Four giant 18-year-old boys. One coach. About four dozen assorted pieces of luggage. All surrounding yours truly in one car for a 9-hour ride to a state tournament.
At this point I’ll stop and ask: Which vehicle would you choose for such a task?
No, a school bus wasn’t available, nor was a Suburban or other appropriately large vehicle that could comfortably transport a bunch of 6-foot-4 rowdy high schoolers.
My chariot for the job? A 2008 Audi Q7.
I always thought the Q7 was big. Driving around with just two of us, the car feels like an unstoppable and impressive piece of machinery that’s imposing and kind of huge. So when the need arose to drive six of us to the tournament, I volunteered my car because it’s… well… big!
The night before the trip, I prepared the car, put up the third row of seats and then had a horrible realization: I could fit the six people, but there’s no way their luggage was coming along for the ride. Luckily, in the garage was a Thule cargo box that I adapted to fit on the Audi’s roof racks.
I high-fived myself for my improvisational thinking and, the next morning, headed to pick up the team at the high school.
Loading the Audi full of giant humans is a little like playing a game of Tetris. First, the biggest of the boys went for the third row. He crammed his body back there, but his head rested at a 90-degree angle against the headliner. He folded himself out of the third row and everyone reorganized until we found a configuration that worked. With the boys settled, I loaded the Thule with our things and forced the lid closed, and we headed on our way.
That’s when I realized my Audi is not big. At all. It’s small.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about comfort, about the Thule staying in place and the unfortunate realities of sharing confined space with high schoolers.
This might be where you’d expect to hear all about my problems on the trip, but there were none.
The Audi turned out to offer extreme comfort, plenty of power, enough space and a sound system that kept us rocking all the way down to State. Even better, I somehow managed to average about 19 miles per gallon.
The experience was great. So great, in fact, that if I have the opportunity for future trips I’ll take the Audi over a school bus every time.
What’s your vehicle of choice for road trips with 6 or more people?