I’ve been hearing from so many of my friends that the Graco Nautilus is one of the best if not the best convertible car seat on the market. With all the car seats on the market today, that’s a pretty big statement to make. Firstly though, I do need to clarify that the Nautilus is NOT a convertible car seat since it does not have a rear facing position. This seat is forward facing only and is really what Graco refers to as a 3-in-1 car seat that starts from toddlerhood as a harnessed booster, then transitions to a high back booster seat, and lastly a backless booster seat. So while most infant car seat go from infant to childhood with a weight limit of 5 to 65 pounds, the Nautilus starts at 20lbs and goes up to 100lbs. Now mind you, it’s recommended that your child stay rear facing until they’re 2 years old if possible, and they will most likely be weighting in at way more that 20lbs, therefore you may not need this seat until they’re already forward facing or maybe have outgrown a forward facing toddler seat.
- Item Weight: 26 lbs
- Orientation: forward facing harnessed booster, high back booster, backless booster
- Weight limits: 20-100 lbs
- Height limit: 57 in
- Harness: 5 point
What are the Pros of the Nautilus?
- Side Impact Crash Protection – Graco both meets and exceeds all safety standards set by the US. Their impact protection with energy absorbing foam and steel-reinforced frame help keep your child safe in the event of a crash by both absorbing crash energy to keep it away from the child and providing strength and support to the seat.
- 3-position Recline – Typically I look more closely at infant or rear facing seats when it comes to recline, but it shouldn’t be something that’s overlooked in forward facing seats either. The Nautilus has 3 different positions to help keep your little one comfy which I can definitely see coming in handy, especially on long car trips.
- Seat Design – Graco did a good job when designing this seat and thinking about the needs of a growing toddler. They put in an adjustable headrest that grows with your child, loop belt guides to help easily position you car’s seatbelt, and armrests with cup holders and storage pockets. I think the storage pockets are especially genius so you can store small toys and games for your kids that they can reach themselves instead of constantly having to reach backward and contort yourself into weird positions trying to give them something.
- Washable – In this case the seat cushion is totally machine washable making for easier care. However, the harness is not machine washable, but it can be cleaned with warm water and a wash cloth =(
And the Cons?
- Crotch Strap – A big disappointment for many are the crotch strap positions on these seats, and I agree. Many parents already start off using their kids on the farthest away position, so when thinking about room for growth and all the way up to 65lbs, it could cause some issues. I don’t think this is a deal breaker though, if you have a small to average sized kid you should be fine and have room to grow. If your child is on the taller or bigger side, maybe try it out and if doesn’t work, Graco has a good return policy =)
- Fabric – While the seat cushion is machine washable, the fabric isn’t the best quality I’ve seen. It is not as breathable nor as soft as some other seats on the market.
- Installation – Installing this seat can be tough especially if it’s a tight fit in your car. It can be done, but be for warned that it’s going to be a bit of a workout getting it in at first, and you probably won’t want to move it around too much.
How do consumers rate it?
The Nautilus is one of the most popular booster 3-in-1 seats on the market. A lot of parents are looking to it after their little ones have completely outgrown their infant car seat and they want a forward facing seat with a bit of longevity to it. Graco gives this option in the Nautilus since it goes from forward facing and harnessed, then transforms into a booster seat until your child is ready to be sitting on their own.
What’s it going to cost?
I was quite pleased when I looked into the price on this seat. On the Graco website it says $229 which I thought…ouch! but if it’s good quality and has longevity maybe it’s not so bad. But, then I started looking around and almost every baby store sells it at some kind of discount. So basically, buy it anywhere EXCEPT the Graco website. The lowest I saw it was for $139. Which is not bad at all in my opinion.
The Bottom Line
What I’m thinking on the Nautilus is, it would make the perfect option for someone who’s child has outgrown their rear facing infant seat and is looking for a forward facing seat that has the potential to last 3 or 4 years or until their child has graduated out of car seats and booster seats altogether. If the above is you then…at a price point of under $150, with a great safety reputation, and a good seat design the Nautilus is definitely one to try out.