When reviewed and compared, which big brand makes a better convertible car seat?
If you’re like me, you’re probably overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a convertible car seat. With so many choices, it’s tough shopping. The Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight Combination Harness-2-Booster Car Seat and the Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat are both popular choices. When you look at the two side-by-side, there’s a clear winner: the Britax Frontier. It has so many more features over the Graco Nautilus 65, but I think the defining feature that makes it better is the Clicktight Installation System. If you’re willing to spend top dollar to get the top car seat for your kid, then choose the Britax Frontier over the Graco Nautilus 65.
Britax Frontier vs Graco Nautilus 65: Side by Side Comparison
Let’s first take a look at the safety features of each car seat, since that’s what is most important. The Britax Frontier has a steel frame to make it more durable in the impact of a crash. This is wonderful, but it makes the car seat really heavy, weighing in at over 24 pounds. You also get two layers of side impact protection and energy absorbing materials, such as a headrest that will absorb any negative energy from a crash and an impact absorbing base. The seat also features complete side-impact protection from the winged sides and winged headrest. Britax claims that this car seat meets or exceeds all safety standards, so there’s no question about your kid’s safety while riding in the seat.
The Graco Nautilus 65 car seat has also been engineered to meet or exceed all safety standards. It also has a steel reinforced frame to provide strength and durability. It too is heavy, weighing in at about 20 pounds. In addition to the sturdy frame, this car seat also has energy absorbing materials, particularly the EPS energy-absorbing foam. This lines the entire car seat as well as the headrest. The final safety feature worth noting is the extreme car interior temperature feature. This was designed to help the car seat stay safe in really hot and really cold temperatures. This is important because it helps the buckles and other plastic parts not become brittle and breakable when put under extreme force.
Winner: I wouldn’t say there’s a real winner here. The safety features are extremely comparable, and both companies have a great track record for safety. I would say that these two car seats tie in the safety category.
Weight and Height
Let’s next take a look at the weight limit for the Britax convertible car seat. If you’re using it as a regular harness car seat, you can fit a child up to 90 pounds! That is a huge number for most car seats like this. When you convert it to a booster seat, you can fit a kid up 120 pounds. As for height, a kid from 30 to 50 inches can sit in the harness seat, while a kid from 45 to 62 inches can sit in the booster seat. The overall weight and height limits on this seat are greater than most other seats, and I love it.
Now with the Graco Nautilus 65, there are a little bit different weight and height limits. For the harness car seat, the weight limit is 65 pound. When you switch it to a high back or backless booster, you can get a kid up to 100 pounds in it. When you use the harnessed booster, your kid has to be between 27 and 49 inches tall. To use the high-back booster, they have to be 38 inches tall, while at 40 inches tall they can go to backless booster. With both boosters, they can only stay in until they’re 57 inches tall.
Winner: Britax takes the cake when it comes to weight and height limitations. Their car seats are made to support larger children for a longer period of time. I think this means that you’ll get more use out of the car seat overall, which makes your money go further and saves you precious time for shopping for another car seat.
The Britax Frontier only has two different modes. It is a regular harnessed forward facing car seat, and then it can turn into a traditional booster chair. Since the weight limitations are so large, your kid can use this just as long as they could use any other booster, even a backless booster. Switching from mode to mode is really easy. You can simply pull the easy adjust handle at the top to adjust the harness up to nine positions, and then you can use it to position it all the way up when you’re ready to remove the harness entirely and turn into a booster. The smart design helps your child stay comfortable in both modes.
The Graco Nautilus 65 has three different modes: a harnessed car seat, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. That’s why it’s called a three-in-one car seat. Getting it from a harnessed car seat to a non-harnessed booster chair is really easy. You use the SimpliSafe adjust harness system and just use the lever to adjust the headrest and harness all in one motion. You can also remove the harness for the booster seat and store it in a really handy harness storage compartment. I like this, because I tend to lose things once they start floating around loose. When you’re ready to go to a backless booster, you just click off the entire back portion of the car seat. It takes about 5 minutes and it doesn’t require any tools.
Winner: This category is hard to call, but I think that Graco might win this category. That’s mostly because it has one more mode when compared to the Britax Frontier. But like I mentioned, you can use the Britax Frontier longer than you can use the Graco Nautilus 65. So if having a backless booster is important to you and your child, then Graco’s the winter here. But, if you don’t care and if your kid doesn’t care, I would say stick with Britax Frontier because the weight limits are higher and the high back booster is safer overall anyways.
The Britax Frontier features their Clicktight installation system. I love this installation system! It makes it so easy to properly install the car seat every time. All you do is put the car seat in, use the vehicle belt and buckle it in, then you close the Clicktight compartment. When you do this, there’s an audible click and you can see the Clicktight button pop back out. If you try to move that car seat around after it’s clicked in, best of luck to you. It is installed very tightly. I like that this makes it easy for traveling because I don’t have to do an undo latch straps all the time, which can become a hassle.
The Graco Nautilus 65 uses either your car’s seat belt or a latch system to attach. I would say that this system is in line with every other car seat latch system I’ve tried. It’s a bit frustrating and it never seems to get quite tight enough. Especially if you factor in the reclining seat, it really gets tricky to get the car seat latch tight enough. Plus, you’re always kind of wondering if you got it in right or if you got it in all the way
Winner: The Britax Frontier Clicktight system is hands-down the best installation system I’ve ever used in a car seat. Enough said.
The Britax Frontier features other little things for parents and babies. It’s got an easy buckle system with padding that makes buckling your kid in and out quick and simple. It’s also got a slim design and an easy recline feature. In addition, it has integrated cup holder/snack trays on both sides, soft plastic armrests, and overall padding.
The Graco Nautilus has some good extra features. It’s got a removable and washable seat cover that doesn’t require any rethreading of harness straps. It also has reclined and adjustable headrests, contoured armrest with one cup holder and storage compartment, and padding everywhere.
Winner: It depends on who you ask. If you ask your kid, they might like the Britax car seat better because it has the dual cup holders. If you ask a parent, they might like the Graco Nautilus 65 better because the cover is machine washable instead of hand washing only. Overall, I think the Britax Frontier has better design because it’s slimmer and easier to use. The buckle system is also better and more comfortable.
You’ll find more slim high back booster car seats in our Best Booster Seat article.
- 4.9 stars, 354 reviews- Target
- 4.8 stars, 514 reviews- Albee Baby
- 4.7 stars, 293 reviews- Bed Bath & Beyond
Graco Nautilus 65
- 4.8 stars, 1063 reviews- Target
- 4.7 stars, 607 reviews- Walmart
- 4.7 stars, 655 reviews- Kohl’s
The Big Winner
The Britax Frontier is the overall winner in this car seat showdown. It has wonderful safety features that’ll keep your kids safe. It has high weight and height limits, so you can get more use out of the car seat. Although it only has two modes instead of three, the two modes have really high weight limits, so you can use them just as long as you could use the backless booster. The Clicktight installation system is quite amazing. As for other features, it has dual cup holders, a slim design, and an easy buckle system with padding that makes it comfortable for kids. True, the Britax Frontier does cost twice what the Graco Nautilus costs. But, I think when you see the safety reviews, the weight limits, and the overall quality of this car seat, you’ll see that you definitely get a lot for your money. The Britax Frontier wins the car seat showdown versus the Graco Nautilus 65.