Planning a trip to some tropical destination this winter? Sounds like you could use a great beach-ready car rental! Below is a list of vehicles perfect for everything from a day trip to a week-long sun, sand, and surf adventure. Whether you’re looking to soak up some warm sunbeams solo, haul the whole family without emptying your bank account, or simply tackle some tropical off-road terrain with friends, you're pretty much guaranteed to find a vehicle in this list that will inspire you to stock up the cooler and hit the road to relaxation.
Though less refined than some other vehicles, the classic Jeep Wrangler is perfect for carefree adventurers. Few car rentals are as capable of off-road travel as the Wrangler, and it comes with adequate space for four people and their gear. If you need more space, as your independent car rental provider if they carry the Unlimited version, as it offers more cargo space and an even better ride.
Specifically designed for outdoor enthusiasts who spend lots of time near the ocean, the Element is very easy to clean up after a day at the beach. It has plenty of room for cargo and stretching out, and can even double as a dressing room, perfect for changing out of a wet suit and into casual attire.
Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe
If you don't need a truly specialized adventuring vehicle, these rental cars are perfect for families on a budget. The front passenger seat folds down, allowing for longer cargo to be carried in the car, and the interior is easy to clean out. Adjustable tie-downs make it easy to store beach gear.
Mazda Miata MX-5
The Miata is perfect for beach trips with that special someone. A snug cockpit ensures that you'll be nice and cozy together, while the car's performance ensures a fun ride on windy coastal roads. The top can be raised or lowered in seconds, and the trunk is just big enough to pack some beach essentials.
Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible
Roomier than any other convertible in its rental class, the PT Cruiser Convertible assures enhanced passenger comfort levels. Though the trunk space is somewhat limited, its near-180-degree opening simplifies the loading process. For added performance, step on up to the Touring model, with a turbocharged 180-hp engine.
Volkswagen Passat Wagon
The Passat's back seats are roomy enough for three children or two adults, and its cargo hold is spacious enough for almost all of your beach gear needs. With a 2.0-L diesel engine capable of 27 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, this is a perfect vehicle for the cost-conscious adventure seeker.
Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer
If you're less worried about gas mileage and more worried about comfortably hauling five to seven people, these rental SUVs are a great option. Their cargo capacity is more than adequate; even with five passengers, you should be able to easily carry enough supplies for a week at the beach. Taking along a couple of personal watercraft or a small trailer? No problem! Both vehicles, when equipped with a V8 engine, can tow about 7,000 pounds.
For those who can't live with 20 mpg fuel efficiency on the highway, the Honda Pilot is your SUV of choice. The Pilot's 60/40 split-folding design provides tons of flexibility for loading up kids and equipment. Although it can't tow as much as the Explorer, the Pilot offers even greater cargo capacity.
For overall cargo and towing capacity, it's difficult to beat the Nissan Titan. This rental car's spray-in bed liner with non-slip surface, adjustable tie-downs, and lighted tailgate area is perfect for securing your load. Its 5.6-L V8 and smooth five-speed automatic transmission make it easy to keep up with traffic even when towing, and its spacious internal accommodations make it easy for everyone to enjoy.
The Sienna is perfect for families who are more concerned with convenience than style. The internal configuration can allow up to eight people, and its 60/40 design allows for a mix of storage and passenger space. Rear entertainment systems and sunshades can be added, and numerous storage nooks and cupholders let you travel with plenty of snacks and drinks.
For help comparing these and more rental car options, check out the CRX car rental comparison tool.
Do you have a go-to beach-ready rental? Share your favorites in the comments below!