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Hands-on Gear Review
Thule Chariot Cross 2 ReviewPrice: $1,000.00 List | $1,049.95 at Amazon
Pros: Activity attachments for biking, jogging, and skiing, enclosed seating
Cons: Hard to stow, no car seat compatiblity
Bottom line: Really cool for outdoor adventures that is surprisingly easy to navigate
The Thule Chariot Cross 2 does not look like the other double options in our review because it is not like any other stroller we tested. This Top Pick for Outdoor Activities winner is an excellent choice for parents who like to "do"; it is not a product for the faint of heart or those looking for a casual stroll about town. This product offers almost everything the active parent or weekend warrior might need to incorporate their little ones in all their outdoor passions. Whether your hobby is running, biking, or even skiing, the Cross 2 is the right stroller for the job. This highly versatile product has loads of convenience and comfort features that will leave your little riders happy and safe in their cozy Cross ready for adventure. The Cross comes standard with the strolling and bike trailer kits, jogging and skiing kits sold separately.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Double Strollers of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Thule Company started over 70 years, establishing in Sweden in 1942 when the founder, Erik Thulin, began making gear for Swedish fisherman. Twenty years later, they created the first ski rack that was followed with a roof rack that had a basket. Today, Thule has obtained international recognition for supporting active lifestyles with gear designed to transport toys like bike racks, cargo carriers, sports racks for winter and water toys, and more. Thule also makes strollers and bike trailers for outdoor parents with babies.
The chart below is a comparison of the overall scores for all of the double strollers we tested for this review. The Thule Chariot Cross 2 bar is blue.
The information provided below includes details on the Chariot Cross and how it performed during testing in each metric. Individual metric scores were used to compute the overall score for the Cougar.
Ease of Use
The Chariot Cross earned a 6 of 10 for ease of use, an improvement over the old Thule Chariot Cougar 2.
The UPPAbaby Vista Double earned a high score in this metric with an 8. Ease of use impacts your daily experience using a stroller and is, therefore, essential for preventing regular frustration.
Fold and Unfold
The Cross folds using two hands, and it has an automatic lock (above left), and self-stands once folded. The process to fold isn't hard, but it is convoluted and involved with anywhere between 3-12 steps depending on how small you need it to be. It has color coded buttons (above right) that help remind you what needs to happen to complete the fold including on the quick release wheels. The self-stand feature is probably only useful for storage, but it is an added benefit much of the competition lacks. Unfolding is about the same and is essentially a reversal of the steps required to fold it.
The Cross brakes are single action and more accessible than the old Cougar brakes (above left). They are easy to set and release with pedals that are sandal foot friendly. We didn't have any trouble setting them or thinking they were on when they weren't, and they come with nice color coded indication that they are set (above right).
The main storage bin on the Cross hangs off the back of the stroller between the rear wheels and under the handlebar. The basket is large and holds our extra-large diaper bag, though the narrow shape of the bin means we really had to jam it in. The basket has a maximum capacity of 8.8 lbs, which is not great for a stroller designed for two. Supplies for two can easily weigh more than 8 lbs, especially for an all day outdoor adventure. We imagine many parents will overfill the basket thanks to its larger size and worry this could make it a potential tipping hazard.
This stroller also has stow pocket inside the cabin for little treasures and snacks. The pockets are large and hold most things, but younger kids won't be able to reach the pockets when buckled in. Each seat back has a pocket for additional storage of parent items like wallets, keys, phone, and water bottles. The pockets work well, and we didn't have any items fall out during testing.
The sunshade on the Cross is not like the canopies found on the competition. The shade is a piece of fabric that clip on to block the sun and can move up or down depending on the need. If the seatbacks are reclined there is a vinyl window at the top for peeking on little ones. Ventilation is not part of the sunshade depends on how the Cross total cover is configured. The front of the Cross where children climb in is a zippered cover that can be mesh or vinyl depending on the weather and other elements.
Both seats have identical 5-point harnesses that are easy to put on and take off. Adjusting the straps is a non-rethread style with an 8-inch range of infinite height possibilities. The buckle is easier than its predecessor on the Cougar 2 because it no longer requires nesting of the top buckle portions. Overall, we think the improvements are great.
The seats on the Cross can recline which is the first improvement over the Cougar that we noticed. Both move independently for individual comfort. The operation is a simple one-handed process with three positions. None are flat enough for serious napping thanks to the adventure possibilities of this product, but the slope should be sufficient to lull most sleepy little ones. The seat does not have leg rests, or foot rests and children sit with their legs stretched out in front of them. The style of the seat does allow for more freedom of movement than a traditional stroller even though it is not adjustable.
Ease of Setup
The Cross took about 11 minutes to assemble. It is only average for ease of setup with an international style manual that has all the languages grouped together in each section and the corresponding pictures at the end or beginning. This makes the manual difficult to follow and has users flipping back and forth to follow the steps. It isn't hard to put together, but there are more pieces to assemble than there were on the Cougar 2. Assembly requires one tool that comes with the stroller.
The Chariot Cross earned a 9 of 10 for maneuverability tying with the Thule Urban Glide 2 and the BOB Revolution Flex Duallie for the high score. All of the top scoring options have larger rubber air-filled tires that seem to improve pushing and turning significantly over smaller plastic wheels.
The Cross is easy to push and turn no matter what the terrain. The new more adjustable handlebar only makes this easier as it allows for better height options for each user. We had no trouble moving over flat surfaces, grass, gravel, or up and down curbs.
This stroller has adjustable suspension, making it one of only two in this review (the BOB Revolution Flex Duallie being the other). This feature is quick and moves smoothly with clear indicators that make the adjustment a snap.
The handlebar also adjusts and has a variety of possible positions. It is covered in dense foam, has an ergonomic design, and comes with a safety strap. We really like the new rotating bar and see it as a significant improvement over the two position Cougar 2 handlebar. With the padded sling style seat that reclines, we think most little passengers will be cozy in the Cross.
Weight and Folded Size
The Chariot Cross is a different kind of stroller with additional features that make it worthy of going off the beaten path. These features also make it heavier than some of the competition. The Cross earned a 5 of 10 for weight and folded size, which is just below the average. It certainly is not going to be suitable for city living and crowded streets, but it wasn't designed for that, and it makes no apologies.
The Cross weighs 31.6 lbs and measures 31.3"W x 21"H x 37.2" L or 24,452 cubic inches when folded. Before you start thinking that is one massive beast, first notice that 12 other options weigh more than the Cross! This makes it one of the lighter options in the group. It's the folded size that hurts its overall score in this metric with only three larger folded products in the review. We caution parents to check their trunk space or car size before using the Cross, just in case it doesn't fit and needs to be returned.
For quality, the Chariot earned a 9 of 10 with impressive attention to detail and high-end materials that come together well.
This product has a great design and uses materials that not only work well but feel solid and connect without flexing or jostling. Everything has its place and works well in conjunction with the other parts and components. The fabric is thick ripstop canvas with thermo-molded seats. The material integrates into the frame, and there are very few exposed fasteners. The windows are slightly tinted and a somewhat pliable plastic which feels like it will hold up well.
Ease of Car Seat Attachment
This stroller does not accept any infant car seats. It does, however, have an optional Thule Baby Supporter and Thule Infant Sling (see accessories below) for transporting younger babies. These products can only be used for strolling and parents shouldn't use the Cross on uneven terrain or for jogging with babies under eight months old.
This product can be used with twins and has inserts for baby positioning and infant slings. It does not accept any infant car seats and there are adventures you shouldn't take with infants like jogging, skiing or anything that moves over uneven terrain. That being said, it could be a good product for twins if your goals do not include transporting in car seats. If car seat transportation is a must have you could pair this stroller with the Joovy Twin Roo+, a double frame stroller that accepts a variety of infant car seat brands, is lightweight, ahs 4 cup holders, and is very budget friendly at $130 list price.
Thule offers two additional conversion kits depending on the kind of activity you enjoy (it comes with the strolling and bike trailer kits), including:
Accessories for comfort include:
Conveniences items include:
Thule offers various options similar to the Chariot Cross 2.Something to keep in mind when reviewing the product options at Thule, many of the less expensive models lack suspension. While this might be okay for older children, we feel the suspension is key and the lack of it a deal breaker for us when it comes to hauling younger children.
Thule Chariot Lite 2 —
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
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