It may be August, but there are STILL a few weeks left of summer! Which means there’s just enough time to squeeze in one last road trip. But before you pack up the family car, consider renting a car instead of driving your same ole’ set of wheels. Why? For one thing, it’ll save your regular vehicle from more wear and tear. Plus a rental may have entertainment features your regular car doesn’t, which can keep kids engaged (and well-behaved).

With many options, it’s important to learn what best suits your family. Do you want to rent an electric vehicle, hybrid, or standard gas-powered vehicle?  Will there be ample space for the kids and, say, the dog in the back? And, of course, what are the available upgrades — and how much are they?

From size to gas-savings to road-handling, here are 4 things to consider for your rental car.

How to choose the best-sized car

Start with how many people will be traveling in the car. You’ll want everyone to have ample room to stretch out over a multi-day drive.

For 3-4 people, rent the absolute cheapest and smallest car. You may end up getting a deal. According to The Points Guy, rental car places often don’t have subcompact vehicles available, and it’s not uncommon to be upgraded to a bigger vehicle.

For families of 5, a midsize SUV can be a good option since it sometimes costs less than a minivan. For families up to 7, consider renting a full-size SUV, or a minivan for a few bucks more. Sometimes midsize SUVs have 3rd-row seating. Call the rental car location before arriving to ensure that the right size SUV will be available at time of pickup. For a family of 8, look into renting 2 cars, which can end up being less expensive than one SUV or minivan.

Think fuel efficiency and low impact

If you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient vehicle for your road trip, consider a regular hybrid model or a plug-in hybrid model. An SUV hybrid can get as much as 90 MPGe (miles per gallon energy — the average distance traveled per unit of energy consumed), and a plug-in 52/49 mpg city/highway, depending on the best-in-class models for best gas mileage. 

In addition, be sure to check out Esurance Fuelcaster®, an online tool that predicts whether gas prices will be cheaper today or tomorrow. The best part? It’s free for anyone to use!

Make your adventures high-tech

Got technophiles in your family? Rental cars come with a range of technologies for navigation, safety, and entertainment. Some are pre-installed. Others are optional.

Consider what technology you’ll need to entertain your kids (and other adults) on a long drive. And ask if your car comes with satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, or a wi-fi hotspot.

For a true technophile experience, ask about a touch-screen infotainment system, a 6 to 14 speaker audio system, and multiple USB ports to keep everyone charged up.

Many car rentals also come with a GPS navigation system. If not, it might be optional. This is especially helpful if you don’t have wi-fi.

For basic safety, it’s always worth it to order a child safety seat. And there are other advanced tech safety options you might enjoy with a rental, like lane-keeping system, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and driver and drowsiness monitoring.

Finally, ask about Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Both can sync with smartphones, enabling passengers to look up directions, make calls, and send and receive messages — as well as use their apps. 

Turn your road trip into a zen-experience

To instill a sense of calm in your ride, many SUVs have sound-deadening technologies and materials that create a library-level noise. In many cases, you won’t even have to raise your voice to talk to your children in the back seat, unless you want to.

Of course, you might also wonder how to answer all the confusing questions they ask at the rental car place. But remember, when it comes to insurance add-ons, your regular car insurance might cover your rental the same way it does your normal car. So before you hit the road, make sure to check with your insurer.

Enjoy your trip and happy driving!

*Though we’re confident in our predictions and prices, they’re not guaranteed. Gas prices are influenced by many factors and savings will vary.

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Amanda Pirot

about Amanda

Amanda Pirot is a content marketing pro who writes about healthcare, behavioral psychology, marketing, and business topics. When she's not writing she paints (and sells) dog portraits in watercolor from her home in beautiful Marin County, CA.