which car to rent

Hi - Two of us are traveling. My husband is 6-2. We'll each have a carry on suitcase and one personal item. I want to know which car I can hide my luggage in. I am accustomed to an actual trunk. I can't tell from the descriptions which cars conceal luggage. thanks.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8398 posts

I'm not sure which company or models of cars you are looking at, but when I rent in Europe, I always take the absolutely smallest car I can get. I have never had a car, even a hatchback, that did not conceal luggage.

Posted by Scott
Denver, CO, USA
36 posts

Get a Mercedez C class, it's cheap in Europe. Splurge a little, your on vacation.

Posted by Mike
Columbia, MO, USA
249 posts

We rented a Peugeot 6-speed diesel (55mpg), loved it, and luggage was out of sight.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5658 posts

I do what Nancy does and take the smallest car. There is always a cover in the back. A couple of times they upgraded me to the next class. I rent through Auto Europe.

Posted by Irv
Beverly Hills, MI
480 posts

With your husband's height, I would think what the Europeans call a mid-size car would be preferable. While you can look at the rental company sites and see what specific cars they offer, the likely hood of getting a specific model is not very good. You will get whatever they have in that size category when you show up at the rental desk. There should be no trunk problem with carry on bags whether you go the compact or mid-size route. You haven't said where you are going but be sure to get International Driving Permits from AAA before leaving and autobahn vignettes as required once you are there.

Posted by Bets
2851 posts

We have a couple tall men in the family who fold themselves into Renault Clios just fine. So, I'd say anything in the Clio or Megane (same size category as a VW Golf) would work. All the hatchbacks we've had in Europe have always had closing covers.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2843 posts

For two people, I try to get a car the size of a Ford Fiesta. I don't care to drive a Smart or the smallest size car in their rental fleets. Our Fiesta had a 1.2 liter 59 horsepower motor, it was pretty slow going up steep Tuscan hillsides. But it would cruise at 75 mph, and it got great gas mileage. Fuel mileage is important when you're in the $8.50-$9.50 per U.S. gallon for unleaded.
The cars I've rented over the years had a cover over the trunk area if it was a hatchback or wagon. My hat's off to you for traveling light, as it's the only way to travel.

Posted by DH
San Antonio, TX, USA
67 posts

Some Europeans are quite tall, and many men in Northern Europe are tall. I think all makes and especially German makes provide for tall persons. Most all vehicles accept two large US suitcases. If you are a real packrat take black luggage for secondary pieces so that when you do have it in the back seat of car it is not very visible. Most car rental sites I have symbols/graphics with each car to indicate type of transmission, AC, # of passagers, # of and sizes of luggage, etc. If your luggage is the fruit of a lot of shopping consider having merchants ship stuff home for you. Also make you garments smaller by using the wonderful easy to wash miracle fabrics for shirts/blouses, pants, undies, fleece liners, etc. This kind of gear is smaller and lighter. REI is a good place to look. Forget cotton. Hope this helps. About 15 driving trips in Europe. DH-traveling since 1949.

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
862 posts

I don't worry about hiding my luggage. I leave it unlocked and easy to view - nothing here but cloths Mr/Ms Thief. Of course under the t-shirts and sweaters may be more valuable stuff. We lock our two suitcases together with a bike cable. The point is to show there's nothing of fencing value - leave the glove compartment open, local paper tossed into the back seat along with some empty water bottles - make it look like you're a tourist from say Italy.

Posted by Frank
Los Angeles, CA, USA
177 posts

I'd take the smallest car with AC. Smallest car's trunk space is more than enough for 2 carry on luggage and many personal items.
Alot of European roads are tiny in the cities. The smaller the car is the easier it fits. Especially in parallel parking spaces.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7927 posts

For two people with carry-ons, I'd also go with the smallest car (even for 6-2 husband) - not a Smart Car though, it won't carry ANY luggage. If you get to the car and it doesn't work, go back to the office, tell them why it doesn't work and ask if they have something else? Last time we went back and asked if they had a diesel. They charged us an extra 5 euro - but we saved way more than that in fuel. I've yet to see the rental company that isn't used to meeting those types of requests.

Posted by Kurt
52 posts

Don't forget the cost of fuel - it is much higher than here in the U.S. The bigger the car, the more gas it burns. Also unlike here, ther are more manual transmission than automatic and more diesel fuel vehicles. Diesel is cheaper than gas. A Mercedes C class is really nice, but I tried an A class last year and it was fine. I'm 6 ft and have never had an issue. Also consider the distances and what kind of roads you will be driving on. Back roads or super highways? The bigger the road, the bigger the car you may want to get. German autobahn? Some sections have no speed limits - with a Ford Fiesta you'll be in the slow (truck) lane most of the time. Also any car I've ever rented, including station wagons, have a screen which can be drawn over the back luggage area.
One last thing - all rental agencies use the term "or simular" when describing the car. Never, ever expect you are going to get exactly what the picture shows.

Posted by Michael
Griffith, IN, USA
447 posts

That is the one untold story about renting cars. Never think you are renting what you are looking at. If you want a intermediate take the cheapest one in that class. The odds go both ways: will it be a better car or not so good.

Posted by Jeanine
Pacific NW, USA
90 posts

Thank you Michael for your post. I just called Auto Europe a few days ago with some questions. My phone call ended with all but one being answered. It had to do with renting within a class of cars and if you are not guaranteed a specific car, why should you rent an expensive car in any particular class? I guess I did not explain my question well because he never did understand what I was trying to ask. Seems to make good sense to rent the cheapest car in the class and hope for the best.

Posted by Beatrix
2122 posts

My husband is 6'3" and has never had an issue with head room when we were driving in Europe. As mentioned already, Europeans are taller on average than Americans (it's actually quite fun to compare international growth curves for kids ...) and that's been taken into consideration by European car makers. We always go for the smallest car we can get away with. It is easier to find parking and burns less fuel. Do rent a diesel, again it saves on fuel costs. Cars we've driven include VW Golf, Renault Megane, Fiat Bravo

Posted by Lin
Victoria B.C., Canada
58 posts

Although we are trying to pack light and not take big cases, there are 3 of us (all adults). Should we still go for the smallest and hope we will be upgraded. I suppose we could also put cases in the back seat, but would be nice to have them concealed in the truck in case we make a stop along the way.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

You're not going to get automatically upgraded out of the goodness of somebody's heart. Either they're going to be out of the size you want or you're going to have to go back in and ask - - sometimes this will be a freebie to keep your business if they have plenty of those, or you might have to pay a bit more. Rather than getting excited about maybe something being swiped, you might think about what's going to happen if you have even a minor collission and that luggage goes flying around. F=ma refers.

Posted by Bets
2851 posts

If you rent through autoeurope, you are locked into a class of car and can't just change once you get to the agency. You have to use the overseas autoeurope 800 number and call their office in Portland, Maine, to cancel or alter the contract you have made. It's doable if you have a cell phone that calls from Europe. I've done it.

Posted by Beatrix
2122 posts

There is a reason that many Europeans drive hatchbacks: they offer more interior room with smaller exterior dimensions than a conventional sedan with a separate trunk. Nevertheless, even hatchbacks usually come with a cover that will conceal what's stored below.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5658 posts

I've never had a hatchback that didn't have a cover in the back. I have always rented through AutoEurope and get an Economy class car. What I actually get has ranged from nice cars in France and Germany (did I get unknowingly upgraded?) to a crappy car in Italy, to an okay car in Ireland. The only time I got exactly what I reserved was when I leased a car.