December is a time for a lot of things: shopping for gifts. Getting ready for the new year to come. And, of course, reflecting upon the year that was.
December 2019, however, is special for another reason: it’s the last December of the New ’10s. Come the New Year, we will all be in the 2020s, the future as bright and as dark as it wishes to be.
Thus, before the first second of the New ’20s (or whatever TV Tropes will ultimately call the decade) ticks off the clock, it’s time to look back on a milestone of my own.
Nearly two years ago, after a 15-year-long delay, I regained my driver’s license. The details of the journey can be found at The Truth About Cars, but the short version goes that I voluntarily gave up my license a few months after moving to Tacoma on the words of my then-roommate, who believed you needed insurance first before obtaining a new license; they were from North Carolina, the only state with such a requirement.
And that is all I will say about them here.
A few months after rectifying the mistake, I rented my first car from my local Enterprise: a 2018 Nissan Sentra SV. Upon leaving the counter, I rolled out to Louisville through the West Virginia Turnpike to retrieve my art from my dad’s house so that none of us would have to figure out how to ship the art to me, or pay the costs to do so in the first place.
Since then, I’ve rented more than a handful of cars and SUVs, most taking the same trip, but for different reasons. Here are my top three rentals from the decade that was the New ’10s.
2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS
I started the New Year of 2019 off on the right foot with this 2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS. I didn’t get to spend too much time with Chevy’s pony car, as it was used mainly to take me to and from my HRT consultation at the Planned Parenthood in Richmond.
That said, this is the No. 1 of all of the cars I rented. Nothing can beat having 455 horses and 455 lb-ft of torque at the ready, especially when needing to travel upon the truck-heavy I-81 as quickly and safely as possible. The small footprint was definitely a plus while navigating the small, tight parking lot at Planned Parenthood.
If anything, though, it’s the smile it brought to my face every time I saw it, along with the attention it received. While parked at a Speedway along the way home, a woman tapped on my window to ask about it. She told me her son had a Hot Wheels version of the 2018 model in the same color as my 2019.
2019 Dodge Challenger R/T (x2)
My No. 2 favorite rental since I started driving again is, fittingly enough, a double-shot of Mopar goodness. In early June and again in late August, I rented a 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T to take to events where V8s and muscle were the rules of the day: the 2019 Hot Rod Power Tour, and the 25th anniversary of the opening of the National Corvette Museum.
Both times, the Challenger I picked up was equipped with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, whose 372 horses found their way to the back tries through the eight-speed automatic. The one I rented in June was a black model, the one in August a gray one.
I took my first Challenger through the winding roads between my home in the New River Valley, and Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, a first-ever stop for the long-running Power Tour. I definitely felt its heft while making the drive down; it was definitely made more for straight lines than tackling corners.
The second Challenger I rented was a bit unexpected, as I was hoping the Hertz counter at Muhammad Ali International Airport would hook me up with a Camaro of any sort to take to the National Corvette Museum. One attendee was sad that I had a Challenger when they asked what I drove to the anniversary, while a couple of others teased me about the big Mopar; those two did appreciate that I had a V8 car, though.
2019 Dodge Charger GT
Taking the third and final spot on the podium, this black 2019 Dodge Charger GT was the first rear-drive car I ever rented, having been denied at the Budget counter at Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport a couple of months before, where I hoped to take a Ford Mustang to my 20th high school reunion (none were available).
The Charger served me well over Thanksgiving weekend in 2018. I first visited Blacksburg to witness Virginia Tech defeat the University of Virginia for the Commonwealth Cup at Lane Stadium, then returned the following morning to take a 3×5-foot portrait painting in for framing.
A day later, the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and eight-speed automatic carried me down to Charlotte for more football, this time at Bank of America Stadium to see the Seattle Seahawks defeat the Carolina Panthers. I also accidently scratched the right front fender while pulling into a nearby parking garage, but accidents like that are why I always take all of the insurance from the rental counter.
I’ve rented other vehicles throughout the last year and a half of the New ’10s, including more than a few Nissans, and a Ford subcompact crossover I never want to drive again. These rental counter gems, though, are the stuff of dreams. I hope to drive few more dreams into reality in the decade to come.
Photos: Cameron Aubernon/Aubernon Highway