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The Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus is the latest version of the Dutch brand’s original iconic buggy, an update of the Cameleon 3. Combining quality with style, it features a roomy carrycot and a seat with three adjustable positions, taking your child comfortably from birth to toddler.
The Cameleon 3 Plus is light to push and also boasts some serious credentials as an all-terrain buggy. Something Bugaboo as a brand does well is combining functionality with great style, and the Cameleon 3 Plus has more styling options than ever, as well as some improvements to existing features.
Laura Sheers is first-time mum to 7-month-old daughter Elin Rose.
How is the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus different from the Cameleon 3?
According to Bugaboo, the key changes are the updated fabrics, which are made from recycled materials and come in a wider range of modern and bright colour options. The shopping basket has also been redesigned, as one of the main issues with the Cameleon 3 was difficulty in accessing the basket. Bugaboo have redesigned the basket to give it much lower sides and it no longer has a drawstring canvas bag. The Cameleon’s seat has also been given a slightly sleeker, more streamlined look.
My Cameleon 3 Plus buggy came in classic grey mélange with an aluminium chassis, plus an extra sun canopy in ‘neon red’. I liked all the fabrics used – they felt high-quality and durable. The seat and hood withstood the test of my daughter eating her lunch in it, and everything wiped clean without much effort.
When first assembled with the seat (suitable for 6 months upwards), the buggy is pleasantly sturdy and relatively lightweight. The adjustable suspension is a big plus – it was simple to use and means you can adjust it as your baby grows so they always have a comfortable ride.
What do you think of the Cameleon 3 Plus carrycot?
The carrycot feels very secure and sturdy. It has high sides and a lovely cream lining that is nicely padded. It looks super-soft and comfy for a newborn baby’s sleeps when you’re out and about, although Bugaboo do not recommend using the carrycot for overnight or unsupervised sleeping. Current advice states babies should lie flat in a carrycot until they are 6 months old, as this is said to help with organ and spine development, and even my 7-month-old fitted comfortably inside this one. The downside is that because the bassinet’s large and boxy, it’s not so great in small spaces.
It was pretty easy to change from the carrycot to the buggy’s seat unit, using a combination of connectable parts that slot together with a satisfying ‘click’ and Velcro straps to secure the material in place. I’m fairly impatient with instructions and this didn’t take me long at all.
What do you think of the seat unit and harness?
The 3 Plus seat unit is lightweight and can be easily attached and removed from the frame by pressing two buttons. My daughter fits snugly into the bucket of the seat with the 5-point harness on the tightest setting.
The straps on the harness are adjustable, and when you first move your baby from the carrycot to the seat, the straps really do need to be adjusted to the lowest position. The two harness straps either side of Elin’s head did sit quite high around her face and I was a little worried that they might irritate her, but she seemed happy and I can see the benefits of a larger harness as it will take your child from baby to toddler.
What is the maximum weight capacity of the Cameleon 3 Plus seat unit, and do you feel it can comfortably handle a child of that weight?
The weight limit of the seat is 17kg. It’s so large and sturdy that I think it could easily hold a child of that weight and comfortably take my daughter up to 3 years old, at least.
Does the seat recline and, if so, how many positions does it have?
The Cameleon 3 Plus seat reclines into 3 positions, and I loved this feature. It takes two hands to switch positions, and you do this by pressing the two round white buttons on either side of the seat. Elin can sit upright, sit slightly reclined or lie completely flat when she’s sleeping.
She slept soundly in the fully reclined position, and when she woke up the seat was easy and quick to adjust so she could look around. I would have found adjusting the seat slightly easier if I had been able to recline the pushchair using just one hand, rather than reaching over my baby every time I wanted to change the seat position. Also, the buttons were a bit on the stiff side, so I had to use the palms of my hands rather than my fingers to apply more force.
Is the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus seat reversible?
The seat on the 3 Plus is reversible, and this is a nice option to have. Generally, I kept my daughter facing me because she’s so young and still very happy to look at me, but when we were somewhere with lots of interesting things for her to look at, it was lovely to be able to turn her around to face out. I could turn the seat around with Elin strapped inside fairly easily (although I doubt I could do this when she gets much heavier).
How easy is the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus to manoeuvre when walking around town?
I liked pushing the Cameleon 3 Plus – it didn’t take much effort and I could steer easily with one hand. It felt like a nice smooth ride for my baby, whether we were on pavements or on bumpier country walks. The smaller front wheels did tend to catch when climbing up kerbs, but I didn’t find this a huge issue considering how good the suspension is overall.
The reversible handlebar is nifty feature, as it meant I could switch the buggy round so the larger back wheels were at the front. I wasn’t sure I’d use this option very much, but I did find it useful when going over cobblestones or pebbles. It’s easy to switch into this mode using the two little white buttons on the inside of the handlebar, which you just press then pull.
The handlebar is also simple to adjust to suit your height. At 5ft 2, I needed it on the lowest setting, while my husband could raise it to suit his height, too. All this adds to making the Cameleon 3 Plus really comfortable to push.
How does the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus ride on challenging surfaces?
I have been walking a lot since having my daughter as a gentle way to start building up my fitness, and the Cameleon 3 Plus is a very robust buggy for country walks.
It’s as good when going over tree roots and up hills as it is around suburban streets. I noticed my daughter bounced around less than other babies when on country walks with my mum friends. This buggy is lightweight, but it’s also tough.
What do you think of the 3 Plus’ wheels?
The Bugaboo wheels are easy to take on and off (essential for this buggy to fit in our car!). The big wheels are great for rough terrain, like rocky paths and beaches, and they won’t puncture, which is a huge plus.
Does the brake feel effective and strong?
The Cameleon 3 Plus’ brake does lock into place really securely and there’s no chance of this brake accidentally unlocking. It was great on the Underground and held the buggy tightly in place, even when the train stopped suddenly. It’s operated by hand and positioned on the right-hand side of the handlebar – which is already slightly awkward for me as, being left-handed, my right hand is my weaker hand.
I could secure the brake easily by pushing the lever, but to unlock it, I had to use two hands as I needed to push a button on the brake and pull the lever back at the same time.
If you have elderly parents using the buggy, bear this in mind, as my mum has found it particularly hard to unlock and the brake hasn’t become any easier with over a month’s worth of daily use. A footbrake would be easier in comparison, but potentially easier to accidentally unlock.
How is interacting with your child in the Cameleon 3 Plus?
Speaking for the seat only (as my daughter is too old for the carrycot), it was lovely interacting with her in this buggy. The Cameleon 3 Plus’ three different seat positions and the option to reverse the seat meant I could easily chat to her or have her facing outwards and show her things when we were out and about.
Also feeding her in the upright seat position was very handy if we were somewhere without a highchair.
How easy is it to lift?
The Cameleon 3 Plus weighs in at 9.6kg (just over 21lbs), making it as lightweight as the Bugaboo Fox (£979 on Amazon). I was quite surprised at how light this buggy actually is, but the fact it collapses down into two fairly bulky pieces did make it a little cumbersome.
The frame was harder to lift than the carrycot or the seat, and I needed two hands to do it. That being said, I could easily carry my daughter in one hand and the seat in the other.
How does the Cameleon 3 Plus fold?
The pushchair folds down into two separate pieces. You remove the carrycot or the seat unit (whichever you’re using) first, then collapse the base. Both the carrycot and the seat unit lift off easily. The chassis does fold back up with an easy one-handed action, but to collapse both pieces I needed two hands – which is not ideal when you’re holding a baby.
Does the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus’s hood provide good cover?
The hood on the Cameleon 3 Plus is one of my favourite features, as it folds out and completely covers my daughter at her current size. The fabric is water repellent and provides a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 50+. I didn’t know much about UPF factors (I had only heard of SPF factors in sunscreens), so it was reassuring to find out that the UPF factor relates to the amount of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation that can penetrate a fabric and 50+ is the highest rating that can be given.
I am completely obsessed with covering Elin in sunblock, so this added protection really appealed to me! The hood also provides a good amount of protection from the wind or rain and seems to block out a lot of background noise, too.
How compact is the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus when folded?
I’ve seen more compact buggies than the Cameleon 3 Plus. I found the two pieces a bit awkward to store and move so the buggy tends to stay fully assembled in our kitchen.
What do you think of the basket?
The redesigned basket now has much lower sides and is made of a net material. The basket on the previous Cameleon was very awkward to access, particularly when using the carrycot, but it’s now much easier to use. Also, after a quick capacity test using a Cameleon 3 that belonged to a friend, I could fit exactly the same amount into both baskets.
The Cameleon 3 Plus does not have any pockets or any other storage options, so it’s good to see that they haven’t taken away any of the storage capacity of the basket with the new design.
However, with the easier access comes the slight downside that small things can fall out more easily (Elin’s teething toy fell out as we were climbing a hill). The canvas drawstring bag on the previous edition helped to secure things inside the basket and also offered a bit of protection from the rain or splatters from muddy walks.
Overall, the basket design is better, but I feel it’s a shame that Bugaboo chose to remove the canvas bag.
Does the Cameleon’s frame scratch easily?
The frame on my buggy is aluminium and has been very hard-wearing. It wipes clean easily and scratches don’t show up, so it still looks smart.
How easy is it to use the Cameleon 3 Plus on public transport?
This buggy performed well on tube journeys. I couldn’t lift it with my daughter in it on my own, because of the weight and the bulk of the buggy, but the harness held my daughter really securely when someone helped me lift the buggy up and down stairs. The small front wheels made it easy to get the buggy on and off the train, too.
Does it fit in the boot of your car?
When I tried to fit the carrycot and the Cameleon 3 Plus buggy base into the boot of our Ford Fiesta, it was a very tight squeeze! The buggy fits much more comfortably using the seat, but only if we remove one of the larger back wheels.
This wasn’t a huge problem, as the wheels can be taken off and popped on again very easily, but if you have a small car this is definitely something to think about before buying this pushchair.
How easy is it to use the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus as a travel system with the Turtle car seat?
Getting a whole travel system with this buggy was a huge plus but, because you still need to use adaptors with the Bugaboo Turtle by Nuna car seat, I don’t really see a huge benefit of buying the Bugaboo car seat over another. The Cameleon works just as well with other car seat brands, like Maxi-Cosi.
Also, if you are paying a premium for a Bugaboo travel system, it’s a shame that the Bugaboo Turtle car seat doesn’t attach to the Cameleon 3 Plus frame without the need for adaptors. It’s such a clever buggy in almost every other way, this seems like it would have been an obvious update to make.
What’s in the box?
If you buy the ‘complete’ Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus, you get the carrycot and carrycot apron, seat, chassis, carry handle, extendable sun canopy, underseat basket and rain cover.
Is it easy to assemble the Cameleon 3 Plus?
This buggy is pleasantly easy to put together. Of the many things I’ve had to build for my daughter since she arrived, I would put this near the top for ease – once you get to grips with the fact that all the white parts of the Cameleon do something useful.
The 50-page instruction book for the Cameleon is available online, it isn’t too wordy and is mainly made up of clear, Ikea-style pictures – but my tip would be to head straight to YouTube and watch the Bugaboo demos. The videos are short and show you everything you need to know, and I found it a really quick and easy way to check out all the clever extra features this buggy has – like the adjustable suspension and the reversible handlebar.
What would you have wanted to know before you purchased the 3 Plus?
I wish I’d checked if the buggy would fit into the boot of our car! Taking one wheel off the Cameleon isn’t a huge issue, there’s a white button by each wheel to press and the wheels slot off and on very easily, but when I’m in a rush this is a bit of a pain.
What do you think of the Cameleon’s style?
There is no denying that the Cameleon 3 Plus is a stylish pushchair. There is a ‘create your own’ option when buying this buggy directly from the Bugaboo website which gives you 11 colour options for the canopy, and 6 colourways for the carrycot/seat material and the chassis.
You can essentially design your own buggy and create something that really fits with your style. However, some choices of fabric and chassis cost up to £100 more than others. That being said, I did really like the neon red canopy that came with this review buggy. It’s bright and fun, and injects a bit of personality. Another plus that comes with the increased styling options is that if you’re having another baby, you can easily refresh your Bugaboo for the new arrival.
Who would the Cameleon 3 Plus be most useful for?
I walk a lot, and the buggy has been great on pretty much any surface so I think it would suit most active families. It’s clearly built to last (and at this price, you would expect it to), so if you’re having your first child and planning more, this is a hardwearing buggy that will go the distance.
Is the Cameleon 3 Plus value for money?
This is a difficult one! You are getting a cleverly designed buggy for your investment, but it’s just a shame the brake isn’t as user-friendly as it could be and that you have to separate the buggy into two pieces to collapse it. The price can vary quite dramatically depending on the fabrics you choose, too. A Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus Complete Pushchair and Carrycot in standard black from John Lewis would set you back £764, while a Cameleon in grey mélange with a neon red sun canopy (like the one in this review) would cost £879 from Bugaboo.com.
Do you have to buy a lot of additional extras or is everything included?
Everything you need is included in the package, but Bugaboo offers a lot of pricey extras – including cup holders, smartphone holders, parasols and even an attachable tray and cup holder for your child’s snacks. I was tempted by the cup holder for my morning drink, but the £19.95 pricetag made me wince.
Where can I buy the Cameleon 3 Plus?
The Bugaboo Cameleon 3 Plus is a smart, quality buggy offering a wide choice of fun, customisable options – for a price. It’s versatile, and I loved the fact that I could sit my daughter up in the seat so she could interact with the world, but also lie her flat so she could sleep comfortably.
The underseat basket could still be improved upon, and the brake does take some getting used to, but overall this is a sturdy, stylish and hardwearing buggy that’s built to last.
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|Model||Cameleon 3 Plus|
Dimensions & Weight
|Weight||9.6kg – stroller weight with seat|
|Dimensions||H:100cm W:59cm L:80cm|
|Dimensions (folded)||H:30.5cm W:58.5cm L:90cm – with wheels|
|Child age (approx)||From Birth (with carrycot/cocoon)|
|Both seats suitable from birth||No|
|Child weight||Up to 17kg|
|Travel system compatible||Yes|
|Compatible car seats||Chicco, Britax-Romer and Maxi Cosi|
|Seat facing direction||Forward facing, parent facing and parent facing (with carrycot/car seat)|
|Front wheels||Swivel and wheel suspension|
|Tyre type||Foam filled|
|Wheel size (front)||6in|
|Wheel size (back)||12in|