Graco Nautilus Elite Review

Graco Nautilus Elite Review

One of the toddler car seats that I’ve already reviewed is the Nautilus 3-in-1. This review is for the Graco Nautilus Elite, which obviously is a step up from the base Nautilus car seat.  As I pointed out in that review Graco sell some of the best car seats, with the Nautilus being one of their best sellers.

Differences between Nautilus and Nautilus Elite

So what makes the Nautilus Elite, elite?  There are four primary differences and I’ll briefly discuss them all here.

  1. Shoulder Belt Lock-offs. When it comes to installing your car seat, the Nautilus Elite makes things a little simpler with shoulder belt lock offs, compared to the locking clips that were standard on the Nautilus.Since the last thing you want your car seat to do is shift around, the new Lock-offs are a great addition.  Not only do these plastic clamps allow for easier installation, once the shoulder straps are threaded through and then fastened, the clamp locks onto the belt, securing it and the seat firmly in place.
  2. New Improved Side Wings. While the base model Nautilus has side wings, there’s a significant difference with the Nautilus Elite and its side wings.  Side wings are provided to offer support, safety and comfort in the form of a headrest.  In the Elite model, these wings pivot.  Since no two children are the same, this is a great feature, allowing you to adjust them to the most comfortable position for your child.  With the press of a button, you simply rotate them until you reach the desired position.  Oh, and they’re made from an energy absorbing EPS foam.
  3. With the original Nautilus car seat you had a wide selection of colors and patterns to choose from. However, the Elite model is only available in two designs.  But don’t despair, the custom design seat covers that Graco provided for the original Nautilus can also be used on the Nautilus Elite.  So you should be able to find something that works for both you and your child.
  4. It’s Plush. The Nautilus Elite is going to have your child feeling like they’re sitting on a cushion.  In addition to the standard padding available on the Nautilus model, the elite has thicker padding in the headrest, additional layers of padding to provide better back support, plush memory foam in the seat bottom, and all-around nicer fabric.

Age and Weight Specifications

The 3-in-1 Elite will grow with your child.  First a rear facing infant car seat using a five-point harness, then a forward facing, belt positioning toddler car seat, and then on to a backless booster for your older child.

With Built-In Harness:
Weight: 20 to 80 lbs
Height: 27 to 49 inches

Without Built-In Harness:
Weight: 30 to 100 lbs
Height: 38 to 57 inches

Without Built-In Harness and Back Support:
Weight: 40 to 120 lbs
Height: 40 to 57 inches

Safety Features

The Nautilus is all about safety, from its core out. Built on a steel reinforced frame to provide strength and durability, its engineering and crash testing have proved that it will meet and/or exceed current safety standards.

These standards include:

  • U.S. Compliance Standard FMVSS 213
  • Extreme Car Interior Temperatures
  • New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) – peak Crash Force approximately 2x Car Seat Standard

The steel frame is covered by EPS foam, which is energy absorbing and effective in the case of an impact.

 Features of the Graco Nautilus Elite

  • 3-in-1 seat helps protect your toddler, from 20-100 lbs.
  • Top rated by leading consumer magazines and publications
  • Rigorously crash tested to meet or exceed U.S. safety standards
  • Side-impact tested* (*The Nautilus Elite car seat has been side impact tested for occupant retention solely with the built-in 5 point harness system.)
  • EPS, energy absorbing foam for effective impact energy management
  • Integrated belt lock-off for easier seat belt installation* (*versus using the locking clip)
  • Two-way adjustable headrest allows to change headrest height and width
  • Steel-reinforced frame provides strength and durability
  • 3-position recline helps keep your growing child comfy
  • Open-loop belt guides help you position your vehicle’s seat belt
  • Contoured armrests with cup holder and storage pockets

Pros and Cons

Overall, the Nautilus elite is easy to handle; from installation with a seatbelt, adjustments of the seat and harness, and finally securing your child.  The car seat covers are machine washable. This car seat does not come fully assembled, so be aware there is some assembly required.  If the harness height has to be adjusted, re-threading can be a little bit difficult and it’s also hard to remove the seat cover.

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