This is a great seat, hands down!
I purchased this seat in early 2009 for my then 2 year old son, it was his first forward facing seat. My son is now 5 years old and this seat is still going strong. I have also used this seat for my best friends 18 months old a few times and it works great for him too.
What I love/like
1. Easy to install, had worked in every car we have used it in so far. The install with this seat is very firm without a lot of fighting with the belts to get it that way.
2. Very solid, sturdy, and well made.
3. Comfortable for my son.
4. We love the features. My son very much enjoys having his own cup holder and storage pockets where he generally stores a few hotwheels cars :)
5. I love that it is so versatile and that it harnessed up to 65lbs. My children are small for their age so its likely that this seat will harness my until age 8 (when the seat, but not the backless booster will expire.) It still fits my 10 year old daughter (we tried it just to see, she weighs 61 lbs.) As for the average child, my best friends average size 7.5 year old fits in this seat with the harness and still has lots of room to grow.
6. Due to the way the straps are inserted and the rollers they travel over we have never had an issue with twisted straps in this seat.
7. We love the thinner profile on this seat, unlike my other sons Apex 65 seat (I have a review on that seat too) this seat is narrow enough to fit within the seating area yet still spacious enough for it to be comfortable for the child sitting in it.
8. This seat has a standard 6 year lifespan, however the backless booster portion of the seat has an 8 year lifespan meaning 2 additional years of use when compared with most other seats.
What needs improvement: (I still think the seat deserves 5 stars and these are small issues that don't bother us.)
1. The seat is a bit complicated to remove the pads for washing. Not horrible, but it does take longer than our other seats.
2. As others have mentioned, a third crotch strap location would be great. It works just fine for my thin/average children, but I image a larger or heavy set child or even a larger toddler still in a bulky diaper might have issues.
All in all we love this seat and if we were to need to replace our seats again I would purchase another one of these for my youngest again in a heartbeat. This seat is an amazing value and works wonderfully.
Now this has nothing to do with the seat itself, but it would be awesome if they made a version that could rear face toddlers before they are ready to be forward facing.
A note about car seat safety:
The law in most states says that a child can forward face at 1 year old AND 20lbs, but facts show that it is safest to rear face your child as long as possible, at least to age 2. The neck and spine of a 1 year old is not equipped to handle the force of impact and rear facing allows them the time they need for their spinal cord to grow and mature.
It is also safest to keep your child in a 5 point harness as long as possible. Just because the law/the seat SAYS you can place your child in a booster at either 30 or 40lbs does NOT mean this is a safe option.
Never buckle your child into their safety seat wearing heavy clothing such as winter coats or snow pants. Always remove these bulky items and cover the child up OVER the straps with a blanket or coat turned backward. The bulky items can compress in a crash causing there to be too much space between the child and the straps causing additional injuries including spinal cord injuries.
Make sure the straps are snug and the chest clip as at armpit level.
I will step off my soapbox, but I wanted to share these items because these are some very common mistakes I see and education is key :) Remember, any child safety seat is only as good as the manner in which is is installed an used. Even a 500.00 seat won't protect your child if you don't take the time to ensure you are using it correctly.
Amazing Car Seat - Design and Value
My Wife, a Pediatrician, did a ton of research - with the first priority being safety, safety, and, I'll say it again, safety.
We were Britax users for our first car seats and found it a fine car seat, though pricey.
So, this time around, with our son growing too long for the Britax seats that we had, we decided to look at all the options.
Price was not part of the equation.
Design was not either.
Safety was it.
We highly recommend this Graco car seat (We have three now)
1) The price blows Britax away.
2) The design is very nice. Our son loves the drink holder as well as the toy "compartment" in the arm rests. He "hides" toys in the arm rests and has a lot of fun fooling us.
The installation was simple.
The headrest is extremely easy to use and to "fit".
The five point harness is critical to our son's safety and it is very easy to use. Though, it is slightly different than Britax, so there is a few days of getting used to a "new" system. After that, there is no problem.
Overall, we are very happy with Graco.
better than radian or britax in my humble opinion
So I did a LOT of reseach before buying this, read multiple message boards, then to the store to look at them, etc. This replaced a britax that was passed down to DD #2 for my rather large 4 yo girl(40lbs, 40inches)I want to keep her harnessed for as long as I can. I finally decided to go for it b/c of
1)price (though it really wasn't an object) but I am a big fan of bang for your buck,
2)sturdiness, i was never a fan of graco until i bought this seat. It's got a nice weight, sturdy frame.
3)comfort, memory foam! DD loves it, she sleeps very comfortably in it without slumping over like she used to.
4)size, not gigantic like the regent but large it enough to have a big kid sit in it
I was concerned about its looks but it's much better looking in person.
Finally, who can beat onlineshopdealer's price!
I highly recommend it, I think it will last my DD until she's prob 7-8 yo (My average sized 8yo nephew fits!)
LAST carseat you'll need!
THANK YOU GRACO! Parents, if you love your kids, keep them in a 5 point harness as long as possible--age 8 years if necessary!! My 3 yr. old was outgrowing a Cosco convertible, and I wanted my 6 yr. old back in a 5 point harness; however, I didn't like the $250+ booster seats available elsewhere lacking a decent headrest, no cupholders, too wide for our sedan, and some weren't FAA approved! I bought two Nautiluses in Galaxy color (mostly grey) and I love them! My 6 yr. old can buckle/unbuckle himself, and my 3 yr. old can buckle the top portion herself. They've enjoyed long drives when awake, and I no longer worried about my son literally falling out of the seatbelts when sleeping with the "regular" booster seat (I got tired of pulling over to reposition him, then thought, MY GOD, what difference would it make if we were in a car accident--he'd go flying through the window anyway??!!)
1. MOST IMPORTANTLY--both of my kids have the safety of the 5 point harness for a few more years. I told my 6 yr.old he's like a race car driver or astronaut; my 3 yr. old feels like a big kid in the same seat;
2. It's not expensive for what you get;
3. It has an integrated cupholder so the kids get their own cups and not worry about it falling out (or the cupholder falling/breaking apart). Also, the child won't be tempted to undo or slip out of the car seat belt "for a second" to get something;
4. There's storage under BOTH armrests (on the inside) for little toys, tissues, snacks, etc. for the kids to get for themselves, and again, the child won't be tempted to undo or slip out of the car seat belt "for a second" to get something;
5. The headrest extends way up for the taller/older kids;
6. It becomes a backless booster, when the time is right in a few years;
7. Long expiration date--our seats don't expire until 2014;
8. Easy harness/belt adjustments. Some may find it tricky adjusting the harness through the slots because of the plastic casing and rollers in the back the belt goes through, but I believe it's this casing/rollers that keep the belts from twisting or getting stuck over time;
8. EASY LATCH or seatbelt use, tight with no movement--that's GREAT!
CONS (what I don't like about the Nautilus):
1. Heavy, but it's steel reinforced and I feel sits better in the car;
2. Still wide for our sedan, but can just barely squeeze a backless booster in between (with a lot of manipulation!) to have three seats in the back when necessary (I'm thinking of getting a travel vest for the 3rd child when carpooling);
3. Doesn't recline as much as other seats, but the headrest makes up for it by keeping the kids' heads upright when asleep.
Now if only Graco can make this carseat fold up, perhaps two inches narrower on the outside, this would be the BEST CARSEAT YET!!! (Parents, if you still have doubts regarding a 5 pt. harness carseat for your "big" kids, view the "Kyle" or "Emily" videos on YouTube, it'll break your heart. Better yet, view the various carseat crash tests on YouTube to get a better idea of what your child will go through in a car crash.)
Love this carseat!
I bought this seat two weeks ago for my six-year-old and we both love it. She's pretty close to 40 pounds and was about to outgrow her current seat. I'd like her harnessed a little longer in one of our vehicles that has "backseat issues". I was thrilled when this seat came out. I really like Graco products and since this was more of a want than a need, I couldn't justify $300 for some of the other higher-weight-harnessing seats.
Putting it together was a little weird. It was difficult to pop the arm rests in. It's supposed to make a click, but it was a very quiet sound. They must be in right, though, because she puts her weight on them getting in and out and they haven't wiggled.
The strap adjuster took some time to get used to. It has a shield over the release so a child can't loosen the straps. But this also means you can't see it, so you have to feel around for it.
The cupholder is great. It actually holds a real bottle of water rather than just a sippy cup. Big kids use water bottles!
I've installed it in my Camry with the lap/shoulder seatbelt and it went in like a dream. It will eventually be in the Jeep Cherokee. Although I haven't tried it in there, I don't anticipate any problems.
The headrest sticks when you raise and lower it, but it should loosen up and that won't need to be done all that often, anyway.
Be sure to pay attention to the specifics. Children must be one year old and weigh 20 pounds (both, not either/or) to use this seat and it's forward-facing only. Even though you can use it at 20 pounds, I'd recommend leaving your child rear-facing until 30-35 pounds (depending on the seat) in a convertible seat. Not only will your child be much safer, you'll get more use out of the Nautilus. Since the Nautilus expires after six years, if you get it for your one-year-old it'll expire when he's seven and you'll still need another booster. If you get it when he's two or three, it'll expire when he's eight or nine and can go straight into a seatbelt.
All around good car seat
This car seat is very well designed.
1. Good for tall kids.
2. The straps are on rollers, so that they are easy to tighten.
3. Straps are easy to tighten because of a loop design at the end.
4. The release buckle is easy to undo (Might be a con for some)
5. Cup holder on one side and storage compartment on the other side.
6. Very comfortable.
7. Not too big and not too heavy.
8. Nice click sound to make sure the straps have latched.
The only negative so far:
1. The straps tend to get twisted about 1 in 10 times.
great car seat for keeping kids harnessed longer
I found this car seat while searching for something reasonably priced that would harness past 40 pounds. I bought a different seat first, but while it claimed to harness to 50# and 47", my 37 pound 2 year old was already too tall for it. I returned it and purchased the Nautilus. We are using the harness straps in the second hole down, so he still has a good deal of room to grow in this seat. The straps are extremely easy to adjust and installation was no problem. I use the vehicle seatbelts rather than LATCH. The arm rests are very sturdy. The cup holder is in a good location. I plan to keep him harnessed in this seat for hopefully 2 more years, or until he becomes too tall, and then continue to use this seat as a belt positioning booster. The headrest is very easy to adjust and is able to raise quite high. This seat can accomodate a 20# child, but it's much better to use a convertible seat and keep the child rear facing to 35#.
I am a CPST (car seat tech) as well as a proponent of extended rearfacing and harnessing. I personally would not use this product for a small 1 or 2 year old (they woudl be rearfacing), but this seat does fit those small kids well - much better than many other forward facing only carseats, if you insist on having them forward.
My 4 and 6 year old ride in this on a weekly basis, as well as I have using it for many kids from 2 to 8, as both a harnessed seat and high back booster. This is not the best booster seat possible, but the best of the "All-in-one's" (except the Britax frontier). It makes a OK booster, especially if your child has outgrown the harness height.
The cup holder is one of the best on the market. It is built-in and not detachable like many. It slopes slightly toward the child and is easy for kids to reach to place and remove cups. It also has hiding cubby holes in the sides near the child's legs - my kids love this feature :)
The GN is fairly easy to install either using LATCH or the seatbelt (NEVER BOTH), and the buckles are easy to do and undo (but not so easy as for little kids to be able to do it when you are driving)
We bought Two!
I too am wondering why the price is so expensive on here, compared to Walmart (where we bought ours). The only thing I can think of is that this carseat is so high in demand, and sold out at many places, that they are selling it from a company with a really high price. I would definately wait until the price goes down to get this seat. That said, this carseat is absolutely the best one yet. I origally wanted to buy one for my three year old nephew (who I care for) because his seat was getting outdated. Instead, I ended up buying two of these, one for him and one for his 5 year old sister. She was already in a plain booster seat, but I decided to buy this so she can be in a harness longer. Now, she should fit with the harness until she is at least 7, which is a whole lot safer. She actually doesn't mind being back in a carseat, because this seat is so cool, with it's cup holder and two "secret treasure holders." I also love the buckle (which I can open with one hand) compared to my nephew's old system. It is also easier for my neice to buckle the harness then to buckle herself into her booster seat using the car seat belt. So much faster! Another bonus, this carseat is also safe for one year olds on up. I do home daycare and occasionally have different kids using the seats. This carseat has straps that are the absolute easiest to adjust. It litterally takes seconds. I origally thought the price of $150 was high (and that was when I was planning on buying just one!), but it truly is the last carseat you will need to buy. It is a fantasic carseat and soo worth the price. There are probably more expensive carseats that aren't as nice. And for the added piece of mind of having them in a harness longer, priceless.
We love this seat!
This is the perfect seat for taller/older children who have outgrown their convertible carseat, because it has the highest harness slots of any seat on the market (except for the Britax Regent which I believe is being discontinued). I bought this for my 6.5 yo daughter, who had been riding in a booster for years. I recently became educated on carseat safety and felt I needed to put her back in a harnessed seat since she is small for her age. I was worried she might object to the harness, but she loves it! Believe it or not, she can buckle and unbuckle herself (I always double check) easier than she could do the seatbelt in her booster. She loves the cupholder and the little toy cubbies, and is comfy in her new seat. We've already taken a trip with it and she was able to sleep comfortably in it, which she could never do in her booster. It has 3 recline settings, is a breeze to install, and the harness adjuster is as smooth as butter. I bought this seat strictly for the harness aspect. When she outgrows it (which likely won't be for years) I will buy a booster that is LATCHable so I don't have to worry about buckling the seatbelt over it when it isn't in use. I'm planning on getting another one of these for my 3.5 yo when she outgrows her old style (short shell) Evenflo Triumph. The only thing I dislike about this seat is the boring boyish looking cover, but my daughter doesn't seem to mind. At least it matches my car. :)
ETA: Well, I purchased this seat for my now 4 yo, and I have to return it. While I love it for my 6 yo, it is just not working for my younger dd. It doesn't have much of a recline and when she sleeps in it (which is very often) her head hangs completely in her chest, because it is pushed forward by the headrest. So I don't think this is a great seat for kids that still sleep in the car a lot.