Solidly stylish pushchair with an overly hefty price tag, although this does include a comfortable carrycot suitable for newborns. Excellent suspension good on bumpy terrain, too heavy and unwieldy for public transport
Pros: Easy to manoeuvre, comfortable for baby, elegant design, carrycot suitable for overnight sleeping
Cons: Difficult to access basket when in pram mode, difficult to access basket in carrycot mode, brake release button tricky to access, design doesn’t justify price tag
This is the all-new, improved Pioneer, with puncture-proof tyres, matte silver chassis and 4 new colours of fabrics adorning the hood, carrycot and apron. Crucially, previous issues with manoeuvrability appear to have been designed out, making it a pleasure to push – albeit with two hands. It promises to be perfect for off-road adventures thanks to tough suspension and large wheels.
The upgraded version was released in 2018 by Silver Cross, a brand with an undisputed Royal heritage: having held a Royal Warrant since the early 20th Century, the company has supplied royal families with traditional and modern models of pushchairs for decades.
Unsurprisingly, the pushchair comes with a princely price-tag, retailing at £845. That includes the newborn carrycot, pushchair seat unit, and some extras, including a cup holder, rain cover and car seat adaptors, but no car seat. This puts it between the UPPAbaby Vista, when you add on the price of the carrycot, and its bigger sister buggy, the Cruz, which comes complete with carrycot.
Gabrielle tested the Silver Cross Pioneer in pram mode with her newborn daughter and toddler as she tackled the school run, food shopping and a few bus rides from her home in central London.
Not great. Set up with the carrycot on the chassis, this pram looks huge in my living room. The drab colour (it’s available in 4 muted shades, including silver, blue and beige) is broken up by the matte silver chassis and frame on the hood, and strange shiny pleather material covering the push bar which I think makes the pram look cheap, though it’s definitely not – the Pioneer comes in at around £50 more than the UPPAbaby Cruz pushchairs with leather handle and bumper bar, even when you include the Cruz carrycot which retails around £200.
Is it suitable for newborns?
Unlike the aforementioned Cruz, the Pioneer comes complete with a carrycot that is suitable for overnight sleeping. This is a big deal – you can expect to pay around £200 for carrycots that are safe for your baby to stay in all night. And even if you’re not planning on having your newborn baby sleep in the carrycot for hours, the Pioneer’s carrycot is very comfortable and long enough to accommodate even the tallest baby (up to 6 months old or able to sit up unaided).
Is it good value for money?
The Pioneer comes with everything you need to push your baby around town or the park, including a rain cover that comes in its own pouch, a great inclusion that keeps the plastic fitted cover safe from tears and neatly compact. There’s also a cup holder, but I found it made the pram too wide and it didn’t fit on the chassis well; it kept sliding down the frame. But as a single pushchair, you get a lot for your money.
It’s not a complete travel system as it doesn’t come with a car seat, although there are Simplicity adaptors included. But when you consider that, unlike the UPPABaby Cruz and Vista, a buggy board cannot be attached to the Pioneer and it cannot be converted into a double buggy with the addition of a rumble seat, the Pioneer has limited use in families with more than one young child.
What do you think of the Pioneer carrycot?
It’s fabulous; sturdy, very well-ventilated (ideal for summer strolls but in winter you’ll need to add blankets) and looks extremely comfortable. It can easily accommodate long babies but if your munchkin is sturdy, it may not last quite as long as it’s not particularly wide. The other thing I like about it is the material; the premium Oxford woven marl fabric it is constructed from fends off drips and stains and is reassuringly dense to the touch – I can imagine it lasting for years and at least 2 babies.
How easy is it to fold the Silver Cross Pioneer?
In order to fold the chassis, you need to remove the carrycot, which is simple enough – you pull both carrycot release handles upwards and lift the carrycot up and away from the chassis – and empty the shopping basket. Then you lock the swivel wheels, press and hold the fold release button on the handle, pull the fold release triggers towards you then push the handle downwards as it lowers until the lock engages. Even in pushchair mode, with the seat unit forward facing, folding this is a 2-handed job.
How big is it when folded and unfolded?
It folds down to 86cm by 60cm by 34cm and you can take the wheels off to make it even smaller. Unfortunately, we lack adequate storage in our flat so couldn’t store the chassis in a cupboard but I’d say it folds down small enough to allow you to place it in a decent-sized coat cupboard.
How easy is it to push?
Pushing the Pioneer was very easy and mostly pleasant, despite the foamy plastic handlebar cover. My only complaint was that if I needed to take one hand off the bar and push with just one hand, for example to hold a bag containing items that I couldn’t fit under the buggy or to help my toddler on his scooter, I naturally went to grip in the middle of the bar where the height-adjustment button is located. This meant pushing was uncomfortable but changing my grip to one side of the button meant steering became more difficult.
How does it ride on different surfaces?
It felt sturdy on the pavement and glided along nicely, while mounting kerbs was a doddle as it was light enough to tip onto the large back wheels. On grass and cobbles, the suspension came into its own as my baby was gently bounced rather than thrown around.
Was it easy to use on public transport?
I was nervous of taking it on the bus in pram mode since it seemed so large so I was pleasantly surprised when it fitted into the designated space, although the wheels were right on the line (see picture). The Pioneer dwarfed the Bugaboo Bee carrycot parked up next to it but seemed more secure and was definitely higher up, ensuring my baby was closer to me. Accessing the London Underground meant carrying the Pioneer up and down stairs – a task I wasn’t up to as it was too heavy and too awkward to lift up.
Is the frame strong and durable?
The frame is strong but light and yields just enough when you’re pushing it over uneven ground. Silver Cross offers a 3-year guarantee on this model.
What do you think of the handlebar?
The handle has 4 height positions, allowing both me (I’m 160cm) and my husband (185cm) to push the buggy in comfort with the minimum of fuss thanks to the easy-to-use button. There was the right amount of ‘give’ in the handlebar to allow for up and down movement when on uneven terrain but it felt very sturdy. But my personal preference for side-mounted height adjusters meant I wasn’t a huge fan of the handle, which features the height-adjustor button in the middle, but it does the job.
How did you find the height?
Excellent. Amaya remained in clear view while I was pushing the pram, even with the hood extended. She was just the right height off the ground for my liking, too. I find the Bugaboo Bee to be too low for newborns, and buggies like the Stokke Xplory a little too high.
What do you think of the Silver Cross Pioneer hood?
Great in terms of ventilation as there’s an air vent that that goes right the way around the hood beneath a lift-off flap. And the hood felt firm, unlike some buggy hoods that can only be described as rickety. But the chrome bars that arch between the layers of robust fabric are easily scratched, making the buggy look worn after a few weeks. Finally, the pop-out sun visor is flimsy and far too short to be much use, especially when the hood is used with the carrycot.
How effective are the brakes?
It’s mounted on the back-wheel axle on the right-hand side. It’s easy enough to engage – you simply press your foot down and an audible click and visible red stripe tells you the brake is on. But releasing the brake is tricky as it involves clicking a small green button on the top of the brake pedal. I far prefer centralised brake bars that don’t favour a particular foot and are easier to release.
How did you find the wheels?
These wheels boast puncture-proof tyres. They seemed robust as I was wheeling Amaya along pavements, up kerbs and down steps. But on a few occasions when I had to run to keep up with my toddler and catch a bus, I noticed the front wheels vibrating from side-to-side, making for an unsteady ride.
Does the Silver Cross Pioneer fit in the boot of your car?
I think that the Pioneer’s compact fold means it would happily fit in the boot of most family cars.
This was my biggest disappointment. The basket is roomy but once the carrycot is in place, I struggled to access my belongings or load shopping underneath. You could easily stow 4 bags of groceries or all your baby’s things for a weekend away, but you’d need to remove the carrycot before getting all but the slimmest items out easily. I spent a fair amount of time squatting down next to the buggy, wrestling my changing bag and other items out of the basket, which isn’t ideal if you’ve recently had a C-section. It also lacks pockets or dividers, so smaller items tended to fall into the very bottom of the basket or, worse, fall out.
This buggy would suit a mum who likes to stroll and travel in style thanks to the sturdy frame, quality fabric and carrycot designed for overnight sleeping. But while the Pioneer is great for gliding around town and can handle tougher terrain, it isn’t cut out for mad dashes for the bus. And the basket is hard to access when in newborn mode, so you’ll have to wait until your baby is sitting in the seat unit before you can take advantage of the generous storage space. This, along with the propensity of the frame to show scratches and the awkward-to-reach brake-release button, means for me the design doesn’t justify the hefty price tag.
See below for more reviews from MadeForMums parents – please note these may apply to an older model of the Silver Cross Pioneer.