In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

Graco Nautilus 65 LX Review

The lower price can't make up for lower crash test results and larger size
Graco Nautilus 65 LX
Credit: Abriah Wofford
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Price:   $170 List | Check Price at Amazon
Pros:  Nice quality, reasonable price
Cons:  Below average crash test results, wider and heavier
Manufacturer:   Graco
By Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz  ⋅  Oct 18, 2017
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52
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 9
  • Crash Test - 35% 4
  • Ease Of Use - 30% 6
  • Weight/Size - 15% 5
  • Comfort - 10% 5
  • Quality - 10% 7

The Skinny

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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Graco Nautilus 65 LX
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Value Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $170 List
Check Price at Amazon
$60 List
$59.99 at Amazon
$100 List
$99.99 at Amazon
$150 List
$149.99 at Amazon
$30 List
$29.99 at Amazon
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Pros Nice quality, reasonable priceInexpensive, comfortable, easy to use, lightEasiest to use, better crash test results, priceBetter crash test results, price, lighterLightweight and portable, budget-friendly
Cons Below average crash test results, wider and heavierWider, doesn't LATCHAverage quality, widest seat bottomLess padding, qualityHarder to use, lower quality
Bottom Line The lower price can't make up for lower crash test results and larger sizeInexpensive, easy to use booster that is comfy, light, and great for most familiesNicely priced, easy to use option with better crash test resultsBudget-friendly choice with better crash test resultsAcceptable performance for a travel friendly, inexpensive choice
Rating Categories Graco Nautilus 65 LX Evenflo Spectrum Chicco KidFit Diono Monterey XT BubbleBum
Crash Test (35%)
4.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Ease Of Use (30%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
Weight Size (15%)
5.0
5.0
5.0
5.0
9.0
Comfort (10%)
5.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
Quality (10%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
3.0
Specs Graco Nautilus 65 LX Evenflo Spectrum Chicco KidFit Diono Monterey XT BubbleBum
Modes 5 Pt Harness,
High Back Booster,
Backless Booster
High Back Booster,
Backless Booster
High Back Booster,
Backless Booster
High Back Booster,
Backless Booster
Backless Booster
High Back Booster Weight Range 30 - 100 lbs 40 - 110 lbs 30 - 100 lbs 40 - 120 lbs n/a
High Back Booster Height Range 38" - 57" 44" - 57" 38" - 57" 38" - 63" n/a
Width 18.9" 19.8" 20" 18.4" 14"
Weight 19.1 lbs 11.6 lbs 10.4 lbs 14.2 lbs 1 lbs
Backless Booster Weight Range 40 - 120 lbs 40 - 110 lbs 40 - 110 lbs 40 - 120 lbs 40 - 100 lbs
Backless Booster Height Range 40" - 57" 44" - 57" 38" - 57" 38" - 63" 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
LATCH Equipped Yes No Yes Yes No
Can you use LATCH in booster mode? Yes n/a Yes Yes n/a
Recline Positions 3 0 2 0 0
Foam Type EPS Air/ Crumple Zone EPS EPS None
Seat Lifespan 10 yrs 6 yrs 8 yrs 6 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.

Performance Comparison



The headrest in the Graco has thicker padding than some of the...
The headrest in the Graco has thicker padding than some of the competition, but it is difficult to say this increase safety.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Crash Test


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.

This graph is a comparison between the Graco's head (HIC) results...
This graph is a comparison between the Graco's head (HIC) results (in black) and those of the Evenflo Spectrum (in green) which is the booster with the best HIC results in the group.
Credit: BabyGearLab, MGA Research

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 top performer with a HIC of 456. In fact, the Graco has the worst results for HIC in this review.

This graph is a comparison between the Graco's chest (g) results (in...
This graph is a comparison between the Graco's chest (g) results (in black) and those of the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Flex (in green) which has the best g results in the group.
Credit: BabyGearLab, MGA Research

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.

Little ones can buckle themselves into the Graco once they are big...
Little ones can buckle themselves into the Graco once they are big enough to reach the buckle.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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 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.

The Graco has LATCH capabilities with hook style connectors.
When using the 5-point harness, the Graco can be installed using the...

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 on the Graco is easily accessible and...
Adjusting the headrest on the Graco is harder than it should be and...

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 offers a single cup holder and trays that store in the...
The Graco offers a single cup holder and trays that store in the armrests.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

This Graco is the fourth heaviest and widest booster in the group.
The Graco can convert to a backless booster for children from 40-120...

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 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.

Testers did not think the Graco was as comfortable as some of the...
Testers did not think the Graco was as comfortable as some of the competition.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Comfort


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 only about average. Our testers didn't care for the flap of fabric in the middle of the seatback or the awkward angle of the armrests.

The Nautilus can recline by pulling the handle under the seat...
The Nautilus can recline by pulling the handle under the seat bottom, but it doesn't improve the nap-ability of the booster.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

While the Graco earned an above average score for quality, it still...
While the Graco earned an above average score for quality, it still isn't as nice as some of the competition.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Quality


This product earned above average 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.

Manufacturer Video



Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz