Renting a Car
January 14, 2004 9:51 AM   Subscribe

I want to rent a vehicle for my daughter and 3-4 friends to drive from PA to Myrtle Beach, SC this summer. Guess what - more inside!

She doesn't care how cool or status the car/SUV/van/truck is - she's looking for the absolute most comfortable seats around, that's all she and her friends care about - their bums are going to be on those seats a lot, part of the time taking naps. She drives a Taurus, and her friends all agree that it's the most comfy car in the 'hood, and right now they're all fighting over who gets to ride with her, but I think the car is too old to make the trip. She's very attached to it and isn't ready for a new car (gotta love her - she's low maintenance), but I really want to rent something for this. Is there anything out there even more living-room sofa-like than a Taurus? It's part of her hs graduation present, so the cost doesn't matter, within reason. Meaning, no Rolls Royces or Van Halenesque stretch limos with built-in hot tubs.

Her dream vehicle to own is the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, and she loves Jeeps, to give you an idea of her mindset. A good amount of storage and a great sound system wouldn't hurt, and good gas mileage is not to be scoffed at either. Any ideas?
posted by iconomy to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total)
 
Well, after listening to Car Talk for years there is only one option. If it's all about comfort: Lincoln Town Car.
posted by anathema at 9:55 AM on January 14, 2004


Grand Marqui? Same thing as a Crown Victoria. They abound at rental places.
posted by Hackworth at 9:58 AM on January 14, 2004


I'm not sure that a sofa seat is going to be comfortable. I imagine that high-quality racing-style seats are the cat's meow: side and lumbar support, correct posture, etcetera.

A sofa is comfy for a half-hour sitcom. You wouldn't want to sit in one all day at the office.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 AM on January 14, 2004


Yes I would! That sounds like my dream job!

Do the kids have experience driving different cars than their own? The towncar etc. ideas sound really good to me if your daughter goes for that, but they ARE huge. Think about renting it for the week beforehand as well, and giving you daughter a chance to get a feel how to drive it in traffic and park it.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:57 AM on January 14, 2004


Have you considered a mini-van? Not the coolest car, although that doesn't seem to be an issue here. But tons of room, pretty comfy for the most part, you can actually lay down for a spell, and they get decent gas mileage for their size. That's the first thing I'd check into if I were in a similar quandry.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:06 AM on January 14, 2004


A negative datapoint: I like the CR-V but the lumbar support on the seats is lacking. They're comfortable for a couple of hours, but after that they quickly become painful. I found the Civic to be a bit better, but cramming 4-5 people into a Civic for a road trip is insane, and the backseats are extremely scary bad for anyone taller than about 5'5".

I've been extremely comfortable in a friend's Buick Century for hours of driving, as well as in a '95 Thunderbird with the leather package.

Come to think of it, the T-bird with leather is probably the most comfortable seat I've ever been in, including recent Town Cars. So I guess this is more than a mere single negative datapoint.
posted by majick at 11:25 AM on January 14, 2004


Ufez is on the right track. Minivans are going to be the most comfortable for everyone, not just the front-seat passengers. Plus there's going to be room for all the gear (4-5 girls? Maybe you ought to rent a trailer, too!)
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:59 AM on January 14, 2004


Minivans are okay, but you end up putting most of your luggage on the roof. If a big fat American 4-door and its cavernous trunk won't cut it, maybe think about a full-size van? (Not every high-school age driver is ready for one -- you have to think ahead a bit, anticipating others, so you can avoid abrupt maneuvers.)

Having room to squirm and cross your legs can make a big difference on a long trip. A lot of luggage can fit behind the rearmost seats, which can usually fold down into a passable bed. (I've had 4 adults and a dog spend the night on mine.) The roomy flat floor accomodates coolers full of snacks, cases of CDs, doffed shoes, video games, etc. without encroaching on seating space. And she could take 5 or 6 friends!

(One note: whatever the vehicle, please -- no napping in fold-down beds or reclined seats while the car is moving. Safety devices like belts and airbags only work when you're properly seated upright. If they can't snooze while sitting up and buckled in, best to pull over for naptime.)
posted by Tubes at 12:03 PM on January 14, 2004


I know this wasn't what was asked, but is there a reason you don't trust the Taurus she's got right now? Most mechanics, for a nominal fee, will "look over" a car if you tell them you're planning on taking a trip. Or, if you're mechanically inclined, change the fluids, check all the rubber bits (hoses, belts), and inspect the brakes.

barring that, I'd say go with the minivan. If there's only four of them, the back seat can be removed and the space used for storage. However, if your daughter or any of her friends are under 25, I doubt the rental place will allow it. Something to watch out for...
posted by notsnot at 12:30 PM on January 14, 2004


Well, after listening to Car Talk for years there is only one option. If it's all about comfort: Lincoln Town Car.

I've ridden in a lot of Washington, DC taxicabs in the last ten years, and lately I've noticed that even high mileage Lincoln Town Cars are vastly quieter and more comfortable than anything else out there. If I were in the market for a large used car, it would certainly be a Town Car.
posted by coelecanth at 1:52 PM on January 14, 2004


Good ideas - thank you everyone! I'm going to show her this thread and see what she thinks. I love AsMeFi.

notsnot, the car is a '94, and it stalls a lot. That is a good idea, though - to have my mechanic look it over, just in case she doesn't find something she likes better.
posted by iconomy at 4:44 PM on January 14, 2004


It is all about the minivan. I recently rented a Ford Freestar (nee Windstar) from Hertz for a weekend and loved it. Very comfortable, very quiet on the road, nice CD player, etc. Hertz even threw in a GPS system for free, which would be a lot of fun on a trip.

Also, I think you'll be fine on luggage, even with 5. With one driving, one in the passenger, and two in the captain's chairs (!), you'll only have one person on the back bench seat. You can stash a lot of stuff in the way-back and on the back bench.
posted by Mid at 5:07 PM on January 14, 2004


Iconomy: Your daughter may be the very best and most cautious driver you've ever met, but most rental companies won't rent to drivers under 25 AND do not allow drivers under 25. That violates your rental contract, and if anything happens, you could be sued or worse.

Anecdote: Someone I know was the happy recipient of similar generosity when she was 17. As she was making a left turn on a Chicago street she was hit by another car running a red light, so the accident wasn't even her fault. Regardless, her family was sued by the rental company, and they were not a wealthy family. Her friend's parents were also quite upset as well. The results weren't good.

At the very least, make sure that you check the rental contract before you rent the car, or if you're prepared to violate it, be sure that you want to undertake that risk.

It might be a safer bet to have the Taurus looked at by a trusted mechanic.
posted by answergrape at 5:17 PM on January 14, 2004


Rental companies are very strict about this, although you may find a smaller, local rental company that will be lenient. A couple of my acquaintance had their car break down on their honeymoon — they had to drive a U-Haul home as it was all they could rent.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 5:57 PM on January 14, 2004


Enterprise will rent to people under 25 - you just have to pay a bit more.
posted by transona5 at 7:31 PM on January 14, 2004


most rental companies won't rent to drivers under 25 AND do not allow drivers under 25

I rented a car from Enterprise when I was 21 in the Boston Area. That was 9 years ago, so it may not still be their policy or may not be a national policy. Just about everyone else has an age limit of 25.
posted by Quinn at 7:38 PM on January 14, 2004


Enterprise will rent to people under 25 - you just have to pay a bit more.

"A bit" can be $25 extra per day per driver, depending on the market, though the surcharge on my Vegas rental from Enterprise was $8/day. Make sure you clear all this with your auto insurance company beforehand, especially if you go with a no-name local rental company to avoid the surcharge.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:05 PM on January 14, 2004


Insert "<BR><BR>BTW, " between the two sentences in my comment....
posted by PrinceValium at 8:08 PM on January 14, 2004


Having done many many long interstate trips (usually in a hurry), the minivan sounds like the way to go for your daughter - flexible space is the key when you have a few people on board.
posted by dg at 10:13 PM on January 14, 2004


I had no idea that some agencies have age restrictions! I just assumed that anyone with a license could rent a vehicle. Silly me. Yes the mechanic idea is looking better and better...

Newsflash: While typing this my daughter IMed to tell me that she wants to rent a minivan after reading this thread. I think it was the magical words captain's chairs that got to her ;)
posted by iconomy at 4:31 AM on January 15, 2004


I forgot about this but I faced a similar problem when I was around that age. Some friends and I were going to Alaska, all under 25 and we wanted to road trip it. We didn't have a vehicle that would be comfortable for all of us for that length of time and we couldn't rent without paying an exorbitant fee. We ended up buying a used jeep for the trip that was in excellent shape then selling it after the trip. The jeep was already pretty old but a mechanic friend checked it out and gave us the A O.K.

If the main problem is that the 3-4 girls wouldn't fit comfortably in the Taurus then this might be something to consider. If the Taurus would fit fine but you're just unsure of it have a mechanic you trust (or a friend trusts) check it over. If a car is well maintained they can have amazing reliability. If a car is poorly maintained then they can appear unreliable as well.

I've personally driven in vehicles with 250K miles on them that were much more reliable than vehicles with less than 30K on them. The difference being that on the high mileage vehicles the owners religiously took care of them and on the low mileage vehicles the owners religiously ignored maintenance.
posted by substrate at 5:25 AM on January 15, 2004


When the wife and I went to Bonnaroo this past summer we saw a couple dozen (at least) RVs that folks had rented. Can't remember the domain that was painted on the side, but we decided the next time we go to a festival we are renting an RV.
posted by terrapin at 9:55 AM on January 15, 2004


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