It was time again to hit the road to Michigan. I had decided the dogs would go with me so I knew I was going to drive. Traveling with them has its own challenges, but since I was going to be gone for a week and I would be staying at homes that are dog friendly, it was an easy decision.
I went online to Hertz.com to rent my car. I almost always rent from a Hertz Local Edition location because it always seems to be the cheapest way to rent a car for a week. Unless you are traveling in by plane or train, I highly recommend using the local edition option from car rentals. I have found the best discount so far seems to be the Delta Airlines / Hertz partnership agreement discounts. Every now and then, the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards discount wins, but it is very rare. You can access the codes for the Delta / Hertz agreement here, but then it only lets you search for the Hertz airline locations. I take the codes and input them into the Hertz.com site instead. To make it easier for the readers, I will just put the codes here:
Discount/CDP/Club Code: 165385
Promotional Coupon (PC): 197536
I don’t know if these codes change periodically or not, so if they don’t work, you may want to click the above link and see if they are different.
This trip was a little different because I was renting one way. Hertz has a good one way program because they don’t charge you any more to drop off at another location and they have unlimited miles. I was going to be switching to driving my mom’s van when I arrived in Michigan because she was going to be returning to Missouri with me for a few weeks. Since she walks with a walker and has a motorized scooter, driving her van makes more sense. It is a thirteen hour drive and I was only keeping the rental car for 24 hours.
I rented a Toyota Corolla (or similar). I HATE spending unnecessary money for a big car when a medium size car works just as well. I have learned the hard way NOT to go smaller than mid size, because you may end up cramped, uncomfortable, and possible without cruise control. Can you imagine a thirteen hour drive without cruise control round trip?!? Never again, so I always go mid size or larger!
I won’t go into too much detail about picking up the car because there were a few complications which aren’t typical of a local edition, but needless to say, I had my car and was headed back to the house to load it up after 30 minutes.
I ended up with a 2013 Gray Toyota Corolla with manual seats, power windows, and Bluetooth Hands-free system
I placed a full size seat protector across the back to minimize the dog hair and got started loading the car.
The first thing I want to point out is the large trunk space. I was so please with how much space I had to load everything. I am not the best packer when it comes to road trips, I tend to take too much stuff and I’m not very organized about it. I had a large suitcase, a small suitcase, a bag with the dog’s stuff, two baby gates, a box of shoes, my laptop bag, and about two or three other miscellaneous bags with stuff in it. I also picked up a 28 pound bag of Earthborn Wellness Dog food, I figured Zipper could eat the same food as Bella for a week so I didn’t have to travel with two types of food.
I laid a dry cleaners bag of clothes over everything in the trunk and still could have placed a couple more small items if it was needed.
We hit the road.
Bella was not happy with the back seat. I knew it was a little smaller back there than she was used to, especially with Zipper being back there as well. I also had a cooler of water on the floor for them to drink out of. Judging from the size of the cooler, it appeared there wasn’t a lot of leg room, but in fairness, I didn’t sit in the back, so I don’t want to comment as a definite.
As a larger woman myself, I have to say the Toyota Corolla was comfortable for the most part throughout the trip. I hated how low the seat was to the ground, but since I’m used to an Escape. I think any car is lower to the ground than I would prefer. I am 5’10” and felt I hit my head too many times getting in and out of the car. Once seated, I had enough leg room to be OK, I wouldn’t say it was comfortable. For a long drive, I wish the center armrest was just a little higher. There really was no place to rest my arm while I was driving. Both the door and the center armrest was low. I couldn’t imagine having power seats and raising the seat a little, I wouldn’t be able to even touch the armrest.
The head rest was just the opposite. It was designed GREAT! It was comfortable. So rare in most vehicles, but I actually used it off and on throughout the drive.
Overall, the car handled nicely. The cruise control maintained speeds even going up and down hills without feeling like it was dragging or playing catch up. The car didn’t swerve too much, even with windier conditions, with the exception of going over a large, high bridge. I was surprised by how much it moved. With the size of the vehicle, as loaded down as we were, and with the weight of me and the dogs, I didn’t expect that much movement. I would not want to drive over a high bridge during stronger winds with it!
As the sun began to set and I turned the lights on, I liked how comfortable on the eyes the interior lighting was. It was the light red / orange you see in some vehicles, but it was laid out nicely. I could still see everything without any strain or blurring on the eyes.
I was very impressed with the gas mileage. I could go about 350 miles on a tank of gas (it would say 362 miles when I filled it) and when I stopped to fill it, it only took about 10 gallons. I averaged about 30-31 mpg. When cost is a factor, it is nice to spend less for gas for the trip.
Some other nice features on the car are:
The cup-holders were spaced out nicely so two large cups could fit in them without hitting one when taking the other out.
There is a key holder on a wire so you can place a key chain there without losing it.
There is a USB power unit within close proximity to the driver / the steering wheel so you can plug your phone in to charge really easily in addition to the usual power source located further down.
Everything was set up to be very driver friendly and within a comfortable reach. There were audio controls on the steering wheel so you didn’t have to take your eyes off the road to make an adjustment.
All of these are great, but the feature I have to give the highest rating to is the hands free Bluetooth audio system! I normally dislike these because I feel like they are garbled and a pain for the person you are talking to. I normally hate talking to someone who is on one. I decided to set it up to my phone anyway and give it a chance. Am I glad I did! The sound quality was wonderful! I talked to my mom for about twenty minutes and she had no problem hearing me. Since she uses hearing aids, sometimes she does but she heard me clearly. I heard her clearly. Everyone I talked to (and I talk on the phone a lot when driving that far) could hear me fine with one exception. I talked to one friend and I kept getting horrible feedback but I think it was his hand-free system, not mine because the minute he canceled his, everything was fine. The only problem I found I would have is it sometimes wouldn’t answer with the system when I hit answer on the phone but it could have been my phone or the way I was answering. I didn’t really have any time to play with it to see if other ways worked better. I have to say it was probably the nicest drive I have ever had as far are telephone communication goes and for me, it made every other complaint I had obsolete because talking on the phone helps pass the time and makes the 13 hour drive go by a lot faster!
Saving money, easy drive, great hands-free audio system…..the positives outweighed the negative with this rental car!