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Britax Frontier vs Graco Nautilus

My son has been in a Britax Marathon for about 2 years now and we have been really happy with it. Now we are planning to move my daughter (14mos) into the Marathon and we need to get another seat for my son who turned 3 in march. I think I've narrowed it down to the Britax Frontier and the Graco Nautilus. We drive a Toyota Sienna with captain's seats. Would love to hear feedback from anyone who has used/is using either of the seats, pros/cons etc. Or if there is another brand or style that someone loves I'd love to hear that too.


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I think there's already been a lot of great advice shared here, but I do want to add some perspective to the mom who compared the difference between a Britax and a Graco to the difference between Banana Republic and Old Navy.

It is certainly true that every car seat must pass a specific set of tests, but Britax is really an amazing company. They put their car seats through an incredible number of tests above and beyond what the government mandates. The thought, research and engineering that goes into their seats is really remarkable, and they are undoubtedly worth the extra money, if you have it to spend.

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My daughter turned 3 in April and we've been using the Frontier for about 6 months now and love it!!!! It may be more expensive but we feel that you can't put a price on the safety of your kids! As the other mom wrote, if you read the instructions you won't have trouble with the installation.

We LOVE our Nautilus. My DD is so comfortable in it, it's easy to adjust and it will last a long time. I won't buy anything else when we our next DD needs a bigger one, that's for sure! Save your money and get the Nautilus!

Oh and I recently saw it on diapers.com for a little less than stores, so check there (it's free shipping, too.

I have the Graco Nautilus and my son loves it!! I love that it will be the last car seat he will ever need! It was pretty easy to install, but I guess it depends on the car you have! It has a cup holder with works good with my son's juice cup and two hidden cubbies in the arms perfect for small toys and pacifiers!! My son has taken three long car rides in it and was able to take naps comfortably! Plus it is cheaper than the Frontier (which I also considered) and has gotten better reviews!!! I hope this helps!!!

We have the Frontier and we love it. The main benefit is the side impact protection while still being narrow enough to fit in a regular sedan. It's easy to install too. Since size of the carseat isn't a concern for you, though, I'd defintely give the Graco consideration. The Britax really is extremely expensive, and I have heard good things about the Graco too.

We had a very similar situation with my kids -- had a Marathon, moved my daughter into it, and got the Graco Nautilus for my son. The Nautilus is very cushy, and my son loves it. It seems even cushier than our Britax Marathon seat. It has a cup holder, which he really likes, and the straps adjust just as easily as a Britax. It's also easy to install -- the main difference is that it doesn't have the seatbelt type buckle (with the pushbutton to release the clasp) to attach to LATCH hooks that our Britax did, but as we rarely take it in and out of the car, it's really not a big deal.

I'm a Child Passenger Safety Technician and I have used both these seats.

Firstly, they're both wonderful, and I would recommend either of them without reservation. That being said, they both have their little lists of pros and cons.

The Nautilus has a 65 lb limit on the harness while the Frontier has an 80 lb limit. However, they have identical top harness heights. Both seats will be outgrown before most kids reach 60 pounds, because a seat is outgrown by height when the shoulders reach the top harness position.

The Nautilus has a 6 year expiration as a harnessed seat and a high back seat, and the backless booster portion has a 9 year expiration.

The Frontier has a 9 year expiration overall, and does not convert to a backless booster, however, as a high back booster it adjusts higher than any other booster on the market today, and will fit most adult women comfortably.

The Frontier is LATCHable in booster mode, the Nautilus is currently not (although Graco has flipflopped on this a few times).

The Nautilus has a wonderful cupholder, and the Frontier's cupholder is middling.

The Nautilus has four harness positions and the Frontier has nine, this means the Frontier will get you a more precise harness fit more of the time than the Nautilus.

The Nautilus is EXTREMELY easy to install in almost all vehicles, and the Frontier has some definitely installation quirks.

The Nautilus requires 100% of the base to be on the vehicle seat, and the Frontier requires only 80%, so the Nautilus isn't a good fit for pickups with small back seats.

Now that you are moving your 14 month old to the Marathon, remember that she should still be rearfacing. We don't recommend forward facing at 1 and 20 anymore. Most kids should fit rearfacing till around 3 to 4 years depending on size.

Also remember that if you bought the Marathon when your son was a baby, it will expire in three years or so. :)

Hi R.,

We love our Frontier -- some of the online reviews complain (quite bitterly!) about trouble with installation but those people have not read the directions -- all you have to do is make sure the recline block (a big piece of plastic on the bottom of the seat) is forward for using it as a carseat -- once you use it as a booster you move the recline block to the back. You'll know what I'm talking about when you see the seat, but I wanted to tell you about it now because the reviews almost stopped me from buying what is a great seat!

We have the Britax Frontier in my Honda CR-V and it works very well. It is fairly large, though! We got it for my three year old son (after he outgrew the Britax roundabout).

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