In the past trips my wife's client was paying her expenses so renting a car was more about convenience at the airport and not really as much the cost for the rental. This trip we are doing in December is pleasure and out of our pockets so I have been doing some price shopping before committing to a rental. I wanted a car that can handle the bumpy roads or sandy conditions on the north side when we are out exploring and also afford a good level of comfort and security. A Jeep is fun but I don't feel as comfortable walking away for long if I leave my digital camera gear in a vehicle with a soft top and the AC has to fight to cool you down.
So I contacted Royal about their Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4, they list it as $395 for 7 days and they offer specials before the high season. Urmie responded quickly to my email with a quote of $300 for a cash rental and $315 if using a credit card. So I responded that I thought that was fair and would do the online reservation with all my details. The day after I did that I got a confirmation but the price was much higher than what I had been quoted. So I wrote back pointing out the first quote I had been given and within an hour had a reply apologizing for "the error" and agreeing to the first price.
So we will get it for $315 for 7 days with basic liability insurance and no extra charge for miles driven. They will only add the usual fees and sales tax at the end. I feel pretty good with that. I haven't decided on paying for extra insurance cover. I'm using my AMEX Platinum to reserve and pay for the car and have been happy with the protection I received in the past. Once when driving in Wales I hit a curb as I rounded a corner and blew out the tire and bent the rim and AMEX took care of everything. I usually only get the extra cover in countries where AMEX doesn't give the protection like Australia.
From what I have read Royal gets pretty good marks overall.
I have personally never had a bad experience with Royal and have been renting from them for years. Many times the cars are not super shiny brand new cars, but they are reliable and the customer service has always been great.
ETA: I've rented a tiny little Toyota Yaris many years ago, a Dodge Grand Caravan in 2016, the 13 passenger Hyundai H1 van in 2014 and everything in between.
We've rented Jeeps from Royal several times, I have nothing bad to say about them. When we get a jeep they would probably be our goto. The cars were more or less reliable, the price was right and the people were friendly-ish. That being said, because of the podcast I felt the need to branch out to other providers and have experienced service beyond what Royal provided but even still I have nothing to say about Royal and would totally use them again.
Thanks to everyone for input. We are going with them this time and will report back afterwards!
Be very very careful. Check the car /jeep and take photos of any damage. We had a Toyota and the passenger door handle fell off. Then we had a car that had 2 flat tires and it took them hours and hours to respond. We used them over several years and the service went down each year. Cars with failed air conditioning etc.Final insult that we could never resolve was when Urmi charged a large amount to our credit card and we were unable to get it back from Royal or the credit card company. Royal disputed our claim. The amount in question.....$800US