What a difference the car makes...

Monday, October 4, 2010

I hit the rental car jackpot this weekend!  Let me start by singing my newly acquired love of the Atlanta Airport.

Historically, the Atlanta Airport has not been my favorite.  In a recent post, I really really really struggled to find a "favorite part" of the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.  I remembered that once I killed time during a layover drinking and eating at a seafood restaurant.  So I quickly wrote it down and moved on.  Between the luggage delay, the uncomfortable underground tram and a million other factors - flying into or through the ATL was never my favorite.

Flying into Atlanta had been especially painful; I usually spent about 30 minutes waiting for luggage, then drag it across the street on to a shuttle bus with a 5-10 minute ride to the Avis building where they shout your name when you are supposed to step off the bus - classy for sure.  Walk to your car and good luck finding anyone that can help you.

A few trips ago, I found out that the rental cars had moved to a new facility, accessed by a tram system.  The Rental Car Center is a quick (about 5 minute) trip on the SkyTrain from the airport with a quick stop at the Georgia International Convention Center in the middle.  On the 3 trips I've made on the SkyTrain, I've experienced spotless, comfortable climate controlled trains (very important in Atlanta summers) and plenty of room for passengers and their bags.

Upon arrival at the Rental Car Center (think giant parking garage) you simply follow the signs to your rental agency.  As an Avis Preferred customer, I am able to walk past the check in desk and proceed to the parking garage to find my name on a LCD TV that indicates my parking space.  I arrive at row E spot 36 to discover a 2010 Buick Lacrosse - loaded with leather and all sorts of features.

I spent about 15 minutes loading my luggage in the car, adjusting seats, mirrors, radio, getting my GPS set up, etc. before leaving - an absolute MUST!  Interstate interchanges are not the place to familiarize yourself with a new car.  Ready to go and I notice that the car beeps at me to alert me to the cars I'm backing towards - bonus!  I follow the exit signs to the gate where the attendant checks my drivers license, rental agreement and car bar-code and sending me on my way.  

As I drove from Atlanta to Augusta (learn why I drive to Augusta vs. fly to Augusta here) I fell in love with my boat rental car.  This fine piece of American machinery was like driving a living-room set 80 miles an hour down I-20.  The amenities like Bluetooth for my phone, iPod connectivity (why struggle finding a radio station when I've got music I know I like?) and steering wheel controls for the radio and phone made this the most comfortable ride I've driven.

The interior design left me nothing less than impressed.  The digital display between analog gages allowed me to decide what information I wanted to see and I selected MPH. As the evening turned to night, the soft blue/green of the gages and lights across the dash were attractive but not distracting.  I was also surprised by how quite the car was; blocking out the sound of the traffic and construction around me.

After my comfortable 2 hour drive Saturday, Sunday afternoon a friend and I drove back to an Atlanta suburb to meet another friend for lunch that somehow turned into lunch + dinner...and a little shopping.  After our late night drive back to Augusta, we still couldn't stop talking about how great the car was.  David kept pointing out how while seated in the passenger seat he had his legs stretched out and couldn't touch the dash while reaching out.

So the 2010 Buick Lacrosse is on my preferred rental list!  Any horror stories or awesome rental stories to share?

Buick Image found here

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