First Trip Impressions
June 2003 - West Coast
Trip to Washington, Oregon, California; nearly 6,500 miles
This was our first real shakedown cruise. I know we should have done something shorter first, but there never seems to be enough time. My wife, myself, and our 19 year old son ventured out for 3 1⁄2 weeks in our cozy little Roadtrek. Three adults while driving works great. Camping with 3 adults turned out to be a little cramped. Our 6' 2" son took the right front seat⁄bed (with the extra back bed cushion used very nicely to extend it for his feet). He was a little cramped width-wise, which we remedied by stacking our duffel bags, etc. next to the bed to make it wider for his sleeping bag. I'm 5' 10" and I found the back bed to be at the lower limits of length for my comfort (an extra 1-2" would be great). My 5' 4" wife had no problems. The back bed cushions are extremely comfortable, even the center section which consists of the back rests. For bed linens, we bought the Travasak system from Camping World and found it to be a very worthwhile investment. Very comfortable and extremely convenient. We just fold it up and keep it on the side of the bed during the day.
One thing that we were concerned about was storage. After having a Class C, would the Roadtrek hold everything we wanted to bring? The answer is yes. We have the removable wardrobe which we placed where the 4th seat was. It gives tons of extra room and I highly recommend it. We decided not to get the outside spare tire carrier since we felt the van looks better without it and the Roadtrek version requires mutilation of the rear ground effects skirting. As it turns out, we did not need any more storage space. You can actually store a fair amount in the middle of the spare as well as around it. Others have complained of a tire odor when it is stored inside. This was never a problem for us. Much of our clothing was hung on hangers in the closets (my wife and I shared the optional front wardrobe while my son used the wardrobe next to the toilet). We also each had a duffel bag in which we kept our socks, underwear, etc. We had another duffel bag for extra shoes and still another one for my photography gear. As it turned out, we never used the drawer under the removable wardrobe. The drawer under the 3rd seat was reserved for our son's electronics (laptop accessories, Game Boy, CD player, games, etc.). Both these drawers are very large and could hold a lot more than I initially thought. The duffel bags worked out well when we stayed in hotels. Just pick out a shirt from the closet and carry the duffel bags in. For travel, we eventually decided to keep the back bed down (keep it as a bed) all the time and just store the duffel bags and anything else we wanted on the bed.
Having never owned a GM product before, I was not sure what to expect. No need to worry (so far). The Chevy Express is a pleasure to drive. The van is relatively quiet with little to no wind noise and not much road noise. There is surprisingly little in the way of rattles and creaks. The ride was smooth and the van tracked straight without having to make constant steering corrections. Overall things feel very solid while driving. I did feel strong cross winds, which we had a lot of out west. This was no better or worse than our prior Class C motor home. The engine was smooth and gave adequate power. While not a sports car, I had no trouble keeping up with traffic, even going uphill. The one thing that really impressed me was the ability of this van to handle hills. The temperature gauge barely rose going up those long steep grades. Overall, we were getting 15 miles per gallon (17 on the slower flat expressways, 14 in the hilly regions). One other thing that impressed me was how quiet the engine is while idling. This made me feel less noticeable pulling into campgrounds late.