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As you’ve probably noticed, more people are buying SUVs than ever. Even a subcompact SUV usually has more cargo area than a comparable sedan, making it a better option for families. SUVs also have the advantage over standard passenger cars regarding ground clearance. 

These two qualities also make an SUV the ideal vehicle to rent on vacation. Of course, popular vehicles often require a premium rental fee. Let’s examine how much it might cost to rent an SUV on your next trip.

Factors that affect SUV rental prices

Two rows of SUVs, potentially SUV rental price, parked outdoors.
Lines of SUVs | Getty Images

Advantage says you can get a lower price on your rental if you choose a less popular model. Instead of getting the latest Honda CR-V or Kia Telluride, you might want to rent the Mazda CX-9 instead. While it has a slightly smaller cargo area than its peers, it has fun driving characteristics and an adult-friendly second row.

However, if you plan to have multiple drivers behind the wheel of your CX-9, that will increase the cost of your rental. Drivers who don’t already have auto coverage will also have to purchase rental car insurance if they wish to drive the car. 

Your rental company also might offer collision damage waivers (CDWs). Typically, you’ll pay a deposit to rent the car and have that money refunded when you return it in its original condition. If you purchase a CDW, the rental company keeps the deposit, and you’ll only have to pay the excess to cover any damages (if they occur).

You’ll also have to pay more for vehicles with higher safety ratings from the IIHS or NHTSA. Also, remember that all of your rental fuel costs will come from your pocket. For this reason, it’s better to avoid gas guzzlers or SUVs requiring premium fuel.

You may be able to reduce your rental fee if you’re a member of AAA or a similar organization. Costco and BJ’s memberships will discount your car rental and provide free coverage for one extra driver. 

According to NerdWallet, you can often score a 15% discount by booking your rental as close to your desired dates. This strategy is risky, as you could miss out on the car that best suits your needs. However, if you opt to pay at the counter, you can switch out your vehicle at the last minute and keep your locked-in rate.

How much does an SUV rental cost?

Advantage says that renting an SUV costs an average of $22-$40 per day. However, you could pay as much as $100 if you need the rental at a busy time of year in more populated cities. Conversely, you may be able to find an SUV rental in some areas for just $13 per day.

We can also attribute any given SUV’s premium rental price to its abundance of safety features. SUVs with all-wheel or four-wheel drive attract higher demand and higher rental fees. Large SUVs are also typically more expensive to rent than smaller ones. 

 Should you rent another car instead?

While a compact car might be cheaper to rent compared to an SUV, all rental prices have increased thanks to the pandemic. Because of manufacturing hiccups and shortages, rental companies have more competition when purchasing vehicle replacements. The companies raise their prices to compensate for demand, so the difference between the two cars may be minimal.

If you’re traveling with a large family, it may not even be feasible to sacrifice interior space for a slightly cheaper price. A better alternative is to shop around for car rental places in different cities to find the best rates. Many rental companies also offer coupon codes directly on their websites to help lower your overall bill.


9 Factors That Affect the Cost of SUV Rentals