In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

Diono Monterey XT Review

Budget-friendly choice with better crash test results
Diono Monterey XT
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:   $160 List | $159.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Better crash test results, price, lighter
Cons:  Less padding, quality
Manufacturer:   Diono
By Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz  ⋅  Dec 21, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

#2 of 8
  • Crash Test - 35% 8.0
  • Ease Of Use - 30% 7.0
  • Weight/Size - 15% 5.4
  • Comfort - 10% 7.2
  • Quality - 10% 6.2

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.

Editor's Note: The review update on December 21, 2021, includes new details on which boosters we would recommend to a friend and why.

Compare to Similar Products

Diono Monterey XT
This Product
Diono Monterey XT
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Value Award Top Pick Award  
Price $160 List
$159.99 at Amazon
$180 List
$179.99 at Amazon
$110 List
$109.99 at Amazon
$30 List
$29.99 at Amazon
$45 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Better crash test results, price, lighterReasonable price, better crash test analysis, super comfy, high-qualityEasiest to use, better crash test results, priceLightweight and portable, budget-friendlyPortable, nicer quality, lower price
Cons Less padding, qualityHeavier, can't go backlessAverage quality, widest seat bottomHarder to use, lower qualityLowest crash test results, hard to use, uncomfortable
Bottom Line Budget-friendly choice with better crash test resultsThis high-quality booster is super comfortable, with better crash test analysis and a reasonable priceNicely priced, easy to use option with better crash test resultsAcceptable performance for a travel friendly, inexpensive choiceSuper easy to travel with but it has the lowest crash test results
Rating Categories Diono Monterey XT UPPAbaby Alta Chicco KidFit BubbleBum mifold
Crash Test (35%)
Ease Of Use (30%)
Weight Size (15%)
Comfort (10%)
Quality (10%)
Specs Diono Monterey XT UPPAbaby Alta Chicco KidFit BubbleBum mifold
Crash Test HIC Score 556 390 557 603 733
Crash Test Chest G Clip 42 53 46 45 48
Modes High Back Booster,
Backless Booster
High Back Booster High Back Booster,
Backless Booster
Backless Booster Backless Booster
High Back Booster Weight Range 40 - 120 lbs 40 - 100 lbs 30 - 100 lbs n/a n/a
High Back Booster Height Range 38" - 63" 38" - 57" 38" - 57" n/a n/a
Width 18.4" 18.5" 20" 14" 9.4"
Weight 14.2 lbs 16.1 lbs 10.4 lbs 1 lbs 1.5 lbs
Backless Booster Weight Range 40 - 120 lbs n/a 40 - 110 lbs 40 - 100 lbs 40 - 100 lbs
Backless Booster Height Range 38" - 63" n/a 38" - 57" 40" - 57" 40" - 57"
5 pt Harness Weight Range n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
5 pt Harness Height Range n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
LATCH Equipped Yes Yes Yes No No
Can you use LATCH in booster mode? Yes Yes Yes n/a n/a
Recline Positions 0 0 2 0 0
Foam Type EPS EPP EPS None None
Seat Lifespan 6 yrs 10 yrs 8 yrs Not Listed 7 yrs

Our Analysis and Test Results

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, they 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 Diono has thick EPS foam in the headrest presumably for...
The Diono has thick EPS foam in the headrest presumably for additional protection in the event of a side impact collision.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Crash Test

The Diono earned a better than average score for crash test results. We considered any booster that scored above the average 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's Head Impact Criteria (HIC)...
This graph is a comparison of the Diono's Head Impact Criteria (HIC) score of 556 (black) and the UPPAbaby Alta's 390 HIC (green) the best data for the group (a lower HIC score is better).
Credit: MGA, BabyGearLab Staff

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 better than several other seats we tested. The low for the group is 390 earned by the UPPAbaby Alta.

This graph is a comparison of the Diono data for the chest (G)...
This graph is a comparison of the Diono data for the chest (G) sensor (black), which earned it a Chest Clip score of 42, which was only a bit higher than the best performing seat on chest forces, the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 (green) which had a 39 Chest Clip score, the best data for the group (lower is better).
Credit: BabyGearLab, MGA Research

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.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use

The Diono is relatively easy to use compared to the competition. 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...
The LATCH anchors on the Diono are tightened from the front of the...

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...
The belt retainer on the booster seat bottom stays in place and is...

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...
The Diono Headrest/height adjusts from behind and may need to be...

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

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...
The Diono can be used as a backless booster which will reduce the...

Weight and Size

The Diono is about average for weight and size, with a slight lean to the more narrow and lighter end. 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 comfortable enough, but there are more comfortable options to be found. 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 some of the competition.

Using the Diono as a backless option isn't as comfortable as using...
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.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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


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...
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.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The underside of the bottom is not smooth and could cause wear on your vehicle seat over time if you don't use a protective mat. While some might argue that the quality is on par with the lower price, at least one competitor scored higher for quality and costs less.

Should You Buy the Monterey XT?

The Diono did its best to keep up with the big boys and in some metrics, it rallied valiantly. However, in the end, there are better options available. It is suitable for little ones up to 120lbs and 63 inches, one of the largest limits in the group. It also has good crash test results and is fairly narrow at 18.4 inches. If the Diono were somewhat better quality or somewhat lighter, there might be a niche for this better than average booster.

What Other Booster Seat Should You Consider?

This is a budget-friendly option in a group of more expensive options. However, if budget has drawn you to the Diono, then the Evenflo Spectrum should be one to consider. This seat can go backless for a lightweight travel companion and it costs half the price of the Diono. While it has a slightly lower crash test result, it earned higher results for comfort and quality.

Manufacturer Video

Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz

Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.

BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.

Learn More