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Hands-on Gear Review
Thule Chariot Cross 2 with Jogging Kit Review
Price: $1,130.00 List | $999.95 at Amazon - 12% off
Pros: Easy to use, good run-ability, nice to push and turn
Cons: Width makes narrow places hard to navigate, heavy
Bottom line: Really cool adventure wagon that is good for jogging and so much more
The Thule Chariot Cross 2 is a unique jogging option that can also be used for strolling, biking, and even skiing. This little power wagon is a great choice for a runner that also plans on other outdoor fun with their baby. While it scored well for maneuverability and run-ability, you do sacrifice somewhat because of the larger size and weight required to use the Cross as a bike trailer or for skiing. This versatile option is very easy to use and comes with features that will impress parents and leave passengers smiling. The Cross 2 comes with the strolling and bike trailer components, the jog and ski kits are sold separately. We would certainly recommend this product to parents that love being outdoors and plan to do a lot more than running. If running is your only goal, then a more traditional option like the Thule Urban Glide may be a better fit with a higher overall score, better run-ability, and a lower price tag.
RELATED REVIEW: The Race for the Best Jogging Stroller of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Thule started over 70 years in Sweden in 1942. The founder, Erik Thulin, made gear for Swedish fisherman. Some twenty years later, Thule created the first ski rack for cars which was followed by a rack with a basket. Thule now has international recognition for supplying active people with gear designed for transporting bike, cargo, winter and water toys, and more. Thule now makes some strollers and several bike trailers for adventurous parents with children.
We tested this stroller using the Thule Jogging Kit 2. The kit comes with the fixed front wheel assembly including frame and tire. The standard strolling kit stores on the Cross 2 which means you can carry one while you use the other for on the road change-ups. The list price above reflects the cost of the basic stroller and jog kit for a one-to-one comparison.
This comparison chart shows the overall scores for the jogging strollers we tested. The Thule Chariot Cross 2 (shown in blue).
The sections below include information on performance details of the Cross 2 as it compared to the competition in this review. The overall scores are derived from the individual metric results with an emphasis on run-ability and ease of use.
The Cross 2 earned a 7 of 10 for run-ability. This is better than much of the competition, but not as impressive as the Thule Urban Glide 2 and the BOB Revolution Flex with scores of 9.
The Cross tied with the Burley Solstice and Thule Glide for running ability. The Cross 2 has a fixed front wheel that has improved and easy to use adjustable tracking that works with the turn of a dial. The adjustable handlebar and suspension increase run-ability by improving the runner's biomechanics during running which should lead to less fatigue and overall effort related to pushing a stroller while running.
During testing, we felt the Cross was a good mover despite the heavier weight and larger size, and we did not have difficulty tilting it back for turns, a must do action for running due to a fixed front wheel. This stroller tracks straight and has the best rolling resistance in the group. While not as nice to run with as the lighter narrower options, it is still a good choice for the serious runner that also plans to partake in other outdoor sports.
Ease of Use
The Cross 2 earned an 8 of 10 for ease of use. This is an improvement over the ease of use score for the Thule Chariot Cougar 2, which the Cross 2 replaced.
Ease of use impacts your daily experience with a stroller and captures how an ordinary regular features function.
Fold and Unfold
The Cross has a two-handed fold with an automatic lock (above left) and self-stands feature. The process is relatively easy, but it is involved with 3-12 steps depending on how small you want it to be once folded. The Cross 2 has color coded transition buttons (above right) that help parents complete the fold including removing the quick release wheels. The self-stand feature is potentially only good for storage, but it is a benefit that can helps parents manage a larger product. Unfolding the Cross is also easy enough as a reversal of the folding steps, but it is convoluted with more steps than the most of the competition.
The Cross 2 has single action brakes that are more accessible (above left) than the brakes on the discontinued Cougar. They are easy to set and release with a sandal foot friendly pedal that is color coded so you know when they are properly set (above right).
The Cross storage bin hangs off the back of the stroller under the handlebar (above left). This bin is large and held our extra-large diaper bag with a nice interior pocket to help keep things organized and smaller items within reach.The narrower rectangle shape of the bin means we really had to work to get it in, but it will fit with room to spare. The bin has a max capacity of 8.8 lbs, which is low for a product for two because two children will likely have more supplies than one. We suspect that supplies for two will weigh more than 8 lbs, especially for all day adventures. We thank parents may overfill the basket and worry this will make it a potential tipping hazard. When not in use parents can clip the bin up and out of the way (above right).
The Cross 2 also has passenger stow pockets inside the cabin. These pockets can hold most things, but smaller riders won't be able to reach them while buckled in. Also, each seat back has a pocket for items like wallets, keys, phone, or water bottles.
The sunshade on the Cross is not surprisingly unlike those found on the competition. The shade is a clip-on piece of fabric that blocks the sun and can slide up or down for direct coverage. With the seatbacks reclined there is a vinyl peek-a-boo window at the top for checking on little ones. The front of the Cross has a zippered cover that can be mesh or vinyl depending on your needs. it can also be rolled up and stored out of the way entirely.
The Cross 2 has two seats and both have 5-point harnesses that are easy to put on and take off. The straps use a non-rethread style adjustment with an 8-inch range of height options. The buckle on this Thule is easier to operate than its predecessor on the Cougar 2 because it does not require nesting of the buckle parts.
The Cross 2 seats can recline and each moves independently for individual comfort. The reclining operation is a one-handed simple process with three positions. None of the options are truly flat, but the angle should be sufficient for most sleepy little ones to nap. The seat doesn't offer leg or footrests, which means children sit with legs stretched out in front of them.
Car Seat Compatibility
The Cross 2 does not work with any infant car seat and the Thule accessories for infants should NOT be used with the jogging kit and babies should not be taken jogging or off the beaten path until they are at least 8-12 months old or you get the thumbs up from their pediatrician.
Ease of Setup
The Cross took almost 16 min to assemble; this includes the additional of the jogging kit. It is only average for ease of setup with an international style manual we find difficult to use. The manual is harder to follow and requires flipping back and forth to follow the steps. There are more parts to assemble on the Cross than there were on the Thule Chariot Cougar 2 (the discontinued trailer the Cross replaced). Assembly requires a single tool that comes in the box.
The Cross earned a 7 of 10 for maneuverability with the jogging kit fixed front wheel attached. This is a lower score than those joggers that offer a locking swivel front wheel like the BOB Revolution Flex and the Thule Urban Glide. However, it is on par with the fixed wheeled BOB Sport Utility and the BOB Ironman.
While easy enough to push and traverse various terrain thanks to large rear rubber air-filled tires, the Cross is difficult to turn thanks to its overall size and the fixed front wheel. The width of this stroller makes it a tough one to use indoors or on narrow trails, but the width is part of why it work so well as a bike trailer and adventure wagon. So there is a trade-off that makes this one a poorer choice for indoor outings and could limit hiking options to wider trails.
The adjustable handlebar and suspension help make this a more comfortable product for pushers and passengers. The larger range of height options and covered foam make the handlebar nicer than the previous version (above left) with an included safety strap. The adjustable suspension (above right) is a rare find on only a few products we tested the help increase overall comfort based on passenger weight and roughness of the terrain.
Weight and Folded Size
The Cross 2 is lighter and smaller in the strolling mode than the Thule Chariot Cougar 2, the trailer it replaces in the Thule lineup. However, with the jogging kit attached, the Cross weighs 31.9 lbs. It measures 31.3"W x 21"H x 51.5"L and 33,851 cubic inches when folded. This is almost 1,000 cubic inches smaller than the Cougar.
The Cross 2 is the largest stroller in this review with the second largest, the Burley Solstice measuring only 23,138 cubic inches. This means the Cross might be harder to lift and store in some smaller cars.
The back wheels are quick release and the front jogging kit can also be removed to fit the stroller in a tight spot. But this means you will need to dismantle the stroller somewhat before leaving your adventure. This is something to think depending on what you drive or how you plan to get the stroller from A to B.
The Thule Cross earned a 9 of 10 for quality, the second highest score in the group tying with the Thule Urban Glide and the BOB Revolution Flex. Only the Thule Glide earned a higher score.
The Cross 2 has an improved design using materials that work well and feel solid without flex or rattling. Everything on this stroller is relatively seamless and works in conjunction with the other components. The fabric material is a thick ripstop with thermo-molded seats that integrates into the frame with few exposed fasteners. The vinyl windows are tinted for decreasing the direct sunlight and it is somewhat pliable for durable long-term use.
Thule offers additional conversion kits (sold separately) depending on the activity (it comes standard with the strolling and bike trailer kits). We purchased the jogging Kit for this review. Which leaves the:
Comfort accessories include:
Conveniences accessories include:
Thule offers several trailer options similar to the Chariot Cross 2.However, most of these options lack suspension which makes them a non-starter for us. We think traversing over rougher terrain or moving at speed should come with suspension. In addition to the Cross 2 with suspension, the Chariot Lite 2 also has suspension.
Thule Chariot Lite 2 —
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz
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