vwtouranluggage
VW Touranwith luggage for two persons

Yesterday we picked up a rental car in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I had booked an intermediate sedan and Europcar offered a choice between an Opel Insignia or a VW Touran. I picked the Touran. It's actually an upgrade in the IXMR category (intermediate special vs IDMR, intermediate sedan).

More about this vehicle category in a later post but I wanted to mention what a marvelous factory-installed GPS it has, far better than the complex monstrosity I have at home in my 2008 Lexus LS460. It is simpler and more intuitive when establishing a new destination, and provides more accurate, easier to follow directions.

One tremendously useful feature for Germany, a country networked with traffic cameras, is the speed limit display. Let's say you are rolling down the Autobahn at 150 km per hour and suddenly the speed limit changes from no limit to 100 km/hour. If you miss the sign or later forget what your speed is supposed to be (it changes frequently on the Autobahn), the GPS displays the current limit. If it drops to 80 km/hour the GPS will reflects the new number within a few feet of your car passing the 80 km/hour road sign.

Of course this doesn't apply to temporary limits due to construction or weather, but it coincides precisely with posted limits. In addition to the usual map display just below the sound system in the center of the dashboard, there is digital display directly in front of the driver between the RPM counter and the speedometer. It shows distance to the next turn, distance to destination, estimated time of arrival, current direction of travel (N, W, S, NW, SW, etc.) and two or three other valuable bits of info I don't recall right now because I'm not in the car.

Unfortunately, no rental company will guarantee a specific make or model or car—and GPS is not standard with this category car—but booking an IXMR (some companies have it as an IVMR) category gets you into a bigger and better vehicle than the usual intermediate.