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Author Topic: Best rental car for cargo capacity  (Read 7213 times)

Sub-Urbanite

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Best rental car for cargo capacity
« on: February 03, 2016, 12:51:32 AM »

This spring, I need to drive (with wife and baby) from Portland to St. George to pick up a bunch of stuff from my parents' storage shed. A few boxes worth, nothing that would require a U-Haul.

I'd normally take our Prius, but between baby accoutrements and suitcases, I doubt we'd have much room to bring even one box with us. So I'm debating getting a weekly rental and using it for the haul.

The question is, what kind to get without breaking the budget? Shoot for an SUV? See if I can find a rental wagon? I'd rather avoid driving 2000 miles in a cargo van. Any suggestions?
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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2016, 07:47:18 AM »

Given my experience with car renting/research, it likely won't be cheap to get what you're looking for, though you might find some deals if you shop around.  And that's what I'd suggest:  shopping around via different rental companies, plus different locations.  As a general rule, I've found that renting downtown is a lot cheaper than renting at the local airport.
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formulanone

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2016, 08:00:40 AM »

The catch is that many SUVs do not offer far greater cargo capacities, unless you spend extra for a premium SUV...at that point, just get a minivan which have lower loading decks and are a little more economical to drive.

Like froggie said, avoid the airports, and do not keep the vehicle longer than you have to. To rental car companies, usually any time over 3-4 hours is sold as an entire day's rate, so there's little sense in picking up a vehicle earlier than you can use it, or keeping it longer than projected.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2016, 08:04:15 AM by formulanone »
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2016, 08:36:35 AM »

To clarify...are we talking about Portland, OR & St. George, UT?

For something like this, price around.  Generally airports tack on additional taxes and fees which will make their rentals more pricey, but don't rule them out completely because they can have deals available that local agencies may not.  Even keeping the car a bit longer isn't always an issue...generally renting a vehicle for a week is the same as renting a vehicle for 4 or 5 days, so if you're going to need it for 6 days, might as well just do a 1 week rental and have an extra day with it.

Verify that there's no driving restrictions, such as which state you're permitted to drive the car in to.  Even today, there are some rental agencies that may restrict you to a certain region.

As far as size...what are we talking about when you say a few boxes?  A few standard copy paper boxes, or something really large?  Some sedans have some deep trunks that will fit an amazing amount of stuff. 

Price around, and don't be afraid to book something. Check every day (or multiple times a day if you can).  Generally, car rental agencies don't require a deposit. So don't hesitate to book something, then rebook it if the price becomes cheaper.  You can even book a few cars at a time when the rates are low, and cancel them later on when you decide what you want!
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coatimundi

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2016, 10:51:20 AM »

I have a Sentra and recently rented a Ford Taurus locally (yeah, they still make the Taurus). It was a full size class. I had a show and decided to use the Taurus to haul the drums. I was absolutely amazed with the trunk space. I've moved several times in my Sentra, and always thought it was surprisingly large on storage, but the trunk in the Taurus had to be at least three times larger.
So don't think just because you have some boxes that a non-truck-based vehicle will not suit you. It just depends on how much you have. And you'll get such better gas mileage.
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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2016, 11:43:31 AM »

I have a Sentra and recently rented a Ford Taurus locally (yeah, they still make the Taurus). It was a full size class. I had a show and decided to use the Taurus to haul the drums. I was absolutely amazed with the trunk space. I've moved several times in my Sentra, and always thought it was surprisingly large on storage, but the trunk in the Taurus had to be at least three times larger.
So don't think just because you have some boxes that a non-truck-based vehicle will not suit you. It just depends on how much you have. And you'll get such better gas mileage.
It's also worth noting that most if not all sedans in the market today offer fold-down rear seats (either one or two-piece).  If one isn't carrying rear passengers and/or if their cargo isn't too tall (higher than the top of the decklid); a sedan may very well be a lower-cost, more economical alternative.
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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2016, 12:31:33 PM »

Well, the fold-down back seat isn't an option because of the car seat. In looking at the rental agency closest to my house, I've got three main options for $300 for the week, which seems reasonable:

A RAV4 or similar
A Frontier or similar
A Ram Quad-cab or similar

Being that I'm going for size, the Ram would seem to be the best bet among the pickups. Anyone have a SUV in that RAV4 class that can vouch for cargo capacity?
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coatimundi

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2016, 01:36:24 PM »

Well, the fold-down back seat isn't an option because of the car seat.

The seats tend to fold down separately, in two parts, in newer cars.
I used to have a Frontier. You have to get the crew cab model to get the back seat. Otherwise it's the jump seat. Is that what it is?
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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2016, 05:07:59 PM »

Quote
Being that I'm going for size, the Ram would seem to be the best bet among the pickups. Anyone have a SUV in that RAV4 class that can vouch for cargo capacity?

Can't speak to the RAV4, but I've been able to fit a fair bit into my Tiguan.  In the months leading up to my Navy retirement, I'd bring several boxes of things with me whenever I headed north to our house.
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formulanone

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2016, 05:33:40 PM »

Do you have only one child? That makes a big difference; you could split the folding seats and put he car seat on one side with the cargo on the other. On the other hand, you shouldn't place heavy items that could move around a lot in an accident near a small child or baby.

Anyone have a SUV in that RAV4 class that can vouch for cargo capacity?

I rented a '15 RAV4 last month, it could hold probably handle 4-6 medium-sized boxes in the trunk. Folding the seats would yield more space.

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2016, 05:52:27 PM »

If you can get a minivan, that's your best bet. As already stated, they're typically cheaper than SUVs with more cargo space. You'll get a Grand Caravan, Sedona, or Sienna, each of which has fold-flat third row seats. A month ago, I moved into my current place in one trip with a rented Sedona. You can fit a lot in most of them. I would also suggest joining the rewards program at whatever place you choose. Check with your car insurance company for rental deals, as some have partnerships with certain companies. My insurance company (USAA), for example, waives several fees, gives unlimited mileage, and provides a significant percentage discount at 4 rental car companies. Look at every chain in the area to see who is cheapest.

Having rented at Hertz the entire summer for my job, I can tell you a few things about their policies. Not all companies are the same and I encourage you to do additional research. For Hertz:

-Locations away from airports are almost always cheaper. We're talking 10-20% in many cases, if not more.
-Rewards members get access to a coupon section on the website that normal people don't get. Often, there are coupons for weekly and weekend rentals.
-A lot of things are unlimited mileage, but not all rentals. Double-check your rental agreement to make sure.
-Hertz has no location restrictions in the lower 48 and Canada, at least not that I've seen. You can go pretty much anywhere in the two countries unless told otherwise.
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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2016, 03:43:28 PM »

-A lot of things are unlimited mileage, but not all rentals. Double-check your rental agreement to make sure.
Good advice.

Nonetheless, from my experience with renting cars; most if not all of the mainstream rental car agencies now offer unlimited mileage.  The only time I faced a mileage restriction while renting a vehicle was when I was renting a moving van 4 years ago (it was for moving furniture & boxes 1/4 mile from my father's apartment to my brother's house).
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coatimundi

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2016, 03:44:41 PM »

I don't know if it matters in this case, but I thought I'd bring up the additional driver stuff.
Budget & Avis in the US always allow for the spouse as an additional driver for free. It's automatic too. AFAIK, they're the only company that does that across the board.
For other companies, you have to pay an additional driver fee to put your spouse on the rental agreement, unless you're in one of the few states that restricts that (Iowa & California are two). Alamo used to offer it for free if you were a member of their rewards program, but that ended a couple of years ago. I got surprised by that a couple of months ago.
In California, it doesn't even need to be a spouse: you get a free additional driver with any company for any relationship, as long as they're over 25.
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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2016, 03:56:40 PM »

-A lot of things are unlimited mileage, but not all rentals. Double-check your rental agreement to make sure.
Good advice.

Nonetheless, from my experience with renting cars; most if not all of the mainstream rental car agencies now offer unlimited mileage.  The only time I faced a mileage restriction while renting a vehicle was when I was renting a moving van 4 years ago (it was for moving furniture & boxes 1/4 mile from my father's apartment to my brother's house).

The only region of the country where limited mileage car rentals seem to still be the norm is in MT/WY/western SD, where there aren't business travelers driving only from the airport to the hotel and back and there are a lot of leisure travelers running up lots of miles.

cl94

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2016, 03:59:26 PM »

-A lot of things are unlimited mileage, but not all rentals. Double-check your rental agreement to make sure.
Good advice.

Nonetheless, from my experience with renting cars; most if not all of the mainstream rental car agencies now offer unlimited mileage.  The only time I faced a mileage restriction while renting a vehicle was when I was renting a moving van 4 years ago (it was for moving furniture & boxes 1/4 mile from my father's apartment to my brother's house).

From what I've seen, it's more common for one-way rentals. Most of the big companies have a disclaimer that they reserve the right to limit miles, even if it isn't used.

I had one of my summer rentals for 3 weeks and I put 4,000 miles on it. At least 80% of that wasn't for work. If you're using the car at all for business, select the "business" rate if there is one and they're often kinder about the restrictions.
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cl94

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2016, 04:06:12 PM »

I don't know if it matters in this case, but I thought I'd bring up the additional driver stuff.
Budget & Avis in the US always allow for the spouse as an additional driver for free. It's automatic too. AFAIK, they're the only company that does that across the board.
For other companies, you have to pay an additional driver fee to put your spouse on the rental agreement, unless you're in one of the few states that restricts that (Iowa & California are two). Alamo used to offer it for free if you were a member of their rewards program, but that ended a couple of years ago. I got surprised by that a couple of months ago.
In California, it doesn't even need to be a spouse: you get a free additional driver with any company for any relationship, as long as they're over 25.

From what I've seen, that is standard among most of the companies. Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz allow spouses to be added on for free.
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oscar

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2016, 04:28:10 PM »

The only region of the country where limited mileage car rentals seem to still be the norm is in MT/WY/western SD, where there aren't business travelers driving only from the airport to the hotel and back and there are a lot of leisure travelers running up lots of miles.

In Yellowknife NT, not only is limited km-age the norm, but the number of free kms is really small (like only 50km per day), so any venture outside the immediate Yellowknife area will rack up extra charges.
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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2016, 05:37:38 PM »

If I'm reading specs correctly, a Toyota Sienna minivan, with seats down, has 150 cubic feet of cargo space.

The analogous measure for a Chevy Tahoe SUV is 95 cubic feet.

Also, I'll caution that some of the guidance earlier in the thread about timing the rentals isn't necessarily correct. For example, when I rented from National at Denver International recently, I learned that they bill by the calendar day.  (E.g. 12:01am on Day 1 to 11:59pm on Day 2 costs the same as 11:59pm on Day 1 to 12:01am on Day 2.)  If you're being thrifty, it pays to ask.
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cl94

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2016, 06:42:57 PM »

If I'm reading specs correctly, a Toyota Sienna minivan, with seats down, has 150 cubic feet of cargo space.

The analogous measure for a Chevy Tahoe SUV is 95 cubic feet.

Also, I'll caution that some of the guidance earlier in the thread about timing the rentals isn't necessarily correct. For example, when I rented from National at Denver International recently, I learned that they bill by the calendar day.  (E.g. 12:01am on Day 1 to 11:59pm on Day 2 costs the same as 11:59pm on Day 1 to 12:01am on Day 2.)  If you're being thrifty, it pays to ask.

Depends on the company. Hertz, for example, charges by the hour, 24-hour period, 168-hr period, or 720-hr period. I'm pretty sure Budget, Avis, and Enterprise are the same way.

As far as cargo, no minivan you'd rent has less than 140 ft^3 of cargo space. Highest, as listed above, is the Sienna at 150. Fold down everything but 1/2 of the second row and you'd still have more space than every SUV.

To give you a comparison, the largest SUV on the market is the Chevy Suburban. It only has 121.7 ft^3 and uses gas like it's going out of style.
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1995hoo

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2016, 08:31:06 PM »

We drove a Nissan Armada SUV a bit over 1000 miles this past fall on our trip to New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. It came to about $750 for the ten days, even with the one-way rental and the airport pickup and dropoff, via Dollar (not a company I normally use, but they were the cheapest by over $500). Hard to beat that sort of rate if you can find something comparable. I was rather astonished at the rate.
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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #20 on: February 04, 2016, 10:09:23 PM »

Sixt offers Volvo V60 wagons as rental cars. They aren't much more than a comparable sedan, but offer much more cargo room. The trick is finding one. Sixt isn't nationwide yet, and they only offer the V60 at some locations.
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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2016, 01:25:02 AM »

The only region of the country where limited mileage car rentals seem to still be the norm is in MT/WY/western SD, where there aren't business travelers driving only from the airport to the hotel and back and there are a lot of leisure travelers running up lots of miles.

In Yellowknife NT, not only is limited km-age the norm, but the number of free kms is really small (like only 50km per day), so any venture outside the immediate Yellowknife area will rack up extra charges.

It's the same in Newfoundland. Canadia is just different. They're totally different companies there even though they have the same names and overall corporate parent.
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coatimundi

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2016, 01:27:49 AM »

From what I've seen, that is standard among most of the companies. Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz allow spouses to be added on for free.

Hertz doesn't offer the free spouse, except in California and Iowa, or if you're a member of some organization like AAA. You may be right about Enterprise though. I very rarely rent from them.
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coatimundi

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Re: Best rental car for cargo capacity
« Reply #23 on: February 05, 2016, 01:34:26 AM »

Also, I'll caution that some of the guidance earlier in the thread about timing the rentals isn't necessarily correct. For example, when I rented from National at Denver International recently, I learned that they bill by the calendar day.  (E.g. 12:01am on Day 1 to 11:59pm on Day 2 costs the same as 11:59pm on Day 1 to 12:01am on Day 2.)  If you're being thrifty, it pays to ask.

Most don't bill by the calendar day. It's typically 24 hours from when you rent, regardless of how late. The calendar day thing seems like a total rip off.

Some give you a grace period. But it seems to totally depend on the individual office. I frantically called MSP one time because I was going to be late, and they told they had an hour grace period. I thought the same when returning at MSY one time, but was given a bill for an extra day due to being 20 minutes late. Both were Budget.
You also have to be careful about time zones if you do one-ways. For instance, if you rent in Chicago at 11am, you need to return it to Detroit by 10am. I didn't realize that until I tried to book a long-distance one-way and kept getting an extra day added to the cost when I chose the same return time.
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