QOTD: Winning at Rental Car Roulette?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd winning at rental car roulette

Last week, we took a moment to recount our worst rental car memories — those times when the desk attendant at Rental Giant Co. was feeling either low on inventory or particularly unkind. Some of you took it upon yourselves to do some extra credit work, offering your winning rental car roulette examples, too.

Well, you can just type them again today, because the best of the best rental experiences is our topic of discussion.

My winning rental car recollection was easy to decide. In May of 2016 I decided to take a little road trip across Ohio to the border of West Virginia. To make it more interesting, I refused highways and took the Ohio River Scenic Byway instead. It would be a decently long journey, undertaken for one specific reason: pizza. There were two McDonalds locations in the nation that still offered the short-lived pizza that McD’s experimented with in the Nineties. I was determined.

I’d reserved a Standard class car. Enterprise picked me up the morning of departure in a grey Camry LE and took me to the office. They were hopeful. “You’ve reserved a Standard car. How about that Camry we picked you up in?”

I probably pulled a face, but asked, “Got anything interesting?”

Turns out they did; the black Challenger SXT seen here. On the long journey to pizza, I was pleased with the power on offer from the 3.6-liter Pentastar, even though the transmission kneecapped the engine a bit by shifting up through the gears too eagerly. The ride was generally comfortable with a big cruiser feel and a lot of old-fashioned road holding weight. My sort of thing.

Less impressive was the interior, with fit and finish coinciding appropriately with the generally just-okay materials. But that was mostly forgivable given it was a large, V6, and rear-drive coupe for $28,000 before any dealing was done. Seats were supportive, with enough bolstering, and the cockpit was generally comfortable. The biggest downside was the horrendous visibility mandated by the styling, and not assisted by the lack of a backup camera on such a base model. It made for some paranoia when reversing after eating an entire pizza (which was very tasty, by the way).

It was a fun trip, made nice by a comfortable, big car. Without any attempt to conserve fuel or drive on an interstate, I achieved something like 25 miles per gallon. Winning. (The pizza was discontinued at both locations shortly after and is now extinct.)

Let’s hear your rental car roulette wins.

[Images: Porsche, Corey Lewis]

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  • Mncarguy Mncarguy on Sep 19, 2019

    Last year I had reserved a compact SUV for our trip to Florida. Usually, at the counter, the person will ask if I want to upgrade to a BMW or Lexus for only $30. I'll say "$30 for the whole time?", and they will say "No! $30 per day". I'll tell them that I'll stick with my original rental. This time at the Tampa airport they said that since I rented for more than 10 days, and it was through Costco, they had a special and I could get a BMW X3 for $10 a day more than the compact SUV. For $10 I figured I could be a sport. I was more than happy with the upgrade.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Sep 20, 2019

    Debbie Downer here to say: Remember than your typical rental vehicle is nicer and more functional than the daily driver of about 78% of the driving population.

  • Xidex i haven't even turned the dial to AM since the 90's I think at that time it was only because there is one station i liked was on the AM dial (it is no longer around) Someone had to point to the station otherwise i wouldn't have even scanned the AM dial. I still think the AM dial should be left on radios though, If no one listened to it then there wouldn't be any stations would there.
  • Kwik_Shift I have five AM stations preset, each different from one another in terms of content. Some politics, some day to day, some do it yourselfing or help. Focus is more on local news and events. FM is just about pushing crap music and djs pushing the MSM message for their corporate overlords. FM is about making radio sound exactly the same all over North America. I like ONE FM station that plays different varieties of country music and has an entertaining dj. Overall, to each their own.
  • Kat Laneaux What's the benefits of this as opposed to the Ford or Nissan. Will the mileage be better than the 19 city, 24 hwy? Will it cost less than the average of $60,000? Will it be a hybrid?
  • Johnster Minor quibble. The down-sized full-sized 1980-only Continental (which was available with Town Car and Town Coupe trims) gave up its name in 1981 and became the Town Car. The name "Town Coupe" was never used after the 1980 model year. The 1981 Lincoln Town Car was available with a 2-door body style, but the 2-door Lincoln Town Car was discontinued and not offered for the 1982 model year and never returned to the Lincoln lineup.
  • Zipper69 Some discreet dwebadging and this will pass for a $95k Lucid Air...