One summer we took a different sort of vacation. Typically we find ourselves in New York City visiting family. Last year we were supposed to go to Mexico but we had to cancel the trip and instead we took a quick last minute trip to San Diego and realized that as a family we love vacations that we can drive to. Not like, but love.
Driving from Los Angeles to San Diego in one of our two mid size sedans is okay. It’s a bit rough getting everything in the trunk but for a two to three hour drive it’s fine.
This trip included 1,200 miles of driving. First we left Los Angeles and went to Mammoth. We stayed and played in Mammoth for five days, then we took a day to explore Yosemite. After Yosemite we headed to San Francisco and then after San Francisco we drove back to Los Angeles. Had we done this sort of trip in anything other than a luxury SUV I think I might have died.
As soon as I knew we were going to take a driving trip I called the folks at GM and I asked them if they had an SUV I could borrow. They kindly offered me either a Chevy Tahoe or a GMC Yukon. “What’s the difference?” I asked. “One of them is red and the other one is black. Other than that they’re essentially the same vehicle with the same trim level.” I took the red truck. Red is pretty.
The Tahoe Hybrid in Los Angeles is a good car if you’re a large family or if you have a need to tow things. I think for an Angelino with a small family and an urban lifestyle it’s overkill but I did have a Tahoe for a few years when the kids were little and I did LOVE it.
When we hopped in the truck and headed to Mammoth I felt like we were returning her to her roots. Yes, we do name most cars Sally as Sally was my daughter’s imaginary friend that lived in two houses with us and Sally was also my daughter’s first horse… which is a story for another time.
Like I said, I had a 2003 Chevy Tahoe (in 2003) and I loved it but there were things about it I did not love. I did not love that there was a TV in the car but in that model year with that particular seat configuration they came with entertainment in the rear seat. In 2003 I wasn’t taking road trips, I was raising toddlers. In 2011 I was asking two kids to sit in the car for six hours. I wanted that TV so that I could hop in the back seat with them and watch a movie while my husband chauffeured us around California.
My husband had some odd requests and one of them was that I not get in the back seat with the kids and watch movies while he drove us all through Central California. I know, crazy talk right? So I reluctantly let the kids pop in a DVD while we drove through the scorched earth of the Mojave Desert and the farmland just North of it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the rear seat entertainment was on a completely separate sound system and that we were able to listen to satellite radio in the front of the car while the kids tuned out in the back. For a daily drive this is unnecessary (problematic even) but when you’re spending many hours in the car driving through farmland and then desert it’s a life saver.
The Tahoe that we drove had almost 10,000 miles on it but drove like a new car. The steering was tight and the trim was beautiful. Everything was flawless and I’d like to think it’s because America is back in the business of making wonderful vehicles but I know that in part this is part of a well maintained fleet. I like knowing that I’m driving a vehicle that isn’t brand new and knowing that it still drives well.
The Tahoe is a beast in the Mountains. Driving up to Mammoth there were all these road signs that warned against using your air conditioner so the car wouldn’t overheat. We just clicked a button and monitored the engine temperature, which never went over 165 degrees, and continued our speedy climb up the mountain.
When we got to June Lake I snapped this picture with my iPhone because I felt like our Chevy was returning to the neighborhood she loved in order to spend time with her friends.
The trunk space was phenomenal. Y’all know I do NOT believe in packing light. We were gone for ten days in both rugged and semi fancy (San Francisco) clothes. We brought tons of sporting equipment and we really didn’t get to a point where our stuff blocked the view through the backglass.
I felt a little weird with a big truck in San Francisco. I wanted to say, “Look, it’s a hybrid.” And then I wanted to tell them that we got 23 Miles Per Gallon (MPG), that the bulk of our miles were mountain miles and let people know that both my husband and I have a lead foot.
I loved this SUV. I loved my Tahoe all those years ago when it was the right car for my family. I used to put four kids in baby and toddler seats in the car and the front seat provided easy access to my Grandmother who was in a walker. If you’ve got kids and stuff to haul the Tahoe is your friend. If you can get your hands on a hybrid all the better.