Parents want an economical solution to keeping their children safe and sound when in their vehicle or on a plane.
One of the leading brands in the convertible car seat space is Graco, which is why today we are going to share our top pick: Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 car seat review.
We’ll share what we love and what we don’t about this multi-stage seat.
Table Of Contents
- 1 What To Consider Before Buying a Convertible Seat
- 2 How The Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 Car Seat Compares
- 3 Features of the Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 Car Seat Reviewed
- 4 Don’t Be Traumatized – Watch This Crash Test!
- 5 What Other People are Saying about the Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 Car Seat
- 6 Alternatives to the Graco Nautilus
- 7 1. The Britax Marathon – See Reviews Here
- 8 2.) The Diono Radian – See Reviews Here
- 9 3.) The Evenflo Triumph – See Reviews Here
What To Consider Before Buying a Convertible Seat
A toddler car seat is a more economical alternative to purchasing a separate infant seat, toddler seat and booster seat.
These seats can see your child through being a toddler to when they are 9 or 10 years of age and ready to graduate to a standard seat in a car.
When buying a convertible seat, you should:
- Make sure the seat can accommodate an infant your child’s size (if you are using the seat with a baby)
- Understand that the seat will likely not be compatible with a “travel system” (i.e. the seat cannot be attached to a stroller or a base)
- Make sure that the seat includes a 5-point harness and other important safety features
- Test to seat to see how easy it is to adjust and fit in your vehicle
How The Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 Car Seat Compares
Here I’ll go over the basic specs for the seat.
- Lengthy expiration date (10 years)
- High weight and height limits for high back and booster mode
- DLX version allows LATCH system to be used in high back booster mode
- Cannot be used in rear-facing
- Recline modes insignificant
- Switching between modes takes at least a few minutes
The Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 cat seat has a 10 year expiration date and is the perfect seat for those who are looking for a toddler or older convertible seat as it cannot accommodate rear-facing mode.
This may mean that this seat may e ruled out by parents who want to keep their children rear-facing until they are 3 to 4 years of age.
The seat does have an impressive weight range of 22 to 65lbs (or 80lbs for the Elite) and a height range of 27 to 49” (or 52” for the Elite).
Both can accommodate a highback booster weight range up to 100lbs and a backless booster range of 120lbs.
The seat is a comfortable one with a three position recline and a three position crotch strap.
The DLX version of this seat has a built-in lockoff and the LATCH system can be used in high back booster mode.
Features of the Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 Car Seat Reviewed
This car seat has a number of attractive features, including:
1.) A No-Rethread Harness
Each car seat has a harness or the webbing which buckles and holds your baby in his seat.
In order for the sat to be able to fit your baby, the harness height will need to be changed and the straps tightened or loosened to accommodate your child.
Many car seats require parents and guardians to change the harness height by moving the straps into the harness slots to the most suitable height.
This means users of the seat need to remove the ends from the splinter plate and go through what can be a time consuming and inconvenient process of then rethreading the harness.
The no-rethread harness is one of the main changes from previous Graco seats such as the Argos.
This system makes adjusting the harness height and tension quick and simple. Source: Car Seats for The Littles
2.) An Easily Adjustable Crotch Strap
A common complaint in the past when it came to the Nautilus was that the crotch strap was short and difficult to move.
Graco has listened and has now included three crotch strap positions for their Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 Car Seat as opposed to two in their previous models:
- 5.5” deep
- 7” deep
- 8” deep
Check Out Here – How To Remove The Crotch Buckle:h
3.) A Third Recline Position
The Graco Nautilus now has a third recline position.
Any three of the recline positions can be used when your child is of any age, any weight and in any mode of the seat.
With that said, the recline options on the Nautilus (or on any convertible seat) do not do much to increase the comfort of your child.
It will also not help them lay back and enjoy a nice nap while riding in the car.
No recline on the left, third recline on the right
4.) Includes the LATCH system
The Nautilus comes equipped with the LATCH system, making installation quick and easy for users.
The lower anchor connector strap comes routed pre-routed into the belt path, so users only need to make sure that the strap is not twisted prior to attaching it to the lower anchors in the vehicle.
Another benefit to Graco’s LATCH system is that it can be used while your seat is in high back booster mode.
Keep in mind, however, that it cannot be used when the seat is backless since the LATCH strap goes straight through the belt path when the seat is in high back position.
5.) A Built-In Lockoff
A built-in seat belt lockoff is designed to hold the vehicle seat belt tight whenever a car seat is installed with a seat belt.
It is significant more convenient than the standard locking clip which makes installation difficult.
The lockoff should be used when the Nautilus is being installed with a lap and shoulder belt.
It’s easy to use and it will be familiar to those parents and guardians who have been using Graco car seats for at least the past 8 years or more.
6.) Expanded Plystyrene (EPS) Foam Headrest
Children are often injured in car accidents when crash forces make contact with them.
The EPS foam will deform during a crash when your child makes contact with it.
This closed cell and resilient foamed plastic crushes upon impact, meaning:
a) The foam will absorb the impact of a crash instead of your child; and
b) The foam acts as a barrier between your child, the seat shell, and any other introducing objects
By having the EPS foam headrest in the Nautilus, many of the crash forces will be absorbed.
This prevents your child from absorbing them and minimizes the risk of injury.
As an additional bonus, the headrest is separate from the harness.
This allows parents and guardians to adjust each one separately so that you can get the right fit for your child.
7.) Exceeds Stringent Side-Impact Testing Standards
Graco holds its products to their own stringent Side Impact Testing Standard.
The Nautilus meets both the Graco standard and and the European Side Impact Standard.
Don’t Be Traumatized – Watch This Crash Test!
8.) Machine Washable Seat Cover
Kids of all ages are messy.
Whether it’s food, drink, dirt or something else entirely, your child’s car seat is sure to be in need of a good cleaning every now and again.
The Graco Nautilus makes cleaning the car seat a breeze.
Not only is the shell itself easy to wipe down, but the seat cover and other padding can be easily removed, tossed in the washing machine and dried in your dryer.
9.) Built-in Cubbies and a Cup Holder
Kids and parents alike will appreciate the extra storage space available on the Nautilus.
Children can stow small tows, snacks and other knickknacks away in the two cubbies which face towards the inside of the seat, and drinks as well as other items can be set down in the cup holder which is within easy reach of your child. Source: The Mommyhood Chronicles
What Other People are Saying about the Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 Car Seat
As we scoured the internet for some in depth information about the Nautilus for our Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 Car Seat review, we found reviews for hundreds if not thousands of other parents with most being positive. Source: Happy Baby Reviews
Alternatives to the Graco Nautilus
No car seat investigation is complete without comparing a car seat and seeing how well it stacks up against other similar seats on the market.
1. The Britax Marathon – See Reviews Here
The Britax Marathon can be as much as double the cost of the Graco Nautilus.
But this seat can see children right through from infancy to when they are ready to graduate to a high back booster.
The seat can accommodate children from 5 to 40lbs in rear-facing mode, and its front facing weight limit is 20 to 70lbs.
The seat does NOT have a booster conversion mode.
But it is light weight, top rated, and it includes side impact protection.
If you have extra money in your budget, this may be a better choice for your little one.
- Rear-Facing: Yes (5 to 40lbs)
- Front-facing: Yes (20 to 70lbs)
- Booster conversion: No
- Side Impact Protection: Yes
2.) The Diono Radian – See Reviews Here
The Diono Radian has a comparable price to the Britax Marathon, meaning it costs quite a bit more than the Graco Nautilus. This seat is the ultimate multi-stage seat, being able to go from rear-facing mode (5 to 40lbs) to front facing mode (20 to 80lbs, depending on the model) and anywhere from 100lbs to 120lbs in booster mode. It is a heavier seat, coming in at around 23lbs. But this stylish convertible seat has past several rigorous safety tests and includes side impact protection.
For parents who want a top quality seat that will likely be the only seat they will ever need, check out the Diono Radian models.
- Rear-Facing: Yes (5 to 40 or 45lbs depending on the model)
- Front-Facing: Yes (20 to 65 or 80lbs depending on the model)
- Booster Conversion: Yes (up to 120lbs)
- Side Impact Protection: Yes
3.) The Evenflo Triumph – See Reviews Here
The Evenflo Triumph is similar to the Graco Nautilus as it costs less and does not have a booster conversion.
It can, however, be used as a rear-facing seat for 5 to 40lbs and it can be used as front facing from 20lbs to 65lbs.
It is one of the heaviest seats on the market, being over 23lbs, but it does feature side impact protection.
This seat is the most economical on our list of alternatives and has passed all of the standard safety tests for car seats.
- Rear-Facing: Yes (5 to 40lbs)
- Front-Facing: Yes (20 to 65lbs)
- Booster Conversion: No
- Side Impact Protection: Yes
Why We Like The Graco Nautilus 3 in 1 Car Seat:
While we miss having the rear-facing mode option, this car seat is a budget-friendly way to keep your child safe when in a vehicle.
The seat has met all safety standards for car seats in the United States, it’s easy to adjust and it is easy to install.
It’s well cushioned and kids especially like the extra storage available for snacks, drinks and toys.
To learn more about the Graco Nautilus and whether or not it is the right seat for your little one, click here!