Everyone has that rental car nightmare story. My most recent one was a work trip to Houston area where my group of colleagues and I arrived late in the evening only to find that our major rental car carrier had overbooked their inventory of vehicles. After waiting for 30 minutes to pick up the minivan we had reserved for our group of 6, we were finally presented with an option to either squeeze into a standard car or take a 15-passenger van. Two bad choices, but we were desperate and took the van (it was awful, btw). When we began planning our family vacation to Daytona Beach last month, we were looking for a better option. We knew I’d be traveling solo with our two kids and facing the long drive between Orlando and Daytona Beach, so we wanted to make everything as easy as possible.
I have to admit, I was completely unaware of the Silvercar sensation until I read a press release about their new partnership with Peg Perego to provide car seats at no additional cost. What? As those parents out there know, getting car seats with your rental car always feels a bit dodgy. The rental fees add up fast and yet the seats themselves always seem to be beaten up and usually the cheapest brands. So Silvercar definitely got my attention by partnering with one of the most respected brands of quality car seats and strollers.
For those of you, like me, that that haven’t heard, Silvercar began as a start up serving mostly sunbelt airports. Its founders wanted to take the guesswork out of car rental by offering only one car, the Audi A4, in one color, silver (now the name makes sense!) with free premium features like WiFi and navigation systems. They also wanted to harness technology to streamline the whole experience of picking up a rental car (no lines!) while also taking advantage of the lower costs of off-airport rental locations. The company was very successful and, not surprisingly, has since been acquired by Audi and expanded their fleet to offer the Audi Q5 (and just this month, they added the Audi A5 Cabriolet to some locations as well).
I was still a little skeptical and did a bit of price shopping to compare the Silvercar prices with those from the major car rental company that so recently left us in the lurch (literally) in the 15-passenger van. Of course, all car rental costs vary by airport, but when looking at Orlando airport rentals, a similar size SUV with 2 kids’ seats was only a few dollars cheaper from the major rental firm. After adding in the additional premium features that Silvercar offers, the price was over 2x the Silvercar price. The Silvercar website also offered a 20% discount for first-time renters, so that made it an even better deal.
I was sold on the value of booking with Silvercar, both financially and the peace of mind knowing exactly what car I’d be driving on my trip. I created an online account in just a few minutes and made the reservation. I followed instructions I received in my confirmation to download the Silvercar app on my phone and easily found all my how-to information there regarding pick up.
I wasn’t so sure how the off-airport logistics would work with two kids under seven and a decent amount of luggage. As soon as we deplaned, I received a text message from Silvercar with reminder directions to the Silvercar rental facility. That was a great help, since of course we had to stop for a couple of potty breaks (not sure why those kids can never seem to go at the same time!) as well as wait for our luggage at baggage claim. It was a bit of a walk to the shuttle pick up, but it wasn’t a lot further than the airport car rental companies. The directions were really clear and easy to follow.
Silvercar Audi A4s waiting in the shade at Orlando WallyPark
Silvercar Orlando is located in the WallyPark parking facility and their shuttle driver was super helpful. Once we arrived at WallyPark, the Silvercar site was only a few steps away from the shuttle drop off. The Silvercar Concierge was obviously on the lookout for me as he walked me directly over to my car and told me the car seats were inside (of course not installed due to liability reasons). That was a huge relief since usually when I’ve rented car seats, I’ve had to pick them up and lug them to the car on my own (with the kids and the luggage). He checked my ID and credit card since this was my first time renting with Silvercar and then walked me through the process of using the Silvercar app to scan the QR code on the windshield. About 15 seconds later, the beautiful 2018 Audi Q5 unlocked for me and showed mileage of only about 6,000 miles Viola! Next time, I won’t need to check in with the Silvercar Concierge and can just scan and go. That’s pretty convenient!
The Peg Perego car and booster seats were no disappointment either. The Primo Viaggio Convertible car seat was brand new and the Viaggio Flex 120 looked barely used. I hadn’t installed either before (next time I will review the instruction manuals online in advance since I know which models will be in the car), but they both had LATCH connection systems, so it only took me a few minutes to get them installed properly. Of course, the Silvercar Concierge couldn’t help me with the install, but he stayed close by and then when I was ready to go, he helped me pair my phone with the car’s Bluetooth and made sure I knew how to use the key features of this fully-loaded vehicle. The Concierge also told me about Silvercar’s ‘fair fueling promise’ which bills at the current local premium fuel rate for exactly what you use, plus a simple $5 fill-up fee (unless you prefer to fill it yourself), showed me where to return the car and we were off!
|Peg Perego premium convertible and booster seats offered at no cost by Silvercar|
I won’t rave too much about the car itself because of course a $50,000 car is expected to be pretty awesome! The WiFi seemed like a decadent luxury, but it was a great way to keep the kids happy while I concentrated on driving. I also realized once I arrived in Daytona Beach and turned off the car that my cell phone service was awful locally. Since I would have relied on my cell phone for navigation without the premium navigation feature in the car, I might have had trouble finding my way. I enjoyed driving the Audi Q5, it was a comfortable, quiet ride all around. There was plenty of space for luggage and the kids were comfy in their Peg Perego seats as well. The only downside was that the car was so nice and the leather interior so perfect that I refused to let the kids eat in the car for fear of desecrating it!
A great time was had at the beach with the family and of course, all too soon we were on our way back to the Orlando airport. Dropping off the car was super easy and the Concierge was there to help as soon as we parked. He took our luggage to the waiting shuttle van and, just like that, our first Silvercar rental experience was over.
|Saying goodbye to our Silvercar Audi Q5.|
I have to admit, I loved renting with Silvercar. They’ve really streamlined the rental process and removed several of the most annoying pain points of car rental. The simplicity of having only a few premium car models gave me confidence that I knew what I’d really be driving off the rental lot. Offering top quality Peg Perego car and booster seats at no additional cost is sure to make Silvercar a hit with traveling families (though Silvercar may benefit from adding the Audi Q7 3-row SUV to their lineup to attract larger families). I’ll be sure to look for Silvercar first whenever I need to book a personal rental car and I’ll even ask at work if we can add Silvercar to our preferred vendor list. The Audi Q5 wins over the 15-passenger van every time!
Product received, thank you to SIlvercar and to PR for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own.