Saturday, June 6, 2009

Taking a test stroll

First, the facts, for anyone who might have been desperately googling to find out "Will a Peg Perego or Maclaren fit in a Beetle's trunk?" The answer: A Peg Perego Pliko P3 will not fit; a Peg Perego Aria WILL FIT in the Beetle's trunk! And, a Maclaren Quest and Volo (the only two Maclaren models I tried) will fit in a Beetle's trunk! Happy researching. :)

Now for the reporting:

In my my stroller rant, I ranted only from experience online in researching a new compact stroller. As I have come to see this afternoon, it's just as important to take your stroller for a test drive as a new car, because what looks great on paper isn't always the best when you hit the road!

I was almost about to order the Peg Perego Aria online, but I figured I'd better try it out just to make sure it really would fit in the trunk. We went to a very accomodating Babies "R" Us, where they let me put a bunch of expensive strollers in my car's trunk (with some collateral, of course). Here's what we tested, and what we found in the great Peg Perego Aria vs. Maclaren Quest stroller face-off!

Peg Perego Aria
Fits in the Beetle's trunk: yes!
With room to spare. It's short enough, but wide. At first I didn't think it would fit, but after tipping and turning it a few different ways, it easily had room. Whew!
Shade-providing canopy: yes!
In addition to fitting in the Beetle's trunk, the canopy is my favorite feature about this stroller. In fact, the awesome clamshell-folding canopy folds almost as far over as our larger Pliko P3, and that alone almost swayed me to buy this stroller immediately. It's simply the very best canopy I've seen for a compact stroller.

Reclining seat: yes!
Plus a bar across the seat, which Baby H likes to hold onto on his P3.

But now, the part that made me glad for a test drive...

Handling and feel: eh!
Compared to the vast majority of strollers out there, the Aria steers beautifully. BUT...the handles are a little too low for my 6'2" husband. The Aria's downfall for both of us: it feels cheap, and despite being sort of clunky, it doesn't feel substantial to us. Plus, even though it folds up lengthwise to fit in the Beetle's trunk, it's still a very bulky package. Even with the one-handed opening (a cool feature), I don't see being able to fold it up and pop onto the Disneyland parking lot tram in this in a hurry. And for a stroller, that's a real consideration!

Maclaren Quest
Fits in the Beetle's trunk: yes!
I don't quite understand the magic that happened here, because according to the online measurements I found, it shouldn't have worked. But it did. The neat thing about the Maclaren is that it sort of folds in half. The result: a stroller that not only fits in the Beetle's trunk, but leaves room for a couple bags of groceries, too! It's actually a bit longer than the Aria, but it's much less bulky because of the wheel placement, so I feel it's easier to handle, too.

Shade-providing canopy: eh!
This is the only feature that disappoints me, and it was originally SO important to me. There is a canopy, but it's pretty lame. I made the one in the store go forward, but I'm not sure it's supposed to do that! (Sorry, BRU.) I do not understand why such a well-designed stroller has a basically useless (unless the sun is directly overhead) canopy. Is it because England (where Maclaren is made) isn't as sunny as Italy (home of Peg Perego)? Perhaps. This is the sole feature that still leaves the Italian Peg Perego in contention. Maybe it's better to stick with a Medieterranean climate manufacturer where sun is concerned?

Reclining seat: yes!
Nice seat, but no lap bar. However, I like that the harness straps are actually poking through the seat; the Aria (and the Pliko P3)'s harness drives me nuts because it doesn't really attach to the seat; there's a teeny little hook it rests against, and that lasts about 30 seconds with Baby H craning to look around.

Handling and feel yes!
OK, so that's not really a yes-or-no kind of bullet point, but I swear I thought, "Yes!" when I set off for the test stroll. I like the angled handles (like my P3, but unlike the Aria's straight-bar, grocery-cart style handlebar), and they're mere inches higher than the Aria, but that's high enough for Brad to be more comfortable pushing it. Plus, even though it's a lightweight stroller, it feels substantial--the opposite of the Aria.

Brad's leaning toward the Maclaren, because of the height, the very sleek folding, and the fact that it can hold up to 55 lbs. while the Aria can only take up to 45 lbs. (Another curious fact, since the Aria is clunkier.) Plus, he wouldn't admit it, but I think the slicker look of the Maclaren swayed his vote, too.

I'm not decided just yet. I'm hoping that overnight, someone will invent a perfect blend of the Aria and the Quest, and give it to me and Baby H to take out for a test stroll.


Anonymous said...

Kate, what about price? I'd be inclined to check second-hand stores or craigslist for an older model one of these before buying!

TikiBird said...

The price is definitely an issue. I've been able to find older models of both the Aria and Quest Sport online. The twist here is that I interviewed a stranger who had an Aria at the mall the other day, and she loooved hers, but told me that older models didn't steer very well, in her opinion. However, I learned from the Maclaren people that their early 2007 Quest models had a tiltable (is that a word?) canopy, so I'd like to find one of those! I'll keep you updated in my Quest. (Haha. Stroller humor!)

LydiaB said...

Wow! I stumbled onto your blog because, try as I may to be practicle, I keep wanting to replace my old SUV with a new beetle. I have a 16 month old and neither of my strollers will fit in a bug trunk! And YET, I have found a great bug for a GREAT price and I am searching your blog for evidence that it might be workable. Ugh! Am I dreaming? Any thoughts?

TikiBird said...

Lydia, you might have just inspired me to come out of my blog hiatus! I'm glad you could relate to the blog! Sounds like we both have 16-month-olds and want to fit them and all their stuff into Beetles!

If you've made it this far, in my opinion, you're in the clear as far as being able to fit your kid into the Beetle. For me, the hardest part of having a Beetle and a baby was the first year--crawling into the backseat, trying to get a wiggly baby into a rear-facing carseat, and then get him out again (sometimes while sleeping in the carseat, when he was really little) was the thing that did make me say, "OK, now I get by people have SUVs!" LOL

BUT, now that my guy can actually climb into and out of his carseat by himself--and that we've now got the carseat forward-facing--has made a big difference in ease! I no longer think daily about whether we should have gotten a bigger vehicle.

Are either of your strollers able to fit into the front seat, or next to the carseat in the back of the Beetle? Also, now that your kid's bigger, you might be able to get away with using a smaller umbrella stroller. We ended up getting a Maclaren Quest and it fits just right in the Beetle's truck--with room to spare for a few bags of groceries!

Now, so far I only have one kid, and it might stay that way for a long time (or forever!), so I can't say how practical the Beetle will be if you have another kid someday. But, I have a good friend who has two kids and her Beetle, so it can be done!

The Ratcliff's said...

i love your blog and stumbled across it by googling about my beetle and stroller issue. i have a 3 1/2 yr old and a 6 mo old (both toted around in the bettle) and a 2010 beetle. im currently researching the double stroller issue. but love your blog! us beetle mamas are one of a kind!

TikiBird said...

Hi, TR! Thank you so much! I love it when Beetle moms comment! If you find out some info on double strollers, and are up to it, please let me know what you find and I can post it (and credit you). Or, if you write about it, I can link to your post. It might help out a future Beetle mom!

The Ratcliff's said...

i am happy to report that i purchased a city mini double and it fits (with wheels removed) in the trunk of my 2010 vw beetle!!! hooray!!!!!
i love the idea of this site and would love to help you contribute!

TikiBird said...

That's wonderful! Thanks for reporting your info! If you want to do any kind of posts, with your reviews or experiences or photos or whatever might help other Beetle moms, I would absolutely love that! You can e-mail me at kate dot abbott at sbcglobal dot net. I'll be happy to post whatever you might want to send over! (And also link to your own blog or site or whatever you like.) Thanks!

Alice Liu said...

Wow,it's so great to finally find your blog when im crazily searching stroller and infant car seat for my upcoming baby. Im looking at orbit travel system as I think it may fit my boot space of my 2010 blackorange beetles. Dear tiki, could you share ur infant car seat brand and is it heavy to carry and can it be combined to your Ppp3 stroller? U r so great to guide our beetle mom in the ocean of strollers and car seats. I love ur blog!

TikiBird said...

Alice, that's so nice, thank you! Our infant car seat was a Peg Perego that fit into the Peg Perego stroller, but now we've got a large Britax Advocate car seat, which fits just fine in the Beetle!

The Orbit system was after my time, so I'm afraid I'm not much help there. It looks awesome, though. Please let me know if it works out for you and I'll post the info for other Beetle parents!

Anonymous said...

Hi TikiBird!
Greetings from Finland! I bet you never knew your great blog about Beetles and babies would be such an international hit! We have a New Beetle and a Jaguar, and do not want to trade them in for some boring cars just because we have a baby coming, so it was great to stumble across your blog! Now we know that there are strollers that fit in the trunk, and that you can actually live with a Beetle and a baby. Even in -30 degrees celcius.

TikiBird said...

Oh my goodness, Anonymous from Finland! That's awesome! This is especially awesome for me because I'm partly Finnish! Although the only thing I know how to say is Hauska Joula. :)

If you are up for it, I would love to post updates from you on how your Beetle and a baby experience goes! You could say what kind of stroller or carseat you got, and how you deal with it in -30 degrees C weather! Anything you'd like to send in, I would love to post for others to see.

Thank you for reading. :)

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Anonymous said...

Hei TikiBird (Hei is Hi in Finnish),

I have completely forgot to update you, my fellow Finn, that we're having twins! That's a bit too much even for the mighty Beetle (which is Kupla in Finnish, by the way), so we have to get another car for a few years. We're going for the TFK Twinner Twist Duo stroller, which is a bit bigger than the Beetle itself. :) But when the kids don't need a stroller anymore, we'll buy another Beetle, maybe a convertible this time! Until then, the only Beetle the kids get to ride is my old '73.

As summer is almost here, Hauskaa Kesaa! It means "Have a nice summer", and the a's in kesaa are actually the funny scandinavian a's with the two dots on top, pronounced like the "a" in last.

Hauskaa Kesaa,