Zipcar: the Hot Sheets Motel Rental Car

A Girls Guide To Cars | Zipcar: The Hot Sheets Motel Rental Car - Zipcar

ZipcarAt Gotham Dream Cars in NYC, you can rent a Ferrari or Lamborghini; this is for the type of customer who stays at Mandarin Oriental suites or Cap Juluca on vacation.

I am a Motel 6 kind of car rental girl, going for the cheapest car. So Zipcar fits right into my mentality.

This by-the-hour car rental reminds me of hot sheets motels – you can literally get into a car moments after another driver returns it. The Zipcar model relies on a car-sharing mentality; you treat the car as your own, even if you only rent it for 90 minutes.

Zipcar can be great for traveling, too. You can rent a car in cities across the country, for just the times you need; heading to wine country from San Francisco, going to Newport from Providence, RI, or a day trip to Longwood Gardens from Philadelphia. There are even a few international locations.


A luxury Ferrari

Zipcar members (Zipsters) are counted on to be considerate of the next driver; removing their trash, not smoking in the car and making sure the gas tank is at least half full when they return the car.

And for the most part, we’ve been happy campers. We use the car for an hour to drive the soccer carpool, for three hours to binge shop and for the entire day to drive upstate or to the beach.

There are inevitable snafus – we once went to pick up a car that the previous renter had kept over his time, so there was no car for us.

And you leave they keys in the car, unlocking it with your Zipcar membership card. So twice we’ve tried to pick up a car that had no keys in it.

But the worst time was when we had reserved a car well in advance but the car was in an accident the day before.  It was a summer weekend in NYC and we had to have a car to pick up our daughter from camp. Zipcar found us a car that was two miles away, a hassle to pick up but worse to return. It was street fair season and the bus wasn’t running. For some inexplicable reason, the subway also wasn’t running and we couldn’t get a cab. So we had to carry all the camp stuff home.

Mostly, though, Zipcar has been convenient, reliable and inexpensive. And even though we don’t pay for gas when we rent (it’s included in the rental price), we usually choose the eco-friendly Prius and feel virtuous for only driving a car when we truly need one.

And Zipcar is so popular, it has spawned imitators like Enterprise CarShare car2go and Carpingo, in New York.


Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell