Well That Wasn’t What I Was Expecting

Ahh travel…

We have a saying in this house.

No one remembers when things go exactly as to plan.

I mean seriously, who likes a travel story  that goes like this:

We showed up and breezed through security.  Then we boarded a flight that was completely uneventful and comfortable.  Then we got to our destination, and the hotel was exactly as we expected.  Then we wandered around the city, and the people were friendly and accommodating.  We ate exactly what we were expecting the whole time.  It was almost like being at home.

Ugh, shoot me.  BORING!!

So, what makes me revisit our travel mantra this time?

We just got back from a trip to visit some friends and family in Colorado.  Before we flew in, I did some research to see the cheapest most efficient way to get us where we needed to go.

After looking at getting a car service to drive us to our friends’ house and back down to see the family, then back to the airport, it was going to be over $100 in just car service fees, mainly through Lyft or Uber.  The tricky part was that there were probably not going to be many cars around to drive us where we needed to go at the times we needed.  I mean how many Lyft drivers are cruising around at 3:30 AM to take someone to the airport?

Regardless, I looked online and found a killer deal on a rental car. $14.50 a day plus taxes.  To rent a car for the 4 days came out to be ~$80.  Of course we would have to put gas into the thing, but sure… we now have the freedom to go where we wish when we need to.

So, we get off the plane, gather our bags.  And make our way to the rental car place.

They were just busing people into this place.  There had to be a line of about 35 people waiting to get their cars.  I guess that’s what happens when the rate is so cheap.  So, we waited in line for about 45 minutes, until it was our turn.

At the desk the girl was nice enough, I’m sure she was getting shit on the entire time for people having to wait almost an hour to get a rental car at 11PM.  We were cordial, as we tend to be, I mean, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, it’s not like she’s dragging her feet to make everyone stand in line, she wants to go home too.

So, after signing away my life, she says:

So, you have a Yukon. It’s in stall XYZ.  Walk out the door and it’s too your right.

I kind of stood there, and replied:

Wait, did you say a Yukon?  For $14.50?


Ok, thanks?!

So, we walk outside, find our stall.  And what do we see?  It’s not a Yukon… It’s this thing:

Yes, that’s a Suburban!?!

I did a doubletake, looked at the rental agreement again.  The license plate matched, and sure enough the description on the agreement said, “Chevy Suburban”.  WTF??

Ok, we get a suburban for the two of us… and two our carry on bags.

Our Bags certainly had enough space.

And this wasn’t just any Suburban, this thing was fully loaded.  Heated leather seats, Sunroof, navigation, dual climate control, I mean all the creature comforts you could imagine.  The driver’s seat even vibrated if you got to close to something while parking.  It even had more TV’s in it than we have in our house, and by that I mean 2, we only have 1 TV.

We hop in ready to go and start laughing.  The damn thing is literally almost half the size of our house.  We jokingly said, “Well, at least we have a place to stay if things go south this weekend.”

So, here we are about to pull away in a Suburban, and we both make comments about how much gas we are going to have to put into this thing. Mrs. Wow drives a Mazda CX-5. Yes, an SUV, but a tiny one, that gets about 35 MPG.  And I drive a VW GTI, when I drive, mostly I’m on my bicycle.

As we’re pulling out of the airport and driving down the road, I look down at the gas gauge, and can see the thing moving towards E.  We had driven all of 10 miles and the thing was almost at half a tank.  We started freaking out to the point that Mrs. Wow pulled out her phone and looked up the gas mileage that we were supposed to get.  (It’s 16 city/23 highway btw).  I commented, “There is no way this thing only drives 20 miles on a tank.”

Turns out the gas gauge was broken, in 15 miles, it went from full to below half.  But once the car warmed up, it moved back up to full.  Then next time we stared it, it just sat on E the whole time.  After the scare, I did some quick back of the napkin math that said we were going to have to put about 10 gallons of gas in the thing over the weekend.  So, about $30 in gas, not horrible.

So, yes, we spent the weekend cruising around in a Suburban.  And I don’t know that I will ever get a chance to do that again.  But I wanted to give the thing a little review, so here we go:

The good parts:

  • The creature comforts were nice.  Being that we live in LA, the heated seats were a life saver for the cold weather. We’re weak and we know it.
  • On Friday, we did a brewery tour where we met up with a bunch of other Bloggers.  It was actually handy to have a bus that we could tote everyone around in.  We even picked up the kids from school on the way back to the house.
  • It was only $14.50/day to rent.  So, that might actually be cheaper than buying or leasing it.
  • Being that the thing weighs like 2 tons, it was really nice to drive in the snow on the last day we were there.  We got about 4 inches of snow over night, so that made things nice.

Yes, It also had 4 wheel drive.

The bad parts:

  • It is HUGE!!!  I don’t know that I ever felt comfortable driving it, and for the 2 of us, it was beyond excessive and we really felt awfully wasteful.  It’s also hard to park, since it doesn’t fit in any spots.  And it’s hard to maneuver.  I’m sure you get used to it, but still.
  • It eats gas.  Gas gauge problems aside, we ended up feeding it about 15 gallons of gas to drive about 200 miles.  Not as bad as I would have expected, but certainly not good.

All in all, it was nice to drive and made for a fun weekend, but I can’t see us rushing out to spend $60k on a new Suburban anytime soon.

Yup, that’s a Suburban wedged in to a spot at MMM HQ.

Plus, It also makes for a good story, I guess I’ll know what to expect next time.


  • Dave @ Accidental FIRE November 14, 2018 at 5:17 am

    The EXACT things happened to me on one of my trips to Colorado to climb 14ers. Sometimes these rental companies upgrade you for mysterious reasons. When they told me I had a Suburban I asked to please NOT have it as I didn’t want to waste the money on fuel, but it was all they had.

    I HATED it. So friggin big. You can’t pull into a convenience store when your traveling without having to scope out the parking lot and decide if you’ll fit. And every time you back out of a space you’re wondering what you can’t see from your skyscraper perch or whether or not you’re running over puppies and unicorns. The only plus was I could sleep in the back with the seats down but that didn’t make up for the sheer absurdity of the vehicle.
    Dave @ Accidental FIRE recently posted…Why Your Way Is The Best Way

    • Mr WoW November 14, 2018 at 9:36 pm

      It certainly was big. I’m not used to that. It was really strange to drive something so huge. I think my VW would fit in the trunk of the thing. I will say, it was pretty nice, I don’t know that it was $60k nice, but the creature comforts were a nice addition to the weekend.

      And yes, we have slept in smaller cars. This would have worked really well as a camper. I just kept hearing that old song… “Canyonero!” Bonus points if you know where that is from…

      • Dave @ Accidental FIRE November 15, 2018 at 1:50 am

        Simpsons – DUH!!!! Ha, I thought of the same thing when I had mine.

        And I’m 6’4″ as you saw in Orlando so a vehicle that I can fit in the back of is tough to get.

        • Mr WoW November 15, 2018 at 8:16 am

          Well then it must be nice…. So you should get one!!

  • Gwen @ Fiery Millennials November 14, 2018 at 5:41 am

    My friend’s parents had a Suburban be growing up. It was pwprfect for them as she occasionally hauled the entire Girl Troop up to Chicago or took us all out camping. All of us and our bags fit nicely. We called it Jack cuz it was a ‘bourbon 🙂
    Gwen @ Fiery Millennials recently posted…The Entrepreneurial Slog

    • Mr WoW November 14, 2018 at 9:37 pm

      Those old school ones were bad-ass. This is really luxurious. But it worked for the weekend, so it wasn’t that bad.

  • freddy smidlap November 14, 2018 at 7:05 am

    well, now you know how that part of the world lives. it only cost you a few extra bucks in gas to find out. i’m always astounded at the millions of dollars worth of giant trucks in my work parking lot. i can barely find my little mazda among them some days.
    freddy smidlap recently posted…Has Anybody Seen My Fitness? It Must Be Around Here Somewhere

    • Mr WoW November 14, 2018 at 9:38 pm

      Yeah, we felt stupid, but there were plenty of people right next to us in the same car. Just cruising around minding their own business. Sort of crazy. And yeah… renting it was the way to go. I see no reason to own something like that.

  • 5am Joel November 14, 2018 at 7:47 am

    Good deal!! My rental experiences are usually the opposite. Higher prices for tiny cars 🙁

    Glad you had something safe and warm for the snowy roads!

    • Mr WoW November 14, 2018 at 9:39 pm

      Safe is relative. It’s extremely heavy… so it took me a little while to figure out the braking distances and stuff. But that is just driving a rental car. Adjusting everything to get used to it.

  • Susan @ FI Ideas November 14, 2018 at 10:10 am

    I was just listening to a podcast that suggested people that dream of owning a Ferrari try renting one first. Apparently, a lot of tall people dream of that and can’t fit in them. Of course, no rental company (so far!) has upgraded me to a Ferrari, so I’ll continue to live vicariously through podcasts and stories like yours!

    • Mr WoW November 14, 2018 at 9:40 pm

      Yeah, I don’t mind the upgrades. I did get a miata one time when we dropped the CX-5 for service one time.

      Yeah, these sports cars are uncomfortable and small. I don’t think many folks fully understand that.

  • Nomads With a Vision November 14, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    At least you got to feel like a giant for a week. If we ever take our RV into California, you should try riding in our F-450. You can see the roof of small SUVs from the drivers seat and feel like you can park on top of a Prius. I wouldn’t ever get into a drinking contest with it, though… It chugs diesel faster than a linebacker swills suds. I get 8.5 mpg pulling my house. It also tops out at 55 mph (governed by my foot) . It would make you cry to see the milage it would get at 70. I really wish I could pull the RV with a Prius…

    Sorry, I can’t figure out how to make this comment thing quit sticking my last post at the bottom.
    Nomads With a Vision recently posted…The Tax Loss Harvesting Charitable Giving Tango

    • Mr WoW November 14, 2018 at 9:42 pm

      I’d love to see your RV. But that behemoth towing it might take a little getting used to.

      Of course if we were towing something huge, then yeah, our tiny cars aren’t going to handle that. Yeah, the mileage is crazy. And the thing holds like 30 gallons. I can’t imagine when gas was $5 a gallon. OUCH!

  • Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto November 15, 2018 at 8:29 am

    Makes me think of my first biz trip to Denver, when I was a 24-year old youngster. Avis was out of cars, so they gave me a JAGUAR! I tied in a weekend visiting a bud in Estes Park, and smiled the ENTIRE time I was cruising the Jag through Rocky Mountain National Park. At 24 Years Of Age! Crazy. Hope we’ll get lucky when we pick up our rental car in Seattle next week (2 1/2 week visit for the birth of our first grandchild! I think we deserve a Jag, right? Or a Suburban.) #LiveLife

    • Mr WoW November 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm

      That is fantastic!! A jag is a nice touch. This was a nice upgrade,but it was huge. I’d rather a sports car.

      Congrats!! That’s exciting!!

  • Physician on FIRE November 15, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    I’m the proud owner of a new (to me) former rental Nissan Armada., a similarly sized gas guzzler of a beast of a motor vehicle that should have no trouble pulling a good sized travel trailer around the country. Takes a little getting used to, but it’s what we need to do what we want to do.

    Can you name the truck with four wheel drive,
    smells like a steak and seats thirty-five..

    Canyonero! Canyonero!

    Well, it goes real slow with the hammer down,
    It’s the country-fried truck endorsed by a clown!

    Canyonero! (Yah!) Canyonero!
    [Krusty:] Hey Hey

    The Federal Highway comission has ruled the
    Canyonero unsafe for highway or city driving.


    12 yards long, 2 lanes wide,
    65 tons of American Pride!

    Canyonero! Canyonero!

    Top of the line in utility sports,
    Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts!

    Canyonero! Canyonero! (Yah!)

    She blinds everybody with her super high beams,
    She’s a squirrel squashing, deer smacking, driving machine!

    Canyonero!-oh woah, Canyonero! (Yah!)


    • Mr WoW November 15, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      What?!?!?! the hhr is gone? Sacrelige!!!

      Please tell me you did that from memory!!! That’s impressive!

  • Mr. Tako November 15, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    There was a large family somewhere cramped into a compact car, all because the ‘larger’ vehicle had been rented out.

    That always seems to be the case when we travel. Silly car rental places!

    Well, I guess you got to see how the other half lives!

    • Mr WoW November 16, 2018 at 4:37 pm

      Ha… a clown car indeed. Fun stuff.

      Yeah, well. Back to reality. I guess that’s the way these things work.

  • FIRECracker November 18, 2018 at 2:30 am

    “It was only $14.50/day to rent. So, that might actually be cheaper than buying or leasing.”

    Wow! Nice work. It does sound like a great deal–especially since you guys were able cart around a group of friends. I’d be worried about the environment too, but hey, it just a one time thing!

    • Mr WoW November 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

      A one time thing it certainly was. There’s no way that I would drive one of those on a regular basis.

      But it’s always fun to try things out. To see what it would be like. Then give it back and go back to our normal life.

  • FIRE Up The Couch November 18, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    It’s amazing how obsessed with SUVs Americans have become. I’d imagine colder areas of the country (ie Colorado) have even more, and four/all wheel drive is worth a premium. I’ve heard it’s actually hard to find or sell AWD vehicles in warm weather states like Florida.

    In my high cost of living area, you can’t spit without hitting an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes. All I see are luxury cars, SUVs, or both. For a car guy like myself, it takes tremendous restraint not to join the herd. But I value my financial freedom more, at least for now… 🙂

    • Mr WoW November 19, 2018 at 5:58 am

      Yeah, we don’t see quite as many SUV’s but we certainly see plenty of luxury cars here in LA. They are everywhere. It’s hard to remind yourself that not everyone sees Ferrari’s everyday.

  • Joe November 20, 2018 at 9:09 am

    I got a Mustang convertible once when they ran out of the subcompact at the Sacramento airport. It was awesome. 😀
    That Suburban looks huge. I wouldn’t be comfortable driving that around.

    • Mr WoW November 21, 2018 at 6:47 am

      I wasn’t super comfortable driving it. Backing out of spots was definitely a challenge. Like everything else I guess, I got used to it. But I wouldn’t say I liked it.

      A convertible Mustang?? Damn… That’s awesome!

  • Pete Charles December 5, 2018 at 7:59 am

    This is a good car, especially if you have a family trip or a long overdue trip. I rented one when I needed to go on a business trip with my colleagues to Denver.

    • Mr WoW December 11, 2018 at 9:23 pm

      It’s great if you need to tote around a million people. but for 2 of us with carry on bags, it’s a little over kill.

  • Dota March 26, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Ha-ha, you are right, the best stories in life come from times when everything goes completely contrary to the plan. Anyway, great story, definitely enjoyed reading it!


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