25th May 2017
Car Rental Company: Alamo
Company for Purchase :Priceline
Location: LAX – Los Angeles International Airport
Alamo is one of the most efficient car rental companies at LAX. You simply get the bus outside arrivals – go to second island where there is a purples sign for car rentals and the buses are so frequent you wont generally have to wait more than 10 minutes. Staff are also very helpful in carrying bags onto bus.
Once you arrive at Alamo, staff there as you enter building give you the option of using kiosks or a staff check-in. I personally prefer a person with car rental since I don’t have a US driving license and want to make sure all is checked correctly.
Staff service on this occasion was fairly friendly, everything was all included on Priceline so there was no push for say insurance coverage or upsell. My booking was for a convertible- Ford Mustang or similar – I asked if they had any Camaros and his answer was only hard tops which would cost $11 more and initially went for this, he didn’t explain that Camaros are in same class of car so I assumed it was one up, my point was after my last experience, I prefer Camaros to Mustangs and assumed it wouldn’t be in same class. However once you get outside , friendly staff there direct you to the aisle of convertibles – all of which were Camaros, so I didn’t really understand what the upgrade was for. After checking some out they seemed dated and the fact that no mustangs were there and the sun was coming out made me think why did I pay for $11 upgrade when I could just use the Camaros there. Therefore, I returned and got the refund on it stating I am happy with any convertible. He explained the upgrade was for a hard top non-convertible Camaros which are more powerful. Sun was shining I was in Cali and just wanted a convertible – the only way to do it.
The process at Alamo is just grab the car there is no walking around looking for scratches with staff and keys are in the car. Its same on return very quickly, I wish the rest of the world was as easy as that.
Upon returning though back to the convertibles now all camorra’s 6 were gone within 20minutes and as I returned there was now mustangs appearing, all in one big batch. I headed for last but dull looking Camaro until this beautiful red mustang appeared and was immediately drawn to that. It just had a beautiful body finish and seemed a lot newer than the other mustangs plus the red I guess was a bit of a turn on. I took it over the Camaro.
Overall I find the staff at Alamo always really pleasant and checking out was simple with staff wishing me a good day. You get your car and can be gone very quickly. LA is simply the best place of my experience to hire a car, but I would say avoid Budget where lines can take over an hour. Alamo and National (same) are the most efficient I have experienced never a long wait.
Returning the car was also a smooth process, simply get out and the bus was there waiting to take passengers to terminal with arrival to the international within 15 minutes on a Sunday morning.
My booking was for a Mustang and as mentioned did have the option for a Camaro hard top for $11. The convertible section though all had Camaros, so initially I misunderstood the reason for the upgrade. When I arrived back after getting my refund the convertible section very quickly turned into Mustangs I guess before returning back to Camaro’s. I went for the Ford Mustang convertible, though I generally prefer Camaros, I liked the look of this newer Mustang.
Car Review – Ford Mustang Convertible
The car felt new and clean. The dash wasn’t quite as sexy inside as the Camaro a bit more plastic but some cool switches and actually very comfortable sports seating. This car was a very sporty version – since there was a lot of reference in the controls to track racing. It also was enhanced with a rear view camera, a easy to use convertible roof and quite easy to get used to controls. It was a welcome relief having an automatic as well since I was driving 100miles south down the free way near San Diego.
The car controls were very multifunctional and the sound system and touch screen console monitor was a breeze to use. I was also very impressed when I found out I could use Apple car play with my iphone this enhanced the experienced greatly.
In terms of actual driving very comfortable and smooth, good power behind it but doesn’t quite have the roar of the Camaro RS but acceleration once it kicks in, which is very quick, is strong and rapid. The roof down in the California sun going 80-100 down the 405 was amazing and the sound quality of the sound system was equally powerful and enjoyable- not leaking that much with roof down.
I also liked the fact it had very easy to use cruise control which meant long stretches were easy to switch if you want to take a break of the accelerator and be more fuel efficient.
However it’s the little things that also make the difference the various steering wheel modes, the speedometer and rev counter light changes at night white to deep red lighting – a nice sexy touch. Plus as you open the door the Mustang horse logo is displayed on the ground when you park up at night. Keyless engine start button controls also was very cool, even looking at the contouring on the large bonnet as your roar down the highway made the drive exciting. What I didn’t like about the car though is lack of auto functions, perhaps I am used to this with my Japanese car but auto lighting, auto wipers and auto stop, the last one did show the symbol but didn’t work. The drive for a short while without lights after sunset then realized, but when on very good clear lights and side lights are very good looking at front. If you happen to leave key in car lights will remain on to remind you.
Overall though for the price I paid (£46) it was well worth it to experience driving a car like this. It is great for a couple or one person and possibly a young family i.e some young kids or short people in back is a good option even for long distances though I don’t think 3 full size adults with the one in the back won’t be comfortable for any distances. Just very limited room as you expect for a car hire.
Seating was automatic – it had up and down/ front and back and even lumpur support for lower back that really enhanced the driving comfort. The leather sports curved racing seats were also comfortable for least 3 hours straight- I got out and this is after flying 10 hours and felt no issues. The seat function is very easy to locate while driving on side of seat. This was easy to use while driving.
However I did notice the passenger seat had manual basic switch controls. I also don’t think seating is good in the back for anyone older than 10, or taller than 5” as very narrow and compact- ok for maybe a short drive but not any distances. This is a sports car so obviously is not expected.
The controls had so many functions I am going to split it into three sections.
Starting with the central console. The base has 4 switches – once pressed these come up on your dash hub between the rev and speedometer.
The controls are as follows mode-
Driving has 4 modes- Normal, Sports, Track (this activates the anti skid to off), and wet driving. I tried both normal and sports and there was only difference with acceleration but this was also with sports mode activated on gear stick. I think it wont make that much difference on a straight but is more for long winding corners. The car grips corners on freeways though very well in both modes.
The next switch is steering wheel- you can have Normal, Sports and Comfort. I found the comfort mode too sensitive and prefer a harder steering wheel, sports is obviously more for track racing so is not that obvious but I found comfort to normal had some difference, comfort slightly more swerving on highway – so presumably more sensitive to movements. I preferred normal.
The other switch is a hazard switch and the last one was traction control on/off switch.
Next to this is the engine switch which was very cool- a push button start which make starting up the car nice and easy. Shutting down the engine is fine but unlike a key witch turning the car fully off like music and HUB computer requires leaving the car and locking it. Perhaps there is an easier way but that’s the only way I figured it out.
The gear stick was very ergonomic and switch between normal and Sports mode and I also liked the + and – paddles on the steering wheel which worked well when on normal streets of LA.
The AC was very easy to use with dial for each side, it worked well and temperature comes up very clearly on the computer display with a powerful fan- this is for each side plus a real bonus heated and cooler for seats- I only noticed this well with heater on when roof was down in the morning. It got hot.
The main console monitor screen was awesome- the fact it had the source button and separate sound button to fine tune the sound made it very convenient when driving and playing about with sound levels. The multiple sound sources were easy to direct thru. USB (which there is a slot below so you can place your phone) and in the box compartment behind the hand brake so two in total) and Bluetooth. I initially used Bluetooth but once I connected my phone thru the USB it went into apple car play mode.
This is the first time I have used Apple car play, I did really like the fact all major apps appear on the monitor, including phone, messages etc and it enables you to control music very easy on the screen plus Apple Maps so you turn it in to an easy to use GPS that was clear on a larger screen. However, I still preferred my Garmin, since a Garmin was able to tell me what traffic delay were ahead and alternative routes, something apple maps did not appear to do despite being connected to data. It was annoying that google maps did not come up but obviously its only apps part of Apple. However I still liked the fact you really did not need to use your phone since you can navigate everything around your phone thru the touch screen display. You can also control climate of the car as well.
Now to the steering wheel- the phone volume control of music and mode were all very easy to use. The mode controlled the hub display between the speedometer and rev counter.
The modes showed gauge detail – all statistics such as air/fuel ratio, vacuum, inside air temp and oi pressure. Obviously this is more for the track.
Then there is a fuel economy mode which wasn’t really clear what it was showing me a color green and level etc obviously miles per gallon but not really understanding it that clearly at least compared to my Japanese car.
There is a track app- this is just things for track like lap timer, brake performance and accelerator- again statistics.
Driver assist which just showed auto engine- it was ticked but it didn’t auto turn off engine say at traffic lights so unsure how this works.
I liked the cruise control- very easy to turn on and plus & minus your settings easily without affecting your steering. Even accelerating in certain situations will not cancel it out (like my car does) and will still resume back to your setting once you take foot off the accelerator.
Other features I liked was the reverse park camera with clear lines making reverse parking very easy to just look at the screen. It also has a beeper to monitor around you and worked well.
The Convertible function is ok – you have to turn a handle and then hit the auto button. It is something that you need to put gear box into park so if you do it while on a main road you can only do it at a traffic light that has a good delay on it- since it’s not that fast and if you go it will be stuck half down etc & you will feel like an idiot so it’s all about timing. Not long but as you get to traffic light that is at a larger junction and there is traffic do it then. Or obviously pull over and park up and do it etc.
Overall a lot mentioned here but the car was very easy to figure out and get used to within a few hours. Obviously a lot is to do with track racing so irrelevant for a car hire down US1.
Space and Storage
Storage obviously is limited, one large case old style case or two of those newer style cases on wheels will just about fit in boot. A couple will just be ok but probably with hand luggage in back seats. Be careful with going fast down highway with roof down, I would not suggest putting back on seat next to you if your on your own put it on floor. Say if it’s a ruck sack and your bag is open it might blow paper due to wind out of it. If its on the floor mat its well sheltered.
There is also two handy cup holders with grips just behind the gear stick.
A small box is at back behind gear stick that can be semi used as an armrest. The box can safety keep your phone and the keyless control – its safe in there plus that’s where another USB socket is plus Car Power socket. Also both these are offered just below the console as well.
Space is not great for back seats quite tight and side pockets as well you may just about fit a water bottle in but not much else. However the side pockets are well sheltered for say your wallet. One thing that was odd is the passenger seat front locker was locked with key only access- but the car had no key so it’s something the car hire company don’t want you opening I guess.
Very fun car to drive, acceleration kicks in very quickly and I was switching between sports and normal and shot off like a rocket. It doesn’t have the roar though but handles the power very well, it also handles corners superbly at high speed and very smooth with just general street driving and in traffic. Driving was 10/10 overall. I enjoyed every minute of it.
The audio had the following options: AM, FM, CD, USB, Sirius digital Radio and Bluetooth. Bluetooth was very easy to connect actually easier than a lot of cars paired fast. I didn’t realize about apple car play until you need to charge it and use the USB slot then it offers you apple car play so long you have SIRI activated. It changes the whole dash and is great. I am not sure of th full capabilities of it as I know when I test drove a Ferrari it was a vert expensive add on extra function. You need roaming if you not in the US so be wary when using things like maps on data charges- if your from the UK and have Three which allows you to use your home data then it’s all free.
Back to sound quality – superb. The great aspect about the Mustang is the fact it offers a simple button on top with musical symbol in which makes you able to tweak the Treble, Mids and Bass plus sound positioning in the car. This you can do while driving so if like me you have a varied play list from techno, drum n bass, hip hop to some rock- you can very easily tweak when driving without any hassle all touch screen.
Sound quality was excellent even with roof down you could feel the bass rumble and handle it well. I did pound it out and obviously it is better when roof is down but I enjoyed the sound very much. I would say it really picks up mids and bass more than Spheres so perhaps some new age music might not sound that great but who listens to that anyway and if your going to hire a car like the Mustang and bomb it down the freeway you need some energizing music to accompany your ride. Because of the design of the car with soft roof though it wasn’t as good as the Jeep I hired in terms of balanced levels but it still sounded fine. The jeep to be fair did have a square hard box design so sound bounced off each other better. But the jeep was far from as fun to drive as the Mustang.
I drove around 240 miles and it cost me $24 and this is driving at times at 70-100mph and playing with sports mode- so fuel efficiency is superb. I would go so far as saying if you like driving and want a muscle car go to LA, fuel and a decent car are both very cheap especially compared to Europe.
The cost was £46 for 24 hours. Driving was exhilarating, sound was awesome, Apple car play was great to not get distracted while going thru your music and using Maps.
Overall the Mustang love has come back to me to win the title between that and Camaro RS which I initially preferred after last driving one.
Though the Camaro does have a roar and more classical look inside with overall in my opinion more bad ass look, this particular mustang was one sexy beast that was more functional and with pure driving comfort and enjoyment. One of the best cars I have ever hired. For the price and fuel efficiency it was very good value. Alamo again proved themselves to be awesome and efficient.