Choosing the Booster of Your Dreams: Graco Nautilus vs Tranzitions

With the variety of Graco booster seats on the market, parents often have a tough time deciding between popular models! I was in your skin once, debating between the Graco Nautilus vs Tranzitions booster car seat.

Kids are growing up fast, and before you know it, it's time for a booster! But, do you go for the slightly expensive high-quality highback booster seat, or do you choose the one that can go backless too?

Whether you consider my choice or not, your ultimate decision will fall on budget and preferences.

In this case, we need to compare these two booster seats in categories such as performance, safety, comfort, and user-friendly design!

Let's see which one will take the crown!


General Specifications

graco tranzitions vs atlas vs nautilus


Graco Tranzitions

Graco Nautilus 65

Weight Limit

40-100 pounds

40-120 pounds

Weight of the Item

12.5 pounds

20.5 pounds


19 x 17.4 x 26.5 inches

18 x 20 x 28 inches

Modes of Use

Forward-facing harness, high back booster car seat, backless booster

Forward-facing harness, high back booster car seat, backless booster mode

Recline Positions



1. Safety features

Just like with any other car seat, safety is a top priority. It does not matter if your booster is user-friendly when it does not deliver the best safety system for your child.

As always, Graco brings only the best for their models. In this case, Graco Nautilus and Graco Tranzitions are relatively similar at first look.

However, once I dug deeper, I discovered they could not be any more different from one another! For instance, here is what you will be getting with Graco Nautilus 65 regarding safety.

Starting with the steel-reinforced frame that offers stability and durability in the long run. It does have one flaw, making the booster car seat slightly heavier than its competitor. But, then again, we can't put weight on safety!

The entire harness booster car seat is lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam, ensuring you get absolute protection during every ride. In addition, this safe car seat you won't have to worry about, as it is rigorously crash tested and passes all Federal Safety Standards.

On the other hand, the Graco Tranzitions lack plenty in the safety department. Don't get me wrong, this is still a very safe car seat, but it sure does lack quiet compared to the other car seat.

It's not built with a steel-reinforced frame, so it can be wobbly if not appropriately installed with lower anchors. Additionally, it does not have EPS energy-absorbing foam, but don't let this concern you.

Both car seats have passed safety standards and have been rigorously crash tested; a few differences in features won't make a big deal.

2. Adjusting the convertible car seat to child's growth

As youth grows, you must get combination seats that easily adjust to their measurements. Luckily, the Graco Tranzitions vs Nautilus offers a great set of adjustable settings you can easily switch between.

The Graco Tranzitions offers the Safe Adjust harness system and a no-rethread five-point harness. This type of system is my favorite one for Graco products! It allows you to make harness adjustments by removing the manual rethreading part.

After so, the Safe Adjust harness system can adjust the harness and the headrest simultaneously, offering full-body support! In addition, the harness is washable, and you can maintain it with mild soap and cold water washes. The same goes for the machine-washable seat pad!

Additionally, the weight limits are fantastic with Graco Tranzitions, allowing you to use it as a backless booster later on!

However, the Graco Tranzitions have one big flaw regarding comfort and adjustability. There are no recline positions available!

The Graco Nautilus 65 boasts four recline positions you can easily switch between and reach the perfect fit. This combination seat sure does take the win when offering a growing fit.

3. Installation process

Is there anything worse than investing your budget in a harness booster car seat that won't cooperate with installation?

Don't worry; these Graco car seats install with ease, and you don't need to be a scientist to figure out the entire process.

You must have heard of the Snug Lock system that Graco is proud of! Well, Graco Nautilus 65 does have it!

All you should do for this installation is remove the back cover of the harness booster car seat and open the SnugTight door. Then, thread the belt or the latch system through the door and close the compartment tightly.

Graco Tranzitions installs similarly, offering you the chance to install it with a LATCH system or the belt. Nonetheless, this harness booster car seat includes open-loop belt guides that help with the proper positions of the belt.

So, who is the winner in this section?

I have to opt for the Graco Nautilus. However, the SnugLock system is one of the best installation systems on the market, and if you are a first-time parent, you will love how easy it is to adjust.

4. Care & maintenance

How do you take care of a new car seat? Graco ensures parents experience no tough time when it comes to maintenance!

Let's face it, kids are messy eaters, and as soon as you get in the car, they will ask for their snacks. So, inevitably, they will get the car seat dirty.

Luckily, both of the car seats have washable harness straps, as well as a machine-washable seat pad. The harness covers and straps can be maintained with cold water washes and spot cleaning, which can get those stains right out!

Graco Tranzitions also has two removable cup holders that are easy to clean at all times!

Since we are on the topic of cup holders, you should know that the Graco Nautilus harness booster car seat offers only one cup holder for your kid's favorite beverage.

If you tend to adjust the seat frequently, you will get a hold of removing the fabric. It's straightforward, but it does take some practice!

5. Graco Tranzitions vs Nautilus: Small vehicle battle

What do you do if you have a small vehicle and need to install more than one car seat in the back? Are the Graco Nautilus 65 and Graco Tranzitions still a good match for you?

You can check Graco Nautilus right off your list if you have a small car. The reclines are a nice feature, but what good are they if you can't use them in a small car.

The forward-facing seat is rather bulky and heavy, not to mention wide, due to the eps energy-absorbing foam and steel-reinforced frame. I'm not saying it won't be possible, but it's a challenge fitting in a small car's Graco Nautilus harness booster car seat.

On the other hand, the Graco Tranzitions harness booster car seat is a perfect fit for a small vehicle! It's lightweight and slim, allowing you to install it in the back with another by its side.

Whether in the harness mode or the backless booster mode, the Graco Tranzitions take minimal space! Plus, it's easy to carry it from vehicle to vehicle if you travel often.

6. What you won't like?

graco tranzitions vs nautilus 65

Source: Amazon

a. Graco Nautilus 65 disadvantages

First off, the Graco Nautilus 65 is heavy due to the steel-reinforced frame and is wide for a small vehicle. If you want to carpool or even travel by a harness booster car seat, it's not a perfect car seat.

Additionally, the crotch strap in the harness system is challenging to adjust at times. Plus, it offers only one cup holder, while other car seats offer two at the same price range and quality!

b. Graco Tranzitions disadvantages

The Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster is a car seat you will love! However, it does have its set of flaws! For instance, it has a built-in harness system but does not have storage for harness covers and straps.

They can get in the way while your child enters the seat, and they can be tricky to find when you are in a hurry.

Additionally, the lack of EPS energy-absorbing foam and steel-reinforced frame makes a few parents question the safety of the 3-in-1 harness booster. But, considering the booster passes all the safety standards, there is nothing you should worry about.

This is a minor flaw, but acknowledging Graco's reputation it's something they should work on. In addition, the 3-in-1 harness booster does not feature a push-in latch system but uses a clip-style anchor.

Call me old-fashioned, but times have changed, and Graco needs to step up its game on this one!


What is the difference between Graco Tranzitions and SnugLock?

Graco Tranzitions is a highback booster seat, while the SnugLock is a feature in many of the Graco car seats, especially the rear-facing infant ones.

The SnugLock system allows you to achieve a safe and secure installation by using a latch system or the vehicle seat belt. With the locking clip, you can lock off the seat belt without worrying about the car seat wobbling or sliding away.

Is Graco Tranzitions same as Graco Wayz?

In more than one way, the Graco Tranzitions are practically the same as the Graco Wayz. These two booster seats are incredibly similar; the only difference is where you can purchase them.

Graco Transitions can be purchased practically anywhere, while the Graco Wayz is available only in Walmart. Additionally, the Wayz booster seat is cheaper and poorly designed fabric quality.

Is Graco Tranzitions steel frame?

No, the Graco Tranzitions does not have a steel-reinforced frame design. However, the overall built quality of this booster seat is impressive. TIn addition, the highback booster car seat offers side impact protection and a 5-point harness that will keep your child protected.

Although most parents consider the lack of EPS energy-absorbing foam a downfall, the Graco Tranzitions still pass all the Federal Safety Standards.

Is Graco Tranzitions FAA approved?

Yes, the Graco Tranzitions is FAA approved as long as it is used with the harness mode! Unfortunately, like most booster seats that are not FAA approved, you cannot use the Tranzitions once your kiddo passes the 65-pound harness weight limit.

However, it serves as a fantastic travel buddy that quickly transforms into a highback booster and a backless booster once you get off the plane.

Nautilus 65 vs Graco Tranzitions: What safety features does it have?

graco tranzitions vs graco nautilus

Source: Amazon

The Nautilus 65 booster seat offers a steel-reinforced frame that makes the car seat much heavier but also safer. In addition, it includes a well-known ProtectPlus program that keeps your child safe in a rollover, side, front and rear accidents.

The 5-point harness mechanism can be found in both boosters.

Graco Nautilus 65 vs Graco Tranzitions: Which one is the most comfortable one?

You need to consider a few factors when choosing comfort between the Graco Nautilus vs Tranzitions harness booster car seat.

For starters, the Graco Nautilus car seat offers four recline positions, while the Tranzitions does not have any recline positions available! The headrests are adjustable on both car seats so that you won't have a tough choice here.

Also, the Graco Nautilus 65 includes one cup holder, while the Tranzitons has two cup holders your kiddo can enjoy.

The Graco Nautilus 65 is a more comfortable car seat, especially for long rides.

Tranzitions vs Nautilus 65: Which is the easiest to install?

Both Graco Tranzitions and Graco Nautilus 65 are similar in installation. The Tranzitions car seat supports both the latch system and the vehicle seat belt, while you have to remember not to skip on the seat belt once your kid reaches 45 pounds.

The Graco Nautilus 65 works differently and uses a far more popular method. All you must do is thread the seat belt through the SnugTight door, which is located on the back shell of the seat.

Run the car's seat belt through and close the compartment door. It's as easy as that; in this case, Graco Nautilus 65 is better installed.

How long is Graco Nautilus good for?

Like all car seats and booster car seats, the Graco Nautilus 65 has been good for around ten years. So make sure you frequently check the expiration date, especially if you got a hand-me-down car seat.

After the expiration date, the Graco Nautilus 65 is no longer safe for use.

Does Graco Tranzitions have SnugLock?

Yes, the newer version of Graco Tranzitions uses a SnugLock for much easier installations!

To use the SnugLock on the Graco Tranzitions, you must open the compartment behind the car seat back. Then, thread the car's seat belt through the SnugLock door and push the car seat into the vehicle seat for a tight installation.

Close the compartment, and you have yourself a quick and easy installation.

Final Verdict

You have read all you need about Graco Nautilus vs Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster seats! I'm guessing you are wondering which one has taken the first place.

Isn't it obvious?

The Graco Nautilus is a much more upgraded version with advanced safety, comfort features, a Safe Adjust harness system, and an easy installation process.

If you have a few bucks to spare, I recommend you go for the Graco Nautilus. But, if budget is your concern, you cannot go wrong with Graco Tranzitions!

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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