As I was driving back from lunch today, I heard a radio spot for a program Toyota is offering called TRAC – Toyota Rent A Car. The gist is that you can go to your local participating dealership (per Toyota, in 85% of them) to rent one of several models either for traditional reasons (say, you’re going on a trip and need a minivan to haul your gear), for a short time if your car is in for repairs, or most interestingly, to try before you buy. In the last scenario, they’re offering terms as short as a few days or up to one month to be well and sure it’s the car for you.
A quick Google search brought me the information. It appears you may choose from the entire Toyota/Scion lineup, including hybrids which may help those who are on the fence about purchasing one, or would like maximum MPGs when taking their upcoming summer road trips. It is not immediately clear from the website if there are different trims available for the different models, or what models are actually even at your local dealership. You are directed to a form to contact them for more information, instead. Check out this snazzy video courtesy of Yellow Pages for a quick run-through.
I think this is a brilliant marketing move Toyota has made, and I hope to see other automakers follow suit. How often have you wanted to try out a car for longer than it takes to jaunt around the block on a typical test drive? Maybe see how it performs in the rain or at night? See if it’s a monster to park or check out what the real world gas mileage is? Obviously, it could get to be costly the longer you keep the car but if you’re the type who wants to know every detail before committing it may be money well-spent.
How about the thought of getting into a smelly, torn up, typical rental? Not very appealing right? I would venture a guess that Toyota will keep their vehicles more well-maintained than your mainstream outlets because, after all, they do want you to eventually buy one. Toyota claims their rates are competitive with traditional rental agencies but note that you must return the car to the original dealership (in other words, no one-way trips). If it turns out that you absolutely love the exact vehicle you rented, you have the option to purchase it also (though as we’ve seen it’s usually not a good idea to buy rental cars!)
I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to try out a current-model Toyota but hey, if that FT-86 ever comes to fruition, maybe I’ll have to check one out.