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Car Rental

What are Some of the Best and Worst Rental Cars You’ve Ended Up With?

What are Some of the Best and Worst Rental Cars You’ve Ended Up With?
This question comes from a curious forum poster asking:
Just curious what some of the best and worst cars you’ve ended up with?
I’ll start:
Best- 2019 BMW 530i xdrive (in early 2020) with 5k miles on it. Had a smooth ride, nice handling, and had tons of cool little quirks. Definitely a fun car for the weekend I had it.
Worst- a filthy 2016 Nissan Versa (in 2019) with 55k miles on it (was the only car left in the location late one night). The entire car shook if you got over 60mph. Thankfully that one was just a one day rental.
What are your best and worse? Share them in this forum thread.
View Comments (31)

31 Comments

  1. md125

    April 22, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    Best? I was the first renter for a brand new 2020 Mercedes GLA 220d AMG line diesel on a trip through the Pyrenees. Best part? With a coupon code from Hertz, it came out to less than a standard sedan, which for whatever reason, the coupon code didn’t apply.

    Worst is any number of cars rented from various local places across the Caribbean. Older cars, with plenty of wear and tear, although they’ve always gotten the job done. Cars like an early 2000s Corolla in 2018 in Sint Maarten or a 15 year-old first generation X-Trail in Antigua just a few years ago. Still, always functional, no complaints.

  2. Gynob001

    April 22, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    Best-not in terms of performance, but in Boston, the rental car company gave me a brand new Mustang Convertible. I enjoyed it for a few minutes, then it started raini g. I had to put the top up! Runner up- A chevy corsia! Yes, it was ages back but was fun to drive.
    Worst? Again a ford (I don’t remember the model). The steering wa so out of control, I almost ended up in a ditch.

  3. Gigantor

    April 23, 2020 at 4:10 am

    Easy to answer.

    Best: In 2016, I was upgraded to a Mercedes B-Class during a weekend rental in Portugal. It was a great pleasure to drive and I would highly recommend this vehicle.

    Worst: In 2001, I was provided with a Pontiac Aztec during a US business trip. Horrible vehicle to drive and even more hideous to look at.

  4. andrewjskatz

    April 23, 2020 at 4:20 am

    Worst? An almost new Fiat 500 in Italy. The electrics were shot and it just randomly stopped working from time to time.

    Best? A huge Toyota SUV with a V8 engine we rented in the US.

    Honourable mention: Ford Mustang I drove from LA to Vegas and back. Even though it was the GT version with the powerful engine, I found it sluggish and dull. Or at least it was, until 10 miles out from LAX at the end of our trip I realised that for the whole of our trip the carpet had been rucked up underneath the gas pedal. Until I smoothed it out I’d only been able to press the gas pedal about halfway down. It was a bit quicker after that.

  5. laperk1028

    April 23, 2020 at 4:51 am

    Worst – Mustang when I had 2 suitcases for a month of travel.
    Very worst: Chevy Cruz in -26 degree winter snow in Chicago
    Great: Never had great and rented weekly for years

  6. Motek

    April 23, 2020 at 5:39 am

    Best: Spent nearly an hour on the phone near the rental car counter due to extended issues with a third-party reservation, the agency manager even though the reservation wasn’t made through them gave me a free upgrade to a loaded new Ford Fusion with satnav and leather heated seats… and a heated steering wheel!

    Worst: Low-end Nissan whose seat was so wretchedly uncomfortable, with barely adjustable controls and such thin padding on the seat that I could feel some of the springs. It was so bad that I literally left the rental car parking lot, drove around and right back in, and insisted that they change it, making a manager sit in the seat to prove my point.

  7. etna

    April 23, 2020 at 5:44 am

    Reneault Alliance. Engine lost power at 60 mph, which on CA freeways is very risky.

  8. MitchR

    April 23, 2020 at 5:58 am

    In the ’80’s I rented a car from Dollar Rent a Car in Pittsburgh. My firm had just negotiated a national agreement with them so we had to use them. All four of us arrived to find the trunk open and the key on the dash. We put our luggage in the trunk and drove to Cleveland. When we got to the hotel at midnight we realized that we had not been given a trunk key. Called Dollar and reached the reservation people who were no help at all. Had to call a locksmith to get our luggage out of the trunk.

  9. dvs7310

    April 23, 2020 at 6:43 am

    Best: Loads and loads of premium cars from National in the US: various BMW, Audi, Volvo, and MB. Executive Elite member but mostly from Executive Aisle, not luxury reservation or paying up.

    Worst: Well, I’ve been to a lot of third world countries and I often drive myself. Toyota Yaris with no A/C in Peru (Peru is VERY hot much of the year and the class reserved includes A/C… they were ‘sold-out'” from a Hertz local partner, Broke ass Toyota Prado (independent agency) in Tanzania that had a bad transfer case and locked up 200km from civilization… yeah that was fun… Some absolute piece of shite beaten up Hyundai in the Seychelles from a Sixt franchisee that wouldn’t have been road worthy in the west, a Nissan something in Malawi (independent agency, not that any international agencies operate there) that would have been found on a buy-here-pay-here lot in the US…

  10. DManzaluni

    April 23, 2020 at 8:00 am

    Best is an Audi a Q7 SUV from Enterprise when they didnt have an intermediate in stock. FOR A WEEK!!

    Worst doesnt really apply any more but in the bad old days, Hertz and Avis used to buy special stripped down lowest end of the line boringmobile models with no extras and no features: You barely got a radio!!

    Then, there’s Rent-a-Wreck! I used to LIKE their characterful models which I am sure others would abhor.

  11. kabroui

    April 23, 2020 at 8:07 am

    Planned a nice Memorial day weekend with my partner in South Florida many years ago. Our America West flight PHX-FLL got all hosed up and instead of getting to Fla at 7:00pm, we pulled in at 3:30am. For some unknown reason there was still an agent working at Avis, but unfortunately, they were completely out of cars. All except for an old White Econoline work van. Figuring there wouldn’t be much other choice, that was what we ended up.

    We were the hit of South Beach that weekend!!!

  12. Mountlodge

    April 23, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Best: Had a BMW 320 form Avis back in 2013. Booked it Via US BA website as it was cheaper. In total I kept the rental running for 13 months (changed the car twice) and the rental daily price stayed the same for the entire period which was £13:00 a day with Unlimited mileage.

    Eventually they cottoned on to me and after putting 46k miles on 3 cars banned me from renting.

    Worst. Mitigated by the fact I was only paying £6:00 a day for a pretty battered Ford Focus in Spain earlier this year. Ulimited mileage and no insurance excess.

    ML

  13. mc4bbs

    mc4bbs

    April 23, 2020 at 9:51 am

    BEST: I pre-paid for a compact rental car in Los Angeles to drive from LAX to PSP (Palm Springs), as flying to PSP from NYC was very expensive. When I arrived at the counter, they had no compact, standard or mid-sized vehicles left, so they gave me a Ford Mustang convertible with all the bells and whistles! I was dreading the drive from LAX to PSP, but now with a muscle car, I was really enjoying the drive and for no additional cost. (FYI: The fuel usage was surprisingly similar to what I would have gotten on a mid-size).

    WORST: We arrived at SXM (Sint Maarten, NA) and waited for what felt like an eternity to get a shuttle to the rental car location (which was about one mile from the airport). The location had signs for five or six rental agencies and they apparently shared the same pool of vehicles. Again, I had a pre-paid compact car and they told me they were “sold out” of ALL cars and would refund my money, leaving me high and dry with no wheels, unless I paid MUCH more for a car from one of their other rental agencies located in the same place. My **FRAUD** alert went off immediately. When I informed them that I’d simply call the company with whom I booked the car and have them sort it out, they were a bit taken aback that I had mobile phone service on the island already and suddenly managed to find me a car. The car was a complete POS. It was banged up, rusty and looked like it belonged to a teenager who worked there — at one point, the battery went flat and we needed a jump. We were travelling with a group, some had arrived the day prior and all who rented from this place (all located at 21 Sr Modesta Rd, Simpson Bay) repeated a similar story — most had to spring hundreds more for their rentals. When I look today, the names of the rental agencies at 21 Sr Modesta Rd, Simpson Bay have changed names (so “Rent-A-Wreck” apparently isn’t there any more), but others are — so be aware of the ADDRESS, not the name. That address has a bunch of crooks trying to rip off tourists. Read reviews and when you book a car, stick to your guns to get it at the price paid.

  14. J S

    April 23, 2020 at 10:02 am

    That beat up old Toyota Yaris I got in the Bahamas and sticks in my mind.

    Vying for second place are multiple beat-up cars I have gotten in TLV. Avis offered me a car with dents on virtually every panel (including the roof). I puzzled over how the car could be that destroyed and not have broken windows (unless the glass was new).

    Award for best goes to multiple almost-new BMWs I have rented in Europe (5 series for a week-long road trip in Portugal; X1 in Spain). However, I still have fond memories of a Mazda Miata I rented at MIA for a drive to the Florida Keys about 20 years ago.

  15. united1kinva

    April 23, 2020 at 10:16 am

    BEST
    Overseas: In Germany, was upgraded to a Jaguar XJ! Stellar performance for the Autobahn!
    USA: Audi A8L – that was a beast and fun car to drive in and around San Francisco and Napa!

    WORSE
    Overseas: Issued a Peugeot in the Azores that was slightly more powerful than a lawnmower (maybe) and did little justice navigating the hills of the beautiful island
    USA: Chevy Volt that barely made it from SFO to downtown!

  16. SayItAintSo

    April 23, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Best – March 2018 – Mercedes mid-sized sedan in Brisbane. Incredibly smooth ride, powerful motor and sat snugly as a cat on the highway. Wasn’t too bad on gas either. Only got it as there was a special on and with the NAV package was cheaper than the mid-sized car (Corolla!) that they originally had for me.

    Worst – September 2010 – Renaut Clio in Crete. Was super high priced because the insurance was usurous. The rear blinker stopped working 5 mins out from the lot, Not much more bower than a bucket of bolts which was especially notable climbing those steep hills as we drove over the island. When dropping the car off, the employee tried everything in the book to not give me back my 500 Euro deposit.. but luckily I had marked every scratch and blemish on the car before taking it. When she saw the blinker wasnt working, before she opened her mouth.. I showed her the sheet!!

  17. roberino

    April 23, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Best was a free upgrade to a Porsche Boxter S in Frankfurt. From a Ford Mondeo!

    Worst was a Jeep Renegade. Built by Playmobil. An absolute hunk of junk.

    Joint worst. I booked a 9 seater in MUC at Buchbinder that I was promised 3 times was going to be a Mercedes V class. Turned out to be a Ford Transit. No refund offered.

  18. DCAFly

    April 23, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    Worst – the one where someone had vomited in the compartment between the driver’s and passenger seat and the rental car company didn’t bother to clean it up. Thanks Budget. Never rented from them again.

  19. pdsales

    April 23, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Best/most fun in Albuquerque. Pre-Google-Maps, I had reserved a mid-size with a Never-Lost. Except the Never-Lost was broken on the car they gave me and none of their normal rentals had a Never-lost installed.

    “Well, we do have one with a never-lost but we took it out of service because it was over our normal mileage limit for rentals.”

    Turned out to be a huge Lincoln Town Car limousine, which we drove for a week. At one gas station the guy at the next pump was trying to peer inside to see who the celebrity was in the fancy car.

    Nope, just me.

  20. ennaidc

    April 23, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Best/Worst: A Fiat 500 sport, an “upgrade” from the economy car we rented for one day for the drive from Florence to Rome. My husband LOVED driving the car, I HATED how tight the suspension was on country Italian roads, often with cobblestones. Even after riding for hours, my Fitbit measured 250+ steps every hour because of how bumpy it was.

    Worst: A tiny, old, barebones, 240k+ mile car from “Sad Cars” in Iceland. Yup, we did that. But super cheap, it did the job for an amazing, last-minute 4 day trip, even if I did have to wipe of the fog on the inside of the windshield with my sleeve because the defroster didn’t work.

  21. Surfwriter

    April 23, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    Ironically my best turned out to be my worst. As a Hertz gold member I was upgraded from the family saloon I booked for our visit to California to a brand new Mustang. I enjoyed driving it from LAX up the coast but found it a bit too young for my old body. It was hard to get into and out of and our luggage wouldn’t fit in the trunk so some bags had to go in the back seat where they were an invitation to any passing thief. Just outside of Santa Barbara the car had a flat and the local Hertz agency didn’t have a tire that would fit. So we’d either have to drive on the compact spare. It was a relief to be provided with the family saloon we originally wanted because not only was it far more comfortable and more pleasant to drive it had room for all of our luggage in the trunk and had a full sized spare if needed. Must admit that driving along in that Mustang made me feel like a teen again, but unfortunately my body didn’t match. My wife thought the whole thing was funny, especially when we’d pull up to a light and the young people in the car next to us would give us a “WTF” look. The Mustang was bright red!

  22. curunir

    April 23, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    2 worst. Atlanta Olympics saw me with a Suzuki. I think it had 3cylinders and a two speed automatic. More recently an early model Smart car in Austin. So little acceleration, it was a danger on the freeway

  23. IsleSeat

    April 24, 2020 at 3:34 am

    Worst Experience: Rent-A-Wreck, 1982 in Walnut Creek, CA a 1968 Buick LeSabre without power steering

  24. RichJTW

    April 24, 2020 at 4:14 am

    Best was a new E Class Merc which I had several times over 2 moths in UK.

    Worst a Kia Sedona which I had to drive to Belgium from UK via Eurotunnel, complete junk and had no Euro safety pack or legally required light adjusters etc.

  25. NollaigCJ

    April 24, 2020 at 4:48 am

    Best: in Atlanta my wife and I ordered a midsize SUV from Alamo for a trip through the Smoky Mountains. On arrival we were offered a tired-looking Dodge Journey so I politely asked if there was anything else available. “What would you prefer?” the young lady asked. “A Grand Cherokee would be nice” I optimistically replied. She got on the phone and 5 minutes later a brand new Grand Cherokee Limited with luxury pack rolled up. Perfect car for us! Also, with Sixt in Birmingham UK I had ordered a Renault Clio to get to an Oxfordshire music festival on my own. At the airport I got upgraded to a new BMW 220 MSport for £50 per day, money well spent for a keen driver like me on these back roads.

    Worst: in Scotland I booked a 7 seater with Budget to get to a family wedding and got a Nissan XTrail (Rogue in the USA). Yes 7 seats, but only if the rearmost passengers were legless (2 had to get a taxi). Also the steering didn’t feel connected to anything.

  26. txirish

    April 24, 2020 at 6:02 am

    Best: A 500+ horsepower Shelby Mustang GT500. To be fair, this wasn’t a random stroke of luck at Hertz or Avis, the rental was a birthday present and only lasted 24 hours. Had to hunt around for some twisty, low-traffic roads to test the beast. Probably woke up half the neighborhood when I left the house for a pre-dawn trip to the gym.

    Worst: A Ford Crown Vic, c. 1992, rented in Hawaii. The car was fine, except for an overwhelming odor of cigarette smoke combined with syrupy air freshener. This was beyond anything I had ever experienced, every bit of the upholstery and A/C reeked. It was the only vehicle available, of course.

  27. MitchR

    April 24, 2020 at 6:15 am

    Rented a BMW in Barcelona. After a few days I needed to fill it with gas. Couldn’t find the gas door release so I pulled out the owners manual. It was in French and German. No pictures or diagrams. Sat in the car reading through the manual until the attendant came out and showed me that if I pushed on the gas door it would pop open.

  28. spartacus

    April 24, 2020 at 8:20 am

    I really liked the Skoda from Hertz in Brussels November of 2018. I was the first person to drive the car and it was a nice ride. The only problem I encountered was the GPS. It had difficulty, especially in those roundabouts with more than a couple of exits. It was slow to respond and reroute if you took a wrong turn. It also was no help at all finding my B&B one night. Other than that, I loved it.

    Worst had to be an Avis rental in TPA many years ago. I had my kids and the agent tried to do me a solid, giving me a Mustang convertible. However, the roof had issues. It opened but then we couldn’t get it closed. Instead of taking it back I put a groundcloth over it that I picked up at Lowe’s. My boys were young and it actually made the trip more adventurous, but it reminded me why I’m not a Ford fan.

  29. blue2002

    April 24, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    Most ridiculous: Decades ago (1991? 1992?) during university, me and three of my buddies decided to go to Algonquin Park (http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/) for a weekend of backcountry canoeing. There was only one agency in town willing to rent to us kids… Thrifty, I think. We booked either economy or compact, whatever was the cheapest. When we showed up to pick up the car, all they had was a fully loaded sky-blue with gold trim Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue… The darn thing was such a land yacht, we almost got seasick on the smaller highways. On the backcountry road to the outfitters it would barely fit between the trees, and once we got to our destination the car was so covered in mud, there was no body paint visible below the windows. Folks from the outfitters came out to take pictures, claiming they had never before seen anybody brave their road in a car like this. A rental is the only true off-road vehicle…

  30. jsb15

    April 24, 2020 at 2:18 pm

    Best: Was in college in 1984 and rented a $17/day subcompact Ford Escort from Hertz. At the counter they told me they had no Escorts available and wondered if I would take a Mark VII. I asked “a Lincoln Mark VII – hell yeah!” I drove from CT to the Bronx in style!

  31. kkua

    April 27, 2020 at 8:24 am

    The AVIS counter in ATL is the worst in my experience. Their staff are very unprofessional, racist, homophobic, incompetant and downright nasty. Most of the AVIS locations have nice staff.

    Must be the spirit of aloha and the novelty of opening up a new office that made Firefly in HNL my most easy experience renting a car. The next closest was Alamo in ROC and HNL. They gave me a Mustang convertible without asking for upgrades because it was the last available car.

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