Graco Nautilus Review (LOTS of pics)


New member
**Disclaimer - all pics are mine - do not use without permission, please

Basics - This is a ff only seat that can be used for children ages 1 and up who weigh 20-65lbs with the harness, for children 3 and up who weigh 30-100lbs as a highback booster, and for children 4 and up who weigh 40-100lbs as a backless booster.

Now, in reality, I would not use it as a booster until the child has outgrown the internal harness, which for most children is going to be about 6-8yrs old. I also wouldn't use it as a backless booster until your child is too tall for the back, unless the seating position does not work with it in highback mode.

Also, I would not use this for a child under 2yrs and 30lbs, as rearfacing is so much safer.

- This is a steel-reinforced seat that can really grow with your child. It has 18-19" top slots (measures 18.5" and performs as 19.5") for really tall children, a 65lb upper weight limit for ensuring your child can ride in a 5-point harness as long as possible

- It makes a fabulous booster! While my son was at first a little confused as to how to route the belt (he is used to putting it under the armrests), simply pointing to the red guides and telling him that it goes behind the armrests was all that was needed. At age 6.5yrs, he is used to buckling himself and he easily did so in this seat, despite the confusion. For a child who has never been in another booster, they might never have this issue, as the guides are set where the belt would naturally go over the child.

The belt was kept low on his hips and the shoulderbelt went over the center of his chest nicely

it has open guides which are a little trickier to thread, but at least the belt won't easily slip out!

- this is a really wide booster for the widest of booster riders. I did not take the back off to get pics of it in backless mode, but it's very deep. I also like that Graco still includes their belt guide for backless use. I wish all backless boosters came with the guides for tall belts (like in the third row of my van!)

- the cupholder is great... it will actually hold a drink well!

- the armrests actually can work and have cool compartments for little toys or snacks (if you let your kids eat in the car)

- The headrest is adjustable. It gives great sleep support and also has EPS foam for crash protection. My husband loves this feature as my daughter's head doesn't move at all when she falls asleep.

- everything is easy to read an figure out on this seat and the manual is thorough

- while it doesn't have gracopedic foam, my kids find it well padded

- the chest clip and buckle are impossible for my daughter to undo

- my daughter can cross her legs when she rides, which is good, as she likes to have something to do with her legs

- 2 recline positions and 1 upright position allow some variation for fit to the vehicle and comfort for the children who still fall asleep a lot and have floppier necks

- FAA approved with the harnesses being used

- because of the way the back attaches, when you move it from one car to another,the backdoes not fall off

- harness pads and belly pad

- two crotch buckle positions

- easy harness adjuster - this thing is buttery smooth and the lever to lift to loosen them is hidden from children well enough that they cannot loosen their harnesses during the ride

- chest clip is marked as to where it should go

- crotch buckles make positive clicks, but they are very quiet and slide in easily, so they shouldn't wake a sleeping child.

- Latch and tether can be used in highback booster mode (I wish that latch was useable in backless booster mode, but you
can't have everything

- it does take some assembly

- the harnesses do have to be rethreaded for height

- it's a heavier seat and, while I did find it lighter than the Radian, it is not as light as a typical combination seat.

- the headrest can be hard to adjust - I find it easier to do with the child in the seat and leaning forward and/or with the seat installed (Ironically enough, for booster use, the manual does say to have the child sitting this way when you adjust it!) Maybe I'm just spoiled by the ease of the turbobooster's headrest.

- latch connectors are the basic ones. I dream of alligator-style clips, but I suppose it is one way to keep the price down.

- lifespan - the seat is good for 6yrs as a harnessed seat/highback booster seat - the base alone is good for a total of
9yrs... so 3yrs after you can no longer use the back and headrest, you can keep using the base as a backless booster

Bottom line - I have now installed it with the seatbelt, and then with latch (never together) and it was really easy. One tip I have that I found in the manual AFTER I already thought of it is to undo the cover at the top where it velcros and pull the cover back to access the beltpaths. This makes it so easy and I didn't have to set a single foot in my van (except to fasten the seatbelt as it IS a thick seat to reach around) to install it.

I tightened it just pushing on it with one hand (which I am now used to except with the Britax Regent) while the other tightened the belt.

It got rock solid so easily in my Caravan that I had to keep checking it... thinking it shouldn't be that easy.


Harnessed height - Radian vs. Nautilus

Ruthie normally uses the top slots in the Radian. Here, she is using the third slots. She has a good amount of grow room in this seat.



Jeffrey has outgrown the Radian. He has no extra harness at all (I barely got him buckled) and his shoulders are 1" past the top slots. Yet he does have room in the Nautilus (less when it is installed... maybe 1.5" at most... this pic was taken in the house before being installed).

Head room in 2nd row


Even fully raised, in my 2nd row, there are several inches above the headrest for head room.

Head room in 3rd row


Not yet at the highest position and the headrest is TOUCHING the ceiling. It does not tip at all like the turbobooster as the headwings are closer together and it does not touch the side of the van.

Now I found that since the seat is heavy and my van seats are squishy, the seat had more headroom with a child in it, but I wouldn't try having to adjust the headrest down before the child can exit the seat each time.

Height, width, and depth as a booster



Jeffrey has lots of grow room in this booster. He uses the top position (again) in the FPSV booster and turbobooster, but has several inches here. I also like how much body support it gives. His knees are almost at the edge of the booster.

And here is my 4'9.5" tall son who has outgrown every other booster on the market - he is JUST too tall. He is tilting toward the camera a bit, so his right shoulder looks lower than it is and the left a bit higher than it is. He is literally at the top of the bottom section of red guide.


His legs were very comfortable. As a backless, he would have more support, but he's too tall to use it as a backless in my third row and has almost no room for a backless in the 2nd row (he rides in the third row so I can carry his brother if needed due to asthma).

I love this seat for Ruthie and as she's almost 4, it may be the last seat she needs. If not, another booster when shes almost 10 won't exactly hurt the budget.:twocents:


I just wanted to add that I love the seat more now than I did when I first got it. The straps never twist, it's always easy to buckle/unbuckle, adjust, and Ruthie simply adores the seat. She sleeps very comfortably in it (moreso, I would say, than in the Radian). My only negative is still that the cupholder is only on one side. Ruthie is right-handed, so it works, but what about other kids?

But she loves it. Now she doesn't want to go anywhere without a drink of water sitting in her cupholder. She's NEVER had a cupholder in the car before, so it's a BIG deal for her.

And she also loves how comfy it is for her legs.

Just look!

Last edited:


New member
Thanks for the review and pics (exc write up)!

One question: did you notice the armrest pops off easy as several peoples experience this problem in another thread?


Moderator - CPST Instructor
Great review, thanks. :)

(I gave you rep in another thread where you'd given a brief review and I can't give it again yet, so I just had to post to say thanks)


New member
Thanks for the review and pics (exc write up)!

One question: did you notice the armrest pops off easy as several peoples experience this problem in another thread?

I haven't had a single problem with the armrests.

I did find that I had to pull down the edge of cover around where they click in to get them all the way in. You push and they seem in, but it isn't till you pull back that cover and really push till there is a loud click that they are snapped in.

The assembly needed is probably the only bad part, but I can live with it... putting it together makes it more clear on how to take it apart when the time would come... the manual was good, but there's nothing like doing it to make you learn something.

And thanks for the rep points, guys!


Thanks for review and pictures. I'm trying to decide between the Nautilus and the Radian. Do you think the Nautilus would fit in the middle 3rd row with a Turbo and Parkway boosters on each side of it? I like the Radian but worried that my almost 5 year old 43 inches tall ds would outgrow it too soon. I'd like to get 3 years out of it and the Nautilus would last him longer but I need to know if it would fit with other two seats.


New member
Sorry about the pics... they'll be back soon.

I exceeded my monthly bandwith for my photobucket account.

I haven't decided if I will upgrade to pro, but it's not expensive, so I probably will.

but if I don't, they will be back on the 1st, when the new month begins.

As for using the Nautilus in a 3-in a row with those seats... in my van it wouldn't work... maybe in a toyota Sienna it would.

Maybe in a Grand carava even, but not the regular caravan


Well-known member
Kat - what are your son's torso lengths?

Is the seat less shallow that it appears? Is the thigh support similar to the FP?


New member
his torso measures 18.5... installed, he only has 1" left for the harness... he had almost 2 in the house.

it actually suppored his legs BETTER than the Fisher Price.

And for my oldest, he had about the same as his backless cosco, but his legs would have been fully supported if it were backless.

My oldest has a torso height of 22".


New member
kat, ruthie had outgrown the MA right? wow ok i think i maybe seeing this seat instead of regent for my dd (if she needs it after the Apex/FPSVD)


New member
yes, she's too big for all the 17" top slot seats... she's got a 17" torso.

So the Marathon, Apex, (though without the extra pad, it might be okay, but it is so wide that since the Regent didn't work, I didn't bother testing it), and all those seats with 17" top slots were outgrown at 40lbs.

She outgrew the Scenera and those height seats at 23mo, when she first hit 35lbs and outgrew it rf (the top slots were AT her shoulders... if she hadn't been too heavy, I was going to move them up and use them for rf)

She is just ALL torso. I'm loving the Nautilus.


New member
thanks kat! i can't believe how much room she has in the nautilus!! how much time do you forsee her able to use the harness for?


New member
I think it depends on her growth..... right now she's eating nonstop, so she's hitting a spurt again.

But Jeffrey still has room in it at 6.5yrs

So far, she has a longer torso... but that could change.

So I'm going to say probably till something like 6-8yrs in theharness, and 8-10 in the booster (highback and backless)

She'll be just under 10 when it expires, so that's not a problem for me.

If I have to buy another backless for that little time, I will worry about it then... but if she's on the brink of outgrowing boosters, I might just make the parental decision to keep using it as a backless for a few months... but I typically don't go against the manufacturer rules for lifespan, so that would be tough for me.


New member
Thanks for taking the trouble to make the photos visible again (higher bandwidth)! I find the pictures of your kids in the seat very helpful, along with all the information about how tall they are, etc. I really hope that a WalMart within reasonable driving distance from me will get the Nautilus in stock, so I can see how both my 6 1/2 y.o. and my 3 y.o. fit in it (and to experiment to see if I can install it into either of our vehicles in a three-across configuration).

Hey, Kat, I notice from your pics that the seat belt clips (those ARE the red clippy-looking ovals near your son's head, right?:whistle:) are right where a kid's head might rest, especially if he falls asleep. Are they uncomfortable at all? Any complaints or comments from your kids? Stuart only sleeps about an hour at a time in the car anyway, and I certainly don't want him to roll his head over a hard piece of plastic and wake up! :D Other than that, I'm really strongly considering this seat. I love that it will allow me to harness him for quite a while yet--the harnesses are so tall!:thumbsup:

Many, many thanks.

Stuart's mom & displaced Florida girl!


New member
None of my kids have complained. My boys have used Turboboosters before, so they are used to them. And with the headrest properly positioned, they are so close to the shoulder that the head only rests on the padded area.

In the picture in the house with Jeffrey using the harnesses, I had the headrest raised higher than I did when I initially set him up... to show every bit of harnessed room.

if you look at the pics of him in the car with it lowered, and then with him buckled, you see that they are just above the shoulder.

Ruthie leaned forward a little when I took pictures, otherwise, when she sits back, it looks better.

Ruthie falls asleep in it and sleeps very comfortably.
Thank you so much, Kat. I think I've made my decision, based on your review and photos. I really appreciate the time you took to let us all know what you think of the Nautilus! It will be nice to save a little money on this and still keep Stuart safely harnessed for a few more years. I've already warned him not to get too comfortable in the booster seat, because we are getting him a new seat soon! He said "okay.":D


Stuart's mom & displaced Florida girl!

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