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Hands-on Gear Review
Graco SnugRider Elite Review
Price: $100 List | $75.99 from Amazon - 24% Off
Pros: Light, easy fold
Cons: Poor car seat attachment, maneuverability
Bottom line: Harder than average attachment with Graco seats
The Graco SnugRider Elite strolls in the middle of the pack with a performance that failed to impress. While it scored above average in the review, it wasn't really a stand out in any metric, and we frankly expected more from a Graco-brand frame stroller that only woks with Graco car seats. It offers a hard to use storage bin, shallow cup holders that present a potential safety concern, and car seat attachment that requires more effort than it probably should for a product specifically designed with its own car seats in mind. Overall, this Graco product has limitations including Graco only compatibility, poor maneuverability, and low scores for ease of use and quality. We feel even if you already own a Graco car seat, you would be better off with another stroller and Graco adapter.
RELATED: Our complete review of stroller and car seat combos
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Graco SnugRider Elite is a dedicated frame stroller that works with any Graco Classic or Click connect infant car seats. It features a one hand standing fold, all wheels suspension, and a storage bin with zippered pocket. This product is one of the lightest in the group and is very easy to setup. It offers an adjustable height handlebar that rotates on a pivot and a parent console with two cup holders.
We had high expectations for the Snugrider, knowing that Graco created this product to be custom-tailored for use with Graco's own brand of popular car seats. But, as you'll read below, we came away from our testing disappointed.
Ease of Attaching Car Seat
For a product specifically designed for its own brand of car seat you'd think attaching a Graco seat to the Graco SnugRider would be easier. The SnugRider earned a 6 of 10 score for ease of car seat attachment, which is the average for the group, and 4 points below the high score of 10 earned by both Bugaboo strollers that require adapters for every car seat they work with. The low for the metric is a 1 for the BOB Revolution Flex Combo thanks to its 2 step attachment process that includes restraint straps that parents might forget or choose not to use, leaving baby open to potential injuries.
Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 and the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35. Both seats should just click into place when you put the carrier onto the frame and apply a little pressure. We had similar problems with both of them appearing to be properly latched in place, but not really being fully connected when we tugged on the handle. The back portion fo the carriers install easily and could leave parents thinking it is secure, but in our tests for both models we had to apply more pressure to the foot portion of the carrier to get the bottom latched in place. Even when we heard the audible click, it wasn't always truly attached so we recommend parents give the carrier handle a good tug to determine how well they have done their installation job.
Weight and Folded Size
UPPAbaby Cruz Combo earned top honors for lightest standard size stroller with a weight of 14.3 pounds, which is only a pound over the Graco's 13.3.
The SnugRide measures about 6,473 cubic inches when folded. Only the Britax B-Agile 3 Combo is smaller at 6,414 cubic inches, but you did a few more perks given it is a full size stroller not a bare bones frame product. The largest in the group is once again the Revolution at over 15,000 cubic inches. And while the Cruz is lighter, it is about 2,000 cubic inches bigger than the Graco.
Chicco Keyfit Caddy, the Caddy is easier to manage overall. Unfolding the Graco is also pretty easy with 2 steps and no bending required; it earned the highest score in the group for the unfolding process.
Commuting with the SnugRider isn't too bad thanks in part to its smaller size and easy lifting weight. Getting this product into and out of car trunks is easier than most, and finding a place to put it on a bus or subway is also easy. It does conform to the 2x4 rule on some transportation so you may not need to fold it, but if you do the whole thing self-stands which means you may not have to hold on to it while managing baby and a diaper bag. It is also pretty good in tight spaces with a smaller overall length than some of the competition and with the handlebar pivoted up it can stay out of the aisle should you stop at a table for a snack.
Chicco Bravo LE Combo another plastic wheeled stroller with dual front wheel design that causes the stroller to veer off course when they get snagged on small rocks and baseboards.
The Graco is similar in handling to the Chicco Caddy, with significant enough flex in the frame to often lift the front wheels off the ground when pushing. This product negotiates hard flat surfaces fairly well and can turn in tight space or make it through narrow doorways without too much trouble. It is okay once you push off road, but turning is a chore and not something we recommend parents bother with for very far. It has trouble on curbs and stairs too, and while the brakes don't get locked up, they do drag and catch when you aren't expecting it, causing the stroller to tilt forward when you aren't ready.
Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Combo, while the low is 5 for the Chicco Liteway Plus Combo. The Graco had a lot of company tying with 8 other strollers in this review.
The SnugRider has double action brakes that require the user to push two pedals to fully park the stroller. Of course if you can push one you can push two, but our concern is parents might get distracted and forget the second brake or take the lazy route and choose not to engage it on purpose falsely thinking it isn't entirely necessary. This makes the double action brakes lower in our book than single action options that fully engage the brakes on both sides with only one pedal. The brakes are easy enough to set and average to release. The pedals are sandal foot friendly, but we still wish we only had to lift one as opposed to two. The sliding resistance of the brakes on an angle is poor and there is 0.75 inches of play in the brakes once set.
The SnugRider tipped to the side at 20.5 degrees. This is better than some of the competition and even a little steeper than the average for the group, but not as steep as we'd like to see. Parent should avoid taking the SnugRider on hills or any environment where it might be tilted off kilter. For back tipping weight the Graco tips with the lowest amount of weight hanging from the handlebar with only 18 pounds required to topple it backwards. The average weight for the group is closer to 30 pounds, with a high over 56 pounds for the Britax.
Ease of Use
Chicco Liteway Plus Combo in ease of use with a score of 3. The high for the metric is 7 for the Chicco Bravo LE Combo, with most products coming in closer to 5. It is a tough category for a product that by design is lacking some of the key features and performance this metric looks for.
The storage bin on the Graco is fairly large, but thanks to poor access we were only able to fit our medium size diaper bag inside. It offers access to the bin from the front and back, but either are that great once you place the carrier on board. It does have a 10 pound weight limit, but we suspect you will have to place items in the bin one at a time rather than inside a bag. This could make grabbing items on the go easier, but it could be the worst possible option if you need to fold the stroller to take the bus and are left with random articles to hold in addition to the stroller and car seat with baby. It does have a zippered pocket in the storage bin which is sort of cool for carrying keys, phones, and wallets without fear of them falling out or being swiped by a slick passerby.
The SnugRider does not have a canopy. Because this frame stroller is built for infant car seat attachment, which sport their own sun shades, it keeps a lighter weight by forgoing the addition of what would be a second canopy. While a second canopy would certainly offer more protection and coverage, it isn't truly a necessity and often we found it mucked up the attachment for some other seats and strollers.
This stroller also offers a parent console with dual cup holders. The cup holders are too shallow to bother putting cup in for fear they will topple out and onto baby, and the space between them won't hold much either. It will accept 2 pounds worth of goods which increases the overall storage to 12 pounds, but we aren't certain what you'd put in the console to being with. While the holder are compatible with the bottles, sippy cups, and water bottles we used in our tests, several items also fell out while strolling landing inside the infant carrier where baby would normally be sleeping.
This dedicated frame product has no other conveniences for parents or passenger. This hurts its score for this metric, but is common for this kind of product and likely shouldn't influence whether or not you buy this stroller but rather whether or not a frame product fits your needs.
The fabric used on the basket feels flimsy and collects dirt easily. The mesh sides are nice to see the good inside, but the mesh also feels cheap and we wonder how long it will be before it snags or rips open. The fabric does not lay nicely and has the appearance of laundry that sat in the hamper for a while and came out looking disheveled.
The wheels on this stroller are foam filled plastic. They are larger than those found on the other frame products in this review and they feel dense and sturdy. The wheels spin freely with little resistance and no visible wobble. The larger size looks more substantial and eludes to better maneuverability even if it doesn't deliver. It does have all wheel suspension that when couple with the larger wheels and flexing frame potentially offer a more comfortable ride for baby, so they don't feel every bump and crack on the path.
This product is hand wash only and has a 1 year warranty.
Ease of Setup
If you already own or receive a Graco car seat as a gift and you want a simple frame product to transport baby in their car seat then the SnugRider might be a good option for you. It is budget friendly with a list price of $100, and it did manage to come in 7th out of 15 products in this review. However, it might be worth keeping in mind that some of the higher ranking or more versatile strollers in this review can work with a Graco car seat using an adapter, including the award winning B-Agile and both BOB products which may have scored lower but are easier to push and use than the Graco.
With a list price of $100 the Graco may feel like a good value. After all it has a storage bin, zippered pocket, suspension, and a parent console. Unfortunately, it also doesn't score that well for car seat attachment with its own brand seats and given that this is what it is made for that is sort of a disappointment that makes it feel worth less than the list price. If given a choice we think the Chicco Caddy (same list price) and even the B-Agile ($150 more) are better values than this product. The Caddy has a second place score and works well with its native car seat, while the B-Agile earned higher marks than the Graco in every metric save for weight and folded size.
— BabyGearLab Review Team
Most recent user review: June 19, 2016
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