Rental Cars I Have Known

General notes on rental cars I’ve driven so I can remember what I do and don’t like the next time I’m buying a car:

Honda Insight Hybrid
Very nice. Preferred rental. One caveat: the built-in GPS is correct but very sub-optimal. Its routes are often circuitous, and both longer in time and distance than they should be.
Toyota RAV4
Big, but surprisingly driveable. Probably a problem in city parking.
Ford Escape
Way too big and bulky, especially for city driving and parking. Avoid.
Nissan Altima
Enough room. Comfortable and drivable. Mileage isn’t great.
Mazda 3
Lots of room. Very comfortable. Just remember to make sure the transmission is in D rather than M. Preferred rental when available.
Spectra Kia
No pickup; bad remote control. Real problems on hills and mountains. Poor mileage. Don’t Buy
Volkswagen Jetta
A tad cramped. Awful radio. Driveable if better cars aren’t available but not desirable. Don’t Buy
Chrysler Cruiser
Just not for me. Don’t Buy
Toyota Yaris
Way too small for me. Don’t buy.
Toyota Prius
A tad cramped around the left side of the driver. Good mileage. Good all-around car. Nice tech features. Possible.
Nissan Sentra
Reasonable car for the city, though one unit I drove had problems accelerating past 40 mph, and had to go back to the dealer to be replaced. Possible.
Honda Civic (Hybrid)
Cramped car and very clunky driving compared to a Prius. Avoid.
Volvo S40
No headroom to speak of. Avoid.
Toyota Matrix
Lots of headroom. Lots of room. Drives OK for a minivan. Acceptable.

Also in general, I prefer a sedan with a trunk to a hatchback, SUV, or minivan. That’s mostly so I don’t have to worry as much about a scope or camera equipment being visible to anyone walking by. I still wouldn’t leave anything in the car at Bolsa Chica or anywhere in San Francisco, but it would be nice for Plumb Beach, Shirley Chisholm State Park, or Floyd Bennett Field.

Costco has a car buyer service that’s worth remembering.