Hello, Seekers! If you follow me (Jonathan) on Twitter, you’ve probably heard me talk about how often I travel for work. I’m usually gone for a few days every week. On each trip I book a rental car, so I’ve experienced various brands and models. Today, I’m going to review some of my noteworthy rentals and drop some advice for renters who don’t travel as frequently as me. In case you’re wondering whether I’m actually qualified to do so: I worked in the automotive industry for 4 years as a product specialist and I’m a lifelong automotive enthusiast. My first magazine subscription was Car & Driver, which I still read daily.

About Avis

Let’s set the stage. I rent from Avis because they’re my work’s preferred vendor. One of the first things I did when I started my current job was set up an Avis Preferred rewards account. It’s free and costs nothing to participate beyond receiving the occasional marketing email. As rental rewards go, it’s a pretty decent program. Reaching the next tier of status (Preferred Plus) is relatively easy, but you do have to rent at least once a year to keep your earned points from expiring. One of my favorite parts of the Avis Preferred experience is getting to choose from a modest selection of cars upon arrival. I typically open the Avis app once my flight lands and pick from the options it presents. Sometimes it offers paid upgrades (and complimentary ones for Preferred Plus members) along with your reserved vehicle class, so just be careful when you select. The app then tells me what space number to find my car in. If all goes well, the keys are waiting in the vehicle and the app generates a QR code so I can drive off without interacting with an agent.

It’s not always hassle-free. Busy airports with a low number of available vehicles may require you to visit the Preferred Center counter to be assigned a car. And, you’re relying on your fellow travelers to take the right vehicle. I’ve gotten to the designated space and discovered that my car was gone. Avis customer service has always been quick to resolve that problem. The newness and condition of the vehicles can also vary from location to location.

All right, with that out of the way, on to the rental car reviews!

The Rides

2023 Nissan Rogue

Nissan Rogue

Overall Rating: 5.0/5.0

Fuel Economy: 5.0/5.0

Safety & Technology: 5.0/5.0

Comfort: 5.0/5.0

Jonathan’s Review: This is a gem of a compact SUV. The ride is smooth, the seats are comfortable, and the safety tech is comprehensive and works very well. Visibility is great all around. I was astonished by how good the fuel economy was for a vehicle of this size, especially one equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD) like the example I drove. And it did not feel underpowered. Add to that wireless Apple CarPlay and plenty of space for luggage, and you have a recipe for a very desirable rental. My overall favorite!

2022 Chevrolet Suburban

Chevy Suburban

Overall Rating: 3.0/5.0

Fuel Economy: 1.0/5.0

Safety & Technology: 5.0/5.0

Comfort: 4.0/5.0

Jonathan’s Review: General Motors (GM) knows how to make a car handle well, even a behemoth like this. The Suburban’s light helm belies its mass and its body motions feel relatively well-controlled. Its connectivity technology impressed me as well, with standard wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, onboard Google Maps, and a WiFi hotspot. The fuel economy was predictably abysmal. But, if you’re ferrying lots of people, this is a comfortable and spacious land yacht to do it in.

2022 Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Overall Rating: 4.0/5.0

Range: 5.0/5.0

Safety & Technology: 3.0/5.0

Comfort: 4.0/5.0

Jonathan’s Review: This review comes with a caveat: the Model 3’s in Avis’s fleet do not have the full version of AutoPilot. Aside from that disappointment, the Model 3 mostly impressed me. It’s fast, the range is great, and there are plenty of Tesla Superchargers to be found. But oh, the learning curve. The lack of physical buttons to control simple things like side-view mirror adjustments is infuriating. Also, the de rigueur glass roof without a shade does not mesh well with hot climates. Only rent this if you’re familiar with Teslas or don’t mind spending some time in the parking lot becoming so.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re a frequent traveler like me or not, it pays to join the rewards program for your rental agency of choice. If you have the flexibility to choose your vehicle, pick one you’ll feel comfortable driving and that has the features that are important to you. Let us know in the comments if you liked this rental car review and want more travel-related content! You can also check out more reviews from Jonathan here.

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