Monday, October 26, 2009

Rental Car Review

I've traveled a lot recently for my job. I've been twice to Reno, NV and once to Troy, MI. Each time, I rented a car from Avis, and each time, the experience was quite pleasant. The cars themselves, however, bring me to the conclusion that GM is (was?)severely mismanaged, ignorant, and rightly deserving of bankruptcy.

My first rental car was a Chevy HHR, in Silver. New to business related travel, I had not signed up for frequent flyer miles, hotel points, or car rental rewards. As an Avis non-Preferred member, I had to walk to the far-away parking spaces to get to my assigned vehicle.

I'm not a large person, but inside the HHR I felt cramped. I've seen museum-piece APCs with larger viewports. Visibility sucked, but the controls were also in an awkward place in the console between the front seats. Window controls weren't on the door panel like 98% of people are used to. It made me nervous when I rolled-down the window while driving. I've been driving a car for 10 years now; I should be able to roll down a window at highway speeds without having to think about it. Not the case with the HHR.

One good point was the large trunk. You could fit a lot of suitcases back there.

By the next trip, I had signed up for Avis Preferred service. Free sign up, and the very next trip, I got a much better car. It was parked closer, and they had it unlocked, trunk open, and the engine running for me. By some stroke of luck, the seat was even at the exact right distance.

The car, this time, was a Pontiac G6 with less than 1000 miles on it. It drove fantastically. Were I in the market for a new car, I'd seriously consider getting one of these. It was fun to drive. (It'd probably be better with a manual transmission, but then, what isn't?) It was a nice car, and after driving HHRs, I can see perfectly why Pontiac was the first brand that GM dropped. (/sarc)

That trip was a fluke. Each time since then (about three or four trips), I've gotten HHRs. It's clear that the biggest buyer of these vehicles is rental companies, for whatever reason. Hopefully, next time I need to rent a car, my travel agency won't order another hearse/milk truck mashup that is Chevy's HHR.