Category Archives: Zipcar


End of the Low Car Diet

The low car diet officially ends on Friday with a happy hour dowtown!  Chad and I are going, and if anyone is interested in, or has been thinking about, joining zipcar, now may be a good time to do it.  If you come to the happy hour with us and sign up, Chad tells me that you’ll get a $50 zip car credit.  Leave a comment if you’d like to join us this Friday.

Learn more about how Zipcar works here

Mini-Coops are Mini-Weird

Is it a fun drive? Sure, it’s fun. The almost-square frame of the car makes the handling very nice around corners, and parallel parking is a breeze (very handy in the D.C. area, of course). 

That said, the dash layout is just a little weird for my tastes. First of all, the thing doesn’t have a key! It has a fob that clicks into a place on the dash, and then to start the car you press the break and push the “On” button. Now, I enjoy pushing buttons as much as the next guy, but starting an engine this way just makes me think of the car as a toy for kids. It’s a good thing Zipcar provided some instructive text on the website when I reserved the car, or else it would have taken me awhile to get out of the parking lot.

It did take me 5 minutes or so to find the volume control. It is not next to the radio tuner where you’d normally find it, but a good 6 inches or so down, in the middle of the dash area, all by its little lonesome. The windows are controlled by “switches”, also located in the center of the dash area, right behind the gear shift. And there are two speedometers, one a small display behind the steering wheel, as normal, and another ginormous one at the top middle of the dash. I guess this is handy if the people in the back seat want to know how fast you’re going, but generally the interior design of this car seems like weirdness for weirdness’ sake. This is definitely not a car I would ever want to own, but the occasional short trip to weird out your friends can be very enjoyable.

Futon Fun Time

One of the great things about Zipcar is having a variety of models to choose from, depending on your specific needs that day. Today, Melissa and I needed to go pick up a futon, so we needed a pickup truck. But see, this is the first time we’ve needed a pickup truck since March, so it would be wasteful to own a pickup truck or large SUV, just because sometimes you need to haul stuff. Instead, we own a car to suit our day-to-day needs, and when we need a truck, we have Zipcar.
“Theodore,” a Tacoma pickup, has definitely seen some heavy-duty use, from people moving, hauling things, and who knows what else. But hey, it drove just fine and served our needs perfectly, so we were thankful to have its use at our disposal. Beats the heck out of renting from U-Haul or calling in a favor from friends! And now we are the proud (and somewhat exhausted) owners of a comfy futon. Guests, come on over!

Borrowing the Keys to KITT

For Zipcar adventure #2, I took the chance to drive a hybrid. Zipcar has many Priuses (Prii? Priora? What is the plural form of Prius anyway??) but they don’t live very close to Alexandria, so I opted for “Corie,” a Civic Hybrid that lives at the Braddock Metro station.
Like many people, I usually think of hybrids as small cars, but the Civic Hybrid is definitely a full-sizer, and feels like it. Large cars are not my preference, but I was too distracted by the Kitt-like display on the dash to pay attention to the size of the car. I felt like the car should have been talking to me in a sassy deadpan, giving me minute-by-minute updates on my miles per gallon (instead there’s a meter next to the speedometer) or, you know, warning me of any missiles being fired at the car (sorry, really getting lost in this “Knight Rider” thing). 
The best feeling of all, of course, is feeling the car cease to use power when you’re stopped. The needle goes all the way to 0 rather than idling at 500 rpm. No exhaust is being pumped into the face of the bicyclist behind your car. This sort of efficiency in automobiles should have been mass-produced 20 years ago – it’s a shame we’ve had to wait this long for less-than-wasteful cars to drive. All in all it was a very enjoyable drive, and next time I’m in the market to buy a car, some kind of hybrid (or even better, electric!) car is definitely at the top of the list.

Zipcar – Maiden Voyage!

Today I drove for the first time since starting the ZipCar Low-Car Diet. I had some errands to run, so I took out Ashely, a cute little Scion xA… The car reminded me of my old Toyota Matrix, only slightly miniaturized.

At first I had some difficulty getting my card to scan so the car would open up and welcome me, but that may have been user error, as by the end of my 3 hours I was an old master at it.

It was nice to be driving again, but you know, as I sat behind various large SUVs at every other red light, I remembered why driving is not always the preferred way to get somewhere. The Metro can sometimes be a hassle timing-wise, but I feel much more productive being able to read or do homework while I am in transit, as opposed to sitting there wondering why the guy in front of me bought a Lamborghini when he’s going to spend most of his time idling in traffic.

Overall, it was a great experience. Like renting a car, without standing in line. I look forward to my next excuse to use the service.