If It Were a Car: a Chevy Astro, a delivery truck reskinned as a minivan.
Traditional Stroller Verdict: Though both are underwhelming, I'd opt for the Combi. It has its compromises, but it's a decent, relatively versatile general-use stroller. It's reassuring to know I can carry it if I have to, and it doesn't take up the whole trunk. I still like the Graco's lines, but I'm content to admire them from afar.
If traditional strollers are La-Z-Boys on wheels, mesh-over-metal frame umbrella strollers are rolling lawn chairs. Ultralight, compact, portable, and typically sporting seats that don't recline, umbrellas aren't suitable for infants and kids who can't sit up on their own. So, unless you stay inside until your kid is 8 months old, this won't be your first stroller.
The Driver Experience: Light, maneuverable, and expensive, British-designed Maclarens were standard-issue for generations of yuppie parents. The Volo is the sparest model from this company, which invented the umbrella stroller nearly 30 years ago. Its angled aluminum frame supports a single-layer mesh seat and a wispy storage net.
The Volo is instantly responsive and steers with a twitch of the wrist. If your stride is much longer than a toddler's, watch your feet. Both my wife and I repeatedly clipped the tops of our feet on the lower frame. (Hustling through one crosswalk, it drew blood.) We brought the Volo on a trip to Sun Valley, and it worked fairly well, although it bogged down in gravel and shook on a dirt trail. But with its simple flop-and-step opening, the Volo made travel efficient and painless. Except for the whole blood thing, of course.
The Passenger Experience: The seat is quite low to the ground, and my daughter liked it enough to curl up in it with a board book at home. The five-point harness clicks together easily but takes more effort to open; the kid can snap herself in, but she can't undo it, which is how you want it.
Who It Is For: Travelers, city folks who make quick, frequent trips out. (Longer excursions would probably be better in a padded, reclining model.) A good second stroller.
Celebrity Parent-Spotting: Maclaren's Web site actually has a celebrity gallery, including an infant Prince William riding in a period stroller. Who knew?
If It Were a Car: a Mini, of course: practical and peppy.
Geoffrey Toys "R" Us Times Square Price: $21
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