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Driving Lessons: Rental Cars

Over the last year or so, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in rental cars, with needing one for a vacation in the spring, and currently have one while my car is being repaired after a recent car accident deemed my car unsafe to drive (apparently having only the emergency latch holding the hood down is enough to get a priority spot on the waiting list at a body shop).

In the past when I’ve had a rental for whatever reason, I’ve always expected to be given the cheesiest base model available, or something so hideous I would be ashamed to have anyone witness me driving it (vehicles I’ve had the pleasure of driving in the past that qualify as “hideous” include a Mazda 5, a PT Cruiser, and a minivan), so my hopes were set reasonably low for my latest rental experience.

When the nice people at the rental agency my insurance referred me to walked with me out to the lot a few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised when he steered me towards the Toyota Camry instead of to the uncool soccer mom minivan. It’s still a larger car than I am really used to, but I’ve found I actually enjoy driving this latest acquisition, even though it is a bit of a land yacht compared to my little perky Mazda 3.

I’m not in the market for a new car, as I really love my little Mazda, but there are some features in the rental that I will be sorry to say goodbye to. I really enjoy that this car has a fun gadget that seems to be smarter than both me and my phone.

The audio settings are so advanced that it even displays information about the song that is playing from your device!

Once I discovered Bluetooth was available, I linked my phone to the stereo system, and now the car automatically turns on the last song I had queued up, from either Pandora or iTunes. And, I learned today that the fancy steering wheel controls will pull up the rest of my music library on the screen, so I can change the song without even having to touch my phone. How cool is that?!

I’m sure there are a ton of other cool features I haven’t even discovered yet, and am honestly am afraid to play around too much, lest I get too attached and decide my car needs to be upgraded once I have to give the rental back. I’m a sucker for any kind of cool gadget or advancement in technology, so being able to play around with the cool features has been a real treat for me, as the most exciting things on my current car are the sunroof and the auxiliary jack that I can plug my iPod into.

Because of my latest experience, I’ve decided there should be some rule with rentals that you should only receive a car that is equal in features or coolness to the one you currently drive.

When I finally decide that it’s time to upgrade, I’ll have to keep these cool features in mind and put them on my wish list– I can only imagine how many additional advancements in vehicle technology will exist by then.

Have you ever experienced something similar with a rental car, or developed your own set of rules and requirements when picking out a rental vehicle?

One Response

  1. Mel says:

    Hey, I own a minivan, my kid hates soccer and I am still a rock star. It is a swagger wagon! LOL! When we went to Colorado a few years ago we ended up with a bright orange Hummer H3. Which our 3 year old at the time called a “Plummer”. It had lots and lots of bells and whistles and some kicking satellite radio. The hubs loved driving it and wanted to get one when we got home. Then he saw the price of said vehicle and well, Uh…. we do not own a Hummer.

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