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4 week trip through rockies to Vegas and back. Your choice of vehicle?

4 week trip through rockies to Vegas and back. Your choice of vehicle?

Old May 16, 19, 11:32 pm
  #1  
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4 week trip through rockies to Vegas and back. Your choice of vehicle?

Leaving Calgary to Vegas and on a way back going via west coastline and passing through Vancouver. Everything done in about 25 days.

Doing it solo and I will most likely just gonna have one carryon and a yoga mat. I am PC with Hertz but I feel like I still prefer renting full-size instead of SUVs. Better mileage(especially important since I am alone) and I just feel more comfortable in cars.

Which car would you pick?
I have choices of:
Hyundai sonata
Vw Jetta
Vw Passat (2018)
Ford fusion hybrid
Toyota Camry
KIA optima
Nissan Altima

Personally I feel like Jetta is the best vehicle of these. Quite, comfy ride and insanely good mileage. But not sure what trim is it.
Fusion is second best. As it's higher trim.
Haven't driven yet 19 Camry/optima/sonata - are they much different from 2018?


Also what happens if I have to do a vehicle switch-out in US? As the province in Canada I am renting from has excess instead of full responsibility. Do I get to keep excess as per original contract ?
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Old May 17, 19, 2:42 am
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I`d tend to agree with your assessment that the new-for-2019 Jetta will be the best blend of fun-to-drive and economy. Next best off your list: Mechanical twins Kia Optima (if EX trim or better) and Hyundai Sonata (Eco trim) if equipped with the uplevel turbocharged 1.6l engine and seven-speed DCT transmission combo which is torquey and very efficient. I don't think there have been any powertrain changes in both over 2018. I have no idea which trim levels your location has. The base engine is lackluster in comparison.
The Fusion Hybrid may get better mileage, but is *very* underwhelming to drive especially in the mountains with its CVT-engine combo. Not recommended. The one time I tried one going up mountains it was droning along with no power even just going from LA into the San Bernadino mountains.
The Camry is very spacious but uninspiring to drive except when equipped with the V-6, but that is a rare sight on rental lots and will probably be too thirsty for your taste, too
Ten years ago, I did a 4,500 mile trip around the Rockies in a V6 Toyota RAV4 which was just about the perfect choice. Got 23 mpg all in all though so there is a fuel-economy penalty.

If you swap out cars in another country than our rental originated, you'll receive a new contract. In my experience (I exclusively rent with European zero-deductible rates, prepaid or postpaid) the conditions carry over. You probably won't have to swap because renting with Hertz in Canada you can keep the vehicle for 30 days max.
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Old May 17, 19, 2:43 pm
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Originally Posted by bhomburg View Post
I`d tend to agree with your assessment that the new-for-2019 Jetta will be the best blend of fun-to-drive and economy. Next best off your list: Mechanical twins Kia Optima (if EX trim or better) and Hyundai Sonata (Eco trim) if equipped with the uplevel turbocharged 1.6l engine and seven-speed DCT transmission combo which is torquey and very efficient. I don't think there have been any powertrain changes in both over 2018. I have no idea which trim levels your location has. The base engine is lackluster in comparison.
The Fusion Hybrid may get better mileage, but is *very* underwhelming to drive especially in the mountains with its CVT-engine combo. Not recommended. The one time I tried one going up mountains it was droning along with no power even just going from LA into the San Bernadino mountains.
The Camry is very spacious but uninspiring to drive except when equipped with the V-6, but that is a rare sight on rental lots and will probably be too thirsty for your taste, too
Ten years ago, I did a 4,500 mile trip around the Rockies in a V6 Toyota RAV4 which was just about the perfect choice. Got 23 mpg all in all though so there is a fuel-economy penalty.

If you swap out cars in another country than our rental originated, you'll receive a new contract. In my experience (I exclusively rent with European zero-deductible rates, prepaid or postpaid) the conditions carry over. You probably won't have to swap because renting with Hertz in Canada you can keep the vehicle for 30 days max.
Thanks so much! you provide some great input.

Honestly 2l/100km more or so is not a big thing, will probably end up costing about $150 more for entire trip but if it provides way more comfort then i'd be all over it. Like e.g. Ford Edge Titanium 2019 with ecoboost engine is great SUV, fun to drive and insanely comfortable. with very low cabin noise even at high speeds and sits at around 10l/100km or 23MPG. But sadly I don't see any of those in Hertz fleet. I saw Jeep Cherooke Limited 2019 which is another great trim but holy it has some of the worst mileage I have ever seen, couldn't get it over 20MPG, constantly under.

I feel the same way about Fusion Hybrid. I had it a month ago driving around in city in Calgary and averaged 5l/100km (47MPG) and it was incredible but driving up the hill was insanely underwhelming and highway mileage is identical to Sonatas and other full-size vcars. Didn't even consider how bad it would be in the mountains until you mentioned.
Surprisingly I just had RAV4 too a week ago with a few miles on it. 80% highway, 20% city and averaged great mileage for SUV @29MPG. I am not exactly sure what trim it was - probably base? But it was struggling a lot to accelerate/climb hills. Also it was really noisy inside. Like it's definitely a deal breaker for me. Even though it had adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist so it did make driving on highways relatively easy.

Last year I had Sonata for 2 months and put 8,000km driving around BC and Alberta. And honestly I had no complaints. Amazing mileage + good sized fuel tank and I had no issue with cabin space being 6'2.

Jetta so far was great even though reviews on youtube and every seem underwhelming.

Also you mentioned that you rent through European zero-deductible rates. I can do that too since I hold euro license and citizenship. It's that rates at those sites are usually 2x more compared to the quotes giving by Autoslash/Costco.
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Old May 18, 19, 1:19 am
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You said it: Ecoboost. As a general rule, with mountain driving anything with a turbo engine and a transmission offering fixed gears with manual controls (or a well-executed electronic brain, but I found nothing beats tiptronic-style manual controls especially going downhill) is vastly preferable.
Forced induction engines have no or neglible loss of power due to altitude - with normally aspirated engines you lose approx. 10% of available power / torque every 1000m/3000ft. When driving on, say, Rocky Mountain NP's Trail Ridge road over Logan Pass which peaks at over 12,000 ft/ 3,700m, a Nissan Altima with the 2.5 loses about 40% of its rated power and torque. Combined with a CVT that's geared for maximum highway efficiency, you're in for a not-fun ride. Turbo engines adjust for altitude by dialing in more boost.

Blame both CAFE (US fuel economy regulations) and sagging sales due to buyers migrating to SUVs for the disappearing act large-displacement fun motors in midsize sedans have done. Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima - they all used to offer 3.5l/ close-to-300hp upsize engines that you even found on rental lots. Not anymore.

The European rates always include the all-inclusive, zero-deductible no-hassle insurance package, withCDW/LDW, ALI/SLI, PAI, PEC, UMP and whatnot included in the price. Autoslash and Costco rates do not. After getting burned twice (ended up paying thousands out of my pocket after accidents where the at-fault party was un/underinsured resp. never materialized) I never rent a car anymore where I`m exposed to any sort of risk but can just walk away letting the rental company deal with the mess.

Another factor pro getting an SUV would be that those things with their higher ground clearance and AWD enable me to get to places where a sedan simply cannot go. Scenic drive around Monument Valley for example (which is a not well-maintained dirt road). In an SUV, no drama at all. In a car, you'll have to be extremely careful and take it very slow. And the year I went to the Grand Canyon North Rim when there were a few inches of snow in May I was glad to have AWD... however, the main reason for me to go SUV even when a sedan would do is that I travel with a (large) dog. Why the Americas evade the station wagon is a mystery to me...
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Old May 18, 19, 3:25 am
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Why not a Chrysler 300? It rides taller than most sedans and (theoretically) gets 30 mpg highway.
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Old May 18, 19, 8:26 am
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Originally Posted by bhomburg View Post

The European rates always include the all-inclusive, zero-deductible no-hassle insurance package, withCDW/LDW, ALI/SLI, PAI, PEC, UMP and whatnot included in the price.
For booking rentals in US via EU based sites I found rates to be pretty much exact the same but .eu would include all the insurance packages which is awesome.
Just realized that in Canada it's different. I was trying to make few dummy booking and enterprise eg. doesn't include coverage on their EU based sites at all, hertz 50/50. And to be honest rates are astronomical on EU based sites compared to CA/US. My province includes $500 excess for damage and $1,000,000 ($200,000 for non-hertz operated rental companies) for liability for all rentals.. I also have coverage through icarhireinsurance.com. So basically waving any excess but dealing with them is pain in the .... Last time it took over 4 months to get back the money from them.

Originally Posted by m907 View Post
Why not a Chrysler 300? It rides taller than most sedans and (theoretically) gets 30 mpg highway.
Honestly it's really decent car I agree! Sadly only Avis/Budget has them at my locations and I need to rent from Hertz or Enterprise.

Last edited by beirut; May 18, 19 at 8:35 am
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Old May 18, 19, 8:21 pm
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Just calle Hertz location there I usually rent and apparently Jetta's and Optimas are 2018 and just a few left in the fleet. So not getting those. They offered very cheap (almost free really) upgrade to SUVs but not sure about it yet.

They also just got Ford Taurus, probably base SE trim, but it seems still fairly nice (keyless entry, leather seats). Looks like gets absolutely terrible mileage tho.
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Old May 19, 19, 2:06 am
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Originally Posted by beirut View Post
Just calle Hertz location there I usually rent and apparently Jetta's and Optimas are 2018 and just a few left in the fleet. So not getting those. They offered very cheap (almost free really) upgrade to SUVs but not sure about it yet.

They also just got Ford Taurus, probably base SE trim, but it seems still fairly nice (keyless entry, leather seats). Looks like gets absolutely terrible mileage tho.
The Taurus is probably a Limited trim. It's a nice car but it does get poor mileage. This is its last year before being discontinued (again).
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Old May 21, 19, 5:35 pm
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Got free upgrade to SUV (well kinda forced since all they had was one Impala with deflated tires and a bunch of elantras with corollas).
Had choice of Santa Fe XL, Chevy Equinox 2.0T AWD LT, Kia Soul EX, Dodge Journey and Caravan.

Ended up with Santa Fe XL. I think it's one above base trim since it has adaptive cruise control. It's massive 7-seater tho so not even sure if I am going to keep it exchange as I don't really need this kind of volume traveling solo.
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Old May 23, 19, 9:39 am
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Did a small 400 mile round-trip going 75mph for the majority of time. Got 25MPG on the dash but at the gas pump it was more like 22-23MPG. AC was not needed during this trip. But with it running constantly, especially in Vegas I think I will be getting just 20MPG or so which is not great. Gas tank is also very small for a amount of fuel it consumes. Overtaking semis and other slower cars was insanely easy. V6 on this one is doing just fine. It has a very comfy driver's seat with lots of adjustments. Adaptive cruise control works well but not having lane keep assist gets tiring soon especially in the windy conditions there you have to do mini adjustments constantly. So all in all very likely to do a switch-out. Considering Rav4 or regular Santa Se.
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Old May 25, 19, 1:54 pm
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Leaving to Vegas in a next few days. Drove by corporate Hertz location today and they have 3 brand new Volvo S90 parked in their lot but they are asking $40/day extra for it which is just nuts (I am PC with Hertz if it matters).
Also saw brand new Subaru Cross-trek (no idea what trim) but might consider it.

By the way Ford taurus is actually limited trim. Which is probably best equipped vehicle on their lot. All kia/Toyota/hyundai sedans are base.

Last edited by beirut; May 25, 19 at 2:41 pm
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Old May 27, 19, 12:20 am
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Camry is by no means powerful or really fun but gas mileage is quite amazing. I've averaged anywhere between 35 and 40 mpg on my Phoenix - Grand canyon - Las Vegas - Sequoia/Yosemite - San Francisco roadtrip. I got the base trim as well, but I don't hate the car.
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