I have been following with interest the info and recommendations regarding car rentals which is occurring on the following thread:
I have been mulling this whole car rental thing over for our own trip and this finally has triggered me into posting the following query. We are coming to the BI Nov 17-Dec 3 and already have our rental car secured through Discount Hawaii Rental.
This is going to be our fourth time back to Hawaii, and each time we have rented cars, only to have different experiences with them, and have found that we have definite preferences in what we want/don't want.
In 2010 we rented a full size car through Orbitz. Reserved a "full size" and got a Dodge Challenger and hated it! It was huge, unwieldy, hard to see out of, and guzzled gas like crazy. Wouldn't fit in any parking spaces and stuck out and screamed "tourist!!!" all over it like a sore thumb. Realized that such a large car is very impractical and overly expensive for Hawaii - very unnecessary!
In 2011, we rented a "midsize" through DHCR and got a Toyota Corolla. This car was very "bare bones" but served us ok. Not particularly comfortable over long distances but certainly economical on gas.
In 2012, we ended up renting a "standard" size through Budget. We also got a quote from DHCR for the same class of car which came in a bit less, however Budget had Ford Fusions available and we selected this as we specifically wanted to rent that type of car as we had been contemplating buying one for ourselves. Of course when we went to pick it up, there were no Fusions available, so ended up getting stuck with an Impala which we did not care for at all. Again we found it to be too large (wouldn't fit in any of the micro parking spots which seem to be all too common on Oahu) and was super expensive on gas. We ended up taking it back and getting a Fusion from Budget after about 5 days and were very happy with that car. It happened to be fully loaded and was very comfortable, was smaller in size so fit in the parking spaces, and while not exceptionally economical on gas, was certainly MUCH better than the Impala!
So this brings us to our trip this fall. After our experiences above, we decided that we definitely don't want an overlarge car or one that is super heavy on gas. Given this, I decided to reserve a "compact" through DHCR as figured it would be fairly economical to run, especially given that one seems much more inclined to be driving long distances when on the big island. Looks like the car rental company that will supply this particular car this time will be Budget. However since reserving this car class, have to say I am a bit torn about it and am wondering if I shouldn't be going up a car class or two as am worried this car will be just too small and maybe a bit uncomfortable for long periods on the road.
Right now Budget's compact is classified as a Ford Focus which I think is not a bad little car. Nothing fancy but should be pretty good on gas. My concern is that it might be a hatchback in which case luggage is exposed in full view and there is no place to lock things out of site. DHCR was unable to tell me if the car would be a hatchback or not. And am not sure how comfortable it will actually be to be doing quite a bit of driving in.
I have been really giving this some thought and in fact just this past week contacted DHCR about the cost of upgrading the car class. They sent me back a new quote and it actually increased the price very little - only about $30 for the duration of the car rental. The next class up is termed "intermediate" and the car type would be a Dodge Avenger. When I saw this, my enthusiasm for upgrading the car really waned as I have to say in all honesty, when I have rented Chrysler cars in the past, my experience has not been good... Disliked the Challenger as noted above and also once rented an Intrepid which was horrible!
So right now I am quite torn. Do we stick with the compact Ford Focus, which I expect is going to be quite small, bare bones, and probably not super comfortable but which should be really good on gas, easy to park, and won't particularly stand out.
Or do we upgrade and get a car which might not be that much better, and which I expect will probably be much worse fuel economy wise. Although we really enjoyed the Ford Fusion we got last year, not sure I would go to this car category again as their standard car class is now a Nissan Altima and frankly would be really worried about getting another Impala again (although I now see on their website it is considered a "full size" so apparently we must have been "upgraded" to that last year at no charge. Go figure!).
Would love to hear other people's thoughts and experiences - especially from others who have rented cars on the BI.
If you have rented one of these in the past, do you think that the compact Focus will be satisfactory?
Or has anyone had experience with the Avenger and if so, would you recommend it or not?
After mulling this over, I am quite curious to know what class of car most renters typically go with and that you find serves you best, comfort, maneuverability, and fuel economy wise?