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Hands-on Gear Review

Bugaboo Cameleon3 Combo Review

Price:   $1,149.00 List | $1,029.05 at Amazon - 10% off
Pros:  Easy Chicco seat attachment
Cons:  Difficult to attach Peg Perego, heavy, expensive
Bottom line:  High price for a heavy, harder to push stroller but the Chicco Keyfit 30 is easy to attach
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Bugaboo

The Skinny

The Bugaboo Cameleon 3 earned 68 points out of 100 in our review for stroller car seat combinations. The score gave it a sixth place rank tying with the UPPAbaby Cruz Combo. The Cameleon is a high-end stroller that works well with at least the Chicco car seat adapter but disappointed us with the Peg Perego adapters. While it isn't the heaviest or the largest product in the bunch, we just weren't that impressed with its performance or features to offer it an award or a real nod of approval.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Stroller and Car Seat Combos for 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

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

Last Updated:
Sunday
June 19, 2016

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The Bugaboo Cameleon is the larger Bugaboo product in this review. It has an aluminum alloy frame with two wheel adjustable shocks and single action brakes. The car seat adapter is easy to click-in, and some infant car seat carriers click in place smoothly and with little effort compared to the competition. It offers rubber tires, above average quality, and an easy to fold frame. This stroller is compatible with several popular car seats with the purchase of additional adapters.
The Bugaboo Cameleon 3 works well with the Chicco Keyfit 30 car seat adapter.
The Bugaboo Cameleon 3 works well with the Chicco Keyfit 30 car seat adapter.

Performance Comparison


The following chart is a comparison of the overall scores for each combination we tested for this review. The Cameleon bar is blue


The information provided below offers details on how the Cameleon compared to the competition during testing.

Ease of Attaching Car Seat


The Cameleon tied with the Bee for ease of car seat attachment with 9 of 10 scores. The Doona earned a perfect 10 because the car seat is always attached to the stroller portion of the product with no attachment necessary.

The Chicco adapter for the Cameleon is a metal loop that requires assembly but it easy to use.
The connectors on the Cameleon for the Peg Perego were easy to attach to the frame but difficult to use with the car seat.
 
The photos above show the car seat adapters for the Chicco (left) and the Peg Perego (right).

The Cameleon is compatible with a few more seats than its little brother the Bugaboo Bee3 Combo. With the purchase of adapters you can use the Britax B-Safe 35, B-Safe, and B-Safe 35 Elite; the Chicco Keyfit 30 and the Chicco Keyfit; the Cybex Aton 2 and the Aton Q; the Maxi-Cosi Mico, Mico AP, Mico NXT, and the Maxi-Cosi Prezi; and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35. We tested this stroller with the Chicco Keyfit 30 and the Peg Perego.

The Chicco Car seat adapter for the Cameleon 3.
The Chicco Car seat adapter for the Cameleon 3.
The attachment of the Chicco onto the Cameleon adapter is similar to how it attaches to the car seat base.
The attachment of the Chicco onto the Cameleon adapter is similar to how it attaches to the car seat base.
The Chicco adapter requires some assembly, and you'll need a Phillips head screwdriver to make the connections; there are four pieces and four screws. The adapter is not difficult to put together, but it is an extra step; however, you will only need to put it together once so don't let the extra step dissuade you. The car seat adapter is a metal loop that clicks into the side attachment points on the frame. The standard toddler seat and canopy will need removing before attaching the adapter, but this is also relatively easy to achieve. The carrier drops into the loop and attaches on its own with little to no force required for connection. It doesn't get easier than this attachment. The Cameleon's car seat attachment score is based solely on this car seat combination.

The Peg Perego is extremely difficult to attach to the Cameleon adapter because the sides do not align very easily. Several testers significantly struggled to attach the seat.
The Peg Perego is extremely difficult to attach to the Cameleon adapter because the sides do not align very easily. Several testers significantly struggled to attach the seat.
The Cameleon car seat adapters for the Peg Perego only connect to the side of the frame and aligning the seat to the adapters is very difficult.
The Cameleon car seat adapters for the Peg Perego only connect to the side of the frame and aligning the seat to the adapters is very difficult.
The adapter for the Peg does not require assembly and includes two individual connectors that attach to the side points on the stroller where the seat normally does. Connecting the adapters is easy, connecting the seat is another story. This might be the worst combination in the review, not just for the Cameleon. Attaching this car seat onto the adapters requires aligning both sides at the same time and pressing down until they click in place. While it might sound easy, it is the worst in the group and often required two people to accomplish in our testing. We had serious difficulty in getting both sides aligned and repeatedly failed to make the connections on both sides at the same time resulting in the carrier dropping through and failing to attach. This combination could lead to new mothers crying in frustration and giving up on their outing altogether if they never manage to attach the carrier. If you have the misfortune of trying to use the Cameleon with the Peg Perego seat, we recommend practicing at home with no baby in the seat until you can make the connection with relative ease and no crying.

If you already own the Cameleon, we recommend the Chicco Keyfit 30 adapter and car seat. Alternatively, you could try using any other option where the adapter is a loop style connection as opposed to the two side attachments. We suggest avoiding the Peg Perego seat and any other with the side connection at all costs.

The CHicco fits easily and with little pressure into the adapter on the Cameleon.
The CHicco fits easily and with little pressure into the adapter on the Cameleon.

Weight and Folded Size


The Cameleon is neither light nor small. For weight and folded size, this product earned a 5 of 10 in our tests. This score is average for the group and certainly nothing to write home about. The high for the metric is 9, a score shared by all the dedicated frame strollers that are designed to be lightweight, small in size, and easy to fold and carry.

The Chicco car seat adapter needs to be removed from the Cameleon in order to fold the stroller. This will leave you with 2 items to carry and store.
The Chicco car seat adapter needs to be removed from the Cameleon in order to fold the stroller. This will leave you with 2 items to carry and store.
The Cameleon weighs 17.6 pounds, which is slightly below the average of 18. It has a folded size of 10,226 cubic inches. While the weight is reasonable, if a heavier compared to the frame strollers that weigh closer to 11 pounds, it is the folded size that is harder to manage. The Britax B-Agile 3 is the smallest folded stroller in the group at 6,414 cubic inches, but is still heavy at 17.9 pounds (comparable to the Cameleon). The UPPAbaby Cruz is the lightest standard option in the group at a little over 14 lbs, and it is relatively small when folded at around 8,000 cubic inches; a nice compromise for both metrics and still getting the features and performance of a larger stroller. In comparison, the Doona only weighs 16.5 lbs but this is the weight of the car seat and stroller combined.

The Cameleon is on the big and heavy side compared to the competition  and you must remove the car seat adapter or toddler seat to fold it.
The Cameleon is on the big and heavy side compared to the competition, and you must remove the car seat adapter or toddler seat to fold it.

Folding the Cameleon requires two hands and is tough compared to the competition. It takes five steps and bending to the ground to fold this stroller. This stroller has a busy folding method that requires manual locking, doesn't self-stand, or offer a carry strap. You will also need to remove the car seat adapter before folding as well. The unfold is marginally easier, but still a pain according to testers. It requires two hands and has two steps. You will once again need to bend to the ground to lift the handle to unfold it. After you complete the fold, you will be holding the frame, adapter, and the infant carrier.

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

Maneuverability


The Cameleon earned a 6 of 10 for maneuverability. The Cameleon score is average with the BOB Revolution earning the high of 9 and the Chicco Bravo LE Combo the low score of 3. The Revolution had the edge on the group thanks to its jogging stroller design and features.

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

The smaller footprint of this product makes it easier in tight spots, but it doesn't turn as well as some of the others with more flex in the frame and handlebar than some of the other options. This one is still relatively easy to push on hard surfaces with two hands. One hand is possible, but it isn't easy, and you aren't likely to do it. This stroller has two modes, one for off-road, which makes the pushing on rougher terrain easier, but neither mode is great, and we had some tipping problems in off-road mode, and both wheels got stuck in the grate when we tried pushing it over.

To learn more details about pushing and turning this product, please read more in our review of the best full-size strollers.

Attaching the Peg Perego to the Cameleon is the most difficult thing about the Cameleon.
Attaching the Peg Perego to the Cameleon is the most difficult thing about the Cameleon.

Ease of Use


Much like its little brother the Bugaboo Bee3 this stroller did not perform well in our tests for ease of use with a 4 of 10 in the metric. The average for the group is 5, and the high is 7 earned by the Chicco Bravo LE Combo.

The Cameleon storage bin looks fairly large  but it can only hold 8.8 pounds and it only worked with our medium size diaper bag.
The Cameleon storage bin looks fairly large, but it can only hold 8.8 pounds and it only worked with our medium size diaper bag.

The storage bin on the Cameleon is medium in size, and it fit our medium diaper bag. The bin has average access from the front, sides, and back with a maximum allowable weight of 8.8 pounds. The limiting factor to this bin is the weight limit, that doesn't come close to the UPPAbaby products that are 25 and 30 pounds each. This means you will be limited in what kind of supplies you can carry with you. For some, it will mean your diaper bag alone, but most will be unable to run errands or buy a few grocery supplies without having to carry them by hand to transport.

When releasing the handbrake on the Cameleon you need to be careful it doesn't snap back on your hand.
When releasing the handbrake on the Cameleon you need to be careful it doesn't snap back on your hand.

This stroller has single action brakes that are easy to set and release. It is a handbrake model, and you need to make sure you are cautious when releasing the brake, so it doesn't slap you in the back of the hand. The brake is stiffer than other hand brakes we've seen in other products, but it is still pretty easy.

The canopy on this stroller is large with no additional ventilation or peek-a-boo window. However, the canopy doesn't work with the car seat adapters, so it won't be a problem until later. Because some products allow the use of the native canopy which increases baby's protection from the elements, it is a shame when it doesn't work. The lack of stroller shade means you will need to rely on the canopy that comes with the car seat as baby's only source of protection from the sun and other elements.

There is no other storage or items of convenience for parents or baby to stow items. It does have a padded leg rest that is not adjustable and various recline positions on the standard toddler seat, but the recline adjustment isn't easy and not applicable to the frame when used with a car seat. The stroller does come standard with a rain cover and bassinet, though it does not appear that you can use the rain cover with a car seat.

Quality


One would think a high priced product like the Cameleon would rank higher in the quality department. As it is this Bugaboo earned a 7 of 10, which isn't bad mind you, but not the best in the group. The high for the group is 8 shared by the UPPAbaby Vista and the BOB Revolution.

The aluminum finish frame is more robust than the one on the Bee, and we like the way it looks. It feels sturdy, but there is some flex that makes it harder to push. The frame design is simpler and looks cleaner than the Bee with fewer plastic components. The heavier canvas fabric lays nicely on the frame, and it doesn't wrinkle or bunch. The storage basket is a heavier material than the seat and canopy and has a plastic piece in the bottom to help it retain shape.

The wheels are foam filled rubber and are larger and more functional than those on the Bee. We like the performance of rubber and think foam is nice if you are worried about a flat tire, but if you aren't going to be off-roading, it seems like overkill and the extra performance of pneumatic tires might be preferred. However, the wheels spin nicely and have little resistance. The back wheels are larger than the front, but both roll equally smooth. The front wheels have adjustable shocks, and the rear wheels have none.

The release button for the Cameleon handlebar.
The release button for the Cameleon handlebar.
The adjustable handlebar has a range of 39.8 to 44.2 inches from the ground. The handle is a little larger than the one found on the Bee, but it still doesn't feel that great in the hand because the tubing is too flat.

The fabric on this stroller is machine washable. The frame has a 2-year warranty, and the components have a one year.

The Bugaboo Cameleon is an example of a standard size stroller. It is more complex than a frame option  but not as complex as a jogging style product.
The Bugaboo Cameleon is an example of a standard size stroller. It is more complex than a frame option, but not as complex as a jogging style product.

Ease of Setup


The Cameleon is one of the harder products to assemble and earned a 4 of 10 for this metric; this is a tie with the Peg Perego Booklet Combo. The worst is the Cameleon's little brother the Bugaboo Bee with a score of 3. The easiest stroller to assemble is the UPPAbaby Cruz with a perfect score of 10 and a stroller that comes almost entirely assembled.

The Cameleon took just over 14 minutes to assemble from unpacking the box to ready to stroll. The documentation that comes with it is poor and made up of illustrations that are difficult to follow and no words to help explain them. It isn't the worst thing to put together, but we are grateful it is a project that only needs to happen once.

Best Applications


Some parents who are curious about the Bugaboo name or implied quality and status might be interested in this stroller. However, while it might be easy to attach a seat to, it is also the most expensive stroller in the group, and it doesn't have some of the features we think parents would want from a standard size stroller. So while we can forgive a cheap frame stroller for having limited performance or convenience features, it is hard to forgive the same from a stroller of this price. The Cameleon has limited storage, no canopy with car seats, disappointing size and weight, and shocks on only two wheels.

Value


The Cameleon has the highest list price in the group of close to $1200. For this price, we would expect it to come with more features or better performance than the majority of options in the group. However, the UPPAbaby Cruz scored the same overall and had a significantly larger storage bin with a 25 lb maximum allowable weight. With a list price closer to $500 and an Editors' Choice award in 2 categories we think it is a better value than the Cameleon. If a Bugaboo is your brand of choice, the Bee scored higher and cost less than the Cameleon, and all you seem to sacrifice is about 4 pounds of storage and adjustable shocks with an off-road mode. The Bee earned a Top Pick for Urban use in this review.

In our tests the Cameleon worked far better with the Chicco car seat than it did with the Peg option thanks to a significantly easier to use adapter.
In our tests the Cameleon worked far better with the Chicco car seat than it did with the Peg option thanks to a significantly easier to use adapter.

Conclusion


The Cameleon is an interesting high priced stroller that looks good and earned a sixth place rank in this review tying with the UPPAbaby Cruz. It has one of the easiest car seat attachment adapters in the review (for the Chicco). On the downside, however, this stroller has only one storage location with a weight capacity of only 8 lbs, plus it is heavier and larger than the comparable UPPAbaby Cruz. This product did not score well in our standard stroller review and despite the easy to use Chicco adapter it isn't enough to make this product a standout in our mind or worth the larger price tag.

Other Versions


Bugaboo also makes the Bugaboo Bee3 Combo that we reviewed here and in our full-size stroller review. The Bee earned the highest overall score in this review and had the easiest car seat attachment when coupled with the Chicco Keyfit 30 infant car seat. While the Bee still has a higher price tag than much of the competition, it is lower than the Cameleon and better option in our opinion for parents who are interested in the Bugaboo brand or who want the easiest option for car seat attachment.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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Most recent review: June 19, 2016
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