New Balance FuelCell Propel v4 Review: A Budget Plated Prince?
11 oz. (312 g) for a US M10.5
8.4 oz. (240 g) for a US W7.5
31 mm in heel, 25 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)
Daily training on a budget
TPU plate, dual-layer FuelCell midsole, plenty of rubber coverage
🟢 Good ride at a variety of paces
🟢 Breathable upper
🔴 Fit needs a little work
MEAGHAN: The New Balance Propel has never been a favorite of mine — a little too firm and not quite enough stack, if you ask me. That said, I bear good news: the New Balance Propel v4 feels like a brand new shoe, featuring a TPU plate and an extra layer of FuelCell foam. New Balance also updated the engineered mesh upper and slapped on a little bit more rubber coverage on the outsole. What’s most impressive about this update is that New Balance kept this shoe light on price, coming in at just $110.
THOMAS: I need to set an expectation for this review. At a price point of $110, I’m comparing the New Balance Propel v4 to other offerings in that price point and my expectations for an entry-level shoe. I expect cheaper materials and an experience that’s usually slightly less exciting. I won’t tell you that there aren’t affordable shoes that get the job done, but usually, you’ve got to sacrifice something. Think of it like wine. Some expensive wines are trash, and sometimes the four-buck chuck gets the job done just fine. So raise a glass ’cause it’s time to dig into the New Balance FuelCell Propel v4.
MEAGHAN: I knew things were looking up for the Propel v4 on my first lace-up. Not only has the FuelCell midsole gained some stack, but it also has a completely new formulation of foam. In fact, it’s the same stuff you can find in the SC Trainer (one of our all-time faves). It’s bouncier and more responsive than its predecessor, and the TPU plate adds some rigidity and pop to the overall ride.
What’s nice about this shoe is that it feels cushioned and stable for those easy days and bouncy and energetic when you pick up the pace. I took this out for runs up to 12 miles and at all sorts of paces, and it felt great throughout.
While the Propel v4 isn’t the lightest shoe out there (my US W7.5 came in at 8.4 oz. / 240 g), it doesn’t feel heavy out on the run.
THOMAS: The Propel v4 is pleasant on the eyes, even though the one area of the shoe where you see some hints of the Propel being a budget trainer is in the upper material. Not to worry, it fits well, breathes, and feels good enough against the foot. In addition, the comfortably padded heel counter, tongue, and collar help the Propel punch above its weight.
The FuelCell is the secret ingredient in this daily kicker. We already know that New Balance has a few formulas for its premium foam, but the Propel v4 has the same formula as the $180 SC Trainer. Yeah, the SC Trainer that our team fell in love with in 2022. It has excellent cushioning without being mushy, and the TPU plate in the Propel v4 does just enough to keep the shoe feeling lively. The full coverage rubber on the outsole firms the underfoot feel as well.
I think the TPU plate adds versatility to the Propel v4, not to mention some stability and a bit more responsiveness. As a result, the Propel feels good at a wide range of paces and efforts.
The New Balance Propel v4 fits true to size, and with the rubber coverage on the outsole, it should last more miles than you want out of it.Shop New Balance Propel v4 - Men Shop New Balance Propel v4 - Women
MEAGHAN: This is a $110 shoe, so you can’t really expect all the bells and whistles. I can feel the savings in the upper construction — there’s no gusseted tongue, and the fit isn’t quite perfect. I had some heel slippage (somewhat mitigated by lacing up the additional eyelet) and just felt like the upper lacked a plushness that you find in some other trainers.
THOMAS: This kid is heavier at 11 oz./312 g for a US M10.5, and I felt it at the end of long runs. The amount of rubber on the outsole is tremendous for longevity, but less coverage and a thinner application might help save weight and make the shoe more agile through the stride.
The New Balance shoe lasts are still a smidge wider than my foot needs, which is bad for me, but good for quite a few of you. I wouldn’t call it wide, but definitely roomy.
Also, people asked me if the Propel v4 is the New Balance equivalent to the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, which is high company to keep. I’ll admit that the Propel is a good shoe, but it isn’t as good as the Speed. That said, it is also $70 less.Shop New Balance Propel v4 - Men Shop New Balance Propel v4 - Women
MEAGHAN: The New Balance Propel V4 was a real surprise for me. It feels like a trimmed-down SC Trainer, not something I ever thought I wanted or needed, but here I am, still lacing it up. I love that New Balance is bringing us this quality at such a low price point. I can recommend this shoe to the runner just starting out and even the seasoned marathoner. It’s just a solid option to have in your arsenal.
THOMAS: The Propel is an excellent option for a budget trainer. It would still be a good option if it were $20 more — though that’s not a suggestion, New Balance. The ride is better than expected, and the fit is good, even if Meaghan can’t figure out how to use the top hole of the lacing. However, this shoe made me crave running in its heavier cousin, the SC Trainer. The foam feels good, and I wanted more.
While I recommend this trainer to runners of all levels, this is an excellent choice for new runners that aren’t sure what they are looking for in a shoe and don’t want to make a significant investment. I’ll raise my glass of boxed wine once more to say this shoe holds its own at the $110 price point and might be my pick for the budget shoe of the year.
You can pick up the New Balance FuelCell Propel v4 for $110 at New Balance using the buttons below.
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As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’s goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be.
All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Kinvara 2, Hoka Clifton 1, Nike Alphafly Next%More from Thomas
Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Alphafly Next%, New Balance SC Trainer, Asics Superblast.More from Meaghan
What’s the difference between this and the speed 3’s? How does this compare with the sc elite v3? What paces? and distances could you run in this – 1/2 marathon , marathon ?
How would you compare Propel vs Rebel?
Rebel is more of a tempo shoe and lighter
I just grabbed a pair of these for the the equivalent of $89USD here in New Zealand. The Speed 3 and Deviate Nitro 2 are both around the $160USD mark here, so I’m hoping these fill that niche in my rotation.