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Rental Car Roulette

I flew north last weekend to visit my parents in New England and played rental car roulette, ending up with a Kia Soul. After putting 370 miles on the car over the weekend in varied conditions, I have observations and opinions to share.

I was in northwest Connecticut, a beautiful area of steep hills, river valleys, covered bridges and waterfalls - and not much else. The roads in general are very winding, with speed limits of 45 mph at most typically. I really wish that I had a proper sporty car, but I probably would have gotten into trouble if I had one. And scared my parents.

I took interstate highway from the airport, and found the car to have steering that was overboosted for my preferences, with a vague on-center in those conditions. The suspension loudly communicated the bumps on the highway and the back roads, and overall was a bit rough, although at least the trade-off was that it cornered fairly well once I got to the more remote areas.

It had auto climate control, very good visibility, and good use of interior space. The seating space was comparable to my mother’s CR-V, although a bit lower. The trunk space was much shorter by comparison, and we had to drop one rear seat and put my father’s walker on it’s side, while in the CR-V it could lay flat in the trunk.

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The trunk did have a cleverly foldable cargo cover, so there was that. The driver’s seat was pretty comfortable, although I missed more lumbar support (maybe that is available on higher trims). The engine had decent power, although it struggled up the steepest mini-mountains. It did return great fuel economy, somewhere over 32 miles per gallon.

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Overall, it worked out to be a good ride, fitting in my parents and my father’s gear, and thus allowing me to drive them around all weekend. Would I want one for myself? Not if I could help it, but I could see it working for a next car for my parents, particularly because it seems to sell for as little at $16,000 new with a good warranty.

So, I’d say that I dodged a bullet and got a decent rental - certainly better than the frustrating Dodge Journey that I got last time I was there.

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