If you give a dad a Chevy, he’s going to ask you for some legroom.
When you give him the legroom, he’ll probably ask you for GPS, as well as in-vehicle Wi-Fi, a wireless charging dock, and so on.
Why? Because dads like manspreading and playing with gadgets when they’re in cars, especially if they’re passengers.
And that was the case during a bright Orlando mid-morning in February when ten Traveling Dads – along with Kim Orlando and Cindy Richards, founder and editor-in-chief of Traveling Mom, respectively – were permitted to field test several Chevys as part of the first-ever Traveling Dad conference, of which Chevy was an official sponsor.
The dads were given the option to drive as well as ride along. I opted to experience the cars as a passenger only. Despite having a license that I’ve dutifully renewed for 20 years, I seldom drive: I’m a longtime New Yorker and I married a Jersey girl who knows what she’s doing behind the wheel. But I digress.
Here’s what happens when you give some dads some Chevys. Buckle up.
Chevy Tahoe: Truck of Choice for a Grown-Man Playdate
To reach the staging area where our Chevys were parked we got a lift in – appropriately enough – Chevys. Kim transported several of us in a Tahoe. I called shotgun and no sooner had four other Traveling Dads (per the photo above, Raphael Ocampo and J.D. Andrews in the middle row, Dan Miller and Boyd Rogers in the back) pile in behind me when one of them said, “You comfortable up there, Paul?” which is Dad Code for, “How about moving your seat up, jackass? Like you, I have legs” and soon enough I found the lever to ease my seat forward. And I still had plenty of legroom up front.
Soon we were underway and the acoustics of the Tahoe are such that Kim and I were able to chat for a couple minutes while the guys got settled in, touching all the buttons, checking out the wireless headsets, doing what guys do when they’re in a new car. I was enamored of the wireless charging pad between the passenger and driver’s seats that allowed me to charge my smartphone. All we guys were missing were juice boxes in our hands, as any passing motorist peering into our Tahoe would be under the not-misguided impression that Kim was driving us all to a soccer game. Or chaperoning what Chris Rock once brilliantly described as a “grown-man playdate.”
My legroom up front was ample, as I said, and as you’ll see in this short video, Raphael found the middle section roomy. The dudes in the very back, not so much.
Chevy Silverado: Fits Four with Room to Spare
Once we wheeled up to the staging area the dads split up into the vehicles of their choice and took off. We were all issued directions to a mall, where we’d all meet up and switch cars. I went first for the Silverado, which transported, from left, Chris Clarke, me, Rick Gerrity and Daymon Patterson, aka Daym Drops.
Daym took the wheel with Chris beside him and after they adjusted their seats, aka, made themselves comfortable, Rick and I still had plenty of room in back. As Chris Tweeted,
And really, that’s sums it up. I zoned out on my phone while the guys chatted. If you’re a parent, then you know what a luxury it is to power down in a car without having to hand back snacks or watch the road. If you don’t, you’re missing out.
Still, I could see the GPS clearly from the back and we were on track to meet up with the group in the Neiman Marcus parking lot – or were we? I got a text from Cindy saying “You guys at Neiman?” which made us wonder if we were off course. “And the four dads were never heard from again because they refused to ask for directions,” I said, and as true as that would have been we realized we were in fact on track and soon rolled up to our destination.
Chevy Volt: Fits Three Interestingly
After stretching our legs at Neiman we switched vehicles. When Daym saw our next vehicle was the Chevy Volt he composed a Tweet that summed up his feelings.
We climbed into the Volt. Daym racked his seat back to Georgia and I sat behind Chris. The Volt is no Silverado, of course, but my knees weren’t making contact with the driver’s seat and I was comfortable. Plus Rick Gerrity came along and took the photo below that I’ll treasure for a long time because, let’s face it, it makes me look 25 times cooler than I really am, which is how my eldest daughter phrased it when she saw the picture. #CoolDadPoints.
As a passenger I don’t pay a lot of attention to how cars handle unless they start clunking, but the Volt ride was smooth. From my perch in the back it didn’t seem like the GPS was as easy to read as the Silverado’s – the way the screen was angled there was too much glare for me – though Chris got us to our next stop, the parking area outside a Dillard’s, with dispatch.
Chevy Malibu: Real Full-Size Car with Real Wi-Fi
Daym took the wheel of the Malibu, Chris resumed shotgun and Cindy and I took the back. I’ve been in many full-size cars that didn’t feel full-size and the Malibu I’d compare to a good Economy Plus seat – I couldn’t sprawl, but I wasn’t folded up like an accordian either. Since I now have the frame of reference, I can say the backseat had less legroom than the Silverado but more than the Volt. Plus Cindy and I were hyper-focused on a task: Could each of us use the Malibu’s in-vehicle Wi-Fi to stream video at the same time and have a non-exasperating user experience?
We turned off our data to make it an unequivocal Wi-Fi test, retrieved the car’s Wi-Fi password – which was a bit tricky to find – and Cindy was soon successfully playing a YouTube video – not incidentally, the Five Guys video that was a turning point in Daym’s career as a food reviewer. I simultaneously began streaming the first episode of “Fuller House” on Netflix – also successfully, without buffering – though I gave up after three minutes because my ears starting bleeding.
What our Wi-Fi test proved is that if you have kids who long to stream video on car trips but are rightly forbidden to use data, the Wi-Fi in the Malibu is what I like to call real Wi-Fi, rivaling what I’ve experienced in most hotels that purport to have Wi-Fi that can handle streaming.
As we wheeled back to the staging area, we reached some fairly obvious conclusions –after the Silverado, there’s really no going back to a car with lesser legroom, for instance – but ultimately from where I sat in all the vehicles, I couldn’t complain. Good legroom, above-average on-board tech, and car interiors that didn’t detract from my top priority during any car trip – enjoying the company of the people I’m riding with.