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Renting an SUV for your summer road trip is a smart idea. And three of the best models for your family vacation come in three sizes: full-size, midsize, and compact. The Ford Expedition, Subaru Outback, and Kia Soul are all excellent SUVs, depending on what size vehicle best suits your needs.

Full-size SUV: The Ford Expedition offers a roomy ride

The 2020 Ford Expedition appears on the U.S. News‘ list of the 10 best rental cars for 2021. U.S. News thinks so much of this full-size SUV that it named the Expedition the best large SUV for families. It’s easy to see why.

The Expedition has almost everything you need in a vehicle. It packs a turbocharged V6 that keeps up with most of its rivals’ V8 engines. It performs well with great comfort, balanced handling, and a smooth ride. 

When it comes to cargo, no one does it better than the Expedition. It has one of the larger cargo holds in its segment, along with three rows of comfortable seats. It has earned impressive reviews from industry experts because of its comfort, space, reliability, and wealth of safety features.

Though the Ford Expedition’s size makes it a bit cumbersome to navigate in tight spaces, it offers many amenities and safety features. It comes with the popular SYNC 3 infotainment system and integrates well with most smartphones. Many of its safety features are standard, including pedestrian detection and rear cross-traffic alerts.

Midsize SUV: The Subaru Outback can go off-road

If a midsize SUV better suits your needs, a 2021 Subaru Outback makes a great rental. It offers plenty of room for your stuff in the back and ample space for even adults to get comfortable in its two rows. The Outback is also one of the few crossovers in its class with standard all-wheel drive, U.S. News reports.

But it doesn’t have the most potent powertrain. It has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 182 hp. Though that’s enough get-up-and-go for highway driving, it can seem lacking. An available 2.4-liter turbocharged engine harnesses 260 hp, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to find a rental with that engine. 

However, Subaru updated the new Outback, so it’s likely one of the newest vehicles on the rental car lot. This SUV boasts a wealth of standard safety features — including a new standard rear-seat reminder — and seating for five. The Outback also provides a great seating position for driving, and visibility is excellent.

Compact: The Kia Soul is great for small families

If a small SUV will do, the 2021 Kia Soul is among the best on the market, U.S. News reports. It named the Soul the best subcompact SUV for the price in 2021. This little crossover offers an outstanding balance of quality and value.

The Soul provides a smooth ride, even if it’s not the most exciting to drive. It also surprisingly boasts plenty of room to get comfortable in two rows and offers a slew of optional features. The Soul boasts high predicted reliability ratings, too. 

Plus, you’ll find plenty of cargo space for your small family’s luggage, an easy-to-use infotainment system with smartphone integration, and physical controls for less distracted driving. Like the Outback, the 2021 Soul also has a rear-seat reminder.

Before you decide on an SUV, keep in mind you’ll probably pay more to rent a vehicle this summer than before. Now that pandemic restrictions are easing, Americans are itching to vacation, and rental car agencies that sold off their fleets to stay afloat last year are scrambling to keep up with demand. So, for now, shortages are driving up rental car prices.


3 Practical Rental Cars for Your Summer Road Trip