6 Reliable Car Brands If You’re Renting a Car This Summer

Jack Frog / Shutterstock.com
Jack Frog / Shutterstock.com

Rental companies sold off three-quarters of a million cars from their fleets in 2020 to pay the bills and save money when the pandemic canceled the world’s vacation plans and turned America’s highways into ghost roads. Three years later, they bought them back.

Cox Automotive reports that in December, fleet sales outpaced retail auto sales. Fleet sales for Nissan and Hyundai were up by more than 100% compared to December 2022 and Toyota was up 80% — but even that trio had less than half the fleet sales of the Detroit Three.

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America’s rental companies added more than a quarter-million vehicles to their fleets in December 2023 alone.

In short, anyone renting a car in 2024 has something drivers in 2021, 2022 and much of last year did not — endless choices. But with so many options, which brand should you rent, especially if you’re on a budget?

Berki Alin / iStock.com
Berki Alin / iStock.com

Kia

According to the rental company Sixt, “Fuel efficient, fun-to-drive and full of style, when you rent a Kia you will be ready to enjoy the road.”

The experts agree.

“Kia is a budget-friendly car brand and one you’ll see a lot of on the rental lots,” said Melanie Musson, an auto industry expert with AutoInsurance.org. “They’re not only affordable, but they’re also reliable. Rental agencies aren’t going to mess around with vehicles that have to be out of service for maintenance frequently. Kia models are workhorses and an excellent option for renters looking to save money.”

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Valerii Apetroaiei / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Valerii Apetroaiei / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Chevrolet

One of Detroit’s Big Three, GM topped all commercial fleet sales in the U.S. in 2023, and there are good reasons why its Chevy brand has wheels on the ground in nearly every rental lot in America.

“Chevrolet manufactures a wide range of models that rental agencies favor,” Musson said. “If you’re looking for an SUV, the Traverse is a popular model you’ll find at many agencies. The Spark is one of the most affordable vehicles available, and if you don’t need much room and are looking for great fuel economy, it’s certainly worth consideration.”

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deimagine / iStock.com
deimagine / iStock.com

Toyota

As the Cox report noted, rental fleets gobbled up Toyotas in near-record numbers last year because drivers know the brand represents dependability above all else.

“Toyota is another popular rental car manufacturer,” Musson said. “Most agencies have a wide range of models, from compact to full-size SUVs. Toyotas are designed to last and be very reliable, even with the abuse that many rental cars endure.”

Tramino / iStock.com
Tramino / iStock.com

Subaru

If your summer trip is more of an adventure, Subaru is synonymous with dependability and rugged, all-terrain capability — features like all-wheel drive, high ground clearance and stabilizing dynamic driving modes.

But you’ll pay less than you would for a Jeep or a Bronco.

“For a reliable car brand to rent this summer that won’t break the bank, go for a Subaru,” said Ben Michael, director of auto at Michael & Associates law firm. “Subarus are always at or near the top of the list in terms of safety, and they are great for driving on off-road areas, so they are great for summer adventures. And, they are typically priced pretty well, being more affordable than their quality indicates their price should be.”

©Shutterstock.com
©Shutterstock.com

Honda

There’s nothing worse than being stuck on the side of the road with a broken-down car — except for being stuck on the side of the road with someone else’s broken-down car.

That’s why Honda’s legendary reliability is always a safe bet at the rental counter.

“Honda vehicles, such as the Civic and Accord, are celebrated for their longevity and low maintenance costs,” said auto expert Rob Dillan, founder of EVhype. “These models are ideal for renters seeking a worry-free driving experience.”

Hyundai

If you’re looking for sleeker bodies, sharper curves and a little more tech without sacrificing reliability, one Korean automaker delivers the whole package on a budget.

“Hyundai has improved significantly in recent years,” Dillan said. “It offers models like the Elantra and Sonata comes with modern features and strong reliability ratings, making them great rental choices.”

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