I don't travel by air as much as I used to, and I've been irritated for years at the ritual of going through airport security...not so irritated that I make a spectacle of myself, but I liken it to having to get undressed and put on the ass-exposing gown then wait for half an hour shivering in the cold office before someone gets around to coming back to get on with the exam. But, I still do it, grumble to myself, then get on about my business.
When I do travel by air, I like to rent a car in my destination city, even if I'm visiting family or friends who have cars they'd be perfectly happy to loan me or shuttle me around in. I've become accustomed to the freedom that driving your own (rental) car provides. Even if all I choose to do is sit around at my friends' house, eat all their food, order pay-per-view porn on their TV and definitely not jerk off into the bag of Cheetos sitting next to me because I'm too lazy to find a kleenex and I don't want to just rub one out on their microfiber sofa, having a rental car at my disposal means that I have the capacity to go watch porn and jerk off somewhere else.
Planning for a recent trip, I went to the Avis website and started the making a reservation. I'm a creature of habit, and have been with Avis for years; as far as I know, they're the most expensive car rental company that isn't renting exotics, but they've always been great to deal with. The few times I've dealt with other car rental companies (particularly one that rhymes with FudgeIt), I haven't had great experiences, or have found food, cigarettes, or empty beer bottles in the car. Unfortunately, I have never found a full beer bottle. On the upside, I've never found a dead body, either. But still, Avis has been pretty reliable for me, so I tend to use them when I can.
I had a two week trip planned, so put in my travel dates and all, and got my rates. Immediately, one in the middle of the page stood out at me: the "Specialty" category offered a Chevy Cruze for nearly $4000 for the two week rental. In all caps, it said "COOL CAR", too.
I've seen the Chevy Cruze in photos. It's not cool, even in lower caps. If you have to tell me the car is cool, it's probably not. Wanna put me in a Lotus Exige? That's a cool car. Further, I can see that the car is cool, because it's a Lotus Exige. Chevy Cruze, you're no Lotus Exige. And Avis, shame on you for trying to convince me that it's COOL.
Cool or not, for $4000 for two weeks, that Chevy Cruze better have live hookers in the trunk. And not those nasty $20 midwest hookers that got stuck in Topeka because they ran out of bus money on their way from Connecticut to LA to become movie stars. I'm talking about Elliott Spitzer-class hookers. And full bottles of beer, whiskey, and wine under the seats. None of that domestic mass production beer, either. At least give me a decent stout to go with my hookers in my COOL Chevy Cruze.
Still, I was curious. If it was $4k for a couple of weeks, how long would I need to rent the car in order for the rental cost to meet or exceed the purchase price of the damn thing?
It's not really $18,000 worth of cool.
The answer: about 100 days. At 103 days, my base rental (before taxes and all) is just about $18,500. Avis doesn't say which version they're renting, but that price puts me right in the middle of the MSRP for the Cruze, as seen here: http://www.edmunds.com/chevrolet/cruze/2011/
Now, if I'm of the mind that the Cruze must be cool because it costs 4 times as much as a rental for a Cadillac CTS for the same period, and I have more money than brains, then I have a choice to make. Should I rent the car for 100 days, or buy it and keep it forever (or at least until I get bored with it or it falls apart, whichever comes first)?
Hell, for that amount of cash, I might just as well rent a small harem of hookers to carry me around on a rickshaw or something the whole time. I don't know where Avis is coming up with their pricing on this one, but I think they need to put down the crack pipe.
In the end, I opted for the Intermediate car. Sure, I didn't get hookers or booze in the car, and I didn't get to impress any local ladies by telling them I'd spent $4k on a Chevy Cruze for two weeks, but I got over it.1