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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Review: Turo Car Rental

Unfortunately, our Honda Fit got totaled in a crash earlier this year. (I won't say how, who or why, but nobody got hurt) It's by far my favorite car ever, but it's not really suitable for bringing the triplet around, and we have a Tesla 3 on order, so in the mean time we would just make do with our one remaining car and the Turo Car Rental service. So far, it's working out.

Turo is simply "AirBnB" for cars. But for someone like me with specialized needs, it's actually quite a bit better than the typical car rental company. You see, the Triplet is a pain to put into any other car: you'd have to dismantle it and stick it into the car, and then reassemble on the other end. This adds a good 30 minutes to the ride, which is a significant amount of overhead. There are only two cars that can fit the triplet inside the car: the Chrysler Pacific/Town & Country/Dodge Caravan (they're all the same car with different brand names), or the Honda Odyssey. Good luck trying to rent either of those at a typical car rental company: they'll promise you a mini-van and you might end up with a Sienna, which requires a full disassembly.

We usually end up renting a Chrysler/Dodge because those have seats that fold down into the floor, while the Odyssey would require actual removal of the seat, which most owners wouldn't do for us. The triplet (or tandem) would then fit all the way down the middle aisle of the car (with the front wheel, rear stoker pedals and seats removed --- just like the Honda Fit), provided the van had the center console removed. (The center console is actually easy to remove as well) In tandem configuration you don't even need to remove the center console. We can then install 2 kids on the middle seat (with the tandem in between, which doesn't actually reduce conflict as much as you think it would), adults in the front row, and another single bike (4 cyclists, remember?), and luggage for a weekend trip, as well as tools, etc. for the bike.

Most owners use a remote key drop: some as high tech as an app on your smartphone that connects to the car and unlocks it, and some as low tech as simply hiding the key in a location that's disclosed to you. Prices vary: in practice, we've been able to get mini-vans for about $50 a day, which is a very good deal: typically for 2-nights of hotel, the costs of the hotel costs quite a bit more than the transport.

My suspicion is that if we were to do these trips very often (which can happen as Boen gets older and can survive rides longer than 30 miles without falling asleep), then it would be worth the money to buy the Pacifica Hybrid: not only would the hassle of riding to the car pickup be eliminated, but you'd get much better gas mileage. But even if we were to drive the triplet somewhere every weekend (52*50 = $2600), Turo would remain significantly cheaper than owning the car itself ($40K after federal rebate, and you'd still have to pay for maintenance and insurance!). The cars available on Turo are significantly older than what would be in a car rental business' rental fleet, but riding the flat part of the depreciation curve is the main reason why they're cheaper.

Again, we're an unusual family: most people would be driving their kids to school every day in the mini-van, and would get much more use out of a motor-vehicle than we would. But even if you were a normal family, Turo would enable you to drive the smallest car practical for day-to-day use, and switch to bigger cars only for the times you really need them. That's no small amount of savings, and it also reduces your carbon footprint significantly.

Needless to say, I'm now a Turo fan and can recommend the service. Use my link to rent a car from Turo and you'll get a $25 credit! (I'll get a $25 credit too!) Recommended.

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