By on January 27, 2011

Andy writes in

Hi – I wonder if you can help a confused Scotsman who is coming across for a 3 week holiday (flying into Boston) in September.

Four of us are going to drive around New England and we would like to hire a comfortable SUV or Crossover but we are not familiar with your models.For example I could have gone for a Chevy Uplander but I understand it is a complete dog. In Scotland we have a Jaguar XJ and a Merc 320ML so we want something that drives nicely and preferably has ”armchair” type seats in the second row so that our wives don’t moan too much. Can you help??

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56 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: What Car Should Four Scots Tour New England In?...”


  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Ford Flex, there is even an optional refrigerator in the second row, though you likely won’t find one so equipped in a rental fleet.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’ll second this, and add that I rented one from Hertz that DID have the fridge! It was loaded! And quite nice, if absolutely bloody enormous.

      Also, don’t discount a Chrysler Town and Country as a nice touring vehicle. You won’t need AWD in September in New England.

      And do make sure you come up to the Maine Coast and spend some money, we depend on it!

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    If any of the companies are renting Buick Enclaves or GMC Acadias with second row captain’s chairs, that would be perfect in my book.  Just get the FWD version so you don’t waste too much “petrol.”

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Why not a minivan?

  • avatar

    Honestly, this may be the first, and possibly only time you’ll ever hear me say this.

    If you want not only a very comfortable, spacious SUV, but a true taste of Automotive Americana, a vehicle that symbolizes everything right and wrong with this nation, there is really only one option.

    Cadillac Escalade. Preferably black on black with the 20 inch wheels. Huge, luxurious, big V8 power and enough swagger to make people think you’re a Glaswegian drug kingpin.

    The Escalade is America: The Truck. Huge, imposing, powerful and yet easily seen as gaudy, wasteful and arrogant at the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      aircooledTOM

      The wheels would actually be 22″.  20s are not available.  It’s either 18″ or 22″.  And it’s actually a wonderful truck to drive.  Fabulous ride.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I sell Cadillacs.)

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Scotsmen are infamously thrifty, I would recommend a Scion iQ – it does have four seats.

  • avatar
    Hank

    I live just across the border from VT & MA.  If you’re going to be driving through New England, I’d suggest a vehicle with good cornering, plenty of horsepower for the mountains, and if not a manual, then at least an auto that can be “manually” shifted through the gears for those steep declines (assuming you’ll be getting off the interstate and seeing the real New England).  Unless you enjoy unnecessary leans in the turns, suvs, minivans, and cuvs shouldn’t be on your list.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d like to know which rental company in this country rents cars with manual transmissions.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      There just aren’t any MT cars for rent in the US. If they were they would either be something like a Mustang or an Aveo, both of which are waaaay to cramped for 4 people to tour in for 3 weeks. As too the lean in turns that is why I recommended the Flex, If you could rent one with the EcoBoost (probably not too likely) it would more than fulfill the power requirement as it is pretty much a SHO wagon. The Cadi CTS wagon would be another good choice and since everyone knows GM cars are only sold to fleets there must be lots of them for rent.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      Granted re: manual, but that pretty well misses my point, which was that unless you for some reason you desire to drive a vehicle that feels like the QE2 through the bends, an suv/cuv/minivan just isn’t the proper choice.  Every time I drive my suv or our van through New England I come away with a greater appreciate for a low center of gravity.

  • avatar
    Boff

    CTS wagon (sorry, can’t recommend a wagon on stilts for an over-the-road trip).

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      +1  A CTS Wagon is a truly American car and will become a joyful and memorable part of the trip. If you really need an SUV fix, you can always do that in the home country – they’re pretty much interchangeable.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Good luck finding one in the rental lots (not to mention it would be expensive if available).

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      I just checked out the Avis website and they claim to be able to reserve a CTS. The wagon version looks impossible. Budget claims to have CTS’s in one of their luxury classes, but they won’t guarantee it.
      For me, I think the main point is to reserve a car thats part of the culture of the country you visit – we reserved tin box noisy little Alfa Romeo in France and loved it for a month. Wouldn’t want to own it, but it was a fun part of the vacation.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra


      @rentonben
      ///is to reserve a car thats part of the culture of the country you visit – we reserved tin box noisy little Alfa Romeo in France //

      LOL! You managed to offend both the French and Italians in one sentence. 

      Just kiddin’. But FYI: French and Italian automotive cultures are worlds apart.  

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    I’d second the Ford Flex, they do come in AWD versions, but don’t know if you can rent one or not.  I’d also recommend the Enclave, or a Jeep Grand Cherokee. 

    Hope you enjoy your stay in New England, and safe travels; I lived in New Hampshire and Maine for five years and found a great deal to like.   

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    Subaru station wagon, so you blend in with the locals. Hertz was renting Outbacks a few years ago. Of course if you don’t care about gas mileage we had a great time in an F150 crew cab a few years ago.

  • avatar
    anchke

    Car & Driver just did a comparo of five 3-row SUVs and, although the Acura MDX didn’t come out on top, it was deemed: “Easy to operate, pleasant to live with, agile, comfortable, capable handling, best mpg,” all of which seems pertinent to the stated purpose of this trip.  The C&D article is based on the vehicles’ suitability for long distance cruising.  As a New Englander who has had the pleasure of meeting many Euro and Asian tourists, I’d say that visitors should land in Boston, take in Boston’s historical sights, ignore anything South of that, avoid the throngs on Cape Cod and see the rock bound Coast o’ Maine instead, and not overlook Miane’s Acadia Nat’l Park, an underappreciated treasure of our national park system.

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    3 week vacation? What in the hell is a 3 week vacation?

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      cackalacka: I had a 4 week vacation once. I was unemployed. I still recommend the Ford Flex. The driver and everyone else can see out of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Zackman- I took two weeks off the summer of 2001, and all of my colleagues gave me dirty looks/comments.
       
      They all got self-righteous for a company that sent our jobs to India three years later.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    BTW, you can get a much better deal if you check the internet and be sure to look at non airport locations…

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      +1 excellent suggestion – You can get a hotel to a Boston hotel – you’ll be seeing the local sights – Faneuil Hall, Bunker Hill, USS Constitution (about the latter two hope all is forgiven after 2+ centuries).  You should be able to arrange to pick up a car through the hotel or get a taxi to a local rental outlet of the major agencies. I don’t know the current tacked-on fees at Logan airport, but over 3 weeks it might amount to a few hundred dollars, a not insignificant amount in pounds. That would be consistent with what I’ve seen at other airports. Same cars for hire, lower monetary outlay.
      I don’t see anything wrong with renting a minivan. Unless you want to drive aggressively instead of sightsee, they will do the job. Flex is a nice alternative if you can find one.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Depending on your rental company you should be able to get an Infinity M or a Buick LaCrosse – it should be fun to drive something that’s not available in the UK.

    • 0 avatar
      swhelan

      Infiniti is sold in the UK. One can even get the M with a diesel. The LaCrosse is a kissing cousin to the Opel Insignia, so nothing unique for a Scotsman there.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. K

      “Depending on your rental company you should be able to get an Infinity M or a Buick LaCrosse – it should be fun to drive something that’s not available in the UK.”
      http://mmg.opel.de/mmgprod/dynres/prove/image.gen?v=deg23&i=2011A/9JX69__VJ6Z/GBHgmds3.png&std=true&country=GB&brand=
      I think that is about the same car…
       

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Wow. Black and white album covers that should’ve been in color, but the record company was too cheap. Loved that stuff back in the day. Reminds me of years ago in the (relative) infancy of color printing that most color ads were realistic painted illustrations of photographs like some of the recent old car ads TTAC has used. I enjoy that stuff now and would like to see more of it. Showing my age, again! An idea for a car? Oh, yeah, Ford Flex. Make sure it has the white top. Love the grooved sides, too! Back to our program…

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    This trip is not until next September.  Jack Baruth reviewed the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country minivan for TTAC recently, and concluded that it is a very good handling vehicle.  It will also be supremely comfortable, and will handle any possible amount of cargo that tourists can accumulate.  These should be represented in rental fleets by September, when they will be nearly a year old. 

    Plan B would be a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee or a 2011 Dodge Durango if people prefer the SUV to a minivan.  Also, I do not disagree that the Flex would make a nice travel car, and would also add the 2011 Explorer.    For any of these suggestions other than the Flex, it is 2011 models only.  Do not go for the 2010 which is markedly inferior in every case for your requirements.

  • avatar
    DougD

    No comment on the vehicle selection, but:

    1)  I work for the North American branch of a European company, and it’s annoying to get the company newsletter in September:  “Now that we’ve all had the whole summer off let’s get back to work”  Err, wait a minute we just worked all summer because no one was available in the European office.

    2)  My relatives came for a visit from Holland for 4 weeks, they were miffed that I wouldn’t take the time off work to show them around until they found out that I only had two weeks per year at the time.

    3)  My friend came for a vacation from the UK, and was heard to say while filling up his rental car:  “Look, they’re giving petrol away for free!!”

    This, my friends is the truth about european vacation policies.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Good call on the T&C.  The new Odyssey wouldn’t be a bad choice either, if you can get past the looks, although I’d prefer the Chrysler.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    As of this morning, I would recommend an F-250 with a plow blade.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    A Chrysler New Yorker.

  • avatar
    twotone

    Cadillac CTS-V. Extra charge for the haggis.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    I’m surprised nobody suggested a Town Car yet. More than enough room for four.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Being a dyed in the wool Panther fan I almost said that, but it sounds like they want a wagon style vehicle. On the other the trunk in a TC is almost as big as some of the smaller CUV and SUV offerings.

  • avatar
    Nick

    I know someone selling a mint 75 Imperial for about 6k.  There’s your answer.

  • avatar
    mcs

    We have a couple of events in New England in September that you might want to check out. The Highland Games at Loon Mt. on Sept. 16-18 and the British Invasion Car Show the same weekend in Stowe Vermont.

    http://www.nhscot.org/index.php?id=13&tpl=default
    http://www.britishinvasion.com/

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Ford Flex or Explorer. For the ultimate luxury crossover (and even more comfortable seats), a Lincoln MKT. As poorly as they’re selling, those will probably get dumped into the rental fleets this spring.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    Andy,

    My Grandfather was from Peterhead, and my Grandmother was from Govan. I hope you have a GREAT time in the States, and I hope to visit Scotland to see my roots someday.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Dodge/Chrysler mini van. The second row seats are comfortable and there is plenty of room to stretch out.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Saturn Vue. The AWD with the 3.5l Honda motor. The motor is just sweet. The AWD works well, handling is good and there is plenty of space by European standards. We took a trip from Grand Rapids to Rochester in Massachusetts and back with 4 people. The return trip involved that storm after Christmas and the mountain pass. Gas mileage was… OK to.

  • avatar
    Ivanho

    Based on my own rental experience during the past 6 months I also recommend the Dodge/Chrysler Min van for comfortable touring.  Had a brand new (800 miles) Dodge Caravan for a 5 day trip in Pennsylvania last October with 4 adults and a toddler.  We all had great views and comfortable cloth seats.  I liked driving it so much I hated to turn the wheel over to my son-in-law.  The vehicle was quiet as a church at 70 mph.  Not so the Chrysler T & C my wife and I rented a month later for a trip from LA to Flagstaff, AZ.  This upscale version with leather seats was not as comfortable as the Dodge and the vehicle suffered from really excessive wind noise.  It was pleasant to drive other than the noise.  My daily driver is a 2003 Chevy Malibu which has proven to be a pretty good car over the past 7 years but after 3 cross country trips with it in the past 2 years, I would rather rent a Dodge Caravan for touring.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    There are plenty of good suggestions here, but I’d like to add that if you’re going to tour new England in a rental, be sure to take it up (and back down) Mt. Washington. By the time you turn it in, the brakes should have stopped emitting that burning smell, and the rental agency won’t notice. Just be sure not to affix the “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington” sticker to the bumper. (I did this with a late-90s Buick we rented, I still have the sticker someplace.)
     
    September is a great time to go–Vermont and New Hampshire are particularly beautiful. Id agree with the minivan suggestion, to allow visibility for all.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    “@Mr. K, wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?”
    I have worked at Buick and Chevy stores.  About the only difference I see is the Buick has better noise insulation and thicker glass so its quieter…and a 4 year 50k v a 3/36 warranty.
    Both have about the same driving dynamics…

  • avatar
    Advo

    I`d recommend a full-sized pickup truck for an experience you wouldn`t get in Europe, but parking would be too hard for someone not use to driving one.
     
    Flexes are interesting. Their boxy look is something way out of style in Europe, and it may be why they don’t sell as well as Ford hopes here. It also looks hugely long when you look in the rear-view mirror even though it’s of normal length for a large SUV. Something like a Toyota Sienna may be available at franchise locations (non-corporate run) which is a Toyota that’s bigger than the people movers they offer in  Europe. Keep in mind that any “normal” minivan or large SUV can be hard to parallel park.
     
    You could try a Ford Escape, a smaller SUV that is based on a pretty old design and has been refined about as much as it can be without a lot of added cost. It would be experiencing what a lot of typical middle class Americans drive: something that’s “OK”. It’s on-center steering is OK, the ride is OK, the interior is OK, and for a lot of people, it’s handling on twisty roads is merely OK.

    Actually, I’d prefer a Ford Edge as a somewhat larger SUV alternative although you’d be missing out on something perhaps less European in feel and design (for an SUV).
     
    If you’re in the mood for some bizarre interior styling that you can use as something to talk about back home, try the Lincoln MKZ. It’s a pretty good ride, as it’s based on the Ford Fusion, but has the most chrome you can get for the money on it’s dashboard! Not my cup-of-tea. I could tolerate renting it, though, since I do like how the Fusion drives.
     
    Common rental cars that might interest you are the Dodge Challenger (not Avenger) or the Chrysler 300. You can look up the outer styling which you may feel like driving in. Keep in mind that large cars are as long as the minivans.
     
    To tell you the truth, though, I’d want to drive a convertible to fully see the very colourful, autumn New England scenery. Even though the Chrysler 200 isn’t great, it’s one of the few convertibles available that seats 4 people. Trunk space is a problem with the top down as it only fits a couple of golf club sized bags there, so you’d have to carry soft luggage or backpacks on your knees or below your feet. Or rent 2 convertibles !
     
    As you can see, I’m trying to come up with vehicles you won’t get to drive back home.
     
    Oh, and hopefully you have an alternative or two in mind if the rental company doesn’t have the model in the price/class range you booked or are hoping for.
     
    Please let us know what you choose and how you liked driving it!


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