Maclaren may not put safety first. The Maclaren Volo is a stroller that reviewers say doesn't have a lot of frills, which applies to the safety features as well. Neither the mesh seat nor the five-point harness are padded. The small, 4.5-inch wheels and lack of suspension don't offer a smooth ride, so most parents and reviewers don't recommend this stroller for babies. It has one-touch, linked brakes.
Like all other Maclaren strollers, the Volo was recalled in November 2009 after reports that 12 children had their fingers amputated in Maclaren hinges. The recall was reissued in 2011 due to additional reports of amputations. Since the recall, Maclaren has been sued for damages by several of the families impacted. The company's bankruptcy filing named the families in its list of creditors, placing their claims against the company in limbo. Maclaren has been accused of filing for bankruptcy under false pretenses to avoid paying damages for injuries and amputations.
Very light weight. The Maclaren Volo is chiefly praised for its low, 8.8-pound weight and compact fold, which makes it easy to lift in and out of car trunks and carry around. Some parents say that folding and unfolding the Volo is easy, while others report that it is tricky to learn the system, which includes opening a locked side lever and foot lever. The Volo's small wheels ride smoothly, but only on even surfaces.
Lightweight on extras. While the Maclaren Volo carries up to 55 pounds, its non-reclining seat and dearth of padding make it best for older children. Many parents say that they would not use this stroller for children younger than 1 year old. The Volo has a small under-seat basket. Newer models of the Volo come with a rain cover.
Maclaren may be on shaky ground. A number of credible sources say Maclaren was aware of the amputation risk prior to the 2009 recall. Meaning, they could have fixed it faster and placed fewer children at risk. Further, Maclaren initially responded to the recall defensively, saying they clearly stated on instructions that children should not be around the stroller unattended, an argument that angered parents, implying, as it did, that they were to blame. Finally, the bankruptcy filing impeded families from effectively suing for damages. One very reliable product review source downgraded Maclaren from an "A" to an "F" rating after speculation that the bankruptcy was a fraudulent filing to avoid paying damages to families of injured children. In addition, since the bankruptcy filing was a Chapter 7, there is the chance that Maclaren could be dissolved, putting long-term customer service in question.
Due to issues with credibility, we are not recommending any strollers in the Maclaren line. While the Maclaren Volo hinge issue has been remedied, there is too much uncertainty with this manufacturer at this time for us to suggest purchasing a Maclaren stroller.
1. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Review Credibility: Excellent This government website publishes official information about the Maclaren hinge recall, including which models are affected and how to get protective hinge covers if you already own a Maclaren stroller.
Review: Additional Fingertip Amputations and Lacerations Prompt Reannouncement of November 2009 Recall of Strollers by Maclaren USA, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Feb. 22, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent This article reports on the Maclaren bankruptcy filing of December 2011 and examines the effect it will have on the amputees' ability to collect compensation.
Review: Maclaren Bankruptcy Puts Amputated Finger Lawsuits in Limbo, Alice Hines, March 6, 2012
3. Baby Bargains
Review Credibility: Excellent The 2011 edition of "Baby Bargains," written by consumer advocates Denise and Alan Fields, covers a variety of stroller manufacturers. The authors provide overall ratings for brands and for individual models. Their reviews take into account parent feedback and personal research and experiences. In the latest edition, they discuss Maclaren in detail, and the Volo specifically. There is updated information, based upon more recent developments in the bankruptcy, on their website.
Review: Chapter 9: Strollers, Diaper Bags, Carriers and Other To Go Gear, Denise and Alan Fields, Ninth edition, 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good Reviews of the Maclaren Volo are mixed on Amazon.com, with the Maclaren Volo receiving an average of 3.6 out of 5 stars in more than 45 reviews. Parents who like the Volo say that its lightweight simplicity is great for errands. Detractors say that it is not good for babies, even young ones, pricey for what it is, and that the features don't hold up.
Review: Maclaren Volo Stroller, Contributors to Amazon.com
Review Credibility: Very Good More than 40 owners comment here on the Maclaren Volo, and they have overwhelmingly favorable things to say, citing this umbrella stroller's light weight and durability.
Review: Volo Umbrella Stroller, Contributors to Epinions.com, As of August 2012
6. Which? magazine
Review Credibility: Very Good Which? magazine is the U.K. equivalent of ConsumerReports.org. Testing methods are explained thoroughly, and stroller features are also listed and detailed. In addition, they update their reviews regularly, re-test when there is an issue, such as an updated model or a fix for a recall, and post the dates of their tests. A total of 172 strollers are reviewed; a very large number of these (32 strollers) are deemed best buys. The Maclaren Volo is included in Which? magazine reviews, but there is no mention of the recall, since strollers sold in the U.K. were not recalled by Maclaren due to different recall rules.
Review: Pushchairs: Best Buys, Editors of Which? magazine, May 7, 2011
7. Choice magazine
Review Credibility: Good Australia's answer to ConsumerReports.org carefully tests an extensive list of strollers for durability, ease of use and safety specifications, including the Maclaren Volo, but there is no mention of the American recall.
Review: Stroller and Pram Reviews, Rebecca Ciaramidaro, May 21, 2012
Review Credibility: Good The editors of ConsumerReports.org evaluate dozens of traditional and other strollers after testing for safety, ease of use and maneuverability. The Maclaren Volo is included in the ratings chart. The report seems very outdated, with a number of discontinued models.
Review: Traditional Stroller Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Fair About.com's guide to pregnancy and childbirth takes the Maclaren Volo out for a spin and praises its "vibrant colors" and "great portability." Robin Elise Weiss especially likes its 9-pound weight and soft, padded handles, but notes that it's not appropriate for newborns because of its lack of a fully reclining seat. There is no mention of the recall, implying that it may be an older review. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Maclaren Volo Stroller, Robin Elise Weiss, Not dated
Review Credibility: Fair Baby-Gaga.com reviews strollers according to safety, convenience and comfort, based on hands-on tests and parent interviews. The Maclaren Volo earns top grades for sturdiness and maneuverability. Unfortunately, this site loses credibility as the reviews become increasingly outdated, are never updated and cover far too many discontinued strollers.
Review: Maclaren Volo, Editors of Baby-Gaga.com, Jan. 25, 2011