3 Practical Rental Cars for Your Summer Road Trip

As more Americans get vaccinated and summer approaches, many are thinking about road trips. And if they’d rather not put miles on their own vehicles, they might think about renting a car. Rental car companies sold many of their vehicles in 2020 to help stay afloat when demand was low, The Drive reports. But if given a choice of rental cars, consider a practical model like the Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, or Hyundai Elantra.

Toyota Camry: A comfortable, spacious sedan for any road trip

The 2021 Toyota Camry is larger than the other two cars in this roundup. It has two engine options that provide surprising power yet good fuel efficiency, U.S. News reports. The smaller engine gets 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. The larger motor gets 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. This midsize sedan offers plenty of space for five people, including sufficient headroom and legroom. The 2021 Camry has 15.1 cubic feet of trunk space, which is a little small for a midsize car.

The Camry’s seven-inch or nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use. Toyota added Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa as standard features in 2019 and Android Auto in 2020, U.S. News reports. The 2021 Camry also comes with Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, satellite radio, and two USB ports. Higher trims have navigation, Qi-compatible wireless charging, and HD Radio.

The 2021 Camry also comes standard with the Safety Sense-P suite of advanced safety features. It includes adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection, and other features.

Toyota Corolla: A safe compact brimming with amenities

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The Toyota Corolla was recently redesigned for the 2020 model year. It’s a compact car available in sedan and hatchback body styles. It has two engine options that provide a nice ride, though they aren’t the most powerful. With the base engine, the 2021 Corolla is rated for 30 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Its larger engine is even more fuel-efficient, U.S. News says. It’s rated for an impressive 31 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

It’s easy to get in and out of the Corolla, and it has comfortable seats. There’s plenty of space in the front, but the headroom isn’t great for tall passengers in the rear. The trunk is a little small, too, offering only 13.1 cubic feet, but if you don’t have a log of luggage, it’ll work fine. The hatchback offers a bit more cargo space, with 17.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats. With the rear seats folded down, that increases to 23.3 cubic feet.

The 2021 Corolla also has an easy-to-use infotainment system with either a 7.0-inch or an 8.0-inch touchscreen. Apple CarPlay comes standard as of the 2020 model, and Toyota added Android Auto for the 2021 model. Also standard are Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, satellite radio, and two USB ports. Higher trims offer a 7.0-inch digital driver display, a navigation system, wireless charging, HD Radio, and an additional USB port.

Toyota also added more safety features as part of the 2020 redesign. The 2021 Corolla’s many driver assists include traffic sign recognition.

Hyundai Elantra: A rental car with impressive gas mileage

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The redesigned Hyundai Elantra is a compact car available as a sedan. Before the 2021 model year, Hyundai also sold it as a hatchback. It offers three engine options, and all provide a smooth ride, U.S. News reports. But the 2021 Elantra stands out for its impressive fuel economy. The base engine gets 33 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. Other trims get 31, 25, or 28 mpg in the city and 41, 34, or 36 mpg on the highway.

Plus, all seats are comfortable and spacious. Hyundai added even more passenger room for the 2021 model. There’s plenty of trunk space, too. The 14.2 cubic feet is above average for a compact car.

The infotainment system comes with an easy-to-use standard 8.0-inch touchscreen and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Expect Bluetooth, HD Radio, two USB ports, and voice recognition, too. A 10.25-inch touchscreen is also available, although not with wireless smartphone integration. Wireless device charging and satellite radio are also available. Hyundai includes other advanced safety features in the 2021 model, including blind-spot monitoring, driver attention warning, and safe exit warning.

Whichever car you decide to rent, expect to pay a premium this summer. With the vehicle shortage, along with higher demand, rental prices have skyrocketed. Luckily, the Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, and Hyundai Elantra are affordable and practical rental options. Plus, they typically cost less to rent than SUVs or luxury cars.