Last updated: 05:00 AM ET, Tue September 13 2016

TravelPulse Test Drive: ReachNow

Car Rental & Rail | Scott Laird | September 13, 2016

TravelPulse Test Drive: ReachNow

Photo courtesy of ReachNow

There’s a new car sharing service in Seattle (and soon in Portland) called ReachNow, and I had the opportunity to check it out on a recent visit to the Emerald City. ReachNow is owned and operated by BMW, and the vehicles that are provided in the fleet of over 500 are BMW and Mini makes.

While the primary service area allows for pickups and drop-offs of vehicles in Seattle’s immediate downtown core, I had the opportunity to test out ReachNow’s new airport service, which allows pickups and drop-offs at the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport for a small $5 supplement. The Sea-Tac location is at the WallyPark Premier Garage, convenient to the terminal, and it’s easy to reserve a car upon arrival, take the shuttle, and pick up your car in the garage by following the signs.

Everything works through an app, although a card can be requested from ReachNow if that’s your preference. Once you’re in the city and done with your car, all you need to do is find any public parking space (including street parking) and the parking is taken care of. Ditto gas and insurance—the service just charges a by-the-minute rate plus taxes and fees. If you want to park the car and keep it reserved, the rate drops slightly.

READ MORE: 6 Awesome Souvenirs from Seattle, Washington

Once you’ve reserved, found, and unlocked the car, there’s a nifty rotary wheel system that prompts you to enter your pin (so they can verify it’s actually you) and then a push-button vehicle start, and you’re off! The cars are all very nice rides, although the Minis certainly “feel” every bump in the road. It’s also worth noting that many of the cars are partially electric, so if you’re not used to the sensation of the combustion engine turning on and off at each stoplight it’s something to be on the lookout for your first couple of drives.

ReachNow is a handy alternative to traditional car rentals for those staying at downtown hotels, which often charge hefty fees for overnight parking, and a nice alternative to other by-the-minute car rental services which require pickups and drop-offs in the same location. Having the ability to drive a gorgeous BMW 328 also doesn’t hurt, although it was notable that a good number of the cars driven over the weekend were in need of a good wash.

READ MORE: Geeking Out at Seattle's EMP Museum

Also notable, and this is probably just a teething issue, was the spottiness of the service with the app. Sometimes the lock/unlock feature would be slow to respond, and on one occasion I was unable to end a ride because the system incorrectly detected that the vehicle was not parked within the “home” area. The antidote to many of those situations, however, was the super-polished telephone customer service that’s available 24/7.

Drop offs at the airport also felt more convenient than traditional rental cars. Just park, lock and take the shuttle, and the garage is closer than Sea-Tac’s consolidated rental car facility (and the shuttle much less crowded). There’s no frantic search for a gas station, no confusing signs for car rental return, no long walks through labyrinthine passages.

Overall, once some of the (tiny) bugs are worked out with the app, I’d happily use the service again and again.

Disclosure: Services were furnished by ReachNow in preparation for this story.

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