Understanding Rental Car Size Categories

Minivan

The extra room needed for those special long distance family outings.

Premium

With enough seat and trunk room for long road trips or family vacations.

Luxury

Stunning looks and athletic handling for an impleccable drive.

When renting a car, nearly everyone looks at the pricing as the primary deciding factor. But considering the usage that you may have planned for the vehicle, going on price alone might not be the best decision. Most of us are familiar with the car rental for a business trip; you hop off of the plane, hit the car rental counter and either take the smallest, cheapest car available or you simply accept whatever type of car your company has already set up. Of course, if you are the one footing the bill, you might think twice about renting too much car for a couple of days. Unless you are going to be responsible for playing chauffeur for some colleagues, you might feel fine settling for an economy or compact rental car class. These are the smallest cars available from a standard rental counter, and may either be a two-door or four door without much room in the back seat and certainly not what one would call a 'road' car. But a couple days in a city by yourself on business might be the time to opt for the least expensive options. Many businesses actually go a little higher in class, choosing an 'intermediate' sized car, which still isn't a behemoth but offers a little more leg room and space than the smaller classes.

The framework for this decision changes when the car is going to be used for another purpose. If this is a trip where you are going to have to drive to your destination, you'd probably want to have more room for luggage, especially if you are taking your family. A compact car is no match for the travelling needs of two adults and a couple of kids, and a road trip becomes much less fun when the entire trip is cramped. The smallest car class you'd probably want to go with in this situation is a 'standard' class, but the fact that these cars can also come in two-door models means most family travelers want to opt for at least something in a 'full-size'. Despite what it might sound like, a full-size rental car is not a massive luxury sedan that you'll have a hard time keeping on the road. It will have four doors, never two, and more trunk space. The reality is that full-size may not meet the needs of a larger family or if the entire traveling party is comprised of adults. However, even though many travelers find the size of a full size class of car to be less than adequate, it does not mean that you must upgrade to a luxury car to get more room. There is a common size category for most rental car companies that falls between full size and luxury, which is 'premium'. Like the full size, the premium category will have four doors but will also generally seat five adults comfortably.

For those who do want to move up to the luxury class, it's understood that these cars offer more amenities and comfort, and usually come with more power under the hood. It's not really common to upgrade to this category just for space, usually you would pick up this option for a more comfortable ride as well.

For those who need more passenger space or are heading into rougher terrain, there are SUVs, both intermediate and standard, as well as minivans. It should be noted that in some cases, certain rental car companies will consider an intermediate SUV as a 'standard' class. But standard SUVs, like a Ford Explorer, are always classified as such. Both SUVs generally seat at least five people. Minivans are for large groups, but they also offer comfort as well.

By taking into consideration the length and purpose of your trip, you'll better understand your options when choosing a car size category.