By on July 22, 2013


It’s no secret that over here at TTAC, we like to pay for it – at least when it comes to test cars. Sure, we do go to the press fleet frequently, but when time and budget allow, abusing our Hertz #1 Club Gold membership is a great way to get behind the wheel of select automobiles.

For starters, press fleet vehicles tend to be heavily optioned variants of popular models, the kind that most shoppers would never drive off the lot. Rental cars, on the other hand, are typically “fleet specials”, with base powertrains and few options. If you’re lucky, you might wind up with an Impala LT instead of an LS, or a Camry Sport rather than the stripped-out LE model. They also live much harsher lives than press vehicles and tend to come with more miles on the clock, giving us a better idea of how the cars will hold up under harsh conditions.

Let us know what rental cars you’d like to see reviewed. While Jack is known for his reviews of straight up rental cars, I am not afraid of going to Zipcar to get impressions of vehicles that aren’t available in the fleet (or are off-limits to TTAC).

Let us know what you’d like to see in the comments.

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68 Comments on “QOTD: What Should We Rent Next?...”

  • avatar

    The new Jag F-type when it comes out.

  • avatar

    Since Jack has such strong opinions about what various luxury brands should be I’d like to see him rent a Lincoln MKS and Cadillac XTS to flog.

    We know they’re no real flagships but do they even deserve to be more than Mercury or Buick?

  • avatar

    Fusion Hybrid. They were in such “high demand” earlier this summer I wasn’t even able to schedule a test drive of one. Doesn’t Zipcar stock them?

    Oh, and you’ll see how they’re holding up, since Consumer Reports noted several fit and finish flaws.

    We ended up with the Passat TDI. I know Zipcar stocks plenty of TDI cars, too – maybe a Golf?

    Subaru Legacy? I see plenty on the road, but rarely encounter a review of one.

    Honda Insight? I don’t know if the review will top Clarkson’s, but it provides fodder for doing so.

  • avatar

    Hmmm… How about a Camaro ZL-1 convertible, please? Or a Buick Lacrosse.

  • avatar

    One more drive in the current Corolla before renting a new Corolla. (No, I don’t have anything against Mr. Kreindler.)

  • avatar

    List for us some cars which are off-limits to TTAC. That will help! :)

  • avatar

    I would be surprised if you can find them in fleets at this point, but you need to find a way to put Jack in the new Accord and Mazda6 to add some context to the Camry reviews. I guess Fusion as well. And Altima – that one must be at the rental counter.

    It’s one thing to say the Camry doesn’t suck as much as stereotypical enthusiasts like to think, but another thing to compare to stiff competition.

  • avatar

    Mazda 6 (relatively)low-compression diesel when it becomes available.

  • avatar

    1. New Chevrolet Impala.
    –> it just looks so damn good in the flesh. And it’s huuuuge. I think it is one of the best rides under $40,000. I think it will make a perfect family car on the used market at 3 years old

    • 0 avatar

      Having seen the outside, but not driven or experienced it, nor being familiar with 3-year old reliability on a brand new model, I’m sure you’re able to make this claim.

      • 0 avatar

        I notice you have a GS4xx in your avatar. I just sold my 2002 Lexus GS 430. Wasn’t impressed with it enough to keep it. I think I would rather have the Impala. Even an SRT intake and PPI headers didnt convince me that it was worth it. Over-rated vehicle if you ask me.

        It was mint too.

        Only 80,000 miles, triple-black.

    • 0 avatar

      I rented one of these last week and was fairly impressed. My impressions: Big, comfortable, solid body structure, good ride but surprisingly harsh over some bumps, frustratingly complicated radio touch screen. Give it a nicer interior (several pieces of the dasboard look like they were made by Fisher-Price), a less harsh ride and some extra shiney bits on the outside and you’ve got the makings of a top notch big Buick.

  • avatar

    Compare a rental-only Captiva to an Equinox. That would be interesting. Another possibility would be to rent the cheapest car available from several agencies and run a compro.

  • avatar

    Your international writers have access to many autos that are not seen in North America I would like to see what is not thought marketable over here things like modern station wagons and lightweight city cars such as the ones from Japan that you have covered in the past.

    If you could get access I would love to see older restomod cars tested after they have a few years of daily driver use to see how ones from the better known builders are holding up.

    For North American new production it would be interesting to see cars that are other than rental fleet strippers or fully loaded versions provided as press cars…. In other words cars optioned the way most folks buy them and test them at 2 years old as they come off lease as “factory certified” used … Sorry pre owned cars. This is the way I bet most of your readers shop for a car looking for well cared for cars that are 2 to 4 years old.

    • 0 avatar

      This is actually a pretty good idea. When I rented cars in Japan it was always some kind of JDM model we didn’t get in the USA. Some of them, like the Note did eventually come here – the Versa Note, by the way, is really underrated in the USA, I loved the one I had for about two weeks.

  • avatar

    The trouble with rental cars, for me, is that I have little interest in them. The mid-size automatic sedan is about as far off my shopping list as possible.So, anything out side of that scope is good. I want to know if it’s worth renting a Tahoe, a Ford Focus or even a Fiesta.

    • 0 avatar

      I rented a Malibu recently and agree with your sentiment. The UMR (ubiquitous midsize rental) car fulfills its role of A to B transportation satisfactorily but is totally devoid of emotional appeal.

      I don’t have a particular vehicle request but would like to see cars that elicit longing and desire.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Uh, why not make a “We’ve already driven these and we’re not driving them twice” list with link to past articles? Should result in some efficiency. The Department of Redundancy Department.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    A 2013 Honda Accord Sport. The Hertz Local Edition near Castleton Square Mall in Indianapolis, IN stocks these (along with LX and EX grades).

    Heck, if the TTAC crew rolls through Indy and does a piece on all the automotive history in this town, you’re more than welcome to crash in an extra bedroom (must not mind a very active toddler and 3 month old settling into a sleeping pattern). I’ll even buy lunch at “Bearcats” in the old Stutz building.

  • avatar

    Not all rentals come with more miles. I got a rental Passat at YUL earlier this year with 8km on the odo when I drove off. Last week my rental KIA Sorrento had only 3000km on it and a few weeks earlier I got an Escape with 2000 miles, rented in TX with NJ plates so I’m guessing those were highway miles. Maybe it’s National but my rentals have all been newer low mile vehicles.

    Thus far I haven’t seen any new 2013 Fusions on the rental lots but used to see lots of the old ones which are now curiously absent. Although people say otherwise I have NEVER seen a Honda on a rental lot in the US or Canada which is dissapointing as I’d like one of those now and then. Lots and lots of Kia’s, VW, GM, Ford, Dodge.

  • avatar

    How about a rental track comparo…

    Battle of the Rental Sleds: Chrysler 300 vs. Cadillac XTS

    Or a rental convertibles comparison. Just think of all the fun you could have passing people in BMW M5s wearing driving gloves whilst in a white base v6 Sebring, er um … 200 I mean.

    DO IT!

  • avatar

    “a Camry Sport rather than the stripped-out LE model”

    Hertz seems to be stocking the SE trim on the new Camry. Not sure if this is comparable to the much lauded last gen Camry SE. It handled well for a Camry but had overboosted steering and a general numbness inherent to most Toyotas. The Altima S I had last week was sportier in comparison not to mention the Mazda 5 the time before. Steering was spot on in that MINIvan.

    You guys need to book a trip to Germany and rent some cars from Sixt for some fanboy wet dream material. Manual BMW 320d, manual C300 diesel wagon, VW Golf GTD, ad infinitum.

  • avatar

    I’d love to read about the editors renting, and flogging the heck out of at a race track, a Volt, Fusion Hybrid and Prius.

    Or, using a “rent-a-wreck” 10 year old Alero or whatever passed as the worst rental dreck from a decade ago versus the worst rental dreck of today, say a Nissan Versa sedan or Chevrolet Captiva (Rent-a-Dreck, I suppose). Not to do a direct comparison, because a decade ago cars weren’t equipped with infotainment and such features, but see if the rental experience has really improved all that much.

  • avatar

    New gas Delorean vs Electric Delorean.

    Wait, you can rent those right?


  • avatar

    I’d like to see TTAC review a Cruze diesel. Loved Alex’s review of the Ducato but I’m interested in the TTAC take on the Cruze TD. Maybe it could be a Cruze TD/Jetta TDI comparison. If Jack wants to review it I wouldn’t complain since he could make a toaster review way more interesting than it should be.

    I also like the idea of super base rentals because some people do buy the strippo models still.

    • 0 avatar

      How about (even though they don’t compete in the same segments)diesel comparo of Cruze, Jetta, and Mazda 6? But then again what is the chance that anybody but Uhaul will let you rent something with a diesel?

      • 0 avatar

        I would like to see the 6 Skyactiv-D compared with the Passat TDI since that’s more of an apples to apples comparison. I was told by the local Mazda dealer that the 6 diesel will be available sometime in the summer but so far, nothing! Mazda needs to hurry up with it. Hertz apparently rents Jetta TDIs. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Chevy do the same, what with their love of fleet sales.

  • avatar

    Zipcar availability depends on the city, Derek. Not sure if Toronto is teh same as NYC in their business model, but NY got many choice models other cities, including birthplace Cambridge, never did. I fondly remember wounding up a burgundy 2009 3 series on 14th street before hitting the FDR. In fact, this was my pastime for about a year: once FDR and Washington Bridge-induced West highway traffic died down circa 9pm, I would rent a zipcar only for 60 minutes, and do what I then called “The Robert Moses tour” of circling the edge of Manhattan all around. Should’a written them up :(

    Anyway, I once was able to do it in a 5 series BMW. Zipcar has since backed away from that model. Audi 3 and Volvo S40s is the best you can do past the 3 series. But those 3’s are ubiquitous in Manhattan locations.

  • avatar

    Civic EX track day?

  • avatar

    Rent a Dodge Charger R/T.

  • avatar

    How about a truck? I have never rented a truck, and I would be interested on what comes (and what doesn’t) with a rental truck.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Renting a truck is like renting a car except well, you get a truck. Same Hertz Gold Club service, same standard rental contract. If you use it like a truck and get it dirty; use some common sense and run it through a car wash. Why rent an F-150 Crew Cab? You’re incognito at the rural Wal-Mart.

  • avatar

    Purely selfishly – a Town and Country since I am thinking about buying one and the 2013 model was reasonably refreshed (before it is discontinued in 2014).

  • avatar

    The five cheapest cars you can rent at a major car rental company, and then compare to determine which one of the is the least terrible to drive.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    Cruze diesel.
    Cruze diesel v Prius.
    Cruze diesel v Gulf (or are they calling it the rabbit again?)

  • avatar

    You can rent Boxsters from Enterprise in Palm Springs. Did it twice so far. Not too sure about
    the automatic though.

  • avatar

    A Citroen C6. I know they recently ended production, and it wasn’t sold in the U.S., but just get one, somehow, and bask in the glory of a vehicle that makes driving over the sorry, dilapidated excuse for what passes as roadway in most parts of the U.S. A velvety, magic carpet ride.


  • avatar

    What’s all this noise about about renting appliances? Did I miss something …

    ‘Life is too Short to Drive Boring Cars’

    SS Camaro convertible…. you have the card.

  • avatar

    I reserved a Premium vehicle (Taurus or similar) at the Budget rent a car in my hometown (Islip, NY). After a long, delayed flight (I hadn’t been back home to LI for 4 years and was anxious to see my family) I run to the Budget counter to claim my steed. The lady asks me if I am traveling alone. Yeah, I’m alone even though I plan on hauling a bunch of people around in my Budget rental.

    She starts out asking if I would like a BMW and it’s the “good” one, calling it a 281. At this point I know that it’s a 328i and not a “281” but whatever. I decide to play along and ask how much more the privilege of driving a base, sliver 328 around for a week. “Only $175 sir” and I think hell, that’s not bad maybe I will take the Bimmer until I realize it’s $175 extra A DAY.

    I politely decline the BMW and then she counters with “how about a Dodge Challenger, low miles, very nice.” Hmm, that sounds reasonable, how much? Only $100/day extra. At this point I’m getting annoyed and tell her unless you can give it to me for the rate that I reserved my Taurus for, we have nothing left to discuss. “I can ask my manager, maybe he will do $50…” I say forget it, just get my Ford and let me get out of here.

    Two things I notice when I get out to the lot. My Taurus is a fully loaded Limited model (w00t) and the Challenger was a base Redline Hemi R/T! I was a little surprised that they were renting Hemi equipped Challengers. I thought when all was said and done, it was best I got the Taurus. It is so loaded with NAV, Siruis, etc. A red Challenger would just have gotten me into trouble no doubt. However, SYNC is an awful awful system compared to the U-Connect in my Dodge.

    Thanks for reading and enjoy your summer vacations everyone!

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Let’s see some track comparisons of cars that are biased more towards performance than a rental Camry.

    If Jack can get a 4-cyl Camry LE around VIR in whatever time he can, I’d like to see what he can get out of a Zipcar Audi A3 or 3-series. Or a V6 Mustang from Hertz, Budget, etc.

  • avatar

    Your Hertz #1 card would do you no good with my suggestion: find a rent-a-wreck site with some early versions of the cars Hertz rents, and make a comparison of design, engineering and durability issues between the earlier and later versions of the same models. It could be kind of a “what was gained, what was lost” comparison. That would likely be a VERY occasional feature, but might be interesting, since the age of cars on the road is still increasing.

  • avatar

    You pose two choices that are equally distressing. Bought and paid for PR whore or rental car patron. People will let you drive their cars for all sorts of reasons. Get a little sneaky. Get possession of the car you want. Drive it. Then, write up your opinion. You are not obligated to rat yourself out as to how and why you got possession of the car. If anyone asks, and they will, tell them to go fuck themselves.

  • avatar

    Here’s a stinker pick: The Mitsubishi Lancer. Not the Evo, not the Ralliart/Sportback (do they even make those still?), but the plain-jane, Mitsubishi Lancer sedan (live it up and go for the GTS trim, if you must)…but as much grief as the Evo gets for a rental-car quality interior, I think it would be some fun to contrast the full driving experience against that of a TRUE Lancer rental car.

  • avatar

    Euro hatches.
    Any recent Mazda.

  • avatar

    I have a BMW 330d Touring rental car review ready to go; the validation for the contact form will not work with my computer so I have been unable to contact the website that way. Please let me know if this is something the website might be interested in.

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