The Best Stroller and Car Seat Combos for 2017
Trying to find the best stroller and car seat combo? We considered over 40 strollers, then purchased and tested 14 of the top products in combination with seats from our Infant Car Seat Review to find the easiest combinations to use. Determining which seats work best with each stroller can be confusing. Don't fear. We are here to help relieve the frustration of finding the perfect match. Our research can help you find the products that are right for your family and budget, whether you are concerned about ease of car seat attachment, stroller weight, or other functions. Read on for all the information you need to determine the best combo for you and your baby.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Best Overall Combo
UPPAbaby Cruz Combo
The UPPAbaby Cruz Combo is a standout combination that offers a smaller and lighter frame with easy car seat attachment. The frame of the Cruz folds easily and is light enough for most parents to lift and carry if necessary, and it fits in most standard trunks with ease. The Cruz works well with the award-winning UPPAbaby Mesa and Chicco Keyfit 30, with attachment adapters that are simple and harbor no opportunities for mistakes. This stroller is a great option for parents who want to buy one stroller for the long haul and are looking for an easy to use, high-quality product that works well as a travel system. While the list price may seem high compared to the traditional frame stroller or pre-combined travel system, it is close to average for the full-size strollers and its ability to work from birth as a travel system makes it a real value. The Cruz is the stroller we would purchase and the one we'd recommend to friends. This stroller won an Editors' Choice award here and in our Full-size Stroller Review, proving it has what it takes, where it counts.
Easy car seat attachment
Works with award winning car seats
Harder to push and turn due to smaller wheels
Slightly harder to use
Read full review: UPPAbaby Cruz Combo
Top Pick for Frame Stroller
Chicco KeyFit Caddy
The Chicco Keyfit Caddy is a simple frame stroller that works exceptionally well with the award-winning Chicco Keyfit 30 and other Chicco brand car seats. This simple frame product weighs about 11 pounds, has under seat storage and a parent console on the handlebar. It has an easy fold, dual action brakes, and the car seat installs easily with no obstructions and with almost no pressure. We think the Caddy is a great buy for parents who aren't sure what their strolling needs are going to be but still want to get your baby from the car to the store safely tucked away and sleeping in their car seat. This product folds compactly and stores in smaller spaces. With a list price of $100, it is a budget friendly option that will buy you time to make your best stroller decision, and you can usually resell it for about half of the purchase price.
Lightweight and compact
Works with award winning car seat
Only works with Chicco Keyfit seats
Hard to push and turn
Read full review: Chicco Keyfit Caddy
Top Pick for Urban Use
Bugaboo Bee3 Combo
The Bugaboo Bee 3 won a Top Pick for Urban Use because it is the easiest to use with an infant car seat, with an installation process that almost installs itself. The car adapter we tested for the Chicco Keyfit 30 seat is easy to attach, and the carrier fits inside snugly while gravity practically makes the connection for you. This stroller is a sharp looking head turner that will have you strolling through tight spaces and crowded streets with relative ease. The bin has a weight limit of only 8.8 pounds, so you'll need to pare down your supplies or carry your diaper bag on your shoulder, but otherwise, the Bee will get you where you need to go with above average scores for safety and maneuverability.
Super easy car seat attachment
Easy to push and turn
Hard to use
Read full review: Bugaboo Bee 3
Analysis and Test Results
Each stroller we purchased, and their corresponding seats, were tested and compared to others in the competition. Wherever possible we tested strollers with their native car seat and at least one other brand, normally the Chicco Keyfit 30 due to its award-winning status and popularity. The metrics for ease of car seat attachment and weight and folded size had a larger influence on the final scores than the other metrics because they are the most important for this category and for new moms who may need lighter items that are easy to lift and operate.
The use of a stroller with an infant car seat can make getting around with your baby easier. Being able to seamlessly transfer your little one from the car to a stroller can make running errands and leaving the house easier, faster, and more convenient for new parents. It can also keep baby comfortably asleep while you get important things accomplished.
Ease of Car Seat Attachment
The easiest car seat attachments seem to install themselves with little action on the parent's part other than moving the carrier portion of the car seat from the car to the stroller. We preferred car seats in our testing that had a click-in only attachment process. Those strollers and adapters that offered an easy drop in/on attachment with little to no pressure needed, or chance for mistakes, scored higher than products that had obstructions to deal with or seemed connected when they weren't. Babyhood is hard enough without failing to attach your car seat correctly. Any stroller that required restraint straps as part of the installation process immediately lost points because the straps increase attachment complexity and inherently have a higher margin for error.
Both Bugaboo strollers, including the Top Pick for Urban Use Bugaboo Bee 3 Combo, offer an easy car seat attachment method using a loop style adapter where the car seat lowers into the adapter frame and clicks into place with the help of gravity. There are no obstructions, and almost no pressure is required to make a secure connection.
The Top Pick for Frame Stroller award winner, the Chicco Keyfit Caddy, also performed well in this metric. This dedicated frame stroller is designed specifically to work with Chicco brand seats; the opening on the stroller works well, and it only requires a small amount of pressure to securely connect with an audible click sound. The UPPAbaby strollers also did well with scores just below the Chicco Keyfit Caddy.
Alternatively, the universal frame stroller (Baby Trend Snap-N-Go Ex) disappoints because it requires the use of straps to retain the seat. The way it works is that the carrier portion of the car seat sits in a net made of straps. The net is adjustable, so the rim of the car seat sits on the edge of the stroller; then straps are secured over the middle of the seat to attach the seat to the stroller. Theoretically, the bottom straps will only need adjusting once, but the top straps will need to be tightened and loosened with every installation. The BOB Revolution Flex also disappoints with a 2 step attachment process that both clicks in and straps on. This type of attachment is particularly worrisome because we think many parents will feel the click is secure enough as the car seat seems immobile once attached. However, manufacturers must have included the straps for a reason, and we think it would be negligent for parents to skip the step, but very tempting to do so anyway.
Weight and Folded Size
When it comes to weight and folded size, there is nothing better than a frame stroller because they are lightweight, easy to lift, and compact. Given that some new moms have a weight restriction on how much they are allowed to carry after their baby is born so that a frame stroller may be the only potential options.
However, not all parents want to purchase a frame stroller because it will only work for about nine months, and some of the full-size strollers are lightweight and work nearly as well as a frame stroller with a car seat, but can be used well past baby's second year.
If finding the lightest product is your primary goal because you've had a C-section or simply worry about lugging something heavy, then look no further than the Chicco Keyfit Caddy. This dedicated frame stroller has limited features, but this keeps the weight near 11 lbs. The Baby Trend Universal Snap-N-Go is almost a pound lighter, but the Chicco Keyfit Caddy scored higher than the Trend. We don't think it is worth losing a pound for a stroller that didn't perform as well in our tests and sports the strap attachment. The downside is the Chicco Keyfit Caddy is 7,628 cubic inches when folded. The Britax B-Agile 3 is about 2,000 cubic inches smaller, but heavier with a weight of 17.9 lbs; this is almost 7 lbs heavier than the Chicco Keyfit Caddy. A good option that is not too heavy and not too big (much like the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears) is the Editors' Choice winner, UPPAbaby Cruz Combo, with the lowest standard stroller weight of 14.3 lbs and a folded size of about 8,000 cubic inches. This product will also last for baby's entire strolling years so you may not need to buy another stroller (unless you plan to jog).
The heaviest and largest product in the group is the BOB Revolution Flex weighing in over 26 lbs and measuring over 15,000 cubic inches when folded. The Chicco Bravo LE weighs over 23 pounds, which is a lot for a non-jogging product, and the Mountain Buggy Swift is the second largest when folded measuring over 12,000 cubic inches.
While maneuverability is important in a stroller in the long-run, it is less important in the first nine months when you might use it with a car seat. Because your baby doesn't weigh that much, and you will tend to stick to hard flat surfaces where maneuverability is less of an issue.
If your primary goal is to find a great combination, then choosing a stroller based solely on this metric might not be wise, but using this metric to help you decide between otherwise similar options might be useful as it impacts your everyday experience. We tested maneuverability in everyday scenarios and through obstacle courses that simulate tight situations (like supermarket aisles) to see which products allowed for one-handed pushing, tight turns, quick responsiveness, and curb hopping.
If you think a frame stroller is a good way to go, be aware that none of them performed that well in this metric. They all have smaller plastic wheels and other limiting features that make them usable on flat or paved surfaces only. However, the relatively light weight of a newborn makes pushing any stroller pretty easy, and it is less likely that you'll encounter rough surfaces in strolls with your baby. When your little one outgrows their infant seat, you can replace the frame stroller with a full-size stroller that offers more overall including better maneuverability.
The top performer for maneuverability in this review is not surprisingly the BOB Revolution Flex jogger; its larger air-filled tires are easy to push (even one-handed), and it has the versatility of a swivel front wheel for stores and errands. While the BOB Revolution Flex is easy to push, it is also hefty and cumbersome when folded making it an imperfect match for an infant car seat. The metrics for weight and folded size and ease of car seat attachment influenced the final score more than maneuverability, so the top ranking strollers didn't perform that well in this metric.
All the frame strollers, including the Chicco Keyfit Caddy, earned 4s thanks in part to the need for two-handed pushing, and a rough or "no go" over grass and uneven terrain. The Bugaboo Bee3 is better than average with a 7, tying with the UPPAbaby Vista, and providing frustration free pushing. The UPPAbaby Cruz, our Editors' Choice winner, earned a 5 for this metric.
Ease of Use
Ease of use includes tasks and features you are likely to use daily or multiple times a day during typical use. We performed tests designed to provide information on how well features work in real-world scenarios, and we considered input from testers during everyday use.
We tested and compared sun shades, storage bins, and other convenience items like cup holders, parent's consoles, and child trays. For the canopy, we considered the SPF, the size, ventilation, adjustability and peek-a-boo window. For the bin, we looked at size, shape, accessibility, and maximum allowable weight. The usability and performance of convenience features also influenced the ease of use score.
Not all of the stroller canopies work with every car seat. Several require removal of the sunshade altogether, and others can get hung up on the shade as the car seat attaches. Even though it is nice to use the stroller canopy in conjunction with the carrier canopy, we think the extra weight and potential hindrance usually aren't worth it, and those without a canopy are easier to manage. None of the frame products have sunshades for this reason, and we think parents aren't likely to miss it anyway. The Mountain Buggy Swift canopy is the smallest in the group, while the UPPAbaby strollers and BOB Revolution Flex have the largest sunshades. Neither the UPPAbaby sunshades nor the Mountain Buggy Swift canopy remains on the stroller when using the car seat, but the BOB Revolution does. The Britax B-Agile 3 canopy can remain attached for use with the carrier, but it gets in the way, and you'll need to dip the carrier under and then up somewhat to secure the attachment. It works well with the Britax car seats, so it might be worth staying with the stroller, but it isn't that great with the Chicco Keyfit 30 car seat, so it might be worth removing it for easier car seat attachment should you opt for the Chicco seat.
The biggest storage bins in the group are the UPPAbaby Cruz with a max allowable weight of 25 lbs, and the UPPAbaby Vista with a max of 30. No other products come close with the next highest allowable weight being 11 lbs. The Chicco Keyfit Caddy and the Britax B-Agile 3 are the second to the lowest with 10 lbs max weight. If your plan is to carry your diaper bag and not much else, then 10-11 lbs will likely work. If shopping and errands are possible goals, then the UPPAbaby strollers are better choices. If you go with the Bugaboo Bee3 or the Bugaboo Cameleon Combo you might be carrying the diaper bag on your shoulder as it could easily be heavier than the 8.8 lb allowable weight for each.
Both the Chicco Keyfit Caddy and the Baby Trend Snap-N-Go EX Universal scored well for conveniences, sporting parent consoles with cup holders. Both are nothing special with relatively shallow cup holders, but they do check the box for the feature. The Bugaboos and the UPPAbaby Cruz both failed to impress by offering no other conveniences, but at least the 25 lbs over-sized bin on the UPPAbaby Cruz somewhat makes up for the lack of other features. We understand most parent would like a cup holder or similar feature, but given that objects can fall from cup holders and land on your baby while strolling, we think it is better to buy a product without one and purchase an additional side cup holder, so the contents are out of falling range.
The quality metric considers the materials used, the design of each stroller, and its construction. While some of the products use aluminum frames and rubber tires, others have plastic wheels and components with rough, unfinished edges.
The BOB Revolution Flex and the UPPAbaby Vista earned the high marks for quality. Both have rubber tires, suspension, foam covered adjustable handlebars, and sturdy fabric that fits the frame nicely with no loose threads or bunched material. The UPPAbaby Cruz, Bugaboo Bee3 and Bugaboo Cameleon are right behind with one point lower for quality. These products are similar to the high scorers but had small variations in materials and design that left them slightly lacking. The UPPAbaby Vista frame and handlebar are akin to the UPPAbaby Cruz, but a little more defined and sleeker in design. Both Bugaboo strollers have better than average foam filled rubber tires, but the larger pneumatic tires on the BOB Revolution Flex are higher quality.
On the lower side you'll find the Chicco Keyfit Caddy, so while it earned a second place overall in our tests, it struggled in comparison to the other strollers for quality. It is the lowest scoring product in the group thanks primarily to a significant amount of plastic components that give the stroller excessive flex and make it feel somewhat like it will rattle loose if you push it too hard on a turn. There is no doubt it suffers in comparison to the higher end products, but the Caddy is also far cheaper, and it won't need to last as long as the nicer options, nor will it be used on rougher terrain. The Caddy isn't the only frame stroller with disappointing quality scores. The Baby Trend Snap-N-Go EX Universal and the Graco SnugRider Elite didn't score much better and still brought up the rear with the Graco sporting what look like unfinished plastic pieces with rough edges and plastic shavings.
Ease of Setup
Ease of setup is important, but only so much that you should be aware of what assembly is required and how difficult it might be to piece together for novice gear builders. The upside is that no matter how difficult it is to put together, or how long it takes you, you will only need to do it once. So while a frustrating setup might dissuade the assembly challenged, for the most part, all are doable, even if you have to start portions of the build over, as we did on the Bugaboo Bee3 canopy.
The easiest to piece together is the Editors' Choice winner, the UPPAbaby Cruz. It comes with an excellent quick setup guide, but the assembly is so intuitive you might not even need them. It took us under 5 minutes to put the Cruz together from unpacking to ready to roll. The UPPAbaby Vista, Britax B-Agile 3, Baby Trend Snap-N-Go EX Universal, and the BOB Revolution Flex were all quick on its heels and relatively easy to assemble as well. Unfortunately, the Bugaboo Bee3 is very tough to put together, takes over 20 minutes, and we initially did some portions incorrectly. The Chicco Keyfit Caddy is middle of the road for setup, even though it takes longer than it should for such a simple product.
In previous years, we limited our review of stroller and car seat combinations to frame strollers only. In this update, we have expanded the products to include full-size and jogging strollers for two reasons: there are fewer frame strollers are on the market today, and many parents would prefer to buy one stroller that works well with their infant seat and in the long-run. No matter what your goal, or why you want to attach your car seat to a stroller, there is something for everyone in this group of products and award winners.
— Juliet Spurrier MD and Wendy Schmitz
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