Many of you know that I have my pet peeve about rental cars. When I reserve a particular size of car, I would really like that size. I’ve been renting vehicles most of the times I travel to Omaha for my AF Reserve duty, and rarely do I receive what I’ve reserved.

Call me cheap, but when I don’t expect to do any more than shuttle myself to/from my job every day, I don’t need more than the smallest, most fuel efficient car available. Some of you may remember my adventure with the Ford Mustang that I rented in late February 2011.

This time around, I was pleasantly surprised when the car rental dealer attendant told me that they had a “subcompact car” waiting for me. That was what I had requested.

A Toyota Yaris. It starts at $14K new. Probably among the least expensive cars on the market. ¬†And that’s what you get. It’s a very very simple, low powered, basic car. Hooray for 30+ mpg and hooray for it being nice and nimble in the tight Offutt AFB parking lots near the building where I work.

But as you can see from the picture above, I couldn’t even fit my single wheeled duffel bag in the back. I wasn’t expecting that. BOO! I was able to toss the bag into the back seat, and I guess I should be thankful that there even was a backseat. It could have been a Smartcar, right?

This car has mostly manual controls (except the power windows and automatic transmission), a very basic stereo (with an MP3 jack, at least), and the dashboard information — such as the speedometer, odometer and engine lights — was in the middle of the car…instead of right behind my steering wheel on the driver’s side. Why is it like that? I’m not sure at all.

From what I read, the 2012 Yaris doesn’t have that centralized dashboard anymore. Phew!

With a 106hp engine, you can imagine the cars trailing behind me when I am trying to climb a hill, say, near I-680 and Dodge St. in Omaha, where you’re climbing up into the elevated express lanes.

Here’s a better view of the car.

It maneuvers quite well. But not very powerful, which is evident on hills.