We rented a Nissan Versa for our trip to central Nevada. The major motivation is a simple one: we drove more than a thousand miles, and that would have cost at least $500 in not just gas, but also depreciation, wear and tear on tires, brakes, and other odds and ends. Instead, even paying the exorbitant loss damage waiver that Budget charges (and which only takes one accident to justify), it was still only about $250, including gas. We had some Budget Rent-A-Car gift certificates left over from a teaching job my wife had some years ago, so actual out of pocket cost was closer to $100. When in doubt, put mileage on someone else's car.
Another attraction of renting a car for a trip is that if something goes wrong, you can call up the car rental agency and demand a replacement. If you end up with serious car trouble in your own car a long ways from home, you may have to wait a day or two for repairs. You are also at the mercy of local mechanics, who you may not be sure that you can trust. If you discover a month later that they fouled up the car repair, what are you going to do? Drive 400 miles to demand that they fix it?
One of the attractions of renting a small car for a trip, of course, is gas mileage. But less than it first appears. We averaged 34 mpg on the first leg of the trip, which was all highway miles, and much of it at 70 and above, because most of the journey was in Idaho and Nevada. (If there is anything sillier than a 55 speed limit on many of eastern Oregon's roads, I haven't seen it.) The second fillup was about 28 mpg, because we were doing a lot more around town driving in the Silver Springs area. This is decent gas mileage, but not dramatically better than the Corvette (which would have returned about 30 and 20, respectively) or the Jaguar (which would have been about 28 and 18, respectively). Only compared to the TrailBlazer is gas mileage the strong case for renting the Versa.
It isn't a bad little car. The wheelbase is shorter than the Jaguar, so to create a decent ride required relatively soft springs, giving it a bit more rocking motion on bad roads than I like. Handling for a front wheel drive car was reasonably good. My first reaction to the motor was, "No guts." But then I discovered the overdrive switch on the automatic transmission was on. If you want more guts around town, turn the overdrive off. When passing, even with overdrive on, it did okay. It's not the Corvette, or even the Jaguar in this respect, but I think of some of the cars that I have driven over the years that made the Versa seem like a pocket rocket!
Seats were comfortable, and the trunk was really quite spacious. Some of the controls were in relatively obscure places. On the return trip, I finally figured out where the remote controls for the side view mirrors were located. I'm not sure which model we had, but for a car with an MSRP starting below $11,000, it really wasn't bad. If I were fresh out of college with a good job, I can think of worse choices.
UPDATE: One of the comments below pointed to a couple of very disturbing articles that indicate that taking the CDW may actually be a very good idea. Visa does better than MasterCard, but there is some real risk that you are going to get stuck with a hefty bill if you have a serious accident with a rental car, even after your credit card covers you.