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Travel to and from NJ to Manhattan-best options for two situations?

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I need some help for my business trip to New Jersey and New York next weekend. I will be flying into Newark on Friday morning and picking up a rental car to go to several meetings in the Bridgewater and Ridgefield Park areas. That evening I have a business dinner to go to around Times Square. On Saturday I have meetings in New Jersey again in the morning, then I need to go back to Manhattan that afternoon. I'm spending Friday night in New Jersey and Saturday night in Manhattan.

1) How should i get from New Jersey to Manhattan Friday night? I've got the car, so I can drive to the best possible location to take public transportation to The City, but I'm not sure where that would be? Advice?

2) On Saturday I'm not sure if I should return the car to Newark and take public transportation to Manhattan from there, or drive to my hotel in Manhattan and drop off the car in the city. I don't need the car after Saturday morning. Advice? Pros and Cons?

Thanks for your help, locals and travelers!

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