What Size Hire Car?

CarHire cars come in all shapes and sizes. Choosing the right one can be the difference between a comfortable, relaxing trip and an uncomfortable, cramped nightmare.

Passenger & Luggage Capacity

Each size of hire car has a specified passenger and luggage capacity. This is measured by how many passengers (not including the driver) the car can hold and how many suitcases/pieces of luggage will fit in the trunk or boot of the car.

When you get a quote on CarHirePlace.com, the passenger and luggage capacity of each car will be shown alongside the price. You’ll also see how many doors it has. Here’s an example:

Fullsize car example









This Ford Fusion (or a similar car) will fit 5 people (including the driver) and 4 pieces of luggage. Note that the picture shows a suitcase, but as suitcases come in a wide range of sizes, some may fit but some will not. If you have large suitcases, you may want to choose a car with a higher number of luggage items.

This car also has 4 doors, which means it’s a saloon (not a hatchback). It also has air conditioning and automatic transmission.

If you book this car, you won’t necessarily get a Ford Fusion, but you should get a car with a similar specification and size.

Hire Car Size Groups – What They Mean

Our car hire search results are grouped by categories such as compact, intermediate and SUV. But it’s important to remember that the types of cars you’ll get vary depending on which country you’re in.

To help you get an idea of what type of car you may want to hire, we’ve included a general summary of each of the most popular rental categories below. Please note these are examples only. Actual models supplied will vary and may be differently sized. Check before you hire.


Mini hire car exampleExample cars: Ford Ka or Toyota Aygo

Ideal for: One or two people without much luggage. Boot/trunk space is usually very limited. Perfectly capable of high mileages, but probably not the most comfortable car for long journeys.



Economy hire car exampleExample cars: Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Spark or Kia Rio

Ideal for: One or two people, or a couple + two children without much luggage. Boot/trunk space is still limited, although bigger than a Mini car.



Compact hire car exampleExample cars: Nissan Versa, Ford Focus or Hyundai Accent

Ideal for: A couple or family with a moderate amount of luggage. More comfortable for longer trips.



Intermediate hire car exampleExample cars: Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra or Ford C-Max

Ideal for: Slightly larger than some compact models, although very similar in many cases. Best suited for a couple or family with a moderate amount of luggage. Reasonably comfortable for four adults.



Standard hire car exampleExample cars: Chrysler 200, Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, Ford Fusion/Mondeo

Ideal for: Comfortable for four adults with a reasonably generous amount of boot/trunk space for luggage. A good choice if you’re planning a lot of highway miles.



Fullsize hire car exampleExample cars: BMW 3 Series, Ford Fusion or Chevrolet Malibu

Ideal for: Very similar choice to Standard cars. Big enough to seat four adults in comfort and with a generous boot/trunk. Good for long distances.



SUV hire car exampleExample cars: The SUV category includes a wide range of vehicles at different price bands:

  • Smaller (more common in Europe): e.g. Toyota Rav4 and Opel Mokka
  • Mid-sized: e.g. Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Edge, Nissan X-Trail
  • Large: e.g. Chevrolet Tahoe

It’s not always easy to see exactly what size SUV to expect when booking a rental car — our top tip is to use the example car provided in the search results as a guide to what to expect.

Ideal for: SUVs are popular for their raised seating position, making them very comfortable on longer journeys. Remember that not all models are four-wheel drive — many will not be. Your hire company insurance is also unlikely to allow you to drive off road.



Premium hire car exampleExample cars: Mercedes-Benz C Class or E Class, Chrysler 300, Nissan Maxima

Ideal for: These cars are a similar size to Standard or Fullsize cars but are luxury models with a higher specification. A good choice if you want to treat yourself or are planning a lot of driving.



Luxury hire car exampleExample cars: Car choices can vary widely. It’s often possible to specify a specific model. These are top of the range cars with higher price tags.

Example marques include Range Rover, Jaguar, BMW & Cadillac. Supercars such as Bentley and Porsche may also be available.

Ideal for: The ultimate indulgence.



MPV or minivan hire car exampleExample cars: People carrier and minibus models, usually designed to seat between 7 and 9 people (including driver). Examples include Volkswagen Touran, Dodge Grand Caravan, Ford Galazy, Ford Transit Custom minibus, Kia Sedona

Ideal for: Large groups of people. Remember that smaller minivan models may not have much luggage space. Certainly if you have seven people with suitacases, you may find you need a large model to be able to carry all the luggage.


Remember: Most European vehicles have manual transmission (stick shift). If you need an automatic transmission, you will need to choose an automatic model when booking your rental car.

You can view automatic models only by checking the Automatic Vehicle box at the top right of the screen when viewing your quote results.

The examples above are only guides. It’s important to note the detailed information about each vehicle that’s provided when you get a quote on CarHirePlace.com.


Almost all cars will take 5 people, but fitting three passengers in the rear of smaller cars is often quite uncomfortable. If you need to carry five people over more than a short distance, we would recommend at least an Intermediate class car.

Similarly, if you have a lot of luggage, you should choose an Intermediate or larger car, especially if you will have rear-seat passengers as well. If you arrive to collect your rental car and find that it is too small, there is no guarantee that the rental company will have a larger car available for an upgrade at that time.