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Guest Review: Graco Nautilus Elite Follow-Up

So, I’ve been itching for a new seat. My husband, while noticing the various seats stashed around the house and garage- and forgetting that his truck was seat-less at that moment- challenged my desire. I was quick to remind him how nice it is to have extra seats when one of us unexpectedly takes the “other” car or a kid pees through two seats in one day- both of which had just happened that week.  I reminded him that all my seats were purchased at significant discounts.  Then, there is the issue that my Radian won’t go in the third row of my Mazda and the Recaro is about to expire. My reasoning was falling on deaf ears. I was worried he was contemplating about drugging me with Benadryl to cure the itch. Then, it came to me: the blog NEEDS a review. It would be a service to all mankind- or at least mommykind- to do a review. I added the ammunition that I haven’t bought a car seat in (drumroll please) three years. I reminded him of the new toys he’s gotten in the last three years. He smiled. He caved. I didn’t even have to get out the poochy lip.

So, the object of my desire- what is it? A $300+ seat that I had yet to lay eyes on? Nope, I wanted a Graco Nautilus.  See, it’s a seat that all my kids could use- though I won’t put my 18 month old in for a while yet it since he’s much safer rear-facing. My 3.5 year old can use it harnessed and my 7 year old can use it as a booster seat. It fits in any back seat in my car. It has the world’s coolest cubbies and cupholders.  The Nautilus Elite model I’m reviewing has an MSRP $229. You can get the standard model for $139- $179 or less depending on cover style and how much bargain hunting you are willing to do.  Darren’s First Look Review can be found here.

The Elite version has a few nice extras. It has lockoffs, which are great for anyone installing in an older vehicle without locking seatbelts or in a vehicle that may have problems with tipping or other rare but pesky problems.  It also has adjustable headwings that pivot in or out depending on your child’s head size and preferences. My daughter loves headwings that are cozy- but my son likes a more open seat- so it’s perfect. The Elite version comes in two cover choices: “Gabe” and “Monti,” which is shown in these photos. The height limits, weight limits, and dimensions of the seat are the same as the standard Nautilus.

Combi Coccoro Review: Small Cars and Three Across

Combi designed the Coccoro especially to fit in rear-facing and/or with multiple seats in smaller vehicles. It seems they did a good job. I was able to compare the Coccoro with the narrow Radian and the Britax Roundabout which has similar height and weight requirements and a comparable price.

Fit to child

The Coccoro is designed to fit babies 5-33 lbs rear-facing and 20-40 lbs forward-facing. It fit my 19.5” 8 lb infant very well with the infant padding (required until 15 lbs, allowed until 20). The infant padding is very substantial and changes the whole inside shape of the seat making it fit small babies very well–It actually fit better than some infant seats I have tried and the harness slots are plenty low. The Coccoro also fit my 30 lb toddler very well rear- and forward-facing. My 5 yr old, 45# and 44”, was only less than ½ in over the top slots even though she exceeds the height and weight requirements. It has more height for rear-facing than the Roundabout due to the deep seat, but takes up much less room when used reclined to 45°. I think it would get the average child to at least 30#s rear-facing and to the full 40#s forward-facing. The straps are very smooth and not twisty. The harness pads work even on a newborn, and the padding under the buckle is very nice and looks quite comfy. The seat has deep sides that would seem to provide great SIP without head wings. It has slightly less rear-facing leg room than a Roundabout because of the deep sides, but my toddler didn’t seem to care.

Lessons from a roadtrip

Over the holiday weekend we drove half-way across the country with three kids. Florida to Western MO, then all the way back two days later. Now, before I start getting sympathy letters, it wasn’t THAT bad all things considered. The infant was more tolerant of his car seat than I expected. The two year old loved the perpetual construction zones in Georgia that supplied never ending views of tractors, dump trucks, and other machinery. The 5 yr old got to talk the whole time, from the third row where we couldn’t quite understand what she was talking about.
 
What helped the trip go well? First, we rented a Mazda 5. The gas we saved mostly paid for our rental since Hertz gave us a good deal and called it “mid-sized.” Me being able to sit in the second row with the baby saved us many stops and was worth more than we paid. The two “big kids” got to sit in the back, but weren’t so packed in that they could reach each other easily like in our daily three-across set up. It was surprisingly comfortable for all of us and got decent gas mileage, although you’d think a 4 cylinder would get over 30 on the highway, but I think 29 was the best we got. I spent about 75% of my passenger time in the middle row next to the baby, and drove for about 3 hours each way while my husband got to play mom in the middle seat. I think he decided it was more relaxing to drive! It made us really want to buy one, but we just aren’t sure that there is enough room for a family with three kids. We didn’t have to take a pack and play, stroller, or other large baby gear. If we did I’m not sure it would have fit with both back seats in use. We have over a year to decide, but it’s in the running at least. The rest of the things that made the trip go well are pretty standard: DVD player, snacks like raisins, cheddar bunnies, and cheerios on yarn necklaces. Oh, and stops and Chick-fil-a play places are at the top of the list too.
 
The worst things about the trip? Georgia construction zones. I’m not joking when I say that it’s been in a constant state of construction for longer than we’ve lived here- over 7 years. I think it’s just so they can double the speeding fines for everyone driving to and from Florida. As a runner-up: the rain. Ever time I would drive it would pour down sheets of rain. I’m used to driving in the rain. I live in Florida. I just want to know why did it only seemed to happen with monsoon-intensity when *I* was driving? Pair that with a construction zone with no shoulder, cement barricades and 18-wheelers; It would make anyone want to pull over for a latte! Lastly, gas. No, not the PRICE of gas, natural gas courtesy of my dear husband. Never give your husband BBQ on a road trip… Lesson learned! 
 
Anyway, to all of you planning family road trips this summer, have fun, stay safe, and stay sane. Oh, you might want to stay away from BBQ places too!