built-in booster for the second row. So, why did they do away with them?
The issue lies in crash and safety testing. Manufacturers must crash test every seating option and safety feature. So, integrating something like this can be pretty costly. So much so that manufacturers likely don’t think it’s worth the investment. According to Volvo spokesman Russell Datz, the legendary Swedish manufacturer doesn’t see it that way.
“They are a convenient feature that is extremely popular with our customers,“ spokesman Russell Datz told Cars.com. “I can’t speak to the decisions of our competitors, but I can say that we do extensive safety engineering and crash testing in order to be able to offer these — they’re certainly not the easiest feature to add to a car.”
As of 2022, Volvo has been offering built-in booster seats in some form for over 30 years.
So, if you’re in the market for a vehicle that has a built-in booster seat for your children, you’ve only got one option. Furthermore, if you’re not in the market for an SUV, you’ll have to spring for the station wagon to get the booster option. Of course, as cool as the V90 Cross Country is, it doesn’t quite suit everyone’s needs.