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Hands-on Gear Review

UPPAbaby Cruz Combo Review

The Editors' Choice winner  the UPPAbaby Cruz  which excelled in other metrics  only finished middle of the pack in maneuverability due to smaller wheels than many competing products. While it works great on smooth surfaces  it is somewhat challenged by uneven terrain.
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $500.00 List | $449.99 at Amazon - 10% off
Pros:  Lighter weight, easy to fold, easy to attach car seat, large storage
Cons:  Little harder to push and turn, handle adjustment button prevents one hand steering
Bottom line:  Quality full-size option with easy car seat attachment and storage good for errands
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   UPPAbaby

The Skinny

The UPPAbaby Cruz is a sleek, stylish stroller that is easy to use and works well with a few different infant car seats. Its general ease of car seat attachment and overall size and weight make it a great option for parents who want to combine a car seat with a stroller, and it makes it our favorite option to recommend for parents looking to create a travel system as it nicely combines with several award-winning car seats. The Cruz has one of the largest storage capacities in the group, an easy to adjust handlebar and a quick and easy fold. We liked the Cruz best when paired with the UPPAbaby Mesa infant seat. This product earned a 3rd place rank in this review.

The UPPAbaby Cruz also earned an Editors' Choice award in our Best Baby Strollers review.


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 Mesa carrier sits a little lower in the stroller frame than the Chicco did  and it looks like a part of the stroller as opposed to an after thought like many of the other combinations.
The Mesa carrier sits a little lower in the stroller frame than the Chicco did, and it looks like a part of the stroller as opposed to an after thought like many of the other combinations.

The UPPAbaby company is an American family run company with over a decade of combined experience in the juvenile industry. UPPAbaby draws inspiration from their daily family experiences to create new products that are easier to use, safer, lighter and more fun. Their goal is to make improvements without sacrificing convenience, usability, or style. UPPAbaby offers one infant car seat, the UPPAbaby Mesa, and several different stroller options including lightweight, single, double, and umbrella options.



Performance Comparison


The following comparison chart includes the overall scores for all of the combinations we tested in this review. The UPPAbaby Cruz bar is blue. It is easy to see by its rank why it won a coveted Editors' Choice award.


The subsections below outline how the Cruz performed during testing for each metric. The individual metric performance was used to calculate the overall score with an emphasis on the ease of car seat attachment and weight and folded size scores.

The Mesa car seat uses the side connection points on the frame and the seat slides on fairly easily.
The Mesa car seat uses the side connection points on the frame and the seat slides on fairly easily.

Ease of Attaching Car Seat


The Cruz earned an 8 of 10 for ease of car seat attachment, tying with the UPPAbaby Vista Combo. Eight is a relatively high score with only three other products in the group offering easier attachment possibilities, including the Bugaboo Bee3 Combo and Bugaboo Cameleon 3 with 9s, and the Doona with a 10 because the car seat is already attached to the stroller.


The Cruz is compatible with the UPPAbaby Mesa; Maxi-Cosi Mico, Mico NXT, Citi, Cabrio, and Cabrio Fix; the Nuna Pipa; Cybex Aton 2, Aton, and Aton Q; and the Chicco Keyfit 30 and Keyfit (not 30). We tested the Cruz with the Mesa and Keyfit 30 car seats.

The button on the Mesa handle releases the car seat from the stroller frame. It is one of the best in the group with good placement and design that make it easy to use.
The button on the Mesa handle releases the car seat from the stroller frame. It is one of the best in the group with good placement and design that make it easy to use.

The Mesa is made to fit on the Cruz and the UPPAbaby Vista. This car seat connects to the side connection points the stroller uses for the toddler seat, and it slides onto the points easily. You need to remove the toddler seat/canopy from the stroller to attach the car seat, and you need to line up both sides at the same time. The car seat clicks into place and installed correctly every time during testing. Releasing the Mesa is simple with a button on the handle where you want to squeeze and lift intuitively. The downside to this combination is it doesn't feel stable, and while we feel confident it isn't going to fall off spontaneously, it also feels somewhat precarious on its perch. The Cruz is one of the few strollers where the car seat installs facing either direction.

The Chicco car seat adapter is a metal loop that connects to the Cruz using the same side attachment points as the toddler seat. It can be released and removed using the grey button.
The Chicco car seat adapter is a metal loop that connects to the Cruz using the same side attachment points as the toddler seat. It can be released and removed using the grey button.

Attaching the Chicco Keyfit 30 requires the use of an additional adapter. The adapter clicks into place at the same attachment points and doesn't require assembly. The adapter increases the overall weight for the Cruz by almost 2 lbs.

The car seat frame adapter for the Cruz is very easy to use. The car seat clicks in easily into the metal frame  which replaces the normal Cruz seat.
The car seat frame adapter for the Cruz is very easy to use. The car seat clicks in easily into the metal frame, which replaces the normal Cruz seat.

The Chicco Keyfit 30 drops into the adapter loop, and with nothing in the way to prevent the connection, you only need a little pressure to make the connection. We did have some instances where we thought the seat was correctly installed only to tug on the handle and have the seat break free. Overall, it isn't a difficult installation, just one you need to double check. The Chicco Keyfit 30 is slightly harder to install and release than the Mesa, but after installation, they both feel equally secure.

The Keyfit sits inside a metal loop and attaches in a similar fashion to how it does the car seat base.
The Keyfit sits inside a metal loop and attaches in a similar fashion to how it does the car seat base.

Given our experience during testing, the UPPAbaby Mesa has a slight edge over the Chicco Keyfit 30 for combination with the Cruz stroller. Thanks to the lack of adapters and the lower weight, combined with the easier release and no installation mistakes, the Mesa proves to be the better choice in our opinion. Should you like the Keyfit 30, or already own it, you won't be disappointed by the combination, and it won't merit the need to purchase the Mesa as their attachment scores weren't different enough to bother.

The Cruz self-stands  auto=locks  and rolls when folded like rolling luggage. It is the lightest standard option in the review.
The Cruz self-stands, auto=locks, and rolls when folded like rolling luggage. It is the lightest standard option in the review.

Weight and Folded Size


The Cruz is the lightest full-size stroller in this review at only 14.3 lbs without a seat.


Only the dedicated frame strollers weigh less than the Cruz with weights in the 10-11 lb range. Though the Doona weighs about 16.5 lbs for the stroller and infant seat combined weight, the lowest in the group. The BOB Revolution Flex is the heaviest at 26.5 lbs. The Cruz earned a 7 of 10 for the entire metric, tying with the Britax B-Agile 3 Combo and the Bugaboo Bee3 for weight and folded size.

The Cruz has a relatively small fold measuring at about 8,000 cubic inches. This size is smaller than the majority of full-size size strollers we tested except for the Britax B-Agile 3 (the most compact in the review). While all of the frame options are smaller when folded, if you want more features and higher performance, then the Cruz and B-Agile have a lot to offer in small and light packages.

The Cruz is about average for ease of folding. It requires two hands and significant bending at the waist, but it only has 2 steps, and it automatically locks and self-stands once folded. The downside is there is no designated place to hold to carry the Cruz, but it does roll when folded like luggage, so realistically you only have to lift it when storing it or putting in a car. Unfolding the Cruz is easier than folding, but you still need two hands and full bending at the waist. It might take a little practice to get the flow of this product, but once you have a few attempts under your belt, it gets easier.

Maneuverability is not the best metric for the Cruz.
Maneuverability is not the best metric for the Cruz.

Maneuverability


The Cruz earned a 5 of 10 for maneuverability, its worst score in any metric. This score ties with the Chicco Liteway Plus Combo.


The high for the metric is 9 for the BOB Revolution Flex that has a locking swivel front wheel with adjustable tracking and pneumatic rubber tires that make pushing a breeze.

The Cruz has swivel front wheels that can be locked if desired.
The Cruz has swivel front wheels that can be locked if desired.

This product is not difficult to push or turn on pavement, but it isn't as good as the top tier products. We had to use two hands to move it smoothly, and the turns were slightly harder than some of the competition. Given that the handlebar adjustment button is in the middle of the handlebar, it ruled out the one-handed push, which is a shame because we suspect given its lighter weight and rubber tires that it would otherwise be easy to push with one hand. Unfortunately, the longer wheelbase made turns a little tricky, and we found you have to prep somewhat in advance to get the wheels to turn in time to make tighter turns. It did negotiate carpet, grass, and gravel fairly well with only a few snags on rocks that led us astray. It isn't truly an off-road stroller, but you won't be struggling to negotiate it through a play park either.

Traversing curbs isn't too bad with this model, though the handlebar is easier to manage if you slide it in before you head off or up onto the curbs. You can find more details on how the Cruz moves with the toddler seat attached in our best full-size stroller review.

The UPPAbaby Cruz has an easy to access storage bin with a 25 pound weight capacity  the second largest in the review.
The UPPAbaby Cruz has an easy to access storage bin with a 25 pound weight capacity, the second largest in the review.

Ease of Use


The Cruz earned a score of 6 of 10 for ease of use, and while that might not sound impressive, only the Chicco Bravo earned a higher score in this group with a 7. The score of 6 ties with three other products we tested.


Storage


The Cruz has a large storage bin under the seat with only the UPPAbaby Vista offering a larger one. It also has one of the highest maximum allowable weight at 25 pounds, with the Vista being 30. The average for the group is less than half this being closer to 10 lbs. The larger allowance means you will be able to fit baby's diaper bag and other items inside the bin with relative ease. We fit our extra-large diaper bag inside and had room to spare. The basket is accessible from all sides, which is also rare and can come in handy depending on what your baby needs and which end of the baby needs it. Putting the giant diaper bag in was easier for us before attaching the seat, but if you use a smaller bag, it shouldn't be a problem even with the seat attached.

The Cruz does not offer any other storage options or conveniences for parents beyond the under seat bin. It does have an adjustable footrest and recline feature for the passenger, but neither of those will be available when combining this stroller with a car seat. For more information on these features, we suggest you take a look at the Cruz review in our best stroller review.

The large ridged brake pedal on the Cruz is easy to use.
The large ridged brake pedal on the Cruz is easy to use.

Brakes


This stroller has single action brakes that are easy to set and release, and sandal foot friendly. We like that the pedal is big and easy to reach, even with the seat fully reclined or with a carrier attached.

Sunshade


The Cruz has a nice large sunshade with ventilation and a peek-a-boo window. Unfortunately, though, you won't be using it with the car seat attached and you'll be relying solely on the carrier canopy to protect baby from the elements.

There is plenty of space between the carrier and Cruz storage bin for easy access from all sides.
There is plenty of space between the carrier and Cruz storage bin for easy access from all sides.

Quality


Like most UPPAbaby products we have tested, the Cruz performed fairly well in our tests for quality, earning a 7 of 10 for the metric. This score tied with three other products and is only 1 point lower than the high of 8 for the group.


The storage bin, seat and canopy are all made using a soft, tightly woven canvas material that fits well on the frame and doesn't have any visible fasteners, loose threads, or bunched stitching. The sides of the basket have stiff rubber coated mesh that didn't snag or pull in our tests, and the bottom has a hard plastic piece that helps the bin retain its shape and offers support that prevents items from dragging on the ground. The frame is aluminum, and it has a sleek appearance with few connection points and no visible rivets. The overall fit and finish are tight, and everything lines up well with a smooth finish that is both straightforward and sleek in its design.

Adjusting the handlebar on the Cruz is easy with a button on the back side of the center of the bar.
Adjusting the handlebar on the Cruz is easy with a button on the back side of the center of the bar.

The adjustable handlebar uses the telescoping method of adjustment that we prefer because the higher the bar the further it places the pusher from the rear axle, which prevents kicking the rear axle while strolling. The height range is 40.2 to 43.2 inches from the ground to the bar. Making it a good option for taller users, but maybe not short enough to be comfortable for shorter parents. The handlebar is easy to adjust with a push of a button, but the button is ill placed in the middle of the bar and prevents one-handed pushing. The size of the tubing and foam covering make the handle easy to grip and comfortable in hand.

The wheels on the Cruz are foam filled rubber with AirGo patent-pending technology developed by UPPAbaby. These wheels have the benefit of a rubber tire that helps improve the performance, ride comfort, and maneuverability, as well as being more durable than plastic. But, these have the benefit of being foam filled so they can never go flat or leave you stranded on the stroll with a flat tire and too many things to carry. The Cruz does not have traditional shocks or suspension, but they do claim their AirGo wheels offer suspension as one of the features of the design.

The UPPAbaby Cruz's toddler seat can be removed  making it as light as a frame stroller at about 14 pounds when used with an infant seat  yet easily converts to a full-size stroller when your baby is older.
The UPPAbaby Cruz's toddler seat can be removed, making it as light as a frame stroller at about 14 pounds when used with an infant seat, yet easily converts to a full-size stroller when your baby is older.

Ease of Setup


The Cruz is the easiest product in the group to set up. It took us under 5 minutes to get the Cruz out of the box and ready to stroll. The stroller comes with a quick start setup guide that has only 7 steps, and nice pictures to guide you. However, we found the pieces and parts to be so minimal and the assembly so intuitive that we didn't need to use the manual to put it together. We think most parents will find it this easy as well.

Best Applications


Parents who love the UPPAbaby Brand or are simply looking for a quality stroller for a reasonable price will be interested in the Cruz. This stroller performed well in our tests here where it tied for 3rd place and had a nice ease of car seat attachment score. It also scored well in our standard size stroller review, and it earned Editors' Choice awards in both. We think the Cruz is a stand out product that does most things well, so unless you want to jog with the stroller or take long walks off-road, the Cruz is a good option for most applications.

Value


The Cruz has a list price of $500 and UPPAbaby product rarely if ever sell for prices below the manufacturer list price. This price is lower than the UPPAbaby Vista, and several other options in this review, but still more than the majority of products we looked at, including the highly regarded Jogging stroller, the BOB Revolution Flex. All that said, we think the Cruz is a great value for what it has to offer. This stroller is designed with parents and baby in mind and provides a lot of what parents need as opposed to features parents think they need but aren't done well enough for parents to use (like most parent consoles with shallow unusable cup holders or pockets that won't fit a smartphone). We think the Cruz is a durable, stylish stroller that parents will love for a price that seems like it should be higher. If the list price is simply not doable, then the **Britax B-Agile scored just below the Cruz overall, and it has a list price of only $250, making it a potential option for families on a budget.

The Cruz performed well in our tests for quality with a higher than average score for the metric.
The Cruz performed well in our tests for quality with a higher than average score for the metric.

Conclusion


It would seem that UPPAbaby is a rising star in the baby gear field and with good reason. This stroller, like much of their line, is a nice quality option that has sleek styling and high-performing features that are done well and perform as they should. We like the car seat attachment on the Cruz, and the lighter weight and smaller size it offers for new mothers that might be limited in what they are allowed to lift. The giant storage bin with the 25 lbs maximum weight allowance is out of this world with what it can hold, and the adjustable handlebar is easy to use and good for parents of varying height. The ability to use this stroller from birth up to 50 pounds means you'll get your money's worth, even if the price seems a little high to some, we think it is worth it in the end for what you get and how long you get to use it. In short, there isn't much not to love with this stroller, and we think parents and babies will feel the same way we do.

Accessories


The Cruz does not offer much in the way of conveniences, so you might want to consider adding the UPPAbaby Cup Holder or the UPPAbaby Parent Organizer. These accessories provide additional storage and a place to keep items like your phone, wallet, and keys for quick and easy access.

Other Versions


UPPAbaby also makes the UPPAbaby Vista Combo, and the lightweight options the UPPAbaby G-Luxe and the UPPAbaby G-Lite. All of the strollers scored well in their respective classes, and we think parents will be able to find a stroller option to suit their needs in the UPPAbaby lineup.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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Most recent review: June 19, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

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