The Best Travel Systems / Car Seat Stroller Combos of 2020

Buying a travel system is different than buying a car seat or stroller. You’re not just looking at each individual part – you want to know how they work together.

When you buy a travel system, you need to examine three things: the car seat, the stroller, and how they work together. It’s not always simple, and sometimes, you’ll end up with one or two amazing components that don’t work well together for you.

That’s what happened to me six years ago. I was all gung-ho to choose a travel system, and I even made sure it was handled stairs easily and folded in, not out. What I forgot to check was if I could carry it easily, and how easy it would be to maneuver the stroller with a 20-pound child in it instead of a nine-pounder. The answer? Not easy.

I made a mistake, and I want to help you avoid doing the same.

In this article, we’ll compare six popular travel systems, examining them for:

  • Safety
  • Comfort
  • Easy car seat installation (too many car seats are improperly installed)
  • Maneuverability
  • Weight
  • Easy stroller folding
  • Stroller recline
  • and much more.

Below are reviews of our favorite combos:

 Our Top Picks for the Best Travel Systems of 2020


1. Chicco Bravo Trio KeyFit 30 Travel System (best overall)

Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System


The stroller: The Chicco Bravo is made for babies up to 50 lbs (22.7 kg), and offers all-wheel suspension and a large storage basket. This stroller also offers a one-hand fold, swivel wheels, a removable canopy, and (like the car seat) a five-point harness.

Unlike most strollers, the Bravo Trio can convert to a lightweight frame, offering your car seat wheels without the bulk of a stroller seat.

A big plus? The basket is accessible even when the seat is reclined. Also, the handle is height-adjustable to accommodate parents of differing heights.

The car seat: The Chicco KeyFit 30 is a rear-facing infant car seat intended for babies weighing between 4 and 30 lbs (1.8-13.3 kg) who are less than 30 inches (76.2 cm) in height. For babies between 4 and 11 lbs (1.8-5 kg), the car seat features a “newborn insert.”

Like most other car seats, the KeyFit has a LATCH option. Unlike many others, it also has an easy installation system: the base offers a belt-locking system for vehicles without LATCH, and a foot which helps level the car seat so it’s at the right angle for your car’s own seat.

This car seat will fit into any Chicco strollers which can hold an infant car seat.

How much does it weigh? The car seat weighs 9.5 lbs (4.3 kg) sans base, and the stroller weighs 23 lbs (10.45 kg).

The Pros:
* one-hand fold
* auto-positioning wheels
* stroller includes parent tray with cup holders
* stands when folded
* stroller converts to lightweight frame
* height-adjustable handle
* large storage basket

The Cons:

* fabric isn’t machine washable
* no information on warranty

Is it for you? If you’re looking for a car seat with an easy installation system for cars both with and without LATCH, as well as an easy fold and removable stroller seat and a height-adjustable handle, Chicco’s Bravo Trio is the travel system for you.

Click Here to Check Today’s Price for the Chicco Bravo Trio


2. Britax B-Lively / B-Safe 35 Ultra Travel System (highest weight limit & compact fold)

The stroller: The B-Lively is an agile stroller, designed as a replacement and upgrade for the company’s retired B-Agile stroller. A three-wheel jogging stroller, this stroller offers a swivel front wheel, all-wheel suspension, and a one-hand fold.  It’s also lightweight and folds compactly, allowing you to fit it into pretty much any vehicle.

The B-Lively is appropriate for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers from birth until 55 lbs (25 kg), and its seat reclines approximately 175 degrees and offers an upright angle of nearly 90 degrees. Plus, in addition to its large storage basket, the B-Lively has extra pockets, perfect for storing things when you’re on the go.

The car seat: The B-Safe 35 car seat accommodates infants from 4-35 lbs (1.8-15.9 kg) who are less than 32″ (81 cm) tall. Like many other Britax seats, this seat features several easy installation features. In addition to its built-in lock-offs, the seat has springs and indicators to help parents find the proper position.

Unlike previous versions, the new B-Safe 35 car seat offers no-rethread easy harness adjustment. This seat also has a removable “body pad” which cushions smaller babies and can be removed for older babies.

It also has an easy “click and go” system allowing it to be used easily with any Britax stroller.

How much does it weigh? The B-Safe 35 car seat weighs 10 lbs (4.5 kg) without the base, and the B-Lively stroller weighs 20 lbs (9.1 kg).

The Pros:
* stroller has high weight limit
* easy one-hand fold
* large storage basket with easy access from both front and back
* stroller offers both zippered and open pockets for parent convenience
* relatively long warranty
* car seat has added safety features
* stroller offers adjustable footrest
* car seat has no-rethread harness
* stroller offers extra-large ventilated canopy

The Cons:

* fabric is not machine washable
* unclear if stroller stands when folded

Is it for you? If you’re looking for a travel system with a jogging stroller, lots of storage space, an easy car seat installation system, and extra safety features, the Britax B-Lively/B-Safe is the travel system for you.

Click here to see today's price for the Britax B-Agile 3/ B-Safe 35 Ultra on Amazon

3. Graco Modes Travel System with SnugRide Car Seat (best value)

The stroller: Graco’s Modes travel system offers the company’s ClickConnect technology, along with the versatility so necessary for today’s parents. Offering a removable and reversible toddler seat, the stroller also allows for the seat to be removed and replaced with an infant car seat – either forward-facing or rear-facing. Plus, the car seat can be attached over the stroller seat, so you can use the whole unit at once.

Even better, the Modes travel system has Graco’s easy one-hand fold, and the stroller stands upright when folded. The stroller’s parent console offers two cup holders, plus a closed compartment for a cell phone or some change. And the child tray is fully removable.

The Modes is suitable for children up to 50 lbs (22.7 kg), and the harness can be used as either a 3-point harness or a 5-point harness. Plus, the stroller seat can be used as a bassinet – with a seatbelt – for newborns.

The car seat: Graco’s SnugRide Snuglock 35 fits infants weighing between 4-35 lbs (1.8-15.9 kg) and up to 32 inches (81 cm) tall. It comes together with its base, which can be left in the car for easy installation, and there is a compartment for storing both the user manual and the LATCH mechanism.

The car seat, and its canopy, are machine washable – an amazing plus for busy parents.

How much does it weigh? The Modes stroller, without the car seat or base attached, weighs 16.1 lbs (7.3 kg), and the car seat weighs 14.7 lbs (6.68 kg).

The Pros:

* wide range of travel options
* includes bassinet mode
* removable stroller seat
* car seat can be placed over stroller seat or instead of it
* forward-facing or rear-facing
* includes car seat base
* car seat fabric is machine washable
* easy one-hand fold
* removable child tray
* includes parent console
* stands when folded

The Cons:
* no information on how to clean stroller fabric

Is it for you? If you don’t care for bells and whistles, but you do need a sturdy travel system with an easy one-hand fold, or if you want the option of a three-point or five-point stroller harness, and you want a long-trusted car seat, Graco’s Modes travel system is the one for you.

Click here to see today's price for the Graco Modes on Amazon

4. UPPAbaby VISTA V2 with MESA car seat (best for multiples and siblings)

The stroller: UPPAbaby’s VISTA V2 is a versatile stroller which comes with a car seat, base, and bassinet, in addition to the standard toddler seat.

All of the components – stroller (toddler) seat, bassinet, and car seat – can be removed and used either forward-facing or rear-facing, and as your family grows, you can purchase an extra seat (called a “Rumble Seat”) and turn your single stroller and travel system into a double travel system.

And if you’re expecting twins, it’s easy to purchase a second bassinet or car seat, and get both a single stroller and a double stroller for the price of one.

The VISTA V2 has a large, extendable canopy, and its telescoping handlebar is perfect for taller parents. Plus, the canopy itself is height-adjustable, to accommodate your growing child.

The car seat:  UPPAbaby’s MESA car seat can be used for infants from 4 lbs (1.8 kg) to 35 lbs (15.9 kg), and who are up to 32 inches tall (81.3cm). It comes with its base, and features the company’s Smart Secure easy installation technology and self-retracting LATCH connectors.

The MESA also has indicators which show whether it’s been installed correctly, a no-rethread harness, breathable fabric, and an adjustable headrest. Plus, it comes with an “infant insert” for smaller babies weighing between 4-8 lbs (1.8-3.6 kg).

The car seat fabric is machine washable and should be air-dried.

How much does it weigh? UPPAbaby’s MESA car seat weighs 9.9 lbs (4.49 kg) without its base, and 18.9 lbs (8.57 kg) with its base. The VISTA V2 stroller weighs 27 lbs (12.3 kg), and the included bassinet weighs 8.8 lbs (4 kg).

The Pros:

* telescoping handlebar
* height-adjustable canopy
* stands when folded
* extra-large storage basket with easy access
* can be used as a double stroller
* reversible toddler seat
* one-step fold
* includes bassinet
* easy-adjust stroller harness
* car seat features Smart Secure easy installation system
* car seat has limited lifetime warranty
* stroller has 2-year warranty

The Cons:

* toddler seat doesn’t fully recline
* stroller fabric isn’t machine washable

Is it for you? If you’re on the tall side and need a travel system for two, or you think you’ll want one in the future, the VISTA V2 with the MESA car seat is the perfect travel system for you.

Click here to see today's price for the UppaBaby Vista V2 with MESA car seat on Amazon

5. UPPAbaby CRUZ Stroller with MESA Car Seat (best slim high-end stroller)

The stroller: UPPAbaby’s CRUZ V2 stroller offers a versatile frame and a removable “toddler seat” which can be used for infants as well. Children can ride rear-facing or forward-facing, reclined or upright, and the toddler seat can be replaced with UPPAbaby’s MESA car seat.

In addition to the toddler seat, the CRUZ V2 has a bassinet which can be purchased separately, offering even more options. The bassinet can be installed rear-facing or forward-facing.

The CRUZ V2 also has a large basket, extendable handlebar, and large extendable sunshade – and an extendable canopy, which adjusts as your child grows.

While the CRUZ V2 and VISTA V2 are similar, the CRUZ has an advantage: It’s over three inches slimmer than the VISTA, and it’s half an inch shorter, too – perfect for parents who are on the short side but still want a high-end stroller, or for parents who need a slimmer model for narrow sidewalks or doorways.

The CRUZ V2 is also nearly two inches smaller, lengthwise, than the VISTA V2, and it weighs less than its bulkier sibling.

The car seat: UPPAbaby’s MESA car seat fits infants from 4 lbs (1.8 kg) to 35 lbs (15.9 kg), who are up to 32 inches (81.3 cm) in height. Like other travel system car seats, the MESA is rear-facing only. The MESA car seat comes with an easy-install base offering self-retracting LATCH connectors and a window indicating whether it’s correctly installed.

The car seat also includes a no-rethread harness, breathable fabric, and an adjustable headrest. It fits without adapters into the CRUZ stroller. This seat includes an “infant insert” intended for babies who weigh between 4-8 lbs (1.8-3.6 kg).

How much does it weigh? UPPAbaby’s CRUZ V2 stroller frame weighs 15 lbs (6.8 kilograms) on its own. When you use the toddler seat and frame together, it weighs a total of 21.5 lbs (9.75 kg). The MESA car seat weighs 9.9 lbs (4.49 kg) without the base, and 18.9 lbs (8.57 kg) with the base.

The Pros:

* easy to install car seat base
* indicators for LATCH adjustment
* car seat has no-rethread harness
* car seat includes pockets for harness buckles
* car seat offers adjustable headrest and two crotch buckle positions
* fabric is merino wool – natural and fire-resistant
* telescoping handlebar
* height-adjustable canopy
* large storage basket
* stroller stands when folded
* shock absorption and all-wheel suspension

The Cons:

* fabric isn’t machine washable
* stroller doesn’t allow for proper recline
* bassinet must be purchased separately

Is it for you? If you want a high-end travel system but don’t want the bulk of the VISTA V2 and don’t need a stroller for two, the CRUZ V2 is the travel system for you.

Click here to see today’s best price for the UPPABaby Cruz on Amazon.com



6. Baby Trend Expedition Jogger Travel System (best for jogging)

The stroller: The Baby Trend Expedition Jogger Travel System (or Baby Trend Expedition Travel System) accommodates children up to 50 lbs (22.7 kg) and 42″. The handle is ergonomically shaped, and the stroller includes a 3-wheel jogging stroller with bicycle tires and a swivel and locking front wheel.

This stroller doesn’t flaunt a one-hand fold, but it does say it has an “effortless trigger fold.” One very good thing is that it has reflectors on the footrest, providing added visibility for parents and kids walking at night. Also, its canopy is adjustable.

The car seat: The Expedition Jogger Travel System comes with an infant car seat and an EZ Flex-Loc base. The car seat accommodates infants who weigh between 5 and 30 lbs (2.2-13.6 kg), and who are less than 30 inches (76.2 cm) in height. For babies weighing just four pounds, the company offers an infant insert.

The car seat’s height-adjustable base is LATCH equipped and includes an indicator to aid proper installation. Its best feature? The unique carrying handle, which features a crossbar allowing for a variety of carrying positions.

How much does it weigh? All told, the travel system weighs 41 lbs (18.64 kg). After much digging, I found that what seems to be its car seat weighs 10.5 lbs (4.7 kg) without the base. Its stroller – when sold without the car seat – weighs 26 lbs (11.8 kg). However, the base (belonging to the car seat I found) weighs 6 lbs (2.7 kg), and these numbers, quite frankly, are not matching up.

If weight is important to you, skip this one.

It’s important to note that reviews on this travel system were split, with half the parents loving it, and the other half complaining that it did not stand the test of time. Another common complaint was that the car seat straps were uneven. Those who loved it praised the maneuverability, the fact that it’s lightweight, and its ease of use.

The Pros:

* comes in a variety of colors
* relatively inexpensive
* lightweight and easy to maneuver
* large bicycle tires
* front wheel swivels and locks
* includes parent tray with cup holders
* large storage basket
* includes child tray with cup holders
* easy fold
* reflectors on footrest
* adjustable car seat base
* easy to release car seat from base

The Cons:

* relatively heavy
* mixed reviews

Is it for you? If you’re looking for an inexpensive jogging stroller and travel system, or you want a design that’s not going to be exactly the same as everyone else’s stroller, Baby Trend’s Expedition Jogger is the travel system for you.

Click here to see today’s best price for the Baby Trend Expedition on Amazon.com


Want to see how the technical details compare?

What do these weights mean?

The weight of the stroller determines, in large part, how easy it’ll be for the wind to tip it over – and how easy it’ll be for you to stash it in the trunk of your car or walk up a short (or long) flight of stairs with it.

It’s important to understand that “umbrella” strollers usually weigh about 12 lbs (5.5 kg), and heavy duty strollers can weigh 30 lbs (13.6 kg) or more. Most strollers are somewhere in the middle.

Before you buy a travel system, you’ll want to check the weight of the stroller and how heavy the stroller and car seat are when used together.

Remember you are buying a car seat AND a stroller

Earlier, we said there are three things you need to think about when buying a travel system: the car seat, the stroller, and how they work together.

On the whole, strollers are easier to buy. They need to be strong and sturdy, not to have a history of recalls, and to match the parent’s needs.  Car seats, on the other hand, need to keep your child safe in case of a road accident, and they need to fit in your car.

Car seats used in travel systems are infant seats. They’re not made for children above a year or so, and certainly, you won’t plop a toddler in a car seat onto your stroller.

Before you buy a car seat, you’ll need to make sure it’s safe (all of the ones in this article meet safety standards), and you’ll need to make sure it fits in your car. This is especially true if you already have a child or two buckled into a safety seat in your back row.

Car seat + stroller = travel system

To determine which travel system is best for you, first find a company whose car seat you like.

Then, look for travel systems incorporating that car seat. For instance, Chicco’s KeyFit 30 car seat is included in several of the company’s travel systems. True, I wrote about the Chicco Bravo Trio travel system. But the same car seat is included in the Cortina CX, Viaro, and Coal KeyFit Magic Infant sets.

Chicco isn’t the only company who does that. Graco does it, too, and there are others as well.

How to Avoid Making Mistakes

Six years ago I was all gung-ho to choose a travel system, and I even made sure it was handled stairs easily and folded in, not out. What I forgot to check was if I could carry it easily, and how easy it would be to maneuver the stroller with a 20-pound child in it instead of a nine-pounder. The answer? Not easy.

To avoid mistakes like mine when choosing your travel system, make a list of what you want.

Do you do a lot of walking? Do you need your stroller to fit in the trunk of your car? Are you tall, or does your stroller need to fit behind a pushed-back driver’s seat? Maybe it needs to fit through your building’s elevator doors, and maybe you need something you can easily toss in the machine.

Regardless, be sure you can easily steer and maneuver your stroller, both with and without a car seat attached. Also make sure the stroller isn’t too heavy for you to lift on your own. If it is, taking it in and out of your trunk, or up and down stairs, will be….purgatory.

To sum up, think about your lifestyle, and make a list of your needs. Then, find the travel system which will meet those needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I look for in a travel system?

We recommend you give top priority to safety and comfort. Also take into account ease of car seat installation, maneuverability, weight, easy stroller folding, and stroller incline.

How do I choose the best travel system for my family?

To determine which travel system is best for you, first find a company whose car seat you like. Then, look for travel systems incorporating that car seat. For instance, Chicco’s KeyFit 30 car seat is included in several of the company’s travel systems. See more examples in our list of best travel systems.

What is the difference between a travel system and a car seat stroller combo?

Since a travel system is a combination of a stroller and a car seat, the two are essentially the same thing

The bottom line

If you’re looking for extra safety features and high quality, then you’re best off with the Britax B-Agile 3/ B-Safe 35.

If you want the best value for the money, go with the Chicco Bravo Trio.

If you want to save big, choose the Baby Trend Expedition Jogger or the Evenflo Vive.

Do you have a travel system to recommend? Have you used any of these travel systems? Let us know in the comments.

1 thought on “The Best Travel Systems / Car Seat Stroller Combos of 2020”

  1. I agree with your list. I found the Britax to be best in its class while conducting our own research. Since we travel often and are expecting our third, it was important to have system that was not only safe, but could help us travel easier.

    Reply

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