More and more convertible car seats are being sold, which is great news for consumers. A convertible car seat moves from one type of car seat used for a certain height, weight and age of a child to another type without having to purchase another seat. This translates into a lot of dollars saved for mommy and daddy. Two high-rated convertible booster car seats are the Graco Nautilus 65 and the Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster.
The 65 LX gets my recommendation because it will accommodate children weighing 20 lbs. more than the 65 for a small difference in price. In this review, I go over the details of each seat, as well as compare the two models.
You can find our top recommendations for convertible children’s car seats all in one place.
Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Details
Safety Surround side impact technology ensures that you will be purchasing one of the highest-rated side impact car seats for your child. With car accidents being the leading cause of death in children from ages 1 to 13, your car seat needs to hold a good rating. This car seat has met or exceeded all safety testing, and been extensively been tested for side impact as well as greater than average crashes.
SimplySafe Adjust system adjusts both the harness and the headrest in one motion, which is really nice. If you’ve ever tried to change a car seat harness from the back of the car seat with the clips and belts, you know how difficult this can be. This car seat’s adjustment is a no-brainer. The seat also has open loop belt guides to help you place your car’s seat belt through the car seat with ease. This is extremely helpful when transferring the car seat and for quick placement.
This car seat is built with a lot of foam padding, and a three-position reclining feature. You’ve likely seen some forward-facing car seats that don’t recline much at all, and the children look extremely uncomfortable. When a child in an un-reclined position falls asleep, their head can bob from side to side easily.
The Nautilus 65 also has a steel frame, ensuring added safety and durability. This, however, brings its total weight to just over 20 pounds, a few pounds heavier than the average convertible car seat. The car seat was also tested to withstand high temperatures, which is something to look out for in warmer climates.
The padding of the car seat is machine-washable, however, the cup holder does not come out of the car seat for easy washing. This can be a negative feature, as the cup holder can get pretty dirty and cleaning it out with being able to remove it can be bothersome (and gross). The other side of the seat also has a holder, which could be used for travel entertainment or snacks. The rest of the car seat would be spot cleaned with a damp cloth. The car seat is available in a host of colors – and most love the fun, girly pink as well as the everyday colors.
The Nautiflus 65 also accommodates children from 22 to 100 pounds (120 lbs for the 65 LX). This car seat grows with your child through three modes:
- 5-Point Harness Mode
Weight: 22-65 lb
Height: 27-49 inches
- High Back Booster Mode
Weight: 30-100 lb
Height: 38-57 inches
- Backless Booster Mode
Weight: 40-100 lb
Height: 40-57 inches
Assembly is obviously required to change between the different car seat modes, and more information can be found on the manufacturer’s web site here. Digging into the reviews, some parents say it’s easy to put together and others need a bit more information. It’s always a good idea to contact a certified car seat inspector or stop at your local fire department to be sure it’s configured and placed accurately in the car. However, there are no tools required to reconfigure the car seat into a new mode, which has to be a good sign (and all the ladies said YES).
Having one car seat that will work for three different car seat types is a huge plus. You could be paying for the price of three car seats, but instead are getting all three in one. But, you will definitely want to be sure to get the right one since you will be holding onto this one for some time.
Be sure that the car seat fits well in your car(s). Here is the Nautilus 65’s specs:
- Car Seat Depth: 18 in
- Car Seat Width Outside: 20 in
- Car Seat Height: 28 in
- Weight: 20.52 lb
You can read here for our best booster recommendations.
Click here for the Nautilus 65’s Product Instructions.
What do the reviews for the Nautilus 65 show?
- Most reviews note that this is a very stable car seat that fits well into most cars.
- Moms reported that they (and their little ones!) loved the available colors.
- The majority of users noted that the car seat was easy to assemble.
- A great car seat for the price, and the three modes will bring you through multiple stages.
- Parents love the three reclining positions, as well as the extra foam padding. Again and again, parents note that this car seat is very comfortable.
- The majority of reviews rated this car seat as a 4.5 or higher on a 5.o scale
- Machine washable seat cushion is a big plus.
Issues with the Nautilus 65
- A number of parents said that this car seat felt heavy and bulky. They did also note that it was sturdier than lighter weight car seats, however. It’s obvious that a steel-framed car seat is going to be heavier than a plastic-only seat. But, you do get the benefit of added safety.
- Some parents reported that the car seat took a bit of time to configure into a new mode. Changing modes will always require some work, but as a building-handicapped mom, I can totally relate to their frustration.
The Nautilus 65 is the basic version of this car seat. Graco also manufactures a “extended” edition with a few additional features. It carries a slightly higher price tag, and includes all the same safety and comfort features of the Nautilus 65 with the below added benefits. It has the same safety ratings, same frame, same padding and the same specifications regarding its size. However, it does have different
Color options for the Nautilus 65
Color options for the Nautilus 65 LX
What’s the difference between the 65 and 65 LX?
Here’s the skinny on the main differences:
- In the backless booster mode of the Graco Nautilus 65 LX, the weight limit is another 20 pounds, from 100 in the regular 65 to 120 lbs in the 65 LX. Depending on the child and their height, that means the LX version of this car seat can be used for much longer than the regular version.
- The FussFree harness storage of the Graco Nautilus 65 LX holds the harness out of the way of the seat, which aids in getting the child buckled in, and also installation. Depending on the mode, the harness may not be needed. Some car seats will have an area to cinch the harness, but it can still be in the way and even a hazard. This is a great perk to keep the seat functional and safe.
- The 65 LX costs a bit more than the regular 65 version. The Nautilus 65 LX costs a few dollars more on average, that’s a bargain for the amount of time you’ll get out of the LX model versus the regular Nautilus 65 model.
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 Nautilus 65 received an overall rating of 3 stars in the forward-facing category. This isn’t a very good score compared to most of the leading car seats.
The Graco Nautilus 65 LX in forward-facing mode received an overall rating of 4 stars.
So, which one should you choose?
Though there is an added price tag, the name of the game with car seats is safety. Either version of this car seat offers high safety ratings, side impact strength and the steel frame – an amazing feature that you don’t see from most car seats. Because of the safety and sturdiness of this car seat, I find this a great buy overall. This car seat is priced extremely reasonably, especially with its above average safety features and amazing ratings. Though some parents found it heavy and bulky, the added 2-3 pounds means loads of safety, and for me, that’s a deal breaker no matter the extra biceps I may get from transferring it between cars. But, which model would I choose for a mom on a budget? Do the added features of the 65 LX justify the added cost?
The FussFree harness is surely useful, and I have been frustrated with a rebellious, loose harness and can see how this is a huge benefit. But, the extended use of the 65 LX is what would buy me over. Another 20 pounds of use is worth the added price, especially since you will be using this car seat through three modes of use. Car seats are a big investment, and 20 pounds may get you through another year, or even two or three. That really makes the investment go further. While a lot of children’s products may add on useless features to add onto the price tag, the LX truly has essential features that make the purchase worthwhile. So, I would definitely go with the Graco Nautilus 65 LX version over the basic 65 version.