How do you figure out the best car to rent for a road trip? You’ll be in your rental for hours so you want it to be perfect. Here’s how to figure out the best car to rent for a road trip so everyone enjoys the ride.
Passengers Come First
The size of the car you rent has a lot to do with how much you enjoy the trip. A couple can get something smaller, perhaps even a convertible so you can drop the top and bask in the summer sun. Those who plan on bringing friends should consider a sedan with a roomy back seat, but if you’re a family, then you need to go big.
There’s a reason families gravitate toward minivans and SUVs. They have room for everyone and include family-friendly amenities. Features like multiple cup holders, cubbies for storing snacks and gadgets, and a rear-seat entertainment system make long trips with kids more enjoyable.
Plan for Cargo
If you have lots to pack or plan to pick up souvenirs along the way, then make sure you have room to hold them in your vehicle. Even a couple who packs lean may find the average two-seater convertible impractical for an extended trip. Pay attention to how much cargo the vehicle you’re considering will hold and plan accordingly.
Families need even more room, making a larger vehicle a better choice. Remember it’s not just about suitcases. There are also strollers, blankets, toys for the beach, maybe camp chairs and tents. Look at everything you need to carry and be realistic about how much you can pare down for the trip.
Check on Tow Ratings
Those with extensive cargo needs or who plan on bringing larger toys like a boat or ATV will need to get a vehicle that can tow. Don’t assume just because you’re getting something big that it will be able to handle your towing needs.
Be sure you know how much you will be towing and how much the rental vehicle is rated to tow. Don’t exceed those limits. Stick with a vehicle that meets your towing needs to stay safe on the road.
Consider Fuel Economy
The longer the trip, the higher the fuel cost. If it’s a short trip, then it won’t impact your budget, but on a longer trip fuel costs add up. This is a good reason to get a vehicle that’s not bigger than what you need since a smaller vehicle is generally more fuel efficient.
There are hybrid and electric cars available in many rental fleets. These offer fuel savings, but plan carefully if you rent an electric vehicle. Charging stations aren’t on every corner like gas stations, so be sure there are adequate places to charge up along your planned route.
Key Features to Consider
The infotainment system in your rental car has the potential to make the drive easier. Consider navigation and smartphone integration so you can quickly find the nearest gas station or restaurant. Also, check for USB charging ports that will keep the family’s devices charged and ready.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes time to finding the best car to rent for a road trip. A little planning is all it takes to find the perfect trip for your summer adventure.
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Photos courtesy of Nicole Wakelin.
Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.