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Hands-on Gear Review
Graco SnugRider Elite ReviewPrice: $100.00 List | $63.89 at Amazon - 36% off
Pros: Lightest, easy fold
Cons: Poor car seat attachment, hard to push and turn
Bottom line: Poor mover with difficult car seat attachment
The Graco SnugRider Elite strolls in the middle of the pack with a performance that failed to impress. While it scored above average in the review, it wasn't a stand out in any metric, and we expected more from a Graco-brand frame stroller that only works with Graco car seats. It offers a hard to use storage bin, shallow cup holders that present a potential safety concern, and car seat attachment that requires more effort than it probably should for a product specifically designed with its brand car seats in mind. Overall, this Graco product has limitations including Graco only compatibility, poor maneuverability, and low scores for ease of use and quality. We feel even if you already own a Graco car seat, you would be better off with another stroller and Graco adapter.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Stroller and Car Seat Combos for 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
In 1942, in Philadelphia, PA, Russell Gray and Robert Cone formed the Graco company as a metal fabrication shop making car parts. Some years later Gray left and Cone hired David Saint, an engineer, to help design a line of baby-centric products. The first item was a swing for infants inspired by the use of an outdoor glider to soothe a coworker's newborn. The unique swing sold millions and put Graco on the map as one of the world's leading manufacturers of baby gear.
This comparison chart includes the overall scores for the combination products we tested
The information in the sections below include details on how the Graco compared to other products for each metric.
Ease of Attaching Car Seat
The SnugRider earned a 6 of 10 for ease of car seat attachment, which is the average for the group, and 4 points below the high score of 10 earned by the Doona Combo that is a car seat and stroller together in one product. For a product specifically designed for its brand of car seat, you'd think attaching a Graco seat to the Graco SnugRider would be easier.
We tested our SnugRider with the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 and the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35. Both seats should just click into place when you put the carrier onto the frame and apply a little pressure. We had similar problems with both of them appearing to be properly latched in place, but not actually being fully connected when we tugged on the handle. The back portion of the carrier installs easily and could leave parents thinking it is secure, but in our tests for both models, we had to apply more pressure to the foot portion of the carrier to get the bottom latched in place. Even when we heard the audible click, it wasn't always truly attached so we recommend parents give the carrier handle a good tug to determine how well they have done their installation job.
Because this frame product is made for carrying a car seat, it seems unfortunate that the carriers are so difficult to attach. We had some similar problems with other strollers, but the cause was usually a conflicting canopy or seat fabric mucking up the connection. Given that this isn't an issue here, it just ends up feeling like the two products weren't designed with the other in mind. Overall the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 was slightly easier to install and use making it the best combination for the Elite.
Weight and Folded Size
The Graco earned a 9 of 10 for weight and folded size. Given that new moms are often limited on how much weight they are allowed to lift, we feel the weight and size are worth a lot and that is what makes the frame strollers so good at what they were designed to do. The Elite weighs 13.3 lbs, the third lightest in the group.
The SnugRide measures about 6,473 cubic inches when folded making it the smallest option in the review. The UPPAbaby Cruz Combo is a full-size stroller with lots to offer and it is only 2 lbs heavier and about 1,400 cubic inches bigger than the Graco. Unlike the Graco, it will last you through the toddler years.
This Graco earned a 4 of 10 for maneuverability. Most strollers with plastic wheels suffer when it comes to maneuverability. We liked that Graco has ditched the dual front wheel design but it didn't improve maneuverability enough to score better than other frame options. The high for the group is 9 for the BOB Revolution Flex Combo jogging stroller and the Baby Jogger City Mini GT Combo which both have rubber tires.
The Graco has significant enough flex in the frame that it often lifts the front wheels off the ground when pushing. This product negotiates hard flat surfaces fairly well and can turn in tight space or make it through narrow doorways. It can push off road, but turning is a chore and not something we recommend doing for very far. It has trouble on curbs and while the brakes don't get locked up, they do drag and catch causing the stroller to tilt forward.
The handlebar on the Graco is adjustable at a pivot point. The bar itself is flat with a rubber cover that feels difficult to clean and easy to get dirty. We didn't like the way the handle feels when pushing and the flat bar will be uncomfortable on longer trips.
The wheels on this stroller are foam filled plastic. They are larger than those found on the other frame products in this review and they feel dense and sturdy. The wheels spin freely with little resistance and no visible wobble. The larger size looks more substantial and eludes to better maneuverability even if it doesn't deliver. It does have all wheel suspension that when coupled with the larger wheels and flexing frame potentially offer a more comfortable ride for baby, so they don't feel every bump.
Ease of Use
The Graco tied with the Chicco Liteway Plus Combo in ease of use with a score of 3 of 10. It is a tough category for a product that by design is lacking some of the key features and performance this metric looks for.
Fold and Unfold
The Graco has a one handed fold that is fairly easy to fold. It has two steps, auto-locks, self-stands and has a carry strap. The stroller rolls like luggage once folded. Unfolding the Graco is also easy with two steps and it earned the highest score in the group for the unfolding process.
The SnugRider has double action brakes that require the user to push two pedals. Of course, if you can push one pedal, then you can push two, but our concern is parents might get distracted and forget the second brake or choose not to engage it falsely thinking it isn't necessary. The brakes are easy enough to set, average to release, and are sandal foot friendly.
The storage bin on the Graco is fairly large, but thanks to poor access we were only able to fit our medium size diaper bag inside. It offers access to the bin from the front and back, but neither are good with the carrier on board. It has a 10 lb weight limit, but we suspect you will have to place items in the bin one at a time rather than inside a bag. This could be a problem if you need to fold the stroller to take the bus and are left with random supplies to hold in addition to the stroller and car seat with the baby. It does have a zippered pocket in the storage bin for carrying keys, phones, and wallets without fear of them falling out or being swiped by a slick passerby.
The Graco has dual cup holders located high and behind baby on the parent console near the handlebar. The holders are 2.25 inches deep and multiple items fell out during our strolling tests. We think the cup holders are too shallow to use for fear they will topple out and onto the baby. The parent console accepts 2 lbs of supplies but we aren't sure what will fit and stay in it.
Ease of Setup
The SnugRider doesn't require much assembly and its limited parts helped it earn a 9 of 10 for ease of setup. Unlike some of the other frame products, this one comes somewhat put together. It took us just under 6 minutes to unpack this stroller and get it ready to use. The documentation is only about average so it's good there isn't much to do. It is far less complicated than the Chicco Keyfit Caddy with color coded directions that make finding your language easier. We still think it would be easier to make different sections for each language, but color coding is better than all the languages occurring on the same page.
The Graco earned a 4 of 10, which is better than the Chicco Keyfit Caddy with the low score of only 3.
The Graco frame has a lot of plastic components that disrupt the overall fit and finish. Even though the plastic parts feel sturdy, the excessive connection points seem to create a lot of flex in the frame that makes it feel like the whole thing could fall apart. There are a lot of open holes where parts connect and some of the plastic pieces still had plastic shavings attached when we put it together indicating a poor attention to detail in the manufacturing process.
The fabric used on the basket feels flimsy and collects dirt easily. The mesh sides are nice for visibility, but the mesh also feels flimsy. The fabric does not lay nicely and has the appearance of laundry that sat in the hamper for a while.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
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