A big family means you need big cars. Having a large, cool-looking SUV seems to be Abu Dhabi’s standard, regardless of family size – look at all that empty cargo space behind the single, young driver! But when your family grows to two adults, two children, and a baby – that is some serious cargo, not to mention precious cargo. And managing daily drop offs, pick-ups, family trips and errands may not technically be a “sport”, but it sure is an active lifestyle in need of a utility vehicle. I used to drive a little sporty sedan with manual transmission. Those days are long gone now. The only thing that suits mine and my family’s needs is a big, rugged vehicle with automatic transmission and seats that are easy to clean!
I begrudgingly suppose a minivan would do the trick but as much as I love and embrace the role of parent, I’m not ready to completely let go of style or a little bit of luxury and submit fully to the minivan image. So I’m always on the look out for a particular car that qualifies as an SUV and a 4-wheel drive, but isn’t a massive gas-guzzling beast. Ever since I rented one on a family trip to Seattle last summer (it was a fluke; we got upgraded because the rental car guy was from the same place as my wife), I’ve wanted one of my own. So now that our family is growing, not only do we need a second car for managing all the various places our family needs to be simultaneously, we need a car roomy enough for multiple kids and their car seats.
So in the slow embrace of this inevitable next big purchase, we decided to test drive a car for a week before diving in. I finally got to pick my dreamed-of SUV from that Seattle rental bonus; the Chevrolet Traverse. The thing I instantly liked about this car is that although it doesn’t look like a huge monstrosity, it feel so roomy inside; the seats keep going on forever when you look back. It’s a seven-seater, but what makes this layout unique is that the first row of seats in the back isn’t a row- it’s two individual seats with an aisle in between. So even though you lose a seat in the middle (that “oh-so-luxurious” middle seat which for some reason always has a smaller size cushion so your rear end doesn’t ever really fit, and anyway it works better left as a pull down drink holder), you gain easy access to the back. This really comes in handy when you’re trying to manage kids sitting in the back-back row. Instead of kids climbing over seats when they inevitably want to switch seats or get the snacks living in the front seat, all they have to do is go in between the aisle to access the front. It makes it feel somewhat like a minivan and really just adds to the feeling of roominess. And on top of all that seating space, even when the back row of seats are up there is still enough room in the trunk to fit a stroller! A revelation if you’ve ever had other seven-seater SUV’s with the useless narrow gap that barely fits groceries. And, the seats fold down flat so when down you have a full capacity boot for lots of cargo; camping supplies/groceries/etc.
The other thing I like is the two moon roofs – one up front and one in the back for the kids. I find it particularly handy when driving to Dubai so the kids can see the Burj Khalifa when we drive by instead of having to get out of their seats to get viewing access. These little details make it a fun, family-friendly car that’s safe – car seats seem to fit more securely to the single seat layout and the Traverse boasts an industry-first front center side airbag. The fact that it is highly rated and awarded, looks good, and isn’t too big to handle on the road are huge bonuses.
We certainly had fun having the extra car and getting spoiled with nice dark red leather seats, GPS, and dual DVD’s in the back with the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system for the kids. We just might be arranging to have one of these in our growing family fleet in the near future.
Note: Just so happens that Chevy’s got a pretty good deal going right now with their ‘All In Program’…five years warranty, service, registration & insurance at zero down on select 2016 models, including the Traverse. Check their site here for full details.