The Mamas & Papas Sola is an easy-to-use stroller with a reversible seat and gate-style bumper bar. It's suitable for newborns and compatible with several car seats. It doesn't have a one-handed fold, but locks when folded for easier lifting and carrying. Reviewers say it's bulky when folded and fits only children up to 33 pounds.
Safety ratings don't match with weight limits. The Mamas & Papas Sola has a padded, five-point harness and a bumper bar for an extra layer of security -- all safety features that parents look for. When it comes to how long you can use this stroller safely, however, the information becomes murky.
The big problem is a discrepancy in weight ratings. The website says the Sola is weight rated from birth to 50 pounds. The manual first says it's weight rated up to 15 kg (33 pounds), but later says it's for children from birth to 23 kg (50 pounds). When contacted, customer service said the stroller was only safety-tested to 33 pounds, but could be used to 50 pounds. But unless it has been safety-tested to that upper weight limit, we don't advise it. Chances are 33 pounds is plenty, since that's about the average weight of a 3-year-old child, but if a stroller hasn't been weight-rated to 50 pounds it shouldn't claim to be.
Reversible seat sits well with reviewers. The most highly rated feature of the Mamas & Papas Sola is its reversible seat. This is always a hit with parents, especially of younger children, and users say it's very easy to change the seat's position. The bumper bar opens like a gate, which is convenient for loading and unloading. The Sola's fold is a bit difficult and requires two hands, but it does lock in this position, making it easier to pick up and move.
Suitable for small and tall parents who won't veer from concrete. The Mamas & Papas Sola has a full recline that's suitable for newborns and is compatible with several Maxi Cosi and Graco car seats with optional adapters (*Est. $30 for Maxi Cosi, *Est. $60 for Graco). Babies can also ride in the optional bassinet (*Est. $180). The reversible seat means the rider can face either toward or away from the parent.
Some owners complain of durability problems with the wheels, the fold and the locking mechanism. Because reviewers say the Sola doesn't perform well on more challenging terrain, using it on smooth surfaces is probably best.
Although some users dislike the Sola's bulky fold, most say it fits well into their car trunks. One thing all reviewers agree on is that it's a very attractive, modern-looking stroller. Its basket gets mixed reviews; some say it holds more than it looks like it could while others say it's small. According to the product manual, the basket is weight-rated to 6.6 pounds (3 kg), which is about average or above -- most are about 5 pounds.
The Sola's adjustable handlebar makes it a good fit for parents of various sizes, and the stroller gets great ratings for comfort for both child and parent.
Great warranty from a company that answers the phone. The Sola comes with a two-year warranty. Emails to customer service weren't answered, but we got the information we needed in a phone call.
This stroller can't be more than a bottom-tier runner-up in this category. The Mamas & Papas Sola has all the features you'd want in a high-end stroller, but complaints about durability, accessories that drive up the price point of an already fairly expensive unit, and above all, the disconnect on the upper weight rating mean it's one we can't recommend.
1. Baby Bargains
Review Credibility: Excellent "Baby Bargains" is a popular and well-organized guide to baby-related products. Authors Denise and Alan Fields conduct hands-on testing as well as parent, manufacturer and retailer interviews. The section on strollers is detailed and offers a wealth of useful information. Both the Mamas & Papas brand in general and the Sola are reviewed and rated against dozens of other popular strollers.
Review: Strollers, Denise and Alan Fields, Ninth edition
2. Which? magazine
Review Credibility: Very good Editors of Which? magazine give thorough evaluations of all 32 strollers they deem to be "Best Buys," including the Mamas & Papas Sola. Maneuverability, ease of use, convenience and safety are taken into account, and several owners provide reviews.
Review: Pushchairs: Best Buys, Editors of Which? magazine, As of Aug. 2012
3. Babies 'R' Us
Review Credibility: Very good The Mamas & Papas Sola earns 4 stars out of 5 in more than two dozen reviews. Owners like its light weight and ease of use, although several complain about having to pay extra for a cup holder and say the basket is small. A few also grumble about quality issues with the wheels.
Review: Mamas & Papas Sola Stroller, Contributors to BabiesRUs.com, As of Aug. 2012
Review Credibility: Very good There are just a handful of reviews here, but the Mamas & Papas Sola earns a respectable 4.4 out of 5 stars. Owners say it's comfortable and lightweight, and appreciate the full recline and large canopy. One complains about the small basket.
Review: Mamas & Papas Sola Stroller, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Aug. 2012
Review Credibility: Good StrollerQueen Janet McLaughlin tests the Mamas & Papas Sola in an outing with a toddler. Her comments are detailed, and she particularly likes the attractive fabric options and ease of reversing the seat, but she mentions no negatives and the review isn't comparative. Like many StrollerQueen evaluations, it gets bogged down in dramatic details that have nothing to do with the actual stroller.
Review: 5 Crown Royal Ratings!, Janet McLaughlin, May 26, 2011
Review Credibility: Good The editors at ConsumerReports.org rate 35 full-featured strollers for ease of use, maneuverability and safety, including the Sola. While testing is commendable, editors give virtually no written details about the strollers and the report is outdated, with several models having been discontinued.
Review: Traditional Stroller Ratings, Single-Combo, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of Oct. 2010
Review Credibility: Fair The Mamas & Papas Sola makes this annual list as "Best Value." Although it gets panned at another review site for its high price, Babble editors call this basic stroller a good deal. Since all it includes is the stroller and everything else -- even the cup holder -- is sold separately, we're not sure the editors did their homework on this one.
Review: Babble Best, 2011: Strollers, Editors of Babble.com, Jan. 7, 2011