For my trip this week, I got a Jeep Commander as my rental car. I’m a National Emerald Aisle member, so I can just walk down the aisle and pick any car without paying extra – they’re all the same rate. I picked the Commander because I would normally never get the chance to drive something like this. (Plus I have a soft spot for Jeeps.)
It was a big, soft monster: three rows of seats with the best leather I’ve ever seen in an American car, power sunroof in the front, two sunroofs in the back, remote start, satellite radio, backup proximity alarm, you name it. Very cushy.
Driving through granola country here in Southern California, I expected to get angry looks and middle fingers. The Jeep Commander is the worst of both worlds: it’s not luxurious enough for anybody to get jealous (think Range Rover), and it’s huge enough that Prius owners see you as the root of their problems. I made it through the week without getting flipped off, and I attribute that to the bland color and styling.
It grew on me pretty quickly. Sure, it’s big and heavy, and the steering wheel and gas pedal react like you’re piloting a tugboat on the Molasses River, but it had plenty of room, nice amenities, and a great driving position.
But it’s 2008, and gas isn’t a buck a gallon anymore, so it comes down to one number: 9.6 miles per gallon. That’s scary, but to really get an idea of how bad the cost of ownership is, here’s how much gas would cost me per year:
15,000 miles, 10mpg, $4/gal = $6,000 per year
And here’s how much it costs in my Honda Fit:
15,000 miles, 32mpg, $4/gal = $1,875 per year
That’s a savings of $343.75 per month.
Or to put it another way:
Cost of a Jeep Commander’s Gas = (Cost of a Honda Fit’s Gas + Payment on a Honda Fit)