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Which car to hire for SLC/Jackson Hole trip?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi there

I am planning a 2 week trip in February to ski the SLC area and then continue to drive up to Jackson Hole, picking up and returning a car at SLC airport.

We are a group of 3-4 adults with skis and gear. Originally I thought we needed to hire a big 4wheel drive Jeep but a recent thread here about car hire for SLC gave me the idea that we might get away with a saloon car (and buy chains) instead and save a lot of money in the process.

My questions:
1. is a saloon ok for the drive from SLC to JH and driving around in resorts?
2. I am not familiar with US car rental models. pls give me some models/hire categories that allow for 3-4 adults with skis and luggage.
3. any ideas what the cost savings are; 4wheel drive v saloon?
4. ski rack/box. are these stdandard in SLC?

Many thanks.
post #2 of 21
I'd do a standard 4wd such as a Ford Escape AWD, Jeep Liberty, Chevy Trailblazer, etc. No need to go full size (Ford Expedition, Suburban etc)

The cost of the standard 4wd is not much more than a full sized car required to hold 4 ppl and their gear.
post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylormatt
I'd do a standard 4wd such as a Ford Escape AWD, Jeep Liberty, Chevy Trailblazer, etc. No need to go full size (Ford Expedition, Suburban etc)

The cost of the standard 4wd is not much more than a full sized car required to hold 4 ppl and their gear.
Are you kidding me? Get the biggest, heaviest 4 x 4 that you can get and hope like hell you have to use all that extra weight and clearance to beat your way through all the snow each day to get to the slopes.

Man, ya gotta think big. These tiny 4 x 4's are great for about 4-6 inches of snow max. Unless of course, you got a Wrangler.
post #4 of 21
depends on how well you can drive on snowy roads. the first time I visited JH, I flew in to their tiny airport and rented a Ford Taurus family sedan. no problem for me driving the snowy Teton Pass, but I'm used to driving in snow and the Taurus was front-wheel drive, which helps on snowy hill climbs.

4WD helps, but if you don't know how to drive in snow, it won't help. I'd suggest sticking with a good front drive car.
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach13
Are you kidding me? Get the biggest, heaviest 4 x 4 that you can get and hope like hell you have to use all that extra weight and clearance to beat your way through all the snow each day to get to the slopes.

Man, ya gotta think big. These tiny 4 x 4's are great for about 4-6 inches of snow max. Unless of course, you got a Wrangler.
Well, they sure beat the snot out of a Taurus or Cavalier, lol. Nothing funnier than a tourist sitting in a blizzard putting on chains or digging out of a ditch they just slid into.

And I do have a Wrangler
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylormatt
Well, they sure beat the snot out of a Taurus or Cavalier, lol. Nothing funnier than a tourist sitting in a blizzard putting on chains or digging out of a ditch they just slid into.

And I do have a Wrangler
You're right, and I knew you had a Wrangler.

Gonzo brings up a good point about being familier with driving in the snow. 4wd has the tendency to create a false confidence, if your not familier with what they have the capability to to. I come from a family of 4WD owners who grew up driving in the snowy mountains. My dad likes to say that compared to 2WDs, 4WD's go like crazy, but they stop (or not) the same as 2WDs.

As a side note, when it snows in the DC area you see plenty of the "city boys" standing along side the road beside their shiney mashed up 4 x 4's.
post #7 of 21
Lol, don't even get me started on people who can't drive in snow
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylormatt
Lol, don't even get me started on people who can't drive in snow
Yep, I refer to them as "instant idiots". Just add water in any form.
post #9 of 21
Few things -
First and biggest question is. How much driving will you do? Are you just driving from the airport to Little Cottonwood Canyon or Park City and then just parking the car, and then doing highway miles to Jackson?...may not need the 4x4. I'd try to find out what the travel routes will be at your destinations. Again, if the thing is just gonna parked where ever you go...

As for LCC and BCC, don't they shut the roads down anyway when there's heavy snow? Nobody gets in or out, doesn't matter if you have a snowcat, what you need is a badge or a gun. LOL

remember also that 4x4s help with traction, but not braking. They're also very top heavy, in short, they handle very differently than a sedan does. There's 4x4s to be found in ditches because some genius has watched too many commercials and thinks he's got a snowmobile and not a truck.

OTOH, you've got 4 guys with gear and baggage for 2 weeks. Sounds like you're really deciding between an SUV and a minivan, not a front wheel drive (FWD) sedan.

Ask yourself, "do I even know how to put chains on a car?"

Ski racks do not come standard as far as I know, unless you have a deal. My gf and I went last year to SLC and made do with a Toyota Matrix (5 door compact wagon), FWD, but didn't have any blizzards to drive through. You should be so lucky!

finally, check travelzoo dot com for rental deals, they have plenty for snow country. I'd say learn your intended travel routes, then if needed find a deal on a 4x4 suv, or a 4wd subaru -- and regardless, drive cautiously when there's snow. Good luck -
post #10 of 21
With 4 adults and their respective gear you will need a large vehicle whether or not you will drive in snow. Rent a Ford Expedition if you can find it. Other (smaller) models are Ford Explorer, Jeep Cherokee, Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy.

What is a "Saloon" car?
post #11 of 21
you would be crazy not to get the biggest SUV you can. Do not get the small SUVs - like Jeep Liberty, Honda CRV etc. you have 4 guys to share the expenses. the rental companies can give you a ski rack - you will need it.

also just becos you have an SUV - you still need to be careful about driving. some people think that an SUV gives them the license to zip by at 70 Mph in snowy conditions. I see most them on the side of the road with their wheels up in the air.
post #12 of 21
I just took a new Subaru Outback and I was very impressed with That wagon. It is allwheel drive. great in snow and not worries about chains. The roads up to The cottonwood canyons can be closed due to avalanch control once opened they will requier chains and or 4X4 . If you have a front wheel drive car do not go up the cCanyon without chains! You just never know when you will need them. Locals know that It is wise to take a sleeping bag a change of cloths up the canyon If it should start puking snow they will do what is called an inbounds. Your stuck for the night sleeping in the dinning room, main lodge or anyplace you can find. The drive from SLC to Jackson is on good roads untill the Teton Pass. If your lucky it will dump and you will get stuck up in the Canyon The next day after they do all the avalanch work You and the other overnight guest will have first shot at the goods while those at the Bottom of the Canyon wait is line for the roads to be open. Think od what a great story that will make once you return home. By the way if you are staying in Sandy and the roads up are closed just take the 30 to 45 min drive to the Park city Side why wait in line for 2 to 3 hours when you can be skiing?
post #13 of 21
I think saloon means sedan, but a lot of Brits like to party so it might mean something like a pub on wheels.

If you're not used to 4 wheel drive vehicles, I'd go with a midsize sedan (saloon) with front wheel drive, esp if only 3 of you make the trip. Search for a rental company that will outfit it with a ski rack on the top for free, they might throw in chains too.

By the way, for SLC to Jackson drive, would it be best to take 80 east to 189 or go up 15 and then east on 26?
post #14 of 21
From the SLC Airport, take I80 east to 15 North stay on 15 to Idaho Falls ID. Take 26 to 31 then to 33 over the Teton pass to Wilson WY and on to Jackson.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TerpSKI
With 4 adults and their respective gear you will need a large vehicle whether or not you will drive in snow. Rent a Ford Expedition if you can find it. Other (smaller) models are Ford Explorer, Jeep Cherokee, Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy.

What is a "Saloon" car?
The GMC Jimmy is the old name. The new one (like the Chevy Trailblazer) is called the Envoy.
post #16 of 21
Many good points here, gonzo and tigerpaw being especially perceptive. All I know is that drive can be horrendous. The last two times I've made that drive, I've had really bad luck with almost white out conditions for good portions of the drive with snow-packed roads virtually the whole way. Lucky to make it unscathed - both times had a Ford Taurus, that car seems to sit low and handle well on snow.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj
I think saloon means sedan, but a lot of Brits like to party so it might mean something like a pub on wheels.
Good one ....
saloon = sedan but no prizes for those of you who figured that one out.

Many thanks to all of you for replying.
Very helpful indeed.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
saloon = sedan but no prizes for those of you who figured that one out.
Hey come on, "saloon" in this country has a lot more interesting connotations!

But seriously, spring for a big SUV. It won't magically make you drive like a moron unless you already possess those tendencies. It will give you higher clearance, more weight and you can put it in 4WD when you need to.
post #19 of 21
We usually rent suv's, but have gotten "saloons" as well. Never felt the absolute need for the suv even in some pretty good storms. But, go back to what was said about being used to driving in snow. If you're not, then you may want the 4-wheel drive. And also if you're lucky enough to rellly get nailed with a blizzard... but if that happens you just stay where you are and ski there. There's an old saying that fits, "fish where the fish are."

The best, roomiest and most comfy car I ever rented on a ski trip was a Cadillac 9 (the ultimate in america saloons) out of Denver in '93. That baby plowed through the pow like buttah.
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by crashhelmet
Hi there

I am planning a 2 week trip in February to ski the SLC area and then continue to drive up to Jackson Hole, picking up and returning a car at SLC airport.

We are a group of 3-4 adults with skis and gear. Originally I thought we needed to hire a big 4wheel drive Jeep but a recent thread here about car hire for SLC gave me the idea that we might get away with a saloon car (and buy chains) instead and save a lot of money in the process.

My questions:
1. is a saloon ok for the drive from SLC to JH and driving around in resorts?
2. I am not familiar with US car rental models. pls give me some models/hire categories that allow for 3-4 adults with skis and luggage.
3. any ideas what the cost savings are; 4wheel drive v saloon?
4. ski rack/box. are these stdandard in SLC?

Many thanks.
I am a Brit. I have stayed in SLC. I have also rented a Ford Taurus to go from San Francisco to Heavenly.

A Taurus is the biggest of their standard saloons - without going up into the premium/luxury band. It will be big enough for three or four people.

In San Francisco you did not get a ski/roof rack. The Taurus is a fairly boring car to drive . The one I hired had an annoying foot-operated parking brake. San Francisco to Tahoe route had plenty of garages offering to sell and fit snow chains. I do not know if that applies for the journey to Jackson Hole.

If you are skiing in SLC, then I would stay down by the TRAX station and hop on the bus.
post #21 of 21
For all rental cars, if you ask the agents, they will tell you you cannot put on Chains. You will be responsible for the chain damages if you put it on. Forget about the rental car company will "throw in" the chains or even ski racks. Ski racks will cost you $5/day extra. So the only way to drive from SLC to JH is to get an 4WD. But 4WD in SLC is especially expensive, about double the cost of the same car in San Francisco, Go figure.
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