News, Culture & Society

Intermediate vs Standard Car Rental – Value for money

I often get asked “should I choose an intermediate or a standard rental car? and what´s the difference?” Well, in theory they are both mid-sized cars. They are both nice to drive and offer plenty of space, but when renting a car, the car rental companies do differentiate between the two vehicle types. I have come up with a list of main ways that you can compare what they offer, and then you can see for yourself, which car class suits your need and your budget.

The general classification of these cars are as follows:


  • 5 Door
  • 5 Passengers
  • 4 Pieces of Luggage


  • 4 or 5 Door
  • 5 Passengers
  • 2 or 3 or 4 Pieces of Luggage (depending on the model)

Passenger Space

This a very important piece of information when renting a car. You need to know that the car type you choose has enough space for you and your travel companions. Both the intermediate and standard cars have passenger space for 5 people, however, the intermediate car is the smaller car class of the two.

For a business trip, travelling alone, city driving or shorter distances, then the intermediate would satisfy you requirements. If you are a couple travelling, then you would have ample space in an intermediate car. The same goes for a small family of 2 adults and 2 kids.

However, if you are travelling in a group of 5 adults, or a family with 3 kids who require child seats or boosters, or with passengers who have very long legs, then the standard car would provide a little more comfort and more leg room.

Luggage and Trunk Space

We have just looked at the passenger space for each car class above, and the standard car offers more room inside the car for passengers. So you would imagine that they also offer the most space in the trunk for luggage, right?! This is not always the case. From my experience and research, the intermediate class cars always advertise and offer space for 4 pieces of luggage.

However, the standard cars can vary from 4 pieces (most of them) to 3 or sometimes even 2 pieces of luggage when they give you sportier models of a car in that class. The good news is that on comparison sites such as this is always very clearly shown before you book, so if you have a lot of luggage, just look out for this quirk with the car model!

Gas Mileage

Both car classes are in the mid-sized range. The intermediate class car typically offer great gas mileage, they are strong enough for highway driving without you needing to retank too often. These are the perfect type of car for the average driver taking a trip.

Rental car companies often have similar car makes and even models which go across both standard and intermediate classes. The standard-sized vehicles often have great gas mileage, and perfect for the average driver. Then you may find a similar car, which is also classed as a standard car.

The difference is usually in the engine, where the gas consumption for a standard car is greater than that of an intermediate car. The miles per gallon usage could differ from 18/24mpg to 22/28mpg The standard class car is the more powerful of the two, making it more fun to drive, but also requiring you to refuel a little more often!

Feeling of Luxury

Are you heading on a road trip or a holiday where you want to really enjoy the driving, then if it is within your budget, you should treat yourself to the extra luxury that a standard sized car offers versus an intermediate one. The cars themselves are not overly different in terms of the makes on offer, but the standard car would have a slightly better model on offer. The means that you would have more horse power under the engine and also a little more luxury inside the car.

The intermediate and standard car classes represent the middle area of car class spectrum, they have moved away from the smallest cars such as mini, economy and compact car models, but they have not quite reached the exclusivity of the full size car, premium classes and luxury models.

Overall Value for money

This is where comparing an intermediate vs standard rental car gets really interesting. So you have read the article to this point and thought that both options would work for you. The extra horse power and added comfort from the standard model do sound appealing, don´t they?!

The question is, would you be willing to pay more a stronger engine and the little internal extras? If you were to choose the standard over the intermediate class car, then you would actually need to pay anywhere from $50 to $300 extra per week. This would depend on where you rent it and what time of year it is, but they are a more expensive class of car.

There are deals to be found on car rental comparison sites, so you could find a great deal on a standard, but the typical cost of an intermediate is much cheaper. You just need to decide now if it is worth the extra expense for you.

If I were say which car is best suited for particular renting groups, then my recommendation would be the following:

    • Intermediate Car – Best for small group or small family
    • Standard Car – Best for group of 4 or 5 adults