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Bugaboo Cameleon3 Review

The Bugaboo Cameleon 3
Price:   $1,149.00 List | $1,149.00 at Amazon
Pros:  High quality, good safety score, good sun protection
Cons:  Higher price, disappointing max storage allowance, heavy
Bottom line:  Poor overall performance despite quality materials and a nice look
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Bugaboo

The Skinny

The Bugaboo Cameleon3 didn't make it into the top half of the products in this review. It has some interesting features, and it scored well on safety and quality, but it failed to impress us in many of the performance metrics we test. Given the comparatively high price tag of this stroller, we had expectations that it would fare better in our tests against the competition. With several strollers costing far less with higher scores, it is hard to truly love this stroller, though it might be a sleek urban dweller that meets the needs of those looking for a sharp looking ride that works well with a car seat.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Full-size Strollers of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
January 28, 2016

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The Bugaboo Cameleon 3 claims to be a versatile, multi-terrain, compact stroller. This stroller works from birth to 36 months with a bassinet that converts into a seat, that can sit up straight, recline, or lie flat for napping, and it is reversible and can face the front or back. It offers adjustable suspension, foam filled rubber tires, and swivel wheel suspension. This stroller has a reversible and height adjustable handlebar. The reversible handlebar can put the big wheels forward for rougher terrain, or the stroller can convert to a two-wheel position for pushing through sand and snow. It has a 5-point harness, an aerated inlay, and machine washable fabrics. This stroller comes with a rain cover, storage basket, seat/bassinet frame and fabric, carry handle, wire frame, chassis with wheels, extendable sun canopy, and bassinet apron. This stroller offers car seat adapters for many popular car seats including Peg Perego, Chicco, Britax, and Maxi Cosi.

Performance Comparison


The chart below shows a comparison of overall scores for all of the strollers we tested in this review. The Cameleon 3 is shown in blue. While this stroller did not score high enough to earn an award in this review, it might be worth noting that it did score highly in our Car Seat and Stroller Combo Review where it won an award.


The sections below offer additional information on the performance of the Cameleon during testing in each metric. We used the metric scores to determine the overall scores with an emphasis on the ease of use and maneuverability results. This explains the difference in overall scores for the Cameleon in this review vs the Car Seat Combo review where car seat connection is weighted heavily in the overall score.

The Cameleon comes standard with a bassinet for babies who cannot sit up on their own.
The Cameleon comes standard with a bassinet for babies who cannot sit up on their own.

Ease of Use


The Bugaboo has an ease of use score of 6 of 10. This is just higher than average for the group. The high for this metric is an 8 earned by the UPPAbaby Cruz and the UPPAbaby Vista.

While the storage basket on the Cameleon can be removed and carried as a bag  it is hard to fit much in it given the frame bar that runs across the top of the basket.
While the storage basket on the Cameleon can be removed and carried as a bag, it is hard to fit much in it given the frame bar that runs across the top of the basket.

Storage
The storage bin on this stroller is smaller compared to the competition and we called it medium. It has a maximum allowable storage weight of 8.8 pounds. We were able to fit our medium diaper bag inside, and the access is easy from all sides. The large diaper bag would not fit in the basket, but the basket can be removed and used as a bag, which could be useful. Unfortunately, it isn't something you can accomplish quickly, but it has a nice cover with a drawstring closure that prevents items from falling out.

This stroller has no other storage options, which means there is no good place to put convenience items like keys, phones, or wallets.

The Cameleon didn't perform that well in our performance metrics.
The Bugaboo Cameleon 3
 

Sunshade
The photos above show the canopy closed and fully open.

The sunshade on this stroller is large and has a UPF rating of 50+. It is a nice looking canopy, but it lacks extra ventilation or a peek-a-boo window which ruins the happy dance we want to do when we see a large canopy. This means parents will have to move around the side or the front of the stroller to check on baby; this means you may have to stop moving which might result in waking a sleeping baby. Only 4 strollers scored higher in this metric.

The Cameleon bassinet has a cover to help keep baby cozy.
The Cameleon bassinet has a cover to help keep baby cozy.

Convenience
This stroller does not offer any other conveniences for parents or passengers. It is a barebones option for a stroller that kind of brags about everything it offers. It seems like a strange oversight not to include at least a side cup holder.

The Cameleon has a foam covered bumper bar.
The Cameleon has a foam covered bumper bar.
Recline of the Cameleon seat frame happens with pushing buttons on each side simultaneously.
Recline of the Cameleon seat frame happens with pushing buttons on each side simultaneously.
The stroller does not have an adjustable leg rest, but it does have a foot rest. The foot rest is wide and covered in a durable material, but is not padded. The seat back on the Bugaboo can recline and it requires two hands to operate. It is easy to operate with two recline buttons that must be pressed at the same time. Some testers found it difficult to adjust the recline from the back of the stroller. The recline range is 69.1 degrees to 25.4 degrees from flat.

This stroller comes with a rain cover and bassinet.

The Cameleon has rubber foam filled tires.
The Cameleon has rubber foam filled tires.

Maneuverability


The Bugaboo earned a 6 of 10 for maneuverability in our tests; this is an average score for the group. The high for the group is 9 earned by the BOB Revolution Flex.

This stroller has a smaller footprint that helps it make tighter turns. It rolls fairly smoothly, but it does turn as easily as some of the others, and the frame has a decent amount of flex that makes it harder to push than it should be. It is a relatively easy stroller to push with 2 hands, and 1 hand is possible but harder than a lot of the competition. Rolling on the carpet is more difficult, but it managed bumps with no problems.

The swivel wheels and suspension on the Cameleon are both adjustable.
The swivel wheels and suspension on the Cameleon are both adjustable.

The off-road rolling is tough in standard mode but gets easier in off road mode. The steering is hard to get used to in this mode. We had trouble with it some front tipping over the curb and both front wheels fell into the grate when we tried to traverse it. The off road mode gave this stroller a score bump it wouldn't have otherwise had.

Taking curbs is about average thanks to the longer handle. It is not advised to take stairs in general, but it should not be tried when using the stroller in the two-wheel mode recommended for snow and sand.

Quality is one of the only metrics the Cameleon excelled in.
Quality is one of the only metrics the Cameleon excelled in.

Quality


This Bugaboo performed well in our tests for quality, which isn't a huge surprise given the high cost of purchasing one. It is only one of two metrics that it earned an above average score in. The Bugaboo earned a 7 of 10, with the high being 8 shared by the BOB Revolution Flex and the UPPAbaby Vista; both cost less than this stroller.

The fabric on this stroller is some of the nicest in the review. The entire seat is made of a very soft, finely woven canvas. It seems durable and withstood our tests for snagging. It might be more difficult to clean, but it seems worth it given the nice feel. The foot rest is made of a stiff, slick, heavy canvas and the canopy is made of softer canvas that is slightly thicker and more durable than the canvas on the seat. The basket is made of the same heavier canvas as the canopy with a stiff piece of plastic added inside to retain the shape.

The aluminum frame on the Bugaboo is a little more robust than that found on the Bugaboo Bee3. The frame feels solid and has a nice finish. The fit and finish of this stroller is cleaner than the Bee and the fabric lays nicely even though it is heavier than that found on the Bee.

The wheels on the Bugaboo are foam filled rubber. This brings the benefits of rubber and the practicality of foam together in one wheel. While some might not prefer it over pneumatic tires, we rather like the idea that the passenger will experience a more comfortable ride without parents worrying about getting a flat. What might be a sacrifice in maneuverability might be an advantage depending on how you use the stroller.

The handlebar on the Cameleon has a telescoping adjustment.
The handlebar on the Cameleon has a telescoping adjustment.
The Cameleon3 has an adjustable handlebar that has a range of 39.8 to 44.2 inches. It has an average feel thanks in part to tubing that is almost flat. However, the bar is still a little higher than the Bee 3, so it is an improvement over the other Bugaboo. It is also reversible depending on how you want to configure the stroller.

This stroller only has shocks on the front wheels, but they are adjustable could make the ride a little more comfortable. It has a sling style seat with good padding, but it jiggles in a similar way to the Baby Jogger City Select. We think these elements combine to create a more comfortable ride than the average stroller in this review.

Safety


The Cameleon earned a 7 of 10 for safety, which is better than average and only 1 point below the high score of 8 earned by the Baby Jogger City Select.

When releasing the handbrake on the Cameleon you need to be careful it doesn't snap back on your hand.
Setting the Cameleon hand brake is as easy as pushing the lever forward.
 

Brakes
This stroller has a single action hand brake that is definitely sandal friendly because you operate it with your hand. The brake is very easy to set and easy to release. The play in the brakes is 0, making it one of the best in the review. Its sliding resistance with the brake on is very good. You do have to watch that the hand lever doesn't "slap"" the back of your hand when you release it and it is stiffer to set than the other hand brakes in the group.

A lot of parts need to come together in order to use the buckle on the Cameleon.
A lot of parts need to come together in order to use the buckle on the Cameleon.

Harness
This Bugaboo has a 5-point harness that is easy to put on and even easier to take off. It has adjustable shoulder and crotch straps that are easy to adjust and earned a high score of 5 out of 5. There are 6 pieces to put together, but it still manages to be pretty easy, and it comes apart easy as well.

The Cameleon can fold into 2 pieces making it potentially easier to stow.
The Cameleon can fold into 2 pieces making it potentially easier to stow.

Weight and Folded Size


This stroller earned the second lowest score in our review for weight and folded size. It weighs 25 pounds and 2 ounces and measures 23"W x 17.2"H x 40.5"L, for a total of 16,002 cubic inches. The weight is a little above average for the group, but the folded size is larger than all but 2 other strollers we looked at. The folded package size had a huge impact on the score for this metric. The lightest and smallest strollers were closer to 17.5 pounds and 6,500 cubic inches.

The Cameleon requires 2 hands to fold, does not have an auto lock, self-stand, or carry handle. It takes 5 steps to fold and is hard compared to the competition. The fold requires the removal of parts and means you will also be carrying or finding a place for multiple items. Removing the seat before folding is time consuming and results in a two part package that you probably don't want to mess with on public transport or in smaller trunk space. Unfolding the stroller is much easier (though still only average) and also requires 2 hands to operate. There are two steps to unfold this stroller; they include pulling the stroller apart and reattaching the seat.

Ease of Setup



The Cameleon took just over 14 minutes to assemble; this is the second longest setup time in the group. Thus, it earned a second to the lowest score in the review. The documentation is poor, and the pictures in the manual are a little confusing.

Car Seat Compatibility


The Cameleon 3 is not as user-friendly as its little brother the Bee 3, but it is still nicer than a lot of the competition. It does not have any car seat compatibility standard, but you can purchase adapters that work with Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 (an Editors' Choice Award winner), Chicco KeyFit, Chicco KeyFit 30, Britax B-Safe, B-Safe 35, B-Safe Elite, Cybex Aton 2, Aton Q, Maxi-Cosi Mico AP, Mico NXT, and the Prezi.

At 17 pounds 9 ounces the Cameleon is heavier than all of the car seat frame products we looked at.
The Cameleon car seat attachment is better than most of the competition  but not as nice and easy at its little brother the Bee3.
 
We tested the stroller using the Chicco 30 adapter. To use the adapter you must remove the seat on the Cameleon, which is relatively easy to do. The frame of the stroller weighs 17 pounds 9 ounce, making it on the heavy side to be considered a car seat frame stroller, which normally weighs less than 16. The adapter clicks into the stroller and the car seat clicks into the adapter; there are no straps attachments with this adapter. The car seat installs easily and sort of falls into place with very little effort or pressure needed on the seat. It is also easy to remove and feels really stable once installed. We did not experience any problems installing the seat. Overall, it is a nice combination that works well for a system made up of two different brands.

Best Applications


There is no best application for this stroller. Its elevated price tag makes it one of the highest in the group and its overall score fails to live up to the other strollers in the review. It does have some nice features, but there are a lot of strollers in this review that earned higher scores, performed better in our tests, and were also significantly cheaper than this stroller.

Value


With a price tag of $1149, it is hard to feel like this Bugaboo is a good value. With a price significantly higher than all of our award winners and an overall score lower than half the competition, this stroller is not the best value in the bunch.

The canopy on the Cameleon is large  but has no peek-a-boo window.
The Cameleon comes standard with a bassinet for babies who cannot sit up on their own.
 

Conclusion


The photos above show the Cameleon in two of its possible configurations with the bassinet (right) and the toddler seat (left).

This stroller looks kind of neat on paper, but it didn't have the goods in our tests to really impress. While it scored fairly well in our tests for quality and safety, it didn't manage to pull ahead of the pack in our tests for maneuverability or ease of use, and it is virtually devoid of simple conveniences like a cup holder or zippered pocket for storing a mobile phone. With these issues in mind and the higher price tag to consider, the Cameleon3 didn't represent in real life as good as it did on paper.

Other Versions


Bugaboo makes several different strollers. We reviewed the Cameleon 3 and the Bugaboo Bee3 for this review; neither scored high enough in our tests to win an award.

Video



Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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BabyGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 25, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.0)

50% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 33%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 33%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 33%  (1)
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   Jul 25, 2016 - 11:04am
My frame broke twice. The first time the handle wouldn't lock into place and just collapsed. Because it was about a year and a half after I bought the stroller they sent me a new frame. A few months ago it broke again and they wouldn't replace it (even though the frame is only 1.5 years old because I bought the stroller 3 years ago), They wanted to charge me about $400 for a new frame!!!!
This stroller is so expensive and doesn't last, they basically told me that I can't use it with stairs and that I can't use it with the board or it will break.
If the stroller is so sensitive they should fix it or recall it!
So disappointing

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jun 20, 2016 - 02:27pm
I have used mine extensively for both of my kids (almost 4 years of use, still like new), and I would get the same one again. In fact, I don't understand your rating (Babygearlab's), as I have never found another stroller in the same category that is easier to set up, use and maneuver. Yes, a little expensive, I have to agree to that. I feel I got my money's worth, though.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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