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Hands-on Gear Review
UPPAbaby Cruz Combo Review
Price: $500 List | $499.99 from Amazon
Pros: Light, easy to fold, easy to attach car seat
Cons: Maneuverability, handle adjustment button
Bottom line: Attractive, works well, and is easy to use with a car seat
The UPPAbaby Cruz is a sleek stylish stroller that is easy to use and works well with a few different infant car seats. It has one of the largest storage capacities in the group with a maximum allowable weight of 25 pounds, and it has a very comfortable and easy to adjust handlebar. The Cruz is the lightest standard stroller in our review at 14.3 pounds, and this could be a big deal to new moms who are limited in how much they are able to lift after childbirth. We liked the Cruz best when paired with the UPPAbaby Mesa infant seat. This product earned a 3rd place rank in this review.
The UPPAbaby Cruz also earned an Editors' Choice award in our Best Baby Strollers review.
RELATED: Our complete review of stroller and car seat combos
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The UPPAbaby Cruz has an aluminum frame, rubber tires, a large capacity storage bin, and large canopy, that is rated SPF 50+. This stroller works with a variety of different brand car seats as well as its own UPPAbaby Mesa. The Cruz offers a telescoping adjustable handlebar, easy fold, lighter weight, and a fairly compact fold considering what it offers. This product has one of the heaviest weight capacities for the storage bin and the toddler seat and canopy are nice quality and look good on the frame.
Ease of Attaching Car Seat
The Cruz earned an 8 of 10 for ease of car seat attachment and tied with its big brother the UPPAbaby Vista Combo. This is a relatively high score with only 3 other products in the group offering easier attachment possibilities, including the top scoring Bugaboo Bee3 Combo and Bugaboo Cameleon 3 with perfect 10s. The low for the group is the BOB Revolution Flex Combo with a score of 1 and a 2 step installation process that includes restraint straps.
The Cruz is compatible with the UPPAbaby Mesa; Maxi-Cosi Mico, Mico NXT, Citi, Cabrio, and Cabrio Fix; the Nuna Pipa; Cybex Aton 2, Aton, and Aton Q; and the Chicco Keyfit 30 and Keyfit (not 30). We tested the Cruz with the Mesa and Keyfit 30 car seats.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 infant car seat that had some testers crying and deciding not to bother at all. The car seat clicks into place and we didn't have any instance of thinking it was installed when it wasn't. Releasing the Mesa is the easiest one in the group with a button on the handle where you want to squeeze and lift intuitively. The downside to this combination as it doesn't feel that stable once installed, and while we feel confident it isn't going to spontaneously fall off, it also feels somewhat precarious on its perch. This is one of the few strollers in the group that allows the car seat to be installed facing either direction.
Weight and Folded Size
Britax B-Agile 3 Combo and the Bugaboo Bee for weight and folded size. The high score is 9 shared by the frame products and the low is 3 for the hefty and large Revolution.
The Cruz has a relatively small fold measuring at about 8,000 cubic inches. This is smaller than the majority of standard size strollers in the group with the exception of the Britax (the smallest in the review) and the BOB Motion Combo (a small but heavy product). While all of the frame options are smaller when folded, if you want more features and higher performance it is difficult to choose a frame option based on size and weight alone while the Cruz and B-Agile have so much to offer in smaller and lighter packages.
The Cruz is only about average for ease of folding compared to some stiff competition that practically fold themselves. It requires 2 hands and significant bending at the waist, but it only has 2 steps and it automatically locks and self-stands once folded. The down side is there is no great place to hold onto to carry the Cruz, but it does roll when folded like rolling luggage so realistically you only have to lift it when storing it or putting in a car. You probably don't want to carry it for any long distance given the lack of good holding spot, but with any luck you won't have to. It would be nice if this option had a carry strap given how light it is. Unfolding the Cruz is easier than folding, but you will still need two hands and full bending at the waist to manage it. It might take a little practice to get the flow of this product, but once you get a few attempts under your belt it gets easier.
The Cruz earned a 7 for commuting, tying with the Britax and the Mountain Buggy Swift Combo. This is better than the majority of the competition with only 4 options scoring higher. Thanks to its smaller size and weight it is easier to transport and get into and out of a trunk space. The narrow width helps it maneuver and manage tight spots and crowded streets, while the high seat keeps baby above the table line in most cafes. It does conform to the 2x4 rule on some public transportation, but if you do need to fold it for some reason it can self-stand so you won't need to hold it. In addition, the large storage bin has space and the weight capacity for shopping bags and other treasures you may find while running errands.
Chicco Liteway Plus Combo and is only better than 4 other options we tested. The high for the metric is 9 for the Revolution that has a locking swivel front wheel with adjustable tracking and pneumatic rubber tires that make pushing a breeze. The low score for the group is 3 for the Chicco Bravo LE Combo, an option that proved hard to push and turn no matter what the terrain.
Stairs and curbs aren't too bad with this model, though the handlebar is easier to manage if you slid it in before you head off or up onto the curbs. You can find more details on how the Cruz moves with the toddler seat attached in our best stroller review on the Cruz if you still have questions or concerns.
This stroller has single action brakes that are easy to set and release, and sandal foot friendly. We like that the pedal is big and easy to reach, even with the seat fully reclined or with a carrier attached. It has 0.5 inches of play in the brakes when set, and only average sliding resistance when parked on an incline. This means it will move a little when you park it, but not enough to cause concern for you or baby.
This product does not come standard with a cup holder or parent console where cups can be stored. This means there is no inherent cup holder safety concern. If the addition of a cup holder is made by purchasing the accessory from UPPAbaby, we recommend parent use caution to avoid items falling from the holder while strolling. We also advise never placing hot liquids anywhere in or around a stroller to avoid injury should the items fall or spill onto baby. Having your morning coffee fix is not worth the risk to baby.
You can learn more about harness and seat safety considerations in the standard stroller write up of the Cruz. Given that these features are not use when combined with a car seat, we did not choose to cover them here.
The side tip angle of the Cruz with the car seat carrier attached is 18.8 degrees. This is better than the angle with the toddler seat attached and is one of only a few that can claim this according to our tests. The weight required on the handlebar before the stroller topples backwards is 27.5 pounds, which is below the average of 29 pounds for the group and half of the high weight of 56+ pounds required to tip the B-Agile. The low weight for the group is about 18 pounds for a couple of products. You really shouldn't place any weight on the handlebar for safety sake and given that the storage basket has a limit of 25 pound and is quite large you really shouldn't need to either.
Ease of Use
Graco SnugRider Elite.
The Cruz has a very large storage bin under the seat with only the UPPAbaby Vista offering a larger one. It also has one of the highest maximum allowable weight at 25 pounds, with the Vista being 30. The average for the group is less than half this being closer to 10 pounds. This means you will be able to fit baby's diaper bag and other items inside the bin with relative ease. We fit our extra-large diaper bag inside and had room to spare. The bin is accessible from all sides, which is also rare and can come in handy depending on what baby needs and which end of baby needs it. Putting the giant diaper bag in was easier for us before attaching the seat, but if you use a smaller bag it shouldn't be a problem even with the seat attached.
The Cruz has a nice large sunshade with ventilation and a peek-a-boo window. Unfortunately though, you won't be using it with the car seat attached and you'll be relying solely on the carrier canopy to protect baby from the elements.
The Cruz does not offer any other storage options or conveniences for parents beyond the under seat bin. It does have an adjustable footrest and recline feature for the passenger, but neither of those will be available when combining this stroller with a car seat. For more information on these features we suggest you take a look at the Cruz review in our best stroller review.
Chicco Keyfit Caddy, which has a lot of plastic components and materials that weren't on par with the competition.
The storage bin, seat and canopy are all made using a soft, tightly woven canvas material that fits well on the frame and doesn't have any visible fasteners, loose threads, or bunched stitching. The sides of the basket have stiff rubber coated mesh that didn't snag or pull in our tests, and the bottom has a hard plastic piece that helps the bin retain its shape and offers support that prevents items from dragging on the ground. The frame is made of aluminum and it has a sleek appearance with few connection points and no visible rivets. The overall fit and finish is tight and everything lines up well with a smooth finish that is both simple and sleek in its design.
The wheels on the Cruz are foam filled rubber with AirGo patent-pending technology developed by UPPAbaby. These wheels have the benefit of a rubber tire that helps improve the performance, ride comfort, and maneuverability, as well as being more durable than plastic. But, these have the benefit of being foam filled so they can never go flat or leave you stranded on the stroll with a flat tire and too many things too carry. The Cruz does not have traditional shocks or suspension, but they do claim their AirGo wheels offer suspension as one of the features of the design.
Ease of Setup
Parents who love the UPPAbaby Brand or are simply looking for a quality stroller for a reasonable price will be drawn to the Cruz. This stroller performed well in our tests here where it tied for 3rd place and had a nice ease of car seat attachment score. It also scored well in our standard size stroller review and it earned Editors' Choice awards in both. We think the Cruz is a stand out product that does most things well, so unless you want to jog with the stroller or take long walks off road, the Cruz is a good option for most applications.
The Cruz has a list price of $500 and UPPAbaby product rarely if ever sell for prices below the manufacturer list price. This is cheaper than the Vista, and several other options in this review, but still more than the majority of products we looked at, including the highly regarded Jogging stroller, the BOB Revolution Flex. All that being said we think the Cruz is a great value for what it has to offer and how well it is made. This stroller is designed with parents and baby in mind and offers a lot of what parents really need as opposed to features parents think they need, but aren't done well enough for parents to actually use (like most parent consoles with shallow unusable cup holders or pockets that won't fit a smartphone). We think the Cruz is a durable, stylish stroller that parents will love for a price that seems like it should be higher. If the list price is simply not doable no matter what kind of product you are getting or how well it is made, the **Britax B-Agile scored just below the Cruz overall and it has a list price of only $250, making it a nice option for families on a budget.
Other Versions and Accessories
UPPAbaby also makes the UPPAbaby Vista Combo, and the lightweight options the UPPAbaby G-Luxe and the UPPAbaby G-Lite. All of the strollers scored well in their respective classes and we think parents will be able to find a stroller option to suit their needs in the UPPAbaby lineup. Unfortunately, most of the strollers come with few additions for parents, as does the Cruz, so you might want to consider adding an UPPAbaby Cup Holder or the UPPAbaby Parent Organizer for more storage options or a place to keep your convenience items like your phone, wallet, and keys for quick and easy access.
— BabyGearLab Review Team
Most recent user review: June 19, 2016
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