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Thread: 4WD SUV rental

  1. #1

    Default 4WD SUV rental

    Hi all,

    I've been looking at all the various websites (using leads found on this forum) for comparing rental cars for a 3 week road trip that I'm planning, flying in and out of LAX.

    I've decided on an SUV. My questions is, what are the typical cars that you'd get? When I've spoken to the rental companies they tell me they're unable to guarantee a specific make / model.

    Minimum size would be something Like a Jeep Grand Cherokee (which we have in the UK). However, most of the models I've seen on the web aren't models we get in the UK.

    Also, are the rental SUV's likely to be the cheaper 2 wheel drive versions or actual 4 wheel drive vehicles?

    If anyone has an tips that might help, or if you've hired a car of this category, then I'd be interested to hear what you got and whether you were satisfied.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    Stephen.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    I've got to tell you that an SUV is generally one of the biggest money makers for the rental industry/worst values as a renter. Typically they do charge significant extra fees, and realistically you don't get much extra utility. Even if they have 4 wheel drive, it is of very little use in a practical sense. Your rental contract will not allow you to take it off-road, or really anywhere you can't go in a standard sedan.

    I've never actually rented one (for the above reasons) within the US, but your model is going to depend upon if you are going for a compact or regular SUV. A compact is likely going to be something like a Ford Escape - which is similar to the Ford Kuga in Europe. If you go with a regular size, its likely going to be more comparable to the Grand Cherokee.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks for the info. I was looking at an SUV for consistency with what I drive in the UK, plus I like the raised seating position for better visibility. I figured the 4WD would be handy on some of the roads I've seen (such as if you head up to Bodie or similar), although agree a standard 2WD would probably manage just as well. I certainly don't intend to go off road!

    I've read some people have success booking a standard car, and then haggling for an upgrade when they collect. Perhaps a bit too risky for me though as with my luck they'd say no!

    Out of interest - if you pre-pay for a rental online, do you still get chance to pay for an upgrade at the collection point if you wanted to?

    Probably not that important for most people but I'm a bit of a car enthusiast, so it all adds to part of the holiday for me. :)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default It all comes down to how much risk you're comfortable with

    Quote Originally Posted by double-six View Post
    Out of interest - if you pre-pay for a rental online, do you still get chance to pay for an upgrade at the collection point if you wanted to?
    Yes, well, maybe... it sort of depends.... If you just reserve a car (not pre-paid), my experience using the RTA Travel booking service when renting cars is that it is easy to secure a booking and then upgrade to another car class. As a business owner, I prefer that most people not do that -- since our company doesn't earn as much money on the rentals, but it is, in fact, an acceptable procedure. For pre-paid bookings, the rules would indicate that this won't work, but if you don't mind a little risk, you can probably get a rental car clerk to go along with you on this.

    On the other issue, I never rent small and/or economy cars. I usually rent the biggest and/or baddest SUV I can afford. I like comfort and horsepower and as much visibility as possible. So, for me too, the ride is as important as the destination on any road trip I take.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    If a rental company can get you to pay more and/or upgrade they will, although if you are pre-paying through a 3rd party consolidator it may get complicated. I'm just not sure how that works.

    I will say this, however, unless they are giving you a complimentary upgrade (ie they don't have your class available, so they give you the next size up) its typically going to cost you more to upgrade at the counter than it will to upgrade when you make your reservation. Its kind of like a grocery store, where they put the high profit/impulse purchases right by the checkout, so you won't think as much about the extra money.

    For example, I just rented a car one way. I'd reserved a full sized sedan, and got a very comfortable Dodge Charger, but as part of the special, you could rent any sedan from economy to full size for the same price. The person in front of me in line had only reserved a compact, and they successfully convinced her to pay quite a bit more per day to upgrade to a larger car - which probably would have been free if she'd just made that decision at the time of the reservation.

    BTW, I will agree with Mark that I would not get a economy or a compact for a roadtrip rental. Those cars are typically very bare bones models with almost no features (like cruise control), plus its usually only a few extra dollars to upgrade to a large, comfortable sedan. Unless you find a deal, upgrading to an SUV, especially a large one costs much much more, in my experience.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    Note that you may not be able to drive even a 4wd SUV to Bodie - the road is unpaved for the last 3 miles in, even though it's a "maintained state highway". You need to read fine print and/or discuss this with the rental company.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default it's all about the risk factors

    ...Or simply drive to Bodie and deal with any issues after the fact. Each rental car has a gps transponder chip in it, so they will always know where the car went... But unless you damage it, and you rent from a national firm there will be little if any issues.

    Mark

  8. #8

    Default

    How bad is the road to Bodie? I had a look at some of the images on Google / Panoramio and it didn't look too bad; just looked like a dirt / gravel track.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default It's not the road.

    The road is not that bad, it's more to do with your rental contract, where they mostly state that you can not take the vehicle off paved roads. Any damage or breakdowns in an area you are not permitted to be, would be breach of said contract and you would face costs.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    The first 10 miles is excellent new pavement, the last 3 miles is a very wide gravel track that's usually very washboarded.

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