The Maxi-Cosi Elea, teamed with either the Pebble or CabrioFix car seats to create a travel system, boasts lots of parent-friendly features and very little to find fault with.
When I first check out the Maxi-Cosi Elea buggy online, my first impression is it’s a pretty ordinary buggy, and not that cheap. However, from the moment we meet in the flesh, the Elea starts to win me over.
The Elea buggy (£400) is paired with either the Maxi-Cosi Pebble car seat (£150) or Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix car seat (£125) to create a travel system, with adaptors attaching the car seat to the buggy chassis.
The Elea can be rear or forward facing in buggy mode, and is suitable from birth with a lie-flat seat. Because of this, I don’t really see the need for the optional carrycot (£155), unless you’re planning to use the carrycot as a Moses basket alternative. A Baby Nest is included, which makes the Elea really cosy for my baby Ted, 4 months. The buggy seat is big enough for my eldest son, almost 3, but would be a snug fit for bigger toddlers.
The Elea can be folded in two different ways, which Maxi-Cosi calls the ‘daily’ fold and the ‘optimal’ fold (explained below). Folding isn’t strictly a one-handed job (to open, you push the red release button and use your foot to push on the grey pedal on the centre back axle), but is simpler than other buggies I’ve used. When the Elea’s unfolded again, there’s a very reassuring click so you know all is back in place.
The Elea is comes in four distinctive colours, with not a single ‘cutesy’ pattern in sight.
What we love
The folding mechanism is the Elea’s top feature. It folds downwards and then inwards, which reduces the width greatly. A major plus for narrow hallways.
When folded with the seat unit attached (the ‘daily’ fold), the Elea stands up – a top feature where space is at a premium. While very compact when folded like this (88.5cm x 60.5cm x 52cm), it’s nothing compared to the ‘optimal’ fold. The ‘optimal’ fold sees the seat unit removed and – providing you adjust the handle angle and remove the rear wheels – the folded size is reduced to 84cm x 32.5cm x 15cm. Not small enough to count as hand luggage on a plane, but great for a small car’s boot.
Many buggies feature lockable swivel front wheels, but the Elea is the first I’ve tested where the swivel lock buttons are within reach of the handlebar. So sensible, and you’ll no longer be reduced to getting on the floor in front of the pushchair.
With the wheels locked, the Elea copes well with a bumpy park path. That said, the hard plastic wheels obviously will give a harder ride than air-filled tyres. The one-handed handling claim turns out to be true, especially on city streets. I can steer the Elea with 18lb Ted on board, with a coffee in one hand and phone pressed to my ear. The height adjustable handle would suit all heights.
The flip-flop friendly brakes are lovely and simple – the red foot pedal on the right puts the brake on, the blue foot pedal on the left takes it off.
Removing the seat unit from the Elea is very easy – the release buttons remain pressed in once pushed so you can remove the seat one handed. The majority of pushchairs require you to hold the release buttons in while simultaneously lifting the seat off – usually a stressful nightmare! Once the seat unit is removed, the adaptors click easily into each side and the Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix easily slots easily onto the frame. With Ted onboard, the Elea travel system is as easy to push as when in standard buggy mode. However, with a heavier baby it might become a bit top heavy and feel unstable.
The shopping basket is fairly compact, but easy to access and doesn’t need the seat to be moved or your toddler’s legs wrestled out of the way to get the shopping in.
I love that all the gear you need to get going with your newborn is included – Baby Nest, raincover, bag clips and car seat adaptors.
The well-designed Baby Nest has three layers for winter, which can be zipped off for summer, and a head cocoon that prevents your baby’s head from bouncing about too much.
What to watch out for
The Elea’s hood isn’t big. It wouldn’t protect your baby’s eyes when the angle of the sun is low. However, you can get around this by having your baby more upright in the buggy.
This isn’t a cheap option, but you get a fair amount included in the price tag. You will need to buy a footmuff (£50) for winter once your baby outgrows the Baby Nest. The Baby Nest is only really for use up to 6 months – Ted’s a big 4 month old (18lb) and he’s fairly cramped inside.
Maxi-Cosi doesn’t make a toddler buggy board, so this system is best for first-time parents or those with a bigger age gap between children.
Who is the Maxi-Cosi Elea travel system best for?
First-time parents after a travel system that can fit small car boots.
The Maxi-Cosi Elea travel system is a compact-folding choice for first-time city-going parents. It’s stylish, lives up to its one-handed handling claim and leaves little to complain about.