InStep Grand Safari Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Grand Safari is a jogging style stroller made by InStep who also makes the Schwinn products in this same review. The Grand Safari offers a locking swivel front wheel, rear wheel suspension, and a safety wrist strap for jogging. It comes with a 5 point harness, a child's tray, and a parent console with 2 cup holders and a covered stow bin in between. It has an under seat storage bin, a large canopy, and is easy to fold. This stroller has sports in canopy MP3 speakers, reflectors for better night visibility, and a washable removable seat pad.
This stroller is manufactured by the same company that makes the Schwinn Turismo. With a few slight variations, this stroller is almost identical to the Turismo. The primary differences are the Safari has some steel in the frame, has plastic wheels instead of spoke, and it weighs about 5 pounds more overall. otherwise, the differences between the two are purely cosmetic in nature.
The Grand Safari InStep has a recall for the swivel front wheel quick release mechanism. Parents need to contact the company for replacement parts and discontinue use until updates to the stroller can be made. Click here for more information.
This comparison chart includes the overall score for the Safari (in blue)and the other strollers tested in our jogging stroller review.
The sections below provide performance details for the Safari compared to the competition.
The Grand Safari offer enough to make you think you are probably getting a good jogging product. It has an adjustable handle for good biomechanics, an average suspension, and it is relatively easy to tip and turn. In fact, it is similar to the Schwinn Turismo in almost all respects. It is about 5 pounds heavier which can affect how difficult it is to tip and turn, but overall neither one offered a very good product for running.
It is what the Safari doesn't have that makes it a true disappointment for parents looking for a stroller to run with. It doesn't offer adjustable tracking so if it is off at all you will be spending your time keeping it straight by wrestling it about. A problem that gets worse as you pick up speed. It also has a relatively poor score in our rolling resistance tests which means it has more resistance and will require more pushing power when running than some of the competition; a drawback to an already heavy ride. We also felt the front wheel on the Safari and the Turismo have more "play" in them than most of the other products resulting in a significant wobble as you increase your running speed. We think most experienced runner will be frustrated by this product. Its drawbacks are enough to increase overall running fatigue and could prevent you from going the distance you want
The Safari did relatively well in the metric for maneuverability. It is a little bit tougher to move about than its twin the Turismo given the 5-pound difference, but it isn't difficult and managed to earn a respectable 8 of 10. The swivel wheel models had an edge in the competition being able to make tighter turns than their fixed wheel counterparts The top scorer in our test is the Thule Urban Glide 2 with a 9 that is also a swivel wheel stroller. The lowest score belonged to the Graco once again with a 5 for this metric.
The Safari is easy enough to push and turn, but it feels like a lot of leeway in the steering with exaggerated movements to make small changes. The problem could be the flex in the frame or the general rickety feel of the stroller that makes it feel like it takes longer to respond. It's hard for us to tell, but it was a problem more than one tester remarked on. It generally feels like it lacks precision.
This stroller also did well enough for off-road capabilities. It did seem to want to tip on the hillside part of the course and the flex in the frame once again makes it more difficult to keep on course without over or under correcting. The flex also makes it harder to move from one kind of surface to another, like grass over a lip onto the sidewalk.
Taking steps the Safari failed to impress us with enough bounce and flex that it felt out of control. It was slightly better than the Turismo in this test, perhaps the extra weight prevented it from getting too wobbly. Nether stroller bounces as much as the BOB options with their advanced suspension systems, but the flexing frame and handlebar are enough to make you want to avoid stair altogether.
Ease of Use
The Safari earned one of the lowest scores in the group for ease of use with a 4. While it checks a lot of the boxes for features you might want it doesn't really do many of them well. The best product in the group is the Burley Solstice that scored a 9 with features that are easy to use and perform well.
The Grand Safari has the same storage bin as the Turismo which is relatively large storage basket with rear and side access. It does have a crossbar on the back that will prevent you from getting a diaper bag in in one piece. We feel pretty confident it also won't fit a medium size bag unless it is relatively flat or short. The bin has a 10-pound weight capacity, but we suspect it will be hard to fit 10 pounds in there.
The Safari also has a parent console with 2 cup holders and a small covered compartment in between. The cup holders are better than competition with inner rubber gaskets that actually hold bottles in place, but the compartment is too small and unlikely to hold some of the larger smartphones. We had trouble even fitting larger key chains in the spot, which renders it virtually useless.
The child's tray is almost as equally useless with cup holders too small and shallow for most sippy cups and it will be difficult for children to really use the tray once you start running.
The photos above show the canopy on the Safari as well as the Turismo. The Turismo has an odd clear visor which is too small for rain coverage and is totally clear so it can't block the sun either. We aren't sure what it is supposed to do, but you won't miss in on the Safari.
This InStep has an average to small size sunshade that has some ventilation and a small vinyl window for spying on the baby that stays closed with a hook and loop closure. The whole canopy can detach from the back of the stroller and rotate forward which helps for blocking the sun, but it isn't large enough to cover your child all at once like the canopies on the BOB strollers or the Thules. The canopy does have better ventilation than the Schwinn Arrow, but overall it is a disappointment. While it does offer a little more coverage, it still offers significantly less protection than most.
Like the two Schwinn models this stroller also has speakers in the canopy. And just like the other strollers, we think you should ignore that these exist and don't consider it part of your decision-making process. The speakers are cheaply made and look like a child put them together with a glue gun in the basement. They are also hard to hear for children at speed and you probably won't be able to hear them at all if there is traffic. We think you'd be better off buying a weatherproof Bluetooth speaker that you can attach to the stroller frame or stuff in a cup holder.
This stroller has a one hand recline that is not intuitive at first and a little stiff. It reclines to 21 degrees from flat and the padded seat insert means little ones can probably get cozy as long as the road stays smooth. The bottom of the seat curves down to a plastic footrest and is once again identical to the Turismo.
This product is a middle of the road option that earned a 6 of 10 for quality and failed to impress in a similar way that the other InStep products, the Schwinn models failed to impress. The average score in our quality metric is an 8. The Turismo earned a 6 and the Arrow a 5.
The Safari fabric has a smooth plastic feel to it. It is easy to wipe clean, but it might not be the friendliest to sit on and we wonder if it is breathable. The sheepskin liner will likely only make it hotter in the summertime and not that useful in the winter given that little ones are likely to be better dressed and not in need of a seat liner. The fabric also failed our snag tests; the Instep products were the only ones in the group to fail.
The frame on this stroller is made of steel and aluminum which did little to improve the flexing we experienced on the Turismo. This stroller is almost as rickety and the flex points where the stroller folds is just as troublesome.
The wheels on this stroller are molded plastic with pneumatic tires. The tires are the same as those on the Turismo even if the wheels are different. This model has a similar wiggle in the axle problem as the other InStep strollers we looked at and confirmed our belief that cheaper strollers have greater tolerances than the more expensive options.
The fit and finish of the Safari are not good overall but on par with the Other InStep products. This stroller is almost identical to the other Schwinn options and very similar to the Baby Trend Expedition in design, but not as tight as the Baby Trend. The frame on both strollers are similar and the child tray is just a little bit bigger on the Safari. The canopy attachment and all the other fasteners, rivets and connection points are fairly loose and creating a finish that we feel isn't as tailored as it should be for the price.
The comfort on this stroller is also questionable. While it seems like it might be cozy with the visually appealing sheepskin padding, it has a non-adjustable suspension that isn't great and a flexing frame which could lead to feeling every bump on the road.
This stroller received a 4 of 10 for safety which made it one of the lowest scoring products in our review. While the average score for this metric is a 6, there were several that tied with a high score of 7.
This stroller has double action brakes with both sides needing to be engaged for proper brake use. The brakes are not the easiest to set and parents might think they have set them when they really haven't. The brake can pop out of position if not properly set deep in the groove, so we encourage parents to double check the brakes before leaving the stroller. The brakes also have more play in them than some of the competition and only requires 30 pounds of pressure to slide forward and 32 to move back. Single action brakes are easier to set and seem to have less play than the double action brakes, that we prefer.
The cup holders on the Safari are set high on the frame and could result in a bonk on baby's head should a water bottle topple out while moving. It is a potential safety risk for baby and we think parents shouldn't use it, at the very least not while running and definitely not with hot beverages ever.
The Safari has a 5-point harness system that is simple to attach and undo. It adjusts small enough for smaller riders with adjustable shoulder and crotch straps. The shoulder strap padding is in a better place than most making adjustments on the fly easier and the straps potentially more comfortable.
This stroller has a wrist safety strap in case parents trip or loose contact with the stroller while running. This can come in handy going downhill as well. The strap on the Safari mounts low on the back of the frame and we like this position better than the handlebar where parents might pull the stroller over should they fall.
Weight and Folded Size
The Safari weighs 30.6 pounds all on its own which makes it one of the heaviest in our review with only a couple of strollers weighing more. It earned a 6 in the metric for weight and folded size primarily because of the extra heft. However, 6 is the average score for the group so it made up some lost ground by being smaller than some when folded and easier for commuting that the longer and fixed wheel options. The top scorers, the Thule Glide and Thule Urban Glide 2 both earned 8s in this metric.
It's about 13,688 cubic inches when folded; this makes it in the top half of products for smaller folded size. It is more likely to fit easily in most trunks than some of the competition that might require wheel removal to squeeze into tighter space.
This stroller requires 2 hands to fold and includes a process of dual button pushing, sliding connectors on the frame and then folding in half. It isn't graceful or pretty, but it is easily done and gets easier with practice. The seat must be reclined prior to attempting the fold which is sort of annoying and a pain if you forget to do it, and the front wheel can get in the way if it isn't locked in the forward position. This will keep the stroller from folding properly. It will self-stand if you move the handle just right, but it is not advertised as a self-standing product.
Unfolding the Safari is also a 2 hand deal. It is essentially the reverse of the fold but comes with the added potential of finger or hand pinching at the hinge point. Parents should take extra care when unfolding that little ones are nowhere near the product to avoid injuries to little hands and fingers. Previous versions of the Baby Trend Expedition had a similar issue at the hinge point which has since been updated. We think InStep should consider doing the same for all its strollers that share this flawed design.
Ease of Setup
This stroller earned a 6 of 10 for ease of setup. It took us 6 minutes and 40 seconds to get it out of the box and strolling down the road. While it did have good documentation it is a little more involved than some of the competition and it requires a Phillips head screwdriver while much of the competition are tool free construction. The manual fails to offer a connection point for the safety strap so we had to guess based on photos from their website. The handle on our particular stroller came broken where it mounts to the frame at the height adjustment point. There was no damage to the shipping box so we assume the break happened prior to shipment. Not a deal breaker necessarily, but it might suggest poor quality control before products are packaged and sent out.
The only best application for this stroller is parents who think they simply must have the Schwinn Turismo. Neither of these strollers performed well in our tests and we think there are better options in this review at just about every price point, but if you must have the Turismo we highly encourage you to get the Safari instead and save yourself the $40 difference. Given that the two are virtually identical (minus the Schwinn name and 5 pounds) there is no reason why you won't be just as happy (or unhappy as the case may be) with the Safari as you would be with the Schwinn version. Don't forget both come from the same factory and the differences are not vast nor do they really matter. Keep in mind however that if you are a dedicated runner, you are unlikely to enjoy either stroller, no matter what name is embroidered on the front.
This stroller has a list price of $200, $40 less than its fancy brother the InStep Schwinn Turismo. We don't think it is an exceptional value given how poorly it performed in our tests, but we do think it is a better value than the Schwinn version of this product. However, on that note, it is strikingly similar to the Baby Trend Expedition as well, in styling, design, and features, and we think parents would be even happier paying the $120 list price for the Baby Trend option over both InStep products. The Baby Trend Expedition won our Best Value award by offering a product that is budget friendly but also scores fairly well during testing. So while the Baby Trend is not great for serious runners, we would argue that the Safari isn't either, so you might as well save some more money and get the cheaper option. We think dedicated runners should spend more on a better jogging product than compromise with a cheaper middle of the road option.
The Grand Safari tied for the last place out of 16 strollers along with another InStep product, the Schwinn Arrow. It earned only 47 points of 100, 2 less than the more expensive Turismo and 37 points less than our top-ranked Thule Urban Glide. This makes the Grand Safari a stroller that looks good on paper but fails to perform or pass testing muster the way we would have expected given the higher price tag and features. This stroller and its Schwinn brothers should be good middle of the road options for parents uninterested in jogging every day, but still wanting to reserve the right to go for a run, and the Safari's list price might make parents think they are getting just that, but unfortunately it failed to impress us during testing and it is hard to find a real reason to buy any of the InStep products, much less the lowest scoring option in the review. We think parents are better off choosing the economical Baby Trend Expedition if jogging isn't really their thing, or the Thule Urban Glide 2 if they jog on a regular basis. We think that cutting corners with this product will only cause frustration and disappointment that you didn't spend more or less. We do not recommend this stroller.