US Car Hire Fleet Guide

Your car – Your choice

Your Guide to the US Car Hire Fleet

Having the right car for your holiday can make a great trip into a fantastic trip!  With TripWheels ‘Choice’ options with Alamo and Dollar, you can choose your car from the car hire fleet available at the location when you arrive. In essence, you get to choose your car from the parking lot, all ready to go with the keys in, rather than having one allocated. If you would like to know a bit more about the ‘Choice’ facility and locations where this is offered please click here.

Because you book a category of car when you make your initial reservation, there are many aspects to consider when selecting that category, but the most important one is size: will you and your family or group, be comfortable?

Then, the luggage question, will you get all of your luggage into the car?  This may be less important if you only need to get your luggage from the airport to your hotel and can put up with a few bags on your knees.  However, it is critical if you are planning a road trip across America from San Francisco to New York for instance.

★ Size – will your family have plenty of room?

★ Luggage – will all your luggage fit in?

★ Mileage – will your family/group be comfortable over a long distance?

★ Budget – What is the largest size car within your budget?

Use our guide to our supplier’s fleets below to work out where your chosen car fits into the category groupings.

Economy and Compact Car Hire Categories

The example vehicles within these categories tend to be as follows:

Economy

  • Alamo and National: Kia Rio (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Kia Rio (2017)

Compact

  • Alamo and National: Nissan Versa Note (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Ford Focus (2017)

You will always see the words ‘or similar’ after any example cars, because the companies use these examples just to illustrate the size and capacity of the ‘category’.  There are usually other cars also available within these categories with each supplier. For example, within the economy size car hire, you may also see BMW minis and small Fiats.

For compact hire cars you may see either of those mentioned, alongside any of these:

  • Susuki SX4
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Chevy Sonic
  • Mazda 3
  • Toyota Yaris

These groups are great for couples and small families.  Whilst technically you can usually get 5 people in a car – it really would be a squeeze in one of these!  Luggage space is also usually severely restricted and may be as little as just one main suitcase. Historically, there has been a school of thought that the car hire companies don’t usually have many small cars and if you book one of these you may get upgraded to something bigger.  That may once have been the case, but, hire companies have responded to the general downsizing requirements of most Americans since the Great Recession, and have been taking in more stock of the smaller cars which are proving popular as tourists become more economical.  Therefore – continuing with this historical trend is probably rather unwise now – you are more than likely to get the smaller car you have ordered!

Intermediate or Mid-size Car Hire Category

Within this category, the example cars tend to be as follows:

  • Alamo and National: Toyota Corolla (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Hyundai Elantra (2017)

Standard and Full Size Car Hire Category

The standard and Full size hire cars can be really close in terms of capacity and models. We have seen some of the Full size vehicles ‘downclassed’ into this Standard Category, and some Intermediate cars moved up, and we have even seen that in some US car rental locations the Standard will be the largest car available to drivers under 25.

So, the example cars given for suppliers on their fleet guides are as follows:

Standard cars

  • Alamo and National: Chrysler 200 (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Chevrolet Cruze (2017)

Full Size Cars

  • Alamo and National: Nissan Altima (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Chrysler 200 (2017)

We have also seen the Mazda 6 and Hyundai Sonata available within these sizes. We see a blurring of the lines with the Chrysler 200 classed as a Standard by Alamo/National and an Full size by Thrifty.

So, when we look at the mid-size to full size vehicles you have to think about your usage. Depending on the amount of hours you expect to spend in your car a couple of young teenagers will be perfectly happy  – but do check the luggage allowance.  If your group is made up of adults – or adult sized children – you would do well to look at the Premium or Luxury vehicles.

Premium and Luxury Car Hire Category

The examples within US Car hire fleet guides of our suppliers for these largest of the ‘car’ categories available are as follows:

Premium

  • Alamo and National: Chevy Impala(2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Nissan Maxima (2017)

Luxury

  • Alamo and National: Lincoln MKS (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Buick LaCrosse (2017)

The Premium and Luxury cars offer the largest capacity of luggage amongst saloon cars, along with the most room in the back for your passengers.  For 5 adults, these will be the most comfortable cars if you are doing a bit of driving and don’t want to be cramped.  They will also add a touch of luxury for smaller groups.

Convertible Car Hire Category

  • Alamo and National: Ford Mustang (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Chevrolet Camaro (2017)

Within the fleets of Alamo, National, Dollar and Thrifty you will also find the Chrysler 200 as the main alternative. The Mustang and Camaro are both so popular that they disappear off the parking lot as quickly as they are put out.

Minivan 7 Seat Car Hire Category

  • Alamo and National: Chrysler Town and Country (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Nissan Quest (2017)

The seats offer flexibility and comfort together with a good driving position and the usual sliding rear doors provide easy access. However, whilst some models may have more luggage space than others, if there are 6 or 7 of you travelling all together, particularly adults, the luggage space may well not be enough.  If this is the case, you may wish to consider the 8 seater from Alamo which is often a Toyota Sienna or other people carrier style.  These have reasonable luggage room and the extra seat allowance gives a little more elbow room in the back row.  The 7 seater is also great for vacation home-owners who may need to carry small items of furniture around!

Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs)

There are now several different categories of SUV for hire in the USA.  We give you the examples from the car hire fleet guides of our suppliers here, but for an in-depth look at  the possible alternative vehicles available within this ‘type’ please head over to our blog article about SUV car hire in the USA

Intermediate SUV

  • Alamo and National: Toyota Rav 4 (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Toyota Rav 4 (2017)

Standard SUV

  • Alamo and National: Hyundai Santa Fe (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Hyundai Santa Fe (2017)

7 Seat SUV

  • Alamo and National: Chevrolet Tahoe (2017)
  • Dollar and Thrifty: Chevrolet Tahoe  (2017)

I hope you have found this USA car hire fleet guide useful, if you have any questions about choosing the best vehicle for the people on your trip, please do get in touch and we will try to help clarify your options.

Hire all these cars & more from TripWheels and enjoy our great customer service too!