True mom confession: I’ve never driven an SUV.
Until recently, in spite of the whole suburban mom of two kids thing, I had never driven an SUV. Actually, it goes even further than that – I had never even had any interest in driving an SUV. Sure, there was my ex-husband’s van, which had fake wood paneling, belched blue smoke, had an unreliable transmission. I drove that for about a month before acquiring my beloved Corolla (may she rust in peace). And there was that one time that I drove a delivery van for my high school boyfriend’s dad. But, other than that, I’ve been strictly a sedan girl. My first car was a Mazda 626, next the aforementioned Corolla, and I’m now the proud owner of a Ford Fusion. So, when I received an email inviting me to participate in the GMC “Fun Seattle” program, which would allow me an opportunity to drive a GMC Acadia for free for 3-5 days, I was a bit dubious about the accuracy of the program name. “Fun”? In an SUV? But I’m the mom with tattoos and purple hair! I’m pretty sure that I am not allowed to have fun in an SUV.
So, naturally, I said yes. I mean, who would turn down an opportunity to be really awkward in an enormous vehicle for a long weekend, right? Plus, we are still in the process of moving our stuff to our new place one carload at a time. If nothing else, we could move some of the more unwieldy items and save on the cost of a UHaul.
Fast-forward to Friday, March 14th, when a charming, blue-eyed man named Adam politely refused to be photographed while explaining the ins and outs of the Acadia he had brought to my house. He demonstrated how to fold down the third row of seats, how the second row of seats could be shoved flush against the front row of seats, and the location of the OnStar panic button. He laughed politely at my jokes and tolerated a surprisingly lengthy tangential conversation when Bubba asked me what S.O.S. meant, and didn’t comment on the fact that I was wearing a macaroni necklace. I was still unsure of the vehicle itself, but Adam definitely got a gold star.
Adam left, and I started in on the unwieldy process of moving car seats over from the Fusion into the Acadia. I was delighted to see that they had a variety of anchor points for car seat tethers…and then significantly less delighted when I realized that none of those anchors would work for my rear-facing Britax Roundabout. This was a big strike one against the car for me. We strongly embrace extended rear-facing in our family, and it was disheartening that the designers would do something as accommodating as including car seat tether anchor points without ensuring the same safety-enhancing feature would be available for the first two years of a kid’s life. But what can you do? We anchored the baby’s seat to the bottom rail of the driver’s seat and moved on with our lives.
Here’s my next confession: confronted with an opportunity to drive an enormous vehicle for free for 76 hours, I completely chickened out for the first 48. Every time we got into the car, I tried to psych myself up, but…I don’t know. I’m only 5′ 1″ tall and the whole size thing just intimidated me. However, being a passenger gave me great opportunities to fiddle with all the bells and whistles the car had without, you know, crashing into anyone.
So, I’m going to admit this: being a passenger in the Acadia? Totally super fun. The seats were comfy, with seat warmers built in in case you’re a chilly butt sort of person. The independent environmental controls for the front and rear portions of the car invited endless fiddling. I felt fancy when I got to press the OnStar button and ask the friendly-sounding Southern lady to look up our favorite brunch restaurant and magically upload turn-by-turn directions to the navigation system. XM radio helped satiate my recent need to listen to sad emo pop music, and I got to watch the little LEDs in the side mirrors turn on and off as sensors detected cars in the Acadia’s blind spots. This would be a great road trip car, for sure, particularly in light of the fact that our family could pretty easily set up a makeshift bed in the back. Save on hotel costs! Bunk in the giant vehicle!
Still, I knew I’d be missing the spirit of the “Fun” program if I failed to overcome my anxieties and drive the darn thing. On the 17th, the baby woke up super early and Bubba slept in. We were out of some crucial-to-a-preschooler breakfast item (yogurt? milk? I don’t even remember), so I seized the opportunity, loaded the baby into her car seat, and navigated the already formidable early rush hour traffic for a quick grocery run.
Now here’s where things get weird. Remember that I have literally zero experience driving an SUV (and oh man, was I ever thankful for those blind spot sensors and rearview camera when backing up), so I don’t know if this is normal, but…
I don’t know.
I swear that it was just like driving some kind of hover elephant. Or maybe an AT-AT.
Look, it was just weird! So quiet and serene and so high up…I just felt very removed from the road experience! Not necessarily in a bad way, but just strange. The ride was decent, she certainly had a little kick, which was nice. The texture of the steering wheel was luxuriously smooth. But a lot of the bells and whistles that made the car really fun as a passenger were less enticing as a driver. I wasn’t interested in flipping stations on the radio, even with the voice command features allowing me to just say the name of the station I wanted. Environmental control fiddling was right out.
We spent Monday, our family’s grocery day, putting the car through it’s paces. It was more comfortable wading through rush hour highway traffic than anticipated. I definitely appreciated the peppy engine when we were running late getting home for the baby’s nap. Bubba loved the car, which made the whole process of going to the butcher AND the hippie grocery store AND the drug store way more fun. Realistically, if it hadn’t been for the tether anchor thing and the weird land yacht feeling, I’d probably feel better about it…but then I’d have had to cope with sticker shock. Fully loaded, this was a $50,000 car! On balance, I’d rather use that money as a sizeable down payment on a really nice house, or, you know, take off from work for a year to “find myself.” Plus, even if you got past that bit, you’d be looking at $45 or more in ongoing subscription costs for the OnStar and XM radio services once the initial grace periods ran out.
All in all? I think the Acadia might just be too fancy for me.
That said, you could probably talk me into borrowing one for a road trip.
P.S. I was not required to write this review as part of the GMC Fun Seattle vehicle loan program. I was not paid to participate in the program, nor did I pay GMC for the opportunity to participate. All my opinions are my own, and do not reflect any endorsement or indictment by Mom Meet Mom.
P.P.S. if you’re like me and think SUVs are kind of weird, or if you love SUVs and think I’m weird, please share your sentiments in the comments!