The Truth About Cars » Hertz The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:47:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Hertz Review: Hertz Penske GT Fri, 04 Oct 2013 15:47:58 +0000 hertz4

“Would you like the damage waiver for just $30.99 per day?”



My brother-in-R&T-arms Zach Bowman just wrote a very nice review of the limited-edition Hertz Penske Mustang GT in which he visits many interesting places and takes many interesting photos. It’s thoroughly recommended if you’d like to read about the car itself or about the way it fits into the Austin landscape. If you want to hear about abusing the car on-track and propositioning African-American rental attendants, you can stay here.

When Derek and I got off the Hertz shuttle at Houston’s Hobby Airport, also known as The Official Airport Of Southwest Airlines, The Flying Bus Full Of People Whose Shirts Inexplicably Don’t Include Any Fucking Sleeves, the shuttle driver had a few words for us. To put this in perspective, I should note that the shuttle driver would have been an excellent stand-in for Huell Babineaux on “Breaking Bad”.

“Ya’ll need to hit that Mustang right there. That’s a bad ride. Need to fire it up and hear it.” Let’s take a look.


Ooh. Just $99 extra a day. I was hesitant, but Derek insisted, and he’s the boss. I think. Maybe I’m the boss. Things are fuzzy around here lately. Anyway. I popped the door, threw the luggage in, and fired it up, allowing the five-liter “Coyote” engine at least half a second to properly lubricate all rotating internal parts before revving it up to the not-quite-a-Boss 7000-rpm redline.

“DAMN!” the shuttle driver laughed. “Listen to that!” No diggity. This thing’s loud. I’m reliably informed by Zach that the Penske has the front splitter from the Boss 302 and the rear bumper from the GT500 and a wing from somewhere and a suspension from FRPP, but it’s the exhaust that you’ll notice first. It sounds almost too perfect; it’s the Mesa/Boogie Mark V of Mustang exhausts, delivering that perfect compressed squish of musclecar bump and grind. While the rest of the Hertz #1 Gold Club members waited in a line to get their cars — something about a computer glitch, I guess, the line was fifteen people long and being served by one depressed-looking teenager — Derek and I roared up to the remarkably well-proportioned young woman doing the checkout. I estimated her to be the same age as my college diploma. Still, faint heart never won fair lady.

“What time do you get off, baby boo?”

“One o’clock,” she replied.

“You want to go to the cabaret with us?”

“Mayyyy-be. Like to ride in that car a bit.” But truth be told, within ten minutes, I’d forgotten about her and our sort-of-appointment for rental debauchery, because it was more fun to pull donuts in a nearby church parking lot. (Memo to self: getting old.) The agreement stated that we would be permitted exactly one hundred miles per day in this fine automobile, which was costing us a rather frightening $589.40 for a four-day period even after my existing Hertz vouchers were applied. What could we do with just a hundred miles a day?

The answer was: forty-five laps. When we arrived at MSR Houston the following morning for LeMons Test and Tune, our race car had yet to arrive. (Spoiler: it wouldn’t arrive until more than halfway through the actual race, and when it did arrive, it wouldn’t run. But that’s a super-fun story for another day, and half of it will be written by our in-house counsel Curvy McLegalbriefs, I think.) What the hell were we going to do all day? Watch a bitch-basket VW convertible run 2:20s from the balcony while eating Whataburger?

And then I remembered the stories about the original GT-H Hertz Mustangs. How they’d come back on Mondays with missing interiors and plasma-torch marks from where rollcages had been welded in and then removed. How they would have blown motors and crash damage and all sorts of stuff. The thousand abuses of the Shelby GT-H were the stuff of legend, but today’s Penske Mustangs are safe and sane affairs, designed for a simulation of that old feeling and under no circumstances to be taken on a racetrack. The contract specified every penalty short of “forcible decapitation” for even wandering near a track in one.

Ten minutes later we were talking to the man who runs MSR Houston. “You understand,” he said, “that it’s all race cars out there, and you could get hit or injured or something.”

“Not a problem.” I assured him. “I’m from Road&Track, I’m an experienced racer with Grand-Am starts under my belt, and my name is Zach Bowman.”

“You have a racing suit?”

“Zach Bowman always has a racing suit.” Time to get this wagon past the flag tower, pronto.


My GoPro footage, which I’ve been advised by counsel to delete and never ever show to anyone, indicates that we turned a bunch of easy 1:56s in traffic, often including a respectful pause behind whatever Geo Prizm or Seventies-era BMW 528i happened to be occupying the space ahead. Let me say this: you could not pick a better car in which to learn roadcourse craft. Let’s count the Penske’s many virtues: It has Recaros. It looks awesome and frightening to cars that you are about to pass. It’s viciously fast with the Coyote engine under the hood. The automatic transmission doesn’t exactly shift under command like a GT-R does but it’s okay enough and if you just leave it in “S” it will be fine. I did three entire sessions before I realized it could be shifted with a little rocker button on the gearshift, and once I started doing that I didn’t go any faster as a consequence. Just let the transmission do the work for you and focus on the track.

The miniature Brembo front calipers are straight off the GT Track Pack, as are the wheels, and they’re okay but not spectacular. If you had all weekend with the car, you’d want to flush some decent brake fluid in it (perhaps the verboten Super Blue, but ATE 200 otherwise, this ain’t no high-roller Motul ride) and put on a set of Hawk race pads both front and rear. Doing ten or fifteen easy laps at a time with no ABS activation proved to be well within the GT’s skill set.

The FRPP suspension is properly tuned for track work and unlike most aftermarket suspension installs it fails to teach the Mustang any bad or dangerous manners. It will go sideways on exit or under trail braking just slightly more eagerly than the stock GT, but fundamentally this thing’s a sweetheart, it’s a T-16 waiting for you to bulls-eye some womp-rats. Which we did, lapping most of the on-track LeMons cars while giving them a wide berth. We rarely got passed, even on cool-down laps. It’s just much faster than the average crapcan racer. Which is fair, because to duplicate this car with a showroom GT would cost you probably $40,000. Hertz bought 150 of these, ten of which apparently have a manual transmission and are reserved for in-house use. Those will probably fetch $100K each at auction. I don’t know what you’ll pay for one of these in two years, but it’s worth considering at any price within, say, five grand of an equivalent used GT.

Given time, I’d have driven the Penske until the tires, brakes, or fuel ran out, but out of consideration for future renters we pulled the plug after fifty or so laps. The tires still looked good and there was plenty of pad left. I cannot stress enough just how easily this thing will zip around MSR Houston at a laptime that’s within five or six seconds of what a hard-driven Porsche GT3 street car can manage. If you were willing to endure a little risk and push it on the final Carousel, it might halve that gap.

When the actual race began the following day, a TTAC reader showed up with his base-GT-avec-Recaros:


There’s something just amazing and wonderful about how much performance you get from the current GT for the money. It’s a true successor to the old Fox five-liter and it will make the next decade or so of club racing very interesting. NASA’s already fired up a Spec Iron class for the thing and though said class isn’t currently well-subscribed, once you can buy a used Coyote for ten grand it will be. If you’re a performance-minded buyer with $25K or more in your pocket, you should take a look. Around a racetrack, the GT will command your respect, and the Penske GT will do more than that. For $150 a day, how can you go wrong?


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Help Us Organize A Penske Rent-A-Racer Track Outing Tue, 09 Jul 2013 12:57:18 +0000 Hertz-Penske-2


See this Mustang up above? This is the Hertz Penske Mustang. While every other blog is going to talk about how awesome it is that it harkens back to the Shelby GT350H and how cool it would be to track one, we have every intention of doing so.

At $180 per day and a limit of 100 miles, this will be a pricey endeavor. But if we don’t do it, who else will? Here’s where you come in. Keep your eyes peeled for any Penske Mustangs at your local airports. If it’s within a reasonable distance of a race track, let us know. If JB ends up in your area to track test one of these cars, you’ll get to ride along with him for some hot laps. So far, we’re looking at a rental at SFO and then a drive to Laguna Seca, logistics permitting, of course.

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Rental Car Review: 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport Sat, 14 Jul 2012 13:00:37 +0000  

If you’re shopping for a compact American crossover, Chevy’s Equinox is likely on your list. If however you’re looking to rent a small crossover, the Chevrolet Captiva Sport is probably what you’ll get for $29.95 a day from Hertz. While you’re bound to see them on the streets, you can’t buy them new unless you’re a fleet customer. That’s because the Captiva is designed to do two things: keep fleet sales of GM’s other CUVs low and continue to amortize the cost of Americanizing the Opel Antara. Yep, that’s right, under the bow tie, the Captiva Sport is none-other than the 2008-2010 Saturn VUE, aka the Opel Antata, Holden Captiva and Dawewoo Winstorm MaXX. We spent a week in a Hertz rental to find out if Chevy’s rental soft-roader should be on your used CUV shopping list.

Click here to view the embedded video.


The exterior of the Captiva is simple, clean, and completely unremarkable. Saturn called the design theme “Opel look share” which roughly translates to “Americanized Opel built-in Mexico.” Because the Captiva was “created” for fleet duty the plain-Jane looks are completely appropriate (and the slab-sides make covering the CUV with vinyl wraps or magnetic signs an easy process.) On the downside, the Captiva looks nothing like the rest of the Chevrolet product lineup. Of course, this probably isn’t a bad idea since fleet use tends to create high depreciation. Despite the rental-fleet target demographic, alloy wheels and side curtain airbags are standard on all Captiva models. If only Ford could have figure this out and kept the Panther afloat for fleet duty (and Sajeev.)


The Captiva’s interior is a study in grey plastic, but the look is both simple and tasteful. Cabin materials are higher than you might expect with plenty of soft touch plastics. Durability is always an issue with rentals. Our tester has over 18,000 miles on it and looked like a herd of feral animals had migrated in one window and out the other, however a pre-photo shoot wipe-down revealed that the interior plastics took the beating in stride, showing little wear, but questionable fit and finish. Most Captivas for rent (and therefore available on the used market) have the “2LS” package which includes a power driver’s seat, lumbar support, leather-wrapped steering wheel, single-zone climate control, fog lights and Bluetooth phone integration. The standard cloth seats are firm and supportive up front, but fairly hard and low to the ground in the rear. Luggage space in the Captiva rings in at 29 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and 54 cubes with the rear seats folded. This is higher than the $19.95-a-day Malibu, but about 30% less than the CR-V and RAV4.


Unlike most GM fleet vehicles, the Captiva can’t be stripped to the bone for volume buyers. This means you can expect all rental and off-rental Captivas out there to have side-curtain airbags, air conditioning, cruise control and a silver-tone version of GM’s corporate AM/FM/CD/MP3/iPod/USB head unit. While GM does offer the option to remove OnStar and XM Satellite Radio from the Captiva, doing so is an “option” that only reduces the sticker by $85 so it doesn’t seem common. GM has had a long history of phone integration since OnStar came on the scene in 1995 and this translates into excellent Bluetooth phone call quality. The head unit’s iDevice and USB integration worked well with my iPod nano, iPhone 4S and iPad 3 as well as a variety of USB flash drives but navigating a large collection of songs is tedious on the small display.


Under the short hood of the Captiva lurks “some engine.” As a fleet or rental car, this section is fairly unimportant and could understandably skipped if GM hadn’t made some important improvements. Back in 2008 the VUE had less-than-refined engine and transmission choices. Rather than maintaining the status quo, GM dropped in a new 2.4L direct-injection four-cylinder engine good for 182HP and 172lb-ft of torque and bolted it to a 6-speed automatic. The power boost over the old four is welcome, but the transmission is the bigger change. The GM/Ford developed 6-speed delivers smooth shifts with surprisingly little hunting and most importantly: improved fuel economy. There is still a V6 option, but the old 3.6L engine has been ditched in favor of a more powerful 3.0L direct injection V6 putting out 264HP and 222lb-ft. As with the old Saturn VUE, AWD can only be added with the V6.


The Captiva’s Opel roots are obvious out on the road and I’m not talking about the odd-looking steering wheel stalks. The Captiva handles twisty roads acceptably with a well controlled chassis, average steering feedback and a surprisingly quiet ride. Stabbing the throttle in the four-cylinder model produced very little torque steer despite the respectable 182HP on tap.

Unlike many of GM’s four-cylinder engines, the 2.4L direct injection engine is surprisingly quiet, smooth and thankfully free of the diesel-like clatter from BMW and Ford’s turbo fours. This level of engine refinement is important, because 182HP pitted against 3,900lbs means the engine spends plenty of time at higher RPMs.

The EPA rates the four-cylinder Captiva at 20/28MPG (city/highway), an improvement of 1/6MPG over the Saturn VUE thanks to the extra gears and the DI treatment. The FWD V6 Captiva matches the V6 FWD VUE at 17/24MPG despite the increase in power while the AWD Captiva takes a 1MPG hit on the highway. The 6-speed automatic manages to make the 400lb heavier Captiva competitive with the 4-speed RAV4 and only 3MPG behind the 5-speed CR-V.

GM’s fleet website prices the Captiva Sport between $23,435 and $32,860 depending on your trim and options. Given that GM fleet purchases typically see rebates from $500 to $3,000 depending on the number of vehicles purchased, the true starting cost is lower. A quick used car search revealed nearly a hundred used 2012 Captivas within 500 miles of my location compared with four 2012 RAV4s, and 15 2012 CR-Vs. This comparative plenty helps translate to the advertised $18,000 prices for low mileage (under 12,000 miles) base models and $26,000 for fully loaded AWD Captivas with leather. Adjusting for content, a used RAV4 has a resale value some $2,000-$3,000 higher and a quick conversation with the Hertz sales guy proved there was plenty of room to negotiate on the Chevy. Since late-model used car purchases are all about the bang-for-the-buck, if you’re shopping for a bargain used crossover, the 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport should be on your short list.


Neither Chevrolet nor Hertz provided anything for this review. Our total bill was $360 after tax and insurance for a 5-day rental.

Specifications as tested

0-60: 9.5 Seconds (2.4L FWD)

Average Fuel Economy: 20.1 MPG over 623 miles


2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Captiva Sport, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 52
Hertz To Rent CNG Vehicles, Pilot Program Begins In May Thu, 12 Apr 2012 12:09:02 +0000  

If you’re traveling to Oklahoma City any time soon, Herz will give you the option of renting a Honda Civic or GMC Yukon that runs on Compressed Natural Gas.

Renters will be able to select from one of eight Honda Civics or two GMC Yukons that use CNG. The vehicles will have a Hertz Neverlost GPS System on-board that will assist with locating a CNG refueling station.

Oklahoma may be “flyover country” for coastal greenie types, but OKC is home to big natural gas producers, including Chesapeake Energy Corporation. The state also has 70 CNG stations that are already in use or about to come online. Launching a pilot project here is akin to launching an all-E85 fleet in Iowa. Hertz is, of course, playing up both the green angle and the fact that CNG is a domestically produced fuel.

Hertz already rents CNG vehicles in Italy and the UK, and CNG cars can be rented at a Hertz outlet at Oklahoma State University, but this marks the first time that the company has offered CNG cars at an airport location.

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Infiniti Version Of Straight-To-Rental Nissan Leaf Planned Tue, 23 Mar 2010 17:55:58 +0000
One of the biggest conundrums facing the folks tasked with marketing the forthcoming first generation of mainstream electric cars is branding. On the one hand, firms want their mainstream brands associated with the green halo of having an electric car in its portfolio. On the other hand, electric cars aren’t cheap. From a pure pricing perspective, it makes more sense to brand expensive EVs as luxury products. GM struggled with this problem when it developed its Converj version of the Volt, ultimately deciding that the common-sense arguments for branding the $40k Volt as a Cadillac weren’t as important as boosting Chevy’s profile with an EV offering. Nissan, meanwhile, has decided that it has room for both a Nissan-branded Leaf EV and an Infiniti-branded luxury version.

Top Gear reports that the new Infiniti variant of the Leaf:

will use the same platform as the Leaf, but a different body. So it will be the smallest Infiniti. But all Infinitis are supposed to have high performance as well as being luxurious, so the motor power will be turned up compared with the Leaf’s.

Normally this would result in a shorter range, but the Infiniti electric car won’t be launched until 2014 or so, when Nissan is ready with its next generation of battery, which should hold enough charge to cope with the increased power.

At a projected (although not assured) price point of about $25k, there should be more room in Nissan’s portfolio for an upmarket EV, especially since it appears to be quite a few years off. Meanwhile, to make sure that the Leaf is sufficiently pedestrian to be differentiated from the Infiniti version, Nissan has announced [via Treehugger] that the rental firm Hertz will add the Leaf to its lineup starting in 2011.

A fleet queen EV? No wonder a luxury version is being planned. In seriousness though, acceptance of the Leaf by a major car rental firm will go a long way towards alleviating concerns about the pioneering EV. If nothing else, the rental program will be able to help target the leaf at its most important markets, and offer potential customers an opportunity to test the car obligation-free.

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