We’ve all been there at one point or another – queuing at the car rental company counter. Maybe you made a reservation in advance, maybe not, but your fate was sealed the same way when a vehicle class was selected. From there you stayed in the hands of the person who worked at the Rental Car Incorporated counter.
Today we are going to talk about the times you wasted at rental car roulette.
Your author didn’t rent that many cars in particular, but one in particular was much worse than the others. The time was late October 2017 and the place was in Florida. The need was transportation in the St. Petersburg region – a short vacation after a working conference. Conference ended, I returned to the airport to pick up my rental, a “We choose for you” course at Enterprise. This saves money, but the person at the counter chooses a car for you.
The three options presented to me were dark: a base white Ford F-150 XL, a base silver Nissan Frontier, or a bright red Hyundai Accent. I knew I had a lot of driving to do. After a quick internal struggle, the fuel economy of a VQ40 and the size of a four-cabin F-150 seemed less desirable than a small sedan. Accent, then.
The cheerful red paint (photo of the actual car) was full of orange peel, and the gray interior was relentless in its monochromatic attack on the eye senses. It only came with basic options and even lacked Bluetooth connectivity on a 2017 model. I wasn’t too impressed with my rental ride; then I got out of the parking lot.
The ride into town was pretty consistent, although the brakes were a bit slack and, perhaps as expected, the steering was numb. But at highway speeds, the Accent was not a pleasant place. The seat was not comfortable for long journeys and the interior noise level was suitable for a car of a different generation. The biggest issues in a mile, however, were the steering and suspension at highway speeds. At speeds above 60 mph, the small sedan bounced off the ripples of the road and was difficult to maintain in a straight line. It seemed that the ultra-light high-speed steering effort went a bit overboard and eliminated any center position. It was very tiring to drive any distance due to the constant corrections required in the steering wheel. And since I had to deal with it a lot, I noticed that the thin steering wheel had a rough edge along its circumference. The cheap rubber was badly finished.
I have never been so happy to return a rental car. Unfortunately, I was forced to see other people render their Challengers and Sonatas with smiles on their faces and wondered what that kind of happiness could look like.
So tell us about your worst rental car stench. Could it be worse than a previous generation Hyundai Accent?
[Images: Nissan, Corey Lewis]