It’s that time of year again: Summer. That, of course, means traveling to spend time with friends and family, gorging on backyard BBQ — and all too often, renting a car. But if the words “rental car” conjure up nightmarish memories of a sad Dodge Caliber your parents got stuck with on a family trip, you need to adjust your frequency: These days, rental car agencies offer plenty of models that are far more pleasurable than the rolling penalty boxes that often spring to mind at the mention of the term.
To make this last minute decision go smoothly, we at Gear Patrol did a little bit of combing through the more prominent rental car companies, and picked out the best cars they have on offer, so you can make the most of your summer road trips and travel.
Ford Mustang GT
What’s more ideal than cruising down to the beach in a Ford Mustang GT sporting a 460-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8? Not much. It might be surprising to see such a high-powered sports car available for rent, but Hertz has been offering Mustangs for decades now. Skip the Ford Fiesta this year and treat yourself to some real performance.
When it comes to performance, Hertz doesn’t mess around — their Dream Car selection is the antithesis of the standard rental-car fleet. So if you’re looking for an entertaining-but-somewhat-understated sport sedan, you owe it to yourself to reserve the Mercedes-AMG C63 and kick off summer in style.
It might weigh 5,724 pounds, but even in base form, the Gelandewagen can still get to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and tow 7,000 pounds (albeit not at the same time). It’s perfect for transporting all the beach gear, food and drink you’ll be living off for the next few months.
Even the base-model Focus is miles ahead of your average rental car; it may be the best-handling front-wheel-drive car on the market. And more importantly, it’s a rental — you’re supposed to drive it like you stole it.
Easily the best-looking Corvette since the C2, the current C7-generation ‘Vette is a damn fine way to announce your arrival to the party. The 455-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 won’t win you any points from your eco-conscious uncle — but of all the cars on this list, the Corvette might just be the most entertaining on a winding road.
Even in stock trim, the Jeep Wrangler is wildly capable off-road. If your summer plans have you heading up to a remote lake in the mountains or trucking through the sand to get to the fire pit on the beach, the iconic four-wheeler has you covered.
Easily the coolest-looking “economy car” on the list, BMW’s futuristic i8 looks like a supercar, hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and can still net the equivalent of 134 miles per gallon from its inline-three engine/electric motor combo. Just forgive it for pumping fake engine noise into the cabin through the speakers.
Porsche 911 Targa
Tesla Model S
Land Rover Range Rover
Out of the box, the Range Rover is one of the most capable SUVs on the planet. It’s a shame the majority of Range Rover owners will never know how competent it is off-road…but since yours is a rental, feel free to put its reputation to the test over the weekend.
BMW 328i xDrive
The BMW 328i is the most understated car on this list. Then again, this Bimmer isn’t for showing off; it’s for you to enjoy from the driver’s seat. With perfect balance, handling and responses…when you arrive, you’ll also be seriously satisfied.
Mercedes-Benz S550 Cabriolet
If the BMW 328i is for flying under the radar, the Mercedes S550 is for letting everyone know you’re floating down the road in the lap of luxury. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is good for 463 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, but the real draw of this car is the interior, which feels more like a luxury yacht than a car.
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