Rental Car Ratings – Our Assessments


We have become quite the experts on the rental car experience and what makes a worthwhile rental for saving money. We were on our fourth rental in two months. Our goal was to try to save some money on our frequent travel expenses. We found that it was more economical for us to rent cars than to drive our Saturn SUV, mostly due to the costs related to gas, which had gotten so expensive. So, for several of our Fall trips, we rented cars. We rented two Nissan Altimas and two Ford Fusions. Overall, we liked the Nissans better, but as one would expect, the higher the trim level, the better we liked it. We decided to keep track of our thoughts on the cars for future reference. We don't have immediate plans to buy a new car anytime soon, but we figured these trips were the equivalent of very long and in-depth test drives, because our trips run between 300 to 400 miles, mostly highway but each trip has some city driving.

Our ratings categories are: Comfort – Overall/Seat/Leg room

Gas mileage – Actual gas mileage

Ease of drive – Handling/Road Noise

Extras – Toys: SiriusXM/Heated seats

Ratings are one (awful) out of five (best) stars:

First car- Nissan Altima (newer, low mileage, higher quality/trim level)

Drove to Smithfield, RI.

Overall Comfort: 4 Stars

Seat comfort: 4.5 stars

Leg Room Comfort: 5 stars

Gas Mileage: 5+ stars An off the charts 41.3 miles to the gallon. Loved it!

Ease of Handling: 4 stars

Road Noise: 5 stars-Very quiet ride

Toys: No leather seats, no SiriusXM, and no heated seats.

Overall assessment: Loved the car and the ride; didn't need the toys mentioned above. Have sought to rent same vehicle for subsequent rentals.

Second Car: Ford Fusion (Cheaper, bare bones model)

Drove to Smithfield, RI

Overall Comfort: 2 stars

Seat Comfort: 1 star

Leg Room Comfort: 1 star

Gas Mileage: 4.5 stars; Got a respectable 38 miles per gallon.

Ease of Handling: 3 stars

Road Noise: 2 stars; so loud we couldn't converse over the road noise and how loud we had to put the radio to drown out the road noise.

Toys: It had SiriusXM, which was good; no Leather Seats; no heated seats.

Overall assessment: We were very uncomfortable in this vehicle. The only thing that saved this vehicle was its gas mileage. It started out with a weak 31.2 miles per gallon, but by the end the of the trip it bumped up to mid 30s. But, we said never again! Too uncomfortable for that long of a trip.

Third Car: Ford Fusion (Despite our requests for another low mileage Nissan Altima, we were left with another Fusion.) This time, it was a newer model with comfortable leather seats, so we decided to give Mr. Ford one moe chance.

Drove to Smithfield, RI

Overall Comfort: 3.5/4.0 stars

Seat Comfort: 5 stars- nice leather

Leg Room Comfort: 3.5 stars

Gas Mileage: 3 Stars – starting out at 31.2 miles per gallon- stayed about the same.

Ease of Handling: 4 stars

Road Noise: 4 stars- nice quiet ride.

Toys: Has SiriusXM; Has Leather Seats; Has heated seats; also has a ton of gadgety features that my husband is loving. Advanced SiriusXM with playback mode, among other things; has extra space in center console below dash, which is nice for holding our misc things (EZ Pass, USB Adapter for cigarette lighter); the car also has the USB and other plugs in the console. So, it's a pretty loaded model.

Overall Assessment: We enjoyed this rental.


Fourth car: Nissan Altima – Hurray! Back in a low mileage Altima with a higher trim level.

Drove to Mystic, CT, then onto Smithfield, RI.

Overall Comfort: 4 Stars

Seat Comfort: 3.5/4.0 Stars

Leg Room Comfort: 3.5/4.00

Gas Mileage: 5+ Stars; started at 44.5 and the lowest it went down was to 41.3. Totally sold on this car for great gas mileage. Neither Ford could touch it.

Ease of Handling: 4 stars

Road Noise: 3.5 Stars, louder than the last Fusion we had.

Toys: No SiriusXM. No leather seats, and no heated seats. Not many extras in this model, but we are sufficiently jazzed about the gas mileage that we are putting up with having to constantly change the radio station, as we travel in and out of the stations' ranges.

Overall assessment: pretty good, gas mileage exceptional.




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