Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat, Matrix

Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat, Matrix

The Graco Nautilus Car Seat is a 3 in 1 multi mode car seat for children 20 pounds to 100 pounds. This is the last car seat you will need to buy for your child. The Nautilus is ideal for your children from one to ten years old. First, it is an extended 5 point harness seat for children 20 to 65 pounds that features an easy to install system with a lock off buckle for easy secure installation. Second, it works as a high back booster for children 30 pounds to 100 pounds, and finally as a backless booster for children 40 pounds to 100 pounds. The Nautilus Car Seat has a steel reinforced frame for durability, and has a 3 position recline for proper installation and comfort. The car seat offers easy access storage and cup holders for your childand#8217;s enjoyment. Nautilus transforms into three modes to go the distance.

Main features

  • 4-in-1 Toddler Car Seat gives you 10 years of use from four to 120 pounds
  • Rear-facing baby car seat from 4 to 40 pounds
  • Front facing car seat from 20 to 65 pounds
  • Booster seats in high back belt-positioning mode from 30 to 100 pounds and backless belt-positioning mode from 40 to 120 pounds

Verified reviews


Cannot believe 640 people gave this 4 & 5 stars!

I was all set to buy the Graco Nautilus carseat, but was still wondering if Britax Frontier 85 might be better. Both carseats were not being sold in any stores for me to go and check them out, so I decided to order both and test them out. I am SO glad I did, because in comparison, the Britax was BY FAR the better seat! And believe me, I REALLY wanted to love the Graco seat. 640 people probably didn’t do a side-by-side comparison of the Graco Nautilus and Britax Frontier 85.I would recommend to anyone to pay $100 more for the Britax Frontier 85, cause you get so much more in the long run!Here’s why:1. The furthest crotch strap slot on the Graco Nautilus measured at 6.5 inches from the back of the seat. On the Britax Frontier 85, the furthest crotch slot is 8.5 inches! My son was almost sitting on the Graco crotch strap in its furthest position and he’s only 10 months and SKINNY. With the Britax, he has plenty of room to grow and most likely will not be sitting on the crotch strap!2. When I put my son in the Graco Nautilus, my son was hunchback and screaming cause the seat or headrest pushed his head forward and curved his spine. That totally made me question how it would affect his developing posture. In the Britax Frontier 85, his back and head were straight and aligned (no curving of the spine) and no screaming.3. The material on the Graco Nautilus is awful! The seat is rigid and feels like sand paper/cardboard! The material on the Britax Frontier 85 is sooo soft and smooth, but still SAFE (rock hard on the outside, cushiony on the inside).4. The harness strap on the Graco Nautilus is kinda short when pulled to the limit and doesn’t look like there’s much room to grow in it. Pretty disappointing when they claim a child can be harnessed up to 65 lbs! I highly doubt that! BUT the harness strap on the Britax Frontier 85 is LONG!!!!! And here’s the best part — I’M HIS MOTHER AND I WAS ABLE TO SIT IN THE SEAT AND STRAP MYSELF IN! I am 5’1 and 105 lbs, and I was able to sit comfortably in the Britax and strap myself in harnessed no problem! Most importantly, the crotch strap was still NOT under me. That means my son can grow to my size and still remain harnessed! That is phenomenal!!! Not that he’ll need to be harnessed when he’s my size, but the option is there! That’s how I know I made the right decision.I have been a loyal Graco customer since my son was born. He owns almost everything Graco. But this seat is RIDICULOUS! It’s like they didn’t even test it out on real children. How hard is it to make a longer harness strap and an extra crotch slot?!My son hasn’t been in the Britax for a drive yet (cause he’s still too little), but I imagine it will be very comfortable (to the point of sleeping in it). And when he sits in it in the house, he doesn’t squirm or scream (like he did in the Graco Nautilus). He loves it! Go for the Britax Frontier 85 over the Graco Nautilus… you will thank me! I returned the Graco Nautilus ASAP!

Claudine Dayton, IN

Good, affordable alternative to keep child in 5 pt harness

After two weeks of research using […] and Amazon, I stumbled across the Nautilus in another person’s review. After trying out a couple of car seats in store we decided to buy the Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 for our 5 yr (38 lbs, 42in) daughter. She is too tall for her Cosco Alpha Omega, but I did not feel good about putting her in a booster because she is under 40 lbs. Plus, the new recommendations are that kids should remain in 5 pt harness seat for as long as possible. I was considering the Britax Regent (Britax’s website has excellent info on exact measurments of their seats) The hightest strap placement on the market-but is way too big to fit comfortably in my Ford Escape, no cup holder or booster option, and daughter said not comfortable. The SafeGuard Go (the second highest strap placement but top tether is required for install), two of my friends have this seat and love it. I liked compactness and portability, but really wanted a bit more padding and recline option. The Britax Frontier sounds good, but no stores have it yet and the Nautilus is very similar for almost half the price. What I like about the Nautilus is that it’s well padded and reinforced with steel. My daughter is in the next to highest strap setting, so I’m hoping I can get two years out of the harness option. In any case she will be well over 40 pds by the time she grows out of the harness and will be able to use it as a booster. I like the cup holder (while this may seem like a small thing there have been several fights in my car about cup holders between my girls) it’s part of the seat so it doesn’t stick out and seems deep enough to prevent tipping, it also has two nifty cubbies on the inside of the chair. I’m hoping they won’t be major dirt collectors, but daughter likes them for her little toys. It is very easy to loosen and tighten straps unlike the Alpha Omega where I really had to tug and still wasn’t satified with tightness. I put it together and installed in about 1/2 hour and that included reading the manual. Moving the straps up or down is not complicated, but it does need to be removed from car to do. It has a recline option, but I have to say it is very negligible, like 5% at most. My daughter does not sleep in the car and no other seat of this nature has that option that I’ve found. We take a very long car trip every summer and I am concerned she will not be able to sleep through the night. I may get some kind of travel pillow. I would think for a younger child who still naps this might be a problem. I had no problems installing using latch & tether, it is nice and tight. (again read manual b/c once child is over 40-48 lbs you need to use seatbelt to install which would probably add time to install. I think the Nautilus is a great option for keeping your precious cargo safe and secure for a very good price. This is the 8th carseat I’ve purchased between my two kids, grandma and aunties’ car and feel I have quite a bit of expierience when it comes to different features. Do your research and decide what features YOU need. All car seats have to meet minimum standards and correct usage and installation is the most important part. Know your child’s height/weight and limitations of the seat. Most kids grow too tall for a seat before they reach the weight limits. If you are looking for a harness option for your older child I think this is a great seat!!

Susana Mercedes, TX

The recline is a joke

Ok, I’ve read the reviews and raves, but honestly I cannot share the excitement over this seat. Coming from Europe and being used to reclineable seats (both booster and toddler) I was highly disappointed by the much advertised “3 position recline”, which is a joke at its best.Our daughter is 4yo, rather tall and notorious for falling asleep in the car. Her slumping fwd while asleep is not only a safety but also comfort concern of mine, so we went for the Nautilus and were awed by the almost nonexistent recline.Now we’ve got the Eddie Bauer Deluxe Booster Seat and it’s not only cheaper but it also has a nice recline position in which she doesn’t slump fwd everytime she falls asleep and we have to break.

Chelsea Suring, WI

A mess

I took my almost 3-year-old to Target to try this seat out. The crotch strap would not budge, and the whole seat was very flimsy with tons of straps. It looked so complicated, and I could not figure out how to adjust anything. Very cheap, “plasticy” feel to it. I ended up buying the Radian XT. The advantage here is it fits the 5 pt. harness to 80 lbs. It’s made of steel and is very heavy, but we’ll install it once and then be happy our little guy is safe. […]

Willie Breeden, WV

It would be great if we can use

We have a Cosco car seat and we do not like it. It is up to 40lb. So I researched on the web and sent my daughter to the store to check it. However, she did not think this seat was only for front facing seat. We found out this after she opened the box and tried to fit in the car.The problem is the baby needs to stay in the rear facing as long as he can (up to two years old). That is the law nowadays. My 10 month-old grandson is 30 inches and over 20 pounds. We were hoping to use this after one year birthday.Now I do not know how long before we can put my grandson in this. I wish I just bought a car seat from Costco since it is for both rear and front facing.I wish I had checked this before we opened the box. We cannot send back to Amazon, either. We just take loss on this and probably I will get one from Costco.

Michell Foothill Ranch, CA

Not a 3 in 1

This is not truly a 3 in 1 car seat. Its not reversible like a true 3 in 1 is.

Lavonne West Union, IA

Comfortable for kid, but very difficult to assemble

I bought this at a local store because it looked sturdy and well-built. When I took it home, alas, it was a royal pain in the neck to put together! I’m using the with-harness option, and adjusting the harness height and the crotch position was a true exercise in total frustration. The manual is poorly written and the drawings not helpful.My toddler seems comfortable in the seat, and it has a cupholder and two small storage compartments. Problems with this made-in-China product have come to surface: one of the arm rests shakes, and the tether strap (for LATCH) is never totally tight. (But the main LATCH straps are doing a good job.)This car seat was not tested by Consumer Reports so we will not know whether it’s a truly safe restraint for our children. We just have to put our trust in the manufacturer.Anyway, I really hate the assembly required to get this car seat to install properly, and I’m not looking forward to the future day when I need to remove the built-in harness or the entire seatback. Maybe some kind soul could post a video how-to?

Earline Port Richey, FL

great car seat

I put my 15-month-old in this and he loves being able to see everything now. The cup holder is great for small toys, pacifiers, sippy cups, and whatever treasures my son seems to find. It is very upright, however, and so his head is always falling forward when he falls asleep. I don’t know of a car seat where this isn’t a challenge, though. The straps are easily adjustable, and the buckle is very sturdy. The chest buckle is not very strong, and my son knows how to unbuckle it himself (at 18 months). So far so good!

Zelda Chappells, SC

fine car seat, fabric problem

We’ve liked this car seat for a couple years now – we have two of them. The controversial buckle hasn’t been a problem for us yet. I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5 because 1.) the buckle problem we may have in the future and 2.) because the black and grey model isn’t as soft as the the others. I wish I knew the name of the fabric, but it’s a little rough and more susceptible to velcro and other snags. Take a look at the close up photo of the black/grey booster seat to get an idea of what I mean.

Kitty Goodfield, IL

love it

My baby love it, it is very comfortable and easy to use. I recommend this product for moms who look cost vs. benefit

Denise Denver, NC

this carseat will last us for years

I’ve bought 3 of these carseats (2 for our cars and 1 for my parents car). It is easy to assemble and install, very sturdy, easy to wipe up food spills (the material is not plush making it easier to keep clean), cushioned just enough for comfort, and has a functional cupholder and inner side compartments (my son keeps toys and sunglasses in them). I’m very happy it will convert to a booster later (more bang for my buck). My son’s head does tend to slump forward when he falls asleep, but I don’t know of any carseat that reclines back far enough to prevent that (except for an infant carrier of course). The price is excellent too!

Ginger Guernsey, IA

Great Carseat for the Money

My daughter just turned one and outgrew her Graco Snug Ride so we decided to give her big bro’s Britax Marathon and get the Nautilus for him instead. He just LOVES his big boy carseat and this mommy loves that this is the last carseat he’ll ever need! My son is 3 years old and since carseats are good for 6 years he can use this as a booster until age 9. Brilliant! Even though Britax is more spendy, we are so much happier with the Nautilus than the Marathon. The Nautilus comes with a built in cupholder which we all love! The Britax ones make you pay extra for a clip- on a cupholder and ours broke when I leaned over it putting my son in his seat! Not so with the Graco where it is all built in and secure. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but there are also little “cubbies” in the carseat which my son thinks is fun for storing toys. I’m not sure what the intended purpose is but he loves stashing things in there! Installation was super easy with the convenient LATCH system. Can’t say enough good things about it. Buying another one once baby girl is only enough to FF too!

Melinda Ford City, PA

Love it

I own this seat, a Regent, a Roundabout & a Marathon for my 2 kids. My son is 2 1/2 & is currently using the Regent in my husband’s car & this in mine.This seat is a great fit in my car, which is a mid-size sedan. The Regent just wouldn’t have fit, so this was an excellent choice for us. It installed fairly easily & we were able to get a very solid install. My parents actually purchased one for their car as well since they watch my son once a week and they love the seat too.Overall, I would absolutely purchase this seat again.

Rosa New Boston, TX

nice car seat

I purchased this awhile back for my very tall 20 month old. We had to start facing her forward in our SUV then because she is so tall. This seat is perfect for her. She has plenty of growing room. The cup holder actually holds most of her sippy cups and she is comfortable in the seat. Hopefully this will be the last one we have to buy. 🙂

Dolly Balsam, NC

The buckle is so hard

I bought this carseat for my hubby’s car and for my mom (who lives out of state) I hate the middle buckle (between the legs) it is so difficult to clip in and to unclip. I wish I would have just spent the extra and bought the Britax (I love mine!) I would NOT recommend this carseat to any friends – spend the extra and get on that the middle buckle doesn’t cause so many problems.In short, spend a little extra and go with a Britax if you ask me.

Rosalinda Victor, CO

Liked it so much we have two now

I ordered two of these about six months apart and their buckles are slightly but noticeably different.Easy seat to set up, install, and holds my long skinny 20 month old securely. The cup holder is a must!The straps are easy to tighten and loosen up and have just enough slack when loosened to get a sleeping kiddo out without having to contort her little arms.Thankfully we’ve never had to test out the crash safety of this seat but it feels solid with nothing that wiggles or rattles or feels flimsy.ADDING TO THE ORIGINAL REVIEW- my now 2 year old just had the stomach flu and we all know what happens with the flu. Bodily fluids everywhere. It was all over the car seat and in every crevice. I can now tell you that the padding comes off with minimal fuss and washes up very well. Thanks to the frame being convertible, it’s possible to take it apart and clean most of the nooks and crannies while the padding is being washed. One little gripe is that the arm rests are hollow and collect a ton of debris.

Sophia Nisswa, MN

Not A Rear Facing Car Seat

I have not put this carseat into action but we were frustrated when we opened this product only to find out that it’s only a forward facing carseat. I guess we misinterpreted the 3 in 1.

Tommie Holland, IA

Perfect for active children!

My year old daughter loves it! Even when she finds the seat in out living room she will sit there and start asking to go for a ride. She began using it at 10 months. She loves being able to look out the window and sitting straight up. She is very active so she can play and see other people and reach for toys.The only "con" is that it doesn’t recline much so when she falls asleep her head falls a little.

Sara Rebuck, PA

Son Loves it, but check your recline.

My son loves this seat. He has a cup holder and inside the armrests are two "map" pockets where he keeps his sunglasses and small toys. The tightening strap is easy to pull and unlike other brands does not seem to bind on the car seat back or bottom. We would recommend a Summer Infant Deluxe Piddle Pad to go with it for blowout/accidents/spills. This seat is installed in a Nissan Frontier currently (our son loves the view out the front window), and I did use a Mighty Tight ratcheting belt tightener to secure it. Check your recline angles when installing, especially if you are planning on taking longer drives (mobile napping times), the seat is more upright than some. In use since March 2013, with a 2+yo. Please read my other car seat reviews. Thanks!

Christina Gallatin, MO

Buying carseats is hard!

When it comes to safety seats, I find this to be the most difficult decision next to buying my car. When I had my car accident in May I had to select a new carseat and I wasn’t totally sure I wanted another giant Britax… so off to Babies R Us I went with my husband in search of a new carseat. We played with everything they had… I even called a friend to look up reviews – but we settled on this one after much freaking out on my part. For the first month or so of its life, its had to be installed in various rental cars while my car gets fixed.. but its been easy to move from car to car, moreso than my Britax EVER was. I have my complaints about this carseat but they are insignificant overall. I did like the latch system for the Britax (seatbelt like push buttons) and having to rethread the harness when necessary – but its easy, so I can ignore this.Overall I love this carseat, its a great fit for my 2 year old, its easy to install and my son loves it!

Patrice Tilden, NE


This is a difficult car seat. Yes it turns into a booster seat but this car seat is way to heavy. I gave this as a gift and if I had seen it in the store I would have walked by it.

Jo Butler, GA


This was purchased for 3-year-old who needed to give his Orbit toddler seat to little sister who had outgrown hers. We liked having a cup holder & storage pockets for small toys (cars). It is more comfortable & spacious than previous toddler seat & it does convert to a booster for next step. It is very sturdy & anchors well with latch system.

Jami Turtle Lake, WI

Looks good but fails in car

We wanted to like this product. The features are all there and the reviews are mostly good. When we received the box it was simple enough to assemble and looks comfortable. Then the problems started.1. It makes our child’s head lean forward which means he screams the whole car ride because he is uncomfortable.2. He sits on the buckle and he is only 7 months old.3. The latches are angled (which it does not tell you) and you have to fight to get a child in or out every time.4. The chest buckle is a pain to unlatch and will either frustrate you or work effortlessly at random.5. No matter how tight it is latched down, it will still move 6-8″ around in the car. Perhaps this is our car model but we had it latched so tightly that we literally had to use clamps to help us remove the buckles. That still didn’t stop it from sliding all over. In an accident this seat would go flying to the side.Once we decided to return it it was a pain to take apart the headrest and unlatch from the car.Find a different seat.

Sheila Caledonia, WI

I wanted to love this but……..

It looks and feel great online and up close. It does have great comfort. Its a bit bulky, but I liked how flat the seat was. We were looking for a “big girl” seat. The 5 point harness system is where this fell short for me. We are coming from a Britax 70. Huge fan of Britax, and wanted to love this seat. The clip is cheap and hard to close and un clip. Then the harness buckles were even worse. You have to push the fabric out of the way to un buckle it. It is comes unbuckled at all. I saw where people posted this problem, after food was suck in it. This was my first day using it. Within 3 hours of installing it, we went to the store. It took me 5 minutes to get her out of the seat. I started to panic. It is bein returned. I have ordered the Britax frontier. I hope I help someone with this review. If this seat had the harness system of a Britax, it would be SO PERFECT. I hope Graco reviews this issue and upgrades the harness latches.

Francine Inverness, MS

Overall very happy with this purchase

We purchased this car seat when my toddler was ready to move out of his infant car seat. It fits very well into our SUV. I love the cup holder option. It seems very comfortable and it is easy to adjust the height in the back. My only complaint is that sometimes I worry I am not getting the straps tight enough….I feel like I really need to pull down hard to ensure my child is secure.

Nicole Mount Sherman, KY

RECALLED product (Buckle Mechanism) and Annoying Engineering

We bought this seat about a month ago. We originally had a Britax 90 and were happy with it but needed to replace it, so we consulted the Consumer Reports and this model came up high on the ratings for safety and ease of installation and was named “Best Value” product. A bit time consuming to install. The first time we used it I was nearly in a panic that the buckle mechanism wouldn’t release and that my child was stuck and I would have to cut the straps off. Little over 2 weeks later…I apparently wasn’t the only person to encounter this, as several million seats have been recalled recently for a similar issue. BAD!!The carseat has its issues:1) Crotch buckle is quite short, even with adjustment to 2nd (front) slot and removal of infant insert.2) Once recall replacement buckle came in mail, found buckle belt removal difficult (thank goodness for youTube!)3) In order to adjust height of shoulder straps, must remove from the seat and detach and re-thread from the back4) The parts feel cheaply made compared to our Britax5) Chest clip is hard to unsnap because it’s so thin in depth that it’s somewhat difficult to get your fingered placed to pinch the release mechanism.I of course can’t account for the safety factor and hopefully our family is safe and we won’t have to test that out, but I would not recommend this model. Disappointing first time Graco purchase.

Lindsey Pachuta, MS

Car Seat

I bought this as a second car seat for my great newphew as he wore the other one out and needed a new one to replacce the old one. This one looks great and even has cup holders with it, he loves it.

Margot Dayton, WA

Not Rear Facing

I purchased this for my 9m old (20lb 28in) and will have to return it because it is not rear facing. This seat shows up when you search “rear facing convertible car seat.”Looks like it would be a great seat for older children.

Leila Cambria, IL

The kid likes it…

Our main user, our son, really loves this car seat. To him it is really comfortable, has cup holders, and even a little place to store stuff. To me, it is really heavy duty but also easy to install. I have not taken it apart but apparently it easily comes apart to become a booster seat.The only downside to me is, with our kind of seatbelts, it requires the metal clamp/clasp to hold it in place. It’s probably fine but I always like a fixed way to hold the belt in place. But that is me looking for issues in an otherwise great product.

Malinda Roach, MO

No room for the child!

It’s a beautiful car seat, but as soon as you place a child in it you see that the leg strap is under his bottom. And my son is only 31 lb right now, about 3 foot high. so we’re not talking giant here. We did not buy it. We looked at Evenflo Maestro and Britax Frontier… And we bought Britax. May be the difference in quality between the 2 is not the same as the difference in price, but we just could not resist.Do not buy a car seat based on reviews only. Go to the Babies R Us and try!

Augusta Lake View, NY