Rental Car Reacharound: The Ford Five Hundred

Why not settle for what you asked for?

On the last Monday of May this year (Memorial Day [celebrated]), I landed in Sacramento for a two-week stay (business) and was handed the keys to a Hertz-owned Ford Five Hundred. (And, yes, Ford spells that number out in English right on the trunk lid; Note to Arabic numeral system: suck it.
Signed, FoMoCo. cc:DCX, et al.)

I stowed my crap, jumped in, and drove off to Woodland, CA.

So, what is this car? It is the automotive equivalent of the Democratic Party. In other words, it isn't terribly exciting, and the mainstream (automotive) press either ignores it or damns it with faint praise, even though it offers most of the things (car-buying) Americans claim they want. Also, it will probably be ignored by most (car-buying) Americans. To their shame.

I didn't just drive it back and forth from the Holiday Inn to the Daily Democrat, I took it on the road over the weekend. The Saturday trip was to Santa Cruz, and I took CA-17 on the way back. That road's surface is both twisty and heavily patched (read: bumpy, but not rough), and the stiffness of the Ford's chassis and the tightness of its steering was reassuring. The bumps, though, left left me with the sensation that the car was scrambling for its footing; the springing might be a little too tight.

On Sunday I drove up to Donner Pass. I-80, in the mountains, isn't bumpy or patched, it's just rough as fuck. Corrugated, like. The Five Hundred contained the road noise pretty well, especially for a car that feels as light as it does, but the road feel was, maybe, excessive. Careful what you ask for (and remember that most people don't drive over 7,000 foot mountain passes every day).

Still, I gotta tell ya, I think the Five Hundred is a great mid-size mid-price sedan. It's tight, it does, as I said, feel light (for its size), it has plenty of room, it has a nice high seating position, it has pretty good sight-lines, and it even looks decent, in an understated way. No, it doesn't have tons of power, and it may be too tightly wound for its own good, and the one I drove was front-wheel drive (AWD is available), but still: I liked it, and I'd be happy to keep getting them from Hertz.

-by Aaron (X) Headly

Other (past 420 words) notes:
- The small steering wheel made knee-steering difficult while rolling ciggies.
- The interior was totally un-pimped, but seemed to fit together nicely. (Finish? there was no finish. No biggie.)
- I detected zero torque steer until I floored it at 55 in a rush to change lanes (and avoid merging traffic). There is, it turns out, plenty of torque steer when you get way, way up in the 'power' band.
- The console arm rest is a shanda; either give me a soft spot to rest my elbow, or no place.

Related:
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Ford Five Hundred SEL AWD, Part 1 [Internal]