Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Monday, January 09, 2006

Fox Rent-A-Car Honda Hybrid

First things first: the bottom line is that I spent an "extra" $30 to drive 900 miles in a weekend. Here's how that number is derived:

The expense for fuel to drive our 17 to 20 mpg 1993 Nissan Quest 900 miles is about $100. The Honda Hybrid burned through just $40 of fuel. The rental cost me $90, so renting a high-efficiency vehicle for a three-day trip to visit family in SoCal was $130, or $30 over what I'd have paid for gas in the van. To me, that feels like getting a rental for just $10 per day.

The Hybrid:I've drawn an arrow to the most fun thing for a driver to watch on the Honda's gauges: the instantaneous miles per gallon readout and the accumulated trip mileage. Here, it reads 42.7mpg for the trip (which you can't read, but says 687 miles) and the little bar at the bottom is at 40mpg. I'm driving 70mph along I-5.

What I found is that this car is optimized for maximum economy at 42mph. At that speed, I could sustain over 70mpg, and creep up to 90mpg if I was very gentle on the throttle. In traffic, you would never be allowed to drive this way. At least not anyplace where people carried guns in their cars.

The computer doesn't give a true measure of fuel economy; I think it can't handle the calculation when the car is getting above 120mpg (which it does, on any downhill). My actual mileage for the trip was an amazing 47mpg.

The Children:
After 7 hours in the car during the night, and 4 hours of sleep in a cheap hotel, they're ready to go see their cousins. It was a bit cramped for them, even though we were travelling rather light. Oh! The hotel was cramped, too. Caitlan decided to sleep in the bathtub! Crazy girl.

Fox Rent-A-Car:
The Bay Area and LA's low price leader of the larger chains, they seem able to cut corners where it doesn't affect the service (much). Their signs are cheap, for example, compared with Avis. Their computer system is difficult for the staff to operate. Both during checkin and checkout, the women helping me had to get help from their supervisors. But they themselves were very pleasant. In my area, service people often don't make eye contact with you but these counter reps did. And the guy out in the parking lot was very cordial, too.

The car didn't have enough air in its tires (20psi!) which made it very squidgy until I took care of that. Also, the cars from Fox aren't cosmetically perfect. It was clean and smoke-free inside, but mine had dings and scrapes all over the outside. Since I rent a car for the peace of mind that I don't have to maintain it, its appearance is low on my priorities. This car ran perfectly for the whole trip, and already had 30,000 miles on it. Either Hondas are exceptionally well made or Fox is maintaining their fleet, or both of these possibilities are true.

Would I do this again? Yep. Unless I could rent a 45 mpg Jetta and drive on biodiesel.


  1. Very cool post, I loved the info and the smiling kids.

  2. Thanks Monica.

    I wonder, at least once per day, why I'm writing this blog. Specifically, why am I trying to link efforts to be a good husband and dad to efforts to be a good world citizen? Every once in a while, someone like you comes along and lets me know it's working for you.

    I really appreciate that.

  3. It can't get any better than this.

  4. It can't get any better than this.