After some thought, I have decided to give the Buick Lacrosse another chance. I was quite unimpressed with the car that I drove and believe this may have been a one-off instance. I will plan to rent this specific model again in the not so distant future and write a comprehensive review.
PROs:Steering Wheel Controls, Rear Parking Sensors, 4WD, 3rd Row Seat
CONs:Bulky, No Line-In (AUX), Mileage
Days Rented: 5 Miles Driven: 565
MPG Observed: High Teens City / Mid-20s Hwy / 19.5 mpg Overall
Comfort: *** Engine: **
Space: *** Handling: ***
Ride: *** Ease of Use: **
With my trip this week taking me to Yuma where rain was in the forecast, I decided to request an upgrade to the Ford Explorer. I specifically requested this car as it is one that I have recently considered buying for myself.
Initially I was impressed with the interior of the Ford Explorer. It was well appointed with plush leather seats, a colorful center display, controls on the steering wheel, and touch sensitive center controls. I think the center controls are very cool. Instead of clicking buttons, you simply touch them much like you would an Android or iPhone. The drivers side space felt a bit cramped. I continuously found myself adjusting the seat as I could never quite find a comfy position. On a positive note, I did like that the lumbar was adjustable both vertically and horizontally. The rear seat had plenty of leg room for two adults to survive on a short road trip. The third row seat is conducive for hauling a group around, only without luggage. The cargo space in the trunk of the Explorer has its ups and downs. With the seats folded flat, there was massive amounts of space, on the flip side with the seats up, I severely doubt that 6 carry-ons would fit. (See Pictures Below)
The center display was impressive at first, but proved to be a bit cumbersome, laggy, and inefficient. It is impressive how much information Ford allows the driver to see on both the dash and center console, and in so many forms. In reality though, this is counter productive. The data on the dash is controlled by the buttons on the steering wheel and were very finicky. Switching from the trip mileage to the fuel economy would often require me going up twice and down once to get the right screen. I did like that the center screen was touch sensitive and had a “Home” screen. This split the screen into 4 quadrants: Phone, TraveLink (not active), Radio, and Climate. This is a good idea by Ford, but could still use some perfecting. The Climate part only controlled the seat heaters. The Phone portion offered quick links to your phone book, speed dial, etc. Unlike the Chrysler 300 scrolling through your contacts took a lot of button pushing and waiting. I found it quicker using the voice dial, or the classic method: picking up my phone. The voice recognition was OK, but took a few tries to get used to. Even by day 4 I still had not quite mastered it. The satellite radio did say it was expired and after pushing the ignore button to renew the subscription I found I was still able to scroll through the channels. A trick I found was that the renewal notice only popped up when you viewed the radio screen. On the home screen where you can see the 6 presets, the notice would not pop up. So despite the subscription being “cancelled” I was still able to enjoy the satellite radio all week.
This Explorer came equipped with the 3.5L V6 AWD. Even at highway speeds, this engine was pretty thirsty. On my initial 200
mile drive from San Diego to Yuma, the Explorer barely averaged 24mpg’s though this did include driving through the Peninsular mountains. The engine’s power was decent, probably lacking for a V6, and did require what seemed like extra effort to climb any sort of grade. Though it never ended up raining, the car did give the vibe that it would fare well in inclement weather. Driving along I-8, the car did handle well for an SUV. Even coming down the windy mountains I always Explorer was balanced and in control.
PROs: Spacious, Fuel Efficient, Simple User Interface, Key-less Entry, Remote Start
CONs: Heavy, Restricted Rear Visibility, Land Yacht
Days Rented: 4 Miles Driven: 835
MPG Observed: Low 20′s City / Low 30′s Hwy / 24 mpg Overall
Comfort: *** Space: ****
Ride: **** Engine: ***
Handling: *** Ease of Use: ****
I was recently pleased to find myself upgraded to Premium Class in a brand new Chrysler 300 with 2 miles. I was excited for this opportunity having heard great things about Chrysler’s recent improvements in design and build quality. Needless to say, I was not disappoint!
The cabin is superbly styled with the wood grain center console and dash trim to the leather seats and steering wheel, all topped off with an 8 inch center display. The front seats were quite spacious, and left plenty of room for rear passengers even with a 6’4″ person in the front. This car would be perfect to rent especially if you are being accompanied by 3 or 4 other colleagues. Not only is there enough room and comfort in the cabin, but the trunk could easily store each person’s carry-on with room to spare.
One of the things I consider a true bonus in a rental car is the in-dash display. Of all the cars I’ve rented, the 300‘s user interface blew the others out of the water! In the center console is a USB port, Line-In, and SD Slot. Connecting my phone to the car’s Bluetooth took a matter of seconds and even downloaded my entire phone book! “Cool!” I thought, now let’s see if you can actually recognize my voice, or if I will still have to dial myself. The car recognized all of the commands I gave and took action with no delay. I even tried throwing a couple curve balls by speaking quietly and mumbling a bit, the 300 was not phased. Being able to change the satellite radio channels without taking my hand off the wheel was a real treat. On the other hand, a problem I had a couple times was while I was on a call and entered the car. After plugging my phone in to charge via USB, the music on my phone would start playing! Both the phone call AND the music were being played over the speakers at the same time! I could not stop this because the music controls on the screen were disabled while the phone was in use. I had to “drop” the call and stop the music, then redial.
My initial trip after picking up the car was a 250 mile drive from LAX to the Blythe. The cabin is extremely quiet and blocks just about all audible road noise. For a minute I thought I was in a Lexus LS. The car I had was equipped with Chrysler’s 3.6L V6 FlexFuel. The car’s acceleration was moderate, but a littler slower than I expected. It took a good punch of the gas and a downshift to dial up the power to pass a semi. This is partly due to the car’s 8 speed transmission. I was lucky to get a couple pointers on how to use the gearshift knob, as it did take a couple tries before I got the hang of it. A bonus to the 8 spd transmission combined with the FlexFuel V6 was high gas mileage. After my 250 mile drive I averaged about 34mpg and was doing a good job of maintaining 70mph. Despite the seats being firm, the ride was very smooth. The suspension disguised all of LA’s flaws like Hollywood makeup artist.