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Thread: The US hire car thread.

  1. #1
    Regular simonsaunders's Avatar
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    The US hire car thread.

    Been in the US with work this week - San Jose / Silicon Valley. Many US cities aren’t that friendly to people on foot, so a car kinda becomes a ‘must have’. Our campus is also massive and switching between buildings is a long walk, so even if I Uber’d to my first meetings, I’d then be a bit stuck in a building, scrounging lifts and it’s generallly shit. So car it is.

    I was recommended ‘National’ for the following reason... we can book ‘Intermediate’ cars through work... Probably a bit bigger than a Focus, but not a Mondeo. However, with the free-to-join National rewards scheme, if you book an intermediate car you get access to their ‘Emerald Isle’ where there is just a row of random cars of all shapes and sizes and you just pick one. If you’re determined to have the intermediate Hyundai or whatever, one is there, but there were some little SUVs, minivans, etc.

    What I really wanted was a Dodge Charger. No luck.

    Next call was anything American. The only USDM was a mini-van. Not for me thank you (besides which, the wife would think that I was trying to win a new family in California).

    Which left the only sensible option to be this:



    I know it is a Navara, but stay with me...

    I figured that if the engine sounded pony when I started it, I would pick something else.

    Sounded nice (since found out that it is a 4.0 V6), so that was that. Had a bit of poke too - 250bhp and a chunk of torque.

    It kinda made the trip for me. Despite it mostly being shit. On the street, American pick-ups, SUVs and most saloons are outnumbered by non-USDM cars, so I felt less and less short changed by my Jap pick-up (which according to our resident Nissan employee is actually made in the South).

    My work colleagues thought it very funny (Silicon Valley, where the coolest car you could possibly own is a Tesla, this is basically the dorkiest - even more so when I jump out in a blazer).

    It is ****ing useless as a hire car. It isn’t especially comfortable. The tailgate is wide open with no roll top or anything so you can’t use it for luggage because it is just open to the whole world. That means putting stuff inside the cab. Which is fine, except it is now on display and theft of electronics is a bit of an issue in the Silicon Valley.

    Apparently I was also lucky in my choice of hotel being slightly edge of town so it had plenty of parking. Apparently lots of hotels have underground car parks in US cities these days and don’t really accommodate stuff like this.

    However, it made me smile.

    Had a pleasant drive through the hills over an extended lunch-break on the best day of weather we had.



    Ate my lunch in the back, in the sun.

    Views were lovely, but no stopping places for good ones.





    Nothing passed me on this road for 45 mins, except for a Subaru WRX that was very much ‘on it’ and a Harley Davidson. So whilst it looks like I’m eating lunch on some tarmac, it was dead quiet. Few birds of prey, some weird critters and some pretty little birds.

    Anyway, work was work, but this was decent fun on the side.

    I’m back in the US in a couple of weeks with the family, but a pick-up is off the cards. I wouldn’t want to do any distance in it, it may as well have no storage given the securiry situation and the wife wouldn’t endure the compromise! Minivan it is, unless I can get that Dodge!

    Next work trip to the US... I’ll probably go pick-up again.
    Last edited by simonsaunders; 13-04-2018 at 08:57 PM.

  2. #2
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    Cool, I approve and have had various daft hire cars in the US and enjoyed them all. Never a pickup yet, though
    Too many cars...

  3. #3
    Regular Neil Mac's Avatar
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    Nice, er, work

    It's authentically American for a Japanese pickup. Crude separate chassis, cheap interior, rumbly engine, etc. Silicon valley is a bit different from the rest of the States. In Texas, you'd be lost in the crowd of utility vehicles.
    "Fortunately, I'd taken a spare Gearbox, Turbo, Actuator, Banjo Connector, Steering Rack, Driveshafts, ECU, Wideband sensor, 57-51mm silicone reducing elbow and a Copper Banjo Washer." - Nige

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    A friend did similar complete with suitcases sliding around in the load bay. Kids loved it although they are older I guess.

    The older Navara's like to snap their chassis & put rods out through the block seemingly but I guess you ain't going to get a diesel in the US of A.

  5. #5
    Regular Neil Mac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitz711 View Post
    A friend did similar complete with suitcases sliding around in the load bay. Kids loved it although they are older I guess.

    The older Navara's like to snap their chassis & put rods out through the block seemingly but I guess you ain't going to get a diesel in the US of A.
    2 different generations with different failure modes.

    The D22 occasionally puke out bits of engine:



    The D40 has suffered from lack of chassis rust-proofing, leading to catastrophic failure:



    We had one like this at work the other week, demonstrating things to avoid doing...
    "Fortunately, I'd taken a spare Gearbox, Turbo, Actuator, Banjo Connector, Steering Rack, Driveshafts, ECU, Wideband sensor, 57-51mm silicone reducing elbow and a Copper Banjo Washer." - Nige

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Mac View Post
    2 different generations with different failure modes.

    The D22 occasionally puke out bits of engine:



    The D40 has suffered from lack of chassis rust-proofing, leading to catastrophic failure:



    We had one like this at work the other week, demonstrating things to avoid doing...
    That last picture is comedy. I wonder how such a thing makes production. Bean counters interfering with engineering, I guess.

    I used to look at pick-ups in the UK and think about having one, mistakenly thinking that they were not that far removed from my old XC90 or Kia Sportage. In all measurable areas, the Nissan was significantly worse. The grin factor came from a big petrol engine and the context, but if I was there for a month and with miles to travel, I’d be begging National to take it back swap it to something conventional. I read that the VW one is better and there is a Mercedes / Nissan thing coming, which you would assume has some Merc magic in there somewhere, but I can’t see me contemplating one for the UK for some time.

  7. #7
    Regular Neil Mac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsaunders View Post
    That last picture is comedy. I wonder how such a thing makes production. Bean counters interfering with engineering, I guess.
    More likely that the factory workers in Spain didn't fully read the instructions...

    I used to look at pick-ups in the UK and think about having one, mistakenly thinking that they were not that far removed from my old XC90 or Kia Sportage. In all measurable areas, the Nissan was significantly worse. The grin factor came from a big petrol engine and the context, but if I was there for a month and with miles to travel, I’d be begging National to take it back swap it to something conventional. I read that the VW one is better and there is a Mercedes / Nissan thing coming, which you would assume has some Merc magic in there somewhere, but I can’t see me contemplating one for the UK for some time.
    The whole separate chassis/leaf-spring thing is a bit crude and old-school. The latest Navara is a vast improvement, and also available with Renault Badges (the Alaskan), and the Mercedes version has a slightly wider body and a more upmarket interior. Mechanically they are identical, and all produced in the Nissan plant in Barcelona. The Merc 'magic' is in the marketing...



    Last edited by Neil Mac; 16-04-2018 at 10:10 AM.
    "Fortunately, I'd taken a spare Gearbox, Turbo, Actuator, Banjo Connector, Steering Rack, Driveshafts, ECU, Wideband sensor, 57-51mm silicone reducing elbow and a Copper Banjo Washer." - Nige

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    Regular stevem's Avatar
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    So, you're actually saying wait for the dacia version.
    Simon no longer owes me anything, Dave does though.
    Floyd probably owes me at least twenty with the interest rolling up...

  9. #9
    Regular Neil Mac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevem View Post
    So, you're actually saying wait for the dacia version.
    The Duster Oroch pickup is already available...

    "Fortunately, I'd taken a spare Gearbox, Turbo, Actuator, Banjo Connector, Steering Rack, Driveshafts, ECU, Wideband sensor, 57-51mm silicone reducing elbow and a Copper Banjo Washer." - Nige

  10. #10
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    And Nissan is now NA22IN?
    BMW 123D M Sport. Blacked out windows, leaning baaack...

  11. #11
    Regular Neil Mac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Floyd View Post
    And Nissan is now NA22IN?
    We live in a crazy, mixed-up world. Where people on the internet can't be trusted with photographs.
    "Fortunately, I'd taken a spare Gearbox, Turbo, Actuator, Banjo Connector, Steering Rack, Driveshafts, ECU, Wideband sensor, 57-51mm silicone reducing elbow and a Copper Banjo Washer." - Nige

  12. #12
    Regular simonsaunders's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Mac View Post
    More likely that the factory workers in Spain didn't fully read the instructions...



    The whole separate chassis/leaf-spring thing is a bit crude and old-school. The latest Navara is a vast improvement, and also available with Renault Badges (the Alaskan), and the Mercedes version has a slightly wider body and a more upmarket interior. Mechanically they are identical, and all produced in the Nissan plant in Barcelona. The Merc 'magic' is in the marketing...



    I kinda assumed that Merc would give it a proper Mercedes engine and box, their own tune of suspension, look at key mountings to reduce nvh and then slap in a Merc interior? A Merc interior is nice, but probably not enough to radically change the vehicle from utilitarian to soft-roader rival?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Mac View Post
    More likely that the factory workers in Spain didn't fully read the instructions...
    Cars in Spain do not rust. Simple. Who needs chassis protection.

    Either that or they poached staff from the LR Defender production line. They never liked protecting the chassis either...

  14. #14
    Regular Neil Mac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsaunders View Post
    I kinda assumed that Merc would give it a proper Mercedes engine and box, their own tune of suspension, look at key mountings to reduce nvh and then slap in a Merc interior? A Merc interior is nice, but probably not enough to radically change the vehicle from utilitarian to soft-roader rival?
    If you want a proper Mercedes engine and 'box, you should get an Infiniti Q30 (apart from the 1.5D, as that's a Renault engine).

    EDIT: Merc will offer their own V6 Pickup in addition to the 4-cylinder, which will no doubt arrive in a crate from Stuttgart to Barcelona.

    Considering they still sell the G-wagen, a plush interior is more important to them/their customers than suspension tuning.
    Last edited by Neil Mac; 16-04-2018 at 12:54 PM.
    "Fortunately, I'd taken a spare Gearbox, Turbo, Actuator, Banjo Connector, Steering Rack, Driveshafts, ECU, Wideband sensor, 57-51mm silicone reducing elbow and a Copper Banjo Washer." - Nige

  15. #15
    Regular simonsaunders's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Mac View Post
    If you want a proper Mercedes engine and 'box, you should get an Infiniti Q30 (apart from the 1.5D, as that's a Renault engine).

    EDIT: Merc will offer their own V6 Pickup in addition to the 4-cylinder, which will no doubt arrive in a crate from Stuttgart to Barcelona.

    Considering they still sell the G-wagen, a plush interior is more important to them/their customers than suspension tuning.
    True, *but* Merc offers multiple vehicles in that space and only one of them is a rough old bone-shaker!

    Your story of the Spanish guys not doing what they were told reminds me of a massive mess that my Dad had to sort out in the cement industry.

    He took over as the production manager at well established production facility. Mostly producing one particular product for the US market. They had major quality problems, which the previous production manager ‘fixed’ by getting people to falsify the quality tests to make production look just fine. Fortunately this type of cement is rarely used structurally (e.g. foundations), but rather for concourses and similar. You can imagine what happens to concrete that is made with poor quality cement...

    Day 2 of my Dad’s new job, his big promotion, involved phoning central management to highlight what he was in the midst of uncovering. They fixed the quality problem, at no little expense, but the fall-out continues to today as various installations fail prematurely.

  16. #16
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    I’ve been asked to get myself over to the US in a week’s time.

    I’m already hoping that the hire car (truck!) gods are kind.

  17. #17
    I've had a load of pick ups in the US back when I travelled for work, Rangers, some crew cab Chevrolet thing and the odd F150. The Chevrolet was massive, I met my boss one day for lunch, he was sat in the carpark in some mid sized shit box, I rolled up next to him and it was about twice the length

    I did skids in them all, never tried a burnout though.
    Ermmmmm

  18. #18
    No way would Mercedes put their badge on the older Navara (up to a few years ago), the ride on them is terrible. Like buckaroo constantly even on a smooth road with what feels like scuttle shake. New multi link rear has probably solved most of those issues but unsure if that has an impact on payload.

    No idea why people by these, as a van is loads bigger and nicer to drive. The cabs are small and the bed is useless except for valueless scrap, unless you get the hardtop but then you may as well get a 4WD estate.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by c_w View Post
    No way would Mercedes put their badge on the older Navara (up to a few years ago), the ride on them is terrible. Like buckaroo constantly even on a smooth road with what feels like scuttle shake. New multi link rear has probably solved most of those issues but unsure if that has an impact on payload.

    No idea why people by these, as a van is loads bigger and nicer to drive. The cabs are small and the bed is useless except for valueless scrap, unless you get the hardtop but then you may as well get a 4WD estate.
    They have small cocks, often combined with large muscles and steroid rage, fairly simple.
    Ermmmmm

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by c_w View Post
    No way would Mercedes put their badge on the older Navara (up to a few years ago), the ride on them is terrible. Like buckaroo constantly even on a smooth road with what feels like scuttle shake. New multi link rear has probably solved most of those issues but unsure if that has an impact on payload.

    No idea why people by these, as a van is loads bigger and nicer to drive. The cabs are small and the bed is useless except for valueless scrap, unless you get the hardtop but then you may as well get a 4WD estate.
    No one that I know has a pick-up through choice, it is all to do with a favourable benefit-in-kind situation on commercial vehicles as opposed to passenger vehicles. Crew cab vans seem a real grey area here, especially the nicer ones like a VW Kombi.

    That said, the 6cyl Merc pick-up has had very good reviews. Not quite a proper Merc SUV, but comparable to some lesser SUVs.

  21. #21
    Stop glossing round it, if you buy one and don't throw dead sheep and hay in the back daily you're a bell end.
    Ermmmmm

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weeman View Post
    Stop glossing round it, if you buy one and don't throw dead sheep and hay in the back daily you're a bell end.
    Does an industrial quantity of protein powder and ‘roids not count?

  23. #23
    No. Neither does a mountain bike.
    Ermmmmm

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    My class ‘D’ car from Avis in San Diego airport was upgraded to a class ‘C’ car as the helpful check in lady suggested my 2 cases wouldn’t fit in the only available ‘D’ car in the lot. What she didn’t say was that I was given a car in a lesser category. Anyway when I went to take it away I was having none of it. Dents on literally every panel, it had been keyed and had 50,000 miles on a 5 year old car probably. The handover guy says when challenged about the charming Honda Civic I had been ‘upgraded’ to that it was indeed a category below what I booked. Cue going back to the desk and explaining I wouldn’t be driving that piece of shite and to give me what I ordered and paid in advance for 6 months previously or a larger vehicle. Either way I was easy. Anyway I was given an exec car. A Toyota Avalon - 280bhp ish, full gangster spec - black on black. Anyway seems ok. Done about 1500 miles in it. Wheelspins away from every junction, wallows over any lump in the road, made me physically sick on a winding road with Lynn driving it ( which isn’t hard. I’ve puked from Steve’s mx5 and Gareth’s M3 on track lol) and does 24 mpg (little US gallons). Can’t wait to give it back.
    F80 M3. Missing a man up button and an M140i for good measure

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    So a bit of a fail this time around then . Bring back the trucks
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    Different poster to the OP Simon.
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  27. #27
    Regular simonsaunders's Avatar
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    I touch down on Sunday.

    Using National again. I really like their ‘Emerald Isle’. Sign up to their free loyalty scheme, order a mid-sized car and then when you arrive you get fast-tracked collection and access the ‘Emerald Isle’. A row of different cars of all shapes and sizes, all with the keys in. Just get in the one that you like and drive off (well, via a barrier where a chap checks your paperwork and assigns the car to you).

    You’re not going to find an AMG Merc lurking there, but it is nice to have about a dozen cars to choose from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by c_w View Post
    No way would Mercedes put their badge on the older Navara (up to a few years ago), the ride on them is terrible. Like buckaroo constantly even on a smooth road with what feels like scuttle shake. New multi link rear has probably solved most of those issues but unsure if that has an impact on payload.

    No idea why people by these, as a van is loads bigger and nicer to drive. The cabs are small and the bed is useless except for valueless scrap, unless you get the hardtop but then you may as well get a 4WD estate.
    I run the top spec transit custom crew cab. It's by no means flashy but night and day better than a pick-up
    Dunlop Direzzas. Officially better than aero.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stace View Post
    I run the top spec transit custom crew cab. It's by no means flashy but night and day better than a pick-up

    This ^^^



    I did my B+E in a new Navara, and even towing a trailer with 1T in it, the ride was bouncy.



    Transit benefits from nicer interior, better steer, better ride (especially laden) and a load area that it useful for stuff and ca be locked.
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    Is that your hire 'car', Simon? If so, time for a tailgate BBQ, yee haw!
    Too many cars...

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu View Post
    Is that your hire 'car', Simon? If so, time for a tailgate BBQ, yee haw!
    It is indeed.

    I didn’t know it when I picked it up, but this is the top spec off-road one. Bilsteins and some other stuff. No more power, ride seems more controlled than the last one and it has high-grip seats. Remember those mats that they used to sell that you laid on your dashboard and put phone, glasses, keys, etc. on top of and it all just stayed there (until a bump...). The seats have panels made of similar stuff . 4.0 V6 petrol still gets a move on. I just picked it because it looked a ‘more’ than the others and a tad more ‘red neck personal vehicle’ than ‘utility company’.

    Spent a couple of hours in it yesterday, driving down from nr. LAX to Newport Beach (I have meetings later this week in Irvine, CA). I took the long route to pick up some of the Pacific Coast Highway. It doubled my time behind the wheel. I went through some of the LA suburbs. Didn’t feel dangerous, but did look like a bland dump. Everything got nicer Long Beach down. I picked up a Subway sandwich en route (taking my suitcase in with me, because I have nowhere to hide it...), parked up on the beach on the way down, jumped in the loadbed and ate my lunch in the sun with some music on. Perfect. I was going to take some pictures, but then a random man started shouting at anyone within 20 feet of him and I was 25 feet away, so I left. Funny, in the UK, I probably would have just stayed, but nutty ‘Mericans? And the nutty Police that are never far away? Nah...

    For the short amount of time that the PCH was by the sea, I sort of question whether it was worth the extra effort... but I’d started work at 5am to make the afternoon ‘mine’ (jet lag, same that has me awake now) and I couldn’t miss a little run on this legendary road really.



    Newport Beach is lovely.



    Hot. The weather is a tad warm too.



    Everything that I said about the last Nissan Frontier (Navara) is true. Fundamentally crap, but charming in small doses. I almost took ‘generic sedan’, but like going out of my way to take some of the PCH, I knew that I was going to do it, despite it being very easy to build the case not to!
    Last edited by simonsaunders; 07-08-2018 at 10:45 AM.

  33. #33
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    Back home now.

    Did half a tank in 138 miles at precisely 16.0mpg. Didn’t hang about, but still.



    Cost my employer $40 that did.

  34. #34
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    Shit cars in small doses are great
    Dunlop Direzzas. Officially better than aero.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stace View Post
    Shit cars in small doses are great
    I agree.

    It would be dire with a derv. 4.0 V6 petrol gives it some real charm.

  36. #36
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    I'm hoping to raise the bar with shit hire cars when I get there next month
    Dunlop Direzzas. Officially better than aero.

  37. #37
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    October sees 2x US trips. Means 2 visits to the hire car lottery.

    First trip definitely will not be a pick-up.

  38. #38
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    Zzzzzzzzz.

    Serves a purpose though; we can get all our stuff in the boot out of sight and it has Apple CarPlay.

    Zzzzzzzzz.

    Colleague chose a Silverado. Not jealous at all.

  39. #39
    Not sure you are missing out on much. My brother and I hired these 'beasts' and they were still Zzzzzzzzz!


  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_b View Post
    Not sure you are missing out on much. My brother and I hired these 'beasts' and they were still Zzzzzzzzz!

    Ha ha. I normally try to find something with character. The Koreans aren’t big on building that into their cars. So sad to be in the US and have a shitty 4-pot and 30mpgs.

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