Tahoe, Tahoe, To Pick Up Books We Go!

Apologies for the corny title. I couldn’t help myself.

A few weeks ago, Chevy (the major sponsor of my book launch, by the way) blessed me with the use of a Tahoe Hybrid for seven glorious days. My family was headed down south for a quick weekend (and I do mean quick: more on that in a minute!) for two reasons: my niece was graduating from high school and I was meeting my publisher in person for the very first time, as her office is only about twenty minutes from my sister-in-law’s house.

When I was asked what kind of large General Motors vehicle I wanted to drive for our trip, I said I didn’t care which one, except I had one request. I knew that any vehicle would’ve been very fun to drive: I just wanted one that got decent gas mileage. The 2011 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid happens to have the best mileage per gallon for its class (yay!), and that’s what I was “given”.

The vehicle is massive, and the boys were thrilled that, instead of having to share the back seat as they would’ve had to do if we drove in my current car, they’d each get their own seat. That’s a pretty thrilling thing when you’re a teenaged boy of about five feet nine (or ten) inches and have a brother who is the same size. Also thrilling to them was the ability to watch movies and hook up the Playstation in the back: the trip, though comfy and fun, went by at a quicker pace for them because of those perks.

Remember how it made the news a couple of years ago that one of the deciding factors when a woman buys a car is how many cup holders there are? Well, I don’t know if that’s actually true (I can say without a doubt that cup holders would NOT make or break my car purchase but I would look at the number and placement of them as a perk), but I was very happy with the cup-holding ability of the Tahoe Hybrid. They seem to be everywhere. I also discovered a bonus which I can’t imagine would’ve been developed intentionally, but made me SO very happy. First, check this out. This is where you can put two cups, in between the driver and passenger.

So you know how, when you go to the drive-thru window of a fast-food place all by yourself but you’re bringing home a bunch of drinks for your family and they give you that ugly little brown drink holder that ends up tipping over somehow, all over your floor or–worse–your seat because you just can’t hold onto it and safely drive at the same time? LOOK WHAT I FIGURED OUT. Take the plastic cup holders Chevy put there OUT, and this fits perfectly. NO SPILLING. Look ma, no hands!

That? Was thrilling.

Getting used to the way a Hybrid vehicle drives (what with the engine having the Auto Stop and all) didn’t take any time at all. It was pretty cool, actually. I loved the quiet start up (so stealth!), too.

As far as actual gas mileage went, I don’t think we spent any more on gas than we would have, had we been in my sedan, so that was great news considering the size of the Tahoe (and my budget!).

A feature that we used several times was OnStar. It ROCKED THE HOUSE (err, the car). I am not kidding you when I say it made a world of difference in the experience I had with this vehicle. A couple of times while we were in motion, we needed to change a route or find an address that the navigation system couldn’t find when we typed it in. (Plus, for safety, your ability to access all of the nav features while the car is in motion is restricted.) All we had to do was press that magic blue button on the rear view mirror and wait for an OnStar operator to answer. Then we told him or her where we wanted to go, and they UPLOADED THE DIRECTIONS RIGHT INTO THE CAR’S NAVIGATION SYSTEM. You people who already have OnStar are probably laughing and shaking your head at my amazement and pure excitement over this feature, but I used it about six times over the week (possibly more) and it never got old. Technology is super awesome.

So back to the “quickness” of the trip. Due to Jim’s lack of vacation days, my work schedule, and my book signing and book launch event the following week, we left home around 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon for the eleven-hour drive to Kingsport, Tennessee. We went to my niece’s graduation on Saturday morning (breakfast at my sister-in-law’s house at 7:00 a.m.!), hung out at their house for the post-ceremony luncheon, and then went to meet my publisher (in Bristol, Virginia: right over the border!) in the late afternoon. On Sunday morning we were on the road to go home by 9:00 a.m. and arrived back in Chicagoland by dinner time. I told you it was quick! Had we been driving my sedan, the boys would’ve ripped each other’s eyes out at some point over the weekend, I’m sure of it. The Tahoe Hybrid made the trip more than bearable.

Here are a few pictures:

Pulling up in front of my publisher’s building…


It was so cool to walk into the offices of Mountain Girl Press/Little Creek Books and see my book on the rack right inside the front door, with all of the others…

It was also a thrill to meet Tammy, my publisher, in person for the very first time! She and I have emailed and phone chatted for months and working with her has been a dream: big hugs all around on this day!

After we took a little tour of Tammy’s office, it was time to fill up the Tahoe with nine cases of books. (We found out later that it would take way more than nine cases to fill up this vehicle!)

Outside we went…

Something that I loved was the ability to use only one finger to press the button that opens the back hatch. So helpful when you’ve got your hands full, and surprising in such a large vehicle.

This is what teenagers are for, right?

Not even close to being full…

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to Tammy and get back to the family.

The Tahoe came in super-handy just a couple of days later, too, when I dropped off the donations (from my book launch event attendees) to the Ronald McDonald House in Lincoln Park! We totally filled up the back area. Yay!

I always feel the need to give you a thing or two about a vehicle I try out that I don’t particularly care for, so you know I’m not all puppies and rainbows about everything. To be honest, it was hard to find things on the Tahoe Hybrid that made me go “eew.” The one thing I really, really didn’t like was the placement of the DVD/video game screen for the people in the back seat. I know that the only way to really move this totally out of the way is to put it in the backs of the front seat headrests, but the screen hanging dead center (when in use, of course. It folds up when it’s not in use!) really annoyed me because it almost totally hindered my ability to see out the back window, and driving a vehicle this large, I felt particularly impaired.

That’s really the main thing! (really!) My kids loved having the seats to themselves (and on the way back we folded up half of the back seat to make room for our stuff and the books; one of the boys used the other half!), but they weren’t comfortable when trying to sleep back there. I don’t think that’s something that’s specific to the Tahoe, though; I think that’s a “kid in the back seat of any car” issue.

So do I recommend the Tahoe Hybrid? Um, yes!

Thanks so much to General Motors for everything; it was wonderful to work with Connie and Stephanie, during a very important and special time in my life. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

5 Comments

  • Momo Fali

    I. WANT. ONE.

    After I drove that Tahoe for a week two years ago, it’s the only vehicle I have even considered buying. Period. Not to mention that my son stood at the window and cried as they drove it away. (So did I.)

  • Connie Burke

    Hey, I LOVE corny headlines – where would late night comics be without them?
    Thanks for your thorough review on our Tahoe Hybrid. The best way to fully experience our vehicles is on a (gulp!) family road trip. Coming home with no casualties is always a plus; sounds like it was Mission: Accomplished for you on several fronts.
    You are a treat to work with, too – I’m a huge fan of your sense of humor!

  • Liz

    Would love one of these, preferably something in a pumpkin-ish tone, would be cool annoying folks as I drive through the neighborhood and watch other people move over to make room for ME, for once 😉

  • Mrs4444

    gotta love a nice, big-yet-economical Tahoe. Our Suburban has the same screen issue–it feels unsafe but is really just something that takes getting used to because you’re not used to using side mirrors exclusively. Seeing your book among the others–what a thrill!

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