This week, I’m going to be able to escape the plunging temperatures of my Illinois home for somewhere much warmer and — definitely presently — richer in car culture. That’s right, I’m headed back to Los Angeles, California! I’ll need some way to get around when I’m there, and I’ve decided to give Turo a try. But I’m overwhelmed with all of the available cars, and need your help. What’s the silliest, yet most fun car that I should rent?
I’m actually sort of amazed that I’ve never used Turo before. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve even rented a car, period. U-Hauls? Oh yeah, I’ve lost track of how many old GMC C6500 trucks I’ve driven. But the last rental car that I’ve paid my own money for was a base model Toyota Corolla so I could drive into Johnson Valley to rip across the desert in a Can-Am Maverick. And that was almost a year ago!
What originally spurred this trip wasn’t something fun; I am to accompany my wife for some serious business. However, her business won’t take up the entire time that we will be there. So we are using this time as a sort of impromptu honeymoon. We’ve apparently been so busy that we’ve forgotten that whole part of marriage! That means that I’ll have some time to show her around Los Angeles and maybe some surrounding areas. Sheryl has never been to Los Angeles before, so I’m excited to explore with her. Honestly, I’m just excited to be away from Illinois, where the weather forecast has been calling for snow or negative temperatures. Hard pass. And to go exploring, we should get some sort of vehicle. Here’s my chance to pilot something that I haven’t driven before.
If you haven’t used Turo before, I’ll explain. Turo is a platform that works like Airbnb where regular people can rent vehicles to other regular people. It seems that the upshot of renting from Turo is not having to deal with boring airport rental cars or the boring airport rental process. Instead, there’s a whole library of exciting vehicles at your fingertips. Some of you are already priming your keyboards to type “rent a motorcycle!” As our resident winter-riding, scooter-off-roading daredevil motorcycle weirdo I have considered that. There’s even a sort of motorcycle “Turo” called Riders Share and the bikes appear to be dirt-cheap! But we think we want at least three wheels this time around. My goal for next year is to get my wife on two wheels so she can join me on her own machine. But that’s fine because that leaves us a whole world of wonderful vehicles to propel us around the state where you never find a dancefloor empty.
Before we continue I should give you some basic requirements and some context. It looks like we’ll be experiencing some warm 70-degree temperatures by day and high 40s at night. To my corn-fed hardened Midwestern body, that’s summer! So I have this idea to get something with a drop-top, or perhaps no roof at all. Sheryl also likes the idea of a drop-top, but she gets cold far sooner than I do, so we’re not sure. The other factor to consider is price. I don’t want to spend more than $125 a day. Alright, let’s have some fun and rent someone else’s car!
What should we rent? To give you an idea of where our heads are at, here’s what we’ve been considering:
Polaris Slingshot – $53-$125/Day
This is something that I’ve always wanted to drive. The Polaris Slingshot is neither a car nor is it a motorcycle. And it’s not like the ElectraMeccanica in being a three-wheeled vehicle that tries to be a car. Instead, it’s a wild plaything that I’ve seen people having lots of fun in. And I’ve seen others decked out in underglow, huge wheels, massive speakers, and custom artwork. It seems that a Slingshot is an experience. In this $53 a day Slingshot SL, there’s a 2.0-liter four making 178 HP and driving the rear wheel through an automatic, though there are also manual versions that are on Turo. Paying more seems to bump you up to the Slingshot R, which gets you to 203 HP. The Slingshot sounds like my kind of silly!
Smart Fortwo – $28-$32/Day
As a cheapskate, I have to admit that being able to rent a second-generation Smart Fortwo for just $28 a day or a third-generation for just $32 a day is alluring. Sure, I know these cars inside and out, so I won’t be trying anything new. I’ve even driven a Smart in Los Angeles, so it won’t even be driving a familiar car in a new place. But those prices are so cheap! And I could even find one in convertible form for $36 a day.
Tesla Model S – $49-$125/Day
I’ve always wanted to try a Tesla, and here’s a chance to do it! The list of Teslas on Turo is vast, and it seems that I could try anything from an early Model S to one built this year and still be within my price range. Looking at the various Model S on Turo, features range from getting one with a yoke, dual motors, or a custom wrap. Heck, there’s someone renting one out and advertising Full Self Driving Beta. And all of those are in my price range. There’s also a Model S 100D for $92 a day with a 335-mile range from a 100 kWh battery and a 4.1-second acceleration time to 60 mph. These Teslas seem to offer a lot of bang for the buck! Though, we will miss out on that drop-top experience.
Vanderhall Venice – $72-$117/Day
This is a similar idea to the Slingshot, but with a different drive and different body. I’ve always seen these as a sort of retro-futuristic take on the Morgan 3 Wheeler formula. Vanderhalls have a vintage-style cockpit, but bodies that look like they come from the future. Once again, we’re dealing with a vehicle without a ton of weather protection, but maybe maximum fun? The one above is just $87 a day.
Matt Hardigree says that in a TV show where a truck pulling a BBQ pit was getting raced, a Vanderhall turned out to be the most dangerous vehicle. That’s only threatening me with a good time. Unlike the Polaris Slingshot, Vanderhalls drive their front wheels instead of the single rear. Power comes from a GM Ecotec LFV 1.5-liter turbo four making 194 HP transmitted through an auto. This is one that readers have recommended that I take a spin around in and it’s another that I’ve been wanting to play with for a while.
Chevrolet Corvette – $50-$127/Day
One of my all-time bucket list cars is a Corvette. Heck, I’ll take a number of Corvettes! Turo seemingly delivers nearly as many Corvettes as it does Teslas and that’s exciting. In my price range, I can get everything from a base model C7 all of the way up to the C8, and yes, even convertibles. For just $89 a day I could get a C7 convertible. That one has a 6.2-liter V8 making 455 HP and of course, no roof to get in the way of that soundtrack.
Then, check this out, you could get a C8 for as low as $113 a day! There are a ton of Corvettes available for honestly really affordable money. I’ve never even driven a ‘Vette so these are in serious consideration.
And then there’s a whole list of other cars that I’ve wanted to try like the current-generation Mazda Miata, Fiat 500 Abarth, or heck, there are even a few BMW i8s in my price range.
You’ll notice that there aren’t any Sheryl picks here, and there’s a good explanation for that. Her bucket list is full of cars from the 1990s and unpopular cars from the mid-2000s. Unsurprisingly, I haven’t found a single Subaru B9 Tribeca in this area on Turo, and I certainly haven’t found an Oldsmobile LSS or Pontiac Bonneville SSEI, either. She’s also interested in playing around with a Nissan Z car, and sadly there are none of those currently on the site, either. Disappointed, I asked Sheryl for even more picks, and her choices were a bunch of 2000s Pontiacs, a Ford Excursion, a first-generation Dodge Dakota, a Chevy HHR SS, and a first-generation Lexus LS 400. Well, none of those are present, either, and neither was the Mazdaspeed3 that she asked for.
Though just one of her bucket list cars has made an appearance, and it’s a Dodge Challenger Scat Pack! This one sounds nice for $85 a day, with its 485 HP 6.4-liter V8 and its gorgeous paint.
[Sheryl’s Note: What can I say? I have a thing for absurd vehicles, especially late ’90s front-wheel-drive H-body sedans and coupes with the supercharged Buick 3800 (best engine ever made) V6. But give me a first-generation Lexus LS 400 and I will daily that thing until the end of time. Oh, and when I was a little girl, the sixth-generation Nissan Maxima and the 350Z were my dream cars. They still are, really. I’m a sucker for a great V6, and next to the 3800 the VQ35 is the best ever made. So there. Also, I said Shelby Dakota!]
Right now, the vehicles tugging on our hearts the most are the Vanderhalls, the Corvettes, and that Challenger Scat Pack. But here is where I leave it to you, dear readers. What fun cars are we missing? And, are roofless cars even a good idea when low temperatures are under 50 degrees. I’m excited to see what you suggest!
(All Photos: Turo Hosts)