The Joovy Caboose Review - Joovy have been striding forth in the UK market recently with their clever and adaptable solution for parents of siblings, here we take a look at one of their options
Joovy in the UK is best known for its range of Caboose pushchairs, including our test specimin; the Joovy Caboose. These pushchairs corner a niche in the market for parents who have a new baby arrive before their elder child is ready to become a fully fledged walker. Based in the US, Joovy have a wide range of products available there, but in the UK attentions are focused on pushchairs, specialising in pushchairs for two.We find out more in our Joovy Caboose review.
What's In the Box?
• Joovy Caboose
The RRP of the Joovy Caboose is £165
• Raincover RRP £30
• Caboose Parent organiser £20
• Caboose Too Rear Seat £59
• Height to handle bar: 105cm
• Rear wheel diameter: 21cm
• Front Wheel diameter: 18cm
• Pushchair Width: 54cm
• Seat depth: 22cm
• Seat Width (front edge) 35cm
• Back rest height: 42cm
• Height to hood: 70 cm
• Calf rest length: 15cm
• Rear bench dimensions: 32 x 23cm
• Toddler step dimensions: 32 x 18cm
• Pushchair weight: 11.7 kg
• Folded dimensions 120 x 54 x 29cm (will be shorter with snack tray and hood removed)
Front seat suitable from 6 months to maximum weight of 20.4kg or from birth with addition of a car sear (sold separately), rear seat from 2.5yrs to maximum weight of 20.4kg or 111cm maximum height.
The Joovy Caboose is available in Appletree, Black and Purpleness
If you're not familiar with the Joovy Caboose in any of its forms I'd quickly sum it up as a single pushchair which seats two. At the front of the pushchair is a traditional forward facing seat and at the back of the pushchair is a space where an elder sibling can also hitch a ride; this can either be in a standing position holding the integrated handles, or sat down facing the parent on the small bench like seat provided there.
The Joovy Caboose initially requires a little construction work to get it up and running but once down it is ready for action and gives an impressive sturdy feel. Not the most glamorous looking of pushchairs, the Joovy Caboose lacks a little in the way of shiny chrome and plush fabrics, but it tries hard to make up for this in terms of practicality.
The fixed handle bar is covered in dense foam, and although the lack of adjustability isn't usually ideal, in this case it eliminates any wobbles or weakness, especially when you try and ‘pop' the front wheels up a kerb.
The handles for the children to hold onto are also foam covered and substantial enough to allow most sizes of child to find a comfortable place to grip whether sitting or standing.
The padded bench seat slides back and forth to reveal a decent sized basket, although of course access is restricted when the bench seat is in use. Being able to top load the basket with shopping is a big help though, and the elasticised sides can contain most stuff you cram in there.
The Joovy Caboose has solid foam wheels; a double set complete with swivel lock at the front to aid with weight distribution and two slightly larger single wheels at the back. Suspension is limited and the Joovy is really best suited to the urban environment, with it being most at home on smooth surfaces. The brake is a traditional push down, lift off toe poke pedal. The brake links both rear wheels and although nothing fancy is reassuringly clunky when applied.
The Joovy Caboose is no lightweight coming in at 11.7kg, and weighs around 2.5kg more than its sibling the Caboose Ultralight version. It's not particularly noticeable though, they both feel fairly similar to push, although as you come to use it with increasingly heavy passengers you might be exceptionally grateful for those extra 2.5kg.
The frame itself feels long and a little unwieldy to start with, but once you become used to the steering and the seating arrangements you don't notice the length quite so much as you would expect.
Joovy Caboose fold is surprisingly flat, if a little long. The fold is easy to do and very similar to the other Caboose models. Firstly release the secondary safety lock on the bottom left of the pushchair, then whilst standing at the rear, push the hood all the way forward and slide the two red latches on either side of the frame upwards. You can either fold the handlebar over and forwards so the pushchair is left lying flat on the floor, or you can push down on the rear axle with your foot whilst holding the handlebar in place and bring the front of the pushchair up towards you to give an upright fold. There is a manual latch you can use to lock the pushchair in the folded position.
To unfold, release the lock if engaged, and lift the handle until you hear it snap into the upright position, you can then engage the secondary lock.
The forward facing front seat is suitable for children from 6 months, and the rear bench seat is recommended to be used for children over 2.5yrs. The front seat can be used with an infant car seat, giving you a from birth solution if required. The pushchair has a much higher upper weight limit than many other tandem styles on the market, with both the front seat and the rear bench capable of taking a child of up to 20.4kg.
On first impressions the Joovy Caboose seat appears fairly basic by modern standards. It's clunky and functional and not too easy on the eye. If you look past this though it has all the features you might want, including a really nifty snack tray instead of your more usual bumper bar. The Snack tray sockets also double as the fixing for the car seat adapter which converts this pushchair into a ‘from birth' travel system. The seat padding is just about thick enough to cushion larger bottoms, and the seat feels like it would be really supportive for a larger child – with low risk of saggy bottoms. For a young child the seat is perhaps a little too exposed, and you might find a littler tot slumping to the side unless additional support is used.
The hood sits high up on the pushchair frame, and although it doesn't give a ‘cosy' feel to the front seat, it does give plenty of headroom. When fully extended the hood can provide some shade to both the front seat, and a little to the rear seat.
The Joovy Caboose front seat has a fully adjustable five point harness, and the shoulder straps can be rerouted to give different heights as your child grows. The seat has three recline positions; upright, slight recline, greater recline. The seat does not fully recline (mainly because this would drastically impact upon space for the rear child to stand – and especially sit. The recline mechanism is a nice easy one, a bar at the rear of the seat can be lifted with one hand and the seat dropped back, to sit the seat back up you just lift the bar again and push the seat forward until it clicks into place, it gives a very reassuring ‘clunk' to let you know it's fixed.
The rear bench seat has an integrated three point waist harness – to give you a little bit of extra peace of mind. The bench is well padded to give a comfy spot to rest, and with the addition of the ‘Caboose Too Rear Seat', you can turn a part time sit down/stand up platform into a fully functioning full sized forward facing seat with reclining backrest and five point harness – a more traditional tandem perhaps if your eldest isn't quite ready for the bench seat.
A car seat adapter is available from Joovy to turn the front seat of the Caboose into a travel system. The adapter and a safety strap hold the infant in a parent facing position within the existing seat unit.
The Joovy Caboose is a bit of a slow burner, it's not particularly glamorous, and in fact looks a bit awkward and clunky. Where the Joovy Caboose comes into its own is for anyone who is struggling with the ‘do I really need a double when my next child is born' debate. You know your elder child won't last a long journey walking or on a buggy board (and quite honestly you'd like your toenails to remain intact too!) but you don't really think you need to pin them down the whole time in a pushchair seat where they'll bore easily and moan to get out.
Once you get to thinking of how useful the Joovy Caboose could be, you can't help but see past its ‘ugly duckling' exterior and yearn for its convenience – and with the price coming in far under its lightweight sibling the Caboose Ultralight you'll be sorely tempted to give it a go. So what if you get laughed out of the playground at pick up time...you'll be having the last laugh when it's tipping with rain and you can whizz your kids home in no time whilst the other mums are left dragging one wet child whilst pushing another.
We give the Joovy Caboose 3 out of 5 Stars