Many parents raised their concerns about the difficulties they encountered in using the Graco Nautilus 65 car seat. Would you still choose it? Read on.

ideal use


Rear-Facing Weight:N/A
Rear-Facing Height LimitN/A
Forward-Facing Weight:22 to 65 pounds
Forward-Facing Height Limit:27 to 49 inches, at least 1 yr old
High Back Booster Weight:30 to 100 pounds
Backless Booster Weight:40 to 100 pounds
High Back Booster Height:38 to 57 inches, at least 3 years old
Backless Booster Height:40 to 57 inches, at least 4 years old

The Graco Nautilus 65 is a 3-in-1 car seat ideal for children at least a year old. Because it doesn’t come with a rear-facing capability, you would need to make the most out of your infant car seat to let your child sit rear-facing. Once your child already meets the minimum requirement (age, weight and height) for using this seat, install it starting with forward-facing mode. Parent reviewers, in fact, approve Nautilus 65’s forward-facing capability.

You may also start putting your child in this car seat installed as a high-back booster starting at age 3 from 30 to 100 pounds (38 to 57 inches). Finally, when the child is 4 years old and weighs 40 to 100 pounds, you could start introducing them to a new traveling responsibility of sitting in a car on a backless booster seat. According to reviews, this seat is steady in its booster mode, so parents also think purchasing is worthwhile.

will it fit in my car?


Width20 inches
Height28 inches
Depth/Length18 inches

At 20 inches in width, this is not what you would choose if you want to save space for other car seats or for other passengers in the car to have adequate space.

If you read more about this product, you would learn that it has been installed pretty well by parents inside various vehicles including Ford Pickup, 99 Dodge Ram, 2014 Honda Fit, Nissan Sentra, 2006 Avalon and Honda CRV.

Depending on your vehicle, the headrest placed in the highest setting would make the car seat touch the car’s ceiling and can block your rear view.


Do I need to use a pool noodle/rolled towel?Yes, although not mentioned in the manual 
Easy To Install Forward-Facing?Yes
Easy To Uninstall?Yes
# Of Recline Positions:3
Lower Anchor Weight Limit45 pounds


  • Use of Pool Noodle/Rolled Towel. The manual of Graco Nautilus 65 mentioned use of towel (car seat mat or thin blanket) as a protection for the vehicle seat, but not for recline purposes. Apparently, if you read through the Q&A portion of this product on Amazon, you will find an exchange where one customer asked what they can do when the child’s head hangs while sleeping.

Graco Consumer Services replied to this query and stated that they can place a rolled towel or pool noodle in the vehicle seat’s bight to remedy head slumping.

  • Ease Of Installation. The Nautilus 65 was also not exempted from reviews claiming that it was a pain to install. However, such negative reviews are outnumbered by the positive evaluations. Most parents who have bought this product gave it high ratings for ease of installation.

One parent even gave a tip for installation. The gist of her comment is that it will be much better to watch YouTube videos on how Graco Nautilus should be installed instead of reading the manual because its texts and illustrations can only be a cause of confusion.

  • Pre-installation Procedure. There are a few steps that need to be done before we install the child restraint.  The harness and the crotch position need to be adjusted accordingly by letting the child sit on it first. The crotch position should be the one that is closest, but not under the sitting child. The harness strap slot must be at the level or above the shoulder of the child.

Tethering is a critical step in securing the seat as can reduce the distance that the head of your child can move during a collision so there will be less likelihood for injuries.

  • LATCH Installation. The LATCH connector of the Nautilus 65 is of j-hook style. When installing with LATCH, remember to only have it used by children below 45 pounds in order not to exceed the lower anchor weight limit. 

At the side of the seat, you can find the LATCH straps and the connectors stored in their compartment. 

In the booster mode, they allow it to use the LATCH as long as it does not pose any problem for buckling the seatbelt. This car seat may also be installed in the center seat with the LATCH, as long as the lower anchor spacing is not beyond 11 inches. 

LATCH installation in harness mode is a recommended method if your car has an inflatable seat belt. However, inflatable seat belts can be used when you switch to the booster mode.

  • Recline. The Graco Nautilus 65 has three recline settings. However, you could see from video reviews that there is no significant difference among the recline settings. This is most likely because forward-facing car seats are ideally for children who can sit more upright.

To adjust the recline setting, there is a lever or handle at the front that you can pull.



Country Of Origin:China
Steel Frame:Yes
Five-Point Harness?Yes
Side Impact Tested:Yes
Approved For Airplane Use:Yes   
Easy To Buckle And Unbuckle?Yes

From the Graco website, you would know that its safety features include Simply Safe Adjust harness (adjust harness and headrest together), compliance to US standard FMVSS 213, steel frame, side impact tested and EPS foam impact management. 

All these safety features would mean nothing if it rendered them useless during actual accidents. The efficiency of these features start with proper and secure installation. No matter how impressive and advanced the safety feature of the car seat, if it is not correctly installed, then your money is good as wasted.

Apparently, this car seat has been proven safe and effective during unfortunate experiences on the road. In one review, a father gave it 5-star ratings because it saved his son’s life during a major freeway accident with six cars. 

Another 5-star rating was from a grandfather who said that it totaled their car after getting hit from the side. Yet, his grandson did not even get a scratch, so they bought a second Nautilus to replace the one damaged in the accident. 

the seat


Is The Material Breathable?Yes
Seat Weight:20 pounds
Machine Washable Cover?Yes
No-Rethread Harness?Yes (except for the Fern and Garnet Fashion)
Comes With An Infant Body Support?No
Easy To Remove Cover?No
Expiration10 years
Comes With A Cup Holder?Yes, 1
Shoulder Harness Has Pads?Yes
Crotch Buckle Has Pads?Yes
Headrest (# Of Positions):5
# Of Crotch Straps Position3

  • Breathable. When one Amazon customer asked if this car seat breathes well in hotter climates, the Graco Consumer Services answered that Nautilus 65 is made with breathable fabric. Of course, it’s their job to promote their product. However, if you look closely to the thousands of Amazon reviews about the Nautilus, there are no major complaints about the seat fabric breathability.
  • Maintenance and Care. You can machine-wash its seat cushion. Here is a visual demo on how to remove and replace the cover. One thing that might discourage you from getting this product is how taxing it could be to remove the cover. There are hooks, elastic and velcro straps that you need to locate and remove, which can be time consuming. You may use cold water and soap to clean the metal and plastic parts. You may wipe the buckle clean with a damp cloth. Harness straps can be spot cleaned.
  • Cup Holders and Compartments. It has some little compartments built into the armrest, aside from the cup holder that kids can use to place their cups and bottles. The compartments at the side offer additional storage space for kids’ toys, and other travel necessities. On the downside, these compartments can catch some food crumbs and spills since the compartments are not covered, so always check it for cleaning.
  • Crotch Buckle.  Removing the crotch buckle is a prominent issue encountered by many parents who purchased this car seat for their children. One parent, who gave this product a 5-star rating on Amazon, said that she almost did not buy the car seat because of scary reviews she read about moving the crotch buckle. Good thing she watched a video on YouTube, which showed her how much easier this problem can be solved.
  • Tightening The Strap. Another complaint you can read about Nautilus 65 is that some people find it hard to tighten its harness strap. It can be understandable why one mom gave this seat a low rating. Apparently, they have an old model and an updated model of Nautilus 65. It seems ironic that she experienced the difficulty of tightening the strap with the updated model, which supposedly has the no-rethread harness. Making things worse is that when she called Graco, she was told that it should not be hard to tighten the straps. She still could not figure out how to address the problem or even determine what the problem was.

Difficulty when tightening the strap could also be caused by the possibility that the straps are caught onto something or that the straps were not properly routed. The worst-case scenario is that the car seat itself is defective.


Graco Nautilus 65 is one of those car seats that are meant for older children. I could think of a couple scenarios when you would be enticed to purchase this child safety product. 

  • When you have already bought an infant car seat/carrier for your baby and then soon realize that babies can grow faster than you expect so you need to once again buy a car seat to accommodate child’s growth and physical development. You can keep using the infant carrier in rear-facing until the child turns 1 and/or meet the weight and height requirement for this Nautilus seat.
  • When you want a seat that can grow with your child. From forward-facing until beyond the toddler years, this is a seat that can accommodate the young passenger.

Furthermore, the Nautilus 65 is reported to be fairly easy to install. If you find it confusing to read the manual, there are available visual demonstrations online that you can watch to make installation easier and to also address some issues. 

Apparently, some factors might make you think twice if Nautilus 65 is a product worth buying.

  • It is not a car seat that you would likely appreciate come the time to clean it up. You would want something whose cover can be taken out and replaced in a breeze. 
  • It may take up a lot of space especially in a compact car.

All in all, I personally think it is worth buying mainly because of its longevity in terms of different modes of use (forward-facing, high back booster and backless booster) and lifespan.

While it is considerably basic compared to other Nautilus versions, it can still perform its job to keep the child passenger safe. While there is a high probability that I would encounter problems that other parents have experienced, it can be quite reassuring to know there are available online resources I can use to mend these possible problems.  

What do you think? 

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments section below!




The Graco Nautilus 65
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