Zipping Around…Again

All Photos by Randy Stern
All Photos by Randy Stern

It's been a while since I "Zipped."

"Zipped?" What's wrong with me? Am I some sort of…um…?

No need for alarm. I am only speaking Zipcar speak.

This Zipster has been away from the fleet since the beginning of this year. It has been a while, but opportunities do present themselves to Zip again.

Let me back up a bit. The car sharing leader Zipcar is a unit of AvisBudget Group, the rental car giant. They have leveraged the Zipcar brand to expand in many global cities by providing hassle-free access to their vehicles practically anywhere. This includes airport locations, next to Avis or Budget stalls. In all, you need their app, the website or to call into their reservations line to set up a Zipcar for you. Their fleet ranges from economy cars all the way up to luxury and prestige automobiles – in all markets.

The last time I Zipped, I tried out a few vehicles to accomplish some tasks – one being a funeral of an old boss at a former employer.

In all, I enjoyed two BMWs, a Nissan Frontier and a Subaru during my initial time as a Zipster.

Since then, the local Zipcar team had been promoting various uses for their fleet. For example, they were encourage us to Zip out of town, take a vehicle out for the weekend and enjoy discounted rates at certain times of the week. My discussions with the local office found that they had been successful in engaging with Zipsters locally. They also enjoyed great success at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where they have two vehicles stationed at Terminal 1.

This is all good news for the car sharing business in the Twin Cities. But, I have a problem. With no car in for review during this particular week, I was missing something. I needed wheels. I have been cooped up trying to get work done for the LA Auto Show and for other related activities I cannot get into at this time.

Yes, I needed to Zip again.

Because Zipcar was promoting the ability to take one of their vehicle for an extended drive, I figured I would, too. But where? And in which vehicle?

Originally, I envisioned doing a little road trip with the one of better Zipcars in the Twin Cities fleet on the weekend. It coincided with a week that I did not have a vehicle in for review, so I figured it was a good time do some Zipping around.

However, necessity called sooner than I anticipated. I had a job interview out in the suburbs and would prefer to get out there by car, instead of freezing out at a bus stop in the middle of an industrial area. Though it may sound sort of prima donna-ish, there is a psychological advantage in taking a car to a job interview. For me, driving is therapy. It helps calm things down, allows me to concentrate, center and so forth. Driving gives me a boost of confidence and some self-esteem. Although, taking public transit to a job interview could also make one hungrier for the position.

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I chose Zipcar as the method of getting to this job interview. I could have just picked up some random car from one its hubs, but I decided on a 2015 Lincoln MKS to get from downtown Minneapolis to the interview site in Brooklyn Park. Granted, this is a bit overkill. However, I never had the chance to drive the latest big Lincoln and figured this was fine for the job at hand.

Unbeknownst to me, this Lincoln had something lurking under the hood. It sported the 365-horsepower 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6. Finding this out, I was glad it was able to get me to the interview site and back in luxurious accommodations and with some untapped performance. Though it was a bit wooly to drive, being so soft and smooth on the road.

Did it help in the interviewing process? I am not sure. I have yet to hear back from my potential employer. All I know that it got me there. Maybe I should get something humbler next time…

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I did return to the original plan, though more truncated than once proposed. With only two hours to work with, I went to an apartment complex near Loring Park in Minneapolis and picked up a 2015 BMW X1 xDrive 28i.

The object of this drive with the X1 is to get somewhere in the exurbs, eat lunch and drove back within two hours. Piece of cake, right? Well…it's tough when you have choices and know the routes well enough to accomplish this.

In this case, I pointed the small BMW crossover westbound on Interstate 394, turning into US Highway 12. These roads are a part of the proving grounds for my test vehicles, so it fits well. By the time I got the thirty minute mark, I ended up in Lyndale…not Lyndale Avenue, but the town of Lyndale in the far west reaches of Hennepin County. Figured, I had some time on my hands, I began heading east on County Highway 6 into Long Lake. That was my lunch stop. After eating, I jumped back on County Highway 112 – also known as Wayzata Boulevard – towards Minneapolis. Eventually, I jumped back on the freeway in hopes of not catching any Vikings traffic getting onto Interstate 94. The way to get around it is to get off at the exit by Dunwoody College and get around the Loring Park and Uptown area. Finally, I got to the hub underneath the gleaming new highrise near Loring Park and returned the X1 with minutes to spare.

About the X1, it is safe to say that it was the not best BMW I have driven. Granted, the 2.0 liter Twin Power turbocharged four-cylinder engine is a familiar motor, as I have driven it in a few other BMW models. Yet, everything else reminded me of older BMWs. Maybe I'm spoiled with iDrives, better switchgear, better driving dynamics and so forth. It's not Zipcar's fault that the X1 is part of the fleet, but I have a feeling when the newer, front-drive based X1 comes online, we Zipsters may get rewarded handsomely.

How was my overall experience with Zipcar? As far as hub-based car sharing is concerned, this is a great service. I absolutely had no issues with either car (except for the Lincoln's big car glide and the X1 as for what it was…but again that's not Zipcar's fault) and the service itself. I choose this because it is easy to do. We want things not to be complicated, right?

And, why are you not a Zipster? Yes, you own a car and might not need something temporary to augment your ownership. When you travel in a city that car driving is a challenge, Zipcar is available for those business trips where you need to get out of downtown wherever to the meeting out in the suburbs. Don't forget about the airport locations! They are great for that one-day trip involving a job interview or meeting.

Come join us community of Zipsters. We won't bite…

DISCLAIMER: Vehicles provided by Zipcar, Inc.

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