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Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: September 11, 2017 11:55AM
Earlier in the year I inquired about renting a specific SUV. [forums.macresource.com] We went car camping and my dad went with us. I thought it would be a good time to try out a 4Runner or Highlander. It was awkward renting from them in many ways, but at least there wasn't any taxes and fees other than sales tax. I'll spare the story and the rental process. Toyota Rent a Car (TRAC) could really use some improvements (like educating their employees on the difference between a rental and a lease.)

I needed either one of those AND they needed to have crossbars on the roof rack. Apparently that's an option with Toyota and most of their vehicles don't have them. The 4Runner was out because an employee was using it. They had a Highlander but it was setup as captain's seats in the second row so I would have to use the third row. With the third row up, there's almost no cargo space so it was out as well.

They had a Sienna (minivan) so I figured, what the heck, no mountain roads planned so let's give it a try. I lowered my expectations but it was still an annoying vehicle.

The Radio
The UI is horrible. I got in and just wanted to flip through radio stations and somehow made this a five or six step process each time you want to change the station, instead of a one step process like radios from the past 40 years (or more?). After going through about eight stations, it told me I couldn't try any more stations until I stopped driving.

What? That's incredibly bad. Later on, my wife was in the car and trying to pair her phone. After hopping through way more steps than it needs, it said we had to stop driving to do that. That's bad enough to start, but even worse that they don't just lock the pairing screen from the start but actually let you hop through the steps, just blocking the last one.

The head unit in my Audi uses a design originally introduced in 2001 - sixteen years ago. It works far better. I'm astonished that Toyota can't match the usability of a head unit introduced that long ago. They've had over a decade and a half to make it better.

The beeps and chimes
There's way too many beeps and chimes coming from the car. Every time the sliding doors open or close there's a high pitched beep. It even continues on for seconds after the door is opened or closed. Way too much unnecessary noise.

DC outlets require key in accessory or on position
Back in the day when these were used as cigarette lighters and you only needed it for a few seconds, that made sense. But considering the iPhone is a decade old and people have been using them for charging their phones for more than twice that long, I'm astonished they're not just always on. I tried every one, including the one in the back, and none of them would charge our phones without the key. That resulted in missed photos because a phone was dead.

Power sliding doors didn't work
There's a button on the dash. I tried it in each position even though it's not clear which one is on and which one is off. I looked up the manual online. Couldn't find a single way to turn on the power part of the sliding doors. Possibly just a dud.

The rest is meh
It's a minivan, so the rest is pretty standard. Though it seems like there's room for someone to create something better. It rides okay. Underpowered, but the tires spin anyway. Gas milage was not that great, but again it's a minivan so my expectations aren't that high. Seats weren't that comfortable.

It had a lot of space, which was useful. I don't plan to rent one again unless we really need that space. I certainly wouldn't buy one.




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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: Zoidberg
Date: September 11, 2017 12:05PM
A while back, we did some comparison shopping; we had for years driven a Honda Odyssey (several model years since 2000) but thought we'd give the Sienna a fair shake. Our results were the same; pretty basic and meh.

BTW, re/the power sliding doors: could be that the parental/child lock was in place. Have had that happen on the Odyssey once or twice.



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Re: Rented a 'yota.
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: September 11, 2017 12:06PM
....may the [ back and ] forth.....be with you.....



____________________________________________________

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: September 11, 2017 12:28PM
FWIW... modern cars have a HUGE electrical demand. Fuel pumps, electronic ignition, HVAC, computers, etc... Old school cars could run all day without a battery. Modern cars ? You'll be lucky to make it 15 miles before they go 'poof'. So you will very rarely see 12VDC outlets that are not switched via the ignition / accessory position.

Also minivans are 'safety optimized'. Which means the are stupidly annoying.

And rentals are ALWAYS goofed up with the settings. Because whatever the moron before you did, that's the way it is. I'm surprised the radio didn't just communicate in Japanese because someone thought it would be funny.
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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: GuyGene
Date: September 11, 2017 01:46PM
Before I bought my F150, I tested the Highlander and 4Runner, every other truck, and a few SUVs. No comparison the a truck. The clincher was I get as good mpg with my 4 door truck as the Highlander! Plus I have a truck. Hey, a man can never have too many trucks. I'm one shy now.



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If idiots could fly, this place would be an airport. And I'd be a TSA agent.
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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: September 11, 2017 02:42PM
Quote
cbelt3
FWIW... modern cars have a HUGE electrical demand. Fuel pumps, electronic ignition, HVAC, computers, etc... Old school cars could run all day without a battery. Modern cars ? You'll be lucky to make it 15 miles before they go 'poof'. So you will very rarely see 12VDC outlets that are not switched via the ignition / accessory position.

My last four cars have all had the DC outlets always on.




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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: September 11, 2017 02:45PM
All of those things, minus the UI, are rather standard across all manufacturers. The doors probably have some kind of safety related to the transmission position...? The radio stations couldn't be changed with the steering wheel controls?
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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: September 11, 2017 02:55PM
Quote
mrbigstuff
All of those things, minus the UI, are rather standard across all manufacturers. The doors probably have some kind of safety related to the transmission position...? The radio stations couldn't be changed with the steering wheel controls?

For minivans? Maybe, I haven't seen those much. My last four cars have not had those issues. I tried all sorts of things with the doors. It was in park. I don't even remember if it had steering wheel controls. I think it didn't. I was just trying to use the head unit.




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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: tenders
Date: September 11, 2017 06:03PM
Rental minivans are often poorly-configured, but they are also very full-featured so it isn't entirely surprising to me that you found it confusing as a renter.

I'm on my third Sienna minivan ('04, '07, '11) and having driven probably 125,000 miles in them happen to think all your complaints are balderdash compared to any other vehicle with similar people/cargo capacity. Just this year I've driven ours from NYC to beyond Quebec City in the middle of winter, Nashville in the spring, and just returned from Prince Edward Island, probably 9000 miles in those three trips, and it is a delight for long-haul travel.

Mine is the last year of the previous model, and we bought it because the current model feels a little too big, but even the current model is very well-engineered to be an efficient and comfortable person and gear transporter.

Radio? You're using the radio? The radio does work, but if it's radio you seek maybe you should be in a Buick - the one that comes, according to Click and Clack, with a Depends dispenser between the seats. I think that was the LeSabre (no longer made). (Full disclosure: I used to own a LeSabre and agree with that assessment, although I still really liked that car despite having full continence.)

Beeps/chimes on the doors: a feature, not an annoyance; they work that way because when you have kids running in and out of the car at school and practice, it's easy to assume the doors are closed when they are not. I challenge your assertion that they beep when they're fully closed. They beep for a second as the latch secures, but no longer than that.

12V outlets powering down without a key: a feature, not an annoyance. So many accessories get plugged into the minivan from chargers to electric coolers that the batteries would be inadvertently drained on a weekly basis in my household. I only remember seeing always-on 12V accessories in German cars (like your Audi)...do any Japanese or American cars have them?

Power sliding doors inoperative: a feature, not an annoyance. The doors are so easily opened by children using the buttons that there is a deactivation switch on the panel by the driver's knee. This may be a federal requirement, similar to the rear window deactivation button we're all familiar with. I agree that is an inconvenient place for an unfamiliar renter to have to find, but in our household those lockout buttons were pretty much either activated 100% of the time up to age 10, or deactivated 100% of the time.

Fuel efficiency: astonishingly good in the FWD version. Not so great in our AWD version, but acceptable. The Sienna is the only AWD minivan.

Cargo capacity, and 7-person carrying comfort: no comparison.

The Odyssey is a worthy competitor, marginally better in some respects, but is distinctly overpriced. The Dodge/Chrysler minivans are like orange juice from concentrate: wonderful...until you've experienced fresh-squeezed (ie, a Japanese minivan).
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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: tenders
Date: September 11, 2017 06:08PM
PS: to my surprise, a modern car will run at least 150 highway miles, 2.5 hours, with just the battery if you keep the lights, AC, and other controllable accessories off. Fuel pumps and electronic ignition require very little power. These were highway miles, so I was not taxing the power steering pump or brake master cylinder, which I think both have electrical assistance.
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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: Bill in NC
Date: September 11, 2017 07:20PM
Toyota's current minivan design is dated compared to honda & even chrysler.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2017 07:20PM by Bill in NC.
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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: C(-)ris
Date: September 11, 2017 07:54PM
After the flop that my Subaru Forester turned out to be I drove a lot of SUVs including the Highlander. I ended up with a Dodge Journey R/T. Say what you want about a Dodge, but I found it to be much more user friendly and comfortable than the Highlander and at almost half the cost. The Toyota had a better transmission/engine match, but the Journey was just as powerful. The interior ergonomics are great and the leather interior feels great. It seats 7 and has fold flat seats from front to back on the passenger side so I can easily carry a10 foot long item inside.



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Re: Rented a 'yota. Not impressed.
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: September 11, 2017 10:30PM
Quote
tenders
Rental minivans are often poorly-configured, but they are also very full-featured so it isn't entirely surprising to me that you found it confusing as a renter.

This was rented directly from Toyota, so it's supposed to be better. Obviously not.

Quote

Beeps/chimes on the doors: a feature, not an annoyance; they work that way because when you have kids running in and out of the car at school and practice, it's easy to assume the doors are closed when they are not. I challenge your assertion that they beep when they're fully closed. They beep for a second as the latch secures, but no longer than that.

Other cars have found better ways of doing it. They don't need to be so annoying. And, for sure, the buzzing remained even after the doors closed. I think the buzzer may have been as long as what the power door took to close. But since the power doors weren't closing, the doors closed more quickly and the buzzer kept going even thought the door was closed.

Quote

12V outlets powering down without a key: a feature, not an annoyance. So many accessories get plugged into the minivan from chargers to electric coolers that the batteries would be inadvertently drained on a weekly basis in my household. I only remember seeing always-on 12V accessories in German cars (like your Audi)...do any Japanese or American cars have them?

I've left phones, tablets and other things plugged in without starting the car for days and it's fine. I don't know which cars do and don't have them, but in this day and age, they should all have them. If they want to be smart, they could shutoff when the battery drops below a certain level.

Quote

Power sliding doors inoperative: a feature, not an annoyance. The doors are so easily opened by children using the buttons that there is a deactivation switch on the panel by the driver's knee. This may be a federal requirement, similar to the rear window deactivation button we're all familiar with. I agree that is an inconvenient place for an unfamiliar renter to have to find, but in our household those lockout buttons were pretty much either activated 100% of the time up to age 10, or deactivated 100% of the time.

Like I mentioned, I tried that button in both positions and it made no difference.

Quote

Fuel efficiency: astonishingly good in the FWD version. Not so great in our AWD version, but acceptable. The Sienna is the only AWD minivan.

My car weighs only 100-300lbs less, and gets about 7mpg better on the highway. It's AWD and I was driving a FWD 'yota.

Quote

Cargo capacity, and 7-person carrying comfort: no comparison.

Maybe higher end models have better seats, but these weren't that great. Even compared to my entry level VW seats, these weren't that comfortable.




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