Which car to rent?

 
Old Feb 17, 09, 8:56 am
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Which car to rent?

Hi,

I'm going to be renting a car from the Dollar depot at Los Angeles airport and driving to San Francisco, I was wondering if anyone can recommend a car to rent? I've been looking at the Dodge Charger, but I kinda want a convertible, however I've heard really bad things about the Chrysler Sebring convertible Any Ideas?

Many thanks

Joseph

Last edited by jgoodma3; Feb 17, 09 at 9:02 am
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Old Feb 17, 09, 4:51 pm
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I rented a Sebring convertible last year and it was fine. What horrible things did you hear?
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Old Feb 17, 09, 5:19 pm
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I've had a Sebring convertible and a Mustang convertible from Dollar Thrifty (corporate locations) before, so you may be able to pick a Mustang convertible. I actually prefer the Sebring, though. More comfortable seats, better gas mileage (though not as much horsepower), and a better sound system.

I personally like the Chargers and would probably pick that, but I also like big cars. If you don't like driving cars that handle like boats, you may not want to go with the Charger. (It doesn't quite handle like a boat, but there is some definite weight and body lean to it.) The Charger is definitely roomier than the Sebring, especially in the back seat (pick it for sure if there are more than two people).

LAX offers a luxury car collection of Mercedes and various other high-end cars, but the rates are high and there's a pretty low mileage cap of 70 miles per day (though they may have gotten rid of the mileage cap). So out of the standard (non-luxury) cars, there's not many exciting choices other than the fullsize and the convertible.

Do note that no matter what kind of car you reserve, you ARE NOT GUARANTEED that make and model. Although corporate DTAG locations (like LAX) carry a predominately Chrysler Corporation fleet and you are therefore very likely to get a Charger, there is a chance that you would end up with something else.
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Old Feb 18, 09, 12:46 am
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Originally Posted by Tuneman1984 View Post
I rented a Sebring convertible last year and it was fine. What horrible things did you hear?
I've heard that they drive like a cow in a shopping trolley, and look like their are constructed by a 5 year old; However I don't always like to listen to the reviews I hear as some are highly bias. It's nice to hear that you liked it though, I am definatly thinking about renting purely for the convertible aspect as it would be fun around CA.
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Old Feb 18, 09, 12:55 am
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
I've had a Sebring convertible and a Mustang convertible from Dollar Thrifty (corporate locations) before, so you may be able to pick a Mustang convertible. I actually prefer the Sebring, though. More comfortable seats, better gas mileage (though not as much horsepower), and a better sound system.

I personally like the Chargers and would probably pick that, but I also like big cars. If you don't like driving cars that handle like boats, you may not want to go with the Charger. (It doesn't quite handle like a boat, but there is some definite weight and body lean to it.) The Charger is definitely roomier than the Sebring, especially in the back seat (pick it for sure if there are more than two people).

LAX offers a luxury car collection of Mercedes and various other high-end cars, but the rates are high and there's a pretty low mileage cap of 70 miles per day (though they may have gotten rid of the mileage cap). So out of the standard (non-luxury) cars, there's not many exciting choices other than the fullsize and the convertible.

Do note that no matter what kind of car you reserve, you ARE NOT GUARANTEED that make and model. Although corporate DTAG locations (like LAX) carry a predominately Chrysler Corporation fleet and you are therefore very likely to get a Charger, there is a chance that you would end up with something else.
Many thanks for your input.
There are only 2 of us going, so maybe a Charger would be slightly overkill? And as for the size of the Charger it may be an issue for me to drive because being from the UK where cars are generally very small, it could take quite a big of getting used to :-)
To be honest I think I've heard that the Sebrings also drive like a boat, do you find this to be true?

Money isn't really an issue so we'd gladly go for the luxury class if we got offered it; but I guess it's a case of turning up at seeing what they have first though!
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Old Feb 18, 09, 1:39 am
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Originally Posted by jgoodma3 View Post
I've heard that they drive like a cow in a shopping trolley, and look like their are constructed by a 5 year old; However I don't always like to listen to the reviews I hear as some are highly bias. It's nice to hear that you liked it though, I am definatly thinking about renting purely for the convertible aspect as it would be fun around CA.
There were two complaints I had about the Sebring. One is that it doesn't go through tight corners all that way (but regular driving is fine). The other is trunk space. The convertible top folds away into the trunk so space is limited. The Mustang has a more normal-sized trunk, but I'd pack light just in case.

That said, I think you hit the nail on the head....despite whatever shortcomings it might have, it's California and you'd be in a convertible. There's nothing better!
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Old Feb 18, 09, 3:02 am
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Originally Posted by jgoodma3 View Post
Many thanks for your input.
There are only 2 of us going, so maybe a Charger would be slightly overkill? And as for the size of the Charger it may be an issue for me to drive because being from the UK where cars are generally very small, it could take quite a big of getting used to :-)
To be honest I think I've heard that the Sebrings also drive like a boat, do you find this to be true?

Money isn't really an issue so we'd gladly go for the luxury class if we got offered it; but I guess it's a case of turning up at seeing what they have first though!
Perhaps you should get the Charger solely on the basis of then being able to experience driving a real oversized American car!

I drove the Sebring convertible around Maui at high speeds on lots of winding roads (up Haleakala and out to Hana) last August and never had a complaint about its handling. I'd say it definitely handles better than the Charger (which could very well be construed to be a testament to how badly the Charger handles rather than how well the Sebring does!)

(Actually, most of my Sebring driving experience is in the non-convertible version, which I think is an exceptionally fine car--I almost considered buying the Limited trim version last year with the powerful 3.5L V6, heated leather seats, and Boston Acoustics sound system. It handles superbly. I might recall thinking that the convertible version did feel a bit larger and heavier, which surprised me, since it's only a two-door with a lot less seating space.)

I do agree with Tuneman1984 about the trunk space, however. You'd be able to store luggage that won't fit in the trunk (boot, I guess I should say!) in the rear seat, but that may not be an optimal solution, depending on where you're going. (Soft tops don't offer a lot of protection against even the most casual thief.) I'm not sure you could fit more than two 22" rollaboards in the Sebring convertible's trunk.

The luxury class at LAX is going to (most likely) be the Chrysler 300, which is based on exactly the same platform (what's internally referred to at Chrysler as the LX platform). (Note that the "premium" Dodge Magnum, if they're still carrying that, is also on the same platform.) The way the cars drive and handle is virtually identical--the only difference is the body styling and the interior fit and finish. I enjoy the Charger, Magnum and 300's supple, smooth ride very much--you can hit potholes or bumps in parking lots at 50 miles an hour and barely feel them. It reminds me of a Mercedes ride, except it lacks whatever Mercedes has done to pair the smooth ride with firm handling, so they tend to experience body lean during cornering. (That may be why people say it handles like a boat--it's not actually hard to turn the steering wheel.)

If price truly is no object, go ahead and at least take a look at the StyleSeries at LAX! It does look as if they've removed the mileage cap, as the rates now all feature unlimited miles (perhaps they found it was restricting sales too much.) For a random week in May, they start at $371 per week (plus tax) for the Mercedes C230 all the way up to the Mercedes S550 for a princely sum of $1291 per week (plus tax)! A gorgeous Chevy Corvette convertible can be yours for only $936 per week (plus tax).

Downside: you won't be able to book these through the Dollar or Thrifty UK prepaid websites, which include LDW and SLI all at about the same price that Americans can rent just the car itself. (I just checked: an economy car for a random week in May at dollar.com--just the car and mandatory taxes--is $197, or 138...dollar.co.uk is 143 for the same car plus LDW and SLI. If you bought those two coverages separately at the LAX rental counter--assuming their prices haven't gone up since I last rented there a couple of years ago, and unless you specifically have an auto insurance policy that covers collision and liability in the U.S., you should, as otherwise the car comes with absolutely no coverage whatsoever--you'd be looking at probably about 236.) But if you want the ultimate California experience, go with the Corvette!
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Old Feb 18, 09, 3:35 am
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Perhaps you should get the Charger solely on the basis of then being able to experience driving a real oversized American car!

I drove the Sebring convertible around Maui at high speeds on lots of winding roads (up Haleakala and out to Hana) last August and never had a complaint about its handling. I'd say it definitely handles better than the Charger (which could very well be construed to be a testament to how badly the Charger handles rather than how well the Sebring does!)

(Actually, most of my Sebring driving experience is in the non-convertible version, which I think is an exceptionally fine car--I almost considered buying the Limited trim version last year with the powerful 3.5L V6, heated leather seats, and Boston Acoustics sound system. It handles superbly. I might recall thinking that the convertible version did feel a bit larger and heavier, which surprised me, since it's only a two-door with a lot less seating space.)

I do agree with Tuneman1984 about the trunk space, however. You'd be able to store luggage that won't fit in the trunk (boot, I guess I should say!) in the rear seat, but that may not be an optimal solution, depending on where you're going. (Soft tops don't offer a lot of protection against even the most casual thief.) I'm not sure you could fit more than two 22" rollaboards in the Sebring convertible's trunk.

The luxury class at LAX is going to (most likely) be the Chrysler 300, which is based on exactly the same platform (what's internally referred to at Chrysler as the LX platform). (Note that the "premium" Dodge Magnum, if they're still carrying that, is also on the same platform.) The way the cars drive and handle is virtually identical--the only difference is the body styling and the interior fit and finish. I enjoy the Charger, Magnum and 300's supple, smooth ride very much--you can hit potholes or bumps in parking lots at 50 miles an hour and barely feel them. It reminds me of a Mercedes ride, except it lacks whatever Mercedes has done to pair the smooth ride with firm handling, so they tend to experience body lean during cornering. (That may be why people say it handles like a boat--it's not actually hard to turn the steering wheel.)

If price truly is no object, go ahead and at least take a look at the StyleSeries at LAX! It does look as if they've removed the mileage cap, as the rates now all feature unlimited miles (perhaps they found it was restricting sales too much.) For a random week in May, they start at $371 per week (plus tax) for the Mercedes C230 all the way up to the Mercedes S550 for a princely sum of $1291 per week (plus tax)! A gorgeous Chevy Corvette convertible can be yours for only $936 per week (plus tax).

Downside: you won't be able to book these through the Dollar or Thrifty UK prepaid websites, which include LDW and SLI all at about the same price that Americans can rent just the car itself. (I just checked: an economy car for a random week in May at dollar.com--just the car and mandatory taxes--is $197, or 138...dollar.co.uk is 143 for the same car plus LDW and SLI. If you bought those two coverages separately at the LAX rental counter--assuming their prices haven't gone up since I last rented there a couple of years ago, and unless you specifically have an auto insurance policy that covers collision and liability in the U.S., you should, as otherwise the car comes with absolutely no coverage whatsoever--you'd be looking at probably about 236.) But if you want the ultimate California experience, go with the Corvette!

Thanks for the in-depth response, your views are very much appreciated .
I did think about the trunk space of the Sebring, but i'm sure it can accomodate the luggage of two males, i'm a very "essentials only" kinda traveller!
The link to the Style series is interesting, espcially the Corvette, i may have an issue with that though as apparently you need to be 25 or over, frustratingly i'm only 24 .

I'm leaning more towards the Sebring now that you say the handling is good, I just want an enjoyable experience and comfortable ride! I'm doing LA > Las Vegas > San Francisco so i'm going to be spending a decent amount of time driving whatever i choose!
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Old Feb 18, 09, 4:29 am
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Originally Posted by jgoodma3 View Post
Thanks for the in-depth response, your views are very much appreciated .
I did think about the trunk space of the Sebring, but i'm sure it can accomodate the luggage of two males, i'm a very "essentials only" kinda traveller!
The link to the Style series is interesting, espcially the Corvette, i may have an issue with that though as apparently you need to be 25 or over, frustratingly i'm only 24 .
Ah, sorry to hear that...but you're not alone! I am too!

Unfortunately, I had previously confirmed via email directly with the Dollar Thrifty LAX General Manager that the age restriction does indeed exist and is enforced. You'll just have to come back another time!

I'm leaning more towards the Sebring now that you say the handling is good, I just want an enjoyable experience and comfortable ride! I'm doing LA > Las Vegas > San Francisco so i'm going to be spending a decent amount of time driving whatever i choose!
Sounds like a good choice. You've got a great vacation (er, holiday ) lined up--enjoy it! (That's a lot of driving for someone from a tiny place like the UK ...how much time do you have alloted for the trip? You for sure don't want to feel rushed!)

(No insults meant on the size of the UK...I've driven from Land's End to John o' Groats and there sure is a lot to see in between! And keep in mind that the UK looks REALLY small compared to my home state...)
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Old Feb 18, 09, 5:05 am
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My "holiday" (haha) is roughly 2 weeks.
I'm staying in Beverley Hills for 5 nights, then driving upto Vegas to stay at the Bellagio (which i can't wait for!) for 4 nights, I'm gonna drive out to Bryce Canyon, Zion NP, Arches etc (time permitting)... Then move onto Death Valley, Yosemite and ending up in San Fran, I'm taking my time and enjoying the cruising as much as possible
And yes, it will be a big journey compared to driving in the UK, also it's going to be weird driving on the "wrong" side of the road and getting used to automatic transmission as we brits mostly use "stick shift"
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Old Feb 18, 09, 6:29 pm
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Originally Posted by jgoodma3 View Post
My "holiday" (haha) is roughly 2 weeks.
I'm staying in Beverley Hills for 5 nights, then driving upto Vegas to stay at the Bellagio (which i can't wait for!) for 4 nights, I'm gonna drive out to Bryce Canyon, Zion NP, Arches etc (time permitting)... Then move onto Death Valley, Yosemite and ending up in San Fran, I'm taking my time and enjoying the cruising as much as possible
And yes, it will be a big journey compared to driving in the UK, also it's going to be weird driving on the "wrong" side of the road and getting used to automatic transmission as we brits mostly use "stick shift"
Holy ouch!

I rented (hired...I should be used to your vocabulary after spending 5 weeks in Australia!) a car for 6 days as a one-way from SLC to DEN and STILL didn't get to see everything in the area I wanted to. It took me a full day just to drive from east of Bryce (Escalante) to Arches (Moab)--and that was giving Capitol Reef (which you drive through) all of about a half an hour.

Now, I like driving--on that trip, I racked up about 2,200 miles in four actual days of driving--but you're biting off a bit much even for me! By the time you leave Vegas, you're going to have all of five or so days to get all the way out to Arches (easily a two-day drive from Vegas, and more if you actually want to see Zion and Bryce) which leaves you with three days to drive back towards Vegas (another full day of driving), leaving you all of one day to see Death Valley, Yosemite, and drive all the way to SFO.

It *might* be doable if you cut out Arches (the drive through southern UT near Escalante and Capitol Reef out towards Arches is spectacular, but you can only do so much--you'll just have to come again, and Zion and Bryce are more than spectacular enough to make the trip there worthwhile), but if you really want to head out that way, I think you'd either need to extend your holiday or cut out some time in Beverly Hills or Vegas.

It does sound like a great trip, though! Enjoy!
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Old Feb 19, 09, 12:11 am
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
I drove the Sebring convertible around Maui at high speeds on lots of winding roads (up Haleakala and out to Hana) last August and never had a complaint about its handling. I'd say it definitely handles better than the Charger (which could very well be construed to be a testament to how badly the Charger handles rather than how well the Sebring does!)

(Actually, most of my Sebring driving experience is in the non-convertible version, which I think is an exceptionally fine car--I almost considered buying the Limited trim version last year with the powerful 3.5L V6, heated leather seats, and Boston Acoustics sound system. It handles superbly. I might recall thinking that the convertible version did feel a bit larger and heavier, which surprised me, since it's only a two-door with a lot less seating space.)
So question, was your Maui rental a Touring or Limited? Methinks the Limited has a stiffer suspension set-up and is meant for more spirited driving, whereas the Touring model is more meant to be a Lebaron of the 2000s, spending it's days parked at all-you-can-eat early bird buffets across the sunshine state...

EDIT: nvm, found your post on the OGG thread in Thrifty...I dunno what was up with my Sebring then, everybody else's seem to handle on rails from what I hear. Maybe I got one that had been in a collision.
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Old Feb 19, 09, 2:14 am
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As you found in the other post, it was indeed a Limited. Actually, though, in my experience driving the non-convertible versions, the Limiteds have smoother, more supple suspension. The suspension is firmer (though not "tight") on the lower-end, lighter-weight models (especially the anemic 2.4L 4-cylinder). That may just be a function of the lighter weight of the vehicle itself meaning that it rides rougher. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if the Limited did actually have slightly beefier suspension--they just also seem to have built some "float" into it. (Suspension is hard to describe...much less actually design! Nothing you do will ever please anyone...)

To the OP: just be aware that if even some Americans, who are generally used to larger cars, say that it handles like a boat, then you may indeed find that it does, even if others (like me) don't think so. Which means that, by comparison, the Charger would handle like a cruise ship. If you want a car that truly handles tightly (aside from those luxury cars like the Corvette), you're best off sticking with an economy (even the compact Dodge Caliber is heavier than a typical European car). But then you're totally missing out on the American driving experience!
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Old Feb 19, 09, 3:53 am
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I don't really mind them driving like boats, as long as the steering isn't heavy (that really gets on my nerves!) and it's relativley fun to operate. Oh I won't be getting a Caliber, that would be no fun whatsoever, the car I rent must do a maximum of 20 MPG and indeed have some cruise ship qualities; I might aswell go the whole way with the american expereince! Whatever I end up getting it will probs be a convertible as after careful consideration it is the ONLY option for the weather I'll be driving in, and lets be honest, it's not as if I get chance to drive a convertible in the UK very often....
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Old Feb 19, 09, 5:11 am
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Originally Posted by jgoodma3 View Post
and lets be honest, it's not as if I get chance to drive a convertible in the UK very often....
Right--"Hey, honey, let's pop the top down and, er, feel that exciting mist hit our faces!"

Indeed, there is little that compares with driving in sunny weather with the top down!
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