Graco Nautilus Elite 3-in-1 Car Seat, Vice

Graco Nautilus Elite 3-in-1 Car Seat, Vice

Offering your family the ultimate in versatility and longevity, the Graco Nautilus Car Seat helps protect your child from 20 – 100 lbs. Beginning as a secure 5-point harness car seat, this model converts to a belt-positioning booster as your child grows. Once they are big kids, this car seat transitions into either a Highback or Backless booster seat. With convenience features such as a 3-position recline, armrests, cup holder and storage pockets, the Graco Nautilus Car Seat is ready to grow with your family.

Main features

  • 3-in-1 car seat with multiple modes for longer use
  • Suits children from 20 – 100 lbs. and from 27 – 57 inches
  • Height and width adjustable headrest
  • EPS, energy absorbing foam for effective impact energy management and steel reinforced frame for durability
  • 3-position recline helps keep your growing child comfy on your many journeys together

Verified reviews


Good all around – instructions need to be clearer about how to use it with a seatbelt

We bought this after returning a Britax Frontier 90 (because it doesn’t have a "backless booster" mode, and the head protection is WAAAY too deep for comfort), and we kept it and like it. It’s well designed and pretty easy to use and looks nice, and my tall near-4yo likes it. My only gripe is that I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out why I couldn’t get the seatbelt attachment to hold it stable – until I finally found the one note on one page of the instructions that says you’re only supposed to clamp one side of the seatbelt, not both. (My instinct was to clamp both, based on the design and the diagrams.)I’m very good at reading instructions – I’d sat down at the kitchen table and read through them front-to-back before I even attempted to start putting this in. So it’s pretty easy to miss this one note – and if I hadn’t kept going back at it, sure that something was wrong, I’d be driving around with a very loose car seat today. So, I took off one star for that.

Rosalia Cerritos, CA

Road Trip Worthy

Our daughter outgrew her infant seat a couple of months ago, and so we’ve been looking for a replacement for a while. This stood out, or rather the earlier model did, as it was getting among the highest reviews here and on other sites, both consumer and safety scores were among the highest.There were a few main critiques, such as overall comfort and the limited time span of the five point harness due to not having another slot for slightly larger kids.My parents ended up getting us the Nautilus. Then, this one became available. So, I have both and am happy to say that the Nautilus Elite is everything the earlier version was while addressing some of the earlier concerns. The five point harness has that extra slot, letting it be used for larger kids. Everything is cleanable, and there’s a bit more padding throughout, including on the straps. The head rest adjusts not only upwards, but also in and out, making for a larger or smaller space for children’s head. Everything else is pretty much the same. Slightly different coloring system, but very comfortable all around for my daughter.In fact, this Elite got a big test the last two weeks. We drove up to Portland and back from the Los Angeles area. A thousand miles each way. That’s something. Our daughter not only survived the trip but was positively a great traveler. While she got antsy every so often, at no point was the car seat a problem. Indeed, it was a great boon in every way, a great protection and an all around comfortable seat. We took two days to drive up and two days to drive down. Ten hours the first day, about six the second (no more than two hours at a time without a stop). She did great. Had morning and afternoon naps, woke up refreshed and happy. She had good head support and was apparently very comfortable. No strap marks or other signs that she had been sitting in the seat that long.Before we put it in, our daughter liked to sit in it as a casual chair! So, it’s comfortable from her perspective!It’s very easy to install, both with the Latch system and with older cars that need the seat belts (like ours). Takes less than a couple of minutes. Everything adjusts easy. I’m definitely looking forward to having this for a long while and testing out its suitability for a bigger child. Here in California, we need car seats for a long while, and this one looks to go the distance until our daughter is driving herself around.Some might have different experiences, but for us, after 2200 miles of driving the last couple of weeks, I couldn’t be more pleased or recommend this more highly.

Rosalinda Zarephath, NJ

So excited for this car seat!

Wanted to buy the Elite Nautilus for the feature of having the seatbelt lock attached to the car seat rather than the metal clip that the regular Nautilus has (why on earth do they not make the regular Nautilus w/ the updated seatbelt lock?!). We owned the Nautilus before & loved it (and updated b/c we were involved in a car wreck and the insurance company was paying for us to get new ones…yeah!). If you’ve ever used that awful metal clip seatbelt lock you know what a huge pain it is and takes forever to install it correctly & safely.I’ve owned this car seat (& the other one that they call "Vice" in color) for several months now and we like it. The only difference between it and the regular Nautilus is the seatbelt lock & the head piece can be adjusted on this one (a feature I haven’t used yet).The only downside I’ve come across is that my son (3YO and average height & weight) complains sometimes that it hurts his peepee. I think it’s because at those times that he complains his butt is scooted forward and he just needs to scoot it back. Wish they had a better crotch strap adjust but in the end I would still recommend.

Nelda Venus, PA


I took the car seat out of the box and placed my baby in it. He is a tall boy. The seat has more cushioning than his safety 1st air 35 car seat (although the safety first air 35 worked perfectly for him when he was a newborn up until he was about 23-ish pounds). The seat seems to be very solid and I spent long hours on -line comparing car seats based on safety, durability, ratings from other customers, and my son’s needs. The seat appears to be an awesome purchase. I’m in the process of preparing to install it into the family car to replace his old seat.

Courtney Tabiona, UT


I had a small car seat that was given to me. It was a good car seat, but I wanted something a little more sturdy. This car seat is amazing! It’s a little difficult to get out of the car once you get it in, but if you don’t swap cars a lot, that shouldn’t be a big deal. After comparing the car seat with other similar ones, I’m pretty happy with the Nautilus. It also has a very nice headrest that supported my 20 month old’s head well. I love that it’s been side impacted tested, also! The seat is very padded and has padding on the straps to make it more comfortable for longer car rides. It also has a small recline on it. I’m really happy with the car seat and would highly recommend it!

Jewel Point Reyes Station, CA

Good car seat but

I’ve been a britax user and was really please with it until my daughter’s advocate carseats head rest snapped in half. So i decided to try graco since it has very good reviews here in amazon. The seat looks sturdy but the cover is little bit hard to take out compare to britax. My only complain about this carseat is the crotch buckle, it’s really short. Considering that my baby is only 19 months,35 inches and 29 lbs.. I don’t think that she will use this for awhile. I’ve tried fixing it and pulled the whole buckle out and put it back but there’s no way to adjust it

Rosanna Metaline Falls, WA

We love this! Fits well in a Honda CRV.

I got this to fit in the back of my 2011 CRV and it fits well despite seeming really big out of the package. There is so much padding this too and I love that it has an attached cup holder and adjustable headrest. This is the first car seat that my daughter has been able to fall asleep in. In her other ones she would cry all the time in the car. I think they may have been uncomfortable for her. The wings of the headrest can be adjusted so they come in and my daughter lays her head against it to fall asleep. The only thing is that this is really heavy! I was surprised how heavy it was. Overall I am happy with my purchase.

Jacklyn Lyons, WI

Best front-facing seat for petite kids

My two oldest kids are incredibly tall, off the charts at most times. We opted for the Britax Frontier 85 for them, knowing that they would outgrow the seat height-wise before weight-wise. (My oldest ones are almost freakishly tall, though, so this wouldn’t be an issue for most folks, especially if you plan to switch to a belt-positioned booster rather than trying to keep an older child in a five-point harness.My youngest, though, is almost freakishly short, so I knew we wouldn’t have the same problem. (The difference in height is due to us having a mix of biological and adopted kiddos, thus some having similar height to us and others having similar height to their biological parents.)We have LOVED this! If I knew how great the seat would be, I would have risked our tall kids outgrowing the seat. It’s comfortable for our daughter, easy to adjust, and has neat features, like the great cup holders. My only complaint is that the directions for installing the seat with a seat belt rather than LATCH… well, those direction sucked. We finally figured it out, but it wasn’t easy.

Leslie Sneedville, TN

Very comfortable!

I haven’t had any problems with this car seat so far. It was pretty easy to install, just followed the directions. The first trip we took with it, was a 3 hour drive and our child was nice a comfy. Our old seat our child’s head would flop around when she fell asleep. With this seat, it holds her head steady and it is padded giving her more support. Everyone who sees it, thinks it looks so comfortable. Not only that, our child can continue to use this as she grows because it converts to a booster seat. She is 4 right now, so when she reaches the age for a booster we don’t have to go out and buy another one, we can just use this. No complaints so far!

Leola Towanda, IL

Good but not for frequent car changes

I am comparing this to our older Britax toddler car seat. We thought this would be perfect because both for our toddler who is just about ready for a convertible seat, and our baby who will be able to use it too. This is a good, functional and comfortable car seat that serves a variety of ages, and is comfortable and the belts are easy to work with.Our situation may be different than most because we often have to move car seats between cars, so we are particularly aware of weight and ease of installation. In that regard, this seat is bulky heavy, and a little cumbersome. The hooks that anchor the car seat that connect to the steel rings in the back seat of the car are also a little bit hard to work with, but once you get them connected they feel secure.The fabric is okay, not the most expensive feel, but cleans well. The cup holder is really convenient and we wonder what we ever did with out having one. Overall, this is good and works well for use as a convertible and a toddler seat, but its not particularly top of the line in feel, and is pretty heavy and cumbersome to use.

Marietta Roland, IA

Great versatility, very sturdy

This is a really nice car seat. We previously had convertible car seats for our toddlers but were reaching the age for our oldest to transition to a booster. We have used this seat with the 5 point harness and as a booster so far and are happy with both ways. Our daughter immediately commented at how much more comfortable this seat was than her previous one (it does have decent cushioning).I love that it is versatile and can accommodate children of different ages/sizes. I also love the cupholder… our other seats had detachable ones that were too bulky to use but this one is built in and so handy.This seat is heavy so if you need a seat that will move between cars often, I would not recommend this seat.

Elsa Brimley, MI

Worth every penny

This has by far been the best baby/toddler purchase I’ve made/invested in. First, it is totally reasonable least compared with some of the snazzier brands. Think about it this way, you’re going to spend about $180 on the carseat, and then never have to buy one/a booster seat ever again. It’s chic, stylish, and very comfortable. If I could fit in it I’d have tried it out..but just pushing on the cushioning with my hand, I can tell my little girl rides comfortably. The extra removable padding has really come in handy. My daughter just barely met the weight and size requirements to move into an upright so it helped support her until she got a little bigger. We’ve since removed it and she’s still mighty comfy. The two side compartments are her favorite. She hides her “car toys” in them and is always happy to find them when she gets back in her carseat. The seat itself does have two reclining positions, one practically straight up and the other a little more reclined. In my opinion, it should recline a little further especially for the younger babies that have just made the transition from an infant seat and are used to being able to lay back a little. Also would make it more comfortable to fall asleep in. My daughter always falls froward when she fall asleep because she’s so upright. That would be my ONLY complaint. Even so, I still think it deserves the 5 stars…we’ll be using this thing until she’s old enough to not need a booster. How great is that?! Graco is really looking out for us mommies making transitional carseats like this one!Graco also just sent us replacement harness buckle due to a recall. It works fabulous, much better than the original. Very nice of them considering the complaint was that “milk gets stuck in the buckle making it sticky”. Didn’t really think that necessitated a recall but oh well, got a new buckle.

Virgie Elmira, OR

Great value for the price

The nautilus is a nice carseat for the price, and it converts into a booster seat, which is great. It is not as comfy as my son’s britax and recaro car seats but then again this is much cheaper. The buckle is a pain and not my favorite but then again at this price point, I can’t complain too much. Bottom line, if you have the money to spend, go with the other brands. If you want to get more bang for your buck, this is the car seat to have. My son seems to be comfortable and he definitely is not complaining about it. He loves the drink holder.

Glenna Little Sioux, IA

Multi-Stage Goodness

All in all, this is a really good quality car seat. To date we’ve been quite pleased with it and since it’s a three-stage seat, I expect that we’ll continue to use it as our kids get bigger. Never had a complaint from them about its cushion/comfort and the cup holder is a nice feature to have as well. We’ve used the cup holder with water bottles of various sizes and it’s fairly accommodating. Pretty easy to strap in kids as well as install/anchor and it’s nice to be able to adjust both the height and width the headrest section as kids get taller.One critique that I’d have on this car seat is that there’s only two positions for the bottom clip-in strap (other car seats that we’ve owned have had three). Not a huge problem, but with kids of various sizes, that could be a difficulty as kids get older. The seat is fairly heavy, but that’s probably due to it being a three-stage car seat. Most of the time we don’t move the seat, but when we have to, it’s a bit of a hassle.

Berta Risco, MO

Mostly great, with some irritations

We bought this GN Elite as a car seat that would fit both our 5 1/2 year old (using the seat belt strap) and our 22 month old (using the 5 point harness configured to her size) for our second car that isn’t used for kids often. We already have an original Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 and a Britax Roundabout in our other car. The plusses for the Nautilus are: 1) price is excellent compared to Britax and other “higher end” models, 2) kids LOVE the “surround” of the seat and the cup holder and little pocket areas for storing their things, 3) fairly easy to take off the covers and wash them, though it’s still a big hassle, 4) the orange/grey/black color combo we bought is good looking and maintains well, 5) we’re able to fit both our kids in the seat with very little adjustment (I wouldn’t recommend doing this for everyday use – our 5 year old puts up with the harness straps being slung out of the way behind her) – we just move the headrest up and down to fit their different sizes and we’re good to go. 6) The 3-in-1 isn’t important to us right now – we’re keeping our kids in 5-point-harnesses as long as possible, but I will say that it’s very handy for school field trips or if you carpool, because you can pop the big top off and just take the booster portion to school for those events.The cons are the same ones we have with the original Graco: 1) The harness attachment under the crotch is a tad bit short. My daughter is tall and thin and so far we’ve been able to make it work, but for a more substantial kid (and I don’t mean fat – I just mean kids who are more solid in the trunk and legs), I think it would be hard to fit that strap around their crouch. It comes with a nylon cover, but it’s completely useless – with the cover on, you can’t get it around your kid and snapped into the other pieces properly. On both of ours, the cover went into storage with the manual right out of the box 2) the shoulder harness straps CONSTANTLY get turned around. I don’t know how this happens, but it happens all the time and I have to fold the strap over, slide the metal harness “outie” piece over the folded strap, work it through, everytime to get that piece facing the correct way. They really need to fix the design so it’s impossible to flip that piece, or at least very difficult. 3) It’s hard to unlock that crouch harness part. We do pick up and drop off service at our school, but I have to get out of the car to unbuckle and buckle my daughter in because no one can get it. However, I want to point out that I don’t have a big problem with it – you just have to know that it’s a hard push to get that button to pop.Finally, for those who have “smack your head” D’uh moments when putting in car seats, we twice could not get the car seat to tighten (two different cars) and fussed and fretted and couldn’t figure out the problem, and then realized that the headrest needed to come out. So, just FYI if you can’t figure out why your latched and tightened car seat still moves too much, check the head rest – chances are it’s sticking out too much so the seat isn’t able to flush up properly.Overall, I would recommend this car seat if you don’t mind some inconveniences with the buckling. Our 22 month old loves the Graco so much, we’re considering moving it into the “everyday” car and ditching her Britax early. But then, we need to buy ANOTHER Nautilus for the other car again ;-). We’re definitely fans of this car seat.

Lindsey Nashua, MT

Nice and Comfortable

My kid loves it, therefore I love it. Classic Graco restraint system, easy to use and adjust. Car seat looks very nice and feels good all around. So far, so good. Would definitely recommend it.

Leeann Riley, OR

Love the color

Love the color. Great looking seat. Wonderful features. Toy pockets on each side. Adjustable head support. The only problem i have with this seat, is that it doesn’t rear face, but i love it so much that I’m keeping it until my baby turns one.

Marlene De Soto, KS

Not perfect, but pretty close

Everything about this car seat is great except for two things.1) This seat cannot be installed rear-facing. NO WHERE does it say that it is FORWARD-FACING ONLY. I searched for weeks to find the perfect car seat and thought I had finally found it, until it arrived. The instructions only list how to install it forward-facing in each of it’s different stages (car seat, booster). I am very disappointed as I wanted my daughter to be rear-facing until at least 2 and she just recently turned 1, but I am so tired of searching that I am letting the good out-weigh the bad and am keeping this car seat.2) The "integrated…storage" in this car seat are just cut-outs under the arm rests not actual built-in storage compartments.. It does have one cup holder which is nice and perfect for children’s cups, snacks, misc.Overall the good features of this car seat definitely out-weigh the fact that is forward-facing only. The padding is very comfortable and easy to wipe clean. The head rests are doubly nice as protection for your child’s head in the event of a car crash and also as pillows for them to rest their head on when they pass out in the car. The steel bar reinforcement is a must. I feel safe with my daughter riding in this and look forward to using it for the next 8 years.

Pansy Offerle, KS

Great Carseat w/ a few quirks.

I bought this seat for my husbands truck, a Toyota Tundra 2003 with an access cab. The seats in the back sit almost at a 90 degree angle and most convertible car seats have an angle to them that made them not fit. This seat’s back is a pretty straight line and was the perfect match. It was super easy to put together, with clear English instruction manual, but also included a Española one. My 18 month old fits snugly in it (but enough growing room), and he seems to be very comfortable. I have noticed readers dislike it because the plastic chest latches are hard to undo. I have found this is true IF you try to do it in its normal position. I think this is to make it child proof, because when you loosen the whole belt and angle up and towards the chest they unclip easily. The only complaint I have is how the entire belt system tightens. My other car seat is a Recaro ProRide and the belt on it will tighten VERY tight and easily, where as this one seems like it just puts pressure down on the shoulders as it tightens. This leaves a gap between the belly/chest area. I have to pull the tightening strap as I pull out and up on the chest piece, readjust the chest piece down, tighten it some more, readjust down, and tighten again, then fix the chest piece in its right location. After doing all that I feel it sits properly and snugly where it should be.

Lara Lyon Mountain, NY