USA car hire - sizes and other suggestions?

AMc

Distinguished Member
Off the USA this summer - we're driving from NYC to LA over several weeks so the car is an important part of the trip!

I've always gone through Holiday Autos - in 2013 going Seattle to LA, I booked a "full size" which ended up as a Nissan Altima from Alamo.
I'd previously rented a Ford Fusion in Boston as an "intermediate" which was as far as I could tell a Mondeo with a chrome grille.

P813057020130813_ (Small) (1).jpeg


Nothing wrong with the Altima, munched through nearly 3,000 miles in about 3 weeks.
It looks small in this picture but it was big enough for us!

Now I'm being offered these choices of vehicle, with very similar prices (except Large SUV which I don't want anyway).

1646734093278.png


We're 3 adults with 3 full size 20kg suit cases + carry ons etc. The cases HA are suggesting are carry one size not the big check in size and the car sizes are a bit vague.

Midsize = Hyundai Elantra or similar
Midsize SUV = Toyota Rav4 or similar
Standard = Volkswagen Jetta or similar
Fullsize = Toyota Camry or similar
Large SUV = Chevrolet Tahoeor similar

I did a quick check on https://shop.ford.com/showroom/?gnav=header-cars-all-vehicles#/ to have a look at what a "normal car" looks like and they only list the Mustang under cars!
Do North Americans not drive sedans at all any more?

Looking at the USA Rav4 it looks like the trunk is big enough but the video isn't showing a luggage cover.
We'll be parking all over so I need to make sure the cases etc. are out of sight.
https://www.toyota.com/rav4/rav4-features/utility

So the question is am I better going for a midsize SUV over a full size sedan?

Any other recent USA car hire experience would be welcome too :thumbsup:
 

Laureline

Distinguished Member
Ford have pulled out of the US "Car" Market because they couldn't make enough profit from the sale, so now the only car you can buy is the Mustang. Otherwise it's SUV's

Now that Gas is hitting $5 they're probably wishing they had a more economical vehicle to sell people :D

The RAV4 is a Compact SUV . You know I don't think it does have a cargo cover as standard, just checking there does seem to be a lot of people selling them so I think you're right no cover.

Surprisingly the passenger volume of both vehicles is about the same (Camry 99.3 Cubic Feet, Rav4 98.9)

I think most discussions here have been over what type of Insurance, so you might want to check out independent options beforehand
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
Thanks - Holiday Autos are a broker they include collision damage waiver so I'm covered for most things on insurance.
Except...
"Please note: Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) does not always cover damage or loss of keys, tyres, windscreen or undercarriage and you may be liable for the cost of damage to any of these items."

If I could be sure which car it would be easy enough but you just choose a class. If I can pick up in midtown (Alamo have a few places) then I can save time and money dragging out to the airport.

In the UK the Rav4 used to be a small SUV - certainly not suitable for 3 adults and 3 big cases for most of a month - but like all cars they've swelled over the years :)
They're describing it as midsize but I'm not convinced and you call it small too.
There's no luggage cover in their video which suggests it's not there, but there's no way to know.

At lease with a sedan you know your cases are out of sight but there's the worry they might not all fit in the trunk!
 

hyperfish

Distinguished Member
There's no luggage cover in their video which suggests it's not there, but there's no way to know.
One of my main gripes. We've never had a cover (several different starting states and rental companies) and so have to resort to a dark towel thrown over the cases. The only option I have when we park up fully loaded, sometimes in remote places on our road trips. Then every single thing removed at night grrr.

As I drive an X3 at home, I chose a similar size when booking by looking up the manufacturer spec on line. There is still the option to upgrade at the desk on the day, sometimes at a great discount. Easier to grade up than down.
 

Laureline

Distinguished Member
Thanks - Holiday Autos are a broker they include collision damage waiver so I'm covered for most things on insurance.
Except...
"Please note: Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) does not always cover damage or loss of keys, tyres, windscreen or undercarriage and you may be liable for the cost of damage to any of these items."

If I could be sure which car it would be easy enough but you just choose a class. If I can pick up in midtown (Alamo have a few places) then I can save time and money dragging out to the airport.

In the UK the Rav4 used to be a small SUV - certainly not suitable for 3 adults and 3 big cases for most of a month - but like all cars they've swelled over the years :)
They're describing it as midsize but I'm not convinced and you call it small too.
There's no luggage cover in their video which suggests it's not there, but there's no way to know.

At lease with a sedan you know your cases are out of sight but there's the worry they might not all fit in the trunk!

Usually if the Hire place has plenty of vehicles and not too busy then they'll let you go and have a look at the cars and see if you're happy with the one they've selected or want to upgrade.

Of course it depends on how many they have and how many are already reserved.

One of the problems of going to the midtown rental agencies is that they are often limited in options. I've booked compacts and came away with a full-size SUV and even a Lincoln Town Car for the price of the Compact but I had to pay for the gas they guzzled

I usually take out CDW but have had to pay for the occasional tyre replacements. I was in Gallup emphasizing that I was only paying for the tyre and there was no need for them to do their usual look at my air filter, exhaust, shocks ...etc. as I wasn't paying for anything else
 

hyperfish

Distinguished Member
I take the full insurance for peace of mind. I've scraped one front wing and cracked a sump cover in the past. Better drivers are probably ok with CDW ;)
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
One of the problems of going to the midtown rental agencies is that they are often limited in options. I've booked compacts and came away with a full-size SUV and even a Lincoln Town Car for the price of the Compact but I had to pay for the gas they guzzled

Exactly that- if I'm picking up mid town Manhattan then it won't be one of those giant airport lots.
When I collected in Seattle and Boston it was from a shared multi-level parking lot and there were not many vehicles in place.
I want a big enough car but not any bigger - the idea of dragging some giant SUV coast to coast and paying for it's fuel :(
I guess I'll start with trying to book a "full size" and hope I end up with a comfy Japanese sedan that will eat the miles reasonably frugally.

I take the full insurance for peace of mind. I've scraped one front wing and cracked a sump cover in the past. Better drivers are probably ok with CDW ;)

I need to check this out - if think the CDW is in addition to regular insurance i.e. you're covered for 3rd party accidents and theft + the CDW covers you for own fault accidents.
When a car HA arranged car was broken into and severely damaged in Spain I still had to pay a quite excess but nothing else on top. That was a long time ago though and a different country!.



The other thing I'm wondering about is adding my 18yr old daughter to the car. Alamo (for example) cover my partner automatically if booked direct. She's highly unlikely to want to drive unless I break my leg or something. My daughter might be interested but in the UK it would be prohibitively expensive. Not sure about the USA where IIRC you can drive from 16yrs?
 

Laureline

Distinguished Member
Exactly that- if I'm picking up mid town Manhattan then it won't be one of those giant airport lots.
When I collected in Seattle and Boston it was from a shared multi-level parking lot and there were not many vehicles in place.
I want a big enough car but not any bigger - the idea of dragging some giant SUV coast to coast and paying for it's fuel :(
I guess I'll start with trying to book a "full size" and hope I end up with a comfy Japanese sedan that will eat the miles reasonably frugally.



I need to check this out - if think the CDW is in addition to regular insurance i.e. you're covered for 3rd party accidents and theft + the CDW covers you for own fault accidents.
When a car HA arranged car was broken into and severely damaged in Spain I still had to pay a quite excess but nothing else on top. That was a long time ago though and a different country!.



The other thing I'm wondering about is adding my 18yr old daughter to the car. Alamo (for example) cover my partner automatically if booked direct. She's highly unlikely to want to drive unless I break my leg or something. My daughter might be interested but in the UK it would be prohibitively expensive. Not sure about the USA where IIRC you can drive from 16yrs?

At 18 I don't believe you'll be able to, every Agency I've hired from has a minimum age of 21. I think even under 25 you have to pay a "underage rental fee"

 

AMc

Distinguished Member
Thanks - that article suggests it might be possible but understandably expensive.

Budget Rent a Car
Can you rent a car at age 18? Yes, with restrictions.
Underage surcharge: $27 per day.

I can't insure her at all on my own car until she's 19 - even if I were to pay so I'm not hugely surprised.
Pity :(
 

Laureline

Distinguished Member
Thanks - that article suggests it might be possible but understandably expensive.

Budget Rent a Car
Can you rent a car at age 18? Yes, with restrictions.
Underage surcharge: $27 per day.

I can't insure her at all on my own car until she's 19 - even if I were to pay so I'm not hugely surprised.
Pity :(

You're lucky that you're picking it up in New York as Budget will only allow 18 year olds to rent a vehicle in New York or Michigan :)

However I think you're wrong about the surcharge

In the state of New York, the minimum age is 18 with an underage surcharge of $84 per day for renters age 18-20 or an underage surcharge of $35 per day for renters age 21-24.

Exceptions:

  • A customer renting a Luxury Car, Minivan, 12-Passenger Van, Full-Size SUV, Premium SUV, Standard Elite SUV or any vehicle in the Specialty/Street Fleeet/Cool Car categories must be at least 25 years old. Renters 18-24 are not permitted to rent these car classes.
  • A customer presenting an acceptable bank debit card -- at a participating location -- must be at least 25 years old. (See Debit Card Policies for acceptable car groups and full details.) However, if the customer presenting an acceptable bank debit card also has an acceptable corporate discount number, the customer can rent at 18 years old. The underage surcharge of $84 per day for renters age 18-20 or a surcharge of $35 per day for renters age 21-24 will apply.
  • A customer presenting a Budget charge card, a government-issued Visa/MasterCard or government travel/purchase orders can rent any car class at age 18 without an underage fee.

 

AMc

Distinguished Member
So yesterday was an expensive day but got the car booked :)

In the end Holiday Autos had a "Premium car" at well below the Full size prices (started at £2800).
Pick up from National in either Manhattan or Brooklyn - which I nearly missed and booked the wrong one as they were almost the same distance from the search location NYC!

I pressed the button

Nissan Maxima or similar
Rental Cost: GBP 2149.40
Pick-up Location: 743 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, 10003, NY, New York
Drop-up Location: Los Angeles - Airport (California)
Rental Duration: 21 days

Went with the extra insurance for £2.20 a day to cover lost keys, tyres etc.

Ran a comparison quote with National direct and they wanted $4K - $1200 of which was the one way fee. I nearly fell off my chair laughing at $1200 to rent a GPS for 3 weeks :rotfl:
 

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