I thought this might be interesting to those of us who follow rental cars. Last month I spent a couple weeks on the road, based out of ORD, and had a rental car odyssey, driving 4 cars during the period. Here’s car the first:

Slightly dirty, posing in front of the famous “Gobbler” in Johnson Creek, WI

I arrived at ORD just after the new consolidated rental car facility opened - a huge improvement, I am surprised it took so long. I rented from Hertz on this trip, as I usually do in the US, as I am President’s Circle, and I have a pile of points (this was a points rental). Booked class was “I” (luxury car), usually a 300 or CTS. Flight was early, I arrived about a half hour early, my name wasn’t on the board - this class has a reserved car. I talked to a very nice rep at the PC booth (I think his name was Christian) who said I could take the Evoque in the upgrade section. Not my favorite vehicle, but a free upgrade, so I took it. As I was loading my suitcase, the pretty red Grand Cherokee Overland pulled into the general area - I looked it over, and took it instead, as it had more features. I liked this car, other than it seemed a bit thirsty, but maybe my Bluetec spoiled me. It was comfortable, smooth, had Android Auto, big sunroof, leather, other toys.

Notice I am using past tense, not just because the rental is over. The car itself is probably done, too. A few days later in Milwaukee, there was an incident:

Note the missing parts

I’ll just say “not my fault” right now. On the positive side, no injury or lasting soreness, the officer I dealt with was cool, and Hertz has been nice. On the negative, nice car ruined, someone will be paying for it. Quick summary of the incident, I am on a two lane residential 30 mph thoroughfare, turning right onto a narrow street, a Hertz rental Escape is flying up behind me at maybe 50 mph or more, driver was apparently spaced out, panicked, and went right at the last second to avoid hitting me. he clipped me, removing my wheel and some suspension, and he kept going, also losing a wheel, clipping a house, and ending up in a yard - serious momentum. He was also uninjured, and said nary a word to me. The officer said I had nothing to worry about, and a month later, no issues, so I expect he was right - a Hertz car hitting another is kind of amusing. This was in the morning, so I had time to get on with my day, but needed another car. The tow truck driver took me to MKE to drop off the sad wasted Jeep (they had several other wrecks on site, apparently its a thing there), and I got another car. Smaller facility than I imagined, but the agent didn’t bat an eye at my story, and quickly had another car for me. She claimed it was the only car left:

It’s a car

Advertisement

A basic (no toys) Sorento with FL plates, 45K on the clock, and lots of rattles due to the seats being configured in a random bizarre fashion. Not my dream rental. I fixed the seats, and drove on. It had been rode hard and put away wet, but actually drove fine and wasn’t unpleasant for what it was. Just not what I wanted for the remaining 10 days of my trip. I was heading back to IL the next day anyway, so I decided to go to ORD again and switch. Once there, I encountered the same Hertz employee from the Jeep rental. Again they had nothing in my reserved class, so he offered me a free upgrade, this one seemed maybe more fun:

The McCallisters moved

A Challenger RT Scat Pack, 485hp of Murkan pride. Loud (but not in a bad way), harsh suspension on Chicago roads, drinks like an SUV, turns the heads of 14 year olds and 70 year olds, pretty fun rental. Another one with Android Auto, which is a nice feature. I was able to lay into it a few times, but no real hooning due to Chicagoland traffic and fun road conditions. On that note, I didn’t find Chicago traffic or drivers to be particularly bad, as it can also be hell-adjacent in the PNW. After a few days, I was heading to Michigan via Ohio, and some weather models called for snow, and I knew RWD and those tires would be no fun. Time to visit ORD again, and trade one beast for another:

First taste of snow

Advertisement

It snowed a tiny bit when I was in Chicago and a bit more while in Michigan, I wasn’t disappointed. This thing got the mileage expected, is reasonably fast, maneuvers OK for a house (Armada means it has the same mass as a fleet of ships), has decent interior materials and build, but the ICE is hilariously retro (not in a cool way) and has probably the most uncomfortable seat I’ve experienced in a modern vehicle - no lateral support, lumbar control helps nothing, 3 hours max to backache. I put over 1000 miles on this thing, and aside from the seat it wasn’t awful- MI having cheap gas when I was there helped, but probably not something I’d buy. It was like being in heaven being back in my own car. Detroit driving was an adventure too - roads that seemed weird to me (multi lane roads with no dividing stripes/lines?), everyone goes 20 over, etc. I went to a Wings game and took a Lyft back and forth, but during the day hit the road with no issues, including going to Canada. I’ve heard Detroit is a leader in crashes, I guess I got mine out of the way in Milwaukee.

Other Hertz upgrades I noticed at ORD were SLCs, other Challengers, several Corvettes, and a Range Rover (big boi).