Graco Nautilus 65 LX ReviewPrice: $170.00 List
Pros: Nice quality, reasonable price
Cons: Below average crash test results, wider and heavier
Bottom line: The lower price can't make up for lower crash test results and larger size
High Back Booster Weight Range: 30 - 100 lbs
High Back Booster Height Range: 38" - 57"
The Graco Nautilus 65 LX is a high back booster that can convert to a backless booster for children 40-120 lbs. This product is relatively nice quality and little ones can buckle themselves in without help once they are big enough to reach the buckle. Unfortunately, this reasonably priced booster did not perform well in our crash tests earning below average results compared to the competition we tested and it is heavy and large making it a poor choice for carpoolers or those who may want to use it on travel. While it isn't the worst option in the group, there are higher scoring choices, with better crash test results that also cost less.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
In 1942 Philadelphia, Russell Gray and Robert Cone first started Graco fabricating car parts. After some time, Gray left and Cone hired an engineer specifically to create baby gear. The first product he designed was an infant swing. The swing was inspired by an outdoor glider a coworker used to soothe their crying baby. The innovative swing sold millions and was responsible for putting Graco on the map in the baby gear world. in short order, they became one of the world's leading manufacturers of baby products.
The chart below includes the overall scores for the booster seats we tested in this review, including the Graco (in blue).
The sections below include performance details for the individual metric tests that compare the Graco to the other booster seats in this review.
The Graco earned a 4 of 10 for crash tests. While all seats in this review have passed Federal requirements and are therefore considered safe, some seats have crash test results that are better than the competition and indicate an additional margin of protection. The Graco is not one of those seats as its results were below the average for the group.
The head sensor in the crash test dummy used in the Graco had a result of 759 HIC in our crash tests. The maximum allowed by law is 1000 where the lower the results are the better. While The Graco HIC is below the max, it is not as low as those of the Evenflo Spectrum with a HIC of 456. In fact, the Graco has the worst results for HIC in this review.
The chest (g) sensor on the crash test dummy recorded 46 g where the maximum allowed is 60 g and the lower the results the better. The Graco result is below the maximum but higher than the average for the group and 7 g higher than the best results in the group earned by the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 with 39 g.
Ease of Use
The Graco earned a 6 of 10 for ease of use. BUckling the Graco is easy, but children do need to reach back pretty far thanks to the height of the seat. The vehicle belt retainers do a good job of keeping the belt positioned correctly and children didn't have any trouble using them.
Attaching the booster to the car isn't too difficult and can be done using LATCH (above left) or the vehicle belt (above right) depending on the size of your child or your car. LATCH can still be used when the seat is in booster mode which means your booster won't be flying about the car when your child isn't in it.
The headrest release button is easily accessible (above left) even with a child in the seat. But, the headrest itself doesn't slide very easily and it takes some jiggling and two hands to get it to move (above right).
The Graco has a cup holder molded into the end of the right armrest and trays recessed under the armrest on each side. These are handy convenience features not seen on some of the competition.
This product is also harder to move from ar to car thanks to the heavier and wider size as well as the hook style LATCH anchors that are harder to use in general.
Weight and Size
The Graco earned a 5 of 10 for weight and size. It weighs 19.1 lbs with the back on and has a seat width of 18.9 inches. There are only three other products that weight more or are wider. This makes the Graco hard to use for carpooling or for travel as the width may not fit next to other car seats and the heft will be hard to carry. The Graco can be used as a backless booster (above right) for children between 40 and 100 lbs which will make it better for travel, but the width remains the same even if the back is gone.
The Graco earned a 5 of 10 for comfort. Compared to the competition little testers weren't that impressed with the Graco. The cushion and headrest are nice enough but the padding and fabric are only about average. Our testers didn't care for the flap of fabric in the middle of seat back or the awkward angle of the armrests.
The seat does have a recline feature with a lever under the seat bottom, but it doesn't recline enough to really improve napping possibilities.
This product earned a 7 of 10 for quality, which is the best score the Graco earned in any metric. This product has the appearance of a high-quality seat, but when you look deeper it starts to lose some of its luster. The shell is not fully contained and there are open parts that could collect grime or wear on the vehicle seat. The fabric looks nice but feels cheap compared to the competition and there isn't much padding for comfort. On the upside, we didn't see any defects on our product or inconsistencies like poor stitching or loose connections.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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