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Graco Aire3 Review

The Graco Aire3
Price:   $180.00 List | $127.99 at Amazon - 29% off
Pros:  Easy to setup
Cons:  Hard to push and turn, limited storage access, front wheels pull it off course
Bottom line:  Hard to use stroller that has poor maneuverability
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Graco

The Skinny

The Graco Aire 3 had good scores for ease of setup and safety and is an easy commuter. Unfortunately, it doesn't offer much else in some of the key metrics that matter on a daily basis like maneuverability and ease of use. Also, the overall quality of this stroller is not on par with most of the competition, and not what we expect from a Graco product. Given that this stroller failed to break the top half of 19 products and has disappointing scores in metrics that matter, it is not a stroller we recommend.


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 Graco's Aire3 Click Connect Stroller has a 3 wheel design (4 if you count the front wheel is a double wheeled design), with a locking front swivel wheel. It claims a 1 hand fold and has a carrying strap. This seat auto-locks and self-stands. The seat included with this stroller is multi-positional and reclines flat to create an infant carriage, and to accept Graco Click Connect infant car seats. The stroller has a parent's tray with zippered storage and two cup holders, a large storage basket, and a removable armrest with cup holder. This stroller works for children up to 50 pounds and comes with a canopy and a 3 or 5 point convertible harness.

Performance Comparison


The following chart offers a comparison of the overall scores for each product we tested in this review. The Graco Aire3 is shown in blue.


The information provided in the sections below include how the Graco performed during testing compared to the competition. The metric performance scores were used to calculate the overall score with a higher weighting on the ease of use and maneuverability metrics.

The Graco has a recline that has infinite angle possibilities including almost flat.
The Graco has a recline that has infinite angle possibilities including almost flat.

Ease of Use


The Graco Aire3 earned a 5 of 10 points for ease of use. This is just below the average score of 5.4 for the metric and significantly below the high of 8 earned by the UPPAbaby Cruz and the UPPAbaby Vista.

Despite the 10 pound weight limit on the Graco storage bin  it is hard to fit much in the basket thanks to a poorly placed crossbar that inhibits access to the bin.
Despite the 10 pound weight limit on the Graco storage bin, it is hard to fit much in the basket thanks to a poorly placed crossbar that inhibits access to the bin.

Storage
The Graco has a large storage bin, but it only held our medium diaper bag thanks to a bar under the seat that severely restricts the size of the opening and limits access. So, while the Graco has a maximum allowable limit of 10 pounds, you will only reach this with small items put in one at a time. If your diaper bag is large you probably won't be able to fit in whole.

The parent console on the Graco is one of the few in the group to offer closed storage.
The parent console on the Graco is one of the few in the group to offer closed storage.
The parent console has 2 average depth cups that are closed and not removeable. It has a zippered compartment and a very small mesh pocket. The console has a maximum allowable weight of 3 pounds. The passenger has a soft bottle holster that will fit some bottles, water bottle, and thinner sippy cups. The sippys with wide bottoms or round shape are unlikely to fit.

The canopy on the Graco has added ventilation opened with a zipper and a peek-a-boo window with a hook and loop closure.
The canopy on the Graco has added ventilation opened with a zipper and a peek-a-boo window with a hook and loop closure.

Sunshade
The Graco has a large canopy with no listed SPF. It does offer added ventilation for added airflow and a peek-a-boo window. The window is on the smaller side and it is made of mesh. It scored just above average for the group with the top canopies earning a 9.

The child's cup holder on Graco's bumper bar fits most bottles and some sippy cups we tried.
The child's cup holder on Graco's bumper bar fits most bottles and some sippy cups we tried.

Convenience
Many of the strollers we reviewed did not offer a parent tray so it is nice the Graco has one. It would be better if the cup holders were deeper, or if the zippered pockets were larger, but something is better than nothing. The child bottle holster is removable and can be washed.

This stroller has an adjustable leg rest that is padded. It leads down to a durable overly wide foot rest that is somewhat shallow, but seems easy to clean.

Graco's recline angle is adjusted using a plastic push button that releases and tightens the side straps.
Graco's recline angle is adjusted using a plastic push button that releases and tightens the side straps.
The seat back recline feature needs one hand to lower and two to raise with adjustable straps to loosen and tighten. It is average in for ease of use. The angle for recline has a range from 61.9 to 17.7 degrees.

The double front wheel design like that found on the Graco have historically been harder to maneuver in our experience than single wheels.
The double front wheel design like that found on the Graco have historically been harder to maneuver in our experience than single wheels.

Maneuverability


This is arguably one of the most important metrics for a standard stroller; without it you might not use your stroller and it won't matter how nice it looks or what conveniences it offers. The Graco earned a 5 of 10 for maneuverability, which is 1 point lower than the average and 4 points lower than the high of 9 earned by the BOB Revolution Flex.

The swivel front wheels on the Graco can be locked in place for easier maneuvering over some terrain.
The swivel front wheels on the Graco can be locked in place for easier maneuvering over some terrain.

This stroller felt similar to the Chicco Bravo LE in it handling capabilities. It managed our course fairly well, but it couldn't measure up to the competition. We were able to use this stroller with one hand unlike the Chicco, but we were not able to turn it sharply for quick responses and tight spaces. This stroller had difficulty over rugs and cords and while it rolled fairly easily, small bumps resulted in big jolts. On rougher terrain it struggled through the grass and was worse in gravel. Turning on both was difficult. This stroller wouldn't roll over a 1 inch curb and the front wheels caught on an edge and some testers almost tipped the stroller.

Taking the Graco up and over curbs isn't too bad, but the frame looked like it was going to break. We suspect as baby gets bigger this will be even more of a problem.

The quality of the Graco is not on par with most of the competition  but better than some of the more expensive products in the our tests.
The quality of the Graco is not on par with most of the competition, but better than some of the more expensive products in the our tests.

Quality


The Graco earned a 4 of 10 for quality. This is the low score for the metric. The high score is an 8 earned by the BOB Revolution Flex and UPPAbaby Vista.

The Graco earned one of the lowest scores in the group with only the Baby Trend scoring lower. The seat is made of a tightly woven smooth canvas surrounded by a rougher more durable canvas. The sides of the seat are a smooth flimsy fabric. The canopy is made of the same rough canvas material as the the seat. The peek-a-boo window in the canopy is made of a loosely woven mesh that snagged easily in our tests. The footrest is a stiff piece of plastic covered in an easy to clean canvas material. The storage basket is made of a thin, smooth material with the same mesh on the sides as the peek-a-boo window. The child cup holder is made of neoprene fabric outside and a water resistant material inside.

The frame on this stroller looks a lot like the Baby Jogger options, but it isn't nearly as good and it has more flex in the frame. The overall fit and finish of the materials and construction seem cheap. There is a lot of flex in the frame and the fabric bunches and wrinkles in giving it the look of a child wearing dress up clothes.

The wheels on this stroller are foam filled plastic. They are not our favorite design, and the double front wheel historically is a poor choice for maneuvering well on various terrains. While these wheels will never puncture or go flat, the plastic runs the risk of becoming damaged and you could end up with a stroller that rolls similar to a bad shopping cart.

The parent console on the Graco is one of the few in the group to offer closed storage.
The parent console on the Graco is one of the few in the group to offer closed storage.

The handlebar on this stroller is not adjustable and has a height of 40.7 inches. It feels pretty good for a cheaper stroller with a good sized diameter, and it has better ergonomics than some other Gracos we have looked at. We did not experience a kicking problem with this stroller, which is good considering the handlebar cannot be adjusted.

This stroller has 4 wheel shocks that are not adjustable. They are very stiff and do not offer much in the way of passenger comfort. It has barely any padding over the hard seat.

Safety


The Graco earned an impressive safety score of 7 of 10 that helped bring up its overall score. Only the Baby Jogger City Select earned a higher score than the Graco with an 8.

The brakes on the Graco are sandal foot friendly  but we had trouble ensuring they were really set.
The brakes on the Graco are sandal foot friendly, but we had trouble ensuring they were really set.

Brakes
This stroller has single action brakes that are easy to set and easy to release. The process is sandal foot friendly and has very little play in the brakes of only 0.5 inches. Sliding resistance for this stroller was poor in our tests.

Cup Holders
The depth of the cup holder on the parent console is 2.4 inches. This is about average and not deep enough to ensure items won't fall out. The cup holders are located high and above baby in front of the handlebar. The safety risk is moderate that items could fall out of the holder and onto baby's head. Going over rougher terrain or curbs can increase this potential.

The 5 point harness on the Aire3 has a stiff button that is hard to use.
The 5 point harness on the Aire3 has a stiff button that is hard to use.

Harness
The Aire3 has a 5-point harness that is average to put on and take off of baby. The shoulder strap portion of the harness slips off of the rest of the buckle making it difficult to keep everything together. Once you have it all together it did slide in easily. The release button is stiff and it isn't as easy to operate as others we tested. Everything comes apart easily once you manage the button. Luckily, adjusting the harness is a little easier than actually using it, and it has multiple shoulder height and crotch strap options to help find a good fit for baby.

The Graco is one of the smaller folded options  but not as small as the BOB Motion.
The Graco is one of the smaller folded options, but not as small as the BOB Motion.

Weight and Folded Size


The Graco earned a 7 of 10 for weight and folded size. It is lighter than most of the competition, but doesn't come close to the lightest options in the group. It weighs in at 21 pounds 8 ounces, significantly less than the heaviest stroller. The lightest strollers are 17.5 pounds and both scored higher than this one, the Britax B-Agile 3 and the Baby Jogger City Mini.

The fold strap on the Aire 3 is located under a pocket so children are less likely to pull the strap for fun.
The fold strap on the Aire 3 is located under a pocket so children are less likely to pull the strap for fun.
The Graco has a folded size of 8,550 cubic inches and 24.2"W x 10.3"H x 34.3"L specifically. This is one of the smaller folded packages in the group, and has a higher chance of fitting in smaller trunks. The largest is close to 19,000 cubic inches. If size is a consideration for you or you have a smaller trunk, there are several strollers that fold smaller.

The auto-lock on the Graco works well.
The auto-lock on the Graco works well.

The Graco has a one handed fold that auto-locks, self-stands, and comes with a carry handle. This fold is a 1 step process that is very easy to operate, and we liked that the handle is tucked under the seat to keep children from mistakenly pulling it and folding the stroller accidentally. The unfold requires two hand and 2 steps, but it is still very easy.

The Aire 3 is one of the easiest strollers to put together despite its so so manual.
The Aire 3 is one of the easiest strollers to put together despite its so so manual.

Ease of Setup


This stroller is easy to set up. It took us only 5 minutes to get this stroller out of the box and ready to go; only one stroller in the group is easier; this is impressive given there are 19 products in the group. The documentation is only average however, and had it been better we might have been able to cut this time somewhat. The pictures are only so so and the instructions don't explain enough if this is your first stroller assembly.



Car Seat Compatibility


The Graco comes standard compatible with all Graco Click Connect infant car seats. Graco does not offer any additional adapters for use with brands other than Graco. This makes the stroller somewhat self-limiting. The seat on the Aire3 is not removeable so you must install the infant seat on top of the toddler seat. This means you will have the canopy from the stroller as well as the infant seat to cover baby. The stroller is 21 pounds 8 ounces and doesn't really work as a stand in for a frame stroller. The Graco SnugRider Elite is a high ranking frame stroller that only weighs 13 pounds 6 ounces and might be better for the first 6-9 months of baby's strolling life.

The seat on the Graco needs to be fully reclined before you can attach the infant car seat.
The Graco infant seat is difficult to install on the Aire3 and it doesn't feel stable compared to many of the other stroller car seat combinations we tested.
 
We tested the Aire 3 with a Click Connect infant car seat and found it somewhat difficult to install. You have to get both sides lined up just right before lower the seat, and you need to use more pressure to get it to click in properly. Removing the seat is easy, and it feels stable once installed, but being difficult to install makes it one we weren't huge fans of. On the up side we did not experience any false installations where we thought it was installed and it really wasn't.

Best Applications


Parents that trust the Graco name will be drawn to this stroller. It is similar in looks to some of the higher end competition, which might make parents think it is similar in performance and function. Unfortunately, even though it scored better than some of the competition, it still doesn't have a best application. Even if you already have a Graco compatible infant car seat, you still have better stroller options using car seat adapters.

Value


Some parents might be drawn to this stroller thanks to the lower price tag. Only the Baby Trend Expedition has a cheaper list price. However, when considering a stroller it is important to realize that up to a certain price point you might get what you pay for. Not only did the cheaper Baby Trend score higher than the Graco, a Best Value winner Britax B-Agile 3 is only about $40 more depending on sales. The Baby Trend scored 1 point higher with a cheaper list price and a much better score for maneuverability than the Graco. The Britax scored 6 points higher. Both of these factors make the Graco not the best value despite its low price tag.

The front double wheel design on the Graco is part of the reason it is difficult to maneuver.
The Graco Aire3
 

Conclusion


The photos above show the Graco with the canopy closed and fully open. It can open slightly wider if you open the additional ventilation zipper.

It is hard to find something to truly love about this stroller. It is almost as middle of the road as it can be and our tests revealed it lacked some key components that make a stroller truly a pleasure to own like poor maneuverability and quality. Given that this stroller is a fairly cheap model there is something to be said for it earning a higher overall score than several strollers 2-3 times its price. It earned impressive marks for safety and weight and folded size (thanks mostly to a compact fold and a bus friendly commuting score). Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to pull up the overall score of the stroller and it failed to meet expectations making it a stroller we don't recommend.

Other Versions and Accessories


Graco makes multiple different strollers of various types and configurations. We have reviewed a few different strollers in the past including a lightweight option and a jogging style stroller. So far only the Graco SnugRider Elite has managed an award winning score.

There were no accessories available for this stroller.

Video


The first 2 minutes of this Graco video focuses upon the Aire3 stroller with the last 45 seconds reviewing how it can be used as a complete travel system with the Graco Click Connect 35 infant car seat.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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Most recent review: January 28, 2016
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