Buying a stroller is a lot like buying a car. From the wheels to the suspension, the seat to the canopy, researching strollers can slowly begin to sap all of your free time. Fret not—we’ve researched, test-driven and folded over 30 models to choose our favorite stroller. Our original pick has been discontinued by the manufacturer—a poor decision in our opinion!—but it presented the opportunity to reassess the constantly shifting stroller landscape, and provide some new perspective on the category.
Having the right stroller makes getting around with your baby a breeze. Our stroller guide has seen many candidates fail; some never made it out of the starting gates. A stroller is something that most parents use daily, so it’s important to find one that fits your lifestyle and that is easy to use.
After our latest round of research and testing, we’ve chosen the UPPAbaby Cruz as our top choice. The Cruz has a lightweight frame, comes packed with many standard accessories and has an elevated seat that’s closer to the parent. The basket storage is big enough for even the largest diaper bags, and there’s even an add-on standing board, making your single a double for when you need to move about with about with your baby’s older siblings.
We added 12 models into our list of candidates for this round of testing. We brought in samples from 6 different companies and put them straight into the hands of parent testers, who spent several days going to the park, the grocery store and taking these strollers in and out of their cars. The features that mattered most to our testers were weight, ease of folding, and maneuverability. The Cruz received a facelift in 2015 that included larger wheels, which perform significantly better than their earlier counterparts. The all-wheel suspension, coupled with those new wheels, made it a clear selection.
Our candidates came from a variety of manufacturers, and ranged in price from as low as $100 up to over $1,000. We focused on travel-system-compatible, single-seat-only, non-jogging strollers, since we have specific suggestions for strollers in these specialized categories. (You can check them out: Best Jogging Stroller, Best Double Stroller, and Best Umbrella Stroller.)
Who Should Buy This?
Parents and caregivers who want to walk around with their baby have two main options for gear: a baby carrier or a stroller. For most parents, owning at least one stroller is a must. Strollers enable you and your baby to walk around together, without the impediment of carrying an infant seat for restaurant or other stops. (We also love carriers, but they are a more involved and physical solution.) With a stroller, you’ll be able to walk down the sidewalk or around the park while carrying a lot of extra gear.
What Makes A Good Stroller
Like picking the right car, a good stroller should have tires and a level of suspension that match your lifestyle. If you stick to sidewalks and shopping malls, smaller wheels will do just fine. If you’re at the park and on trails frequently, larger tires and a better suspension are a necessity. Plus, the smoother the ride, the happier the baby.
Moving up from the wheels, you’ll want to have a good amount of storage in your basket—optimally, pockets on the sides or back of the seat, as well. This gives you flexibility to have things close at hand, yet stowed away.
Next is the seat. You want a supportive seat that can be adjusted to be either upright or reclined, depending on what your baby is doing at any given moment. A lot of strollers also have seats that can be removed to face the parent, giving you a chance to bond and check-in on your child. A must-have feature in a full-size stroller is the ability to adapt to fit a car seat.
Most full-size or standard strollers are compatible with an infant car seat, whether it’s with an adapter or one that clicks right on top of the seat. We’ve created a handy Car Seat and Stroller Compatibility Guide so that you can more easily find out if two products work together. This combination—also called a travel system—is key, because many strollers cannot accommodate infants on their own. This can be because the seat is not flat enough, a lack of a reclined position, or not having enough support for smaller babies. Our pick fits infants from day one, thanks to a fully reclining seat, which offers excellent support for an infant as well as a growing toddler. Other good features to look for are a large canopy with sun protection, an easy-to-use harness and an adjustable handlebar that fits everyone who is going to push your stroller on a regular basis.
Lastly, the folding mechanism is extremely important. Not all folds are created equal, and what one person finds easy, you might struggle with. Testing this out by practicing folding and putting the stroller in and out of the car can really help you determine the best stroller for you. (We’ve done a lot of this work for you, of course, but practice makes perfect.)
Now getting all of the above does cost money, but you can get a perfectly adequate—and even pleasing-to-use—stroller for less than a couple of bills. A good stroller can go for as little as $150-$250, but you will get improved features and an overall better product if you spend more. Still, the returns diminish as you spend a lot more. Our research found that the $300 to $500 range is the sweet spot for the best combination of value and features. Here, you’ll have superior materials, compatibility and features when compared to the less expensive set.
When you exceed that price range, you will certainly get nice upgrades in the fabric, materials and—to a certain extent—the design, but you won’t necessarily gain anything that that is critical to performance. After that price point, you enter into the luxury market.
How We Tested
We asked two sets of parents and their babies to take our leading candidates out for several days, wherein they used a stroller like they normally would. Folding, unfolding, strolling, carrying etc. This gave them the opportunity to play with the harnesses and seats, and to compare functionality and features like the recline, car seat adaptability and suspension.
- Folded Dimensions: 37″ x 22.5″x 14″
- Weight: 21.5 pounds, Frame: 15 lbs
- Frame: Aluminum
- Suspension: All-wheel
- Restrictions (weight): Birth to 50 pounds
- Storage: Under seat basket, optional parent organizer
- Warranty: 3 years;
- Major Accessories: Cup Holder, Snack Tray, Car Seat Adapters, Travel Case and Infant Insert
After consulting with our testers, as well as our own research, we’re confident to say that the UPPAbaby Cruz is the best stroller on the market. It’s lightweight, it has a huge basket, and it folds compactly, evening standing on its own until you’re ready to use it again.
While ride and maneuverability are important, the ease of folding and weight of the stroller are what really counts. It doesn’t matter how easy your stroller pushes if you can’t get it out of your trunk. Our pick weighs 21.5 pounds, which is on the lighter side of standard strollers that fit a car seat. To make matters easier, the stroller stands when folded (so long as the handlebar is extended fully) so the fold/unfold process is much simpler than comparable options. Simply take the stroller from the car and place it on its end, then open the lock and grab the handlebar to open the frame. The best part of all of this is that the parent doesn’t have to suspend the stroller in mid-air, trying to stick a foot into the axle to kick it open or flinging it forwards in the hope that it will magically unfolds itself like a carpet. The weight is on the ground, and it stays there.
The seat must be facing forward when folding, or it can be taken off. For the months when you’re using a car seat or bassinet, those units come off anyways, leaving you with a much lighter frame. The frame weighs 15 lbs, similar or lighter than comparable car seat frames. 15 lbs ends up being about 75% of the actual stroller weight with the seat, this means that you can get some practice with a slightly lighter frame, before you need to carry the whole thing. Like we’ve said before, with parenting comes increased upper body strength.
Yes, the Cruz retails for $500. This price puts it in the upper middle-end of strollers, although that price includes a rain cover, bug net and bumper bar. Adding those accessories up, you’re getting almost $100 in extras that are not standard features on models from Baby Jogger, Chicco, Graco, Cybex, Quinny, etc.
It doesn’t matter if you’re strolling to the gym, the park, or around the mall; the Cruz works well on most surfaces. If you have particularly bad sidewalks, with lots of breaks and cracks, you may want to consider our recommendations for jogging strollers, as these will have air-filled tires.
For most parents, the Cruz will tackle terrain just fine. Parents and kids alike will also benefit from the elevated seating position. Your child gets a better view, and sits closer to you, and you don’t have to bend down to get them out when they need some attention.
WHO ELSE likes it?
At Baby List, the compliments include:
”I love how compact this stroller is. I am an urban mama who rarely drives and I really don’t feel guilty walking this stroller down a narrow sidewalk, in the grocery store, and most importantly on public transportation!”
I LOVE the large basket.”
“When we got out to a restaurant, we use the stroller as a high chair and it works perfectly.”
On Amazon, the Cruz has a rating of 4.7 for the latest model.
The Step up
Peg Perego Book Pop-Up
For those who want upgraded wheels, fabrics and a bassinet that comes as a standard option, the Peg Perego Book Pop-Up is a logical upgrade at $800. The Book Pop-Up is the flagship model of the Book Line, with large rubber-tread wheels, plush fabrics, and a stand-alone bassinet that can be removed so that the stroller can be used with its fully-reclining and reversible seat. All of this weighs a laudably light 23.7 pounds. The Pop-Up gives parents everything that our pick did, with just a bit more style and comfort. We liked the heavily padded handlebar and that the stroller folds inwards like a book. This locking-fold was very compact, just not quite as small or lightweight (or relatively budget-friendly) as our pick. One knock on the Pop-Up? A lack of compatible car seat options. The stroller fits the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 right out of the box, and fits any Maxi-Cosi, Cybex or Nuna seat with an adapter. This leaves out a large number of parents with Britax, Chicco, and Graco infant car seats.
When buying a car seat and stroller, there are certainly many options. It’s generally best to choose a stroller first, given that there are many of them, and then find a compatible infant car seat. We’ve compiled a car seat compatibility guide to help make this easier, and of course, reading our own infant car seat guide helps in choosing the best one for you.
The Step down
Cybex Agis M-Air 3
Most parents are familiar with the City Mini by Baby Jogger. It’s been imitated by several brands, but no one has ever improved upon the design while also undercutting them on price. Enter the new Cybex Agis M-Air3. Cybex was acquired by GoodBaby International in 2015, which prompted the development and release of their Gold Line of strollers. The Agis M3 was originally introduced at a retail price of $260, but recently they’ve dropped the price to $200. This new reduction undercuts the competition from Baby Jogger, Britax and even some Graco and Chicco strollers, while retaining a deep feature set and modern styling.
The Cybex Agis M3-Air has a telescoping handle, simple standing fold, reasonably sized and accessible basket, rubber wheels, all-wheel suspension and deep seat recline. Modern styling and a matte black frame round out the design, which looks pretty good for two c-notes! It is limited in terms of car seat compatibility, fitting only Cybex brand infant car seats, but there are four models to choose from, starting at $270 with the Aton. All this adds up to a travel system around $500, which isn’t bad in this day and age of strollers with taillights, designer collaborations and pneumatic folding systems.
We considered these numerous alternatives from manufacturers, but can’t recommend them.
- Baby Jogger City Mini GT ($350)—Yes it folds with one hand, but in doing so you’re transferring all of the weight onto that one hand. On top of that there’s limited basket access and a wider than average rear width, due to the three-wheel design
- Baby Jogger City Mini Zip ($250)—Three-step fold that while compact, leaves much of the frame exposed. Doesn’t tackle terrain well and works best as a travel or secondary stroller, not an everyday one.
- BabyRoues LeTour II ($500)—Bulky fold and cheap materials. Awkward design that folds to leave pointed hinges exposed, posing a threat to whatever else is in your trunk.
- Bob Motion ($225)—Heavier than similar offerings from Baby Jogger. Has limited car seat compatibility, and a short seat back.
- Britax B-Agile ($215)—Our original winner hasn’t kept up with the competition, and while it still sells well, there are so many alternatives that have better features and that hold up better over time.
- Bugaboo Cameleon 3 ($1,120)—Simply put, most parents aren’t willing to pay overall $1,000 for a stroller. Those who do will certainly enjoy the smooth ride and durability, but the two-part fold does take time, and expose the stroller’s handlebar to repeated meetings with the sidewalk.
- Bumbleride Indie 4 ($500)—Air-filled tires require maintenance and add weight to the frame.
- Chicco Bravo ($230)—Very little support on the seat. It sits low to the ground, making it harder to get babies in and out.
- Cybex Priam-Trekking ($990)—Very high handlebar didn’t fit our shorter testers. Complicated fold that doesn’t lock into place. Better alternatives such as the Bugaboo and Orbit at that price point.
- Graco Breaze ($120)—Two handle option limits mobility. Only fits specific Graco brand car seats. It’s also heavier than most umbrella strollers, making its placement awkward and with better alternatives on either side.
- Inglesina Trilogy ($550)—Umbrella fold takes multiple steps and requires a lot of work. The handlebar jiggles when bumps are hit, making the ride insecure and uncomposed.
- Mima Xari ($1,450)—While an interesting entrant into the market, it doesn’t succeed due to the heavy weight, and the “carrycot inside” design, wherein you always carry the bassinet inside of the seat, adding significant weight to the stroller
- Mountain Buggy Nano ($195)—Adapter is universal and doesn’t work well on most seats. The wheels don’t roll well on any surface, and the whole thing feels like it’s held together by a couple of screws. It’s on deep discount now, probably because a change is near.
- Mountain Buggy Swift ($400)—Pricey for what it is. A bare bones, non-jogging stroller that weighs more than it should based on its feature-set.
- Mutsy iGo ($580)—Short seat to footrest measurement. Heavy, bulky fold that requires several steps
- Nuna Mixx ($500)—Odd harness with 5-point breakaway. Hard to use with squirmy kids. Big tires take up space and won’t fit well when folded in small trunks
We want to point out that there are many other strollers out there and that our list consisted of single-seat strollers that were not considered joggers or umbrella strollers. All of our candidates fit into the standard or full-size stroller category, meaning that they fit a car seat and have a single stroller seat. We didn’t included any convertible (single to double) strollers, or joggers, because we have guides for those already.
Care, Use, Maintenance, and Repair
To keep your stroller running like new, follow these simple instructions:
- Clean the frame of any debris with a damp cloth and soapy water (nothing abrasive)
- If you’re dealing with a squeaky set of wheels, many companies recommend using a silicone based lubricant instead of oil, as the oil can attract more dust and small rock particles
- The seat fabric can be machine washed in cold water, but avoid putting the harness or hood in with it. These can be sponge cleaned by hand with a mild detergent.
Try to do all of the above quarterly, or sooner if it’s needed. It’s also very important to use your stroller properly. This involves following the guidelines set by the manufacturer, like minimum and maximum child size. For example, the UPPAbaby Cruz can fit a child starting at six months (or birth with a car seat or bassinet) up to 50 pounds.
For some more tips on safety we interviewed Dr. Mark Zonfrillo, a pediatric emergency physician and injury researcher at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. He emphasized the stroller’s ability to fit younger babies, saying “For these younger babies, the stroller must be able to recline, and must specifically be approved for your baby’s age. Similarly, parents should learn how to properly position their body and adapt to any recommendations made by the stroller company to avoid injury.”
Warranties do cover manufacturer defects and performance-related issues, but they won’t cover misuse, or problems that are the result of poor upkeep. The company gives registered customers three years of coverage, and they even do tune-up events at local stores.
What To Look Forward To
GB, the imprint that is responsible for Cybex and Evenflo has a few tricks up their sleeve. Their centerfold will be the Maris. The Maris will boast an elegant, high-fashion frame, with a matching seat and interior. Did we mention that it’s remarkably sleek? Look for this to hit shelves in early 2017, and to be priced in the $500-700 range.
The Baby Jogger City Tour was announced at the Spring 2016–a Yoyo-esque stroller that fold up into an uber-compact shape, while also having a supportive full-sized seat. The Tour is FAA certified for air travel and meets the new standards for carry-on luggage. This should hit stores come October, so stay tuned for the latest updates!
- Best Stroller Reviews, Consumer Reports, 2014
- Amazon.com Product Page Armadillo Flip, Amazon.com
- Have you Ever Seen an Armadillo Flip?, Project Nursery, 2015
- Dr. Mrk Zonfrillo, Interview, 8/3/15
- Best Stroller, Baby Center, 2015
- Coming Soon, Magic Beans
- On Greentom, Greentom
- Test Lab Tour, Mamas and Papas, 7/30/2014
- Kevin Poh, Stroller Parking @ Tokyo Disneyland, Flickr, April 10th, 2010, "Many attractions will not allow you to bring a stroller in, but there is always stroller parking available."
- Rory Reid, Skoda celebrates Octavia vRS with Mega-Man Pram, Recombu, 7/25/2013