Road Trip

How to Pick a Car Rental for a Road Trip

The most important thing for a successful road trip is having the right car—and for added comfort that goes beyond simply having a reliable vehicle, a navigation system, and a good playlist. Next time you’re headed out on a road trip with a rental, look for these seven features in your rental car.

Fuel-Efficient, Yet Sleek

That fuel-efficient economy-class vehicle is so sexy, said no one ever. You’re torn: You want to reduce your carbon footprint, but you still want to have a sleek and stylish car (shhh, no one has to know it’s a rental). You don’t have to sacrifice style anymore as many luxury and spacious vehicles offer fuel-efficient options.

I was recently hosted on a New England road trip by Chevrolet and had the opportunity to test out a 2019 Blazer. The revamped model is sleek, and despite its SUV size (I normally drive a smaller, fuel-friendly hatchback), did exceptionally well on gas.

The Intelligent Start/Stop feature shuts the engine off when briefly stopped, for example at red lights, and seamlessly restarts when pressing the gas pedal–all to economize on gas.

Drop-and-Charge Dock

Everyone struggles with charging different gadgets while in a car, but it turns out that there is a solution for this: a drop-and-charge dock. The future is here, folks.

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Hands-Free Calling

Hands-free calling is not only a luxury item to have in your rental, but in certain states, the only lawful way to use your phone and drive. California, New Jersey, D.C., and Vermont are among those that prohibit operating a vehicle while using a hand-held device.


On-Star emergency assistance, automatic braking, lane-overlapping indicators are extra features to consider if you’re driving a rental car for long distances or in an unfamiliar area.

Also make sure your rental car has plenty of lockable storage; some glove compartments are large enough to easily fit a handbag, phone, and anything else you want to lock up before walking away from the vehicle.

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Baggage Space

During my recent road trip, I had various bags in the cargo space, including a food bag which would have spilled if it weren’t for the adjustable cargo fence.


Just like you’d expect at your hotel room, in-vehicle Wi-Fi is becoming more commonplace, especially in rental cars. The amount of data you’ll use on a road trip for entertainment (playlists, phone calls, audiobooks) adds up, so this feature is particularly useful.

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I didn’t think this would be an important feature, but wow, did I enjoy the soundproof qualities of my rental car. Shutting the doors blocked out the majority of the intrusive road sounds, thereby reducing listener fatigue. I arrived at my destination two hours later, fresh and ready to enjoy my trip.

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Packable Road-Trip Car Accessories

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Senior Editor Patricia Magaña Figueroa writes about travel. Follow her @PatiTravels.

By Patricia Magaña

Always on the lookout for value-oriented travel, Senior Editor Patricia Magaña has trekked throughout the States, Latin America, and Europe. Follow her on Instagram @PatiTravels.

Since joining the editorial crew in 2005, Magaña has pounced on incredible deals to Amsterdam, Madrid, and San Pedro Sula—each for less than $300. Her favorite travel experiences involve discovering street art while meandering a city, chatting up locals, and day drinking.

Her stories have appeared on USA Today, Huffington Post, Yahoo!, TripAdvisor, AirfareWatchdog, and other publications.

Email Patricia at

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