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 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 Graco. Given that this stroller failed to break the top half of the products and has disappointing scores in metrics that matter, it is not a stroller we recommend.
Graco Aire3 Review
Pros: Easy to setup
Cons: Hard to push and turn, limited storage access, front wheels pull it off course
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
In 1942, two entrepreneurs from Philadelphia, Russell Gray, and Robert Cone founded the Graco company for car parts fabrication. Years later Gray decided to leave the company, and Cone switched the company focus to baby products with engineer assistance. The first product launch was an infant swing inspired by an outdoor glider used by a coworker to calm their baby. The innovative swing sold millions and put the company on the road to success.
Ease of Use
The Graco Aire3 is more challenging to use than most of the competition.
Fold and Unfold
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 easy to operate, and we like that the handle is tucked under the seat to keep children from pulling it. The unfold requires two hands and two steps and is still very easy.
The Aire 3 single action brakes are easy to use. The process is sandal foot friendly and has very little play.
The Graco has a large storage bin, but it only holds our medium diaper bag thanks to a bar under the seat that severely restricts the size of the opening limiting access. So, while the Graco has a maximum limit of 10 lbs, you won't be able to fit a larger diaper bag inside the bin.
The parent console has two average depth cups that are closed and not removable. It has a zippered compartment and a tiny mesh pocket. The console has a maximum allowable weight of 3 lbs. The passenger has a soft bottle holster that will fit some baby and water bottles and thinner sippy cups. The sippys with full bottoms or round shapes are unlikely to fit.
The Graco has a large canopy with no listed SPF. It does have ventilation for airflow and a peek-a-boo window. The window is mesh and on the smaller side.
The Aire3's 5-point harness is only average to use. The shoulder strap portion of the harness slips off of the rest of the buckle making it frustrating 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. Adjusting the harness is a little easier than using it, and it has multiple shoulder height and crotch strap options.
The seat back recline feature needs one hand to lower and two to raise with adjustable straps to loosen and tighten. This stroller has an adjustable leg rest that is padded and leads down to a durable overly wide footrest that is somewhat shallow but seems easy to clean.
Car Seat Compatibility
The Graco comes standard compatible with all Graco Click Connect infant car seats. Graco does not offer additional adapters for use with brands other than Graco. This lack of compatibility makes the stroller somewhat self-limiting. You must install the infant seat on top of the toddler seat which means you will have the canopy from the stroller as well as the infant seat to cover baby.
We tested the Aire 3 with a Click Connect infant car seat and found it difficult to install. You have to get both sides lined up before you lower the seat, and you need to use more pressure to get it to click in. Removing the seat is easy, and it feels stable once installed, but being difficult to install is a bummer given they are made to go together.
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. The documentation is only average, and had it been better we might have been able to cut this time. The pictures are only so-so, and the instructions don't explain enough for first-timers.
This is arguably one of the most important metrics for a standard stroller and this Graco disappoints for maneuverability with a score below the average.
We were able to use this stroller with one hand, 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 the 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.
Weight and Folded Size
The Graco is lighter than most of the competition but doesn't come close to the lightest options in the group. It weighs in at around 21 lbs, significantly less than the heaviest stroller, but the lightest stroller is 17.5 lbs and scores higher.
The Graco has a folded size of 8,550 cubic inches. This is one of the smaller folded packages in the group and has a higher chance of fitting in smaller trunks, though several are closer to 6,500.
The Graco is poor quality compared to the competition. The seat is a tightly woven smooth canvas surrounded by a rougher more durable canvas. The material on the sides of the seat is a smooth flimsy fabric. The canopy is the same rough canvas material as the seat, but the peek-a-boo window in the canopy is 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 a thin, smooth material with the same mesh on the sides as the peek-a-boo window. The child cup holder is 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 feel cheap. There is a lot of flex in the frame and the fabric bunches and wrinkles.
The wheels on this stroller are foam filled plastic. The double front wheel historically is a poor choice for maneuvering. While these wheels will never puncture or go flat, plastic runs the risk of becoming damaged.
The handlebar on this stroller is not adjustable, but it feels good for a cheaper stroller with a good-sized diameter and better ergonomics than other Gracos. This stroller has four-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.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team