So I was invited on this amazing trip that was sponsored by General Motors and included my whole family.  We flew to Orlando, stayed in a stunning home, saw various Orlando attractions and drove a Chevrolet Orlando from Florida to Toronto in the span of 3 days.  The only part I was worried about was the long drive with the kids.  My husband is injured and unable to drive, so I was on the hook for it all.  I was shocked at how enjoyable it was.  It was the quintessential Modern Road Trip.

Not only did we love the car, but the technology that was placed in the vehicle enhanced the trip to an incredible degree.   The gadgets helped endlessly with ‘Are we there yet?’, fighting in the backseat and getting lost.  The only issue was that it was a bit too easy.  Too comfy.  Compared to old-school road trips, where part of the fun is getting lost and having a good old-fashioned family feud about whose fault it was, we were all blissful.  Next time we’d research a few fun things to do off the beaten track and incorporate tech-free hours.  It never really occurred to us that the point of a road trip is that you see things along the way – not just your end destination.  Channeling the movie ‘Cars‘: “All you see on the interstate is the interstate”.  That being said… for the hours you have to put in getting from point A to point B… here’s what got us through.

Components of the Modern Roadtrip:

1.  iPads.  Each child in the back of the car was given an iPad and a credit for iTunes.  And here I was thinking that my next vehicle had to have AV installed.  For the cost of a couple of first-generation iPads and back-of-the-seat attachments, the kids can look at movies as well as find the golden eggs in Angry Birds.  That’s modern.  (Maybe not great parenting but modern all the same).

2.  OnStar – Oh WOW – where have I been?  I feel so secure and I loved talking to a real person.  OnStar got us to Disney and home, though I am so bad at paying attention, my hubby still had to remind me to change lanes.  After a few days I realized that you could also dial friends and family.  I think that’s when my driving deteriorated.

3.  MiFi: Rogers MiFi created a hotspot in the car so that laptops and iPads could be connected to the internet.  If I hadn’t been driving I would have been seriously geeking out…

4.   Sirius XM radio – we made a pact.  If I drive I got to listen to Broadway the whole time..  And Martha Stewart, and favourites from Y2K.  (I was actually nice and changed the channel once in a while).  But I still sang at the top of my lungs as the Appalacian Mountains whisked by.

5.  The backup sensor.  As a tech innovation I have to mention it.  Great tool – especially when someone walks unexpectedly behind the car.  I’ve driven a few cars with video backup and I like the simple beep better.  Less visual distraction.

6.  The USB hookup.  iPods can be connected directly to the car, and you are able to see your whole playlist on the stereo controls.  The best?  There’s a hidden compartment for the music player so you don’t even have to worry about it being stolen when you leave the car.  (Or look at cords all the time).

7.  The fold-down seats.  Popping carseats in and out was super-easy, and all seats in the back folded down flat with tremendous ease.  You don’t even have to jimmy the headrests off – they duck down when you pull the lever.  Because of our fun accommodations as we drove through Savannah and West Virginia, we didn’t actually sleep in the car, but with this feature, you could create a campout in the back.  Think of all of the fun you could have as a family hangin’ in the trunk.

Part of the success of the trip was the vehicle itself.  I haven’t been asked to write anything about it, but I was so impressed that I feel like gushing.  For the past few years we have been test driving BMWs, Land Rovers, Porsches and lots of family vehicles.  (Well, expensive family vehicles.)  We’re starting to develop a pretty clear idea of essentials for busy moms and families.  In terms of the Chevrolet Orlando, we gave it a high score.  Here’s why:

1.  Carseats clipped in easily.
2.  Good visibility and windows that were large.
3.  The backup sensor (we’re usually pretty tired).
4.  Not only can the stroller get into the trunk with ease, but there was a ton of room for our shopping after a trip to Target.  (Much room needed, believe me).
5.  You can you see the kids in the back seat (the Orlando has a childview mirror)
6.  7 seats with the option of putting 6 up so that there is still storage in the trunk.
7.  Don’t laugh.  It’s important.  I didn’t break a nail or two when opening the driver door quickly.  The handle is long-nail-friendly.
8.  The technology was amazing – electrical ports front and back, and USB.
9.  Drink holders in the armrest in the back for the kids.
10.  Automatically locks when you put the car in drive.
11. Windshield wipers covered a big surface area.
12.  OnStar handsfree calling and Navigation – knowing where you’re going reduces stress.
13.  Low back windows in order to increase kids’ visibility – it keeps them entertained.
14.  Don’t laugh again.  I liked the look of the car.  I want a friendly-looking beast of a vehicle.
15.  I loved the driver’s armrest.
16.  Ease of cruise control rocked – right on the steering wheel.
17. All seatbelt clips had fabric around them which prevented mini lego pieces (and Cheerios, and smarties… ) falling into Neverland (excuse the Disney reference).
18.  The material of the seats seems totally durable and dried really well when we soaked it.  With rainwater.  Stop snickering.
19.  The seats go very high up for short/vertically challenged people.
20.  Directional compass right on console is so helpful for those of us who are navigationally impaired.
21.  Easily cleanable cockpit without many places for dust and schmutz to collect.
22.  You can put a drink in each of the doors.
23.  You can open the trunk hatch with one hand when you’re carrying a baby as well as groceries.
24.  The driver’s seat goes really far back in case you need to use the car as a nursing/feeding place.
25.  Especially with seats 6 and 7 down, the back makes a great diaper change area.

Mom stuff that’s crucial – wouldn’t you agree?  In all, we loved the car and also the idea of a family roadtrip.  We became closer as a family and saw areas of North America that we have only ever heard about.  Now, if only we could find the rest of those Golden Eggs.

Disclosure: UrbanMommies was provided air and car travel, accommodation, meals and one day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  For more insights, we Tweeted under the hashtag #chevyorlando.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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