User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Pros:Comfy, affordable compared to Britax brand, 5-point harness for up to 65 pounds.
Cons:Crotch strap is too far back making it a bit tight in that area.
The Bottom Line: If you want a sturdy, super safe car seat with 5-point harness, then this is it!
When it comes to my son, I wanted the BEST of the BEST in car seats, and this Nautilus 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is it! This is the Rolls Royce of all car seats, it has all the bells and whistles and at least half the price of other higher-end car seats.
Recommend this product?
You can find car seats for $33-35, but you can look at reviews online and weigh your options. Trust me, it was a difficult decision, I mean spending $145 for a car seat is a lot of money when I was used to previously paying $35-65 for a seat. My daughter is 15 and when she was younger, car seats were not recommended for anyone over the age of 3 (if you can believe it) and simple boosters were recommended for kids age 3-5 (or something like that) and just catching on. Nowadays, laws have changed and there are much stricter rules and laws having to do with car seats. In my State the law has changed to that a child has to be in a booster seat until the age of 8 or be 4 foot 9 inches. So when my son was 3, I opted to buy this Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat. My son was already too old to use it as a rear-facing car seat, but could use it for forward facing.
What I like about this seat is that it has a back to it. Some children graduate from a regular forward-facing car seat right into a booster (without a back). Nowadays they make booster car seats with backs to them and that's what this has. It's a comfy back with curvature to it so that it's comfy to a child's back. I also LOVE the fact that I could use 5-point harness (straps) OR use a shoulder lap belt to go over his shoulders. I tried it both ways and PREFER even now to use the 5-point straps over the shoulder belt only because 1. it is easier for him to strap and buckle himself in and 2. it feels a lot safer. When using the 5-point harness make sure the part you buckle is centered on their rib cage. The shoulder belt is easy as well (and safe) because it has a loop on the car seat above the shoulders to keep the seat belt properly in place. This would not happen if a child were just buckled on a regular seat, the shoulder belt would not be in the right location for the child.
The 5-point harness accomodates children from 20-65 pounds which is astounding compared to other car seats. This is astounding because most car seats won't allow a child over a certain weight/height to be in a forward-facing car seat. In the past, kids were automatically upgraded to a booster seat (without a back). This car seat changes that for kids nowadays. My son could have graduated to a booster seat (without or with a back), but with this I can feel very safe he is in a SUPER LARGE 5-point harness at 5 years old. He will eventually grow out of the harness and graduate to the backless booster. That's where the 3-in-1 comes in; it starts out as a baby car seat (rear-facing), graduates to a forward facing car seat (for 1-6 year olds or thereabouts) and then to a backless booster (for kids 65-100 pounds).
I just have to RAVE about the the 5-point harness again for a child over the age of 2; I love that it makes it so children cannot get back out of their car seat easily. With a shoulder belt, they can just put their hand down and click it off and NO parent wants that to happen while they're driving. The 5-point harness makes it so kids cannot really get out on their own, they usually need help unbuckling even at age 4 or 5. A regular booster would make it too easy for them to get right out of, so from this perspective, this Nautilus makes it so my child is even safer and I feel less stressed that he's going to jump out of his seat.
Did I mention that this car seat has everything? It has one cup holder and it has a head rest on each side of the head (you don't get this on a regular booster seat). The headrest makes it so that when my son sleeps, his head doesn't fall to the side too much. It has cubbies on each side of the cushy/rubber arm rests (to store toys/food). This car seat is also cushioned well and HUGE. It is absolutely HUMONGOUS. It weighs a lot, too. I couldn't imagine using it as a baby seat (really, I'd just buy a regular baby seat and then upgrade to this one at a year old if I had it to do over again). I could not imagine lugging this around for a child under one. It is a car seat that once it is in your car, it needs to stay put. I have to do some major maneuvering to get it into my small SUV. It also takes up a lot of space on the seat, more like 1.5 seats. So often times my 3-seater back can only fit 2 because of its size. You can also take the pads off to wash and they come in different colors (like pink). We bought a grey/black/red combination (Matrix). The back was difficult to take on and off (to check out how to use the backless booster part), you must read the directions that come with it to figure it out. Also, it's near impossible for a child to have their coat on in a car seat like this, the strap system is so taut that they would never be able to buckle it.
I also own a $35 high-back booster seat for our other car from Walmart (which is a good car seat), but just doesn't compare to the comfort and safety of this Graco Nautilus 3-in-1. This cost of this is usually around $145 (Amazon.com).
One downside is that the strap/buckle near the crotch is too far back. It has only 2 adjustment slots and I put it at the farthest one out and my son will accidentally sit on it when he gets in his car seat. He'll have to get back out again to pull the buckle up and out of the car seat and sit back down again. I think they could have made one more slot further out so it's more comfortable.
Overall, this is a comfy, sturdy and very safe-feeling car seat and outdoes a booster seat by far. I love that it has a 5-point harness system that even a 6-year old can use. I highly recommend it for 1-3 year olds on up.
Amount Paid (US$): 145
Age Range of Child: 3 to 5 Years