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Oct 08, 2012 (5:58 pm)
Several years ago, I was VERY surprised to find a few dozen Lexus IS250 AWD models at the LAX rental lots! It was in late 2008, if I'm not mistaken. Then in 2009, I flew into Houston and saw another small fleet of them- and only All-Wheel-Drive models, just like LAX.
On that Houston trip, I had reserved a compact sedan with AVIS. They had several of the AWD IS250's parked up front when I got to their lot. I asked the manager how they ended up with a small fleet of Lexuses, especially since the words 'fleet' and 'Lexus' had never been used in the same sentence until that moment?!? Apparently, Lexus allocated the AWD models no differently than regular, RWD IS-models. Instead of sending more of them to New England, the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest (areas where Subarus sell best), they send just as many to bone-dry, hotter-than-hell areas like the Southwest, Southern California, Texas...and dealers couldn't give them away!
So they dumped them into rental fleets in those markets. He also told me that Volvo had done the same thing, at least in Houston, with the 2008 and 2009 S60 2.5T AWD. He said that it was easier to get an S60 AWD from Hertz than a Ford Focus (and for the same price) for several months!
It was a very interesting conversation, to say the least. The best part? My new-found friend upgraded me to a brand new Lexus IS250 AWD for the dirt-cheap 'compact' rate on my reservation! I had it for a week and paid less than $200! =)
It was the best rental car I've had, hands-down. But my best friend had a 2007 IS250 (RWD) that I drove quite a bit. In comparison, the AWD felt like the parking brake engaged AND like it had 400lbs of bricks in the trunk!!! It was a dog, to say the least...but a very comfy dog, at least...
#483 of 740 Re: . [igozoomzoom]
Oct 08, 2012 (6:11 pm)
Interesting! I never saw that out here, didn't know it existed. I know in 94-95, some GS were found in fleets in CA (Hertz I think), and that was it. Lexus is probably the mainstream brand with the least fleet presence. I wonder if any IS will again be fleet dumped when we finally get a new model, and there are old style units left unsold.
Out here for many years, Hertz had S60 and S80 - they still might. In 2007, I rented a nice sport package A6 from Hertz at LAS, but it wasn't cheap - ended up around $80/day I think.
Rental car fleets have evolved greatly in the past decade. Now you can get pretty much anything, including prestige brands. Back in the day, it was almost entirely modestly equipped domestic boxes.
#484 of 740 2013 Fusion SE
Oct 17, 2012 (12:48 pm)
I'm in Nashville for work for a couple of days and National had a brand new 2013 Fusion SE Ecoboost in the Emerald aisle so I grabbed it. I've been waiting for one of these to show up so I could see how it drove, overall I'm very impressed. It has plenty of power for the class, is relatively quiet and fun to drive. Definitely better than the new Camry I had in CA a few weeks ago, not that the Camry was bad but the Fusion is definitely a better vehicle. Overall a big win for Ford based on first impressions.
#485 of 740 Re: 2013 Fusion SE [jpp5862]
Oct 17, 2012 (6:56 pm)
Getting to the point where one might not have to rent "premium" or higher to ensure not getting stuck in a junkheap.
Oct 21, 2012 (4:19 pm)
I have read that the Caddy ATS is now in the National fleet, and that it is a very nice ride.
#487 of 740 Rental at LAX
Oct 24, 2012 (8:27 pm)
Got to CA yesterday and upon arrival at Hertz I pulled my usual "give me anything but an Impala" tirade. What I ended up with instead was a 26k mile '12 Malibu that smells like an ashtray. I would typically prefer a four banger Malibu to an Impala that drives like a spoon in a bowl of mashed potatoes, but in this case I guess the joke was on me; shoulda kept my mouth shut.
#488 of 740 Re: . [fintail]
Nov 06, 2012 (9:15 am)
Indeed, I'd love to have one but they rarely make those cars available in the Emerald Aisle, even in the Executive section you don't get "Premium" cars like that very often. An Avalon or a 300 is about the "nicest" cars I get in that section. I did get a new S60 in Miami a few months ago, so every once in a while you get lucky.
#489 of 740 Re: Rental at LAX [js06gv]
Nov 06, 2012 (9:18 am)
About 10 years ago I pulled the same thing when they gave me a Buick Century. The lady offered me an "upgrade" to a Taurus wagon. It was the lesser of two evils for sure. A guy I worked with showed me a trick on the Century (this was the last body style, not the one they made for 37 years), if you started it, then put it in gear and turned the key back to start for about 30 seconds you could turn the "Service Engine Soon" light on, so rather than complain at the time of rental he would go get in the car, do this and then go back and say he didn't feel comfortable driving a car with a light on, and voila he'd get upgraded with apologies.
#490 of 740 Re: . [jpp5862]
Nov 06, 2012 (10:10 am)
Some of the cooler cars are only found at certain locations, too. S60 is a decent score though, not bad. I've heard there are some fairly loaded 300s in that fleet, too.
When I rent on my own dime for any period of time, I tend to reserve premium or higher, just to improve my odds of not being stuck in a crapbox.
I'm in Germany right now, and have a 10 day rental starting Friday. I'm a little geeked about it already. I need to find where their parking garage is, so I can stalk it out. Or maybe just wait, kind of like Christmas
#491 of 740 Lucked out and got a KIA Optima- did I just say that???
Nov 06, 2012 (10:18 pm)
My cousin flew lives in Los Angeles but she had to attend a sorority sister's wedding in Cincinnati this past weekend. While she was on this side of the country, she flew on down to ATL yesterday to hang out with me and our other favorite cousin for the week (the Black Sheep Cousin Committee, as we refer to ourselves)!
Anyway, I was planning to pick her up at the airport and loan her my parent's spare vehicle so she wouldn't have to pay for a rental for the week. But I woke up yesterday morning to pouring rain and a high of 38 degrees and couldn't bring myself to make the 70+ mile slog to airport to fetch her. So I called and arranged for a rental car to be waiting for her when she landed.
I happen to be an insurance agent and I'll confess, I use that fact and certain tricks that I know to get $60/day cars for $23/day!!! =) I reserved a 'standard' size/level vehicle with Enterprise and asked if they knew what kind of car it would probably be. The guy said it would very likely be a brand new Chrysler 200, which he seemed to think was a nice car based on his inflection. I was trying to avoid laughing and heaving at the same time....and since I wouldn't be driving it, I figured my cousin could live with it.
When she showed up in my driveway yesterday afternoon, she was driving a 2013 KIA Optima LX with less than 300 miles on the clock. I was very pleasantly surprised and she said she loved driving it- and she has a 2009 Lexus GX470 at home in L.A., so that is high praise for her to think the KIA drives so well!
I drove it all afternoon and evening yesterday and I was genuinely surprised that it was so nice to drive and how much I genuinely liked this base level Kia Optima LX without a single option. Even at its most basic, it has a good audio system, Bluetooth phone capability with buttons on steering wheel, audio controls on steering wheel, the driver's seat was manually adjustable in fore-aft, up-down and also could be 'rocked forward or back and locked into place manually. Oddly enough, the lumbar adjustment was power. It took a few minutes of moving cranking levels and sliding things around, but once I got it adjusted, it was the most comfortable driver's seat this side of Volvo S60!
The interior fabric was very high quality, even if it was a 'honey-ish' hue of beige. The center stack (where the audio system & climate controls reside) is canted in toward the driver, kind of like a cockpit. The interior looked and felt like it would be at home in a $30k car.
The engine has plenty of kick and the 6-speed automatic readily downshifts two or even three gears if you nail it (such as merging onto a fast moving highway). On the road, the car feels rock solid and when you hit your first pot hole, you realize that it actually is rock solid!
I can't believe I'm saying this, but it has surpassed the Nissan Altima and now shares the spot of "my favorite mid-size sedan" with the Mazda6!!! The Optima LX has a base MSRP of $21,200. The mid-level EX is only $2,300 more and adds dual-zone auto A/C, Homelink remote, 1-touch up/down front windows, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-covered steering wheel and shifter knob, 8-way power driver's seat, leather seats, Keyless access system, 17" alloys (vs. 16" on LX) and rear map lights. That's a lot of content for $2,300.
Another $2,950 for the EX Premium Package adds a Panoramic Sunroof, Infinity Premium">link title Sound System w/ 8spkrs, UVO Infotainment system with Rear Camera Display, HD Radio, 4-way power passenger seat, Driver seat memory, HEATED & COOLED front seats & HEATED rear seats, heated steering wheel and power folding mirrors.
So an EX with all those features listed above has a sticker of only $26,450 and TrueCar price of $24,320! Folks, I think I've just found my next car....