Joovy Caboose Ultralight Graphite Review
Pros: Easy to lift and carry, compact fold, easy to stow
Cons: Accepts one car seat, harder to maneuver, storage is hard to access
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Started in 2005, a family started the company which is now located in Texas and California. Joovy prides itself on designs that are original, functional and created with the quality construction of fun gear for everyday outings. Joovy makes a multitude of different baby products including everything from bottles to strollers.
Ease of Use
The Joovy Caboose is below-average for ease of use.
Fold and Unfold
The Caboose requires two hands to fold and has three steps. It is average for ease of folding, and you'll need to pull up on the release on both sides at the same time and bend over to finalize fold. It does not self-stand and has a manual lock. Unfolding the stroller is easier, with one hand, one step, and bending to the ground.
The brakes are single-action and are average for ease of setting and releasing. The single-action brakes are favorable and rare on this style of product, a welcome departure.
The storage is easier to access with the sliding bench seat than some of the other sit and stand competitors that have almost impossible to access storage. However, if you opt for the Caboose Rear seat, then the access is virtually nil. The maximum allowance of the basket is 5 lbs, and the smaller access opening means it is hard to fit a diaper bag inside. The bin itself is medium in size, but we couldn't fit any diaper bag inside.
The Caboose has a neoprene parent's console (above left) with 2 cup holder pockets, and Velcro and zipper pockets for smaller items. The pockets are easy to use and can carry about 5 lbs. The holders work well, and the flex of the fabric means even odd-shaped items can fit inside. The child's tray (above right) also works with bottles and sippys, but the holders are shallow, and taller items could fall out.
The sunshades on the Caboose are the best for the sit and stand style. The front canopy is large and covers most of the baby's head and part of their body. The rear seat doesn't have a true canopy but instead has a piece of fabric that stretches from the front seat and zips onto the frame, covering baby from front to back without side coverage. The rear seat cover will not work with the older child using the rear platform to stand on. Neither cover has a peek-a-boo window or ventilation, but neither is large enough for you to miss them.
The Caboose has a 5-point harness for the front seat and a 3-point for the rear bench seat (standard). Both are easy to get on and take off but aren't as easy to adjust as competitors. The shoulder height adjustment has three options and rethreads for height on the front seat, while the rear seat doesn't offer shoulder straps. The crotch straps in both seats are stationary but the length is adjustable. The straps also help connect the car seat and this not ideal as you can't adjust the straps with the car seat in place. You'll need to guess on the strap length and redo the install if it needs adjustment.
The front seat reclines with one hand and has three positions. It is a little harder to use than it should be and it doesn't lay flat enough to be cozy. The rear seat does not recline at all, and you won't be able to recline the front seat if the rear bench seat has a child in it.
Car Seat Compatibility
The Caboose can be used with one infant car seat and is compatible with some seats from the following brands: Baby Trend, Britax/BOB, Chicco, Cybex, Evenflo, Graco, Maxi-Cosi, Nuna, Peg Perego, Safety 1st, and UPPAbaby. We tested the Caboose with the Britax B-Safe 35, Chicco Keyfit 30, Cybex Aton 2, Evenflo Embrace, Graco Click Connect 35, Graco Click Connect 40, and the Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30.
None of the adapters need assembly, but you need to remove the child's tray to attach them. All of the infant seats are the strap-in connections, and they can be installed incorrectly if the straps are not properly secured. We worry some parents will forget the strap or choose not to use it making this design a potential safety concern.
None of the seats were very easy to install or remove, but they were all secure once attached. All of the seats scored the same in our tests, and we wouldn't really recommend one over the other.
Ease of Setup
The Caboose did not score well for ease of setup, with a setup time over 14 minutes. However, the documentation is good, and we like the quick start guide with useful illustrations. It isn't as clear as it could be, but the number of things you need to put it together is the real problem.
The Caboose is not a stand out in maneuverability.
None of the sit and stand models impress in the maneuverability department. This stroller is narrower which makes getting around in tight areas easier, but the plastic wheels and dual front wheel design make pushing it more difficult than it should be and some testers kicked the back of the stroller when pushing. It continues to struggle off-road needing extra strength on the grass and stopping dead on gravel. It is probably best to keep this option on hard and flat surfaces.
Weight and Folded Size
The Caboose is the lightest option in our tests of double strollers with a total weight of 23.4 lbs. The Caboose is also relatively small when folded with one of the smallest folded measurements in the group at 11,634 cubic inches. Being light and small gives the Caboose an edge for the weight and folded size.
The Caboose only earned a 4 of 10 for quality, which is just 1 point above the low of 3 for the group. While this product isn't a high disappointment, it isn't that impressive either. For a Joovy product, it scored low, but it manages a higher score than the majority of similar options. This stroller has a heavier canvas that feels durable, but it isn't very soft. The hemstitching falls right on the edge of the seat behind the knee of some toddlers, and it could chafe. The material along the edge also feels like it will snag easily. We like the harness material (very soft and supple), but the seat only has average padding for comfort.
The frame has an umbrella style feel and is utilitarian looking without smooth and appealing lines. The overall fit and finish are on the dull side, and the components and plastic wheels have a cheap feel that impacts the overall design. The handlebar is not adjustable and is narrow and flat, which doesn't feel that good in the hand and might cause fatigue on longer trips.
The stroller has stiff front and rear shocks, and the front seat is hard with minimal padding. The back seat is a hard bench with light padding and no seat back, so comfort for that passenger is even less than the front.
The Caboose is not the best bet for twins given the disparity between seats and the lack of car seat attachment for two. While it is a nice option for parents who have an active older child and a younger one, it accepts only one infant car seat making it impossible to use with two babies of the same age, and even if you purchase it for twins large enough to fit in the seats, they will likely disagree over who gets to stand and who gets to nap.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team