When I first saw the UPPAbaby Cruz in Cologne last year, I found it hard not to be dismissive about its abilities, when the Vista was still high on my top ten favourites list. So how is the Cruz doing now that it's left home and trying to make its own way in the world?...
I'm ashamed to say that I really didn't expect to like the UPPAbaby Cruz. Having been such a big fan of the UPPAbaby Vista, I thought it was a weak substitute but that was before it arrived in my office and I could inspect it in isolation and in greater detail.
What's in the box?
The RRP of the UPPAbaby Cruz is £374.99
The UPPAbaby Cruz can be used from birth if combined with the carry cot or car seat.
The UPPAbaby Cruz comes in four colours: Denny (red), Sydney (yellow), Tyler (light blue) and Jake (black)
‘Never trust your first opinions' should be my new mantra because I loved putting the UPPababy Cruz together. Just like its big brother, the Vista, the Cruz is superbly engineered and makes all the right clicks in all the right places. Next to the Vista, it looks like the budget alternative but in actual fact, the Cruz is aimed at a more urban audience offering the great features of the Vista without the 'Humvee' sized bulk. The narrower frame and the smaller wheels lend it pacing pavements rather than rambling on rough ground.
Beginning with the basic, naked chassis, the sleek aluminium frame is attractive and very clean looking. The handle and the basket are a mid-grey colour which complements the silver hues of the metal. The lower extremities, such as the wheels and the brake, are predominantly black.
Like the Vista, the handle on the Cruz is easily extended or lowered using the button in the centre; it telescopes in or out of the handle to suit your height. The dense foam covering is comfortable to grip and good quality, so you can be sure that it's not going to disintegrate on you in a couple of years time.
Below the handle are the trigger buttons that activate the fold (more on that later). Without the chair in place, the part that dominates the frame is the voluminous basket – it's huge and really accessible, regardless of which way round the seat is mounted. Towards the back are two integrated pockets to keep all your bits and bobs close to hand and under control. The remainder of the basket is large enough for a small suitcase, let alone a large changing bag! This is one of the fantastic features of the Vista that I'm really glad they've managed to retain in this junior model, after all, your child still needs the same amount of ‘clobber' regardless of the size of your pushchair, so the basket is one of those elementary elements to get right.
The EVA wheels are a petite 16.5cms at the front and a slightly larger 19cms at the back. Neither set pose any sort of problem to remove if you need to condense your fold further. The brake sits on the back axle, see-sawing backwards to apply and forwards to release; easy to operate in boots or barefoot.
The first thing you will notice about the seat on the UPPAbaby Cruz is just how light it is, at an impressive 2.5kg it's not going to cause you any back problems. Aesthetically it's simple, and clean to match the frame. Another great feature inherited from the Vista is the enormous canopy with the huge 50+UV visor that flips out from inside, virtually encasing the seat entirely. A large flap sits on top with discreet magnetic closures, beneath which is a meshed window that can be exposed for ventilation or a sneaky peek at your passenger.
The recline control is in the ideal position, at the top of the rear of the seat where it's easily accessible and possible to perform with just one hand. The smooth mechanics allow you to choose from five angles; from upright to horizontal. The footrest/calf rest can also be angled in four positions in between straight-up and straight-down, using the grey buttons on either side of the frame.
The seat itself doesn't look huge but it's an ample 46cms tall in the back and 23cms deep by 30cms wide. The five point harness has chest pads but is missing any crotch padding. Depending on the height of your child, the straps can be adjusted at the shoulder, a procedure that is not completely flawless because it's slightly fiddly. Sliding the chest pad down the strap reveals a small metal ring, this attaches via a small gap onto a looped ribbon that pokes out of each hole. Although the attachment process isn't very sophisticated, it's not as tricky as actually finding the ribboned loop behind each hole. However, you have to ask yourself, how many times in the lifetime of this pushchair are you actually going to need to do this? – Probably about twice, so it's nothing to be overly concerned about.
Removing the seat unit
Having a super lightweight seat makes the removal all the more appealing because you know that you're not going to be left poorly poised with a heavy seat to manoeuvre. The silver/grey release buttons are either side of the seat. With your forefinger and thumb, squeeze the bracket and the button together and the seat will come away from the frame in one fluid motion.
Mounting the seat onto the frame is met with a reassuring click when you have it properly located. It can be positioned forward or parent facing depending upon the age and the nature of your child. The UPPAbaby Cruz can fold with the seat unit in place, but it must be forward facing and fully upright to do so.
With or without the seat in place, the folding process is the same. Firstly, press the button on the right stem of the handle with your thumb. At the same time, squeeze the sliding triggers on both shafts in a syringe–like action until you feel the frame break in the middle. Then simply lay the handle down near the rear wheels and the auto-lock will restrain it. It can be stored upright if you extend the handle to form a support leg next to the rear wheels. To unfold, undo the auto-lock and open the frame until you hear the ready-to-go ‘click'.
For anyone requiring the lay flat option for a newborn, the Cruz has an optional carrycot that comes with its own mattress, rain cover and insect net. Without the need for any adaptors, the Cruz carrycot attaches to the chassis using the same sockets as the seat. It will only mount in the parent facing direction so that mum or dad can maintain eye contact with their little one.
One of the best features of this carrycot is the enormous UV canopy. The extension, that is tucked inside it, folds out to cover the entire carrycot opening creating a UV dome over the infant inside, whilst allowing ventilation through the mesh side panels. The silver fabric of the extension gives the whole carrycot a very space-age feel and is bound to turn heads in the street.
Inside, the super-soft liner provides the sympathetic, snug environment that you want for your baby. With inner measurements of 70cms long by 32cms wide and 17cms deep it will accommodate your infant until they are starting to roll over and get a feel for movement.
The bug cover, included in the Cruz package, would barely be out of the box this summer given the horrendous weather. But should you ever get the chance to use it, it simply slides over the canopy and provides a mesh with a decent enough denier to resist all creepy crawlies, winged or otherwise.
More useful this year, is the rain cover. Once again, a custom fit to the Cruz with a lift up flap at the front that exposes another mesh which provides that all-important ventilation when there's a break in the clouds.
I like having my first impressions shattered, especially when it's for the good, and the UPPAbaby Cruz has been a very pleasant surprise. It doesn't offer quite the chunky luxury of the Vista but it does retain all the important elements that you are going to use, day-in/day-out, the Cruz is the Vista for the urban environment. The mechanics in the recline, seat connection and the fold are uncomplicated to the point that they can be performed without thinking ‘Now, how do I do this again?'. The huge basket and canopy eliminate all compromise – you can take whatever you need, wherever you want. Altogether brilliant!
If I have any criticism, it's that the Cruz lacks any real inspiration or flare. It's extremely well behaved but fairly ordinary looking, the sort of pushchair that may get overlooked for something with more character. As most new parents buy with their heart and not with their heads, the Cruz might not have enough pulling power to lure them towards what is a functionally brilliant, reliable and well made vehicle.
Don't follow the crowd, you must take a closer look at the Cruz to realise that it has everything you are looking for in an urban pushchair...you won't be disappointed.
We give the UPPAbaby Cruz
4.5 out of 5 stars
Open size: h100 x w56.5 x d74.9cms
Closed size: h94 x w56.5 x d28cms
Seat size: h46 x w30 x d23cms