Mercedes E350 Hertz Rental
Hertz gave me a lovely Mercedes E350 as a free upgrade in LA this trip: definitely the best upgrade so far.
It is quite a nice car, with plenty of trunk space, and extremely quiet interior, a powerful engine, and excellent handling. The interior is clean and well designed with a nice dash that’s easy to read. In fact the entire system was fairly intuitive. I had my phone paired with the in-car audio system, the voice recognition system figured out, the nav system programmed, climate set, and my favorite Sirius classical station on the radio in the 20 minute drive from LAX to Santa Monica. It was probably the first time I’ve made that trip and arrived a little disappointed it was so brief.
Most of the interaction with the Car’s computer is through voice prompts and the system is very effective: it never made a mistake in my use. One can also navigate the cars computer options with a fairly nice click wheel, which is reminiscent of the BMW system, but without the force feedback (alas).
The Nav system in the car is excellent. It works far better than the Hertz NeverLost system (which was, inexplicably, also installed). The Mercedes version is a lot easier to read and understand and is integrated with the audio system in the car (though the announcements were painfully loud and the one thing I didn’t figure out was how to turn them down).
The computer’s visual interface also serves as the backup camera. It seems a bit superfluous on a normal sized car, but it has a good down-view, so one can see if one is about to backup over a child’s favorite toy or limb, which I suppose has merit for people who haven’t realized that most children are the free byproduct of an otherwise pleasurable activity.
I was very impressed with the iPod integration. The in-glove-box cabling includes an analog headset port (female, for reasons I do not comprehend – it should be male) and an iPod connector.
The on-screen interface is a nice integration with basic iPod functionality and the click wheel emulates the iPod’s navigation mode in a very intuitive way, unlike the Audi interface.
Mercedes even manages to push their own logo to the iPod, which is pretty impressive.
All in all, an excellent rental I’d be glad to get again.