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Hands-on Gear Review
UPPAbaby Cruz Review
Price: $500.00 List | $499.99 at Amazon
Pros: Easy to use, lots of supplies fit in storage, quality materials
Cons: Harder to push with smaller wheels, lower safety score
Bottom line: Editors' Choice stroller we really enjoyed with lots of features that work well
The Cruz is an impressive stroller that stands out in the crowd of 19 strollers in this competition. This stroller has a high for ease of use and is relatively light and small for what it has to offer. It has a sleek aluminum alloy frame that doesn't flex under pressure. The adjustable seat has a variety of possible positions and removes in a snap without a struggle. It features one of the only adjustable leg/foot rest in the group and has a maximum allowable storage capacity that is second only to one other product in this review. While we wish it were easier to push, we can forgive this small failing thanks to all it has to offer.
The UPPAbaby Cruz also performed well in our Best Stroller and Car Seat Combos review, earning an Editors' Choice award and proving it is a good option from infant to toddler with infant car seat combination potential.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Full-size Strollers of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The UPPAbaby Cruz has an aluminum alloy frame and AirGo patent-pending wheels that never go flat with foam filling. This stroller's toddler seat can be used forward and backwards, completely upright, fully reclined and is operated with one hand. It has a pull out extendable sunshade that is height adjustable and SPF 50+. It has a large basket with a 25 pound weight capacity and features a telescoping adjustable handlebar, a one piece foam molded bumper bar and included bug and rain shield. This stroller can be folded with or without the seat attached and it self-stands. The Cruz can be paired with the Mesa Infant car seat without adapters, and is compatible with select Chicco and Maxi-Cosi car seats with additional adapters sold separately.
This comparison chart shows the overall scores for each stroller we tested in this review. It is easy to see why the UPPAbaby Cruz (shown in blue) earned an award given its impressive rank and high ease of use score.
The sections below provide the details from our testing process for each metric. The information includes how the Cruz performed compared to the competition. Ease of use and maneuverability were given more weight in our calculation of the overall scores.
Ease of Use
The Cruz is so easy to use it scored the high score in the group tying with its brother the UPPAbaby Vista with an 8.
Ease of use encompasses your everyday experience when using a stroller, including the amenities you use the most.
This stroller has one of the largest storage bins in the group with one of the highest allowable weight capacities at 25 pounds. It is extra large compared to the competition and has easy access on all sides including the front. We were able to fit our extra large diaper bag inside with no problem, and it doesn't matter what position you have the seat, all configurations are equally easy for utilizing the basket.
The Cruz's sunshade is equally impressive, it is one of the largest and nicest in the group with an SPF of +50 and a kick out sun visor for extra protection. It does offer additional ventilation when fully open and it has a large peek-a-boo window made of mesh that is easy to see through.
The Cruz does not offer any kind of parent or child's tray for added convenience, which we feel is somewhat of an oversight, but it can be purchased after the fact if it is a must have. The upside is the storage basket is so large you should be able to store most things inside it with ease. The Cruz also comes with a bumper bar, and a rain/bug shield.
The seat back recline is another shining feature of the Cruz. It is one of the easiest to use in the review, with a push button operation that can be used with one hand to raise and lower. This is a big step up over the two strap design that comes together in a plastic pull and requires two hands to move up seen on the majority of the competition we looked at. It has a recline range of 62.2 to 27.8 degrees.
The Cruz struggled a bit with maneuverability compared to some of the competition. It is better than about half of the products, but not good enough to make it into the top performer category.
It earned a 6 of 10, which is average for this review. The BOB Revolution Flex earned the top score with a 9.
For pushing and turning on the pavement the Cruz requires two hands. It rolls smoothly, but the turns are a bit difficult. The handlebar adjustment is in the center of the handle, which makes it hard to use one handed. The stroller has a longer wheelbase that makes sharper turns more difficult, but it did move well over carpet however, and in general was nicer than about half the competition.
For pushing and turning off pavement it also manages fairly well with no trouble over grass and only the occasional hiccup over gravel. The front wheels tend to get hung up on irregular rocks, but moving on stairs is untroubling. The stroller has all wheel shocks and the front wheels can be locked to prevent swivelling if need be for pushing on rougher surfaces.
We have always been impressed with the overall quality of UPPAbaby products and the Cruz is no exception. This product earned a 7 of 10 in this metric 1 point below the high score of 8 shared by its big brother UPPAbaby Vista and the BOB Revolution Flex.
The fabric on the seat, basket, and canopy is a soft and tightly woven canvas that is nice to the touch and wipes clean relatively easily. The canvas reaches all the way down to the footrest that is made of smooth plastic.
The sides of the basket are made of a sturdy rubber coated mesh. The storage basket has a stiff piece of plastic on the bottom to help retain shape and prevent the bottom from dropping low when loaded. The peek-a-boo window is a very loosely woven mesh that didn't snag in our tests. The extendable sunshade is made out of thin, shiny, and semi-reflective material that sits nicely on the canopy frame.
The welded aluminum frame has a nice tight finish that is simple in design. Everything lines up nicely and attaches well with no rattle. The overall fit and finish is very nice and the fabric wraps around the seat frame well with no bunches or wrinkles. The stitching is well done and we didn't see any doubled stitching or mistakes. The frame is sturdy and the materials appear durable. There is no flex to this frame or handlebar.
The wheels are foam filled plastic made with what UPPAbaby calls AirGo that offer shock absorbing properties and lightweight foam filling that prevent them from becoming misshapen.
The handlebar is adjustable in a telescoping manner unlike much of the competition that rotates from a pivot point. The telescoping prevents flex in the frame or handlebar, and helps the stroller reduce its length if necessary. It has a nice range from 40.6 to 43.2 inches. We weren't the biggest fans of the location of the adjustment button in the middle of the bar because it makes it difficult to maneuver the stroller with one hand. The tubing is a nice size and shape and it is easy to grip. The bar is foam covered with the exception of the handle adjustment button that is hard plastic.
The Cruz does not have the typical suspension seen on most of the products, but the manufacturer does claim shock absorbing properties in their patent pending AirGo wheels. It is hard to tell if these make for a more comfortable ride or if they are just marketing hype, but we feel the stroller is relatively comfortable with nice padding on the seat and no wobble or movement where the seat attaches to the frame.
This product earned a below average score for safety with a 5 of 10. This is 3 points below the top score of 8 won by the Baby Jogger City Select.
The Cruz has single action brakes that are sandal foot friendly and easy to set and release.
They have an average sliding resistance when set, and limited play in the brakes of 0.5 inches, which we consider to be good. The brake is one giant red pedal in the center of the back side of the frame near the storage bin.
The 5-point harness on this stroller is easy peasy no matter what you hope to do with it. It is easy to put on and take off, as well as easy to adjust and change shoulder height and crotch strap positions. The adjustable crotch strap increase the chances that you can get a good fit. The two side straps pop as they click in the buckle so you know they are in, and while the release button can be a little stiff the parts come apart easily after it is pushed. It offers a non-rethread harness adjustment with a unique hook system that is easy to use once you know how.
Weight and Folded Size
For a stroller with so much to offer it is surprisingly light with a weight of 21.6 pounds.
The lightest strollers in the group are the Britax B-Agile 3 and the Baby Jogger City Mini, both weighing 17.5 pounds. The folded size of the Cruz is also relatively impressive measuring at 22"W x 14.9"H x 36.5"L and 11,965 cubic inches.
The fold on the Cruz requires two hands and two steps to complete. It features an auto-lock and a self-stand, but no carry strap. We weren't big fans of the self-stand because it is a little temperamental, and you do need to bend all the way over to complete the fold, but the steps are few and the process is simple. Unfolding is a similar story, also requiring two hands and two steps, but we did find it a little easier than the fold.
Ease of Setup
The Cruz is the easiest to set up in the group with a score of 10 of 10. Its brother, the UPPAbaby Vista, is also easy and came close to tying the Cruz with a 9. The Cruz took about 4 and half minutes to put together and the included manual is very good. It offers a simple quick start guide with 7 clear steps. But, this product is so simple and easy you might be able to put it together without even cracking the book.
Car Seat Compatibility
The Cruz is similar in its car seat compatibility to the UPPAbaby Vista; it works with the UPPAbaby Mesa and uses the toddler seat attachment points on the stroller frame. The Mesa connects with a click in method and requires the toddler seat and canopy (they are connected) to be removed. The canopy on the car seat will be the only canopy for this stroller. It is easy to click in once you get both sides lined up properly, and feels fairly stable. In our tests, we did not experience any false installations where we thought it was connected but wasn't really seated properly. The frame alone weighs 14 pounds 14 ounces, making it on par with some of the stroller and car seat combos we reviewed, this potentially makes the Cruz the only stroller you need to buy. The Mesa won a Top Pick award in our infant car seat review and would make a great addition to this stroller to create a travel system.
With the purchase of an adapter, the stroller can also be compatiable with some Maxi-Cosi seats, the Nuna Pipa, and several Cybex options. The second adapter is for Chicco Keyfit and Keyfit 30 models. The Chicco Keyfit 30 is an Editors' Choice winner in our infant car seat review, making it a nice budget-friendly option for parents. However, after purchasing the adapter and the car seat, it comes closer to the price of the Mesa which fits on the frame without an adapter.
All of the seat adapters click onto the stroller frame and all of the infant seats attach to the adapters with a click. We prefer the click in method of attachment because we feel it is faster, more secure, and possible more foolproof since it is easier and often has less play once attached. We tested the Chicco Keyfit 30 adapter with the Cruz. Together the stroller and adapter weighs 16 pounds 7 ounces. The car seat is easy to attach, but does require some extra pressure when you push it on the connectors. Parents should double check and take their time when attaching the seat. Because of the added weight, the need for additional adapter installation, and the fact that the Mesa earned more points in our infant car seat review, we prefered the Mesa with this stroller instead of the Chicco.
Finding the best application for this product isn't hard to do. Whether you like it because it matches your UPPAbaby infant car seat, the UPPAbaby Mesa, or it provides ample storage space and max weight for doing a little shopping this stroller has something for everyone. The Cruz is a great all around stroller that works well as a primary stroller from newborn thru toddlerhood.
The list price of this stroller is $500, and while many strollers in this review have lower list prices, very few offer what the Cruz brings to the table. This stroller is such a pleasure to use it was almost immediately a tester favorite. Whether it is the oversized storage and canopy, or the versatility of the seating options and the quick fold, this stroller has it all and does it with an attention to detail and quality not found in every product. We think most parents will agree that the Cruz is indeed a good value offering more than enough to justify the price.
We gave the UPPAbaby Cruz an Editors' Choice award for earning the second highest score in the group and impressing all testers with its simple design, and high performance. This stroller is a pleasure to use and the storage bin is large enough to meet almost any need you would have strolling out your door and running errands. The extendable canopy is large enough for even the sunniest day and the included weather shield will help you meet any kind of weather with ease. The Cruz is a quality stroller with a thoughtful design that is sturdy and feels like it will stand the test of time. While it isn't the best option for off road fun, we think it is a great stroller most parents will love.
Many accessories are available for use with the Vista for an additional cost. Some of our favorites include:
UPPAbaby makes several strollers including the Cruz and Vista in this review, and the UPPAbaby G-Luxe and UPPAbaby G-Lite in our umbrella stroller review.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
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