Renting a car in Kauai is a must, unless you will be staying at a resort your entire stay. However, is the extra expense to upgrade from a regular car to the iconic Jeep Wrangler worth it? We rounded up the main pros and cons to help you make up your mind.
An iconic SUV with the advantages of a convertible:
How often will you have the opportunity to drive a Jeep Wrangler in your day-to-day life? If you do not own one, what better opportunity to drive one than on your dream vacation to Hawaii? The car has an undeniable cool factor and will give you an extra sense of adventure as you drive through the beautiful sceneries of Kauai. You can actually take the roof off in a matter of minutes which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and allows passengers to enjoy the ocean breeze.
To be worry free when visiting off-road areas like Polihale beach:
A Jeep also has practical advantages in Kauai. There are places on the island where a 4WD is actually recommended. From our experience, this is the case when visiting the Makauwahi Cave area, as the dirt road is pretty washboarded. More importantly, if you plan on visiting Polihale State Park, riding in a Jeep will make it hassle free. Indeed, the frequently flooded gravel road leading to Polihale is not recommended to regular cars. Moreover, if you plan on driving on the beach like the locals, then you do not have a choice but to go for a Jeep. Make sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Polihale State Park for more practical information about driving to Polihale and tips on how to drive on the sand.
Less budget friendly:
This is a pretty obvious one, but upgrading from a mid-size car to a Jeep comes at an extra cost. In our experience, the upgrade cost of renting a 2-door Jeep Wrangler for 6-days was about $100 extra with Advantage Rent A Car (we were lucky to get upgraded to a 4-door). However, there is more to consider than only the upgrade cost. You will need to spend a little more on gas as a Jeep Wrangler certainly has a lower efficiency than a Toyota Camry. This is further exacerbated by the fact that Hawaii is one of the states with the highest gas prices in the nation. Another consideration is the possible extra cost of insurance if purchased with the rental company. Learn how to never pay extra for car insurance by reading our tips to Spend Less on Car Rentals – Mulah Tips.
Your pet-peeves may be triggered with the doors, trunk and roof:
The following issues are not that big of a deal for most people, but might be major a pet peeve for some. Surprisingly, you cannot open or close the doors of the Jeep with the press of a button. You must insert the key into the door like in the 1990’s. Furthermore, since there is no central locking/unlocking, you will then need to manually lock/unlock each door. Also, some people complain about the limited trunk space in Jeep Wranglers. With only two passengers in the car, you will be just fine. The issue is if you end up with four passengers in a 2-door Jeep, as four big suitcases won’t fit in the trunk.
One issue specific to the 4-door Wrangler is that when removing the hard top, you must store it in the trunk. This process can be tedious since you need to put the top back every time you leave the car. This is important to avoid theft and in case it starts raining (there will be rain showers intermittently every day).
Renting a Jeep in Kauai is worth the splurge
We are usually proponents of getting the cheapest car possible when going on road trips. However, we would make an exception to the rule for a trip to Kauai. Overall, riding in a Jeep is a cool experience. The car inspires adventure and especially in the kind of landscapes Kauai has to offer. Not only are Jeeps comfortable to drive on any kind of terrain, they are also fun to ride. With the advantages of an SUV and a convertible car, a Jeep gives you the best of both worlds. All of this is especially true if you never had the opportunity to ride a Jeep Wrangler before.