The Summertime Car Dilemma for College Students

05.14.18

Jane is coming home from college next week, and she needs a car. Well, I need her to have a car because I don’t share well and I’m not excited about ridesharing as a full-time plan.

We got rid of Jane’s car when she decided to go to school in New York City. Naturally, she won’t be needing it for the bulk of four years. During short breaks, like winter, I can rent a car, and she can drive mine as it’s prohibitively expensive to have a driver under 25 on a rental car. But for summertime, I’ve tried to find other solutions. I’m still unclear on what we’ll do but here are the options.

Buy a beater and then sell or donate it at the end of the summer.

This was my first plan, and I found a 1983 Ford F150 that I thought would be a lot of fun to drive for the summer. In fact, it was a manual transmission, short bed, and only leaked a little oil. I was going to go and buy it for $3,500 on Tuesday but thank goodness AJ and I almost had an accident on Sunday. The freeway just came to a dead stop in front of us and had we been in an old car without power ABS brakes we’d have been in a major accident.

None of us are driving a beater. 

Rent a car for three months from one of the big companies

This still may happen. I have a luxury car reserved with Enterprise for the summer. It’s a Cadillac XTS or equivalent that comes with unlimited miles at $1,430 a month. The after-tax total for three months and 11 days is $5,760. There is no other cost involved. This car doesn’t go onto my insurance, require registration or a fee when I turn it in. If I want to save money, I can scale back on the model and drive something more modest. I’ll also get a bunch of frequent flier miles as well as double points on my credit card as it’s a travel-related expense.

Rent a car for three months from a company that’s new to the US

Sixt is a German car rental company. I’ve got a convertible beetle on hold with them for next week. It’s quite reasonably priced at $35 a day. A 92-day rental puts me at $3,661.93 with more than enough miles to get me through the summer. The problem is a complete lack of communication. I can’t get anyone on the phone so I can ask questions, and that’s too much money for me not to be able to speak to a local person.

The second problem, and this is a massive problem, is that their site is not secure. All you need is my reservation number and last name, and you land on a page that has been populated with my personal information. That this does not require a login is alarming.

How many other backdoors are there?

Sixt Car Rental Summertime Beverly hills

Sixt will give me KLM points though… so what’s a little privacy breach worth to me?

92 day car rental beverly Hills

 

These old style car rental agencies are the most convenient options. If the vehicles require any sort of maintenance I drop them off at the rental agency and grab a different one.

Drive a Ford for a few months with Canvas

The more I think about it; the more Canvas becomes an expensive option. In addition to having a very limited fleet of Ford vehicles, you can only make a reservation 14 days in advance. So the Mustang I wanted to lease for the summer that was available on May 6th is no longer available. It would also be registered in my name, I’d be responsible for maintenance, and I’d have to add it to my car insurance. Two teenage drivers make car insurance really expensive.

The reason I wanted to use Canvas was so that the car would be registered to me and the kids could drive it while I had my car, which I love. I’ve given up on Canvas though. If I want my daughter to love LA more than New York City the car’s going to have to fun and I can’t get a fun car with them.

Fair is an app that operates a lot like Canvas. If it ever works, it could be great. But it doesn’t work.

You essentially lease a lease return for a flat monthly fee and a drive off with Fair. The fees are competitive, the cars could be appealing, and it’s an open-ended lease. A buyer can walk away in two months or 20. Fair was the most attractive option for me as I could lease a car, put it in my name and the kids could drive it. Say hello to the summer of Mini Cooper!

The problem with Fair is that, much like Drive Canvas and Sixt, no one answers telephones and no one answers emails.

Proof. It’s a useless app.

fair app confirmation emailfair app doesn't respond to emails

GM has Maven Reserve. It’s a lot like Drive Canvas but only good for 28 days at a time.

Maven Reserve Los Angeles cars

Maven is still a good option for me if I want to be in a GM Vehicle. Interestingly Cadillac has a program for long-term rentals/short-term leases that also includes insurance much like a rental car. If I get stuck with Enterprise, it’s likely to be a coin toss as to whether I take my Cadillac from Book.

Since Book is Cadillac owned I’m guessing the vehicles will be a higher trim level than your standard car rental company and I will raise my expectations about the maintenance.

Book runs $1,800 a month. There’s no maintenance or insurance required beyond that basic fee. It seems to be the best managed of the bunch, of course, it’s the most expensive too. But I do love a Cadillac.

We’ll see how the summer goes and which of these companies is thriving in 2019.

 

Utah with the 2013 Santa Fe Crossover by Hyundai

08.26.12

I’ve just spent a few hours and a few hundred miles in the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe. I’ve driven it at a luxury hotel (and it looks lovely and perfectly in place there). I’ve driven it on the highways in Utah at altitudes between five and eight thousand feet above sea level. I’ve driven the Hyundai Santa Fe on an unpaved fire road at 45 miles an hour and slammed on the brakes just for fun. The car stopped, it didn’t skid or turn sideways. It just stopped. I could feel the ABS brakes pulsing faster than a hummingbird beats her wings and I knew I was safe.

I am so impressed.

Later this week I’ll give you a ton of details about what I loved about the Santa Fe (because there was a lot to love) and hopefully I’ll have a little video to share as well. I was surprised by the Santa Fe’s handling. It corners like a car with the visibility of an SUV. Speaking of visibility my kids adore vehicles with stadium seating, Alexander insists it helps him avoid car sickness.

I sat in the rear seat for a time and noticed that like the 7 series BMW the rear seats are heated. Fancy. Also at 5’6″ I had plenty of room to sit… forget fancy, that’s just good.

I took a ton of pictures and I’d sure appreciate you checking them out here. Remember when you’re looking at these photos that I’m the product of what happens when you get participation trophies.

Once I’ve caught up on my sleep I’ll have a lot more to say about the New Santa Fe.

 

The folks at Hyundai provided me with a trip to Utah (including everything) to road test the Santa Fe. 

 

 

Your Car is My Litmus Test

06.20.11

I’m not really a nice woman, which is totally okay, because I’m not trying to be. I’d like to be thought of as kind and honest, but nice women clutch their pearls and say Bless Your Heart and then they die when their ulcers explode. I’ll be ulcer free.

There are people I will never like, there are first impressions I simply cannot recover from. At one point in time I tried to talk myself out of these kinds of snap judgements, but then I realized they served me well.

Range Rovers are for D-Bags

I don’t like Range Rover drivers in Los Angeles. I know there are regions where a Range Rover is a practical choice, but Los Angeles is not one of them. If you have elected to spend six figures on a car you have options and one of those options is to not buy a disgusting behemoth that screws up parking lots, visibility and the planet. They’re gauche and I didn’t have to teach my kids to not respect you. The kids at half a dozen schools in LA know they’re the vehicle of choice for selfish people.

I don’t like idlers. The carpool lines are a fact of life here in the City of Angels. Moms (and nannies) drive to the school, wait in the line, grab their charges precious cargo and drive off into the sunset. I totally understand not wanting to park your car a whole block away, getting out of the car and then tottering along in 4″ wedgies walking to the school to fetch your kids. I really do understand this. What I don’t understand is why you must idle your car five feet away from where our children are playing. What is so difficult about turning the engine off and rolling the windows down? When did your comfort trump my child’s right to breathe clean air?

We Got the Chevy Cruze Sideways

12.3.10

I just ran home from Main Street in Motion so that I could pop off a quick post for y’all.

GO.

If you’re buying a car Main Street in Motion is brilliant because you can test drive (short but fun drives) two or three comparable cars one after the other. When you’re at Auto Row running from one dealership to the next it’s sometimes hard to remember what features you enjoyed about which car. With this setup you hop from one car to the other in minimal time.

I’ll post pictures to Flickr later this evening, but I drove a few cars:

Chevy Cruze: this is a compact car that grew a set of balls pistons. I hadn’t really planned on driving it, because I was too busy salivating over the Camaros, but one of the fine ladies at GM suggested we try it, and I’m pretty sure she lived to regret that. The car is small, not a rocketship, but not slow either. It handled a 140 degree turn at about 40 miles an hour beautifully. The car hugs the road in a way I hadn’t expected for a car in that class. Oh, it also has doodads. Doodads are important (like USB hubs and paddle shifters). It was the big surprise of the day.

Impala: It’s a beast. I’m going to do a little research, I want to know what engine they jammed in there.

Camaro SS: I want. I love. I want. I love. I want.  Review over. (it’s fast and luxurious, like ridiculously so)

Corvette GS Convertible: My lap around the track was so fast I think we time traveled. It handles exquisitely, as Corvette’s are known to do.

Volt: I still think it’s fabulous. It’s not a performance car, but it’s a high torque car with limited drag. Driving it at 40 mph is an absolute joy, and it handles curves well.

If you decide to to to Main Street in Motion (this weekend in Los Angeles, coming to other locations all through 2011) there are a few things you should know.

  • Register ahead of time if possible.
  • Test drives are limited to folks 18 and up.
  • Lines will be long for the performance cars
  • Getting there early is probably a good plan
  • The track is short. Floor it off the line. You won’t regret it.
  • Don’t brake in a turn, speed up, it’s fun
  • They had hot dogs, sandwiches, and drinks. You really can hang out there all day
  • If you’re bringing kids, make sure you have two adults so you can take turns driving
Red Chevy Volt

Red Chevy Volt

Red Chevrolet Corvette

Red Chevrolet Corvette

LA Auto Show, Audi, Acura and Exhaustion

11.18.10

I’m beat. I’m somewhere past exhausted.

Mr. G is still away, and I’m pretty good Mom, but I’m a miserable Father. Alexander is starting to show his need for his Dad.

Also, note to Mr. G, he has a black eye. It is not my fault. It was a school desk injury. Apparently he was looking into a desk when a girl next to him flipped the top up. Again, not my fault. (This time)

I spent the day at the LA Auto show. The folks at Audi treated me to a drive in their A3 TDI, it’s a fast and fun smaller midsize wagon that runs on diesel. It gets up to 40 MPG. It drives nicely, it’s a high torque vehicle, which (for people like you and I) means that if you’re already cruising along at 20mph and you floor it you can accelerate to 60 pretty quickly. It was a quick drive, and it’s a fun little car with some nice details.

Most importantly I got to see the A8L. There are two things you should know about the A8L Google Maps and WIFI. Oh, there’s also a car that comes along with it. Basically the A8L is a big luxury rolling hotspot. I’ve been promised a test drive in it and I cannot wait. I’m going to drive all over town, park the car and whip out my laptop just because I can. I’m going to make Mr G drive me places while I tweet, blog and facebook from the passenger seat with my laptop for one reason: just because I can. I love that they used Google Maps too. My car has Sirius and I can subscribe to traffic, but I’ve never been willing to pay for something that every cell phone has free.

I’m really excited about a few of the cars I saw there, hopefully I’ll have some Acura reviews coming up (I love the look of their crossover), as well as Audi.

A bunch of car pictures

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