Poll: Most Important Feature in a Rental Car

I rent a car almost every time I travel. Even if I’m only in town for a day, I’ve found it is more convenient and often cheaper to rent a car than to take cabs. I do it so often I forget now how intimidating it can be for some people, and how it used to be for me. My company has specific policies in place about what kind of car you have to rent, and you can only go up a level if you are traveling with a certain number of people. So unfortunately I don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to choosing a car. Ford Focus seems to be what I end up with most of the time. But on the few opportunities I have to choose my car, there are a few things I consider.

  • Driving conditions. For a normal trip, it really doesn’t matter what kind of car you get. But on some occasions, it helps to take weather or location into account. During that first awful trip to Ohio where it started snowing, I was incredibly glad I had an SUV. When my sister and I went to Napa Valley, we (of course) chose a convertible.
  • Comfort. No offense to Mustangs, but I don’t find them to be a comfortable drive. I have a long torso, and it’s not a tall car. Even though they look cool, I will always turn them down. At the same time, I don’t need a Crown Victoria–that’s actually too much space.
  • Mileage. Once I got a Dodge Charger. It was SO fun to drive, but I felt guilty when I thought about the terrible fuel economy. This is not as a big of a deal if I’m only driving a few miles, but on the occasions where travel is several hours it can really add up.

I suppose on a regular, sunny skies trip I would just like to have a Prius like I do at home. Except one with Sirius and a port for my iPhone to plug into.

Readers, what do you think?

What is the most important feature in a rental car?

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Comments

  1. The most important feature to me is satellite radio and/or an iPod connection. In the Emerald Club aisle, I go from car to car until I find one with either of these features.

  2. I love renting cars for business travel, there is something fun about trying out different types of cars. BUT I always refuse the Chevy cars, I just don’t seem to fit right, my foot doesn’t sit on the floor when using the pedals. For all in my life that doesn’t cause me to be choosy, the wrong rental car greatly disappoints. LOVE having the iPod jack, which I also don’t have on my car.

  3. I like National too and love the Emerald Club too. I try to choose cars that seem newer (the less dirty, the better). I also drive hundreds of miles on my trips so I go for comfort and try to get satellite radio. That’s so important to me.

  4. My company makes me rent compacts. I’m 6-4 280. National continues to try to give me Versas (worst rental car – ever!) where my knees touch the dash.

    Just give me something I fit in…

  5. I’d love to rent the same kind of car I drive at home normally – but Honda doesn’t like to have their cars used as rentals 🙁 I also turn down mustangs and pretty much any car I would have to practically lay down to drive (this rules out almost all cab forward designs – very popular), so I tend to ask for the mini SUVs/hatchbacks which fall under my company’s allowed class of car.

  6. +1 for being a National fan. I like being able to pick my own car.

    One the flip side there is nothing worse than being stuck in a car that you don’t like, or worse, that doesn’t work and has something wrong with it (ahem…Hertz) What a pain it was trying to exchange it.

  7. I request the cheapest car they have. Normally, renting from Hertz, with #1 Club Gold status, they give me something nicer for the same price. The thing I value the most is cruise control, because I have a lead foot and speeding tickets are inevitable unless I have cruise control.

    Last week Hertz gave me a Cadillac with 100 miles on it, probably to make up for giving me a junker the week before. While I appreciated the gesture, the car is too big and drew too much attention in left-wing Vermont, and it was really difficult to park. I don’t mind a small car, but I want keyless remote, cruise control, and for everything in the car to work.

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