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.Editor's Note: This gear review was updated on December 21, 2021, to provide more information on our favorite boosters and how they compared to the Graco.
Graco Nautilus 65 LX Review
Pros: Nice quality, reasonable price
Cons: Below average crash test results, wider and heavier
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Graco Nautilus 65 LX
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|Pros||Nice quality, reasonable price||Reasonable price, better crash test analysis, super comfy, high-quality||Better crash test results, price, lighter||Easiest to use, better crash test results, price||Lightweight and portable, budget-friendly|
|Cons||Below average crash test results, wider and heavier||Heavier, can't go backless||Less padding, quality||Average quality, widest seat bottom||Harder to use, lower quality|
|Bottom Line||The lower price can't make up for lower crash test results and larger size||This high-quality booster is super comfortable, with better crash test analysis and a reasonable price||Budget-friendly choice with better crash test results||Nicely priced, easy to use option with better crash test results||Acceptable performance for a travel friendly, inexpensive choice|
|Rating Categories||Graco Nautilus 65 LX||UPPAbaby Alta||Diono Monterey XT||Chicco KidFit||BubbleBum|
|Crash Test (35%)|
|Ease Of Use (30%)|
|Weight Size (15%)|
|Specs||Graco Nautilus 65 LX||UPPAbaby Alta||Diono Monterey XT||Chicco KidFit||BubbleBum|
|Crash Test HIC Score||759||390||556||557||603|
|Crash Test Chest G Clip||46||53||42||46||45|
|Modes||5 Pt Harness,
High Back Booster,
|High Back Booster||High Back Booster,
|High Back Booster,
|High Back Booster Weight Range||30 - 100 lbs||40 - 100 lbs||40 - 120 lbs||30 - 100 lbs||n/a|
|High Back Booster Height Range||38" - 57"||38" - 57"||38" - 63"||38" - 57"||n/a|
|Weight||19.1 lbs||16.1 lbs||14.2 lbs||10.4 lbs||1 lbs|
|Backless Booster Weight Range||40 - 120 lbs||n/a||40 - 120 lbs||40 - 110 lbs||40 - 100 lbs|
|Backless Booster Height Range||40" - 57"||n/a||38" - 63"||38" - 57"||40" - 57"|
|5 pt Harness Weight Range||22 - 65 lbs||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|5 pt Harness Height Range||27" - 49"||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Can you use LATCH in booster mode?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||n/a|
|Seat Lifespan||10 yrs||10 yrs||6 yrs||8 yrs||Not Listed|
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 including high chairs, play yards, strollers, car seats, and more.
The Graco has less impressive crash test results than some competitors. 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 are 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 the top performer with a HIC of 390 for the UPPAbaby Alta.
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 of 39 g.
Ease of Use
The Graco is fairly easy to use, though not the top of the pack. Buckling the Graco is easy, but children do need to reach back pretty far, thanks to the seat's height. The vehicle belt retainers do an excellent 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 tricky 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 in some of the competition.
This product is also harder to move from ar to car thanks to the heavier and wider size and the hook style LATCH anchors that are harder to use in general.
Weight and Size
The Graco is somewhat wide and heavy. 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 weigh more or are wider. This makes the Graco hard to use for carpooling or 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, making it better for travel, but the width remains the same even if the back is gone.
Compared to the competition, little testers weren't that impressed with the comfort level of the Graco. The cushion and headrest are nice enough, but the padding and fabric are average. Our testers didn't care for the flap of material in the middle of the seatback 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 improve napping possibilities.
This product earned above-average quality, which is the best score 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 in our product or inconsistencies like poor stitching or loose connections.
Should You Buy the Nautilus?
The Graco is one of the lowest scoring options in the group and earned a low crash test result. Even though we can see how parents might be drawn to the lower price or the brand name, there are better options in this review no matter what you value in a safety seat.
What Other Booster Seat Should You Consider?
If your budget is tight, the Evenflo Spectrum is less than half the price but earned better crash test results and is easier to use. The Evenflow is significantly lighter and offers more for comfort. If you have a little more to spend, the UPPAbaby Alta has a higher crash test result and is easier to use with increased comfort and quality. If you want the best for crash test results, the Clek Oobr is the one you want, but the price could make it a no-go for those on a budget.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.
BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.Learn More