When traveling, you are typically bombarded with decisions. Where to travel, what flight to book, what car to hire, what accommodation is best, and so on. Then, on top of all the traveling decisions you have to make, you need to learn where to go, where to eat, and know what you want to do once you get there. This can easily make any trip into a nightmare before it even begins. Making these decisions is stressful, especially when you come across a seemingly innocuous question like whether you want to rent a standard or full-size car at checkout.
The confusion here is often because the difference between a standard and a full-size vehicle isn’t common. This leads to confusion as to why one is priced cheaper than the other. Knowing what each label means can help you choose the right car for you and any passengers you are bringing with you. It is important to note that these labels are not universal. What one company might deem to be a compact car might be a mid-sized vehicle at another.
There are typically five different classifications for vehicles, though they won’t always be titled the same thing, depending on who you rent from. Smaller vehicles, which can fit up to four to five people but generally have little trunk room and might only have two doors, are typically referred to as sub-compact, compact, economy, or small. They are often the cheapest to rent and can be quite fuel-economic. The real confusion when it comes to choosing vehicle size, however, comes in the standard to the full-size range. You would expect a larger vehicle to cost more, but the full-size models can actually cost less than a standard, so, what’s the difference? Let’s start the standard vs. full size rental car debate.
Standard Rental Car
Standard vehicles come with a variety of different names. They are also known as intermediate or mid-size, though some companies might have them placed as one step above the intermediate classification. Typically, this means that four to five people can sit comfortably, and there is more space for luggage. Standard-sized vehicles often have great gas mileage, and perfect for the average driver.
It is important to note that size wise, companies can use different classifications to denote different models. Take SUV’s, for instance. The Hyundai Santa Fe, or similar models, are recognized on Advantage as standard SUVs, where the Toyota RAV4 is recognized as an Intermediate. Size-wise, intermediate and standard can be used interchangeably. The difference between these two models is the miles per gallon (mpg). The Standard SUV Hyundai Santa Fe will fetch you between 18/24mpg while the Toyota RAV4 will go up to 22/28mpg.
Full-Size Rental Cars
Full-size vehicles are typically larger and more spacious, but they do not always mean SUVs. They are larger four-door passenger vehicles that typically seat up to five passengers, with space for three pieces of luggage. You will benefit though from more leg room and space, meaning they are ideal for long trips with the family.
The reason why full-sized vehicles might cost less to rent than standard vehicles is due to their mileage. The standard 2/4 Hyundai Sonata will go from 25 to 36 miles on one gallon, while the full-sized 2/4 Toyota Camry will only travel 21 to 30 miles on one gallon. Therefore, for those who are traveling long distances, you might want to opt for the standard, more economical vehicle. If you have a family and are, indeed, traveling with the maximum amount of passengers, the full-sized option will be the better tradeoff, despite its lower mpg.
What “Or Similar” Means
What you might notice when choosing between a standard or full-size vehicle is that when you opt to reserve a specific model it says “or similar” underneath. This is because we cannot guarantee that specific model will be available upon your arrival, due to other renters taking it out. What is guaranteed, however, is a similar model in terms of size and gas mileage.
Which Rental Car is Right for You?
The difference between types of vehicles might be confusing, since they do not just denote the size of the vehicle, but the power and performance of said vehicle as well. If you really want to be certain that the vehicle you have chosen is best for you and your needs, look up the model itself. You will be able to learn exactly what the vehicle’s capabilities are, its size, and its performance and safety features before you book.
Generally, however, you will want to choose a vehicle that fits you, your passengers, and your luggage comfortably. Rental agencies only carry the newest models in store, so you don’t have to worry about renting a vehicle that is past its prime.