Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Tahoe Challenge

Uchoose: The V or the SUV?
I’m not a soccer mom or a hockey mom. I am, however, a swim, football, wrestling, lacrosse, dance, gymnastics, and cheer mom with four busy children and all their gear. I spend a great many hours in my vehicle and put a lot of miles on my car every day after school shuttling them around Austin to their many practices and appointments. My Honda minivan known affectionately as ‘the yucky van’ is so grotesque that it shocks even the car wash attendants. The license plate begins BW4K (Beware 4 Kids) but should read DNR (Do not resuscitate) It has almost 300,000 kilometers (manufactured in Canada now in Texas), no headrests, duct tape where the passenger door handle used to be, and a permanent layer of grunge that no amount of shampooing or vacuuming will ever remove. I think it may be time for a new vehicle.

Since it takes me a three phase focus group to even choose a paint color for my living room walls, I’m agonizing over this major decision that will impact me, the kids, and the family finances for years to come. Certainly it is not a decision to make lightly and I’ve been contemplating my options. As a breeder with four children, at least my car choices are significantly smaller than had I been like most of my friends (sane) and stopped with two children. The big question for me now is this: Do I stay with the van or move up to the SUV?

I thought I had safely settled this question in my mind years ago. The van is the only way to go. Drives like a car with ample cargo space and gets decent gas mileage. Those sliding doors with small children to hoist up in baby buckets also made this a no-brainer. Ok, so my husband driving it equals in his mind me asking him to hold my purse but he got over it. I also realized that, while not as hip as driving a sleek SUV, the days when men were checking me out were long gone before I even started needing to stow a double stroller. My mom, who started driving a minivan years before me, is convinced I just need a newer version of what I currently have. I agreed with her until I met the Tahoe.

I’ve seen this vehicle around my hood for years now and even my best friend Holly had one. “Ahhh” she recalls fondly remembering the smooth ride and high profile of her Tahoe, “I loved it. What a ride.” When the opportunity presented itself for me to preview the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe and leave the yucky van garaged for a week, I jumped at the chance.
I’ve never flown a plane but sitting behind the wheel of the 2012 Chevrolet 2WD LTZ must be like sitting in a cockpit. Before the minivan, I had an Isuzu Trooper and I forgot how much I loved being able to sit higher over the road and other cars. This one came equipped with the Sun & Entertainment Package, a must-have if you spend as much time as we do travelling all over south Texas and my older kids have now reached that age of ‘away’ swim meets and wrestling tournaments. Poor Sabrina and Caroline, getting dragged along to more of their siblings’ events but the DVD system with cordless headphones is one sure way to take the edge off the complaining. My husband especially loved the Rear Vision Camera System. He is a terrible backer. You can read about his trouble in this area at the wonderful blog “The Mama Bird Diaries” by Kelcey Kintner.

Mom and Dad flew in for the week while we were caring for the Tahoe and they were mighty pleased to be spared any time in the van which now has the added feature of Lily’s white dog hair all over the upholstery thanks to her monthly trips to the dog groomer. Mom and I hit the San Marcos outlet stores while the kids were in school and even Mom had to admit as we were jetting down IH35 quietly in the smooth and commanding drive that the ride was much quieter than her Odyssey. The highway noises were just not discernible and you feel like you are gliding over the roadway.

The satellite radio was also a big hit with my kids whose taste in music is all over the map and I especially liked the truly amazing OnStar feature. While I pride myself on being uber-prepared for most of life’s emergencies, there have been several occasions where roadside maladies have faced me when I had children in the car. There are not many more dreaded things than being stranded on a busy highway with four kids on a hot summer day and waiting an interminable amount of time to try to reach a friend to come rescue us. The OnStar Advisors are just a blue button push away and having that peace of mind is a real selling point. The advisor I spoke with was cheerful and very helpful in helping me locate my requested destination. Well, all but one actually but that wasn’t the fault of the advisor. They cannot tell which Starbucks locations have a drive-thru due to the limitations on the database. I do think that is a feature many moms like me might be interested in (note to the corporates at Starbucks).

I loved driving the Tahoe and frankly didn’t have any trouble parking it in the extra-small Austin parking lot spaces as I thought I might. In fact, it turned just as nimbly as my minivan and was a super comfortable drive. My only issue was with the cargo area because just the loot that I bring home from the grocery store makes the capacity a constraint. My solution to this of course is to upscale to the Chevrolet Suburban which is next on my list to try.

We said our farewells to the Tahoe and my kids have still not forgiven me for forcing them back in the grunge mobile. We are heading down to South Padre in June, a six-hour drive and after luxuriating in the soft leather seats of the Tahoe, we must might have to pull the trigger on a new vehicle before then. I have a pretty good idea which one I’ll be choosing now. I just need to go sell some more Pink Pockets to be able to afford the new car payments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Diane! I always love reading your blog posts! You're very witty and clever! I saw you driving in the neighborhood in your beautiful new Tahoe and was thrilled for you that you finally pulled the trigger on a new car. I'm sorry it was only temporary, but at least you know what you want now. It will be worth the wait, sweet friend!!