Booking a rental car is always a crapshoot. You go for the best price and choose the rental car company that you feel will give you a decent car though often you have no idea what you will get once you show up at the lot. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and this time it worked out just right.
Reviewing rental cars in this column is a great way to see how cars survived in the tough life of rental service, one of the toughest lives any vehicle can endure. Life as a rental car is not easy, and one that is in the wide-open high plains of Colorado often explains high mileage in the short lifespan, which was the case in this rental.
Budget Car Rental was the company that we booked with for a recent trip to Colorado. We needed nothing fancy, just a car big enough to carry three people for five days in the mountains. We find that booking through AutoSlash, gets a great price, often better by about fifty bucks per rental. And using an upgraded American Express Card provides a better per rental price for insurance, which we have used, and swear by, thankfully not on this trip. (we have updated this though they use Priceline, they are not part of that company.)
Denver International Airport
We arrived at DIA on a Thursday afternoon, just a snowstorm had coated the landscape with a light dusting, making the many young skiers that were heading up to the mountains thrilled. On the very packed rental-a-car bus, those skier dudes were hoping for F150’s and hot muscle cars, which made me think you guys are driving up to where there will be a lot of snow, Oh yes, that is what it is like to be young, remembering one trip out getting a Jeep was my goal in a Colorado rental. When we arrived at the counter, being a Fastbreak member, they had a very clean 24K mile 2018 Hyundai Elantra SEL in Electric Blue with beige cloth interior ready to go for us. Surprised that it took longer to wait for the bus than it did to stand in line for a car.
Budget had the car cleaned off and all we took a walk around and did our best to disable their tolling device so we could use our own Express pass as we did not want to pay for their daily usage charge plus an inflated toll rate. The car was remarkably clean and dent free, inside there were a few stains on the seats and headliner, and the faint smell of cigarettes, even though there is a sign on the window saying no smoking.
This Elantra was made in Hyundai’s Alabama plant and went into rental service about 11 months earlier. With 24K miles on it in under a year, this was going to be an excellent subject for a review.
Our first leg of the journey was about an hour on the Tollroad and I25, where the car exhibited tire noise from the P205/55R16 Nexen Tires mounted on 16-inch alloy wheels. The Elantra handled quite well and was still very tight and rattle free after a year’s worth of rental use and 24K miles. The SEL’s Blind Spot Detection (BSD) was very handy and quite accurate, and in a car that you are unfamiliar with it comes in handy. The 147-hp 2.0L 4-cylinder engine performed well with three adults in the car, and the 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC® and Active ECO System gave us over 32 average miles per gallon in real-world driving.
Windy conditions as we drove along the open roads did buffet us around as this is a light car, but not so bad that it made the car uncontrollable. The 4-wheel disc brakes provided confident stopping power. And being it was January in Colorado we got to drive in various snow conditions. Not deep snow, but three to four inches of slush. This is where the Nexen PRIZ AH8 tires all-season tires did just fine, even with the mileage on them. Occasional the front-wheel-drive did experience some tire spin, but nothing that got us stuck or in trouble.
Things that impressed:
- Impressed that at this price point the Elantra has individual tire readings on the dash tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS.)
- Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist came in handy
- Rearview camera with dynamic guidelines gave us a large image when backing up.
- AM/FM/HD/SiriusXM Satellite Radio/MP3 Audio System with 6 speakers and kudos to Budget for having the SiriusXM Radio activated beyond the Complimentary 3-month trial subscription.
- Bluetooth®hands-free phone system with voice recognition recognized the phone and set up quickly
- Smartphone/USB and auxiliary input jacks were handy for using as a power source. Though I am not a fan of Android Auto, so I did not put that into use.
- Heated side mirrors in snowy conditions, a great plus.
There were very few things that bothered us, other than having to reach out and grab the wide opening large front doors on this four-door sedan. And the tininess sound of the door closure, and we never really found a way to open the truck without using the interior trunk release or the keyfob trunk release button.
Hyundai makes a great car for the price point, well styled, great fuel economy, roomy in both the passenger compartment and the very large trunk. And seeing how well this Elantra has held up under the tough conditions of being a rental car, we were impressed with that build quality as well as fit and finish.
This is a vehicle we would recommend buying new, and if pre-owned, doing some research, not sure that a used rental version would be a good value, but if the price were right, and you needed solid transportation, then yes indeedy!
The Hyundai Elantra has a base price of $19735 with $885 freight – plenty of offers For 2019 The price has increased to $19400 plus $920 shipping – $20,320
Words and Images by William West Hopper
- Inline 4-cylinder with a 2-liter displacement 147 horsepower @ 6200 RPM with 132 lb-ft of torque at 4500 RPM DOHC 16-valve with D-CVVT with a Multi-Point fuel Injection (MPI) using regular fuel.
- Front Wheel Drive (FWD) with a 6-speed automatic transmission with Normal, Eco & Sport Drive Mode Select and a SHIFTRONIC®and Active ECO System
- Unibody Body construction
- MacPherson Strut with coil springs Front suspension with front stabilizer bar and Coupled torsion beam axle Rear suspension:
- Motor-Driven Power Steering (MDPS)
- 78 Ft curb-to-curb turning diameter
- 4-wheel disc brakes
- 16-inch alloy wheels with P205/55R16 tires
- Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist
- Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
- Traction Control System (TCS)
- Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
- Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
- Brake Assist (BA)
- Advanced dual front airbags (SRS) with Occupant Classification System (OCS)
- Driver and front passenger side-impact airbags (SRS)
- Side-curtain airbags (SRS)
(front and rear passengers)
- Driver’s knee airbag
- Energy-absorbing steering column
- Front seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters
- Rear LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
- Power window lock-out button
- Front and rear crumple zones