Graco Nautilus Elite Review

July 8, 2012

With two children at different ages, stages of development and car seat requirements things can be a little challenging. Finding a car seat that grows with your child certainly, eases on of these challenges. Introducing the Graco Nautilus Elite, a car seat that can be used from 9 months (9kg) to 12 years (135cm).

Graco Nautilus Elite
A bag of luggage

When we were chosen to test drive the Graco nautilus elite I wondered whether to let Roo or Tigger put it through its first. Roo won…

Graco Nautilus Elite – Stage 2

I have transformed a few car seats in the past from 5-point harness to adult set belt and I can tell you I was not looking forward to this task. However, upon reading the instruction manual (well I actually just looked at the pictures) it appeared straightforward.

To remove the chest straps:

  • Simply unhook the chest straps from the back, feed them through the front of the seat
  • Slide forward the two clips on the seat plate holding the back of the car seat upright, then slide the straps off each side.

To remove the buckle:

  • Remove the padded covering using the hook and loop fastening
  • Unhook the seat cover from the back
  • Feed the metal clasp through the hole from underneath and pull from the front

To say I was pleasantly surprised is a little of an understatement.

Installing the Graco Nautilus Elite – Stage 2

  • Simply place the car seat on the desired seat in your car
  • Get your child to sit in the car seat
  • Adjust the backrest height by pressing the red button the on the headrest, making sure that your child’s shoulders are inline with the bottom of the headrest
  • Feed the adult seatbelt through the red clasp below the headrest and fasten into the safety buckle
  • Ensure that the lap strap is straight, untwisted and tight
  • Do the same for the chest strap

Graco Nautilus Elite Stage 2 – Review

Although Roo is a relatively short 5-year old I did wonder when first looking at the Nautilus Elite whether it truly would last until she was either 12yrs or 135cm. However, once I had played about with the height adjuster I realised just how much this car seat can grow. Roo often falls asleep in the car and I worry that her head is not supported, the adjustable head rest really takes care of this. As each side is independent of each other you can choose the optimum position for your child. I feel the inner pockets were really suited to stage 2 use of the car seat. Perfect for crayons, papers, and even Roo’s Nintendo DS. 

Roo said that she found the car seat to be comfortable and never complained that the seat belt was sitting in an awkward position. Thumbs up for the Nautilus Elite in the stage 2 use.

A close up of a car

Graco Nautilus Elite – Stage 1

Something I think that every parent should consider when purchasing a car seat is how easy/difficult it is to install. After all, many families now have two cars and then, of course, you have the grandparents car as well. So if you are anything like me you are always transferring the car seats between cars.

Installing the Graco Nautilus Elite – Stage 1

  • To install simply pull the adult belt
  • Feed through the back of the car seat
  • Clip into the buckle
  • Kneel on the car seat to ensure lap belt is tight
  • Then feed the chest strap into the red clasp on side of the car seat.

Graco Nautilus Elite Stage 1 – Review

The inner removable cushion was useful in providing that added support, especially for younger or small framed children. I was a little disappointed to see that the recline feature did not recline the car seat very far. Although this being said with the adjustable head rest it allows you the opportunity to keep your little ones head leaning on the car seat instead of drooping forward when the sleep.

Boo Roo and Tigger Too’s thoughts…

Personally, there were two features I loved about the car seat in the stage 1 position. Firstly the drinks holder, it was deep enough to stop drinks falling over. Secondly the height of the car seat, it allowed Tigger to see out of the car whilst we were driving along and I have to say he looked like he was really enjoying himself. For me, I would love to see a safety alarm being installed into the buckle to warn parents when the buckle has been undone to save any mishaps in the car from curious little fingers.

We have really enjoyed test driving the Graco Nautilus Elite, my initial concerns of how versatile and long lasting it was actually going to be have been put to bed. Since having Roo have I purchased 7 different car seats when really had I knew about this product I would have only need to buy 3 (1x stage  0 and 2x Nautilus Elites), well you live and learn so they say. Hopefully, I have shown you how useful this car seat is for both age groups and possibly inspired you to thin about your current or future car seats.

Price and availability

£99.99 – £149.99 depending on where you purchase

Disclosure: I received the Graco Nautilus Elite in exchange for this review, my thoughts and opinions are as ever my own.

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