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Graco Atlas 65 vs Nautilus 65 LX: Which is worth the cost?

Car seats are one of the most complicated items that you can buy for your child. It seems like the laws and weight limits are constantly changing, and it can be hard to keep up. You have to know your child’s weight and height at all times, and just hope that they don’t outgrow their seat before you have had time to research and purchase an upgraded model! I know that trying to find the right seat, at the right price, can be frustrating and tedious. 

Both the Graco Nautilus 65 LX and the Graco Atlas 65 are well made car seats and a good value for the price. However, I recommend the Nautilus 65 LX as the better harness booster car seat for your child. Are you looking to get a new seat soon? Read on to check out my reviews of the Graco Atlas 65 vs. Nautilus 65 LX.

Image of the Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster - Polar

Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster - Polar

Graco Nautilus 65 LX

The Graco Nautilus 65 LX is a newer harness and booster seat by a well-known brand. When you see the name Graco, you know it will be high quality and also affordable. This seat is perfect for a forward-facing child, and it will grow with them until they are well into elementary school.  The Graco Nautilus 65 LX  is a moderately priced harnessed booster seat with a few extra features.

3-in-1 Design.

The Nautilus features a 3-in-1 design. This means that you won’t have to buy a new car seat every time your child outgrows one of the heights or weight limits. As long as your child is big enough for a forward-facing harness seat, they will fit in the Nautilus. It then converts into a high backed booster, once your child is 65 pounds. From there, it turns into a backless booster. A single car seat that can work with a 22lb toddler and a 120 lb child is always going to be a good deal! By eliminating the need to buy multiple seats, you save both time and money. 

Image of the Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster - Polar

Treasure Holder and Cupholder.

Graco knows what kids want. This seat features both a small treasure holder and a cup holder. Children are able to keep their water bottles close by, and a small item or a snack in the additional holder. What kid wouldn’t want that convenience? This helps reduce snack and drink requests from the backseat as well!

Steel Reinforced Frame.

Your little one will be safe in this seat. It is completely safety tested and passes all ratings and inspections. Not only that, but it has a steel-reinforced frame for added protection. You will feel safe knowing that your child is secure in this well-made seat. 

Image of the Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster - Polar

Lasts for years.

This Nautilus is fully adjustable. Because it can go from a 5-point-harness all the way to a backless booster, you won’t have to buy another car seat, ever. The expiration date doesn’t come until 10 years after manufacturing. That means you will be able to get an extremely long shelf life out of this harness and booster seat, making it well worth the cost. 

Padded Protection.

This seat has some heavy-duty padding! It’s removable as well, which is great if the fit is too snug. Younger and smaller kids will love the extra padding, and it’s perfect for those who are still able to fall asleep while on a longer drive. This padding really sets the Nautilus apart from other seats that don’t offer a ride that is quite as cozy.

Image of the Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster - Polar

Simply Safe Adjust Harness.

Adjusting the harness for a perfect fit can be time-consuming and even scary. Rethreading is no fun, and many parents are scared that they will do it incorrectly. However, the Graco Nautilus comes with an amazing feature- the Simply Safe Adjust Harness. This harness is adjustable with one hand. You will never have to take the straps out and rethread. Since uninstalling a car seat is one of the top reasons people have incorrectly installed seats, this is a key feature. 

Possible Drawbacks:

Hard to Tighten Harness.

Some parents complain that the 5-point-harness is hard to tighten. They have to tug harder than they want to in order to get a snug fit. For me, this isn’t a deal-breaker, just something to keep in mind if you get annoyed by this kind of issue. 

Uncomfortable Fabric.

While this seat is nicely padded and well made, some people have said the fabric is not the highest quality. When next to bare skin, a few kids have had irritated skin. However, this can happen with any seat. To avoid it, try to keep the temperature cool. You can always remove the padding if your child is sensitive to fabric and heat. 

Graco Nautilus 65 LX Features:

  • NCAP Safety at 2x needed rate
  • Side Impact Tested
  • Steel Reinforced Frame
  • Weighs 20.5 lbs.
  • 10 Year Lifespan
  • Accommodates Children 22 – 120 Lbs.

Watch: Nautilus 65

NHTSA Ease of Use Rating

The Graco received an overall rating of 4 stars in the forward-facing category by the NHTSA.

NHTSA ease of use rating for the Graco Nautilus 65LXForward-Facing
Credit: NHTSA

Graco Atlas 65

The Atlas 65 is another Graco seat, so it has a lot of features that are similar to the Nautilus above. Although I chose the Nautilus as my top pick in the debate of Graco Atlas 65 vs. Nautilus 65 LX, the Atlas isn’t a bad choice for those on a more strict budget. It costs about 1/3 less than the Nautilus, but it also has 1/3 fewer features. 

2-in-1 Design.

The Atlas is a harness seat that later turns into a high back booster. It does not turn into a traditional booster like the Nautilus does. The Atlas will fit your child up to 100 lbs, and it lasts for up to ten years. When going from harness to booster, all you need to do is unthread the harness and use the belt path loops for the seatbelt.

Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster - Polar

Dual Cup Holders.

Kids love having their own things in the car, and this seat makes it easy with dual cup holders. Add a snack or some crayons, and your child is set for a road trip of any length.

10 Position Head Rest.

Since the Atlas is meant to grow with your child, it features a head-rest that works in ten different positions. It is very easy to change the height and position to adjust for growth. Having a custom position means that this seat will fit your child comfortably at any allowed height, and still be safe. 

Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster - Polar

Up to 100lbs.

Children 22- 100 lbs can ride in the Graco Atlas. That meat means if your child is old enough to be in a front-facing harness seat, then this will work for them. Once they hit 65 lbs, you can switch to the high backed booster. This seat will last for many years in this stage. Just remember, it does not turn into a traditional booster, so you may need to eventually purchase one. 

Simply Safe Adjust Harness.

Just like the Nautilus, the Atlas features the Simply Safe Adjust Harness. This harness is easy to adjust with one simple movement, reducing any room for errors when it comes to safety.

Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster - Polar

Possible Drawbacks:

Not Padded.

The Atlas has very minimal padding. Some children may find this less comfortable than the convertible seat they are probably used to using. Older kids probably won’t notice the difference!

Latch System Hard to Use.

If you are used to the super latch car seat feature, you will notice that the Atlas features a regular latish system. A lot of people find the regular latch hard to uninstall, so if you are moving this seat around often, you may want to reconsider. When removing a car seat, and then reinstalling it later, you leave a lot of room for error. One of the biggest reasons that car seats are installed incorrectly happens when parents switch out car seats often. If you are worried about getting that secure install after multiple moves, skip this seat.

Hard to Get a Secure Install.

Some parents have said that this seat doesn’t feel super tight when secured. Certain types of cars may be harder to get a good install than others. You can try placing your knee in the seat while tightening the belts, but if you can’t get a good, tight fit, make sure to contact a car seat safety expert before using the Atlas. 

Graco Atlas 65 Features:

  • NCAP Safety at 2x needed rate
  • Steel Reinforced Frame
  • Weighs 18 lbs.
  • 10 Year Lifespan
  • Accommodates Children 22 – 100 Lbs.


Watch: Atlas 65


Ease of Use Ratings

Car seats sold in the United States are safe. They meet or exceed federal safety standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates each car seat on Ease of Use because injury is more likely to be caused by improper installation and usage than by the seats themselves.

The Graco Atlas 65  received an overall rating of 4 stars in forward-facing mode.

NHTSA ease of use rating for the Graco Atlas 65Forward-Facing
Credit: NHTSA

Bottom Line:

To sum it all up, if you need a harness car seat and booster that will last for years and grow with your child, either of these seats in the comparison of Graco Atlas 65 vs. Nautilus 65 LX would be a decent choice. Both of these seats offer good safety features, and multiple configurations.

However, I definitely find that the Graco Nautilus 65 LX is worth the extra cost involved. This seat lasts longer, has more padding, and is easier to install. While the Atlas works for a more budget option, you might be disappointed in the lack of comfort and the shorter range of use due to weight limits. If you are going to buy one seat to last for years, the Graco Nautilus 65 LX is a wonderful choice. You might have to spend a little more upfront, but it has a better value overall!

Here are the top booster car seats listed and reviewed.

Image of the Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness, Highback, & Backless Booster Seat, Royalty


Megan Schipsi
Megan Schipsi
Megan is a parent, teacher, and writer from Phoenix, Arizona. When she isn't blogging, Megan can be found hiking the deserts with her child and two old chihuahuas, teaching at a co-op preschool, or working on her master's degree online.

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