This is carsharing.

Vancouver to Portland: Car Sharing vs. Car Rental for the Long Distance Road Trip

My partner and co-driver Cody, member since 2013 eating at one of Portland’s famous vegan food carts.

One member’s take on road-tripping with Modo

“By car? Seriously? How could you even think of driving a car here when we have this wonderful public transit system?” – Portlandia, A Guide for Visitors

As Modo’s Events Coordinator, I have the best job there out there ­– sharing the passion of 10,000+ members with thousands of prospective members at events across Metro Vancouver throughout the year. 

This means that I meet a lot of prospective members and get a lot of the same questions. One common question is whether Modo is a good alternative to car rental for long distance road trips. The answer, as many of you fellow members know, is that it varies on the length, distance and purpose of the trip.

While Modo will more often than not be the best solution for short distance day trips, such as Whistler and Harrison Hot Springs, what about a longer distance trip to, say… Portland?

To answer this question, that’s where I went – twice! Once with a car rental and once with a Modo. Here is what I found.

Vancouver to Portland via Car Rental

I rented a 2013 silver Mazda 2 Hatch from the Hertz in Richmond near IKEA for a weekend trip. I chose this location as they had the lowest rates from all the other Hertz and were open during the hours that I wanted to pick up and return the car. I chose this vehicle because it was more affordable than booking a hybrid, which I would have preferred.

The booking was for three days (two nights in Portland) and the total cost, including gas, was about $400. We drove a direct route and did not do any other driving while in the city, which kept our mileage and gas costs down. Variables including the optional insurance, underage fee (if applicable), select discounts for point collectors, and so on will impact the total cost for others taking the same trip.

Overall, the price was decent for what we needed at the time, the customer service at this location was excellent and the car was brand new. Downsides included having to pay for gas out of our pocket, not knowing which car we were going to get, and having to abide by the hours of the office – and the hassle of finding our way to Richmond from the West End.

Vancouver to Portland via Car Sharing

Car #288 *not that the mirrors are folded in order to allow bicyclists a safer route

For our second trip, over the Easter long weekend, we booked car #288, a 2010 dark grey Toyota Prius with sunroof, heated seats, GPS, cruise control, and an amazing sound system that connects through Bluetooth. Props to our Fleet Manager Kelvin for the recommendation.

As all Modo vehicles are the same price, our booking came to around $400 for a four-day booking with three nights in Portland. We also did some detours en route to Portland along with some city driving. Had we paid for the gas, as we did with rental, we would have paid about $75 to fill the tank on the hybrid three times over the course of the trip; this vehicle was so fuel-efficient it made our Mazda look like a Hummer.

Car Rental vs Car Sharing for Long-Distance Road Trips

The clear winner to us was the Modo option, for two reasons: cost and comfort. 

One could argue that there are lower options out there when it comes to renting. However,  is it worth your time (and time is money) to find them, go pick-up and return the car, and to drive the smallest car they have?  Especially when you consider that with Modo you can drive a fancy sportscar, like a Scion FR-S, a fully electric Nissan Leaf, or even bring a minivan full of friends down for the weekend and pay the same price. 

Modo is reliable, has amazing customer service, and plenty of options to chose from.  Another factor that should be considered is Modo’s fixed costs; we we’re able to plug our trip into the Trip Cost Calculator on the website and get an approximate cost estimate of the trip, without having to worry about varying gas prices.

The hardest part for this road trip was not deciding on how to get there but which car to chose from. We were very pleased with our choice and will be bringing her down to Seattle in a couple of weeks with two friends (can you say “carpool lane”?!).

Lastly, and probably more importantly, we are member-owners of Modo, which means the Prius is OUR car. And, let’s be honest, for a city like Portland, we fit right in. After counting more than a dozen Prius’, two Leafs, and a Tesla on our first day there, we knew we’d made the smart choice.

Tommy Laflamme

Modo member since 2012


Modo Co-operative
Toll free1.877.226.2277
Modo Co-operative
Toll free1.877.226.2277
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