Home » What Was Your Last Rental Car And How Was It?

What Was Your Last Rental Car And How Was It?

Woman With Luggage Going To Her Car With Luggage.
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As car enthusiasts, we love an opportunity to slide behind the wheel of something different. However, experiencing new cars can be hard. Unless you work in the auto industry or intentionally drive a horribly unreliable German car as a gambit to snag seat time in dealership loaner vehicles, rental fleets are likely your best chance of getting behind the wheel of new stuff.

An inarguable truth about rental car roulette is that sometimes you win and other times you don’t. For every free upgrade, there’s a neglected Nissan Altima just waiting to proclaim that it’s seen tens of thousands of hard miles.

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The last actual rental car I was in was a Volkswagen Jetta, and you know what? It was great. Apple CarPlay connected instantaneously, noise on the highway was remarkably low, the seats were all-day comfortable, the trunk swallowed all our luggage, and the fuel bill was microscopic. It was objectively a great car for a whirlwind trip to Calgary, and it felt like it punched far above its weight class.

Volkswagen Jetta 2019 1600 03

So, what was your last rental car, and how was it? Whether you were a lucky duck in a muscle car or left the airport with a pre-dented Buick Encore, we’d love to know about your latest rental car experience in the comments below.

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(Photo credits: Volkswagen)

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Another Engineer
Another Engineer
28 days ago

Last week I booked a compact but when I showed up I had my choice between a GMC Terrain or Mustang convertibles in red and black. Given that it was 75 and sunny and I was driving up the coast, I took the black one. Fun around town, but quite unsafe feeling and uncomfortable on the highway. My head would have hit the windshield frame at the slightest fender bender. I had to pull the windows up to close them too. My kids had a fun trip around the neighborhood before I returned it.

Previously, given the status of rental car “reservations” (see Jerry Seinfeld’s bit), I got the call that they only had 15 passenger vans available at that site. Given I was driving alone 1,000 miles through the mountains, I called around and ended up with a 80,000 mile partly broken Soul that saw me through well.

Drh3b
Drh3b
29 days ago

This was years ago when we went to my grandma’s funeral, flew there and had rented a Corolla. Got a Mazda 6 with the Taurus V6.
The 3 things I remember is that the bucket seats were too tight for my fat ass, the BOSE stereo defined the no highs or lows it must be Bose, and the tires couldn’t handle the torque of the V6, even with traction control. With better tires, I’m sure it would have been fun to drive. I had a similar vintage Accord V6 until someone totalled it, and never had a problem, but I had top notch modern tires on it.

Corey Emmons
Corey Emmons
29 days ago

I just got out of a 2024 Tacoma TRD Offroad as a rental, and it was… fine. I had to drive it from Maine to NJ and back, which is not really what it was meant for, but I figured I wouldn’t mind trying it out. As an owner of a 2000 4Runner, the interior was leagues nicer, but the drivetrain didn’t feel all that much better. I averaged 19.5mpg, the turbo sound is kind of weird (but also kind of fun), and it is by no means fast. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to test it offroad, but all of that has been done, including by Tracy. As a final review, I can say I was completely whelmed.

PicklesPickles
PicklesPickles
1 month ago

In Palm Springs, where our hotel had free charging, I reserved an EV. I knew Hertz had EQBs, Polestar 2s, Model 3s and that last one is what they tried to give me. There’s no way I’ll look like a modern Elon fan, so rejecting that, it turned out all they had was a Bolt EUV (the one with the frighteningly bad tail light design).

It was GREAT. Nippy, big but small, easy to charge, had allegedly 225-240 miles of range. The button shifter is stupid and somehow nobody rear-ended us. Honestly, I got home after and checked used ads to see how cheap they are to buy… potentially replacing our ‘16 XC60. (I didn’t, but thought about it!)

ToeMotor
ToeMotor
1 month ago

Its been a few years since since we had to rent a vehicle, but it was a 2020 Ford F250 diesel….
My mom had a 48″ deck, riding mower she no longer wanted, so she gave it to me. Well, my Escape had no hitch, and we couldnt get it in the back seat of my wifes Elantra, so I had to rent a truck and a trailer to get it the 60 miles to my house.
I had a pickup in the mid 90s, and loved it. Then you get married, have kids, etc., etc…… and I currently drive an Escape. While I gotta say the F250 diesel was a little too much overkill for what I need a pickup for and to do, it was nice to drive a real truck again.

JamesRL
JamesRL
1 month ago

My last rental car was a 2023 Toyota Camry SE.

It was decent.

So decent, in fact, it was the catalyst that resulted in me trading in my 2017 Tacoma TRD Off Road 6spd for a 2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited.

I had been conflicted with having a paid off truck getting poor MPGs in the Tacoma, and driving 1,500+ miles a month for work with an IRS rate mileage reimbursement… vs getting rid of the Tacoma and getting a more fuel efficient car, which would be more comfortable for a 400+ miles in a day drive, and put more reimbursement money in my pocket, but result in me having to finance about $12k on another car.

I rented the Camry on a work trip and drove about 120 miles in a day, and the gas gauge still showed full…. So full that I I was confident I could return the car without getting any gas and they wouldn’t have noticed (which I may or may not have done).

After a couple weeks, a few CarMax related issues, and the Tacoma was dropped off and an Avalon was picked up.

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
1 month ago

2022 Jeep Wagoneer. Used it for a day to haul my elderly father around for 8 or 9 hours so needed a big vehicle. It was nice in the sense that the interior had relatively decent materials and I loved the ventilated seats, but it only had 30k miles on it and you could tell it was starting to fall apart. Transmission shifts were buggy… brakes engaged weirdly… the heat control buttons didn’t work, so you had to use the touchscreen, and the wireless phone charging pad only worked maybe half the time.

Reaffirmed why I’d never buy a stellantis product.

Nopithyusername
Nopithyusername
1 month ago

Last one was end of March in Maui. Reserved a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited from a very enterprising car rental company. “Pick any Jeep in these aisles” they said. “just make sure it’s a four door” they said. 14 vehicles, all white or gray, either base models or Willy’s. I just couldn’t do the rental spec colors, was going to go back to counter and ask for anything else, but found a blue Rubicon, second to last of the last aisle. Did I mention it was in middle of the bottom floor of the parking garage with no light?
Walk around showed some scratches, but interior smelled “o.k.”, and family was waiting at curb with luggage. Took it to Costco (it’s a thing in Maui, right next to airport) and found every single hinge, door, hood, gate, except one, had full rust bubbles, like it had spent its winters in Buffalo, and flaking paint. More dings and scratches than an east Portland car lot, and a slight listing to the right. I thought it was a 2020, but it was a 2018 (the last time I had been in Maui), with 68k miles – in mainland speak that’s about 230k. Mismatched, off brand tires from China.

Decided to keep it for the 9 days, figuring at least it didn’t look like a rental. It was a blast, even though it pulled more to the right than a usual Wrangler, the Uconnect tried to brick a couple of our phones, and when someone got out of the driver side rear door the plastic rear fender fell off (it just pops back on). Oh, and 14mpg, but that’s probably on me, I tend towards assertive in driving.

When the cattle drive on the back road to Hanna meant one mamma cow crapping on the right rear fender, I didn’t mind. When a calf tried climbing on the hood, I only laughed, not bothering to worry about damages. When it got added door dings from Maui’s way too narrow parking spots, I could just smile and say mahalo.

Both front fenders vibrated loose when we drove more than ten miles, but again, the shoving of a hip popped them right back in.

Returning it, the rental person laughed, “was it the only one left when you rented?” “Naw,” I replied, “it was the only one that made us feel like locals.” No worries on the added wear (who could tell?!?), and it was $436.27 for the entire 9 days (thanks to Costco travel six weeks prior).

I rent around 10x a year, and have to say this was the lowest stressed, non extra insured, rental for a looong time.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
1 month ago

I’ve had a Suzuki Across on two separate occasions now and it struck me as actually a really nice car. Good power from the hybrid driver drivetrain and the suspension seemed nicely dialed in for a cross-over thingy. I wouldn’t mind getting one for myself. The rental I had before the Across was a Yaris cross,that was fucking horrific.

Beer-light Guidance
Beer-light Guidance
1 month ago

Last summer I got a BMW 5-Series through Sixt for the same price as it would have been to get a Corolla from another agency. The car was great and mostly a real pleasure to drive (there were a few settings that I would have figured out how to turn off if it would have been my car but not worth the effort for a few days).

Renting from Sixt however was less than pleasant. I have done it a couple of times and it has always been a frustrating experience. Last time it was years ago at SFO where they lied about being onsite and had to take a shuttle to a hotel several miles away and wake up the attendant to get the rental. Then when dropping it off there was no shuttle to take us to the airport. This time it was one person to staff the booth who did not have any real interest in moving quickly. Also they did not seem to actually have the vehicles they had agreed to rent. The people in front of me took about 35 minutes to get their vehicle (they had a big group and needed a minivan which Sixt did not seem to have). Once it was my turn they wanted to “upgrade” me to an X5 which I did not want so that took another 20 minutes or so to figure out if the actually had a sedan anywhere in the airport and then another 25 minutes to bring it over from another terminal.

Andy Hoodward
Andy Hoodward
1 month ago

When the TCM on my Ford Focus ate it, Ford corporate was nice enough to give me a $40 a day credit with Hertz for a loaner while we waited for parts.

That, my friends, will get you a Nissan Kicks for five (5) months.

Small, underpowered, loud and buzzy, and with a decidedly “economical” feel, the entire experience was underwhelming. When they switched us into an Altima sedan with the V6 for the last month it was like clouds parting to a hymnal choir in full throat.

Not that the Altima was THAT great, but in comparison…

Mark M
Mark M
1 month ago

A 2023 Opel Corsa in Spain last summer. It was a great little car and fun to drive with a 5 speed manual on all the twisty, hilly roads of Mallorca. Once i figured out how change the infotainment from German (lots of German folk in Mallorca) it was a great little car and id rent one again.

Chill Phil
Chill Phil
1 month ago

Last month I reserved a Camry at San Diego airport to take to Palm Springs for a week. When I got to the counter they offered me a Jeep Compass and I declined, no way I was getting stuck with one of those for a week. All they had was a Nissan Murano or a Doge Challenger. I knew I was going to have other folks in the backseat so I opted for the Murano. I generally prefer having a car over a CUV but was pleasantly surprised by the Murano. The car had less than 5K was fully loaded rode nice had decent pick-up integrated with car play. I would not buy one but would take it for a rental again.

Matt Woods
Matt Woods
1 month ago

Last week in Tuscany – Audi Q5 diesel. For a rental car, it was great. Weirdly optioned though, which I attributed to being a euro spec car. I rent a car for work travel several times per year in the US and it’s been a few years since I got one without CarPlay. This didn’t have it. It also didn’t have blind spot monitors. It drove well and was comfortable for 4 people. Would I buy one? No. Rent one again? Yes.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 month ago

It was a Malibu and it was…a car. It Malied and it Bued, it came and it went, all in a perfectly satisfactory (nay, even cromulent!) manner. It was a very car car.

Before that was a Hyundai Tucson in Spain, deeply disappointing given the hot euro wagon fun I was epxecting to have. But it was a diesel hybrid with a manual, so that was kinda interesting.

Last edited 1 month ago by Theotherotter
Tbird
Tbird
1 month ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

Have a rental Malibu right now – could not agree more. It is a car.

Red865
Red865
1 month ago

Last fall for Ireland trip, got a Ford Puma RHD with 1.0L ecoboost. Think based on a Fiesta platform. Was quite comparable to my wife’s Subaru Crosstrek. Handled nice and was very easy to park/drive in the land of 1.5 width lane roads.

Myk El
Myk El
1 month ago

I was traveling for work last week. I had a stint in a Hyundai Tucson and a couple days in a Kia Forte. The Tucson was OK. I was a passenger mostly, but comfortable enough for what we were doing. I spent way more time in the Forte and while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t like it. I haven’t had much experience with modern driving “assistance” features. Weather was a bit funky at times and it complained when I strayed over to the side while trying to reduce hydroplane risk. But the one that got me was I was at a “turn left when clear” type intersection and there was a car in front of me. The gap was only big enough for one car so I didn’t follow. I hear a beep and on the screen it says “the car in front of you has departed” which I guess is a feature to wake people up who sit at the light after it goes green. That one actually made me tell the car “oh, fuuuuck youuuu.”

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