Graco Modes 3 Lite strollerWeb: gracobaby.com

Graco’s main stroller niche is the travel system combining an infant car seat and stroller and aimed at first-time parents who want all the bells and whistles. The secret to their success is their excellent infant car seat, the SnugRide.

Graco is like the Honda of strollers—a mid-priced brand with decent quality, but not a lot of pizazz. You’ll find Graco in most chain stores—Babies R Us has quite a few of Graco models, including some exclusives.

Graco’s line is huge, so let’s get to the highlights:

The models. Graco divides their stroller line into three areas: lightweight, three-wheel and multi-child strollers.

The lightweight models include the Breaze, Modes, UrbanLite, Verb, FastAction Fold, LiteRider and Comfy Cruiser.

The three-wheel models include the Modes 3, Pace, Relay, Aire3, Modes Sport an FastAction Fold Joggers.

In the double or multi-child category, Graco offers the FastAction Fold Duo, Ready2Grow, RoomFor2 Duo and DuoGlider.

FYI: some of Graco’s strollers are exclusive to certain chains, most often to Babies R Us. Strollers often go on exclusive for a year or more, then come off exclusive and are more widely available.

Whew. Deep breath. Let’s look at the stand-outs in each Graco stroller category:

Lightweight. The Modes and Fast Action strollers are the stars here.

The Graco Modes Click Connect stroller ($250; pictured at top) is 23.3 lbs. (which pushes the concept of light weight to the outer limits of reality) and features a reversible seat, one-hand standing fold and removable child tray. You can use Modes just as a stroller frame to transport the infant car seat (by removing the stroller seat). All told, the Modes stroller converts into ten different configurations.

As with all Graco strollers, you also get Graco’s generous parent tray with cup holders. Feedback on the Modes has been quite positive and we’d recommend it. Price: $250 as a stand-alone model or $370 as part of a travel system with the SnugRide Click Connect 35. Our only reservation about the Modes: at $250, you are getting up into Baby Jogger City Mini price territory. And the City Mini, while lacking the reversible seat, is six pounds lighter with an easier fold.

New in the past year, the Aire4 XT (24.9 lbs.) stroller features all terrain rubber wheels, large canopy, one-touch brake, large basket and one-hand fold. This stroller is sold as a travel system with the SungRide 35 for $360.

New for 2016, Graco has debuted the FastAction DLX travel system which pairs a SnugRide 35 infant car seat with a four-wheel stroller (22.7 lbs). that features a one-hand seat recline, one-touch brakes, front wheel suspension and integrated, stow-away car seat adapters.

Graco Verb Click Connect Stroller

Graco Verb Click Connect Stroller

At an opening price point, the Verb (18.2 lbs; $93 as a stand-alone model or $161 as a travel system with the Graco Dangling Participle car seat—sorry, grammar humor) features front suspension and a one-hand fold.

The Graco Breaze ($146,  17.5 lbs.) is a one-hand fold lightweight stroller with full recline, extended canopy and front wheel suspension. It is car seat compatible.

Finally, there is the Graco Comfy Cruiser (16 lbs.), which features a one-hand, standing fold. Price: $190 as a travel system with a Graco SnugRide 30.

• Three-wheel strollers. Graco’s main entry here is the FastAction Fold Sport ($140), a Baby Jogger City Mini knock-off. This tri-wheel stroller features a multi-position reclining seat and large storage basket. The FastAction Fold refers to the center pull strap that folds the stroller in one swoop.

Graco also makes other tri-wheel strollers with air-filled tires under the FastAction moniker (FastAction Fold

Graco FastAction Fold Jogger

Graco FastAction Fold Jogger

Jogger). Even though these strollers are billed as joggers, they really are designed for walking on trails, not running. The turnable/lockable front wheels on the FastAction Fold Joggers make the strollers more maneuverable, but less ideal for actual running.

The Graco Aire3 is also very similar to the Baby Jogger City Mini or Britax B-Agile—a tri-wheel stroller with a quick fold, parent console and fully reclining seat. Price: $230. Very similar to the Aire3 but slightly narrower is the Graco Pace ($120).

The Graco Relay ($290, 27 lbs.) is an all-terrain stroller featuring air-filled tires, suspension and an included car seat adapter. The canopy features reflective fabric and UV50 protection.

New for 2016, the Modes 3 Lite features a reversible seat, large canopy, single touch brake and the FastAction fold mentioned earlier. One cool feature: the seat removes so you can use the Modes 3 Lite as a stroller frame to snap in a Graco car seat. Or the car seat can fit on top of the seat. And the infant seat can face toward the parent or outward. Price: $230 as a single stroller, $330 as a travel system.

Similar to the Modes 3 Lite and also new for 2016 is the Modes Jogger. Same features as the Modes 3 Lite, but the Jogger features air-filled tires and an adjustable footrest. This stroller is exclusive to Babies R Us and runs $380 as a travel system with the SnugRide 35 infant seat.

Graco Ready2Grow Click Connect

Graco Ready2Grow Click Connect double stroller

 • Double strollers. Most of Graco’s offerings here are tandem (front/back) doubles, such as the Ready2Grow. It features 12 seating positions, the ability to hold two infant seats, and a removable rear jump seat with harness that can hold an older toddler. The Ready2Grow runs $200 and weighs in at a hefty 32.4 lbs. This stroller seems squarely aimed at the Joovy Big Caboose market.

The DuoGlider ($122, 29 lbs.) is also a front/back tandem. Graco’s claim to fame in this niche is “stadium seating,” where the rear seat is elevated. Of course, you get all the standard features: huge storage baskets, removable canopies, etc. Cool feature: The DuoGlider holds two Graco infant car seats.

New to the lineup is a model that is similar to  Baby Trend’s Sit N Stand: the RoomFor2. This stroller holds a 50 lb. child in both front or rear jump seat and features a large basket, one-hand fold, parent tray and the ability to hold a car seat in front. The child in the rear can sit or stand. Price: $140, 24.7 lbs.

Finally in the double stroller category, Graco offers one side-by-side model: the FastAction Duo ($300). This stroller is essentially a double version of the FastAction Fold Sport, discussed earlier.

• Misc. Graco has a couple of other strollers that don’t quite fit into the above categories.

Graco Snugrider Elite stroller frame

Graco Snugrider Elite stroller frame

Graco’s entry in the stroller frame category, the Snug Rider Elite, is a winner—this $90 frame holds, what else? the Graco Snug Ride infant car seat with a secure lock-in feature and has a one-hand fold and basket. This model also has integrated cup holders, zippered storage and one-hand fold.

Travel systems are a major part of the Graco stroller line-up, where a Graco stroller (like the ones reviewed above) paired with a Graco infant seat in one box. Graco does sell some travel systems that include older model strollers not sold separately.

There are a slew of other Graco travel system models out there (Stylus, etc.)—most of these strollers are “full-feature” models with large storage baskets, parent trays and reclining seats.

Our view. Graco has slowly improved its stroller line over the past several years. The brand used to be known for selling mostly bulky travel systems with hulking strollers that weighed 30 lbs. empty. Today there are more three-wheel options and strollers that have slimmed down, weight wise.

The best options here are the Modes and FastAction Fold Sport strollers. Fans of the Modes like its ability to have baby face you or out—the ten riding configurations are a plus. The fact that the seat removes and you can use the remaining frame to snap in an infant car seat is another major plus. Critics of the Modes point out the stroller is still rather heavy and bulky—23.3 lbs with seat is light for Graco, but heavy when compared to the competition.

The FastAction Fold Sport is also a winner—a credible alternative to the Baby Jogger Mini at a price that’s 40% less. We also like the Graco Aire3, which is a credible alternative to the Baby Jogger City Mini or Britax B-Agile, even if the canopy coverage isn’t as generous.

Of course, despite the generally positive reviews, Graco strollers aren’t without their faults. Look at how some Graco strollers fold up . . . when folded, the front tray hits the ground, inevitably damaging or scratching it in a parking lot. Parents also complain about canopies that offer less than full coverage (note that several of Graco’s new models include fully enclosing canopies). And the steering on most Graco strollers is only so-so. These strollers were designed for the mall or smooth sidewalks.

Graco strollers are bulky when folded—even the lightweight ones can eat up the entire trunk of an average sized car. Factor this into your decision if your ride is a small compact.

Another caveat: if you go for a Graco travel system, be aware that there are several versions of the Graco SnugRide car seat. Be sure to read our round-up on the different models and confirm which one comes with what system.

Bottom line: Graco’s strollers are good quality and decently priced. Baby Bargains Resale Rank: Poor. Rating: B+