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What Car should I rent for 4 adults 1 toddler 3 medium suitcases + 2 carry ons please?

Hello Everyone, we are going to be renting a car in Lisbon, drive to Spain and return the car back in Lisbon (17 days rental). I am checking autoeurope.com (per Rick's referral in an article), and also directly with europcar. We want all the coverages included (that relates to driver and passengers - not items add-ons such as GPS, wireless, etc) with no deductible. I am looking at wagons which I have been told are the most cost/effective option, and also family size cars. It seems very hard to compare total price, since autoeurope.com does not provide up front in their site the price for what is not included in the no-deductible premium (such as personal injury protection, side-road protection, and toddler car-seat). And europcar does not show the fine print on the premium coverage (such as what is the $ coverage limitation, if any, per passenger injury?). So, my question is, does anyone has a suggestion on which car and/or company for us to rent? So far it seems like it will cost us U$1800 plus (all coverages, taxes/tolls/pickup-dropoff). We want to rent from a company with overall good reputation!

Posted by
7617 posts

With a 'toddler', presumably it will need a car seat?

If that is the case I would be looking for a 7 passenger van. A car seat and 2 adults in the back seat will be MISERABLE, in a station wagon

Posted by
155 posts

I have used and would recommend gemut.com, a USA company to assist you with booking. Tell them what you need and they will do the leg work for you. They are no more expensive, in my experience, and do the sourcing and negotiating on your behalf.

Posted by
538 posts

I just wanted to give some feedback on renting a wagon. We rented an Estate car/wagon from Europe car via autoeurope in Frankfurt and got a brand new Opel Insignia. With GPS. The trunk was big enough for 2 suitcases that are 29x18x11 each. Plus (3) 21” carry ons. We could just barely cover them with the cargo cover. Keep in mind that in addition to your suitcases you will each probably have a personal item (backpack, diaper bag, day bag) that has to go somewhere. There will be no room in the trunk, unless you are ok with blocking your rear view and having your stuff visible while parked (theft hazard). And you may end up shopping while there and coming home with more than you brought. If an SUV gives more space, I would look at that. A minivan would be even better, but I don’t remember seeing any during our 3 week trip. I don’t think you can all fit in anything smaller than a wagon comfortably.

Posted by
1130 posts

Ok, I will bite...... what is your motive for renting?
Random thoughts........
You are setting yourself up for thieves who will see your vehicle as a "cash cow". Where will you safely store all your luggage when you leave the vehicle to visit sites?
Tip: bring at least one black single bed sheet to use to cover your luggage.
Warn the ladies about the damage heat will do to their cosmetics stored in the luggage.
Buy a cheap cooler to keep filled with drinks.
Buy paper maps and trace out your routes. Use google earth street view to plot the windshield view of your anticipated route.
Michelin maps is a great on line resource for route planning.
Please obey the law and purchase IDP's for each driver from AAA prior to commencing your trip (this is required by law)
A big vehicle is tough to park and tougher to drive down narrow roads. Anticipate how to deal with both issues.
Ask yourself, what part of the journey cannot be reached via train or bus?
There is alot of romaticism and perceived cost savings with renting a car abroad. I have encountered a number of folks who regretted the hassle associated with car rental.
One last tip......... how many hours a day are you projecting driving a car, staring out a windshield and lsitening to a toddler in contrast to allowing public transportation deal with these issues?
I used to own a car in Spain so my tps come from experience.

Posted by
7205 posts

You can't fit all of your stuff in an estate vehicle. I did the same thing many years ago with only 2 adults and 2 kids. We couldn't fit us AND luggage into the estate car and had to go back into the rental facility and get a minivan.

Posted by
3551 posts

I have used autoeeurope many times and have been pleased with rate etc. pls be aware u too need to dcument your zcar/van with pics upon pick up and drop off. For europe in general this is common sense.
Better be safe than sorry. Auto vandalism is rampant in Europe so the renter must be vigilAnt when renting.

Posted by
5011 posts

I have used and would recommend gemut.com, a USA company to assist you with booking.

Another recommendation for gemut.com. Let them do the work. Just be honest and realistic when you tell them what you need.

I suspect you're going to need a larger vehicle than you have been thinking you will need.

Do be aware that there's no way to guarantee a specific car model (the rental agency can't tell you what will be available) but they can guarantee a vehicle "class" (7 passenger van, mini-van, SUV, etc.). Close enough.

Posted by
16869 posts

Check terms for whatever medical coverage you have at home. Many policies (but I understand not Medicare/Medicaid) will cover emergency treatment abroad, with limits on the length of your trip. Emergency treatment in Europe may also be cheaper (subsidized).

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you everyone who have answered so far - much appreciated! Not renting a car is not an option. I am hoping to find a "family size" or "wagon" car class/category that will fit us. Because moving up to SUV or Minivans double the already very expensive prices! I am the only light packer in the family, and keep trying, so far in vain, to convince the other travelers to go with a smaller suitcase... I will give gemut.com a try now. Thank you very much! Any more suggestions directly related to company to rent from and/or which car type/class that can fit us for the less amount of money will be much appreciated!

Posted by
7617 posts

! I am the only light packer in the family, and keep trying, so far in vain, to convince the other travelers to go with a smaller suitcase

Well it seems it is a matter of motivation to get the heavy packers to slim down.

Tell them the on the spot upgrade cost will be on them when you/they find out all the stuff won't fit.

You may want to ask gemut and whatever other agencies you contact, what the on the spot up grade cost would be vs. a reserved ahead rate, even if it seems horrid, for a van type vehicle.

Have you had the 2 other adults and toddler in its car seat all together in the rear seat of a car here? If not you may want to try a 2 hr test drive before you go.

What you describe sounds like trying to put 5 qts of water into a gallon jug, especially if you have big bag travelers.

Good luck

Posted by
7 posts

Hello Everyone, again thank you all for your responses! So far it seems like all of you believe we will need a bigger vehicle like a SUV/Van car. I am very frustrated by the rental car sites as they don't make it easy on the customer to make an informed/clear decision. The same exact car can be under family size, wagon, and described as compact or full size depending on the site you look at! We have friends who are used to traveling and rent cars in Europe. They've advised us that a VW Passat Variant, a Citroen C4, a Peugeot 308 Wagon or any similar size of these cars would serve us well. Does anyone agree with that? Also, I have a Honda civic sedan myself, and last time my family visit we could fit a large and 2 mediums suitcases plus a foldable stroller all in my trunk (small size but bigger than the umbrella size). So I must confess I am a bit surprised that no one in this forum has so far has suggested that a family/full size/standard/intermediary car category will suffice. As an extra note, we are used to feeling a bit cramped in the back seat (with the car-seat) and we are fine with that.
Also, I have called gemut.com 3 days in a row. Every time the call goes to a voice message promising they will call back. Yesterday only (2nd call) I received a voice message. They called back not through the number they advertise and not by a business number (888-800, etc.), so I thought it was another spam call. I called back shortly after (AM), but they have yet to call me back... If anyone else has more suggestions please do send it my way. Thank you very much!

Posted by
7617 posts

As an extra note, we are used to feeling a bit cramped in the back seat (with the car-seat) and we are fine with that.

How far have you gone in your car in that configuration? Comparable to what you will be doing on this trip?

From a brief bit of research it looks like the Passat Variant is equivalent in size to a Civic.

In a station wagon with piles of luggage in it just screams of "tourist with goodies" to car prowlers. If your travels with the luggage are from hotel to hotel with no stops where the car will be out of sight, that is not a problem. If on the other hand the car is going to be left loaded while you go do something, its an invitation for a break in.

The 2 medium suitcases and small stroller is a LOT LESS than 3 medium suitcase and 2 carry ons ( plus whatever other misc. stuff you may have).

Choose whatever you want, its your money and your trip.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you very much for your reply! (Joe), indeed we will rent whatever we want. My purpose of asking questions to other travelers in this forum is to gather suggestions based on others' experiences so I can hopefully make an educated decision. And I am very grateful for all the replies so far! The luggage has actually increased from the first post, as I added the stroller, not reduced as you (Joe) seem to have suggested.

After some research we are inclined to rent the Renault Megane Station Wagon, which if I've looked correctly has about 524 litters of boot space (I've checked, and my honda civic has 427 litters). But no decisions has been made yet! This is my first time renting a 5 passenger car in Europe, so thank you all for your great suggestions and patience. Also, we will mostly keep the traveling to 1 hour per day, and yes, I believe 2 to 3 days we will have more than 1 stop/city before checking-in for the night. Theft is indeed a high concern, and that is why I am trying so hard to find out which car category should provide a comfortable trunk size. Again, thank you everyone, and if you have more care rental suggestions please add a reply :-)! Best regards!

Posted by
538 posts

When we rented with Europecar, the class was “Estate car” and the example was VW Passat Variant. I was very concerned about cargo space for 4 people. I read the specs, watched review videos for a glimpse of the cargo space, etc. and was very comfortable it would work for us. When we got to the rental counter the car available was an Opel Insignia. So don’t be surprised if the example vehicle doesn’t match what you get. Cargo space can vary a lot within a car class. You are renting the class of vehicle, not a specific make/model (in most cases).
If you know someone who has a wagon similar to what you would be renting, gather everyone together with the luggage they plan to bring. Everything - suitcases, day bags, car seat, etc, pile it in there and see if it will fit. I’ve even heard of people going to local dealerships and asking to test the cargo area this way!

Posted by
1767 posts

I am always reminded of my uncle who took his wife, his sister(my mother) and his mother on a driving tour of the UK. When he saw their luggage at the airport he went to Hertz and paid to upgrade to the biggest thing they had. (My mother had done pretty well, but the other two women were apparently moving to the UK!)

Having driven often in Spain and Portugal I will say that (A) be prepared to drive a manual transmission (Yes I know you reserved an automatic, they don't care, if they don't have it they will just shrug) (B) assume the care is smaller than you expected. (Let the overpackers sit with their extra junk... it's part of their lessons!)

As for the carseat. Can you bring your own? What are you going to do if they don't have one?

Posted by
5688 posts

Too bad you can't get hold of a copy of the I Love Lucy episode when they try to pack the car with Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel ...and all their bags ...on a cross-country trip. ;-)

Posted by
7617 posts

After some research we are inclined to rent the Renault Megane Station Wagon

Is it part of the rental company's premium program that guarantees a specific make and model car? If not, you could end up with the "or similar", which may or may not have exactly the same dimensions or capacity..

Find out what the "or similar" cars are in the category to be sure they fit your needs.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you all for your replies. A full category car has been rented, to be picked up at the europcar in the airport. I am hoping that the airport rental office will have more options for this car category. And as it is impossible to know what exactly we will get, if the full size category (which definition is mostly unclear and change from one rental company to another) not big enough, we will just have to pay dearly to upgrade to a bigger size car! I will post here after I return from the trip what happened, and hopefully the post will help some other travelers facing same situation. Thank you once again for your time and suggestions!!

Posted by
14408 posts

Are you assured of getting an automatic transmission or are you okay with manual transmission?