This happened a couple years ago but someone just posted an Infiniti rental car so it reminded me of this story...

Vacations for myself and my wife typically involve cars, football, beer or any combination there of. A couple years ago we decided to spend our vacation driving the Pacific Coast Highway. Reservations are made, routes are planned, arline tickets are purchased. Our plan was to fly into Seattle, pick up a Mustang convertible, drive the coast, then fly out of LA. The Avis at the Seattle airport refers us to a neighborhood branch near the Pike St market. They said there isn’t much demand for convertibles in Seattle (go figure) so they don’t get them, but the neighborhood branch could. we contact that branch and they assure us they will have the convertible.

Months later (i emphasize months- my wife plans everything well in advance) we arrive in seattle. and there’s no convertible. Just your plain jane rental grade V6 mustang coupe. The manager is very apologetic and gives us all sorts of discounts on the rental. He says if we want to try to switch out at another branch, we can. I decided i can kick the crap out of a coupe just as easily as a convertible, so I take the car.

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After about an hour in the car, I realize that because the roof doesn’t go down, this cheap Slowstang doesn’t have anything going for it. And I’d rather not be in a cheap car for the next 1400 miles. A phone call is made to Avis, and the next closest location to us at that point was the Portland airport. My wife calls that branch. They tell her they also do not have convertibles, but they may have something else we would like. we decide to stop.

I dropped the wife off at the terminal and go circle around. There wasn’t anywhere to park, and i didn’t want to return the car if they didn’t have anything better. After a few minutes, she calls me and says “return the car and meet me at the avis counter.”

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I returned the car and dragged all our luggage into the terminal. note that the return area is no where near the counter. I meet up with her and her eyes are all red. She looks like she was crying. I ask her if she’s ok. She says she’s fine and smiles. Just then the Avis employee comes in from outside and says “OK, the car is out front. Here are the keys. Enjoy the rest of your trip.” The mrs grabs the keys and we walk outside.

Parked on the curb is a brand new Infinti M37X. “How did you swing this?” I ask. She replies “when the girl told me they didn’t have any convertibles, i started crying (she can cry on cue) and told her this was our honeymoon (it wasn’t) and it was our dream trip (it wasn’t) and we had been planning it for years (we hadn’t). She felt sorry for us and gave us a free upgrade.” That’s my girl!

My previous experiences with Infinitis were just the badge engineered Nissan, the I30. I never thought much of them. But this thing was nice! Lots of power, all wheel drive, paddle shifters, crazy comfortable seats, sat nav, moon roof. And I really put it through its paces. First we drove it through forest fires in Oregon. The cabin filter in the HVAC did a great job of keeping the smoke out. Brakes could have been a little better though. took I-5 to Grants Pass, then US199 to crescent city. That was a great road, twisting between the trees, but the brakes couldn’t take it and it quickly developed a nasty pulsation. Then in California, we decided to go into a state park that had a 10 mile dirt and gravel road down to the beach. Rally stage! With the traction control off and the transmission in manual, the car was easily tossed and slid through the corners. very easy to modulate the throttle in 1st gear and keep all 4 tires spinning. Later on at another park, we were thankful for the extra ground clearance of the awd model, as our path led us to a creek about 18 deep and 30 feet across. the car forded it with ease.

all in all, the trip went without a hitch, and several days later I turned in the dirtiest pearl white Infiniti you’ve ever seen at the Avis in LAX. and you could still see the ash from the fires stuck to the paint.

Next road trip will be RT 66, with something from Hertz’s adrenaline collection. Maybe a Challenger R/T or a Shelby GT-H Mustang?