Road trip season is about to start so get a head-start on the best rental cars to take on your first trip of the season

Summer is still a season away, but with spring now in full bloom, the days of thick layers and winter jackets are over. For some people, the cool breeze of spring still invites a cup of hot chocolate over a fireplace. But for some people, spring kicks off the start of road trip season. Sure, summer is the peak of road trip madness, but the springtime weather invites plenty of great opportunities to take cars out of hibernation for a quick getaway or a long trip on the road.

Road trips are as much a part of American culture as hotdogs, beer, and baseball games. Taking a trip on the road is one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have with your family and friends. It’s even better if you have the right vehicle accompanying you on your trip. Now, there’s not much we can do with the company you keep, but we can provide a good list of some of the best rental vehicles you can drive when you decide to leave the warm confines of home and embark on a quick — or long — getaway.

We’ve made this list as diverse as possible, covering different vehicle types and cutting across different segments. After all, there should be variety in all facets of life, right? That should include the cars you want to have with you on your road trips. Just remember, when you do decide to skip town, do so safely. So go ahead and rent any one of these vehicles. Always remember, though, to buckle up and enjoy the ride. After three months of winter, Lord knows you deserve it.

Subaru Outback

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The Subaru Outback makes for an ideal road trip companion for all the reasons that make it a go-anywhere crossover. It’s practical, reliable, and capable. That’s three of the most important qualifications you want from a road trip vehicle. The Outback can be whatever you want it to be. If you’re looking for a ride that can handle rough road conditions, the Outback can do that.

If you’re looking for a family adventure and you need a good amount of interior space, the Outback’s 35.5 cubic feet of cargo area behind the seats is among the best in its class.

You can even open that space up to 73.3 cubic feet should the need arise. The Outback is as versatile a road trip car as you can find in the rental car market today. You could do a lot worse than this bad boy. Depending on the year it was produced, a one-week rental of the Outback typically fetches anywhere from $800 to $900.

Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 175 horsepower
Torque: 174 pound-feet
Drive (AWD, FWD, RWD): AWD
0-60 mph: 9.1 seconds
Top Speed: 120 mph

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru Outback.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

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Road trips don’t always have to be a family affair. Sometimes, a good road trip involves just two people, or even just yourself if you need some much-deserved “me-time.” In these cases, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is as good a choice as any.

The sports roadster looks the part of a rental car you’d want to be seen in.

It also boasts a peppy 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. It takes only 5.7 seconds for the MX-5 to hit 60 mph from a standstill position and it can hit a top speed of 130 mph. Beyond the numbers, the MX-5 is one of the finest driving sports cars in its segment. It doesn’t have the power figures of some of its rivals, but the MX-5’s reputation as a quick and easy to play sports car makes it a fantastic rental option if you’re looking to get away for a weekend with or without someone riding shotgun. Renting a Mazda MX-5 usually adds up to around $100 per day.

Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 175 horsepower
Torque: 174 pound-feet
Drive (AWD, FWD, RWD): RWD
0-60 mph: 9.1 seconds
Top Speed: 120 mph

Read our full review on the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Ford F-150

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Bringing the whole family along for a weekend excursion? If you’re going to have a huge contingent with you, there’s a good chance that one vehicle isn’t going to cut it. But instead of renting two vehicles, why not just bring a trailer along, right? For that, you’re going to need a capable pickup, and there’s no more capable one than the Ford F-150.

Whatever requirements you have, the F-150 can deliver.

If you need power, Ford’s best-selling pickup offers a number of options, including a base 3.3-liter V-6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. All that power translates to a best-in-class towing capacity of 13,200 pounds, which should be enough to accommodate a well-appointed trailer. If you need to hit rocky patches of roads, the F-150 can breeze through them without even breaking a sweat. The F-150 also boasts best-in-class space and cargo volume. Renting a Ford F-150 will set you back around $80 to $100 per day.

Engine: 3.3-liter V-6
Horsepower: 290 horsepower
Torque: 265 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds (estimate)
Top Speed: 120 mph (estimate)

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford F-150.

Kia Sedona

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Speaking of family fun, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning minivans. There aren’t that many of them in the market anymore, but if you’re looking to rent one out, the Kia Sedona is a pretty good choice.

There’s a lot to like about the Sedona, but its biggest selling point is an interior that looks more luxurious than it probably should.

It’s probably the only minivan in the market that has second-row seats that are more comfortable than the front seats. The Sedona also boasts a number of useful family-friendly features to ensure that the kids enjoy their time inside the van when you’re on your way to Disneyland. You won’t have to worry about cargo space, either, as the Sedona boasts 34 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats. That’s enough for a weekend road trip to the “happiest place on Earth.” Renting out a Kia Sedona typically costs anywhere from $60 to $80 per daily.

Engine: 3.3-liter V-6
Horsepower: 276 horsepower
Torque: 248 pound-feet
Drive (AWD, FWD, RWD): FWD
0-60 mph: 7.9 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph (estimate)

Read our full review on the 2018 Kia Sedona.

Toyota Corolla

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A simple road trip doesn’t have to be fancy, and a simple road trip doesn’t have to include a fancy ride. If you’re embarking on a budget-friendly road trip, a budget-friendly rental car is good enough, right? For that, you’ll need a Toyota Corolla, arguably one of the most rented-out vehicles in the U.S. today.

The Corolla isn’t the nicest car to rent, nor is it the fastest and most powerful.

But it does check off a lot of items on the checklist, not the least of which includes space requirements, fuel efficiency, user-friendliness, and a pleasant ride. There are fancier choices out there, but nobody’s going to beat the Corolla when it comes to all-around appeal and practicality. Best of all, renting a Corolla will only set you back around $60 to $80 per day.

Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower: 169 horsepower
Torque: 151 pound-feet
Drive (AWD, FWD, RWD): FWD
0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
Top Speed: 120 mph (estimate)

Read our full review on the 2020 Toyota Corolla.

Hyundai Kona

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Value-for-money is a phrase often thrown around in rental car circles. On that end, the Hyundai Kona fits the bill.

Hyundai’s newest crossover has earned headlines for its sporty looks, upmarket cabin, intuitive infotainment system, potent engines, and agile handling.

But rarely does it get talked about as a solid rental car for those weekend road trips. Well, that ends now. The Hyundai Kona is not just a solid rental car for short and long road trips, but it’s also a solid car. Period. When you pay to rent a Kona, you’re getting your money’s worth. Obviously, it helps that rental prices for the subcompact crossover won’t bleed your bank accounts. Typical rates start at around $60 to $80, and for that amount, you get, you guessed it, value for your money.

Engine: 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 175 horsepower
Torque: 195 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph (estimate)

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Kona.

Ford Mustang

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Road trips are fun for a number of reasons, and for a lot of people, there’s no more exciting time than seeing an empty stretch of road that’s waiting for some serious horsepower. In moments like this, compact cars, minivans, and even crossovers won’t cut it. When you chance upon this kind of road, you’re going to want to have some muscle, and there’s no better rental car for that job than the almighty Ford Mustang. Oh, yes.

You’re not worried about fuel efficiency with this one. You want power, and you want to have fun with that power.

The Mustang provides all that, and then some. The ‘Stang comes with a number of engine options, but you’re going to want to drive the Mustang GT with the 5.0-liter V-8 engine that produces 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Imagine having the chance to play with all that power on your road trip. An exciting thought, yes? Less exciting, unfortunately, is the price of renting one since most rental agencies that offer a Mustang for rent do so on a "per inquiry" basis.

Engine: 5.0-liter V-8 engine
Horsepower: 460 horsepower
Torque: 420 pound-feet
Drive (AWD, FWD, RWD): RWD
0-60 mph: Less than four seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph (estimate)

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Mustang.

Cadillac Escalade

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If money is no object, your rental car options suddenly become limitless. You can pick any car you want, but large family road trips typically require large family SUVs. In that case, the Cadillac Escalade promises plenty of power, space, and luxury. It can even haul up to 8,200 pounds and has one of the best fuel efficiency ratings for large SUVs of its class.

The Escalade returns 14 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

The latter figure is one of the highest in its class, too. There are a few downsides to renting an Escalade for a road trip, one of which is the frequent trips to the gas station. As impressive as its fuel returns are, it’s still a gas guzzler. That and the cost of actually renting one. Depending on where you rent it, you might need to pay somewhere in the vicinity of $200 per day for an Escalade. It’s a steep price, but, then again, I did qualify it by saying “if money is no object.”

Engine: 6.2-liter V-8 engine
Horsepower: 420 horsepower
Torque: 455 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph (estimate)

Read our full review on the 2018 Cadillac Escalade.

Toyota Prius

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The Toyota Prius used to be a novelty. Now it’s one of the most prominent hybrid models in the market. It’s not the sexiest rental car choice for your road trip, but it is going to save you some money. A lot of money. It lacks in power, but it makes up for in fuel efficiency. If you’re renting a Prius for your road trip, fuel efficiency is why you’re doing it.

The hybrid sedan earns around 58 mpg in the city and 53 mpg on the highway.

Those are outstanding figures that should keep you away from as many gas stations as you desire. As a bit of a late-game surprise, the Prius also offers above-average cargo space amounting to 27.4 cubic feet for front-wheel-drive trims and 24.6 cubic feet for all-wheel-drive trims. If there is a downside to renting a Prius, it’s that the cost of actually renting it out can easily exceed $100 per day.

Engine: 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine; electric motor
Horsepower: 96 horsepower
Torque: 105 pound-feet
0-60 mph: 10.1 seconds
Top Speed: 120 mph (estimate)

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Prius.

Lamborghini Huracan

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I’m saving those for last because it really isn’t an ideal rental car for a road trip. But I don’t care. A performance car needs to be on this list because there are people who’d want to drive one on a road trip, either for posterity or they just want to burn a lot of money.

In this case, I’m picking the Lamborghini Huracan because it’s not only one of the fastest and most powerful cars in the world, but it’s also one of the fastest and most powerful cars you can actually rent.

The price of renting a Huracan can set you back anywhere from $800 to $1,200 per day, but if you have money to burn, you can rent a beast that’s powered by a 5.2-liter V-10 engine that produces 602 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. And that’s the base unit. IT takes just 3.2 seconds to hit 0 to 60 mph and, if the situation affords it, you can extend it to its limits to the tune of 198 mph. Everything lines up perfectly for you to rent a Huracan for your road trip, as long as your bank account can take the hit.

Engine: 5.2-liter V-10
Horsepower: 602 horsepower
Torque: 413 pound-feet
Drive (AWD, FWD, RWD): AWD
0-60 mph: 3.2 seconds
Top Speed: 198 mph

Read our full review on the 2018 Lamborghini Huracan.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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