Today I figured I should tackle driving the Relay since it seems severely overlooked in the review so far. Mainly that's because I don't feel the actual ride of a minivan is its number one attribute. Most folks want to count the cupholders (there are at least twelve here). However no one will buy any vehicle unless it holds up somewhat on the road.
The Relay is actually handles the road quite well. Turning is very sharp. I?m not quite sure why the minivan feels as tuned in to the road as it does, but it is a welcome surprise. The ride is also exceptionally pleasant and there is minimal road noise even with all this glass. That glass doesn?t help the abysmal visibility and drivers will learn to rely on their sideview mirrors for almost all backing up maneuvers. There?s also a detector that chimes as you get close to obstacles. Unlike other systems in more expensive sedans I don?t mind it as much in the Relay because it is such a large van and it isn?t easy to judge the back end?s location as it is in some SUVs. And it works well considering I didn?t bump into anyone.
Tackling the snow was a major obstacle for the Relay this week. I had to park on poorly shoveled streets and around the office got stuck in really deep slush. It took a number of maneuvers and use of the traction control system to get out. That also brought out the worst feature in the driving department, the annoying column shifter. I hate column shifters. But when I was a kid I learned on one and found myself an expert that could flip it in and out of gear in a flash. The Relay?s shifter never seemed to get into the right gear on the first try. I can certainly count and know one click is R and two is N and 3 is D. Yet I was constantly in neutral or third gear instead of where I wanted to be. This led to very frustrating attempts at parallel parking.
Sorry for the lack of images today. Tomorrow we?ll finish up with shots of the roof track system and assorted other doodads.