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The Ultimate Guide about how rental cars are Grouped and Classified

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Did you know that car rental companies group the models into categories? We explain what car they will give you and the differences between the types of cars.

Rental companies use car categories to include several models with similar characteristics in terms of size and quality and thus define the price of the whole.

When you rent a car, you do not rent a specific model, but a category. For this reason, it can not be guaranteed that the model you see in the images is the model you receive, it is decided at that time for logistical reasons and availability, but it will be a very similar model.

To make it even easier to rent a car, here we explain what types of rental cars you will find and the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.

What car rental vehicle categories are you going to find?

Mini

Mini cars are the smallest that are offered and are a perfect solution to move in small or large cities and for short stays. Suitable for 1 or 2 people for long trips, or for 3 or 4 people for very short trips.

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What cars can we find in this category?

Fiat 500, Volkswagen Up, Toyota Aygo, Ford Ka, Nissan Micra, Opel Adam, Citroën C1, Peugeot 108, Hyundai i10 or similar.

Advantages

  • They are very cheap cars to rent .
  • Its small size will help you to park comfortably in areas where parking opportunities are scarce.
  • Some Car Rental companies allow young drivers to rent these cars from the minimum age, which is between 18 years and 21 years old or without much driving experience.

Disadvantages

  • Some models only offer enough space for two adults and the small boot but it is enough for a small suitcase and at most two.
  • They are not at all advisable for very tall or large people as they have low ceilings and the interior space is very limited.
  • They are not the most appropriate vehicles if you want to travel many kilometers . In fact, for this reason some rental companies will not let you travel to other countries with Mini cars.

Economy

After Mini type, this is the second smallest type of car you can rent. They are suitable for 4 people for short trips, or, 2 or 3 people for long trips. Good choice for city driving.

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What cars can we find in this category?

Fiat Panda, Volkswagen Polo, Renault Clio, Lancia Ypsilon, Ford Fiesta, Citroen C3, Smart Forfour, Fiat 500X, Fiat Punto, Jeep Renegade or similar.

Advantages

  • The rental of these cars is quite economical and they are perfect if you want to save as much fuel as possible.
  • They are slightly more spacious than the mini, so they continue to be very easy to park and drive in big cities.
  • Small trunks but have enough space for at least two small suitcases.

Disadvantages

  • The rear seats can not fit more than two adults comfortably but offers the possibility of up to 3 passengers in these rear seats.
  • As with mini, they are not suitable for very tall people.
  • They have a small trunk.
  • They are also not recommended for long distance trips, although they are not the ones indicated by the design, motor and general comfort.

Compact

Compact type is a medium-sized cars, often hatchback, but not necessarily. They are not big enough to be Standard either. They are not small, but they are not too big either. Are good for 4 people for a short trips, and 2 or 3 people for a longer trips.

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What cars can we find in this category?

Fiat 500L, Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308, Renault Captur, Fiat Bravo, Audi A3, Volvo V40, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Nissan Versa, Hyundai Accent, Ford Focus

Advantages

  • This segment is not expensive and the quality jump with respect to Economy segment is quite considerable in terms of space, especially for the travelers of the rear seats, comfort, driving quality, and security.
  • They are slightly more spacious than the Economy, so they continue to be easy to drive and park in big cities.
  • Medium trunk, but have enough space for at least three small suitcases.
  • From this category you can travel 5 people.
  • They are also more powerful vehicles , allowing you to make long trips without any problem.

Disadvantages

  • The rear seats can not fit more than two adults comfortably but offers the possibility of up to 3 passengers in these rear seats.
  • They consume more fuel than the previous categories.
  • This category usually requires a minimum age to be able to rent them with some companies.

Intermediate, Standard & Fullsize

The Intermediate cars are medium-sized cars. The standards are smaller than the Fullsize but share style and functionality. These vehicles tend to have large 4 or 5-door cars with more executive appearance and high performance both in interior space and in motor.

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What cars can we find in this category?

Ford Fusion, Chrysler 200, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Jetta, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Impala, Skoda Octavia, Opel Vectra, Citroën C5, Hyundai i40, Ford Mondeo.

Advantages

  • In this type of car, 5 adults can travel comfortably.
  • The interiors are spacious and comfortable seats.
  • They are ideal for traveling on the road as they adapt to the demands of the road
  • If you carry luggage, this type of vehicle will be your ally, since the porters provide much more space than the previous categories.

Disadvantages

  • Its larger size makes it difficult to park in urban centers.
  • When renting this type of car you should bear in mind that you probably have to leave it in paid parking lots or give some other turn more.
  • The minimum age they ask for these vehicles can exceed 21 years.
  • They also consume more fuel.

Estate

As the name suggests, they are ideal for traveling as a family or groups of 5 people. They are compact, intermediate, standard and fullsize vehicles to which the trunk has been extended, so they are longer. They are usually called Tourer and Sports Tourer (ST), Variant (V), Station Wagon (SW), Touring and Sport Touring (ST), Shooting Brake and Estate.

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What cars can we find in this category?

Peugeot 308 Estate, Opel Insignia Estate, Ford Mondeo Estate, Opel Astra Estate, Volkswagen Golf Variant, Skoda Octavia Estate, Volvo V60 Estate, Kia Ceed Estate, Mercedes C Class Estate, Hyundai i40 Estate, Audi A4 Estate or similar.

Advantages

  • Not that they are huge vehicles, but they are comfortable thanks to the spaciousness of their interiors.
  • Its biggest advantage is that it has a larger trunk than a compact or intermediate as a rule. You can carry at least 4 suitcases or more without any problem and give the possibility of transporting large volume objects more easily.

Disadvantages

  • Slightly higher fuel expenditure .
  • If you usually drive a small car, it may cost you a bit to get used to it and you need a bigger space to park since the bigger trunk space makes this vehicle longer.
  • Some companies may ask you for two credit cards to rent this kind of car.

Minivans (5-seat, 7-seat & 9-seat)

It does not matter if you travel with family or friends, the important thing is that if you travel with a number between 5 and 9 people, the most suitable for you is a passenger van.

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Renting a 7 or 9 passenger Minivan is the cheapest way to travel for large groups or families, for short or long road trips, carrying small or large luggage or packages.

They offer the convenient combination of interior amplitude without going over the outside length. If you want to get to know a country or an area traveling its roads, this car will offer you all the necessary space, so that all occupants travel in the most comfortable way possible.

What cars can we find in 5-seat category?

Citroen C4 Picasso,  Volkswagen Touran, Toyota Verso, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Scenic or similar.

What cars can we find in 7-seat category?

Citroen C4 Grand Picasso, Volkswagen Sharan, Opel Zafira, Ford Galaxy, Ford S-Max, Mercedes Vito, Toyota Verso

What cars can we find in 9-seat category?

Renault Trafic, Ford Tourneo, Ford Transit, Volkswagen Transporter, Mercedes Vito Traveliner, Ford Econoline, Toyota Minibus, Volkswagen Caravelle, Opel Vivaro or similar.

Advantages

  • They can travel 5 people comfortably on long trips.
  • Not that they are huge vehicles, but they are comfortable thanks to the spaciousness of their interiors.
  • Great interior space, high ceilings and ample trunk.
  • You can carry at least 4 suitcases or more without any problem.
  • You will avoid that the occupants of the rear bench fight over who goes wider.
  • They are very comfortable if you need to put baby seats .
  • Being slightly taller vehicles, they are more comfortable for older people with limited mobility because they can be climbed with less effort.

Disadvantages

  • Greater spending on fuel .
  • If you usually drive a small car, it may cost you a bit to get used to it and you need a bigger space to park .
  • Some companies may ask you for two cards to rent this vehicle.

Crossovers

They are compact vehicles with a body similar to the 4×4 of all life and higher than a compact.

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What cars can we find in this category?

Kia Stonic, Hyundai Kona, Ford Kuga, Renault Captur, Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3, Volkswagen Tiguan, Opel Mokka, Suzuki Vitara. Citroën C4 Cactus.

Advantages

  • They are just as comfortable for the city as the compact ones and for lowering the heights at higher altitudes – a zone that is usually discovered by the insurances of rental companies – they avoid damage and adapt better to easy roads.
  • They provide more visibility by having more height.
  • They are ideal for traveling with older people since it is easier for them to sit down.

Disadvantages

Depending on the purposes of your trip, it could stay a little short. If what you want is an adventure trip through the mountains … a classic SUV is more indicated without a doubt. Despite having aesthetic similarities with SUVs, they do not offer the same performance or the same safety as an SUV .

SUVs

They are vehicles that are between tourism and off-road. Of aspect could be made happen through 4×4 but their technical characteristics are not so sophisticated. They are vehicles that are usually driven by road but that defend themselves with dignity outside of it on roads of medium difficulty.

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What cars can we find in this category?

Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai ix35, Toyota RAV4, BMW X3, BMW X5, Audi Q5, Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson

Advantages

  • They are large vehicles, comfortable for passengers and with a decent enough boot .
  • They are ideal if you go skiing or traveling in the mountains because they are spacious and defend themselves very well on mountain roads .

Disadvantages

  • The rent of these cars is usually expensive and the gasoline consumption is quite high since it is a very heavy car.
  • Driving is not difficult because they have driving aids although if you have never driven this type of car you may find it difficult.
  • Being such tall cars, you can not clearly see objects close to the ground if they are very close to the car, because what scratches with bollards are usually common.
  • They are not 4×4, so if you get on very difficult off-road roads, chances are you have problems.
  • As a general rule you will have to have a minimum of 25 years and some companies, which not all, can get to ask for 2 credit cards to pay.

4×4

As its nickname in Spanish indicates, these cars will be the best option for terrains where other cars would not be up to scratch. If you intend to visit mountainous areas, difficult access or in general any rural area with complicated roads.

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What cars can we find in this category?

Mitsubishi Montero, Suzuki Gran Vitara, Toyota Land Cruiser, Chevrolet Tahoe, Land Rover Defender

Advantages

  • They will offer you the security and protection you need on all types of roads and routes.
  • You will enjoy a wide visibility . It will give you the feeling that you are living an authentic adventure.
  • When it comes to renting a car on rural trips is the most advisable since you will avoid that the vehicle suffers damages in the low, which -as we mentioned before- are an area that is usually left uncovered.
  • They are more than advisable in countries like Iceland, Finland, Norway … especially in winters where the weather conditions demand rough and tough cars.

Disadvantages

  • They are only really useful if you travel to rural areas.
  • Take into account the high fuel consumption and its somewhat rough behavior on the road at high speeds.
  • If you are traveling with older people, it may be difficult for them to get up since the “step” to get up is quite high.
  • Like SUVs, as a general rule you will have to have a minimum of 25 years and some companies, not all of them, can get 2 credit cards to pay.

Convertibles

There are coupes and convertibles of almost all sizes, engines and prices, so talk about general rules of fuel consumption, comfort on the road … The coupes are cars that usually have between 2 and 4 seats as a rule and with little trunk, and convertibles, Convertibles or Cabrio are coupes with retractable hood. To this type of vehicles tend to belong luxury racing cars such as Ferraris or Lamborginis

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What cars can we find in this category?

Ford Mustang Convertible, Audi TT, BMW Z4, Mazda MX5, Fiat 500C, Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, Volkswagen CC, Mercedes Clase E Cabrio, Jaguar F-Type Coupé,

Advantages

  • They are cars to enjoy and recreate life both on a walk and on the road.
  • They are usually agile cars, very low and stuck to the ground to be able to maneuver at a higher speed.

Disadvantages

  • The convertibles usually consume more fuel without the hood.
  • They are usually small cars with small porters, comfortable only for two people.
  • The rental price is higher than a compact car, for example.

Premium

If you want to treat yourself … Travel with a premium car! It is the best way to enjoy a high quality car. Some companies, such as Sixt for example, will give you the opportunity to make your vacation even more special by driving luxury cars.

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What cars can we find in this category?

Nissan Maxima, Cadillac CTS, Chrysler 300, Buick Lacrosse, Lincoln MKS, Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, Ford Mustang GT Coupé, Jaguar F-Type Coupé, Maserati Ghibli.

Luxury

Do you like to drive? … These cars are rented with full name, that is, if you want to rent an Aston Martin DB11 or a BMW i8, they will give you that specific model, without categories.

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Advantages

You will enjoy driving like never before. Well, only if you do not drive a Lamborghini daily. You will not go unnoticed, and wherever you go, you will make a triumphal entry.

Disadvantages

  • There are very few car rental companies that offer them.
  • They will ask for two credit cards and a considerably high blocking . The franchise of this type of vehicle can be very high.
  • The minimum age to drive these cars is usually not less than 25 years.
  • The consumption of gasoline is very high .
  • They are usually interior cars and small trunks .

Cargo vans

You move? Do you have to transport the instruments of your rock band?

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A cargo van will give you the space you need. There are several types, so you can choose a van whose size fits perfectly to your needs.With Enterprise or Hertz for example, you can rent the perfect moving car to fit all your stuff.

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Frequently asked questions about car categories

How do I know which category is the best for me?

You can get a more precise idea of ​​which car is the most suitable for you by answering these questions:

How many people will travel in the car? How many adults? How many children?

How much luggage will you carry? It is not the same to travel with a backpack than with several suitcases.

Where are you going? Are you going to do many kilometers? It is not the same to travel to the beach than to the mountain. Will you travel many hours by road or just want the car to travel from the hotel to the beach?

Does the price vary by category?

Yes. Not only increases or decreases the rental price of the car as it belongs to one category or another, but also, the price of additional insurance, the amount of the card lock and the insurance excess. It is not the same to rent a Volkswagen Polo that you rent an Audi A6.

There is a car brand that I have not heard in my life. Why?

On the one hand, there are brands of Chinese or Indian cars that are not known at all here, and on the other, there are brands or models of cars that do not have the same name in all countries. For marketing reasons can change the name as, for example, the brand Opel in the United Kingdom and Australia is Vauxhall and the model called Mitsubishi Montero in Spain is called Mitsubishi Pajero in virtually the rest of the world, for obvious reasons; a name may sound good in one language and not in another.

Several rental companies offer the car that interests me at a good price. Which one do I choose?

Each company has its Pros and Cons, you can decide which one you choose by reading the opinions of car rental brands.

And if I want an automatic car … What do I do?

Very easy! Apply the filter that you will find in the list of available cars, in the upper left. In the button it says “automatic cars” and when you press it, only results corresponding to automatic cars will appear.

I want a particular car model and no other … What do I do?

Some rental companies, such as Europcar, Sixt or Hertz for example, offer a service called “guaranteed model”, through which through the payment of a fee, you ensure the model you want. For all other cases, you can talk to the office staff, sufficiently in advance to ask them to keep a model for you.

Can I choose the color of the car?

Probably not. Unless they are luxury cars where you rent the offered car and not a category. It is possible that if you ask nicely and have availability of the color you want, give it to you. But usually not.

How can I decide the type of fuel?

Very easy! Apply the filter that you will find in the list of available cars.

I carry a lot of luggage or I’m going to move and I do not know if I’ll fit everything in the car. What do I do?

In this case, the solution is easy. Measure your luggage or packages that you will carry in the vehicle. Take as a reference the model of car that is used as an example of category and look it up on this page to know the dimensions of the interior spaces. If you see that it is too small you have two options: select a top car category or reduce the luggage.