By SHANNON KELLY
1. It may be cheaper in the long run. A study by the U.S.-based Center for Automotive Research (commissioned by Enterprise Rent-a-Car) found that when maintenance, insurance and depreciation of your vehicle are taken into account, renting can actually save you money over time, especially if your vehicle is more than five years old.
2. It may be safer. When you rent, you’re almost always assured a current- or last-year model of car. Newer cars have the latest safety features, like side-impact airbags, electronic stability control and rear-view cameras. When you’re navigating unfamiliar territory, these features can be a huge plus. And especially for trips where you need special features like four-wheel-drive (Rockies, anyone?) or a larger truck or SUV to two a boat or such, renting can be your safest bet.
3. You could save on gas. If you own “gas guzzler”, renting a compact car could save you quite a bit. The newer models at rental agencies (see #2) tend to be more fuel-efficient and you may even have the option of renting a hybrid.
4. Practicality. Your 2002 Volkswagen Golf may be perfect for day-to-day life, but what if you’re driving the Cabot trail in the height of summer and want to feel the wind in your hair? A convertible rental may be just the thing. And for a road trip with friends or family, the space of a rental SUV is much more appealing than five people sitting knees to chest and drawing straws for the middle seat.
5. Perks. Own a 2002 Honda Civic but want to arrive at your 10-year reunion in a stylish 2012 Porsche 911 GT3? Luxury car rentals are available in most cities. But even if you rent simply to upgrade your sound system or cruise control, or try out GPS and satellite radio for a long weekend, travelling via rental can be a key part of the vacation itself.