Rental Car Classifications- what does "standard" mean to you?

I’m trying to reserve a car for my stay in Dallas at the end of this month, but I am not clear on the rental car lingo.

I have the following choice of car categories:

1. Compact
 2. Economy
 3. Intermediate
 4. Standard
 5. Full Size
 6. Premium
 7. Luxury
 8. Sports
 9. Convertable
10. Station Wagon
11. Minivan
12. Full size van
13. SUV
14. Pickup
15. All Terrain

Well, OK I know what all the ones after “sportscar” are, but I doubt my company will go for any of those. I’ve also ruled out compact because I get this mental image of me driving around Dallas in a toaster oven. So I want something that is not too cramped and not a boat. Something, eh, intermediate.

But what do these terms mean? Can anybody who has done some serious car renting give me some examples of what a “standard” car is?

Go to the rental company’s web site. It should have examples of what cars are used for each size. IIRC, the last time I rented a car as a “standard” size, I got a Toyota Camry.

Hmm… well I went through Travelocity. Plug in any of those options and you get a rate & an option to book it but no clear description of what kind of car they’re really talking about. But you are tight, Hertz has a list of what they consider those terms to mean. I just hope they are industry-standard terms.

Travelocity must work different from when I used it last. Don’t you know what rental company you’re actually selecting any more? I ask because the time I got the Camry I got hooked up through Travelocity. It was National I think.

Here’s a tip I learned from my Dad. I always order a compact. Without fail(in my attempts) they never actually have any compacts on the lot. So they ask you if you want to upgrade. Just say no, and they will give you a better car for the price of the compact. My biggest score was a Mustang Convertable for the price of a compact. On the other hand if you do end up stuck with a geo metro you must have done something wrong. :slight_smile:

Well, I asked for the 2nd one (economy) but even after completing the reservation, they still didn’t come back with a specific model.

As far as how Travelocity works, yes there was an option to select one or more companies from a list of those that have a presence at DFW Airport. But since I had no preference, I just left it set at “no preference”.

I’m not that picky, I just wants to make sure I wouldn’t end up with a Yugo.

It varies mostly on Rental company and a bit on location. For example, last I looked National was mostly owned by GM. So you normally get GM cars there. A standard might be a Geo Prism, a compact might be a Cavalier. I think Hertz used to be affiliated with Ford, Budget with Chrysler, you get the picture. On the coasts and in larger cities you get a better shot at an import.

I would second wolfie’s advice on the bid low concept. If you do find you’re stuck with something too small then you can typically upgrade unless there is a big convention or something in town, and then you are typically lucky to get a car anyway.

Also, most car companies don’t know what kind of car you will get until you get there. They don’t say, “Gee, Attrayant is renting this week, better get that '63 Porsche out of storage and spiffed up.” They just make sure they have more or less enough cars in the right place at the right time. Sort of like airline seats, but worse since most people don’t put any kind of deposit on the reservation.

I’ve used this theory to my advantage plenty of times. My biggest success was also a Mustang convertible at compact prices (in Miami, no less). I have found that it helps if you show up at the counter later in the day. It seems to increase the chance that they will be out of compacts. This isn’t scientific data, but I would say that about 75% of the time I end up in a larger car than I reserved. Of course there are the times where I’ve been stuck with a crappy Hyundai Accent but it is the risk you have to take.

Or everything else is out and you end up cruising San Jose in a married-with-3.2-children minvan even though you're single. Needless to say, I didn't get any that trip.

[sub] OK, I couldn’t get any if I had a Diablo, but that trip I’m blaming National Car Rental. [/sub]