Pros: Newest truck fleet means less fuel consumption and breakdowns, unlimited mileage, competitively priced
Cons: Not as many locations as competing companies, but still widespread
The budget was tight for my 1,500 mile move from West Texas to Southwest Florida, so I got quotes from 4 major rental truck companies: U-Haul, Ryder, Budget, and Penske.
U-Haul quoted about $1,500 for a 3-day rental with mileage restrictions, and Ryder and Budget were comparable or even more. Penske was just over $900 with unlimited mileage, including the truck and car dolly, and a five-day rental period, even though the trip only took 2 1/2 days! That meant I didn't feel so rushed, which took much of the stress out of my moving experience.
At the time, Penske guaranteed that all of its trucks were 3 years old or newer (according to their website, they now state the trucks are 42 months or newer close enough), and luckily I got a 15 GMC that was only about 6 months old with about 24,000 miles on it. There were a couple of bumps and scratches on the truck from previous renters, but it basically looked brand new. The car dolly, on the other hand, appeared to be several years old and was pretty banged up, but it functioned perfectly (which is the important thing).
Not only did I choose Penske because they were cheaper, but also because of the age and features of their trucks, and the questionable reputation and personal experiences with other, more well-known rental companies. My family had used U-Haul for 2 prior moves in recent years, and on both occasions the trucks were about 8 years old, and looked and operated as though they were at least 20 years old! The ONLY advantage U-Haul trucks have is their lower loading level. The cargo "box" on Penske trucks is higher off the ground, but that also means more floor space since the wheel wells are less obtrusive. Additionally, Penske trucks feature a pull-out loading ramp just like U-Hauls do, though its a slightly steeper incline. Regardless, loading or unloading a Penske truck is just as easy (or back-breaking) as any other truck.
The 15' truck I had was a GMC Savana cutaway, and the "cockpit" is identical to any newer full-size van you would buy at a GMC dealer. Its a much more car-like environment than older moving trucks, and came with captains chair seating, automatic transmission, power steering, 4-wheel disc anti-lock power brakes, great air-conditioning, and the standard V-8 gas engine. No power windows or locks, but do you expect in a moving truck? It had digital readouts for the odometer and shift indicators, and a digital AM-FM stereo (since these trucks are designed for cross-country trips, at least a tape player would be nice, not to mention a CD player; these options would only add $100 or so to the cost of the truck, but oh well...).
The truck's performance was adequate, even better than expected; however I was only carrying a partial load (all the floor space was used, but I was only using about 1/3 of the total cubic footage of the truck). I would have rented a smaller truck, but Penske wouldn't allow a car to be towed by anything smaller than the 15 foot truck. Since I was traveling by myself, there was no other option.
Unlike other reviews I have read, I didn't have to add a drop of oil to the engine during the 1,500 mile trip, and gas mileage was around 13 mpg; but again that's probably due to the comparatively light load and the fact that it was a new truck. I had no mechanical problems at all.
Driving this truck was uneventful; however, since the truck and car dolly take up an entire lane of traffic, there's little margin for error when trying to stay between the lines. On a rural interstate, it's not a problem because you can hug the shoulder in the right lane. But multi-lane urban freeways during rush hour can be a bit stressful! The outside mirrors were tall but skinny, and dont have the peripheral vision of normal car mirrors. If youve never driven a large truck, you will quickly find out why trucks have those round, fish-eye, blind spot mirrors! Another quirk of my truck was the speed governor, which was set at 70 mph; once the truck hit 71, the accelerator pedal forcefully pushed back on my right foot! Its a sensation I never quite got used to .
My customer service experience was pleasant and uneventful. I got the price quote through the Penske website, then made the reservation through the 800-number. On the morning of moving day, the truck and car dolly were waiting for me at the Abilene, Texas facility. The owner of the facility efficiently handled the paperwork, showed me the features of the truck, did a thorough inspection, and hooked up the empty car dolly (my car was still at home). Without a car attached to weigh it down, the dolly hops up and down on the road and makes a horrible racket, so you might not want to go full speed down the freeway; and of course, you have to un-hitch the dolly to load and unload the truck, but it is easily handled by one person. NOTE...The dolly should never be un-hitched from the truck with a car attached; severe damage to the car, dolly, and yourself could result! The dolly needs the support of the truck hitch in order to support the weight of the car.
The drop-off facility in Ft. Myers, Florida, was closed when I got there, so I just parked the truck where the sign said and left the keys and a copy of my contract in the drop-box. I received a final receipt in the mail, and that was that!
My Penske rental was pleasant and uneventful, and while other reviewers have had problems, I feel Penske is far superior to other, more visible rental truck companies, especially those companies whose names start with a U.