Quick Summary: The versatility of the Graco Fusio is never in doubt, it will fit the bill of many parents wanting to invest in one pushchair that will last the distance. It is well made as well as being easy-to-use.
- Compact and versatile
- Great fold
- True birth to toddler usage
Whats not so good?
- Dated colourways
- Limited access to basket
Graco has been on the go since 1942 and is now a global brand with its roots in America. Initially a manufacturer of machine and car parts its expansion was due to an employee, David Saint – father of nine, developing the Swyngomatic, a soothing rocker for babies.
Today Graco has become one of the global big boys with a wide range of car seats, pushchairs, travel systems, travel cots, swings and toys.
The Graco Fusio is a compact and lightweight pushchair that keeps Graco design fresh and competitive. Labelled as a pramette, this doesn’t really do it justice as it can also take a car seat (travel system?) a carrycot (3-in-1?) and it has a 3D fold with the seat in place (stroller?). It’s getting harder and harder to categorize pushchairs when they all contain some form of innovation that makes each one ever more original. (Watch this space, we will be doing more on the categorization of pushchairs in the near future…!)
When you are choosing your pushchair first time around, many factors are taken into consideration; looks, cost, practicality and longevity – generally in that order. You buy your first pushchair before your little one arrives and often with very little knowledge of what’s available. Some of you will be more than satisfied with your purchase, but many of you are soon convinced that your pushchair doesn’t really meet all your requirements.
Some will opt for style over substance and others practicality over looks – neither are wrong. Many of our pushchair-o-holic facebookers are quite happy to buy a new pushchair every six months and sell their old one on Pushchair Expert. The Graco Fusio is aimed at the pragmatic parent that is buying a pushchair to last, and by ‘last’ I mean not just for the first year, but until their child no longer requires a pushchair.
The Fusio is a definite hybrid of ideas that builds-in long term use, truly taking you through from birth to the toddler years. Unlike the big 3-in-1s that you are more than likely to trade-in after year 1, it's not the size of a Sherman tank, in fact its 3D fold means it is compact and neat, easy-to-store and will fit in any car. Anyway, time for a closer look at what it does…
The only other pushchair that I can think of that performs in the same way as the Fusio is the Recaro Akuna. Both have the ability to fold into a compact stroller sized footprint with the seat in place.
Whether the seat is in situ or removed, the folding process is the same. Pull upwards on the triggers at the top of each handle to unlock the frame, then pull up on the handle at knee height and the whole chassis contracts vertically and horizontally (hence the term 3D fold). It’s great, it doesn’t stick and it’s not necessary to have a degree in physics to work it out. It has an automatic closure lock and stands upright independently, with zero wobble.
Without the seat the frame folds down to 95.5 x 32 x 38 cms, small enough to fit in the boot of any car or tucked under the stairs. With the seat included, it is only marginally wider at 47cms instead of 32cms.
Opening is equally easy. Pull the triggers on the handle and the frame jumps open, to make sure it is fully expanded, push down on the foot plate at the rear.
The handles are punch grips that can be rotated 360 degrees. They are not height adjustable as such, but this rotation gives the taller or smaller parent the ability to choose an angle which accommodates their stature.
One of the elements that I love on this frame is the positioning of the front wheel swivel controls. They are located within easy reach of the ‘driver’ around a quarter of the way down the frame and not down in the dirt near the front wheels. Obviously having both switches set to lock or swivel at the same time is ideal – red for lock, green for swivel.
The wheels themselves are smooth foam filled rubber; 17.5cms on the back and 15cms on the front so not enormous but a doddle to remove. Buttons near the front wheels and central hub buttons on the back, allow the wheels to be removed in seconds compacting your folded footprint even further.
The brake is a breezy toggle on/toggle off affair, with all the functional bits encased in the wheel axles which means your workings aren’t going to get muddy or jammed when it has rained and underfoot is a little boggy – which it tends to do all too often in this country!
Some compromise is made with the folding mechanism over the accessibility to the basket. The rear handle and the ‘X’ shaped structure above it gives you a limited luggage size – a bag of shopping will have to be juggled to fit it through the spaces available however the basket itself is relatively large.
Keeping it simple, the seat unit affixes to the frame with a click. It does need a stretch to make it reach both of its connectors on the frame because the seat unit also contracts when it's folded so it is slightly concertinaed before stretched across the frame.
I thought I hadn’t seen anything as simple as the Britax method of seat removal (with the release switch built into the lifting handle of the seat) but the Fusio goes one further. At the point where you would naturally grab a seat unit (around shoulder height of your child) two levers are tucked behind the uprights of the seat. The action of gripping the seat depresses the levers allowing you to remove it in one uncomplicated manoeuvre…genius!
Forward or parent facing options give you the chance to interact with your baby while they are really young and to face the world when they are ready for a wider perspective.
The Fusio is billed as a Pramette. For those of you who have no idea what a Pramette is, it’s a pushchair that lays flat and effectively turns into the carrycot element of your 3-in-1. Pramettes are a great idea in principle but I’m not a huge fan because they give little protection to a small baby’s head. You don’t need to be anywhere near as clumsy as I am to realize that you sometimes misjudge the length of your pushchair and occasionally bump into street furniture, other people, doorways, lifts etc… Personally, I don’t trust myself not to inflict some sort of bump-to-the-head to my infant during a trip to the shops – however, this could be just me! The Fusio does come with a cosy, moleskin feel, infant chair liner, but to make it completely effective against people like me, it would have to have a larger bolster around the head area.
For the accident afflicted like myself, the Fusio can also take the Go carrycot, normally more associated with the Graco Symbio. This allows the Fusio to cater for anyone, regardless of their misadventures.
An apron – a small footmuff in this case – with a rigid flap, for wind protection, makes the seat in Pramette mode look even more like a pram. Incredibly, a full size footmuff is also included for when your child is a little older. Both are of a beautiful quality with the footmuff having extra padding and a fleece lining.
Back to the seat itself, the recline of the seat is by far the easiest, user friendly method. A handle at the rear of the seat allows you to adjust the angle of the back of the seat in a choice of four positions.
Another tick-in-the-box comes in the canopy. A zip across the top can be undone to allow the front of the canopy to swing in the direction of the sun. We’ve seen follow-the-sun canopies before but they are more of a hinderance than a help when you toddler realizes what a great game it is to pull it down into their lap. The Graco version of this seemingly good idea works well because it can be tethered back into place using the zip. A window in the top allows you to poke your nose in on your passenger but it’s also well shielded from the glare of the sun by the mesh that covers it.
As I said earlier, the seat concertinas when folded - so does the bumper bar, it has knuckles along its length to allow this to happen. It can also be removed at the touch of a button but it does leave two rather large sockets behind that although can be folded fully up or fully down, are rather unsightly.
The versatility of the Graco Fusio is never in doubt, it will fit the bill of many parents wanting to invest in one pushchair that will last the distance. It is well made as well as being easy-to-use.
I love the way the seat is so effortlessly removed from the frame. It allows you to change the way your baby is facing in an instant, and I adore the fold; it's so straightforward, so compact and can be achieved with the seat in place!
The Fusio's swivel control switches, below the handles, give you more control at your fingertips and aspect which I love - we no longer go to the front of our cars to wind them up to get them started so going to the front of your pushchair to lock or unlock the wheels is equally as archaic.
The Pramette is not a personal favourite but the bulk of your pushchair use will come after six months, when your child is sitting up, so the period of time it will actually be in pramette mode is very short and if it bothers you enough you can always invest in the carrycot.
The large sockets left by the bumper bar and the limited accessibility to the basket are also niggly negatives but overall this pushchair is brilliantly engineered and a good price for a do-it-all pushchair.
Altogether the Graco Fusio is a superb all round pushchair that is limitlessly flexible. It is a little dated in its styling which may deter some as their first choice, but if you can see beyond the colour options it is a pushchair that will satisfy all your urban living requirements.