New Zealand-based Phil & Teds is renowned for its innovative designs that not only keep kids happy, but make parents’ lives easier. Famed for its inline double buggies such as the Navigator, the Smart Lux is the newest addition to its Smart range of single strollers – a compact travel system that the company says ‘glides on air’.
With 18 years in the business, the uber-polished brand has amassed countless awards through its inventiveness. After a short spell on the market, the Smart Lux has already scooped the accolade of Best Newcomer in the US in the Momtrends.com Must-haves 2014 awards.
Monaz tested the Phil & Teds Smart Lux with her 6 month-old-boy, Evan. Living in a 3rd storey flat in the heart of central London, their key issues were storage and weight as well as city transport and manoeuvrability through urban terrain.
Watch a video of the Phil & Teds Smart Lux in action here
What’s in the box?
- Chassis with integrated wrist strap + wheels
- Multi-way seat unit
- Bumper bar
What extra accessories can you buy?
- Storm cover £18; Sun cover £25; Smart lux parasol £25
- Seat liner £22; Lambswool seat liner £49
- Cosy toes £29; Duck down and feather fill footmuff £129
- Bassinet £119 (bassinet storm cover, sun cover and sheets are available as extras too)
- Car seat adaptors (for Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix, Mico & Pebble, or Cybex Aton car seats) £35
- Universal travel bag £80
- Shop & drop parcel tray pack bag £12
- Smart lux snuggle & snooze stroller sleeping bag £55
- Smart lux cup holder £11
How was it out of the box?
From being wrapped up in the box to fully-built, the Smart Lux was ready to roll in just 10 minutes. The wheels, hood and seat all clicked-in with no battles and instructions were in clear, illustrated form, laid out in a step-by-step, logical fashion so there weren’t any guessing games. Phil & Teds also have a super-slick website which has video guides for each pram and how to construct them, just incase you need some extra guidance.
The most ingenious thing about the Smart Lux is that the seat not only has lots of different reclines and positions, but it can also be turned into a deep, lie-flat bassinet thanks to some clever, yet startlingly simple engineering using straps on the underside of the seat unit.
How easy was it to push?
Although it feels heavy out of the box, it’s a dream to push. The front wheel suspension and air-filled tyres are ultra-sturdy and work well to keep the ride smooth over rockier surfaces, taking the effort out of bumping the pram up and down steps/kerbs/buses when required too. For a four-wheeler, it’s amazing how nippy its turning circle is, and it was a doddle to zip around from the street to a shop to a grassy park. The buggy coped effortlessly with the myriad surfaces that the city threw at it.
The brake is easy to use (it can even be operated wearing flip flops!), secure when on and has very little wheel creep. It didn’t budge on bus journeys either.
The wrist strap is a fantastic safety extra and gives peace of mind when travelling down ramps or waiting to cross the road.
How comfortable does it feel?
The foam on the handle feels soft yet grippable, but the bar is at a fixed height and would probably suit someone a bit taller than me – I’m 5’2″ and found it was just that bit too high up to be comfortable when pushing on longer trips.
How comfortable is the baby in the bassinet?
Evan always seemed to enjoy riding in the Smart Lux throughout testing, and often drifted off to sleep within seconds of sitting in it. It’s easy to recline, and the footrest is adjustable. However, when I first put him in the buggy, I found that with the straps set in the lowest position (for smaller babies), it wasn’t possible to tighten the harness enough, so I was worried that he wouldn’t be safely held in or comfortable. The only solution was to thread the straps through the lowest holes at the front, and then up between the seat liner and base, then out through the highest holes at the back. It still needed to be tightened as far as it could go even in this configuration. Being 6 months, Evan is not a tiny newborn, so it might be very loose on smaller babies, though if they are in the bassinet configuration lying flat, you wouldn’t need to hold them firmly in place.
It’s also worth noting that the liner is very flat and doesn’t mold to your baby, so when they nod off, it’s a good idea to recline the seat to keep their head from flopping to the side. Buying an additional seat liner might also make things more snug.
How’s the hood?
The hood is very generous when the seat is upright, but provides less cover in the bassinet mode, which isn’t useful in strong sunshine. It also clicks noisily when you adjust it – not ideal if your bub is a light sleeper!
How was interacting with your child when in the buggy?
In rear-facing mode, you’re nice and close to your baby, which is perfect if you’ve got a chatty tot. In front-facing mode, there’s a silent peekaboo window at in the hood, which means you can keep a beady eye on them without having to crane around the front.
How does the seat turn into a lie-flat bassinet?
In just a few moves (see video) you can change the seat from upright toddler mode to a deep bassinet with lots of room. The only downside is the harness is sewn into the seat, so if you are using it in this way, you’ll still have to strap your baby in, so it’s a little less cosy than a dedicated carrycot (though one of those is available for the Smart Lux). It does mean that you don’t have to splash out on the extra attachment if you don’t want to though, and you don’t have an annoying redundant part to store once your baby grows out of it.
A lot of manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that parents want a pram that will see their child through every stage, rather than having to buy different ones as their kids grow. A lot of strollers are labeled as ‘lie flat’ but regulations mean that it can still be at a slight tilt, so it’s not always entirely true. The Smart Lux is a stroller that actually delivers on this claim, and once the seat is reclined and converted to the bassinet, it is genuinely flat.
What is the basket like?
The large, deep parcel tray underneath was roomy enough to carry a moderate sized supermarket shop, plus my very large change bag. The seat is just high up enough above to allow easy access to it, even when the basket is full.
How easily does it fold?
After watching the instructional video on the Phil & Teds website, unfolding and folding looked easy. It’s a two-handed process, initiated by a little lever mechanism on the handle. I found unfolding the pram a bit clumsy though, thanks to my short stature, as you need to lift the handle up with one hand and pull the side of frame with the other to lock it into position. Collapsing it is a piece of pie, but a word of warning – you need to flip the seat to front-facing, or remove it altogether to do so, which is irritating if you prefer to use it in rear-facing mode all the time. I found the latter the easiest option when faced with having to fold it after each use.
How compact was it when folded?
Although the chassis and seat are really flat when folded, the generously sized rear tyres and long frame mean that as a whole, it’s tall and ungainly once collapsed – over a metre long, half a metre wide and a third of a metre deep. Being weighty at 11.9kg too, if you’re not blessed with height or strength, you might struggle to pick it up as there’s no easy place to get a good grip on it.
How easy was it to store?
Not that easy. The buggy needs to be able to rest up against something as it can’t stand by itself and doesn’t have anything at the base that keeps it stable, so it can topple over if you aren’t careful.
Does it fit in the boot of your car?
Being city dwellers, we don’t own a car, however, I think it would take a bit of creative angling to get the pram into the boot of an average sized motor. There’s a glossy video on the company’s website modeling how the pram looks in different situations, and the car they’ve used to demonstrate is a roomy estate.
Would you take it on holiday?
If you’re planning a UK country escape and want something to cope with rough paths, then the Smart Lux would be a good option. I would think twice about taking it abroad though – given it’s weight and dimensions when collapsed, it’s not the most portable buggy.
Does the weather have a bearing on how you use it?
As I didn’t have the storm cover to test, I didn’t take it out when it rained, but if I had, I wouldn’t have had any qualms about using it in wet weather – it looks like it could most certainly take downpours and muddy puddles in its stride.
How easy was it to use with a travel system?
I didn’t get adaptors to test with our carseat, though the stroller is compatible with Maxi-Cosi and Cybex seats, and like the seat unit, also allows them to be fitted both rear and front-facing.
What would you have wanted to know before you purchased the Smart Lux?
I can imagine the Smart Lux is going to look very appealing to those who want the option of a rear-facing buggy, but it’s not immediately obvious (and as far as I could see, it doesn’t tell you anywhere within the instructions, videos or literature on the product’s webpage) that you can’t actually fold the buggy properly when the seat is rear-facing, which would make me think twice about choosing it.
Is the Smart Lux value for money?
At £349, the stroller sits towards the higher end of the mid-price options, but given it’s versatility and durability, it would be a sound investment as you don’t necessarily have to splurge on the extra carrycot and it seems strong enough to withstand years of use. There are a lot of extras available, but really, the storm cover is the only essential – everything else is included. In terms of resale, it’s difficult to guess what it could fetch based on other Phil & Teds strollers as it’s not like the rest of the current range, but thanks to its unique seat design, it’s likely to be very popular on the second-hand market.
In a nutshell
The Smart Lux is perfect for parents who want a well-built buggy to take them from their child’s arrival, to the toddler years, but who don’t need to always fold the pram for storage. If you’re after a neat, versatile stroller that can cope with varied and challenging terrain too, it’s definitely worth considering.