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Car Hire and Travel Blog - 02.04.2021.

Rental Car Sizes: The Definitive Guide to Rental Car Classes

When you book a rental car, the rental company will display classes for rent. These classes are split into different sizes of rental cars. The most common rental car sizes are Mini, Economy, Compact, Intermediate and Full-size cars.

Many car rental companies will allow young drivers to rent smaller car sizes, all the way down to 18 years of age. For bigger car sizes and luxury cars, the minimum age to rent a car can be from 25 years of age.

Rental car companies will display a car rental class for each rental car size available. In Europe, all companies will also offer "or similar "to their vehicle types. It means that they do not guarantee a specific car model, but they are selling a specific rental car class. For example, if you rent a Toyota Yaris, you might receive a Volkswagen Polo. It is because car rental companies follow standard classification codes called ACRISS or SIPP. But what are these car rental classes, and what is the difference between them?

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Car rental size guide

Rental car Class

Seats

Doors

Luggage

Makes & Models

Mini

4 persons

3 doors

2 small bags

Toyota Aygo
Hyundai i10

Economy

4 persons

4 doors

1 big bag
1 small bag

Citroen C3

Ford Fiesta

Compact

5 persons

5 doors

2 big bags

1 small bag

Ford Focus

Toyota Auris

Intermediate

5 persons

5 doors

2 big bags

2 small bag

Honda Accord

Toyota Camry

Standard

5 Persons

5 Doors

2 big bags

2 small bags

Ford Focus

Peugeot 301

Full-size

5 Persons

5 Doors

2 big bags

2 small bags

Ford Fusion

Toyota Camry

Estate

5 Persons

5 Doors

3 big bags

2 small bags

Ford Focus Estate

Hyundai i30 Estate

Minivans

7-9 Persons

3 Doors

4-5 big bags

3 small bags

Renault Trafic

Ford Tourneo

Crossover

5 Persons

5 Doors

2 big bags

1 small bag

Toyota C-HR

Hyundai Kona

SUV

5 Persons

5 Doors

3 big bags

2 small bags

Suzuki Vitara

Ford EcoSport

4X4

5 Persons

5 Doors

3 big bags

2 small bags

Dacia Duster

Toyota Land Cruiser

Convertibles

2 Persons

3 Doors

1 big bag

1 small bag

Ford Mustang

Mercedes CLK

Premium

5 Persons

5 Doors

2 big bags

2 small bags

Mercedes C-class

Luxury

5 Persons

2-5 Doors

2 big bags

2 small bags

BMW 5 series

Audi A5

Cargo Vans

2-3 Persons

3 Doors

 

Nissan NV

Ford Transit

Here we will go over each rental car size in order and the difference between all of these classes. Are you looking for more car hire tips? Find out the cheapest time to book a car

What is a mini car category in car rental?

Mini is always the smallest rental car you can rent, so it is commonly known as a small car. Mini cars are great for three to four people when travelling a short distance. It can suit better for a single driver or two persons when travelling a longer distance.

Pros to renting a mini car: You will get a fuel-efficient vehicle by renting a mini car. It is also the cheapest car to rent. So when travelling on a budget, a small car can be suitable.

Cons to renting a mini car: As the mini car is the smallest category, it does not offer excellent luggage space. For tall people, it may not be comfortable to sit in the back for long distances. It might also not be the best car for driving on autobahns or highways.

When you book a mini car, you might not always get the exact vehicle advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar vehicle with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Toyota Aygo in mini cars.

Toyota Aygo in Mini car category

What is the Economy car category in car rental? 

Economy car category is the second most minor type of car you can hire after mini. They are perfect for driving in cities. For long-distance driving, they are suitable for two or three persons; it is ideal for four people for four persons. Economy cars are the group above mini cars and below compact cars.

Pros to renting an Economy car: They are great for travelling on a budget. If you are looking for a bigger car than a mini, it is your go-to car class. They are also fuel-efficient.

Cons to rent an Economy car: This car class is often a base model of the vehicles. It might not have all features similar to bigger cars. If four are travelling together, luggage space might be limited.

When you book an Economy car, you might not always get the exact vehicle advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar vehicle with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Ford Fiesta in economy cars.

Ford Fiesta in Economy car category

What is a compact car category in car rental? 

In-car rental, compact cars are considered medium-sized cars. They can often be hatchbacks (not always) and are suitable for four persons for shorter trips. For longer trips, compact cars are ideal for two or three persons. Compact car class is the third smallest class, above mini and economy groups and after intermediate.

Pros to rent a compact car: Compact cars are always fuel-efficient. They provide good luggage space for three or fewer passengers. They are better for driving on highways compared with the classes below, economy and mini. They will also have a more powerful engine than smaller car classes.

Cons to renting a compact car: It might not be suitable for four passengers with luggage. This car class is often a base model of vehicles. It might not have all features similar to bigger cars. This category can require a minimum age to rent depending on car rental companies.

When you book a compact car, you might not always get the exact vehicle advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar vehicle with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Ford Focus in compact cars.

Ford Focus in compact car category

What is an Intermediate car category in car rental?

Intermediate cars are in general bigger than compact cars and more petite than standard cars. Some car rental companies also put crossover cars into the intermediate car size. Intermediate cars are perfect for up to four people travelling together for short and long distances.

Pros to rent an intermediate car: Intermediate cars are more significant than compact, offering more luggage space as well as more comfort for passengers sitting in the back seats.

Cons to renting an intermediate car: It can be more challenging to park in smaller spaces. There can be a minimum age to rent this car category depending on the car rental company.

When you book an intermediate car, you might not always get the exact vehicle advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar vehicle with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Toyota Camry in intermediate cars.

Toyota Camry in Intermediate car category

What is the standard car category in car rental?

In-car rental, standard cars can also be described as large cars. They are suitable for five passengers and are great for long drives. They provide good luggage space and comfortable seats in the back of the car.

Pros to rent a standard car: As classic cars are often called large cars, they provide suitable space for up to five passengers and are great for long-distance drives.

Cons to renting a standard car: If you are five persons, it will not accommodate five large suitcases. Standard vehicles can fit around two suitcases and two smaller bags.

When you book a standard car, you might not always get the exact vehicle advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar vehicle with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Peugeot 301 in standard vehicles.

Peugeot 301 in Standard car category

What is a Full-size car category in car rental? 

A Full-size car is the largest car that is not an SUV, truck or van. These are cars with bigger luggage space compared with standard or intermediate. It is excellent for four to five passengers for long drives.

Pros to rent a full-size car: As it is the largest car that is not an SUV, it will give you good luggage space and fits up to five passengers without having to go for a full SUV.

When you book a full-size car, you might not always get the exact vehicle advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar car with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Ford Fusion in full-size cars.

Ford Fusion in full-size car category

What is the Estate car category in car rental?

Estate cars are also known as station wagons or estate wagons. Estate cars have a larger trunk size for luggage compared with full-size and lower car classes. They are great for five passengers with luggage travelling together.

Pros to renting an estate car: Estate cars have larger trunks than standard or large cars that are not SUVs, trucks, or vans. They are also often very fuel-efficient cars.

Cons to renting an estate car: If you are only used to smaller cars, it can be challenging to park an estate car in smaller spaces due to larger trunk space.

When you book an estate car, you might not always get the exact car advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar car with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Ford Focus Wagon in estate cars.

Ford Focus Estate Wagon in estate car category

What is a minivan in car rental?

A minivan can also be categorised as a passenger van. They will be available for five passengers, seven passengers and nine passengers. Minivans will have larger trunks than standard cars and more space for passengers. They are suitable for groups travelling together with more luggage and are still looking for a fuel-efficient vehicle.

What cars would consider 5-seat minivan?

Volkswagen Touran, Nissan Qashqai and Renault Scenic are good examples of 5-seater minivans.

What cars would consider 7-seat minivan?

Opel Zafira, Ford Galaxy and Toyota Verso are good examples of the 7-seater minivan.

What cars would consider 9-seat minivan?

Opel Vivaro, Renault Trafic, Volkswagen Caravelle, Ford Tourneo and Ford Transit are good examples of 9-seater minivans.

Pros to rent a minivan: Minivans are suitable for large groups. They have excellent luggage space and are fuel-efficient vehicles.

Cons to renting a minivan: If you are only used to driver smaller vehicles, it can be challenging to get used to minivans. It can be more challenging to park in small spaces.

When you book a minivan car, you might not always get the exact car advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar car with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Volkswagen Touran, Opel Zafira and Renault Trafic minivans.

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What is a crossover in car rental?

Crossover cars are premium cars that are similar to SUVs. They provide more comfort and are easier to drive when compared with SUVs as they tend to be more stable, better to get around in smaller areas, and easy to park.

Pros to rent a crossover: Crossover is similar to SUV. However, they can provide more comfort and are easier to handle when it comes to driving.

Cons to rent a crossover: If you are looking for an adventure to the mountains, the crossover might not be what you want. SUVs would be more suitable; although crossover is very similar, they do not have the same performance as an SUV has.

When you book a crossover car, you might not always get the exact vehicle advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar car with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Toyota C-HR in crossover cars.

Toyota C-HR in crossover car category

What is an SUV in car rental? 

SUV stands for suburban utility vehicles. In-car rental provides a reasonable size that is made to handle rougher roads compared with regular cars. The chassis of the SUV is specially designed, and often they can come with AWD or 4x4. SUV has a larger trunk size than standard cars. The SUV is usually driven on a paved road but can handle very well on medium rough roads.

Pros to renting an SUV: The SUV has higher ground clearance than a regular car can handle rougher roads. They also have excellent luggage space.

Cons to rent an SUV:  They are not 4x4, so you might run into problems if you go to challenging roads. They are often not as fuel-efficient as smaller cars. In general, you need to be at least 25 years of age to rent an SUV car.

When you book an SUV car, you might not always get the exact car advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar car with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Ford EcoSport in SUV cars.

Ford EcoSport in SUV car category

What is a 4x4 in car rental? 

In car rental, 4x4 are larger cars with higher ground clearance than regular cars. They have a four-wheel-drive system, so they handle rough roads better. They are good-sized cars that can help renters to go on roads where regular cars are not allowed.

Pros to rent a 4x4 car: They have a 4WD system, higher ground clearance and more substantial chassis than regular cars. They can go on more roads than standard cars.

Cons to rent a 4x4 car: They are not used when only staying on standard roads. They do have higher fuel consumption than regular cars. Same as with SUV, in general, you need to be at least 25 years of age to rent a 4x4.

When you book a 4X4 car, you might not always get the exact car advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". This means you can get a similar car with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Toyota 4Runner in 4X4 cars.

Toyota 4Runner in 4x4 car category

What is a convertible in car rental?

In car rental, convertible cars have a soft rooftop that can be folded down and drive roofless. A convertible car is perfect for warm destinations. They are suitable for two passengers travelling together.

Pros to rent a convertible car: With the option to fold down the soft top, it is perfect for romantic trips, business trips or vacations in warm destinations.

Cons to rent a convertible car: While driving a convertible with the roof folded down, they tend to spend more fuel. They are also smaller vehicles with minimum luggage space and ideal for no more than two people.

When you book a convertible car, you might not always get the exact vehicle advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar vehicle with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Ford Mustang in convertible cars. 

Ford Mustang Convertible in convertible car category

What is a premium in car rental? 

Premiums are cars that provide more features than regular cars. They offer extra room for passengers as well as a larger trunk space for luggage. It is suitable for up to five passengers with luggage.

Pros to rent a premium car: Premium cars provide additional space for passengers and have a larger trunk and features not in regular vehicles.

Cons to rent a premium car: Premium rental cars are not common to find. They might have a high-security deposit to be taken. Car rentals have a minimum age of 25 to rent a premium car.

When you book a premium car, you might not always get the exact car advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar car with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Mercedes Benz CLA in premium cars.

Mercedes Benz CLA in Premium car category

What is a luxury car in car rental?

In car rental, luxury cars are more expensive vehicles that provide more comfort than regular cars. They are perfect for people looking to travel in style. Luxury cars are made from high-end brands with all the best features available.

Pros to renting a luxury car: You will receive a car from a high-end brand with all the best features. They are made to travel in style.

When you book a luxury car, you might not always get the exact car advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar car with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of the BMW 5 series in luxury cars. 

BMW 5 series in luxury car category

What is a cargo van in car rental?

In car rental, cargo vans have excellent cargo space for hauling oversized items from one place to another. They can come in various sizes, everything to move smaller items to substantial items. If you are moving or need to get large items between places, a cargo can is ideal.

Pros to renting a cargo van: Cargo vans are made to move more oversized items between places.

When you book a cargo van car, you might not always get the exact car advertised. Many car rental companies display "or similar ". It means you can get a similar car with a similar engine size, dimensions and luggage space. Below you will find examples of Ford Transit Connect in cargo can include cars.

Ford Transit Connect in cargo van category 

Frequently asked questions about car classes. 

What is the difference between full-size and standard car rental?

Full-size rental cars are the most significant cars without being SUVs, trucks or vans. Full-size cars have a bigger space for passengers and larger trunk space.

Economy vs compact car rental?

Economy cars are the second smallest car class available in car rental. The compact is slightly bigger than economy cars. Compact cars are considered medium-sized rental cars; they are often hatchback cars.

What is considered a compact car rental?

Compact cars are also called medium size rental cars. They are often hatchback cars; it is not guaranteed as a hatchback. 

Is a full-size or standard rental car bigger?

Full-size rental cars are more significant than standard rental cars. Full-size is the largest car class without being SUV, truck or van.

I only drive an automatic car. How can I make sure to rent a car with automatic transmission?

At Orbit Car Hire, you can filter your search criteria and see all of our automatic offers. This filter is found on the upper left side of the webpage under "Car specifications ".

Can I choose the colour of my rental car?

You will most likely not be able to choose the colour of your rental car. It can be a good idea to ask the agent if they have several cars available in your car category you might be able to choose a colour you prefer.

I want a particular car model and no ‚or similar ', is that possible?

Some car rental companies like Europcar, Sixt, and other brands can display "guaranteed model "offers. If you select a request with this, you will receive the model you booked. However, if you choose an offer displayed as "or similar ", you will not be guaranteed to get the model you booked. But you will receive a similar car, with a similar engine, dimensions and specifications.

What cars are full-size rentals?

Full-size cars are, for example:

  • Ford Fusion
  • Toyota Camry
  • Dodge Charger
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Nissan Maxima
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Kia Cadenza

What is a mid-size rental car?

A mid-size rental car is also called a compact car. They are, for example:

  • Mazda 3
  • Volkswagen Jetta
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Honda Civic
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Ford Focus
  • Toyota Auris

What are the sizes of rental cars?

The sizes of rental cars are as follow in the correct order:

  • Mini
  • Economy
  • Compact
  • Intermediate
  • Standard
  • Full-size
  • Estate
  • Minivan
  • Crossover
  • SUV
  • 4X4
  • Convertible
  • Premium
  • Luxury
  • Cargo Van

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