It has taken us two months of hardcore research to answer this question with an educated guess. The answer for our family is the City Mini.
This predicament doesn't apply to the rest of the country, nor should it be expected to make sense to anyone outside of NYC that your stroller purchase is one of the toughest decisions on your list. As ridiculous as it sounds, it is downright serious.
You see, we don't have a car nor do we want one. That means no throwing the stroller in the trunk. It's with us at all times - up the subway stairs, standing on the train when there are no available seats, collapsing stroller at a moment's notice to hop on the bus & throw it on the floor before the driver pounds on the gas as you maneuver to find a seat with baby flung under your arm - just a few of the daily situations. p.s. - he's NOT going to wait for you to find the 'release' button and tuck it all in neatly. It's pack & go or risk flying down the aisle with arms & gear a flappin'. I've seen it happen!
Now for the weekend...a trip to the museum with lunch and stop by the boutique for some shopping on the way home. All of this is done with no car, no carseat for sleeping, no trunk for storing stuff. And did I mention it's February and there is 2" of snow on the ground? Yes, all of this must be transported, stored, kept warm and travel safely in a stroller. There is no heat, no winter tread, no wipers, no trunk.
The majority of strollers are pulled from the trunk, used in the shop/mall and then put back in the trunk. Our 'trunk' is my back & Kai's back while out and about.
For the past two months, we've researched what seems like every stroller on the market in order to create a short list. Well, our short list still ended up having 20 models on it. So off we went today to test drive each one of them with our excel spreadsheet in hand; noting various pros & cons based on our personal needs and preferences. It's not showing up that well, but if anyone wants it for their own research, I can forward it.
I would like to send a huge thanks to Kai's family! They know NY well and understand our concern for finding the perfect stroller. Because of their generosity, all models were a potential option for us, from the most economical to those that may appear to be pure status symbols and may have otherwise been overlooked. I can honestly say strollers in all categories were considered and the City Mini met each need except two...
1. adjustable handles: okay b/c the fixed height works if you're tall like us
2. air tires: the City Elite (one model up) has air tires but was too heavy for us
The City Mini is one of the lower priced models in the "lightweight-plus" category. The Bugaboo was a strong contender for its quality and smooth steering until after multiple failed attempts at locking the front tires in place in order to move onto the "quick fold" I had red, worn fingers, no more patience and was wondering "where is my baby while I'm doing this with both hands"? For $600-700 they need to fix the plastic lock-grips!!! Are you kidding me??? It was a deal breaker.
I'm not bashing on the Bugaboo. It did make it to the #2 spot. The final push for the City Mini was seeing six of them in use by NYC moms today. One CM-mother even jumped in when she heard us speaking to our rep. When she overheard our conversation with our rep with our criteria, she tapped me on the shoulder and began raving about her City Mini. Our rep then told us it's the number one seller in his store for NYC moms because of its weight, fold and functions. SOLD.
My apologies for the lengthy stroller post, but I must say, I was eager to read personal details when doing our research. Our info may not apply to 90% of those reading this, but for the 10% it makes sense to...I would love to hear your stroller choices and feedback.