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 Post subject: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 16th, 2017, 1:03 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:39 am
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I'm possibly looking to rent a car for a herping trip.

Not planning to be doing any off-roading or high-grade roads. 90% of the job will just be getting places on highways and road-cruising, and I'd like to do that as affordably (both rental-wise and fuel-wise) and environmentally-efficiently as possible.

However, that other 10% might be dirt roads here and there, in both desert and mountain, and I know there can always be something unexpected. I took my used Toyota Corolla with no clearance through hundreds of miles of roads that it NEVER should have been on, through sand, over rocks, through water crossings, etc. Never broke anything that mattered, only got it stuck twice and dug it out ourselves both times...but still....took quite a risk here and there.


Does anyone have advice on anything that would be cheap, fuel efficient, but perhaps with enough clearance that I'm not being quite as sketchy with the whole endeavor as I used to be?


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 16th, 2017, 2:12 pm 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm
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Those new little jeeps look pretty sweet. I'm not sure if they are available to rent yet.

Kind of reminds me of the old samurai type vehicle. Small, fuel efficient but decent clearance and has 4 wheel drive.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 17th, 2017, 1:21 am 
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Bryan Hamilton wrote:
Those new little jeeps look pretty sweet. I'm not sure if they are available to rent yet.

Kind of reminds me of the old samurai type vehicle. Small, fuel efficient but decent clearance and has 4 wheel drive.


That sounds like the ideal vehicle, but I'm not even looking for ideal really.

Simple "small, fuel efficient, decent clearance" would probably be enough for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 18th, 2017, 11:32 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1662
A problem with offering specific makes and models as worthwhile candidates, is the car-rental industry's penchant for "...or similar within this class" switcheroos.

For example, about a month ago some friends and I were pretty sure we had rented a good-clearance, real 4WD (i.e., not an "AWD" with no low range) SUV. The class we'd selected was something like "Premium 4WD SUV". We converged at the airport, went to the rental terminal, and were promptly shown our Oldsmobile or Buick or whatever the hell was that low-bellied, wide-assed whale of a grocery-getter disappointment. The rental firms try to up-sell you into what you really wanted (and think you already paid for), and try to convince you they didn't get you bent over a barrel through false advertising. I find the industry pretty disgusting. In fairness, it's probably just another product of our "cheapest at any cost" society, however - collectively, we have gotten what we demanded. Cheap, at any cost.

OK, with that off my chest (sorry for the rant) I will share that I have twice now been quite satisfied with a RAV 4. I think a Subaru wagon would also serve, but I dunno if the rental companies buy those. Further - I have seen a Honda Pilot made to do some pretty amazing things, and also can vouch for some of the Hyundais. I wouldn't own a unibody and make it do what I have seen done - but I would do it with a rental!

Anyway, the RAV has a good turn radius, pretty decent clearance, good paved-road feel for its short wheelbase, pretty nice fuel economy, and holds a couple people and their gear comfortable. Also, it's narrow enough to squeeze between rocks and trees and such stuff.
- In Costa Rica I bounced one up volcanoes and waded it across rivers, wallowed it up and down beaches etc. I was definitely **way** outta the grey and into the deep-blue-black as far as my contract went. Like, they would have had a brand new car, on me, if I'd buried the little trouper below the high-tide line, for example. But the car did all I asked.
- In Mexico I was a little older and a little more cautious - partly because the indicators and switches had evolved into (what I found to be) a much less intuitive user interface, and there was no user manual. So I was never quite sure if I had dialed up the right combination of settings (a horrible feeling, staring down a long sand patch). But I always got across alright (no fording, no volcanoes that trip). Newer RAV 4's got a little bigger, which I do not appreciate. But...what can you do about that?

I can also recommend taking a DC tire inflator and a backup power source. They make some really small ones of both these days. Air down in soft substrate, it helps increase traction. Also lowers the odds of sidewall puncture in sharp rocks, I think.

Aside - those old Samurais actually kicked some ass. Very competent little 4-wheelers, were those. They had a bit of a cult following. You still see one now and then. I'm not going to ignite a flame war by totally dissing Jeep. I'll just say I don't really trust them to get me there and back.

Good luck out there, be safe.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 18th, 2017, 1:42 pm 
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Jimi wrote:
I think a Subaru wagon would also serve, but I dunno if the rental companies buy those.


In the midst of all that grumbling, I think you hit a real winner here.

Image

Image

Image

2015 Subaru Outback Expo by Grant Wilson on Flickr


There are 2015 Outbacks available to rent in LA, and I just looked up the specs and some reviews...

affordable (around $300/week)
very solid mileage (25+mph in real-life driving)
good clearance (8.7")
surprisingly good off-road
lots of room
doesn't draw any attention :lol:

Basically, it would easily handle without stress everything that I was sweating all the time in my Corolla, and a bit more besides. I'm having a hard time imagining something that would fit what I was looking for better, unless someone somehow did the same thing cheaper.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 21st, 2017, 11:10 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1662
Quote:
In the midst of all that grumbling, I think you hit a real winner here.


Well, ya know. Practicing for when I'm actually an old guy. Ha ha ha. I just don't want to blow any sunshine up any damp dark holes...

You can't believe how many Subaru wagons are on the roads of the Intermountain West. "Brazillions", as the old Dubya joke went:
Quote:
"Giving Bush his daily war briefing, Donald Rumsfeld ended by saying: 'Yesterday, three Brazilian soldiers were killed.' 'Oh no!', exclaimed Bush. 'That's terrible.' His staff were stunned by this display of emotion. Finally Bush raised his head from his hands and asked: 'OK, so how many is a Brazillion?'"


I have a friend - very occasional visitor here @ FHF - with two of these things. One's from the 90's, one is quite new. Anyway, point being, a whole lotta people who like playing pretty damn hard outside (mountains & deserts oh my, indeed) have voted with their wallets. Subaru is the winner. There's lots of Tacomas and a few FJ's and XTerras etc. Combined, they don't even approach the Subie wagons. (FWIW there's also tons of garage queen "monster trucks", a few of which actually still "roll coal" and/or sport "truck nuts". They only haul boats to the lake, and trailers wherever trailers can be hauled. Which sometimes can be pretty surprising, I will allow...)

So - solid vehicles. Possibly better than the RAV - they just feel a little more solid, less tinny rattle-trap. Similar turn radii & clearance.

Good luck man! Let us know how you do, if you go.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2017, 8:23 am 
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Joined: October 18th, 2010, 7:55 pm
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Location: San Diego, CA
I like the Subaru recommendation, and the RAV4 too. A couple of other options to consider include Honda CRV and Kia Sportage. I had a great time in a Sportage down in Costa Rica many years ago. My wife has a CRV and I like it a lot.

You gonna cruise down to SD County while you're in So. Cal.??

Jeff


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2017, 6:42 pm 
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SurfinHerp wrote:
You gonna cruise down to SD County while you're in So. Cal.??

Jeff



I think our main targets are going to be further north, but we have to hit Anza-Borrego and surrounding environs well so I can show him that mecca for the first time.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 24th, 2017, 8:26 am 
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Joined: June 16th, 2010, 7:09 am
Posts: 634
Location: Santa Cruz Co. California
How much further North are you planning?


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 24th, 2017, 8:09 pm 
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Calfirecap wrote:
How much further North are you planning?


The trip will basically be from Anza to Mojave (possibly with stops down to the Mexican and Arizona borders) then circling the Sierras from Kennedy Meadows to Yosemite and then down to Sequoia.

I've hit the coast the last three times I was in America (even if only barely last time), but I've never been east of the Sierras at all, so I really gotta go for that one this time around. Though it's still possible that I could be on the coast later as a separate trip.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 25th, 2017, 7:51 am 
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Joined: June 16th, 2010, 7:09 am
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Location: Santa Cruz Co. California
Copy that, exploring new places makes good sense.
Next time around if you find yourself on the coast, let me know.

Lawrence


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 29th, 2017, 3:20 pm 
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Joined: August 19th, 2014, 8:31 pm
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Location: North Providence, RI
Might want to try renting from a car dealer, who rents same model for a particular class vehicle. For example, for a cross Country trip, we wanted a Suv with good cargo space. (didn't want to go through rental agency, as you don't know what you're going to get - the suv class includesjeeps ). So we went to a car dealers rental dept, which just had Honda crv for the suv category.


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 Post subject: Re: Advice on an affordable rental for a herping trip
PostPosted: September 29th, 2017, 7:52 pm 
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ebit123 wrote:
Might want to try renting from a car dealer, who rents same model for a particular class vehicle. For example, for a cross Country trip, we wanted a Suv with good cargo space. (didn't want to go through rental agency, as you don't know what you're going to get - the suv class includesjeeps ). So we went to a car dealers rental dept, which just had Honda crv for the suv category.


That's a great tip - I didn't know about that option.


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