Monday, October 24, 2005

Car Rental blahs...

I haven't been travelling much lately so I haven't had to deal with a rental cars in quite a while. I've never really had big issues with rental car companies and have never had anything remotely similar to what is shown on rental car company TV commercials.

The only reason I had to rent a car was because my Audi was in the body shop getting repairs to the front fender. I'm not going to talk about the process of renting and returning the car, because it was pretty straight forward. I just want to mention a few things about the car I drove for a week: the Chevy Equinox

I didn't really care which car I ended up with, but since they gave me a choice, I picked a car which I hadn't driven in the past. So how was the car? Well, there was nothing really wrong with it. But then again, there was nothing really right with it either. My comment to the rental car guy when returning it was "Too big on the outside, too small on the inside."

In fact, the Equinox is a pretty small SUV, but it seemed to take way too much space in the garage. I always had to squeeze out of the car whether in the garage or in a parking spot. And what did I get for all that space taken up? Well, not too much. I'm not talking about luxury & creature comforts. Since it's a rental car, I don't really epxect that. But in terms of conviences that should be included as part of the car, it just didn't feel as useful as our Honda Pilot. From simple things like sturdy cup holders (there were enough cup holders, but they were all rather flimsy and I had to keep glancing at my cup to make sure my coffee wasn't spilling out. I never feel like I need to do that with the Pilot or my A4. Shopping bag hooks in the cargo area are so useful and obvious in our Pilot that I was surprised when there weren't any built into the sidewalls of the Equinox. Overall, things seemed a bit flimsy on the inside. I'm not referring to the level of luxury, I'm just referring to the sturdiness of what is included. The biggest issue I had with the thing was the turning radius. I had trouble pulling into every parking spot I tried, no mater how much space I had. I ended up taking 3 and 4 point turns just to get the thing into a spot. I never have to do that with the Pilot and the A4.

So my take on this is that the Equinox isn't designed for the main thing people do with it: Drive it around town.

This is an issue with most SUVs. Clearly most people who buy SUVs aren't going to be driving down dirt roads any time soon, if ever. So I still don't get why car companies don't design their SUVs to perform better in the situations where they're used most often. SUV ads now claim they're great for city driving, but I think that's just marketing spin without any real changes to how the SUVs have been designed.

I feel like our Pilot is quite a bit better designed for city driving: great turning radius, lots of obvious conveniences inside, and generally drives likes it's much smaller. It could, however, certainly be improved.

Anyways, net-net on the Equinox: Don't bother. If you like Chevy's just go for the Tahoe since it's better designed. If you want something small for suburban life, there's much better out there from Toyota, Honda, and the like.

I'm much happier to have my A4 back and much prefer driving the Pilot when I need something bigger.

1 comment:

Atul said...

Your post reminded me of the time my college buds and I rented a Chevy Blazer to go camping. Even though there were five of us, we figured that since it was an SUV, we'd be fine. Unfortunately we were wrong -- the car was much smaller on the inside than we had expected and it almost felt like we were in a compact car. Not to mention it was a horrible car to drive!