By on December 28, 2018

As all loyal Bark fans know (Hi Mom), I travel extensively for the ol’ day job. Thanks to Uber and Lyft, I don’t always have to rent a car when I’m on the road, but most of the time it’s actually cheaper to rent a car for $35 a day than it is to use ridesharing services, not to mention to increased convenience and saved time. Plus, I’m a firm believer in job creation, and somebody needs to keep those valets at the hotels employed.

In 2018, I used National’s Emerald Aisle Executive services 21 times, which is a bit low compared to my average over the last 10 years. Nevertheless, let’s see what I can remember about all of my rental rides that I borrowed this year, and then I’ll make some sweeping generalizations that are sure to offend many of you. Go!

Rental #1: Jeep Cherokee, SeaTac International Airport, 54 miles driven

I don’t remember much about this one, other than it was raining a lot when I was there (shocker) and the Jeep Cherokee was suitable to the task. I like the Cherokee, overall, but it doesn’t stand out from the crowded CUV field in any significant way.

Rental #2: Mercedes-Benz CLA 250, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, 235 miles driven

I didn’t care much for this one. It wasn’t a bad deal at $38 a day. There, I said something positive about that complete piece of trash.

Rental #3: Nissan Altima, Miami International Airport, 106 miles driven

It’s starting to occur to me that I am fortunate to get to spend so many miles behind the wheel of so many cars. Most press drives consist of 30-40 miles, tops. This particular Altima was of the V6 variety, so it wasn’t as bad as you’d think. The interior was still a hideous shade of tan that resembled nothing so much as cat vomit, and the suspension behavior felt like Popeye’s boat, The Olive, on rough seas. That being said, there might not be many cheaper ways to buy 270 horsepower when real world transaction prices are involved. I respect that Nissan is still shoving the VQ motor in the Altima.

Rental #4: Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 4, Fort Lauderdale, 146 miles driven

Not a fan. All of things that make a Camaro bearable are missing from the four-cylinder turbo, and you still get all of the fun of a ridiculously small trunk, non-functional backseat, and WWI bunker comfort and visibility. Combine that with all-season tires and you’ve got a real loser on your hands. The EcoBoost Mustangs are superior in every way.

Rental #5: Mazda CX-5, Fort Lauderdale, 113 miles driven

What can I say about the CX-5 that every neckbeard “automotive journalist” hasn’t already said? Well, a lot, actually. The CX-5 is my go-to recommendation for people who ask me for my opinion on which small crossover to buy, and while the dealer network is difficult, I’ve never known somebody to test drive one and not buy it. It feels light and capable in comparison to other entries in the segment, and while it doesn’t have a ton of sexy curb appeal, at least it looks different. Plus, they’re downright cheap in low-end trim. Bark gives it 4 out of 5 dogbones.

Rental #6: Infiniti Q60, Fort Lauderdale, 256 miles

It says something about the Infiniti that I kept it five days and drove it 256 miles. My commute from my Miami home to my office is 14 miles. That means I drove the Q60 for an additional 116 miles that were non-essential — it’s just a pleasant car to drive, and I enjoyed driving it. If you’re truly a sporting car enthusiast, it’s a hard car to justify buying at its $40,700 sticker price. There is no shortage of pony cars you can buy new at that price that will eat the Q60 alive. But not everybody want a Mustang or a Challenger. The Q60 actually feels like it’s worth the price when you drive it, thanks to a pleasant interior and good sound system. Of all the rentals I had this year, this is the one that drew the most “This is a rental?” comments from friends and colleagues.

Rental #7: Lincoln MKX, Denver International Airport, 558 miles

That’s right, I drove this thing 558 miles in three days, thanks to a team meeting that involved a few trips out into the mountains. I’m very glad to see that the MKX has been replaced by the Nautilus. While it was numb enough to drive, it certainly had no features that were worth the $40k+ price tag. Plus, those shifter buttons on the center dash are super annoying. Boo. Die in a fire, MKX.

Rental #8: Nissan Armada, Fort Lauderdale, 596 miles

I liked it more than I thought I would.

Rental #9: Ford Edge, Elmira-Corning Airport, 242 miles

Not bad to drive (I actually got a 75 in a 50 speeding ticket in it), but this build quality makes me cringe. No thanks.

Rental #10: Volkswagen Atlas, Miami, 725 miles

Really? I drove it 725 miles?? Why the hell can I not remember a single thing about it, then? Like, not one? That can’t be right.

Rental #11: Dodge Charger GT, Pasco/Tri-Cities Regional Airport, 527 kilometers

I think we just posted a review of the Challenger GT from Tim Healey, so you should probably read that. My car was a Canadian model, so the novelty of seeing the “km/h” everywhere on the dash was fun for a little bit. Eastern Washington was beautiful at that time of year, and I remember genuinely enjoying the AWD the few times that the system felt the need to engage it. But there is no fucking way that this car is worth the $41k that they want for it. No way at all. I don’t care if dealers are offering $10k off. It’s not enough.

Rental #12: Cadillac XT5, Miami, 68 miles

So this is what Cadillac is now, eh? I don’t get it. I drove this only as much as necessary. I didn’t derive a minute of joy from being behind the wheel. The XT5 was neither luxurious nor powerful nor fun. Hard pass.

Rental #13: Ford Expedition, Miami, 91 miles

Too big for any city driving, but still sort of an OG level of cool about it. It’s one of the few SUVs left that feels like it was made for serious work. I have no doubt about the fact that the Expedition will last 200k miles and then be sold at a Buy Here Pay Here lot for $399 a month. Although I can’t foresee any circumstance which would require me to purchase an Expedition, I would gladly do so.

Rental #14: Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible, Miami, 804 miles

I kept the ‘Stang for a week and a half, hence the large number of miles on it. There is no better car for South Florida than the EcoBoost Mustang, and that’s why every rental lot in the state stocks them to the max. Yes, I’m partial to Mustangs in general, but it’s hard to understand why anybody in his or her right mind would choose the equivalent Camaro (at the base level, anyway). Fun per dollar quotient with the EB Vert is very, very high.

Rental #15: BMW X3, Miami, 97 miles

I dig it.

Rental #16: Mazda MX-5 RF, Miami, 68 miles

One time, back when I was playing music for a semi-living, I was performing with the great Cincinnati pianist Big Joe Duskin at a club in Columbus. Right in the middle of a song, he stopped playing. He said to the audience, “I apologize, but I have forgotten the lyrics to this song. It’s a fine song, and another time, I’ll come back and play it for you. God, I wish I had a fish sandwich.” He then counted off another song, sadly without the accompanying fish sandwich.

Dear readers, this one was worth its own individual review, and I apologize for not writing one. Someday, when I’m back in Miami, I’ll rent it again and write you a review. I don’t like fish sandwiches, but if anybody wants to meet me at Versailles for a Cuban sandwich, I’m in.

Anyway, the RF is a fantastic car.

Rental #17: Buick Cascada, Miami, 162 miles

Somebody let Stu Fowle know — I liked the Cascada. I actually liked it a lot. It is exactly the car that my grandfather should have been driving in his seventies. It’s a pleasant looking car with enough power to get out of its own way and a comfortable ride. The ingress and egress are easy enough for a convertible, as well. It even makes cool whooshing turbo sounds. Unfortunately, the Cascada is based on old tech, with infotainment and dash directly out of the 2011 Equinox (can confirm, owned said Equinox). Unfortunately, since its Opel cousin is going out of production, it looks like the Cascada isn’t much longer for this world, either.

Rental #18: Chevrolet Camaro SS, Miami, 145 miles driven

My rental highlight of the year. There’s no need for a rental car to be anywhere near this fast, but I’m so glad that it is. All my complaints about the four-cylinder disappear when I have 455 horsepower at my disposal. It’s a damn rocket ship, and I’m kinda worried about National handing out the keys to these things to anybody with $40 worth of available credit on a Aspire Visa. It makes my heart warm to know that this car is available for $37k.

PS — the interior, sound system, rear seat, and trunk space all still suck. So my complaints mostly disappear.

Rental #19: Nissan Rogue, Miami, 132 miles

Maybe the most surprising vehicle I rented in 2018. I despised the first-gen Rogue with a passion. I called the “Rogue Select,” which was a continuation of that model’s life cycle into the second gen, the worst car that I’ve ever driven. So it was with some level of astonishment that I discovered that I did not particularly hate the facelifted Rogue. It’s at least as good as its competitors in class, and when you consider that Nissan will finance anybody with a pulse, the Rogue is a good option for young families on a budget.

Rental #20: RAM 1500 5.7 Hemi “Classic”, Fort Lauderdale, 179 miles

Why not? The lovely Luisa, whose Encore was the subject of its own review earlier in the year, needed some help moving, and the Emerald Aisle provideth. It only had 78 miles on the odometer when I picked it up, and I enjoyed breaking it in a bit. Spacious cabin, power to spare, with enough room in the bed to move a sofa and a loveseat, and fuel mileage that creeped into the twenties. I’m not sure that I’d want to get in and out of it every day. Other than that, it’s a winner.

Rental #21: Infiniti QX30, Miami, 997 miles

The year’s last rental was perhaps its most vexing. Painted in a shade of something that mostly resembled the “rose gold” found on iPhones, the QX30 was…ugh, I hate to say this. It was fun. National says I drove it nearly a thousand miles. I don’t think that’s right. But I did drive it quite a bit over the seven days that I had it, and I went from loathing it to almost liking it. While it’s nearly a direct port of the dreaded Mercedes-Benz GLA 250, there’s something about placing the Infiniti badge on it that makes it seem less fraudulent than its star-ridden brother, mostly since nobody really knows what the hell Infiniti is anymore, anyway.

Two women stopped me at separate times to say how adorable or beautiful it was. It wasn’t terribly slow, thanks to a nifty pairing of 208 horsepower and a well-executed 7-speed transmission. The character of the car changed significantly when shifted from “Eco” to “Sport.” In fact, there is some small part of my brain that wants to call Infiniti to see if they’d let me drive one at an SCCA Time Trials event next year.

Because let’s be clear — this isn’t a crossover. It’s a hatchback. In some parallel dream universe, this could even be a Golf GTI competitor, provided that you ditched every possible piece of fake-ass “luxury” from it and just made it a 208 horsepower hot hatch. As my rental was equipped, you’d have to pay $46k for it, and that makes baby Jesus cry this Christmas season. Find a way to package this motor and this chassis for $30k, and you might have something.

Now for the sweeping generalizations. 

21 rental cars in a year.  80 days and thousands of miles in someone else’s driver’s seat. What did I learn?

  • You don’t have to rent bad cars when you travel. Most of the cars on this list were picked because I wanted to drive them. There were also dozens of blah, boring cars that I could have picked — I could have picked a Camry LE or a Malibu instead of what I did pick every single time. Why not try something new, even if nobody is paying you to review it?
  • Infiniti has a bad rap, and maybe not deservedly so. I liked the Infinitis I drove this year, and I wonder if maybe I would like other Infinitis, too. The Armada I liked is essentially an Infiniti with a Nissan badge. I’ve written before that Infiniti should die, and maybe it still should. But the issue appears to be a branding one, not a manufacturing one.
  • Honda is right to refuse to do fleet sales. When I see Toyotas and Nissans, I think “rental car.” Honda is probably a more prestigious badge than any other Japanese marque, save for Lexus (yes, more prestigious than Acura, too). They could easily surpass Nissan and Toyota in sales if they were to sell to rental car companies in bulk (spare me the “YES HONDA DOES TOO DO FLEET SALES), but they are wise to choose not to. It maintains the brand.
  • But Nissan is right to do them. Two different brands, two different strategies. Nissan and Infiniti need the volume help, and maybe people who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to the brands get the chance to experience their cars, some of which aren’t so bad.
  • When I want to do some mindless, traffic-heavy driving, I’ll pick a crossover every time. They’re just easier to drive. Sorry if that offends you enthusiasts. I drive a Focus RS every day in Kentucky. For Miami traffic, I’ll take the CX-5, thanks.

In 2019, I promise to do a better job of writing reviews of these cars for you, the people. If you have specific requests, put them in the comments below. As always, I appreciate your readership.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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60 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: All The Cars I Rented in 2018...”

  • avatar

    I respect that Nissan is still shoving the VQ motor in the Altima.

    Uh not anymore, although it shouldn’t be hard to find a leftover 2018 somewhere.

    Ford Edge – I’ve been noticing “misty” taillights in parking lots as well, so yours was not an outlier. Given the lack of precipitation in this part of the country I have to assume it is getting forced in by car washes and the like.

    VW Atlas – just what VW wanted. I bet you would say the same thing after driving a 2nd gen Highlander the same miles. Anonymous crossover achieved!

    When I want to do some mindless, traffic-heavy driving, I’ll pick a crossover every time.

    No thanks. Having owned one since 2014 I’ve determined that if I feel the need for something like that I’d rather have a Tahoe or an Expedition might as well go all the way with BOF and the like.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Nice, I looked up my profile 29 rentals for 49 days. I suppose I should do a better job of rotating through the available cars. I tend to go with what I know and find they are comfortable in a lot of traffic. So for me it is the half ton Silverado or Dodge Grand Caravan. I admitted on a previous thread the GC was my guilty pleasure for various reasons which come down to I find them really comfortable, they are fast when you want them to be, and in the winter in Chicago the heated seats and steering wheel are a really nice bonus feature.

    Thanks for the reviews. I will make a point to rent an Infiniti this year, I have previously always walked right past them to see what the hype is all about. Oh, and give us a review of the GC just for fun.

  • avatar

    Perfect bite size reviews – oh that Camaro interior, ouch.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Let’s see…
    1. Subaru Legacy
    2. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
    3. Jeep Cherokee
    4. Dodge Challenger
    5. Hyundai Tucson Turbo
    6. Chevrolet Suburban
    7. Nissan Frontier
    8. Toyota Sienna
    9. Ford Taurus

    The only 2 that stick out in my memory are the Challenger and the Sienna

    The Challenger I got after what was the worst flight of my life to include the ones that ended with exiting the aircraft in flight. It was perfect…big, comfortable and relaxed…more akin to an old Thunderbird than a Mustang or Camaro. Made the run from Tucson to Sierra Vista therapudic. I definitely see why this car continues to sell.

    The Sienna? Well I was going to spend 3 weeks bombing around the desert training area at Fort Bliss/White Sands Missile Range. As such, I reserved a truck. Upon arrival all that was left was some subcompacts and the Sienna. They kicked in some gas and free XM. I feel for whoever gets that. Multiple flat tires from running over cactuses and probably scratched up pretty good under the layers of dust. Never got stuck though and kept up with the HMMWV which broke down early and often.

    • 0 avatar

      Challenger – 6 or 8?

      I’ve noticed that Enterprise has a fair number of R/T Challengers/Chargers sitting on the sale lot after rental duty is done.

      • 0 avatar

        Am I the only one who’d be nervous as hell about buying an ex-rental Challenger hemi or Camaro SS?

        • 0 avatar

          The apprehension is palatable, IMO.

          • 0 avatar

            A few years back, my old company sent me to Jacksonville for three weeks of training, including two weekends. My rental was a hemi Challenger. It was a really good three weeks for me. I can’t say the same for the tread on the Challenger’s rear tires.

            Thus, my trepidation about buying a ex-rental muscle car.

        • 0 avatar

          You could take the DeMuro route and buy some sort of gold plated/platinum core/ironclad extended warranty. But then you might as well buy new. There’s usually good deals on R/Ts

          (And decent deals on Hemi 300 models when you can actually find them in stock)

          • 0 avatar

            Does Enterprise sell such a thing I wonder?

            The other part of this IMO is calculating residual after the warranty expires (if available). I feel though Mopar, despite being Mopar, will continue to run after the secondary warranty period other quibbles notwithstanding. Can you say that for zee Germans?

          • 0 avatar

            @28-cars, well one advantage of a Dodge out here in the sticks is being able to find someone to work on it.

            We have a fair number of business men in the area who like MB. Their neighborhoods have a fair number of said MBs immobile and rotting in their driveways – air suspensions completely deflated.

            Can’t say that about all the clapped out Chargers and 300s running around.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s what I figured, esp out in the sticks.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Honestly you should be way more apprehensive about the Sienna…We beat the crap out of it and judging from the stains and alignment when we got it, we weren’t the first. This is a recurring theme when someone in our party gets a minivan.

          • 0 avatar

            Minivans were always assumed to have been destroyed and there is a de-facto discount applied to them in wholesale.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        It was an 8 and I wasn’t paying for gas.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I should add the Cherokee was the first vehicle I’ve spent any real time with that had any of the active lane holding stuff. I didn’t really notice it was there which is probably the best thing you can say about such systems but it was nice to have driving back to Fort Lewis from the Pearl Jam show at Safeco at like 2AM.

  • avatar
    Funky D


    We had a couple overlaps in our rental experiences this year. The only difference is I rent for long road trips, so I put well over 1k miles on each of the ones I had this year, and got to become familiar with them more than I probably wanted to.

    Jeep Cherokee: Your appraisal is pretty much spot-on. It is entirely competent (I liked the all-LED lighting), and fairly roomy. 9-speed transmission tended to hunt a little, but otherwise a fine, but indeed forgettable ride.

    Nissan Rogue: A decent CUV overall, but just enough smaller than the RAV4 to be annoyingly noticeable. Granted Nissans are more budget-friendly, but if one has more options, there are certainly better ones.

    Nissan Altima: Best FWD mid-sized option not called Camry or Accord.

    Loved your review on the CLA 250. Maybe you should have rented the Chevy Malibu, because that is the ONLY car on your list from which a Malibu would have been a step UP!

  • avatar

    I concur completely with Bark on Infinitis – they’re underrated, which makes used ones a screaming bargain. Like that Q60? Here’s one that’d be tough to say no to at +/- $27,000:

    Saw one of these with that nice metallic black rolling through downtown Boulder at sunset on a gorgeous spring night this year…very, very nice. How nice, you ask? My girlfriend, who has zero interest in cars, said, “damn, that’s good looking.” If she comments on a car, it’s hot.

    • 0 avatar

      My wife has a Q60… it is a great car, no doubt about it. Their value drops off a cliff quickly thus a used Infiniti is fantastic deal.

      And Bark you are in my next of the woods (FLL) a lot.

      I rent often for work too (Hertz Gold about once a month) and pretty much grab whichever Hyundai or Kia is available. I think they have the most logical interiors going these days. When renting I need a vehicle that I can figure out all the buttons and infotainment system as quickly as possible. Plus the H/K vehicle seem to always have the SiriusXM activated. I’ve have terrible luck with other makes in this regard. I rented a Ford Fusion once and during a 6 hour drive they were never able to get the satellite radio working. I was not a happy camper that day.

    • 0 avatar

      It is not that they are bad. They are just plain ugly.

  • avatar

    Totally agree about Honda not selling to rental, I do have an issue with the CX-5, as I was looking to replace a 2016 Accord, I decided to go back to Mazda since I had 2 of them in the past, I visited 3 different Mazda dealers, none were able to offer a good deal, as if they don’t want to sell cars, one was asking for almost $400 a month lease for the Turing, I decided to stay with Honda, got the Accord EX-L 2.0 with Navi, not only it has more stuff in it, it also much faster and fun to drive and way cheaper.

  • avatar

    “but most of the time it’s actually cheaper to rent a car for $35 a day than it is to use ridesharing services”

    Does Emerald Club include some sort of perk where you can get real cars for $35/day? Even through Costco real vehicles are usually at least $50 + x% bullsh!t

  • avatar
    Steve Lynch

    Two recent and very different rental experiences:

    Picked up a silver Rogue in Tampa, fully expecting not to like it (reading too many autojourno reviews!) The only fault was its surprisingly small luggage space. Other than that, it was great. Good looking intuitive infotainment center was easy to hook up phone and tunes, rode nicely, adequate power, distinctive looks. Easy to see why they sell so well.

    Two weeks later in Miami, no SUVs in the Hertz Gold Choice lane, so we chose a black base Camry. How can you go wrong with a Camry?

    An hour later we are northbound on 95 clear of Miami, going an indicated 75mph and most cars are zooming past us. Old ladies in beige Buicks seem to be doing 90+. What the [email protected]#!#@$? We finally pass a couple of stationary radar signs and learn our speedometer is showing 10-12 mph higher than our actual speed!

    Add to that a cruise control stalk straight out of a 1990s GM vehicle, the gas and trunk release levers from a 1980s Honda, a HORRIBLE rudinemtary undecipherable infotainment center, too much tire noise and lousy seats.

    I was disappointed to say the least.

    • 0 avatar

      Ha! I got my only speeding ticket on that exact stretch of 95. I was going 90 in a 70 zone, the cop was super friendly though and she wrote me up for going 5-9 over (79mph). I told her I was just doing my MO which is to match the speed of traffic but don’t get stuck behind anyone.

      That’s strange about the Camry’s speedo, though. I dealt with an inaccurate speedo for years in my jeep, but that’s to be expected when you lift it and put big tires on it and don’t take the time to change the thing that measures or calculates speed.

  • avatar

    Ooh, I’ll play, but with a much shorter list, I don’t travel for business.

    #1: Ford Mustang Ecoboost automatic, rented for the express purpose of doing an SCCA Track Night event. Easy to live with and practical, as ponycars go. I think 10 speeds is too many, car is shifting all the time. Step on gas slightly (shift shift) let off slightly (shift shift) press a little harder (shift shift shift) let off completely (shift shift shift shift) If you buy one, get the manual. Lots of choices for the electronic nannies, I chose one of the middle level ones for the chassis and the sport mode for the transmission, the car feels smaller than it is and a little slidey but very controllable with those settings. Good brakes and summer tires completed the package.

    #2: Nissan Murano, rented for a week’s family vacation. It was either this or an unspecified Mazda. If they could have said CX-9 I would have taken it, but they might have given me a CX-5 which would have been a little tight for the four of us. Best word to describe this would be innocuous. The CVT behaves reasonably, it got good mileage, roomy enough for four plus bags, OK seats, no complaints but no thrills either, About what you’d expect from a Nissan CUV. We never figured out the infotainment system but didn’t try all that much either. It took us five minutes and four people to figure out how to get the mileage to show up after we turned it in.

    Nissan Altima, rented to take a child to university orientation. Bland, bland, bland. Hyperactive CVT, a small pedal press gets a lot of revs, steering feels disconnected. Good fuel economy and acceptable seats. That production continues on this and the Fusion gets discontinued is a crime.

    Camaro V6 automatic, again for track duty. Like Bark said, bad visibility, useless rear seat, dull interior. Car felt absolutely planted on the track, all the temperatures stayed in the green, brakes worked well, and the six + 8 speed automatic works great. I have had a fondness for six cylinder engines my whole automotive life. The second motor race I attended was the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1973, and the sound of the Penske and Brumos Porsche 911 Carrera RSRs is permanently imprinted on my brain. This car sounded great and worked great, but it’s not very livable on a daily basis.

    About that idea of getting what you want: Maybe that works if you are going to large airports during business hours, but if you’re in Pittsburgh at 10 PM or Portland at 5 PM you’re going to get what they have. My Altima rental was supposed to be a Maxima (or equivalent) but all they had were Altimas or Rav4s. No more Toyotas for me.

  • avatar

    Two rentals this year for me:

    1) Nissan Armada – rented for my first blended-family vacation for five (semi) adults, a trip to Durango. It was surprisingly good – tons of power, even fully loaded, and MPG was acceptable (19 overall). Awful infotainment, though. I have no need for a vehicle like this, but I see why people buy them.

    2) Buick Encore – rented while my car was in the shop with hail damage, and ended up pressed into service for a last minute Denver-St. Louis road trip. It was great around town, and acceptable (if a bit high-strung) on the highway. Excellent ergonomics and seating. Android Auto is terrific. Here’s the rub: the thing got 24 mpg on the road trip across Kansas, while the Armada got 19 carrying five people and a s**tload of luggage up half the mountain passes in Colorado.

  • avatar

    Infiniti needs to expunge all evidence of the people who created and approved its current naming convention. I’m something of a car enthusiast, but the names Q30 and Q60 mean nothing to me. If there’s anything I miss about my nine German cars, it was not having to explain what one was when asked what I drove. Splashing 4Runner money on a Q-0 isn’t going to let conversation move onto something more interesting without an explanation.

    • 0 avatar

      They did. #RIPJohan

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll go further. They need to make an effort to rebadge all of the Q-idiocy already sold; offering people free services if needed to accept having their cars rebadged correctly as G30Ts or I20Ts et cetera. They spent twenty years moving past having launched a car brand with images of birds and plants instead of cars only to chuck all of their progress down the drain by adopting a naming scheme inspired by the Smurf language.

  • avatar

    Haven’t rented much in the past year but before that I did a fair amount.
    Nissan Rogue
    A friend had a first gen and so did my sister in-law never liked them. Had a current gen as a rental and while nothing stood out it seems so much better then the previous gen.

    Charger GT
    Loved this thing. Loved the Penta star. Awesome car all the way around. Perfect replacement for my 300M. MSRP is high not sure what you can buy one for but my price would be around 29k for what I would be willing to pay.

    Ram Hemi
    Also awesome. Bit higher to climb in then I would have guessed, but milege was only about 15,% worse then the charger. Which I is why a crew cab is high on the list for next car.

    VW Jetta
    Seriously how did they get that much room in the back and still knock down 38mpg? Not bad to drive either. But mine had a check engine light come on with like 20k on the odo. That and wheel bearing whine from the front end make me think I don’t actually want one.

  • avatar

    I am looking at Infinity’s for my wife next car, seems like a great deal used, and I have no idea what the names mean, I think we will be looking at a q50 or 60 but not really sure what the difference is, and I would not have been surprised if the q60 turned out to be a CUV. She is leaning towards a CPO A$ and I am hoping a Infinity instead.

  • avatar
    Polka King

    ” I’ve never known somebody to test drive one (Mazda CX5) and not buy it.”

    Well, here. I had a choice between the Mazda and a same-size-and-shape Hyundai, and I took the Hyundai.

    The Mazda was the most user-hostile car ever. The wayback floor wasn’t flat, it was a bin, so you couldn’t put anything in it but groceries. The A-pillar could hide a school bus. The dashboard was nightmarishly garish.

    The Hyundai, on the other hand, was so friendly it made me feel grateful. Everything I did with it I just wanted to say “Thank you” all the time.

    Now, I know, all Automotive Reviewers care about is how much a car makes them feel like A Real Race Car Driver, but believe it or not, that’s not normal.

    • 0 avatar

      How ironic that you post this comment to the only writer here who is A Real Race Car Driver.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      IMHO, if you want to feel like a real race car driver all the time, get the least powerful engine you can with a manual. When I got the Fiesta ST I drove a used Ecoboost 3 cylinder model (It was a 5 speed…they all were I think). You flogged it everywhere and I loved it. If I could have gotten the ST’s shifter and suspension with that motor I think it would have been the greatest “slow car fast” ever made. The shifter was like a fork in overcooked pasta in comparison to the ST however. But it was a ton of fun…like every trip required driving it at 11/10ths.

  • avatar

    If I can remember them all correctly:

    1) Hyundai Sonata
    2) Ford Fusion Hybrid
    3) Cadillac ATS (4 cyl turbo)
    4) MB CLA250
    5) Jaguar F-Type R
    6) Corvette Z06
    7) M2 Competition
    8) Alfa Romeo 4C
    9) Audi A3
    10) Honda Accord
    11) MB SLC300
    12) Ford F-150 V6
    13) BMW i8
    14) Dodge Viper GTS
    15) Chevy Sonic
    16) Tesla Model 3

    More good than bad, and thank god for Turo!

  • avatar

    My rentals in 2018:

    2017 Corolla: This car has a simple and easy spirit. It’s nimble, peppy-enough for the price, and just feels like a smart buy for its reputation and refreshing simplicity.

    2018 Mazda CX-5 Touring: Lousy infotainment controls and menus. Very frustrating user experience. Driving character not as smooth and responsive as I expected.

    2018 Mazda3 Touring: My absolute favorite rental this year! Other than an obtuse infotainment setup, this car pleased me to the core. The sharp steering responsiveness, telepathic throttle/transmission action, and decent engine pep all worked together… and driving was joyful. Great front seats. Perfect driving position. I looked for reasons to run errands in this car.

    2019 Altima SR: I am a fan of these slick and refined CVTs. This car felt way more athletic than it even needs to be. Calm and intuitive dash layout. Clear and logical infotainment system and flawless response to voice commands. A winner.

  • avatar

    One of the many cars I rented as on work trips was a beautiful ‘mid-size’ sedan. Ummm… it was a Chevy Spark. I defy you to drive a Spark on a two-lane 60 mph road in comfort. I passed people as this thing did 80 and got looks of horror. Those looks of horror were from me though.

  • avatar

    Opinions vary. Co-worker is a bit of a princess (yet very nice and highly competent, great co-worker). Her hubby bought her an MKX. Years later, he bought her a BMW X5. She misses the MKX and would rather have it back. Enthusiasts may not like the MKX, but it certainly has it’s place.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Agreed. How may Broughams were sold for every E30 3 series back in the day?

      • 0 avatar

        Most people don’t care how a car drives.

        For others, it is the most important thing (me). It’s nice when there are choices available for both kinds of people. Currently, Broughamism is winning, by far. Which to be fair, has probably saved me a couple hundred K in new car purchases.

        If I was at the position in life I am now back in the late 80s, I would either need a 20 car garage or a series of 6mo leases. Today, not so much. Unless I talk myself into a Cayman for my 50th in 2019 (my Yankee roots are showing), I feel like I have probably bought my last new car. I just don’t think I can justify $70K for a car though, especially in boring to drive in Florida. And it feels too much like a mid-life crisis.

  • avatar

    Only rented one car this year, and it was a Chrysler 300 with which my entire party was suitably impressed. Spacious and good looking with decent pickup from the V6, an excellent tranny and excellent fuel economy. It also had an air conditioner that easily kept up with 106 degree ambient temps. The interior wasn’t particularly luxurious in terms of materials, but it looked good. I could easily see paying $27,000 for one of these new. The bad news is that average transaction prices across all vehicles were nearly $36,000 last year. Inflation, ye are a bitch.

  • avatar

    I’ve had a weird year with regard to rentals. I’m currently working in Europe and while most of the time I don’t need a car, when I have needed one it has been a automatic, diesel Ford Galaxy that my job pays for. They’re pretty bare-bones but they get the job done.

    More recently I’m driving a 6-speed diesel Opel Astra around. It’s not a bad little car and it has a lot of the options ticked. The heated steering wheel and seats are nice in the cold German weather and the infotainment system pairs easily and intuitively with my iPhone. It has been fun to drive. It handled 180 kph on the Autobahn with no issues.

  • avatar

    I rented about 20 cars this year through Enterprise Emerald Aisle. Best car was the 750i X-Drive (literally the last car on the lot in Pittsburgh at 1:30 AM). Had a couple of Challengers. Lots of non-descript Toyotas and Nissans. Worst car was the 2018 Prius.

  • avatar

    I had several rental cars this year:

    1. 2018 Altima – lately when I get rental it almost always is Altima which I never liked. The first car this year was also Altima but something changed. It felt kind of more refined and almost acceptable. I liked that I4 NA engine even though it is anything but quick. It was also much quieter than before and had nice leather seats.
    2. 2019 Chevy Malibu – it was kind of base model with 1.5 turbo engine and cloth interior. Not a fan. I hated auto-start. After Fusion I cannot imagine this car in my garage (after naturally seeing it there) and actually would take Altima over it, even though Altima would be the last car I would buy with my hard earned money.
    3. 2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid Titanium – the good thing is that id is a Ford Fusion. But it is very slow and battery takes two much space in trunk. Otherwise it is a good looking and nice hybrid car. My coworker bought one and likes it immensely. Take into account that I owned/own two Fusions – 2014 Fusion Titanium FWD and currently 2018 Fusion Titanium with AWD. So I am Fusion fan. It is sad that Ford discontinues it, very sad.
    4. Toyota Corolla – the worst car I rented in years. Boring, boring and boring, even interior. And interior has no style just random collection of boring and cheap staff.

  • avatar

    I’m about on par with Bark for rentals, but all Hertz, and this year I don’t think I put much more than 100 miles on any of them. I used Uber a LOT this year too. Kind of a weird year, I got 5-6 Infiniti Q50s (which I don’t like at all, just usually the best option in the President’s Circle area, and Hertz has tons of them). One of whatever the huge Infiniti sedan is – worse than the Q60. A couple of Hemi Chargers and a couple Hemi Challengers, a couple 300s – nothing I would EVER buy but amusing for a couple days at a time. A couple of Impalas (blech, but I didn’t want a 300 or Q50 in the snow). A couple Mustangs, which confirm that I really, really, really want to like them but I just don’t. Love how they look, love the idea of them, they drive decently, but I hate how bloated and bargy they feel. One Pacifica, which I thought was fantastic for what it is. A couple BMW 330is – perfectly fine, if not exciting, ditto a couple of Mercedes C300s and CLAs. One new Camry (had to try it) – I’d still rather walk than own one.

    Nothing really interesting or surprising. I got screwed out of a Volvo S90 by the Augusta GA Hertz closing 5 mins before my delayed flight arrived. That ALMOST got me to stop using Hertz, but the non-expiring points keep me with them. On the other hand, the Cincinnati Hertz stayed 2hrs past closing for me for another delayed flight, so some redemption there. Had a bus sitting at the door waiting just for me. Ended the year at 132K miles in the air, all domestic, all on American. Good times…

  • avatar

    1. 2016 Nissan Altima 2.5. I didn’t like the visibility from the driver’s seat, but it had a backup camera and drove alright. I had some problems with the key fob not being detected, maybe it was a low battery. Pretty good MPG and good comfort for driving around Hawaii.

    2. 2016? Kia Soul 1.8. Pretty much the same car as we owned but ours had the 2.0 which is slightly more powerful. I still think it’s a well put together and easy to drive car but the gas mileage could be better. This was car #2 in Hawaii, it was cheaper to return the first one and rent another than to extend it.

    3. 2017 Ford Edge (not quite sure which motor, probably the 2.0 ecoboost). I liked the low level of road noise but I didn’t like the outward visibility very much and I think it’s an ugly vehicle. Seats were very comfortable, and it went around corners better than I thought it would due to the height of it. One-day rental in Hawaii, last day.

    4. 2016? Toyota Sienna. Not a fan. The Dodge/Chrysler minivans are better designed for passengers although the Toyota was smoother than I expected on the highway, passed some vehicles on the I-805 and before I knew it we were going over 90.

    5. 2018 Hyundai Elantra. I really liked it. Well designed cockpit, comfortable, good MPG even though it wasn’t a hybrid. These things are a steal if some of the advertised prices I am seeing are legitimate.

    6. 2017 Hyundai Sonata. First car I rented through Lyft/Hertz to do their Express Drive thing to see if I want to continue driving with them. I didn’t like the seat at first but I found a position comfortable enough to spend quite a few hours in the car driving people around. Fairly comfortable to take naps in as well if you have a neck pillow. Good size trunk. I found the transmission jerky and the one I got had a wheel bearing going out in the back. Decent MPG, adequate power but I don’t like the noise the 2.4 motor makes at high RPM. Excellent headlights.

    7. 2016 Chevy Malibu Limited. Second car rented through Lyft/Hertz (currently still using). I wasn’t completely miserable after 12 hours in the seat from 5PM-5AM working new year’s eve. It uses more gas than the Sonata and has a smaller tank. The gas filler cap is on the right side for some reason. The center console is too small, and the interior is typical GM lack of build quality. Smooth to operate and pretty good suspension, goes around corners predictably. I don’t think anyone would choose to buy this over any of the competition, but it’s not a terrible car.

  • avatar

    My exposure to rentals was very limited this year: Both from Alamo at TPA
    1. 18 Cadillac XTS, most noteworthy things were the cooled seats (excellent) and the trunk that wouldn’t hold 5 peoples’ luggage. As an aside I had rented a 17 Impala in 2017 with the same 3.6L drivetrain and I think I preferred the Chevy overall
    2. 19 Nissan Altima SR, don’t have a clue what engine it had, thought it was a Maxima until we got to Siesta Key and I read the name on the trunk. Steering wheel was too low, even at the top of the tilt function, otherwise a nice, unoffensive midsize car. The back doors sounded terrible when they closed…a metal-on-metal clank instead of the nice thud I expect.

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