Quickies: It Is Now Time for “Rental Car Roulette!”

2019 Chevrolet Cruze LT
2019 Chevrolet Cruze LT sedan – All Photos by Randy Stern

Let’s play a game of “rental car roulette!”

Let me explain a bit of history before we dive into this game. In the time prior to receiving vehicles from the OEMs for the reviews you have read on this site, I had to rent the vehicles I eventually wrote about. It was not a conscious reason, but I figured I take the car I drove for the weekend and perhaps try my hand at writing vehicle reviews. The result has been the last eight years of content on this site.

However, there is an interesting byproduct of the practice of rental cars. In recent years, I noticed that travelers like yourself like posting the cars you had to rent on your business or pleasure trips you have taken. You also coin a phrase you use to tag your rental car adventures: #rentalcarroulette.

It sounds like “Russian Roulette,” doesn’t it? I can imagine why. We rented cars that were due to be replaced, lacking maintenance, pre-dinged and scratched, and just plain embarrassing to be seen in – even in front of your clients.

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Some travelers just grin and bear it. Others felt entitled to bitch and moan on social media about their less-than-stellar experiences. A professional piece of advice: If you actually tag the rental car agency and the location, they will read about it – and note it. Trust me on this.

Which brings me to my story. Coming home from the Chicago Auto Show, I knew I had several errands to do after landing back at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with the air temperature at zero degrees Fahrenheit. A decision was made to play rental car roulette. I figured since my vehicle schedule does not resume until the following Wednesday, a set of wheels for 24 hours would help leverage these tasks I need to do.

A quick check on a few rental car agencies at MSP pointed me to Dollar Car Rental – and their extremely afordable rates.

It has been a few years since Dollar and Thrifty had been acquired by Hertz. They share the same fleets but offer a completely different business model by offering lower daily rates and allowing the use of debit cards with eased restrictions. I figured that if I were to play rental car roulette, Dollar would be the one to provide the field to do so.

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After getting my paperwork sorted, I was shown to the lot where I was directed to choose my own vehicle in a selected zone. I was upgraded from what was a “Manager’s Special” to a Midsized vehicle (however the agent did not inform me that there was an extra charge on the upgrade – which you are supposed to explain, along with all of the charges of your rental! I should know this because I used to work in the renta car industry!).

That Midsized vehicle came in the form of a Summit White 2019 Chevrolet Cruze LT sedan.

To address the question of whether I won this round of rental car roulette or not, let me discuss this vehicle a bit further. First of all, this is one of the models General Motors will be eliminating from their showrooms. Secondly, the Cruze underwent a mid-cycle refresh for 2019 that saw updates all around the car.

The updates are seen with a new front-end clip showing deeper grille openings and bolder trim. The headlamps, taillights, and trunk lid have been updated, as well. Chevrolet also replaced its MyLink infotainment system with a newer version called simply the Chevrolet Infotainment System 3. Other than that, it is the same Chevrolet Cruze sedan that has been around for a few years.

2019 Chevrolet Cruze LT

Underneath the hood is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With 153 horsepower on tap, this turbo did a decent job getting me around where I needed to go. Where I was impressed with was the low-end power rated at 177 pound-feet of torque. That helped in ensuring that the traction control can get the Cruze in the right direction without a major loss of control. I might not be fully on board with the 16-inch Goodyear Assurance all-season tires shod on this Cruze.

The turbo is connected to a six-speed automatic driven down to the front wheels. This combination resulted in a fuel economy average of 30.2 MPG.

The interior is fine, but I have to be a bit nickpicky here. For one, why do we have three different fonts across the dashboard. You have one for the dials, one for the information screen in the binnacle, and one for the new Chevrolet Infotainment System. The latter almost looks like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ UConnect system in look – and, to a point, touch.

That is where the similarity ends. In terms of Bluetooth connectivity, the Chevrolet system comes out slower to connect a phone than FCA’s standard-bearer system. If you care about technology, you will be disappointed in this generation of GM infotainment systems. However, they do offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity for quicker response to your smartphone.

2019 Chevrolet Cruze LT

The space is great for 4-5 average-sized adult humans. The cloth felt durable, as did the drivers seat. Both front seats were heated, which helped in the sub-zero temperatures it had to endure. The heater and defroster were very effective in the same temperatures, as well.

Aside from dealing with moderate rubber on black ice and not-so-well-plowed side streets, the Cruze is more than competent in terms of driving dynamics. It handled just fine and provided a smooth ride in my care. The brakes were really great and well-controlled. I liked the feel of the steering system with its solid weight on-center and short turning radius.

If you were to buy this car through an automotive retailer, the 2019 Cruze LT sedan starts from $22,595. I estimated that my rental car roulette winner would come to about the same, if not slightly more money. The reason is that the heated seats were added without going with a package and you cannot order it that way through your local dealership.

As you probably just read, I may have won this round of rental car roulette. Or did I?

2019 Chevrolet Cruze LT

Some people would dismiss this Summit White 2019 Chevrolet Cruze LT sedan as just a defaulted appliance that is not worth writing home about – even if you’re doing a completely leisure travel experience that involve trying to impress people. I beg to differ, the Cruze is a really good driver that does not impress in terms of design and other snazzy details. It is a competent car that will get you to business meetings or out of the city without complaint.

Go ahead and be judgmental about your choice of rental car on your next trip. Or, shut up, take it to your final destination and deal with it. That is how you play rental car roulette.

DISCLAIMER: Vehicle was rented by Victory & Reseda for the purpose of publication

Quickies, Travel Writing, Permalink

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