Graco SnugRider Elite Review
Pros: Lightest, easy fold
Cons: Poor car seat attachment, hard to push and turn
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
In 1942 Philadelphia, Russell Gray and Robert Cone launched a car part fabrication shop known as Graco. Later, Gray left, and Cone hired David Saint, an engineer, to 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.
Ease of Attaching Car Seat
The SnugRider is about average for ease of car seat attachment. 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 click into place when put onto the frame with a little pressure. We had similar problems with both appearing to be appropriately latched, but not actually being connected when we tugged on the handle. The back portion of the carrier installs easily leaving parents to think it is secure, but in our tests, we had to apply more pressure to the foot portion of the carrier to get the bottom to latch. Even when we heard the audible click, it wasn't always attached, so we recommend parents give the carrier handle a tug to determine if the installation is complete.
Because this product is made for a car seat, it is 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 these aren't issues here, it ends up feeling like the two products aren't designed with each other in mind.
Weight and Folded Size
Given that new moms are often limited on how much they are allowed to lift, we feel the weight and size are what makes the frame strollers so useful. The SnugRider is one of the best in the bunch for this metric. The Elite weighs 13.3 lbs, one of the lightest in the group. The SnugRide measures about 6,473 cubic inches when folded, making it the smallest option in the review.
Most strollers with plastic wheels suffer when it comes to maneuverability. We like that Graco has ditched the dual front wheel design, but it didn't improve maneuverability enough to score well.
The Graco has significant flex in the frame which lifts the front wheels off the ground when pushing. This product negotiates hard flat surfaces reasonably well and can make tight turns and move through narrow doorways. It can push off-road, but turning is a chore and not something we recommend.
The handlebar 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, 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 it doesn't deliver. It has all-wheel suspension that when coupled with the larger wheels and flexing frame potentially offer a more comfortable ride for baby.
Ease of Use
The Graco isn't easy to use. Ease of use is a tough category for a product that by design lacks some of the key features and performance this metric considers.
Fold and Unfold
The Graco has a one-handed fold that is relatively easy. 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.
The SnugRider brakes are double action which requires pushing two pedals to engage. Our concern is parents might get distracted and forget the second pedal or choose not to engage it falsely thinking it isn't 100% necessary. The brakes are easy to set, average to release, and are sandal foot-friendly.
The storage bin on the Graco is relatively 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 onboard. It has a 10 lb allowance, but we suspect you will have to place items in the bin one at a time rather than inside a bag. This design could be a problem if you need to fold the stroller to take the bus and are left with random supplies to hold. It has a zippered pocket in the storage bin for carrying keys, phones, and a wallet without fear of them falling out or being swiped.
The Graco has dual cup holders located high and behind the baby on the parent console. The holders are 2.25 inches deep, and multiple items fell out during our tests. We think the cup holders are too shallow to use for fear they will topple onto the baby.
Ease of Setup
The SnugRider doesn't require much assembly, making it easy to setup. Unlike some frame products, this one comes somewhat assembled. It took us under 6 minutes to get it ready to use. The documentation is average and far less complicated than the Chicco Keyfit Caddy with color-coded directions that make finding your language easier. We think it would be easier to make different sections for each language, but color coding is better than nothing.
The Graco lacks quality, but it is better than some of the competition.
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 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 poor attention to detail in manufacturing.
The basket fabric feels flimsy and collects dirt easily. The mesh sides are nice for visibility, but they are flimsy. The material does not fit nicely and looks like laundry that sat in the hamper too long.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team