Top positive review
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Great 2-in-1 stroller, a better value than a traditional travel system
on March 6, 2013
Note: Updated July 2013 after the arrival of 2nd child, as I can update fully on using the Liteway Plus in stroller frame mode. Updated again in April 2014 after over one year of use with both children.
As of the most recent update to this review, we have a 3.5 year old and a 9 month old. With our first baby, we did what the book Baby Bargains recommended new parents NOT do: buy a travel system consisting of a stroller with an infant car seat. The statement made in the book was that travel system strollers are simply too big/unwieldy and don't necessarily meet the needs of an individual family. Instead, the authors suggested getting an infant car seat and stroller frame such as the Baby Trend Snap N Go EX Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier, then shopping for a stroller with specific desired features after the baby had arrived.
Like I said, we ignored their advice and opted for the Chicco Cortina KeyFit Travel System with the Keyfit car seat (22 pound weight limit) and Cortina stroller. We had the Keyfit recommended as an infant car seat by several friends and relatives and figured that we liked the stroller well enough - as it turned out, the Keyfit was indeed an excellent infant car seat but the Cortina was too bulky. My daily driver is a crossover SUV and the folded Cortina occupied 90% of my cargo area! We can recall using it less than a half-dozen times before giving up and resorting to babywearing or lugging the Keyfit on its own. When our daughter was 8 months old we bought a Baby Jogger City Mini which was a big improvement over the Cortina in virtually every respect, but still bulkier than a stroller with an umbrella-style fold. As we continued wearing our daughter in wraps and carriers until she was around 2 years old, our need for a stroller was not as great as many families.
Then I got pregnant. Our older daughter was nearly 3 when our second daughter arrived, and was already past both babywearing and frequent stroller riding. We have long since sold our Cortina to the local children's consignment shop, but we decided to upgrade our Keyfit from the seat with the 22 pound limit Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and assumed we'd either get the Chicco adapter for the City Mini or buy a secondhand stroller frame. Then in January 2013 I saw a video about the Liteway Plus stroller on the Chicco website and we decided to check the stroller out in person.
When we went to the store to try the Liteway Plus, it was set up for use as a stroller. Our older daughter immediately hopped in and went for a ride, liking it so much that she initially refused to get out! After we convinced her to climb off, it was a simple matter to convert it to the stroller frame. We grabbed a Keyfit from the car seat section and it snapped in and out easily, just like docking into the car seat base.
What sealed the deal is the fact that the Liteway Plus is both a stroller frame and a toddler stroller. It simply offers better long term value than buying a stroller frame AND a compact stroller. Do the math: a Keyfit Caddy plus a Chicco Liteway stroller have a combined MSRP of $240, while a single Liteway Plus handily accomplishes both functions for an MSRP of $180. As a mechanical engineer myself I looked at the Liteway Plus and thought, "Why did no one think of this sooner?"
We used the Liteway Plus in toddler mode for our older daughter from 2.5 until the baby arrived, and then in stroller frame mode for the baby from birth to 9 months when we transitioned her from the Keyfit to a convertible car seat and switched the Liteway Plus back to toddler mode. Overall we have been thrilled with the purchase and recommend the combination of Keyfit 30 and Liteway Plus to every expecting family we know. We plan to have a third child in a few years, so we'll definitely get our money's worth out of the Liteway Plus before our family is complete.
A summary of our impressions after using the stroller for over 1 year for both a toddler and an infant, and in both modes of use -
Assembly: Easy - all you have to do after unboxing is snap the front wheels on and attach the canopy and cup holder.
Maneuverability: Good, although not quite as effortless as our City Mini. The front wheels can be fixed or allowed to swivel depending on terrain and preference. Like any compact/umbrella stroller, this is not a stroller you're going to use for serious offroading but would be perfectly fine at the soccer field or park.
Parent features: A cupholder and small baseket is the extent of it, but we travel light with the kids anyways. The basket can hold a smallish diaper bag or jackets/light coats. Our Patemm Pad fits easily, as will our Diaper Dude Diaper Bag, but my big Vera Bradley baby bag does not. While it has an umbrella style fold, the Liteway Plus is bulkier when folded than most less-expensive umbrella strollers including other options from Chicco. It still fits nicely in the backseat footwell of both vehicles, and very easily in the cargo area of my Equinox and the trunk of my husband's Camry.
Folding: OK. I admit we're very spoiled by the City Mini's fold. Unfolding the Liteway Plus is similar to any umbrella stroller and involves releasing the side latch and pushing down on a small foot pedal until the stroller locks open. Folding it involves actuating a foot release and then pushing up on the small foot pedal. There is a carry strap on the side.
Conversion between modes: Easy and quick, involving two parachute clips, two sliding pieces for attaching the seat to the frame, and a zipper. Conversion is faster without the canopy in place, and we removed the canopy entirely while using the Liteway Plus as a stroller frame. There's a nice protective boot/cover that folds out from the foot rest to cover the seat back when folded forward into stroller frame mode. We recently switched the baby from the Keyfit 30 to a convertible car seat and I realized in a store parking lot that we hadn't switched the Liteway Plus into toddler mode; I was able to convert it in around 2 minutes while holding the baby on my hip.
Use as stroller frame: Good. When out and about with our newborn running quick errands, I often clicked the Keyfit right into the Liteway Plus, which can be easily maneuvered through the store with one hand while the other hand holds a shopping basket.
Use as stroller: Good. The canopy seems small compared to the City Mini and is relatively ineffective on a windy day. It has a "peekaboo" window in it to see your child. It's simple to change seat recline and harness adjustments, but we find the harness buckle to be a bit annoying to unfasten.
Child comfort: In stroller frame mode the child's comfort is by default that of the Keyfit, so I'll focus on comfort in toddler mode. Our very verbal 2.5 year old (at the time we bought the stroller) gave it her immediate seal of approval, and the baby has also been comfortable! The seat offers 5 recline positions and adjustable leg support. The harness straps are adjustable in height at three positions, with the highest spot still offering plenty of growing room for our tall older daughter. The recommended upper weight limit in toddler mode is 40 lbs, which may not be sufficient for a very big toddler but is more than adequate for her at 29 pounds at the time we bought the stroller.
Quality: The frame is sturdy and feels solid - this is no rattly, cheap umbrella stroller. The cover is the same nice fabric that's used in the Keyfit and Nextfit car seats and can be removed for washing. It has held up well to over a year of frequent use in the New England climate.
~ Excellent long term value due to the 2-in-1 functionality
~ Easy, quick conversion between stroller frame and toddler mode
~ Good maneuverability and child comfort
~ Far more compact than a Chicco Cortina or other comparable travel system stroller
~ Not quite as compact when folded as a cheap umbrella stroller
~ Annoying harness buckle in toddler mode (fabric covers the buckle and has to be pushed aside to unbuckle)
~ Skimpy canopy