I’ve had both strollers, and found there was not a lot of comparison info out there, so I hope this is helpful to someone (with the patience for a very deep google – can’t imagine you’ll easily find this blog). I started with a Bugaboo Cameleon 2 (gently used) and ended up selling it and buying an Uppababy Vista pre-2015 (also gently used). I love the Vista, and that’s the one I recommend. When I had my second child, I sold my old Vista and bought a 2015 Vista and have not regretted it.
Here’s me on Vista day – the day I bought the used vista. Giant grin should tell you everything you need to know. But if it doesn’t, read on . . .
N.B. to this comparison: when the Bugaboo Buffalo came out, I thought it might be the perfect solution, with Bugaboo stealing the best features of the Vista for its new, all-terrain stroller. After a few years of observation, I don’t believe that to be true – the Buffalo is so much larger than the Cameleon, and feels huge next to a Vista, even though they are actually comparable in size, without the ability to have a second seat. For me, it doesn’t redeem Bugaboos for city living but it certainly is tempting.
Some background: I live in Manhattan and walk everywhere, so my stroller is serving as an all-day transportation option on weekdays and weekends. A lot of this may be overkill for someone living a car lifestyle. I’m also not focusing on cost comparisons here – – I was careful to buy strollers used (like cars, they drop in price once they’re used!) and they are as important as a car to an urban dweller, so cost per use is very, very low. Another relevant piece of background: I believe in stroller-time being a time for conversations and interaction with your child after reading this article years before I had kids, so I use the main seat rear-facing almost exclusively and only considered strollers with rear-facing capability.
Here’s my rundown of the Pros and Cons:
Pushing: The Cameleon is a much better “pushing” experience – the wheels were really sensitive and smooth, and when my daughter was a newborn it was great to rock her side to side in the stroller. It’s also a bit narrower, which makes it a lot easier to get through doorways and tight spaces. I found with the Vista I would often snag the wide back wheel on a door frame or the edge of the elevator. Update for 2015 Vista – this got even worse as the new vista is a little bit wider and I’m constantly lifting it a bit to wedge it in sideways somewhere. Point Cameleon.
Seat height: The seat in the Cameleon is much lower than the seat in the Vista, and I like being able to be close to the baby. In the 2015 model, if you’re using the upper seat adaptors to accommodate a second seat, it’s even higher. I really like having the seat up high, so that’s a plus for the Vista. Point Vista.
Storage: The Vista basket is so helpful, especially in NYC. The Cameleon basket is really hard to use under the seat, unless the seat is facing forward, and doesn’t have anything like the capacity of the vista basket. When you’re using the bassinet in the Cameleon, it’s practically inaccessible. By contrast, the Vista made grocery shopping with the stroller a really pleasant experience. I also like to imagine I’m just someone who could travel with a few diapers and a small pack of wipes, but I know my babies need a change of clothes, a bib, a and various doo-dads regularly, so I’m always carting around a diaper bag. Diaper bag storage in the basket of the vista is a lot better than hanging it on the handlebars of the Cameleon. It’s especially tricky in the Cameleon when the seat is reclined fully for a young baby – the bottom of the seat doesn’t fold up, so it knocks the diaper bag hanging from the handlebars when they aren’t extended. By contrast, the bottom of the Vista’s seat can bend up or down, so a bag hanging from the handlebars can be lower. Also, if you have the raincover in the Bugaboo basket, it feels even smaller. You barely notice the raincover in the bottom of the Vista. Point Vista.
Folding/Carseat adapters: The Cameleon is a nightmare to fold. You have to remove the seat, remove the basket if you want it to lie at all flat, and if you are using carseat adapters, you have to remove those too before you can fold it. (We used the maxi-cosi adaptors, this may not be true for all adapters.) This basically made it a miserable experience to use the bugaboo for taxis or in our car, because you’d be in the middle of the street removing or attaching the adapters while someone else was putting the carseat into the car. If you were alone, it was even messier. The Vista is easier to fold (and the 2015 is A LOT easier) and it was a game-changer for us that it could fold with carseat adapters on it. Once the seat faces forward, it can also fold with the seat attached, which is a really helpful feature. And, the Vista stands when folded. Altogether, we can store it in the closet with relative ease – this was not true for the various pieces of a folded Cameleon Point Vista.
Brake/Handlebar: It’s a personal preference, but I found the Vista foot-brake and handlebar extender both more intuitive and easier to use than the Cameleon lever designs. Point for Vista. It is a plus for Cameleon that you can get a leather handlebar rather than foam. It’s extra coin, natch, but it seems like a really sweet upgrade to something you hold for years. The Cameleon handlebar is a smidge lower than the Vista handlebar at its lowest level. As a short person, that matters because the less I have to tilt my wrists, the more ergonomically good it feels. Point Bugaboo.
Bassinet/Infant Seating: The Cameleon bassinet is much bigger than the Vista bassinet, and, roughly, recommended for six months rather than the Vista’s three months. This is both a pro and a con – the bassinet is so easy in the early days, but for me, the baby wanted to start looking around and I wanted to be able to interact with them better before six months passed, so I moved into the seat earlier than Bugaboo recommended. But, I missed the ease of the bassinet. The Vista has an infant snug-seat cushion, with removable head positioner, that helps bridge the transition for younger babies. Both bassinets are safe for sleeping, and can fold down to some degree. It’s a draw.
Multiple Children: The Vista can accommodate a second seat – and, it’s a great, recline-able seat in the 2015 model. AND, you can have the bassinet and a toddler seat at once. It’s a shame that the bassinet has to be in the lower position, because it’s hard to see the baby when you’re pushing, but it’s still a bassinet plus a toddler seat! You’re in city select territory, and it’s a nicer and more maneuverable stroller than that one! The Cameleon can’t do that. A whole second seat! Both can do a standing board, so there’s that, but a seat is a game-changer. Point Vista.
Odds and Ends: I love the Vista parent console (although more on the older model than the newer model – it doesn’t fit well on the 2015 version in my opinion.) Bugaboo sells a nifty little box looking storage thing, I like it. I think the Bugaboo cupholder attachment is FAR SUPERIOR to the Vista’s – I can’t tell you how many times the Vista cupholder has spun around and dropped my drink into the middle of the street. There’s a nifty little zipper pocket on the back of the Vista seat that would be perfect for stashing keys and a credit card or phone when the seat is forward-facing. Bugaboo sells a zip-in, perfectly fitted stroller blanket option. Vista pull-out sunshades and the ventilation windows on the toddler seat and bassinet are quite useful in summer and winter. The Vista raincover is easier to use than Bugaboo’s, but it isn’t as easy as it used to be with a zip-in feature. It’s a draw.
Customer Service/Warranty – Finally, I’ve been really impressed with Uppa Baby’s customer service – they’ve been really responsive and sent a few replacement parts quickly and without any hassle. I don’t have any experience with Bugaboo’s customer service, beyond getting a recalled piece replaced easily through the website, but it’s hard to imagine Bugaboo would be able to exceed it. I think Bugaboo does offer a longer warranty though, and as a company are committed to quality. It’s a draw.
If you made it to the end of this . . . congratulations and welcome to the obsession. If you’re just looking for the TL;DR: buy a Vista if you like carrying stuff around; buy a Cameleon if you can’t handle the width of a Vista.