Yellow Fiat Panda

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 
/Media Card/BlackBerry/pictures/IMG00071-20090819-1912.jpg

We had some amusing rental cars in Italy.   First and last a Ford Focus that was quite competent, had enough room, and handled quite well.  Then we went to Portugal and rented a car to drive to Spain.  Perhaps because Spain and Portugal still have some hard feelings, it is absurdly expensive to rent a car in one country and return it in the neighboring company.  It would cost less to pay someone to push the car back.

So we were given a “Spanish car” in Lisbon, a Toyota Yaris with a really pronounced fuel delivery problem at anything above 1/2 throttle which had the car juddering and barely making it up hills.  Hertz sent out the mechanic who asked if we had the AC on (yes, it was 40 out) and then said it was normal. I told him it felt like it was running on 3 cylinders and he said that was right, it had 3 cylinders.  Now we’ve rented a couple of Yarii before, and they make it up the mountain in Italy fine with the AC on, and would easily have climbed the hills of Lisbon, but they wouldn’t take it back and besides even if they wanted to there simply wasn’t another car available in Iberia.  So we got a reservation from EuropeCar and called Hertz and were told we could drop the sick Yaris off at LIS.

But when we got there, that wasn’t the case – apparently Hertz Spain would charge Hertz Portugal €25,000 if they accepted it.  As we made it clear we wouldn’t be driving it away, there was suddenly another Spanish car at the Hertz downtown office.

We drove downtown where they were super nice and promptly produced another of the same competent Ford’s we had in Italy with one minor variation – the driver’s side mirror had been destroyed by the car wash just before we got there.  So they gave us a nice Portuguese Renault Laguna III with the key card ignition system.  It worked great and was a fine car to drive with a useful 6 speed manual transmission.

It got us to SVQ without any problems and we could even keep up with our friends in their Mercedes C230 with the strange transmission that switched into “limp home mode” immediately.  Yes, the car rental adventure was not ours alone, their car, a high end rental Mercedes was flawed as well.  They asked “why does the car redline at 150?  Is that bad?”  It took a little work to be sure there wasn’t a button or feature being missed (like some manual shift override), but no… it was a “feature” not a bug, and was to remind the driver to get to a service station before the transmission fell out of the car.  It made it to Spain and back in 2nd.

When we got back to BLQ our Focus was touring around Florence, so we picked up the cheerful Yellow Fiat Panda.  Pandas are great little (little) cars.  They handle surprisingly well, have surprising pickup and, like the tardis, are bigger inside than outside.  Even so, a panda can’t really hold more than two people and their normal travel luggage, and three is a tight squeeze even if one is only 80% full size.  But we all packed in and zipped back home suddenly noticing that the yellow panda must be the year’s most popular car.

Finally we returned the Panda, got our Focus, and drove to Rome with three adults, one awfully tall 12 year old, and a lot of luggage in relative comfort and in good time.

Hits: 0

Posted at 10:12:02 GMT-0700

Category: photorental cars

Ford Escape

Monday, June 22, 2009 

After the while OJ thing tainted Ford with the low speed Bronco chase, they dropped the Bronco from their line and replaced it with something to help shed the whole fleeing fugitive image: the Escape.

Rumor has it there will be an Arrested Development movie!

/Media Card/BlackBerry/pictures/IMG00171-20090622-0012.jpg

It’s a pretty mediocre SUV. Squishy, soft, fairly comfortable. It’s a little loud inside. These small SUV’s seem to combine the disadvantages of a truck (noisy, gas consumptive, big, slow) with the disadvantages of a car (fragile, not off-road worthy). This one was even two wheel drive only, what’s the point of that?

Hits: 0

Posted at 05:47:07 GMT-0700

Category: Negativephotorental carsreviews

Ford Fusion Rental Review

Monday, December 1, 2008 

/Media Card/BlackBerry/pictures/IMG00142-20081201-1231.jpg

Hits: 0

Posted at 14:00:11 GMT-0700

Category: Related Links

Ford Mustang

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 

Rental car review: Ford Mustang

ford mustang.jpg
I got this car with plastic on the steering wheel, the back seat belts buckled, and 5 miles on the odometer.  I very much enjoy mustangs: they’re fast and throaty and fun to drive and equipped with loud and amusing stereos.

They are small in the trunk and the back seats are pretty useless – definitely not where you want to stuff an large, elderly coworker.  But the car is fun.  Fast and fun.

The engine has more show than go – the sound of the engine is one of big power and extreme performance.  While the car handles much better than most rental cars, it does not live up to the sound of the exhaust.  A nice Audi or Volvo, for example, will accelerate faster, harder, and longer and take turns better, but never call attention to themselves while doing it.

On the other hand, actually going really fast is not always relevant: having fun is more to the point and the mustang is fun.  It feels spry and agile and powerful and serves well to take years off the driver’s age.  It’s the prefect car to cruise suburban malls, especially if one dye’s one’s hair or wears a toupee.  If chicks aren’t the goal, then it certainly makes getting to work an exercise in regression therapy.

Aside from the throaty roar and sporty performance, road noise is poorly isolated but well compensated for by a loud, bass-heavy stereo typically equipped with a CD-MP3 changer that can hold 6 CDs (or maybe 60 albums) which means on older cars one can often find heavy metal compilations forgotten in the changer.  Not so much classical.

  • Quiet – Not very quiet.
  • Comfortable – fairly comfortable.
  • Engine – a great engine for a rental car, a lot of fun.
  • Suspension – very good for a rental car.
  • Basic amenities – everything that could be reasonably powered is.
  • Stereo – killer stereo: loud and plays MP3s off a 6 CD changer.
  • Security – small but secure trunk.

Hits: 0

Posted at 15:00:26 GMT-0700

Category: photorental carsreviews

Rental Car Review Ford Edge

Friday, June 13, 2008 

Rental Car Review: Ford Edge

ford edge.jpg
The Ford Edge is an oversized minivan.  It drives like a van – a  bit clumsy and uncertain.  While it has plenty of interior space, it isn’t all that comfortable.  The stereo was fine and the power everything was entertaining (a power open/close tailgate is very silly but fun).  But as a car it was simply a pain to drive and maneuver – like suddenly gaining a lot of weight and no muscle.

  • Quiet – the suspension seemed a bit weak but after 64,000 rental km it might be worse than new.
  • Comfortable – fairly comfortable to sit in.
  • Engine – powerful, but not that zippy given the size of the vehicle.
  • Suspension – horrible: flabby weak and noisy
  • Basic amenities – power everything and then some.
  • Stereo – not as good as it could be.
  • Security – no trunk, can’t leave anything in the car.

Hits: 6

Posted at 07:00:33 GMT-0700

Category: Related Links

Ford Taurus X Rental

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 

Rental car review

ford taurus x.jpg
This week i got a new Ford Taurus X, an interesting rental car. It’s an SUV type vehicle, oversized and overaccesorized, but a surprisingly pleasant vehicle that’s fairly easy to drive and comfortable.
Now the theory is that such a car would be good for off-road use or something since it has four wheel drive, but that’s really not happening. Better to think of it as a minivan with a nose and some extra weight in the drive train. Desipite the foolishness of SUVs in general, and especially given gas prices, the car had some neat features.
  • I used the backup sensor in a parking lot – a good thing as the car is long and has poor visibility out the back.
  • It has an outside temperature indicator which I like.
  • The seat moves all the way back when you take the key out, and then back to where it was for us old people.
  • The tailgate opens and closes itself, which is kind of absurd and overkill but fun in a gadgety way.
  • The engine is fairly powerful (Canadian rentals seem to be more powerful than US rentals – my .ca Grand Am would spin it’s wheels embarrassingly easily, whereas my Grand Am in LA was kind of anemic).
  • It’s quiet and comfortable.
  • The rear seats fold into the floor of the car – just like a mini-van.
  • The stereo had an analog input and a 6 CD MP3 changer
  • It has Microsoft Sync – more on that below.

Read more…

Hits: 0

Posted at 23:00:30 GMT-0700

Category: photorental carsreviews

Some thoughts on energy

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 

I recently rediscovered an email discussion I was having about global warming and solar power. I kind of enjoyed it…

Read more…

Hits: 0

Posted at 03:35:10 GMT-0700

Category: politics