Graco Nautilus car seat

Our score


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In a nutshell

It's easy to see why the multi-group Nautilus is such a popular car seat.

  • Pros

    Long life span, good value, comfortable for baby or child, good safety features

  • Cons

    Proved difficult to get hold of due to popular demand, recline function not as good as it could be

Our review

Graco’s first multi-group car seat, the Graco Nautilus is a Group 1/2/3 option that has already bagged a Bronze in the 2010/2011 Practical Parenting and Pregnancy Awards.

As a Group 1/2/3 car seat, the Graco Nautilus car seat is suitable from 9kg to 36kg, or roughly 9 months to 12 years. It’s easy to use and has five height positions enabling it to grow with your child.

With safety features that include reinforced steel, energy absorbing foam and reinforced side impact protection to protect your child’s head, the Graco Nautilus car seat is secure as well as durable. It comes in just one colourway, Blackstone, and optional accessories include a rollershade and car seat undermat.

When in Group 1 mode, you use the 5-point-harness – this I tested with my 2-year-old Esme, who weighs under 15kg. For children weighing 15kg and up you can remove the harness, and for all weighing 18kg and over you have to use the Nautilus with only a seatbelt. I tried this aspect out with a friend’s 6-year-old daughter, Alexandra.

What we love

Installation of the Nautilus is really simple. Graco calls it intuitive, and I suppose it is, thanks to the red indications that are there for your eye to follow. All you have to do is fasten the seat belt, passing it between the shell and the seat pad, remembering to pass the diagonal belt through the red plastic lock off.

Using the Nautilus without the 5-point harness with 6-year-old Alexandra is really simple. You fasten the seatbelt over your child, following the red guides, and loop it through the red plastic shoulder guide. For an even older child, you use the same configuration and only need to adjust the headrest.

I love that my toddler Esme looks so very comfortable and grown up in the Graco Nautilus. She’s positioned quite high and can see out of the windows easily, pleasing her no end.

Esme also loves the storage compartments in which she has homed some little dolls, as well as the armrests, which add to that grown up appeal. Interestingly, these don’t get too hot through the window with the sun on them.

The cup holders are a neat feature, especially for an older child.

If there are any spills, the cover is machine washable.

What to watch out for

Esme is still only 2 and often falls asleep while travelling. The recline option on the Nautilus is easy to facilitate by pulling on the red handle under the seat, but sadly it doesn’t appear to make any difference at all. I can’t even notice that it’s tilted. Last time Esme fell asleep in the Nautilus, her head was flopping about so much, she simply couldn’t enter into a deep nap.

You may have to remove your vehicle’s headrest from the seat that the Nautilus sits on.

One of the straps on the 5-point safety harness keeps twisting in the frame of the clasp. Not such an issue but I’m finding it slightly annoying.

Who is the Graco Nautilus car seat best for?

Parents after an adaptable, easy-to-install car seat that’s safe and durable.

MadeForMums verdict

The protection offered by the Graco Nautilus brings valuable peace of mind when travelling, whilst the comfort factor means your child - whether baby or near teen - will feel relaxed. The only downside is that the recline option isn’t really an option at all.