Best Rental MPG

SBUBandit

Original poster
Member
Dec 5, 2011
597
I am considering renting a car for an upcoming 2600 miles round trip to visit my parents, since they recently moved to Florida. Based upon estimates that gas will approach $5.00 this summer, and roughly 20mpg in the TB on I-75 the whole way. I calculate the TB to cost ~$662.00 in fuel alone. I can rent an Aveo that gets 34mpg highway for $215 for the whole week, and it would use $389.00 in gas, costing a total of $604 for the week. My question is this...I would be averaging 75mph the whole way, At that speed, I don't expect the Aveo would get its highway rated mpg, and I'd start losing money. I'm wondering if perhaps a car along the lines of a Focus or Cruze, with a little more motor, would actually get better mpg at that speed. No...slowing down is not an option. It's already a stupid long drive, and over that distance, slowing down would actually cost HOURS.

Unfortunately non of the cars I really wanted to rent appear available in Michigan. In some areas Hertz rents diesel Jettas. That would rock. 42mpg and its not the size of a pregnant roller skate, but alas, no suck luck. Prius is unavailable locally too. Any ideas?
 

Me007gold

Member
Nov 20, 2011
1,106
Just because you reserve the smallest car does not mean you will get it. I worked in the rental car industry for a while. You can book the smallest cheapest car they have, but chances are they will not have any on the lot, and you will have to take the next size up.
 

navigator

Member
Dec 3, 2011
504
I got a Prius as a rental one time a couple years back.
I think I drove it about 75-80 miles mostly interstate and put about 2 gallons of gas in it.
Driving Domestic cars all my life, getting used to where everything was, was a little different but I wasn't disappointed in performance.
The bad part is I was meeting my co-workers and I was just driving one way and then turned in the rental.
I then got to ride with them in their Ford Escape rental, that thing was a rattle trap compared to the Prius.

We had an Aveo, it was a good little car and got good mileage, we mostly used it around the house.
Seems like interstate travel did hit it pretty hard though on the mileage dept.

There are advantages of driving your own vehicle but there are also advantages of a rental, especially if you use a well known company.
If you get in an accident or have a breakdown you can get a replacement vehicle instead of having to figure out what to do with your vehicle in a town where you may not know the safest mechanic or have time for the vehicle to be down.

I would also be surprised if you get 20mpg averaging 75MPH in your TB.
 

SBUBandit

Original poster
Member
Dec 5, 2011
597
navigator said:
I would also be surprised if you get 20mpg averaging 75MPH in your TB.

This was based on the EPA estimate for highway mpg, but I've fairly consistently averaged over 20 for high speed highway driving while my parents were still living in NY. Last trip averaged 23 at 80+ mph most of the way. However if I did get less it would make an even bigger difference in the amount I would save.

Me007gold said:
Just because you reserve the smallest car does not mean you will get it

I understand. Last time I rented a compact i ended up driving a Grand Marquis. That time I was just going for not putting the miles on my car rather than gas mileage so it was cool. Although my wife got a little seasick driving that boat
 

davenay67

Member
Jan 16, 2012
217
SBUBandit said:
Unfortunately non of the cars I really wanted to rent appear available in Michigan. In some areas Hertz rents diesel Jettas. That would rock. 42mpg and its not the size of a pregnant roller skate, but alas, no suck luck. Prius is unavailable locally too. Any ideas?

Even if you could rent a Prius, they don't do their best mileage on straight freeway blasts, they are better town cars. A smaller diesel (pretty much a VW as far as the US is concerned) is your best bet, but not being able to rent doesn't help.

One other factor to figure into the equation is that using a rental will save your TB 2,600 miles of wear and tear....no small thing.
 

navigator

Member
Dec 3, 2011
504
on a trip that far I would sacrifice a little mpg for comfort, I would go for a little larger car.
Driving slower (<65) would help your mpg a good bit on most vehicles.
 

Jkust

Member
Dec 4, 2011
946
Me007gold said:
Just because you reserve the smallest car does not mean you will get it. I worked in the rental car industry for a while. You can book the smallest cheapest car they have, but chances are they will not have any on the lot, and you will have to take the next size up.

Yep I just got back skiing Big Sky all week and we needed one more small suv but they only had Yukon XL's left. Still paid the small suv price but had no other choice. That type of situation of getting whatever is leftover is common. Sometimes it's minivans sometimes its a Cadillac XLR. I forgot my family vacation to Florida last month I couldn't believe it but the only vehicles that were left were Crown Victoria's with the 4.8 liter v8 nowhere close to the car I had actually booked.
 

suburbs

Member
Jan 6, 2012
86
What day you leave and where you rent from makes a big difference to whats on the lot.

Airport locations are lots of corporate folks, that fly in Monday, leave on Thursday or Friday. Schedules are pretty well set due to air itinerary.
Neighborhood locations are mostly shop and insurance replacement, they have the car on rent until the shop decides the daily driver is fixed.

If you can, consider a place like National/Alamo that lets you walk to the compact section and pick out your car. Finding the car that fits you for luggage and passenger + grabbing something with XM does a lot more than whatever is in "B18".

Mileage is great, but consider that some of the economy class cars still come with am/fm, crank windows, hand locks. It costs a lot more to upgrade on the lot than it does at home online. I used to save a few Aveo's and Yaris's off to the side for people with economy reservations that were being dbags.

Also keep in mind the sales agents are paid in commission, so they will "hook you up" usually only if it puts money in their wallet, which means money out of your wallet. Never say the phrase "free upgrade."

If you want a free upgrade, book an economy car on Wednesday at 11am. The lot will be empty, and they will put you in whatever the next thing to roll out of the carwash is.

I would suggest going for something like a focus or corolla, probably a little better mpg at highway speed, plus a few more features. You can let the agent at the counter know what you are doing and they might hook you up a little, but they are also just as likely to put you into a higher mileage vehicle knowing you are going to punish the odometer.

If you have any specific questions please ask.

-A former manager of multiple car rental locations with various brands.
 

Forum Statistics

Threads
23,307
Posts
637,746
Members
18,509
Latest member
Napalm

Members Online