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Graco Nautilus 65 vs 65 LX Car Seat: Differences Explained

by  Katie- Last updated on October 20, 2020

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Searching for a dependable and high quality car seat for their child is a priority for parents.

It’s challenging looking for just the right car seat to make sure that their child is safe depending on their age, weight, and height.

There are a lot of options out there, even from a company like Graco. How are you supposed to know the differences between each Graco car seat?

When it comes to figuring out which Graco Nautilus is the best—the original 65 or the 65 LX—you’re at the right place. We’ll pit both the Nautilus 65 and 65 LX against each other so you can find out which is the right seat for your child.

Graco Nautilus 65 vs 65 LX At A Glance

  • The LX will accommodate children up to 20 pounds heavier than the original 65—the Nautilus 65 only supports children of up to 100 pounds, while the 65 LX supports children of up to 120 pounds
  • Both versions do have three modes for the seat to grow with your child: the 5-point harness mode, the high back booster mode, and the backless booster mode
  • Both weigh a little over 20 pounds, so you might struggle with moving the car seat from car to car
  • Installation is easier in the 65 LX, since it takes less effort to transition between different modes and to keep the harness out of the way
  • It’s true that the 65 LX does cost a little bit more than the original, although it might be worth it to you since the LX supports more weight

Graco Nautilus 65 Advantages

  • No Pinching

One of the most important things for a car seat, besides safety of course, is comfort. You don’t want your little one crying because the straps are pinching them, which is why you might like the original 65.

This seat legitimately holds your child in place snugly, so they aren’t moving around or finding their way out of their straps, and won’t feel any pinching either.

  • Easy Installation

Some car seats require a base for you to be able to connect the seat to the car, which not only means that you have to spend a little more money, but you also need to think about how you will install the actual seat.

This Nautilus doesn’t require a base with this seat, which means that you only have to secure it in your car for your child to begin using it.

  • Grows with Your Baby

You don’t want to have to continually buy car seats to match your child’s weight and age. That’s why you’ll love the original Nautilus 65. It will work both as a car seat for your infant, but will continue to work even when your baby gets into the toddler stage.

You can even use the three-position recline to make sure that your child is comfortable regardless of their height or weight, and can continue to use this seat up until your child is about 8 years old.

Graco Nautilus 65 Disadvantages

  • Too Snug

You want your child to be safe and held nicely in the car seat, but the problem with this car seat is that it might be just a little too tight.

You don’t have as much wiggle room in this car seat, which may be annoying as your child grows. Depending on their size, you might find that the straps no longer fit them, even if they haven’t necessarily outgrown the seat itself.

  • It’s Large

You’ll expect a lot of car seats to be large, but this one really does stand out because of its size. You’re still able to fit another child in the car with this seat there, but if you have multiple kids, you might want something just a little bit smaller to make your ride go more smoothly.

  • Cleaning

The biggest difficulty of the original 65 is the fact that it’s not very easy to clean, and with a toddler or a baby, you know that you’ll definitely need to do some cleaning.

It’s hard to clean out that foam, and the cupholder doesn’t even come out of the car seat for you to wash it easily. You might struggle with getting this seat as clean as you would prefer.

Graco Nautilus 65 LX Advantages

  • Supports More Weight

While the original 65 can already support a child from 6-8 years, the 65 LX can support about twenty more pounds than the original. This means that you can continue to use it for your child for longer, or if your child happens to grow faster or taller compared to other children.

  • 3-in-1 Booster

The thing that makes the LX truly unique is that this car seat has three stages to it. Use it as a harness booster when your child is 20 to 65 pounds, and switch it to a high back booster when they’re between 30 and 100 pounds.

You can then transition it to a backless booster to support them up to 120 pounds. Since you can transition it, this means that over time, it will take up less space too.

  • Safety Measures

Yes, both of these car seats have safety measures, but you’ll appreciate all the safety in the 65 LX. It’s made with steel pieces, which means that it’s durable and strong and will not crumple under pressure.

It also has a 5-point safety harness and EPS foam that will help absorb impact if there does happen to be a collision. This seat actually has two times more capability to survive a crash than the average seat out there.

Graco Nautilus 65 LX Disadvantages

  • Weight

Since this car seat is made with metal parts, it means that it clocks in at just a little over 20 pounds. You might not want to be taking this car seat out of the car at all, which can be problematic if you plan on moving the seat from car to car.

  • Price

Since the 65 LX is a newer model of the original 65, it does cost more money. If you don’t plan on using the car seat past 100 pounds for your child, or if you don’t anticipate needing it, it doesn’t make sense for you to pay the extra money for only a few extra features.

  • Latching System

You have some good straps to ensure that your child stays safe in this booster system, but the issue with the latching system is that it can get a little tight around your child as they grow, and it can become difficult to use before you convert your seat to a booster.

Also Read: Chicco Nextfit vs Britax Marathon Comparison

What’s the Difference Between Them?

Both of these car seats have similar safety features and accessories for easy and extended use after your little one is at the toddler stage.

Their abilities to change and grow with your child as they grow is one thing that makes them extremely valuable to parents, as it helps to cut down on having to buy a different car seat every few years- which gets expensive in the long run as your children grow up.

Both car seats look alike with the same structure and shape. They both have the nifty little cup holder for sippy cups and bottles, and plenty of padding to keep your little one comfortable and safe during car trips with adjustable harnesses and straps for the perfect fit. But there are some key features that are different between them.

All Graco car seats undergo testing to ensure they meet or exceed safety standards in collisions. These Graco car seats exceed testing requirements for safety with the EPS energy absorbing foam and steel reinforced frame, making them more durable, safer and stronger than most other car seats on the market today.

Below is a comparison of some important differences between the Graco Nautilus 65 and the Nautilus 65 XL to help you choose which is the right car seat for you and your family.

Also Read: Chicco Nextfit vs Nextfit Zip Comparison

Booster Weight Limits

While both have similar design and features, the Graco Nautilus 65 XL and Nautilus 65 have varying weight limits in comparison to one another. The Nautilus 65 XL accommodates for children in the backless booster seat of up to 120lbs, this is 20lbs more than the Nautilus 65 model.

The Graco Nautilus 65 & XL both have beefier frames, utilizing stainless steel within the structure’s joints and weaker points.

While this does increase the weight of the car seats compared to other brands and models, it also makes them safer and increases how much weight it can withstand versus other car seats.

Kids grow up fast, and having a car seat that will last you the 6 year lifespan of the seat, and while being usable the entire time, is prudent and practical.

Verdict: The Graco Nautilus 65 XL gains this victory, as the increased weight limit enables you to utilize this car seat for longer as your child grows, and saves you from having to buy a new booster seat sooner.

This increased weight capacity could save you from buying a new booster seat for another year or more.

Harnesses & Strap Storage

There’s nothing more annoying than dealing with a persistent and pesky harness strap that just won’t stay out of the way when trying to get a very cranky 1-year-old out of the hot car.

The Nautilus 65 XL has a nifty harness storage to make getting your child in and out of the car seat faster, safer, and less of a struggle. While this may not be a priority for some, it is definitely a bonus feature to have when you need it.

By keeping the straps and harnesses out of the way it makes getting your little one in and out of the seat safer overall- it keeps them from getting pinched by or sitting on the buckles.This feature is not included in the base model Nautilus 65 though, and is exclusive to the XL version.

Verdict: The Graco Nautilus 65 XL wins again. While it may not be a necessity in a car seat, it does come in handy when in a rush and struggling with full arms and a squirmy kid.

Price

Both these car seats have near identical features, with a few differences though. Pricing between the two is one of them that most parents may recoil at when comparing features to costs.

While the Graco Nautilus 65 is slightly less expensive, it does have the lower booster seat weight limit where the XL version has more. This feature alone is worth the additional cost to go with the XL version, as it gives you a few more years to work with it and get the most for your money.

Verdict: We have to give this one to the Graco Nautilus 65 XL. Even though it is more expensive, the benefit you get from the extra 20lb weight capacity is worth the money, as it will keep you from having to buy a new booster seat sooner.

Steel Reinforcements

One thing these car seats have that others don’t is steel reinforcement in the weaker joints of the structure rather than just consisting of only plastic.

The steel adds a whole nother layer of stability and strength that other car seats just don’t have with only thick plastic frames. With the added steel, comes some added weight though. But considering how much safer it makes the seat for your child, it’s worth it.

As mentioned earlier, both seats have EPS energy absorbing foam padding for an extra layer of protection for your kiddos, and make the seat more comfortable overall. The steel frames add to the structural integrity of the seats, making them more resistant to side impacts during collisions.

Verdict: For this round, it’s a tie! Both car seats feature the reinforced frames, giving maximum protection and stability in collisions and keeping your little one safer. The EPS foam aids in preventing injuries by absorbing the energy displaced from impacts during collisions.

Conclusion

Ultimately, it just makes sense to purchase the Nautilus 65 LX. For only a little more, you can support your child up to 20 pounds more and have pretty much the same features that you have with the original version. Both are good seats, but you can have a seat that you can use for longer with the 65 LX.

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