The week with the minivan is over and all my self-doubt about how I'll handle life married with children has washed away. That's mainly because I didn't mind driving the Relay that much. But I think in the back of my mind I plan on having a Mustang, RX-8 or old Porsche stashed in the garage.
Of course the reality of it is, there will probably just be room for the minivan and the second car will most likely be a sedan, sigh.
Whittling down the pros and cons of the Relay isn?t that hard. There are lots of interesting features but all the ?innovative? ones seem to be the least effective while the simplest make the most impact. The middle roof track for example is a great idea but only the optional storage bin can be moved around. While that?s a decent option it sure doesn?t hold much and I kept bonking my head on a light module above the driver?s seat that couldn?t be moved. At least the storage bin thing detaches easily enough.
The simplest features like dual automatic rear doors were the most useful. They opened easily from the key fob, driver?s seat, rear seats and exterior handles. Every time I?ve been in a minivan I had trouble opening the rear doors. The Relay?s were a snap. The rear seats folding flat were also one of those simple features that worked perfectly. They don?t fold into the floor but they create a flat bed that offers decent space with lots of height. I didn?t really think the space with them up was adequate as the medium sized trip to the grocery shows. This was about six or seven bags plus some beer and a pack of paper towels that wouldn?t fit.
The bins underneath the rear cargo area are nice but their size didn?t fit any groceries besides a bottle of wine that squeezed in snugly and didn?t move around while driving. But the bin itself, along with the headphone compartments on the back of the front seats, are made of extremely clunky and cheap plastic and the rear bins were impossible to close. I had to actually move the metal support bar to close them instead of just slamming shut or using the release latch. I could imagine someone getting their finger caught in these. For large families the seats would definitely need to be folded flat for a grocery/Costco run.
I mentioned in a previous post that the cheapness of some aspects and the almost rich feel of the leather on the rear doors, shown here, and front doors was a huge contradiction in the Relay. The looks just need the slightest tweaking regarding the faux wood trim and an updated center stack, but otherwise I thought the Relay was an attractive hauler. Saturn should work on the quality issues around the plastics and I think they?ll have a real winner. The ride is perfectly fine as is but sure another 20 horses wouldn?t hurt. And then guys like me will almost be happy driving a minivan.