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Thread: Rental Review - Don't Stop Believin'

  1. #1
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    Rental Review - Don't Stop Believin'

    After a long hiatus from driving any distance whatsoever, I'm back in the driving seat to bring you some thrilling 'content'!

    A recent trip to New Mexico warranted the hire of something with high ground clearance, excellent traction and rugged charm, on account of us wanting to explore and hike and shit (and me being afraid of grounding out a Mustang on some deserted fire road).
    So when I logged into the Avis website, I clicked 'Medium SUV' and considered it job jobbed.

    *Btw - a brief rant about car hire websites*
    When are the headline prices going to represent what 95% of customers actually end up paying? Don't tell me that my car is going to be $39.95 per day if my total bill including insurance is $900 for a week. Just f*cking include the most common comprehensive insurance package that literally every tourist buys, and post that price! FFS...

    Anyway, back to the Avis Preferred Booth at Albuquerque International Sunport.
    The lady behind the counter looks harrassed. That's because she's literally being harrassed by several customers about the lack of staff, the time spent queuing and the lateness of their pickups.
    I decide to kill her with kindness, though at that point she'd probably have preferred me to actually kill her. She reaches through the hordes to hand me some paperwork and tells me that the car is being brought out shortly.

    Our Medium SUV arrives, and does actually appear to be both Medium and an SUV.



    Moving to load the cases in, I spy a 'GT' badge! Ooooh! Sporty!



    We leave the airport and head for the highway. The roads around the airport are smooth and empty, so it's pretty much a given that I'm going to dick about a little bit. Don't make that face at me, Helen.

    First right turn on a red light (thank you, New Mexico) reveals a squeal of wheelspin from the front tyres.
    Hang on.
    Hang on.
    What?
    Is this DODGE JOURNEY GT not AWD?
    Or even RWD?
    What the hell? Is this thing European or is this cot-damn 'Murican?
    Worried that I'll be laughed at by every V8 pickup owner from here to Santa Fe, I decide to check under the hood.
    Welcome to the world's most visually exciting engine cover.



    Jeez. I frickin' KNEW IT. They put the engine in the wrong way.
    Turns out it's a 3.6-litre Chrysler Pentastar V6.
    283bhp, 260lb/ft and an astonishing(ly shit) 25mpg!
    I look up the car's arse and see no transfer gubbins or rear diff. Gah!

    Out on the freeway however, it sounds really nice and the gearbox is eager to both kick down and hold high revs. There's a tiptronic-type mode on the shifter, but no paddles unfortunately.
    Helen gets bored of 7,000rpm in 3rd gear more quickly than I expected.

    We get into Santa Fe, where it's fun to rip away from the lights on a 90-degree turn without feeling any understeer. It's okay, but hardly a weapon. The speedo tops out at 120, ffs.



    We get to the AirBnB, unload, and I take stock of this thing for a moment;



    High ground clearance - No.
    I already twatted the front bumper on the kerb trying to park it.

    Excellent traction - No.
    It wheelspins from standstill almost every time, even in a straight line, and yes I'm a very good driver*. It can't even move away on light gravel without chipping its own paint.
    This button is total bollocks, I tested it throughly.



    Rugged charm - No.
    It gives decent highway mean-mug (see below) but ultimately blends in with every other soccer-Dad chariot out there.



    Besides, my American Man-sized flask doesn't even fit in the cup-holder.



    It even loses points on modernity - No USB ports!
    Still, at least the kids in the back can run their XBox...



    Over the course of a week I did my best to kill its front tyres but they seem to be made of stern stuff. Maybe that's the problem. Stickier rubber required.



    In summary, if you have to ferry family around a bit and you don't mind stopping for petrol, this is a pleasant Medium-sized box on wheels that you will routinely lose in the Whole Foods car park.

    Fin.




    *really not a very good driver any more
    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Benz
    Nige would be turning in his shed
    Quote Originally Posted by Nige
    Have you seen my bottom nuts?

  2. #2
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    Informative, throughout and amusing as always, Neil - thanks for the review. I like the shiny knob.
    Have you thought about applying to 'Car and Driver' or similar as a journalist that could take his own photos too?

    Agreed about the US car hire sites giving completely unrepresentative prices that include none of the essential added gubbins, utter PITA when doing quotes.
    Too many cars...

  3. #3
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    US hire car rubber is harder than a Nun’s nipples at communion (sorry if anyone’s Mum is a Nun). Must be good for 70,000 miles.

    My #1 recommendation when travelling is the US is to use National, download their app and then hire at least an intermediate car - which gets you at least a Hyundai Sonata (Mondeo-sized saloon).

    However, the intermediate car + app + loyalty sign up (free) gets you access to the Emerald Isle where you can choose your own car. Normally some decent options from saloons, to pick-ups, to minivans, to SuVs. Also, with the app, you don’t need to queue. Just go straight to the car park, pick your car (keys in it), scan the bar code with the app and get scanned on exit. **** queuing with the randoms after a long flight.

    If I had an absolute requirement - let’s say 7 seats or a full off-roader, it might be a touch risky, but for a getting an hassle-free choice at a fair price, it’s a winner.

    And I love a rental car review!
    BMW E90 330i Sport / Kawasaki ZX6R.
    Custodian and seller of Northloop stickers.

  4. #4
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    The Avis app doesn't let you view your booking until you enter your Avis Wizard number (the word 'wizard' should be replaced with 'travelling salesman' as it's clearly aimed at regular corporate renters), and if I'd opted to do that my total would have increased by (I shit you not) $400. For no reason whatsoever. The Avis dimwit I talked to on the phone said, "It's because these phone apps aren't accurate, none of them are. You only know what you're paying on the day", which roughly translates to, "I could work this out for you, but I can't be arsed to get the person who knows how the app works."
    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Benz
    Nige would be turning in his shed
    Quote Originally Posted by Nige
    Have you seen my bottom nuts?

  5. #5
    Regular simonsaunders's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by N/B View Post
    The Avis app doesn't let you view your booking until you enter your Avis Wizard number (the word 'wizard' should be replaced with 'travelling salesman' as it's clearly aimed at regular corporate renters), and if I'd opted to do that my total would have increased by (I shit you not) $400. For no reason whatsoever. The Avis dimwit I talked to on the phone said, "It's because these phone apps aren't accurate, none of them are. You only know what you're paying on the day", which roughly translates to, "I could work this out for you, but I can't be arsed to get the person who knows how the app works."
    Poor.
    BMW E90 330i Sport / Kawasaki ZX6R.
    Custodian and seller of Northloop stickers.

  6. #6
    Regular N/B's Avatar
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    I have just left a detailed review
    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Benz
    Nige would be turning in his shed
    Quote Originally Posted by Nige
    Have you seen my bottom nuts?

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