By on April 14, 2014

IMG_20140405_144902

Friend of TTAC Anand Ram writes about getting more than he bargained for at the Avis counter.

There’s an explosive truth I want to share: We writers don’t make a lot of money. While you gather yourself from the recoil of that bullet, here’s another: It doesn’t really stop us from wanting nice things.

Perhaps, then, the choice for this young writer’s first ever rental car makes little sense: Luxury.

Well, “luxury.” I’m not a car guy. I can name several pricey models, but I’ve driven around in my dad’s Toyota Corolla for most of my life. I know how a BMW 328i differs from a 335i in literal terms, but not on the road.

So my latest vacation to Florida was an opportunity to try something a little fancier. After a few clicks around rental sites, I decided on Avis. I reserved a “Lincoln MKS or similar” for 5 days, amounting to $459 with a discount. My wife, to her credit, only called my purchase ridiculous and unnecessary. Most husbands would call that a victory.

One turbulent plane ride later, we landed in Orlando fairly late at night. Tired and cranky, we made our way down to the Avis booth. There, the cheerful, young woman behind the counter chatted us up. Eventually I realized it was an upsell.

“You like convertibles?”
“No.”
“Really!?”

I don’t fault her–hustling is a valuable skill, but I was not in the mood. To be frank, I’m also not a convertible guy. I prefer, as I said, luxury. Quiet, smooth, comfortable. Politely–as Canadian as I could be at 11:30 PM–I told her as much. She left and came back with some keys.

“Okay, you’re in a Lincoln Navigator and–” I looked at my wife with wide eyes and turned.
“Sorry, the SUV?” I interjected. “I thought I rented a car?”
“We don’t have that model right now.”

That wouldn’t do. Alongside my father’s Corolla, I had also driven his Toyota Sienna for a number of years. That heavy beast turned me off the concept of big SUVs and vans. Also, driving on unknown roads in a monster like a Navigator didn’t interest me – never mind the gas bills I’d be facing. So our friendly Avis associate went off to see what she could do. She came back with more unexpected news.

“Okay, so you’re in a BMW.”

Did I mention I have the lousiest poker face in the wold?

“Sorry, what…uh…what model was that?” A question you’d call nonchalant, because of how obvious it was.
“5 series.”

The only thing that made this Indian writer happier was that the upgrade came at no extra charge. You can reserve a BMW 528i from Avis, but it costs twice what I paid–as does the Navigator. But there it was: A freshly washed white example.

IMG_20140408_163153

A thousand thoughts through my head, but what really stood out was how it excited me. I was smiling as I got in. Coming from a Corolla, the 528i may as well have been a space shuttle.

Of course, it only took a minute to shake all that off and actually get to driving the thing. I couldn’t tell you what that 2.0 liter engine was doing or how it did it (I may not know a lot about cars, but I remember when the letters on the back represented the size of the engine), but the end result was a very enjoyable ride.

The leather-wrapped wheel didn’t have the heavy German feel that I was expecting. Neither the brakes nor the throttle were overly sensitive. The trunk was more than adequate for our suitcases and carry-ons. The seats had more adjustment positions than I knew what to do with. I was finding reasons to call this the car my wife and I should buy–even going so far as to say it was the practical choice.

Although I my flight ended in Orlando, I still had to make my way to Tampa. Normally, any drives longer than 45 minutes make me sleepy. In the BMW, a two hour drive felt like nothing. Quiet, smooth and comfortable. The world rarely gives you what you ask for.

Florida’s roads, seemingly wider than what we see here in Toronto, were perfect. Even the Sunshine State’s states of no sunshine–the occasional torrential downpours–didn’t feel as scary. The car held its own in 30 to 40 minutes of zero visibility rain, never a lost sense of control.

The only strange part was the Start-Stop system, something I had never experienced before. Every time the car stopped, the entire engine cut out, in an effort to save fuel. A strange feature, considering I rarely stopped for that long, and even if I was down for a little bit, the engine would come back to life to power the A/C. Eventually, I chose to disable that function and enjoyed the experience a lot more.

Now, if I gush about how the car felt to drive, it’s because I, admittedly, know very little about good cars. But when it comes to good consumer technology, I’m in my wheelhouse.

Which is why I found the navigation system a mixed bag. The screen was quite large and easy to read, with a useful split-screen function. It wasn’t a touchscreen, though, and that’s just something that a tech guy like me expects –  especially since so many affordable cars now have them.

IMG_20140408_163206

It was controlled by a dial next to the gear shifter, with buttons to directly switch between radio, phone, navigation and menus. Depress the dial in to select, move to the left to go to a previous menu, turn it to scrub up and down options. This was the spaceship part–but the tedium in plotting a course made me realize how few cars get navigation right.

The actual route guidance was fantastic, with flawless turn-by-turn directions. Another helpful element was a distance and direction display next to the speedometer, in case my eyes wandered. The voice input, however, was garbage. Trying to speak out an address in Orlando gave me a suggestion in California.

But as nice as the 5-Series was, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the secondary controls. In that rainstorm, I was constantly frustrated with trying to figure out the wiper speed controls or how to turn them off. The handbrake pushed up, down and also had an auto function. And the most frustrating of all: the bloody indicators.

Push up to turn right, push down to turn left. Actually, push slightly up to flash to the right twice. Push harder up to keep them flashing, then pull down slightly to cancel it. I was lucky I didn’t get pulled over for confusing traffic behind me. There are certain things that don’t need improving.

IMG_20140406_171905

Despite the minor gripes, I loved driving that car. It made me feel like a big shot. I told my mother to pretend I was the doctor she thought I’d be at one point. Of course, being Florida, there are Jags and Lamborghinis around to really remind you of the small fish you are. That didn’t change how I felt. I was still smiling.

But starting at $51,000, it will never be more than a vacation for me.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

116 Comments on “Ur-Turn: Congratulations, You’ve Been Upgraded...”


  • avatar

    I don’t consider a BMW to be an “upgrade”.
    Can I have an RS7 instead?

    And I totally agree with you about the non-touchscreen being less desirable. There are a lot of clowns on the internet who legitimize the German’s refusal to give this generation of cars a touch screen with system redundancy to their “idrive” knobs.

    Touchscreens are far superior input methods.

    Even the W222 despite all its advances lacks a touchscreen – meaning it’s technologically overshadowed by even the Dodge Dart’s Uconnect Touch.

    • 0 avatar
      krayzie

      The touchscreen would only be ergonomically usable if the screen is to be positioned closer to the occupants and lower on the dash, nice to have tactile feedback like the aftermarket units.

      • 0 avatar

        I disagree. I have no problems at all.

        • 0 avatar
          ellomdian

          BTRS, based on a quick Google of your SRT8, the touch screen is probably a foot closer to your hand than the typical iDrive screen is (given seating position, dash orientation, and range of motion of the driver’s shoulder.) It’s even more pronounced in the 6/7 versions.

          I am much happier to manage iDrive while in motion (admittedly, it has a learning curve you probably can’t get in a rental) since my driving posture is unaffected. Most manufacturers seem to be shoving the infotainment systems closer to the driver envelope (look at the Taurus with the high-end Sony package) and as a result, you have to refocus your depth perception to do anything; iDrive is designed to be in a similar plane of vision so you don’t have to do much more than use your periphery.

          Touch screens are not actually “superior” from a strict UIX perspective – they have a number of limitations even beyond tactile queues. They are shiny, and are becoming much cheaper to implement, and most manufacturers seem to use them to express a perception of value and luxury. They make financial sense because you can replace a bunch of different dials and buttons with software, but then as a user you have the hassle of dealing with software instead of dials and buttons.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I find BMW Group’s iDrive to be the best infotainment system on the market, with Chrysler’s Uconnect taking a close second. At the same time, I have had no issues with Cadillac’s CUE or Lexus’ Remote Touch, two commonly-lambasted platforms.

          So I guess I’m not bothered by touch screens or haptic-feedback controllers, but I would prefer the latter.

    • 0 avatar
      FractureCritical

      touchscreens are evil and should never be in any car.
      no ‘buttons’ to touch means you have to take you eyes away from the road to use the controls. I learned how horrible these things were in a Jetta with a touchscreen. They are just a bad idea.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      @bigtruck – The current iDrive really is one of the best interfaces on the market. I’ve had my X3 for 3 years at this point, but it only took a couple of weeks to be able to operate quite a few functions without looking at the screen or the knob. It really cuts down on distracted driving. Were it a touchscreen, it would be difficult to manipulate, given the screen is about a foot farther away from me than my arm is long.

      I like touchscreens, but I think that the use of knobs and/or trackpads is the way things are going.

      IMHO, the worst interface on the market is the Lexus “mouse”. I hope their trackpads are more handy to use.

      • 0 avatar

        #1 I feel Mercedes Comand in the S-class W221 and W222 is superior to iDrive – as a former W221 owner.

        iDrive doesn’t control as much as Comand did and Mercedes styled it perfectly. Being able to control everything from nav to radio to the seat massagers is definitely well done.

        HOWEVER – compatibility with new Android and Apple software IS NOT very good as of now. When it comes to entering street addresses and map coordinates, the Uconnect interface is far simpler.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      See how well your touchscreen works at 130mph, bigshot.

    • 0 avatar
      Buckshot

      A BMW is not an upgrade from a Toyota Corolla? Wow, you haters can go somewhere else.

  • avatar

    I’ve rented a bunch of cars in my travels….

    Best US Rental-getting an FX30 in Montana. Loved the V6, went like heck, sucked gas huge, but that might have been me plus “Montana”. No luggage space, drove really well.

    Second Best Euro rental-asked for a 3 series while in Germany in 2003. Upgraded to a luxury E class because the rental counter lady REFUSED to believe that a US driver could handle stick. In Germany, they rent cars with white interiors. First use of a satnav system, very helpful in Berlin. Charged me for the 316i….

    Best Euro Rental-recent trip to Germany. Wore //M Sport baseball cap to rental agency. Agent hooked me up with a 320d, Sport and full Electronics !!! (but not Premium or Power seats-manual sport seats). I wondered what I had done right in life to get this Avis random gift. Later, at 225kph on the Autobahn, I “was living the life”.

    We won’t mention the Taurus that could barely get over the Continental Divide, the Impala with grossly mis aimed headlights, or the Focus that was last used by four chain smokers on a cross country drive….

    Oh, and my mom has a current 5. It kills me to say this, but BMW has made a better Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I didn’t know there *was* an FX30. And I agree that the 5-Series is a German Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      Haha, I remember trying to be cheap and renting a manual car as an American, which was half price. I figured I would probably crash and hurt myself, but the manual + loss damage waiver was more than the automatic, so I just went automatic instead.

      • 0 avatar
        Hillman

        One trick I was told by a consulting friend was to reserve a compact with an automatic since they are not common in Europe. He always got bumped up for little up charge to the sportscar he wanted. I am not sure how upto date that trick is now.

        • 0 avatar
          CRConrad

          I don’t think that “trick” is very relevant any more (if it ever was): To the extent that rental companies in Europe even have compact cars with automatic transmissions, they charge (a lot) more for them, so of course the up-charge to something better is less than it would be from the cheaper manual alternative.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    You didn’t mention what car the reviewer currently drives, which would help considering the way this review is. Is it really his fathers Corolla?

    Also are you serious no touchscreen at $51k? LOL

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Just spent 10 days driving a 118d in Spain, with navigation and iDrive. I personally prefer iDrive (and Audi’s MMI) over most touch-screen implementations in a big way: the ergonomics are that much better, especially when the car is in motion.

      Now, about those directions the BMW navigation produces in older cities … I finally gave up and started using the directions provided by the hotels.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      “Also are you serious no touchscreen at $51k? LOL”

      Feature, not a bug.

    • 0 avatar
      thesilence

      My wife’s infiniti has a touch screen. We never use it – the buttons are easier to use because the icons on the screen are so small to touch while driving. I have an iDrive in my 328 coupe, and I love it.

      I do agree that the voice recognition on the BMW is terrible. Infiniti puts it to shame.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Mmm, mmm. Dig that 2.0t encased in a woolly mammoth.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Anand,
    This was a nice story, and I hate to pick nits, but there is one thing I’d like you to reconsider. Not to get all “politically correct,” but you really shouldn’t refer to yourself as “Indian”.

    Sanjay makes this mistake sometimes too, but you really should use the term “Native American.” It’s more respectful, and this way, no one will confuse you with someone whose family comes from the COUNTRY of India all the way over in Asia.

    Thanks!

  • avatar
    Aquineas

    I started with a touchscreen entertainment system in my Acura TL and my last two cars (2010 and 2012 Genesis) have had the iDrive like knob. The knob has grown on me because it’s much easier to make selections when moving than not. It took me a while (I hated the selector knob in the beginning), but within a month I was hooked. I’m not saying this conclusion will be the same for everyone, but it’s worth considering.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Of the $51,000 “starting price” (and most likely optioned to $62,000 sticker price), AT LEAST $30,000 of that is allocates towards the blue, black & white roundels on the hood & trunk lid.

    I can think of dozens of cars more luxurious and dozens of cars more sporty than this overpriced, rwd, 4 cylinder Camry, near the same or at a significantly lower price, and many cars as luxurious, sporty (and far more reliable) at 40% to 50% of the price.

    The 5 Series shouts “[L]ook at me! I’m an idiot!”

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      A friend of mine has one. Like all BMWs it seems kind of austere inside, and I don’t care for the way the start/stop functions at traffic lights. Unlike the way that function works in hybrid cars, it’s quite noticeable when the engine restarts.

      From a value standpoint, it’s about as nice a car as a higher trim level of an Accord or Fusion, at about double the price. No one ever said the prestige brands gave value for the money.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I don’t like the BMW stop/start. It is gruff and unrefined. I found the system in the Fusion to be much better.

        Like you said, various hybrids are even better. The Prius, C-Max, Camry Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid all are great between EV and gas mode.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      A current 528i is the direct descendant of my Mom’s old ’83 528e. Just a nice, upmarket car that is quiet and refined and looks good. Very comfortable, very competent, very boring. Very expensive for what it is, which is the nicest Buick ever made. Not a sporting bone in its body. 3-series are much better value, and not much smaller these days.

      If you want sporting, you need to tick different option boxes.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Most people wouldn’t know the difference if a person stuck BMW roundels on a Camry. I’m surprised it’s not a more popular option.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      “Roundels”.

      Dam, deadweight, you get bonus points for being a teacher… and on a Monday morning!

      You’ve taught us something very important here today.

      “Roundels.”

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I don’t know why some of you seem to think that buying certain cars indicates idiocy. While there are certainly a lot of people who buy the 5-Series because of the badge, it does have some improvements over a mid-sized FWD sedan that a lot of people appreciate and are willing to pay for.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Just admit it, Kyree, BMW is a literal shell of its former self, and on the Kardashian-light marketing plan.

        This car, as just one example, is a 60k bar of Dove Soap (with 1/4 moisturizing cream).

        Think about this: For significantly less money, one can have a Lexus GS 350, which can keep up with this bloatmobile on the highway while simultaneously running tire smoke billowing rings around it 360 degrees, and being approximately 500% more reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      DeadWeight,
      Why are you so angry at this guy because he (mostly) enjoyed driving a BMW as a RENTAL. You immediately branded him an idiot, along with every other person who currently drives a BMW. While I’m no fan of BMW, given the choice between that and the Navigator, I’d take the BMW in an instant.
      I got to drive my future son-in-law’s Challenger SRT8. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Do I want to buy one? No. Now, I’m not sure how you feel about Challenger SRTs, you’re not BTSR, but am I an idiot just for driving one?
      Lighten up!

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I neither “called him” nor implied that he is an “idiot.”

        He received a free upgrade on a rental car in Florida.

        He didn’t pay 50k, let alone 50k, for a 4 banger Buick equivalent that’s billed as “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”

        • 0 avatar
          Blackcloud_9

          Your last quote was
          “The 5 Series shouts “[L]ook at me! I’m an idiot!””
          To me, that infers that you think anyone in a 5-series is an idiot.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            That’s because you’re not comprehending what I just wrote, for whatever reason, and/or not using logical reasoning skills.

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            @DeadWeight: “That’s because you’re not comprehending what I just wrote, for whatever reason, and/or not using logical reasoning skills.”

            So what _does_ “The 5 Series shouts “[L]ook at me! I’m an idiot!”” mean(*), then?

            And don’t give us any more non-specific guff about “comprehending and/or using logical reasoning skills”, please — if it is so eminently logical, then I’m sure you’re able to explain your reasoning cogently and succinctly for the benefit of those of us less lavishly gifted than you in this regard.

            Thank you.


            (*): Or imply; what are we meant to infer from it?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Seriously?

            You really believe that I am labeling someone who happens upon this car as a short term RENTAL (free upgrade at that) while on vacation in Florida with someone who BUYS this car as the same?

            I don’t know what to say further if that’s the case.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “I loved driving that car. It made me feel like a big shot. I told my mother to pretend I was the doctor she thought I’d be at one point. Of course, being Florida, there are Jags and Lamborghinis around to really remind you of the small fish you are. That didn’t change how I felt. I was still smiling.

            “But starting at $51,000, it will never be more than a vacation for me.”
            ______

            The author obviously adores the car. What bars him from owning one is a lack of cash, not a lack of will.

            Based upon your criteria, that’s one serious moron. You’re obviously no fool for the BMW mystique, as you’ve made clear, but the only thing that prevents our intrepid author from being poisoned by Bavarian swill is a low bank balance.

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            @DeadWeight: Ah, you meant the great big important logical difference is that you WEREN’T calling someone who only RENTED one an idiot.

            So, I take it this means you ARE saying that anyone who BUYS one IS an idiot — and, by extension, so is anyone who WOULD LIKE to buy one? (Seeing as it’s only lack of funds, not intellectual acuity that’s stopping them.)

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      DeadWeight, this is literally the second time this week (the Sunday Bark’s Bites “I car what people think of my car” being the first) that one of TTAC’s writers humbly submitted they liked a car in a way that could invite others to make fun of them, and the second time you’ve responded by making fun of them and declaring your taste level is obviously higher than theirs.

      Pity the era of the codpiece is over. Then again, maybe you’ll be the one to bring it back.

  • avatar
    sgtyukon

    My wife and I reserved a Ford Edge through a special offer from Avis last September flying to SFO. They didn’t have the car I reserved (does any car rental agency ever have the car you reserved?). They hooked me up with an Explorer at no extra charge. Except for the slight fuel penalty it was good because we were a group carrying a lot of stuff.

    What I hate is getting downgraded for the same price. Flew to Orlando a year and a half ago and reserved a Mustang Convertible (or similar) from a different company, not Avis. I got a Chrysler 200 which I don’t consider very similar at all. I do consider it vastly inferior though. I wonder what percentage of the convertibles that company has in Orlando are actually Mustangs. I suspect they have more Chryslers since they’re cheaper. If they do in fact have more Chryslers, truth in advertising should demand that their website allow you to reserve an “Or Similar” convertible, or a Mustang instead of the other way around.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      No, the Mustang and 200 are only “similar” when they want to downgrade you. When they want to upgrade you, the Mustang carries a $75/day premium over the 200. I promise you, their “or similar” rules are as loose as they need to be in order to get over on people.

      • 0 avatar
        sgtyukon

        I haven’t had that experience, but I presume you’re right, because, during that same rental experience, if I wanted a Camaro coupe instead of the Mustang convertible or similar, there would have been a considerable up-charge for the V-6, not the eight. I didn’t want the up-charge or the visibility penalty of the Camaro, so I declined. I did want the top to go down so I accepted the Chrysler. Less horsepower and worse gas mileage, a combination that’s hard to achieve.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      I got the car I’d reserved once, from Hertz. It was a fluke, but flying into Boston, all but one runways was shut down due to a 2-inch snowfall. My plane came in from the coast and was nearly out of fuel, so they let us land rather than get in the queue flying in circles waiting for our turn. I grabbed my Volvo while the others were in the air, instead of the normal other way around. I felt great getting a “snow car” to tackle that 2 inch accumulation, and only spun out twice before getting on the highway. Boston snow is usually called “slush” in most other places, slippery stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I had the exact opposite happen in Orlando on my last vacation. Reserved a 200CVT, as they would not let me reserve a Mustang for a free rental. Got there, and they upgraded me to a Mustang. Grabber Blue CVT. Nice.

      Rental car roulette – spin the wheel, you never know what you are going to get!

  • avatar
    threeer

    Best rental upgrade came in Stuttgart. After numerous trips back and forth, I arrived one Saturday morning at the airport and went to the counter (Sixt, I think…). I normally was only authorized to rent in the category that would land me something along the lines of an A-klasse or Golf. Once in awhile I’d score a Vectra (actually, the GTS was a nice piece of kit). But this day, all of those plebian motoring devices had been booked, so I was left to “suffer” for the next three weeks with an E-klasse…mit Ganggetrieb! Yep, an honest heaven’s to mergatroid manual transmission E-class Mercedes. While it wasn’t AMG-level fast, it was still rather enjoyable to row that thing through the gears as I went up and down the A8 between Landau and Pforzheim. Talk about Unobtainium stateside! How dare anybody drive something like that with a manual…perish the thought! I really hated giving the thing back.
    Best upgrade in the US was when I went to my son’s fall break at the Air Force Academy and the good folks at Enterprise gave me a new Cadillac STS to hoon, er, drive around in. I was surprised that I wound up liking it as much as I did.

  • avatar

    That cutline in the hood is distressing.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Should’ve taken the Navigator.

  • avatar
    love2drive

    I’m confused as to why a self declared non-car guy is writing for a blog aimed at car enthusiasts? Piece was fine, but…

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      You are aware that the OP isn’t the only “non Auto” writer that contributes to this site, right? Diversity of opinion and reading about the different things that motivate various people are what brings me to this site every day.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I too have run into the “We upgraded you to an SUV for free!” annoyance. Getting “upgraded” from a midsize to a Jeep Liberty, the only 2009 car that drove like it was built in 1959, was the last straw. Now I’ll rent only from National where I get to choose my car.

    Apparently, in the McStates of America, bigger is ALWAYS better, and don’t let any socialist “car enthusiast” tell you otherwise.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I met some guys who were miserable about being upgraded from a Focus to a Hyundai Sonata. “No, no, we wanted the little fun car.” Sad times.

      • 0 avatar

        I got a Focus in NOLA recently. I was impressed, save for a rough idle. Good on highway, decent seating…for a cheap car. NVH also very good. A bit below my normal ride(s), but for the price, darned good. Also, Sync wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d been lead to believe….

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Seats fit everyone decently, but I think the Focus has great seats for any car, not just a cheap car. I only put about 100 miles on the rental, so maybe this opinion would change with more seat time, but they might be the best shaped seats of nearly anything I have sat in.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      In 2011 on a work trip, I was upgraded from a compact car reservation to a Pathfinder, in the GTA.

      Talk about thirsty, and the VQ40DE requires premium.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I rented a Nissan Armada with the group I was with back in 2008 – barely 9 mpg.
        over many miles, including many highway miles.

        We may as well had rented a Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Your chances of getting good customer service from any of those car rental agencies are about the same as you renting a highly optioned model from them.

    Unless you’re a Platinum Member or the like, good luck getting them to do anything above and beyond for you.

    I bet that 5-Series was the most unoptioned, base model in history of all German car rentals. (But I do cringe at the thought of a stripped out E-Class fleet car. Yuck.)

    NOTHING beats a base model fleet car in Maytag Appliance White.

    I don’t know if you can rent a Corvette or the like from on of the big rental agencies like Enterprise, Hertz, et cetera, but I’m all in favor of bringing back the rent-a-racer program like they did with the Shelby GT350H :)

    • 0 avatar
      Hillman

      I have to disagree with you on that. I have gotten so many upgrades and comps just by being nice and asking. For the record, I don’t have decent status.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        My lady works for one of the big ones (won’t mention). Manager in Customer Service.

        The things they do to these customers… lol.

        Complaints are essentially passed down the line to the next person.

        For shame.

        I’ve always thought I was treated fair also. Then again, I am always excited- to a certain extent- to have the rental.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Just like the Dodge Avenger I had a couple weeks ago..with the worst front-wheel shimmy I’ve ever experienced as standard equipment! (Later was told I could have swapped it at the E-prise lot closer to home from the one which was down the street from my body shop, which was some ten miles from my house.)

  • avatar
    jeano

    Someone wrote a positive review of a BMW, let the heads explode! This is great to watch.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I conclude from the review that the 5-series is perfectly acceptable transportation appliance. Not a ringing endorsement for a $50K+ car with a 4-cylinder engine.

      • 0 avatar
        jeano

        And BMW will do just fine without the ringing endorsement of people who can’t tell the difference between a Camry and a BMW. Be happy, you just saved yourself some money.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    And a 2014, yet. You can tell that BMW did some things during the F10′s LCI to make it look like the other cars. They added that silver frame around the iDrive screen so that it sort of imitates the new cars that have their iDrive screen sticking out of the dashboard like an iPad, such as the F15 X5 and the F30 3-Series. Also, I believe the 2011 F10 5-Series debuted with the naturally-aspirated inline-six as the base engine for the 528i, carried over from the E60 model. The 2.0-liter turbo probably took over in 2012. So if you want a 528i without a four-cylinder, there’s one option. But then we’ve all been warned of the inherent dangers in buying a newer, out-of-warranty BMW…and a first-year example.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The fixed iPad-lookalike screens are the ugliest thing to hit interior design in quite awhile. If they retracted, I could live with them. But they never do.

      They’re just as horridly cheap-looking strapped to the back of the front seats in the otherwise gorgeous Audi A8.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I don’t know. I actually think it the stick-up iDrive screen looks good. But there are some other new BMW design motifs—like hood-lines that cut right through the headlights—that I don’t much care for.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        Those screens are kind of a mystery to me as well. They only really look good when they are the “high res” Nav screens. Then, it kinda looks like a nice HD screen on a wall mount. Otherwise, a base 3-series looks like crap with the small, low res display sticking out.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          That’s true….not to mention BMW’s cheapest instrument-cluster LCD, which—while still being in color—is tiny and isn’t well-integrated into the cluster. The half-width color LCD is a lot nicer, and a full-width color LCD is available on nicer versions of the X5 and 5-Series. I believe it’s standard on the 6 and 7-Series.

          And the new 2014 X5 does feature standard navigation (but removes AWD as standard), so you shouldn’t have to worry about seeing the smaller, cheaper LCD on one of those.

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            @Kyree S. Williams: “And the new 2014 X5 does feature standard navigation (but removes AWD as standard), …”

            Oh? Weird. So what is it in stead, FWD or RWD? (I’d guess the latter.)

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        +100! Not to mention that I’m sure they’ll rattle like nothing else, and I’m certain the interior will look great after a thief breaks in to steal the “iPad” off the dash!

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Congratulations on discovering what it’s like to drive a car that’s not engineered to a price point.

    “But starting at $51,000, it will never be more than a vacation for me.”

    Buy a clean, low mileage one that’s two or three years old; have a reputable shop perform a PPI on it.

    It will always be a better driving experience than a new POS Ford, GM or Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”

      LMAO!

      And it’s engineered to not fall apart until the end of the 4 year/50k mile warranty.

      • 0 avatar
        Acd

        More like “The Ultimate Rental Car”.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        @DeadWeight – stereotype much? Since I work at a company with fairly highly paid yet frugal engineers, I get to see a lot of ‘advanced age’ BMWs every day. Several of the E9x’s in our lot are from 2006-2008, and have long passed the warranty period with little issue. We also have an E39 that, by my recollection, is now 14 years old. It gets used as a daily driver by its owner.

        Sure, it’s no Camry, but on the flip side, it’s no Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        karvanet

        And yet my 12 year old 3 series and 7 year old X5 miraculously run everyday with out any issues. As do the two 5 series my in-laws own as well as their previous 7 series and 3 series. We must all be lucky.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          fvf & karv:

          I don’t doubt there are many reliable BMWs. I owned a 3 Series that was reliable, but I didn’t keep it for a long period of time.

          On a relative basis, however, I still maintain that BMWs (nor any German makes) are likely to be as nearly statistically reliable as the better makes of vehicles, long term, from Japan or the U.S.

          I believe the best, most comprehensive data & survey results (I believe CR has the best statistically valid scientific sampling methods to bear this out) make my statement more valid than not.

          Just because credible statistical data indicates make and/or particular model of vehicle is less likely to be reliable than another make and/or model of vehicle doesn’t mean that all such makes and/or models of said vehicle will be unreliable.

          It’s all about the statistical odds, not anecdotal experiences.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Deadwieght

            “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

            There have been VERY unreliable BMWs at times – a 2006-2008 with the twin-turbo motor was pretty much a horror show until they got a HPFP that actually worked. Yet all the cars since and the non-turbos get tarred with the same brush. A wise choice of car improves your odds considerably of having a great ownership experience.

            Will they be as reliable as a Camry. Probably (though mine has been more reliable than Mom’s Prius-V), but they don’t drive like Camry’s either. If the difference means nothing to you, enjoy your Camry and spend the $20-30K you saved on something that matters to you. But please, enough with the pissing and moaning about BMW. You’d think they ran over your dog when you were a kid or something.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    ” I had also driven his Toyota Sienna for a number of years. That heavy beast turned me off the concept of big SUVs and vans. ”

    Ah, perspective.

    I can barely imagine a world in which a Sienna qualifies as “big” or “heavy” in SUV and van terms…

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    I had a similar experience at the rental counter a few weeks ago, albeit a few rental classes down.

    I had reserved a mid-size car and when I arrived at the lot the attendant told me, not unexpectedly, that I had been upgraded!

    I was expecting a Cadillac ATS to roll around the corner but was instead met with the discombobulated face of a Jeep Compass. I told the attendant that there was no way I could drive such an appallingly terrible vehicle for 4 days so he scrounged up a Kia Optima instead. I’ve never been so happy and relieved to drive a Kia. It is odd to me that a CUV is considered an upgrade over a regular car.

    • 0 avatar

      I recently got an Optima. To my great surprise, it was decent. The less expensive versions at 22k are a great deal. The high end versions less so. Kia is slightly off on the NVH, but they copied the german seating, and the japanese interior controls very well.

      Crossing the continental divide I could have used a turbo, but it was leagues better than a Taurus I had last trip.

  • avatar
    April

    Re: My visit to California (SJC) last month. They “upgraded” me from a Chevrolet Spark to a Nissan Versa sedan.

    :D

  • avatar
    ajla

    The F10 does a lot to cement the reputation of the E39.

  • avatar
    EX35

    Why does BMW insist on lightening up the steering effort on all of their cars? Something is wrong when the steering on a Fusion is tighter than that of a 5-series.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      It seems to be what people want, everything has light effort these days it seems.

      Keep in mind just dialing up more effort in the form of less assist is not a way to add steering feel…just makes it harder to turn the wheel, so which is better?

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    BMW N20 engine sounds like a tractor. Farmer Joe’s personal favorite luxury vehicle!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States