An Honest Review of the Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Car Seat

The Graco Nautilus 65 LX is a 3-in-1, forward-facing only car seat that will last from 20 to 120 pounds. Check out this honest review of its features.

Graco Nautilus 65 is a forward-facing combination car seat that can be used for several years. It combines a 5-point harness with a seat belt positioning high-back booster and a backless booster. Graco offers other similar versions, such as the Nautilus 65 DLX and the Nautilus 80 Elite.

This one seat works from the time your child forward faces, around 2-years-old or later, until they reach 120 pounds. That’s several years, and the price of the Graco Nautilus isn’t outrageous. The price is matched well for the seat that you receive, add in durability and safety, and you have the making of a fantastic car seat.

Key Features of the Graco Nautilus 65 LX Car Seat

Let’s take a look at the key features of the Graco Nautilus 65 LX and how it stands out from the crowd.

Key Features
  • Three Modes of Use – Harness Seat, High Back Booster, and Backless Booster
  • Three position crotch strap
  • No-Rethread Harness
  • Contoured Armrests
  • Removable Body Support
  • Cup Holders
  • Storage Compartments – great for toys or snacks!
  • Comes in Several Colors
  • 10-year Expiration Date

Check Pricing and Availability

Pros and Cons of the Graco Nautilus 65

  • Affordable
  • Easy to Install
  • Recline Settings
  • LATCH can be used in booster mode
  • Machine washable pads
  • Cup holders and storage compartments for kids
  • Not great head support
  • Latching can be difficult
  • The harness might not tighten all the way

The Measurements of the Graco Nautilus

  • Weight of the Seat: 20.52 Pounds
  • Widest Point: 20 inches at the base with cupholders
  • Seat Pan: 12.5 inches deep and 12.5 inches wide
  • Seat Height: 28 inches



The Weight and Height Limits of the Graco Nautilus 65 LX

Weight Limits
  • Forward-Facing Harnessed Seat: 22-65 pounds
  • High Back Booster: 30-100 pounds
  • Backless Booster: 40-120 pounds
Height Limits
  • Forward-Facing Harnessed Seat: 27-49”
  • High Back Booster: 38-57”
  • Backless Booster: 40-57”

Understanding the Three Modes


The name “3-in-1” can be confusing for parents. You might think that one of the modes include a rear-facing car seat.

The Graco Nautilus 65 LX does NOT rear face.

It’s essential to clear this up right away because many parents get confused. Other car seats on the market call themselves a 3-in-1, and they include a rear-facing mode. The Nautilus is not one of those.

To start, the Nautilus is a 5-point, forward-facing car seat that allows your child to ride harnessed up to 65 pounds. That’s a perfectly acceptable forward-facing weight limit, and it can safely keep kids harnessed until they’re five to six years old, or longer!

Next, with the removal of the harness straps, the Nautilus becomes a seat belt positioning high back booster. Red guides for the seat belt are near the headrest, and parents slide the seat belt through to ensure the seat belt is correctly positioned on their child’s body. Guides on the lap also keep the seat belt in its proper place.

Once your child is old enough, the back of the booster can be removed, turning into a backless booster that works until your child is 120 pounds. 120 pounds will allow you to keep your child in a backless booster until they can sit properly on a vehicle’s seat without the assistance of a car seat.

Is Switching Modes Hard?

Switching the modes on the Nautilus isn’t tricky, but you can’t do it in a flash. This isn’t a car seat that you can fluidly change ways for multiple kids, but the changes aren’t hard.

The hardest part is removing the harness from the splitter plate in the back and removing the straps at the shoulder. You also will need to remove the crotch strap. Moving from highback booster to backless booster is the quickest change, with just a few pushes and buttons.

Safety First for the Nautilus

Safety matters when it comes to our children, and that’s one area that Graco always exceeds expectations. The safety of Nautilus 65 LX is undeniable. Graco used their SafeSeat engineering to craft a durable and reliable seat.

The construction of the seat makes the car seat secure and safe. First, it starts with the plastic frame that they added steel parts to for maximum safety. A steel reinforced frame does add weight to the seat, but it also adds security. Note that the Nautilus weighs around 20 pounds, so it’s not the lightest on the market.

Graco spent time crash testing this car seat to ensure it’s safe for your child. They ran the car seat through many accidents, even using side impact crashes to make sure your child is safe. Side impact car testing is not yet required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Nautilus went through extensive testing. Graco had the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), which is an independent group) test the car seat to ensure it can withstand a car crash two times the national standard. Without a doubt, the Nautilus meets and exceeds our expectations of safety.

A Few Other Safety Features

Graco never fails us, and they added a few other safety features we love, such as:

  • The seat was built with EPS, which is a foam that absorbs the energy from impacts. EPS pulls the harmful energy away from your child in the event of an accident.
  • It was built to withstand high car interior temperatures during hot months. In some areas, vehicles can reach 125 degrees F on summer days, and that type of heat can degrade the quality of materials. We know that the Nautilus can withstand these temperatures.

The Newest Changes to the Nautilus

If you tried a Graco Nautilus a few years ago, you might notice some changes to their newest model, the 65 LX. The main difference is the no-rethread harness, and parents appreciate that change. This change was adapted from their Argos car seat. With the push of the button at the top of the car seat, you can adjust the height and straps on the Nautilus in one motion. Simple.

Another change they made was the headrest position allowances. Before, parents could only use the four lower headrest positions when in the harnessed mode. Now, the Nautilus 65 LX allows the use of the headrest in any position when in harnessed mode. We love this change because it reduces the risk of parents misusing the car seat, and that’s always a good thing.

Parents complained about the short crotch strap design on the previous models of the Nautilus, and Graco listened to their customers. Now, you’ll find the crotch strap much easier to adjust. Also, in the previous models, there were only two crotch strap positions at 5.5” and 7” deep. Now, the newer model has three crotch straps positions at 5.5”, 7” and 8”, better accommodating growing children.

Other Changes that Graco Made

Graco made several other changes that, while they aren’t make or break choices, sure make the car seat overall nicer. Those changes include:
  • Upping the backless booster weight limit to 120 pounds rather than the previous weight limit of 100 pounds. Adding a third reclining position. Any reclining position can be used at any age, weight, or mode of the seat. However, the reclines aren’t too great, and they’re just small changes.
  • Putting pockets on the cover to help hold the tongues of the buckle out of the way, making getting your child in and out of the car seat a bit easier.

The Downsides

Like any car seat, the Graco Nautilus has a few downsides. The two most discussed are:

  • It can be hard to tighten the straps, and they seem to loosen over time, even without your help. That can be frustrating. No one wants to have to continually tighten and adjust straps.
  • Even though it does offer reclining positions, it doesn’t do much to help your child’s head. Children still tend to have their head bobbing up and down while sleeping, and the head slump can be frustrating for both children and parents.

Digging the Graco Nautilus 65 LX

All in all, we appreciate that Graco listens to the feedback of the parents who use their products every day. Their adjustments from the previous Nautilus modes show that this car seat is here to stay, and they’re vested in making the Nautilus the best it can be. We can get down with that.

For the price, the Graco Nautilus 65 LX offers a car seat that can be used for six or more years, meaning you truly get your money’s worth.

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