Requesting a specific model from a car rental company.
March 3, 2009 4:27 AM   Subscribe

How can I rent a specific model of car from a rental car company in Baltimore Washington Airport?

I need to fly into BWI and rent a car for a weekend. I do this a lot. The catch is, I only like specific models. I.e., Ford Focus is fine, Fusion is not. Certain cars are comfortable for my body shape, some are not. And in my experience, there's no way to guarantee that I'll even get a model in the class I ask for. Lots of times I've paid for a subcompact and I end up getting an SUV because that's all they have. It all seems fairly random.

I am a short person, and for me comfort in a car has to do with seat shape, viewing angles, and a lot of other factors. Cars I like include Ford Focus, Nissan Versa, Hyundai Accent, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, Nissan Sentra.

Is there any company that is better than others at letting a customer request a specific model?
posted by bchaplin to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
After reserving the smallest car possible for a long road trip and ending up with a minivan, I feel your pain. The car company insisted there was nothing they could do, because it was considered an "upgrade". I hope somebody has a better answer.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:54 AM on March 3, 2009

I have asked for a specific model under the pretense that I was considering buying that model and it was the reason I was renting it and from them. It worked. Also, I would make multiple reservations and then go from counter to counter until you get what you want.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:01 AM on March 3, 2009

I have always been told what was available and been able to request specific models from Enterprise, but they're not one of the most common. No pretense necessary; you're the customer trying to choose a supplier -- of course the particular cars available are a selling point!
posted by rokusan at 5:10 AM on March 3, 2009

This is why I dig National. You go into the parking lot and pick the car you like. You can hop in several cars and find the best one. I've also had good luck asking them to go pull a car from the inventory lot.
posted by 26.2 at 7:54 AM on March 3, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so much! I'm going to try calling ahead to the individual lots this time and see if they will hold a Versa for me. Love those cars!
posted by bchaplin at 8:36 AM on March 3, 2009

As someone who used to rent cars one to several times a week for work, get to know the people who work at the place you rent from. The two Enterprises I dealt with would try to hold cars that I like (Focus, Prius, Saturn Ion, etc) and avoid giving me the ones that I didn't like or didn't work for my use.

When taking a vacation, one of the Enterprise staff people actually called the airport at my destination and had them reserve a car that I liked--which was good because the lot was full of models I didn't like.
posted by buttercup at 5:11 PM on March 3, 2009

I agree with buttercup. If possible, get to know your rental people.

I love Avis, because they put it on my file that I wanted a specific car whenever possible, so I never even had to say anything after the first time. And most of the time, I got the car I wanted.
posted by Zarya at 11:34 PM on March 3, 2009

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