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Hands-on Gear Review
ZOE XL2 DELUXE Review
Price: $250.00 List | $249.99 at Amazon
Pros: Price, easy to use, small and super lightweight
Cons: Small wheels, harder to turn
Bottom line: Nicely priced, lightweight, and easy to use with large canopies and storage
The ZOE XL2 Deluxe earned our Editors' Choice award with a 1st place rank out of 9 strollers, and top scores in weight and folded size, ease of use, and a second place score for maneuverability. This 17.8 lbs stroller is super lightweight for a double option and folds small enough for most cars. The XL2 offers the largest canopies we have ever seen, and has the best under seat storage in the group. With easy to use recline and folding features, the ZOE is tough to beat no matter what you are a looking for in a lightweight product for two. In addition to an overall score that is 17 points more than the closest competitor, this ultra-light option is priced below average, with only 3 cheaper strollers in the group. We recommend this stroller as a good secondary or travel stroller for parents with two.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
ZOE is a family owned and operated company founded in November of 2015. Two members of the family have a combined juvenile products experience of 60 years, and they all share the goal of creating quality strollers without the expensive price. Their stroller designs attempt to include all the extras, so there is nothing else to buy.
Weight and Folded Size
The ZOE earned a 9 of 10 for weight and folded size. This is the lightest stroller in the review weighing in at 17.8 lbs and is the third smallest when folded, measuring 9,692 cubic inches. This makes the ZOE one of the easiest to lift, carry, and stow.
Ease of Use
The ZOE earned a 8 of 10 for ease of use, which is the high score for this metric. This makes it the easiest option in the review to use.
Fold and Unfold
The ZOE is an easy two-handed fold initiated by pulling up on the straps under each seat pad (above left). This stroller does not collapse like a true umbrella stroller, but rather folds in half. It self-stands, but the wheels need to be in the right direction or it will fall over. The locking mechanism is automatic (above right) and unfolding occurs by unlocking and opening until it locks in place.
The ZOE has nice single action brakes with a long bar between wheels. They work smoothly, are easy to set and release, and are sandal foot friendly.
The ZOE has the largest storage bin (above left). This bin has easy access and fit our large diaper bag. The stroller also has a small pocket on the back of each canopy that closes with Velcro, and can hold smaller items (above right). There is a cup holder on the side, but it is shallow and causes problems through doorways. This stroller also offers 2 passenger cup holders and a shared snack holder that connect in place of the belly bar (also included).
The ZOE has the largest canopies in the group with panels that are so big that they form a little cocoon when fully open. They are ease to use, have a pop out visor and a zippered panel. Each canopy has a mesh peek-a-boo window with magnetic closure cover and the back panels can be removed for increased airflow.
The harnesses on this stroller are 5-points and easy to operate. The strap adjustment and shoulder height rethreading are simple and work well. You may need to remove the shoulder padding to rethread, but it is easy and only takes a few moments. The side straps adjust by pushing a button on the buckle.
Because the ZOE is a side-by-side, the seating is identical. This stroller doesn't have adjustable leg rests, but it does have a curve at the end of the seat at a comfortable angle. The seat backs recline with a button push and fall to about 45 degrees, which is good enough for napping.
Ease of Setup
The ZOE took 10 minutes to set up from unpacking to ready to use. It does NOT come with a user's manual, which is frustrating. While they do offer an assembly instruction video on their website, this could potentially be difficult for some users to view and offers less information than a traditional manual.
The ZOE earned a 4 of 10 for maneuverability. This is a second place score in a metric where the high is only 5. The ZOE has foam filled plastic wheels with the traditional dual wheel design that puts 4 wheels in front. The wheels are a little stiff to get started, but once it gets going it is relatively easy to push. With added effort you can even push it one handed. Turning is where things become more difficult, and it is far easier to turn while moving than from a standstill where it hesitates and requires some brute force. It had some difficulty going through doorways thanks to the cup holder, and we had to pick up the back and shimmy it through. The ZOE struggled over uneven terrain and stopped completely on transition from grass to sidewalk requiring a pop up to move forward.
The ZOE earned a 5 of 10 for quality. This stroller offers a basic lightweight frame with exposed fasteners and connection points, but it has a nice overall finish. The heavier fabric will likely wear well over time, but is somewhat coarse. Everything lines up well and feels pretty tight, with little flex when pushing. The major drawback is the wheels are a little small and flimsy compared to the rest of the stroller and the competition.
The following video shows the XL2 Deluxe from various angles.
ZOE's company goal is to create strollers that don't need additional items. However, there are a few accessories you might think about should you purchase the ZOE.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
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