UPDATE (summer 2016): the Argos has been discontinued by Graco, and replaced with an updated Nautilus that merges the best features of both! Check for it in stores!
Having loved and recommended the Graco Nautilus for many years for its high harness height and weight and its ability to transform into a high-back and then a backless booster, we were delighted when Graco sent us the newest child/booster seat in their line up: the Argos. The fashion currently available in Canada is Link, available for purchase from Amazon.ca, Babies R Us, and Sears Canada, retailing for $289.99.
Highlights: The Argos is a forward-facing only seat that later converts to a booster — important to note that it does not rear-face. The Argos’ grey cover is smooth and silky with an added accent of beige polka-dotted trim. It’s comfy and well-padded, more so than an older Nautilus in our collection. The memory foam is sure to make any child’s derriere happy! It comes with harness covers, a crotch buckle cover and an optional body support cushion that must be removed by 35lbs. We did find the crotch buckle cover slightly fussy as it has a minimal amount of velcro on it, and didn’t stay attached as a child was removed. The built in cup holder and cubbies are perfect for snacks and small, soft toys in the car. The smooth bottom of the seat plays nicely with upholstery, leather included.
The no-rethread harness is the most significant difference from the Nautilus, and what we are most excited about! From high to low in seconds – voila!
Height & Weight Limits:
- Harness mode: 22-65lbs, 27-49”, 1 year of age, capable of sitting up alone.
- High-back booster: 40-100lbs, 40-57”, age 4-10
- Backless booster: 40-120lbs, 40-57”, age 4-10
Seat Dimensions and Measurements:
- Highest Harness slot: 18.5”
- Lowest Harness slot: 14”
- Top Height of Booster Shoulder Belt Guide: 20”
- Crotch strap slots (2): 6”(inner) and 7”(outer)
- Internal seat depth: 13.5”
- Internal Side to Side seat width: 12”
- Back of seat height to top of handle: 34”
- Widest point across: 20”
- Useful life (expiry): ten years
- No-rethread harness (adjust harness height on the fly with a handle to squeeze and pull – great for use with multiple kids!)
- Harness covers to avoid irritation at the neck
- Comfy and padded
- Butter-smooth harness adjuster
- Cup holders (be careful of projectiles though – aim for soft things!)
- Hidden cubby that kids love UAS and/or tether may be used in high back booster mode (to prevent the seat from being a projectile when unoccupied; if not available in your seating location just re-buckle it instead)
Comparison to Nautilus: Comparing a new seat to a familiar stand-by seems to be our m.o. so here is the obligatory side by side with the Nauti (Nautilus is pink and brown, Argos is black and tan):
Harness Mode: While the Graco Argos is approved for use with a child of 1 year old and 22lbs we recommend keeping a child rear facing to the limits of their seat – as long as possible really, and the longer the better. The Argos is an excellent choice for children who are ready to forward face but don’t have the maturity to move to a booster seat full time. As you can see the fit is acceptable on this 16 month old child, but this photo was for demonstration purposes only and she will ride rear facing for years to come (by the look on her face we think she agrees…mom, what the heck?!).
This child is 4 years old and fit very well in the Argos. She loved the fabric and was especially enamoured by the cubby holes in the sides where she could stash her soft treasures (a perpetual favourite of children everywhere!). She said the seat was comfortable and she has lots of room left to grow in it.
The Argos still had another harness height to go with this 6.5 year old model. She now rides in a dedicated booster but thought the seat was comfortable and soft. She would most likely fit beyond age seven. A Nautilus was her primary seat for some time and she found the head rest comfortable for daily use; the Argos’s head rest is comparable and may, like the Nautilus, cause “head slump” for some when sleeping. The likelihood of this is very much child-dependent, and may or may not be a deal breaker for you. Child/booster seats are naturally quite upright compared to rear-facing seats — another reason to keep kids rear facing as long as possible. By the time they are an appropriate age to ride in the Argos most can learn to sleep with their head to the side.
At 7 ½ years old, this child rides full time in a booster now, but she agreed to try out the Argos in harnessed mode. She fit with plenty of room to grow, as this is only the second-to-last setting. However, while she is average height at 49” (and at the standing height limit for harness mode), she does have a shorter-than-average torso, so this is not typical. That said, the Argos definitely has a nice, long-lasting harness that should get most kids to a good booster age.
Installation of the Argos is a breeze with UAS or the seat belt. The UAS connectors are a basic hook style and easily connected in Laura’s Honda Odyssey and Hyundai Santa Fe. We do wish for the price they would have included some type of premium UAS connectors. However, UAS can only be used in this seat to a child weight of 42lbs, unless your vehicle places a lower child weight limit on use of lower anchors. Chances are excellent that a seat belt installation will be necessary sooner rather than later anyway. The UAS strap was easily tightened by lifting up the corner of the cover closest to the tightening mechanism while pulling the tail parallel to the webbing. Similarly pulling up the cover closest to the buckle while locking the belt made the installation quite easy. Lindsay even managed to get a good fit in her notoriously difficult third row of her older Kia Sedona with three full twists of the buckle stalk. Not many seats have worked for her there.
The Argos has three recline settings although the increments are small and don’t recline the seat a whole lot. It can help align the angle of the seat to the vehicle seat though for easier installation and it is worth experimenting with when installing.
The beauty of the Argos over the Nautilus is the no-rethread harness. It has 5 harness heights, the same as the harness slots of the Nautilus. We found it very easy to adjust the harness height of the seat while it was installed. It would be ideal for a situation where you had multiple children using a seat. You simply push in the red adjuster button on the top of the seat while pulling up. It is also handy for those sneaky growth spurts that children seem to have. Just loosen the harness a bit and pull up the adjuster to the next slot. No uninstalling and reinstalling to change harness heights. One of the nicest things about the seat is how smoothly the harness adjusts. It is easy and you could probably over tighten the harness without difficulty.
Booster Mode: Changing from harness to high-back booster seat was much easier than anticipated. The manual had very clear, concise instructions and took less than five minutes. The harness and the crotch buckle must be removed. The manual clearly states that while in booster mode the whole bottom of the seat must be on the vehicle seat (i.e. no overhang permitted) so definitely try this before committing to the Argos if you have a shallow back seat and intend to use it in booster mode eventually. Some truck models with extended cabs come to mind.
The seat must sit flush to the vehicle seat so if you have fixed forward-leaning head restraints it may not work in booster mode. We always recommend you try a seat before you buy if possible.
Like the Nautilus, the Argos can be used with UAS and/or tether while in high back booster mode. This is a convenience feature so don’t stress if your seating location does not have lower anchors – simply have your child re-buckle the booster when it’s unoccupied to prevent it from being a projectile. Also make sure that use of lower anchors does not interfere with adjacent seat belts, and that the vehicle’s lower anchors and seat belt align side to side.
The fit of the seat belt in booster mode can be hit or miss, but as far as the booster fit of child/boosters go it’s a decent bet. While it was acceptable for the 6.5 year old model shown here it might vary widely for children who are closer to the minimums for booster use. The fit will very much depend on the geometry of your particular car and seat belt and the size and shape of your child, as is the case with every booster seat. We want to see the lap belt down and low and touching the thighs, and not riding up on the belly.
Removing the back for use as a backless booster also was easy and quick. The belt fit of the 9 year old model below was quite good although it wasn’t a lightweight option compared to many backless booster options. While moving it from car to car isn’t a hard thing by any means it would be a heavy option for a child to tote around for carpooling or a play date. It does come with an optional seat belt clip to use to position the shoulder belt if needed to improve the fit.
Final Thoughts: The Graco Argos is an excellent addition to Canada’s options for child/booster seats. Its ease of installation and use make it one of our favourite seats to recommend. Its ease of adjusting the harness height is simple and would please many parents and caregivers. The harness is smooth and doesn’t twist easily. The fit and finish of the seat is very polished. It gets the majority of kids to a safe booster age and then converts to a high-back and then backless booster. The fit of the booster can be hit or miss with regards to the vehicle and child’s statistics. Hopefully in the future we will see some varied cover choices. Bottom line: two thumbs up. A great bonus of a no-rethread harness to a seat we have loved for a long time.
Prize Time! Huge thanks to Graco Canada for providing this seat for review – all opinions are our own. EXTRA huge thanks because they’re giving another one away to one of YOU! Yay! This contest is now closed! Congratulations to our winner. a Rafflecopter giveaway