Hands-on Gear Review

Diono Monterey XT Review

Best Value Award
Price:   $100.00 List | $139.09 at Amazon
Pros:  Better crash test results, price, lighter
Cons:  Less padding, quality
Bottom line:  Budget-friendly choice with better crash test results
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Modes:  High Back Booster, , Backless Booster
High Back Booster Weight Range:  40 - 120 lbs
High Back Booster Height Range:  38" - 63"
Manufacturer:   Diono

The Skinny

The Diono Monterey XT is a high backed booster that will work with the back removed. This booster has better than average crash test results that indicate a potential higher margin of safety than some of the others we tested. It is easy enough to use for both parents and kids and it is one of the lighter and smaller boosters we tested with a back. This booster may not be a good choice for those looking for higher quality or a cozy seat for long car rides, but with a reasonable price and versatility of using just the seat bottom for travel or carpooling, this booster is a good choice for families on a budget.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Booster Car Seats of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz

Last Updated:
Wednesday
October 18, 2017

Share:
The Diono is fairly comfortable but the fabric is rougher than some of the competition.
The Diono is fairly comfortable but the fabric is rougher than some of the competition.

Diono started in 1999 in Seattle Washington. In 2002, they won an award for the creation of the Diono Mighty-Tite. Inspired by their win, established its first overseas operation in Staffordshire, England. In 2005, the launched the Radian Convertible Car Seat, the first steel-reinforced folding car seat. In 2007, they launched the Monterey which went on to win multiple awards. In 2015, Winona Capital invested in Diono to help them grow and develop new and innovative products.

Performance Comparison


The chart below includes the overall score for the Diono (blue) and the remaining boosters in this review. The Diono earned a 4th place rank out of 10 boosters tested.


The sections below include metric performance details for the Diono. Individual metric scores were used to determine the overall score with an emphasis on ease of use and crash test results.

The Diono has thick EPS foam in the headrest presumably for additional protection in the event of a side impact collision.
The Diono has thick EPS foam in the headrest presumably for additional protection in the event of a side impact collision.

Crash Test


The Diono earned a 7 of 10 for crash test results. We considered any booster with a score of 7 or greater as having a potentially higher margin of safety compared to the lower scoring options.


This is one of the few that performed similarly well for both sensors as opposed to good data from one and less impressive from another or below average for both.

This graph is a comparison of the Diono data for the head (HIC) sensor (black) and the Evenflo Spectrum (green) that had the best data for the group.
This graph is a comparison of the Diono data for the head (HIC) sensor (black) and the Evenflo Spectrum (green) that had the best data for the group.

The Diono data for the head sensor (HIC) is 556. The maximum allowed is 1000 (where a lower result is better), so it is well below the maximum and it is better than six other seats we tested. The low for the group is 456 earned by the Evenflo Spectrum.

This graph is a comparison of the Diono data for the chest (g) sensor (black) and the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 (green) which had the best data for the group.
This graph is a comparison of the Diono data for the chest (g) sensor (black) and the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 (green) which had the best data for the group.

The Diono chest (g) sensor result is 42. The maximum allowed to pass safety regulations is 60 where a lower result is better. The best in the group is the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex that earned a 39. The high is 48 so the Diono is both below the max and much lower than the high for those boosters we tested.

The Diono was easy for little testers to use on their own.
The Diono was easy for little testers to use on their own.

Ease of Use


The Diono earned a 7 of 10 for ease of use.


This booster is easy for children to use by themselves with retainers that keep the belt properly positioned and a design that makes buckling themselves in easier.

The Diono has LATCH connectors that help secure the booster to the car so it won't move when children aren't using it.
The LATCH anchors on the Diono are tightened from the front of the booster which makes it easier to install than a traditional car seat.

This booster can be installed using LATCH anchors to keep it from moving freely about the car. The anchors are the clip style (above left) that can be harder to use, but the front tightening straps (above right) make the process easier.

The belt retainer on the Diono has a small slot that takes some finesse to wedge the belt through  however  once the belt is in  it has a tendency to stay.
The belt retainer on the booster seat bottom stays in place and is fairly comfortable.

The shoulder strap retainer that you use when the back is off can be somewhat difficult to push into the retainer (above left) but once it is on the belt it works well and stays on the belt (above right).

The Diono has a knob that adjusts the width of the shell for a personalized fit.
The Diono Headrest/height adjusts from behind and may need to be done prior to installation and before the child is in the seat.

The width of the Diono can be adjusted using a knob on the back of the seat (above left), it is easy to use, but you'll need to do this before you install it. The headrest height adjustment (above right) is also done from the back and will need to be done before you install the seat.

While the cup holders on the Diono are sturdier than some of the competition  we still have reservations on their quality and stability.
While the cup holders on the Diono are sturdier than some of the competition, we still have reservations on their quality and stability.

The Diono has dual cup holders and trays that slide out from under the seat bottom. They don't seem very sturdy and we suspect they won't last as long as the seat.

The Diono weighs less than most of the high backed competition and is narrower than most as well.
The Diono can be used as a backless booster which will reduce the overall weight and make it easier to use when traveling or for carpooling.

Weight and Size


The Diono earned a 5 of 10 for weight and size. This booster weighs 14.3 lbs as a high backed booster (above left). It is lighter with the back removed (above right).


This is lower than the average weight for the group and only two high backed booster seats in this review weigh less. The width is also narrow by comparison even if it isn't that narrow. With a width of 18.4 inches, only two of the high backed boosters are narrower. While it isn't necessarily good for carrying around or traveling, it will be somewhat easier to move from car to car and it doesn't feel as cumbersome as those with more going on or heavier weights.

The Diono is fairly comfortable but the fabric is rougher than some of the competition.
The Diono is fairly comfortable but the fabric is rougher than some of the competition.

Comfort


The Diono earned a 7 of 10 for comfort. The seat is flat and not contoured making it somewhat less cozy than other options.


However, little testers thought it was soft and the headrest was good for napping. There is a stitched logo in the middle of the headrest, which nappers said was not skin friendly on their cheeks with their heads turned to the side. The fabric is foam backed and doesn't have much additional padding making it the least padded in the group. The fabric is rougher than most but not as bad as the Britax Frontier ClickTight.

Using the Diono as a backless option isn't as comfortable as using the back because children lose the headrest and the bottom cushion doesn't offer much padding.
Using the Diono as a backless option isn't as comfortable as using the back because children lose the headrest and the bottom cushion doesn't offer much padding.

The backless booster isn't as comfortable as it is with the back in place as most of the comfortable parts are on the back. The headrest tilts in such a way that it is the best in the group for cozy napping.

The Diono quality is on par for the price  but some features don't look like they will wear well over time.
The Diono quality is on par for the price, but some features don't look like they will wear well over time.

Quality


This product earned a 6 of 10 for quality.


This booster has a busy look and the fabric doesn't fit as well as it could. The design is somewhat industrial with all the fasters and structural elements exposed without covering. The seat has a firm foam pad, but there isn't much padding anywhere else. The fabric looks sofer than it feels and the mesh sides are hard to clean and we suspect they will collect a lot of gunk over time.

The shell and seat bottom of the Diono has exposed fasteners and connection points that could cause wear over time and creates a busy look to the overall fit and finish.
The shell and seat bottom of the Diono has exposed fasteners and connection points that could cause wear over time and creates a busy look to the overall fit and finish.

The underside of the bottom is not smooth and could cause wear on your vehicle seat over time if you don't use a protection mat. While some might argue that the quality is on par with the lower price, the Evenflo Spectrum earned a point higher for quality and costs about $40 less.

Manufacturer Video




Other Versions


Diono makes a few other booster seats, including an interesting backless version and a cheaper high back option with a washable cover.
  • Solana backless booster — This booster elevates children to the right height to use the adult seat belt in your car. The seat bottom is extra long for leg support and the booster is small and portable for easier traveling and carpooling. This product comes standard with dual cup holders and LATCH connectors to keep the booster in place.
  • Cambria booster — This high back booster has extra deep side walls and a spacious feel. It has retractable dual cup holders and LATCH connectors for easy installation. This booster has an adjustable fit, washable cover, and the back can come off for easier transport.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz

You Might Also Like

BabyGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: March 10, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...