Difference between an Economy and a Compact Rental Car

Updated on September 14, 2017

Many people get a rental car when they are on vacation. If you are one of them, you have probably gone through the process of selecting the type of rental car. Do you prefer an economy car over a compact car or vice versa? If you are wondering what the difference between the two is, you’re in the right place.

Descriptions

economy rental car
A Mitsubishi Mirage is a common example of an economy rental car

An economy rental car is typically a small sedan or hatchback with two or four doors. Four people (including the driver) can comfortably fit inside an economy car, with enough room for several bags.

An economy rental car is affordable, making it a great option for couples, small families, or small groups on a budget. Its fuel economy ranges from 30 mpg to 35 mpg, depending on the make and model. Because of its size, an economy rental car is a perfect choice if your trip mostly involves driving in high-traffic areas with tight parking spaces.

The most common examples of economy rental cars used by most car rental companies are:

  • Audi A1
  • Chrysler 200
  • Chevy Spark
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Ford Focus
compact rental car
A Toyota Corolla is a common example of a compact rental car

A compact rental car, on the other hand, is a slightly bigger car with four doors. It comfortably fits up to five adults with enough room for several bags.

The fuel economy of compact rental cars ranges from 25 mpg to 30 mpg depending on the model. Because they offer ease of driving and great fuel efficiency, compact rental cars are great for short day trips and in-town driving.

Most car rental companies use the following models for their compact category:

  • Chevrolet Cobalt
  • Audi A3
  • Fiat 500L
  • BMW 1 Series
  • Hyundai i30
  • Mercedes A Class
  • Nissan Versa

Economy vs Compact Rental Car

What, then, is the difference between an economy and a compact rental car?

The most obvious difference between the two is the size. An economy rental car is smaller; it can fit up to four persons. Its size makes it perfect for busy or crowded places with very limited parking space. On the contrary, a compact rental car is slightly bigger; it can fit up to five people.

Another difference between an economy and a compact rental car is the price. An economy car is more affordable and more fuel-efficient than a compact car, although both are great practical car choices for travelers.

Comparison Chart

Economy Rental CarCompact Rental Car
Typically a small sedan or hatchback with two or four doors.A slightly bigger car with four doors
Fits up to four people (including the driver), with enough room for several bagsFits up to five adults with enough room for several bags
Fuel economy ranges from 30 – 35 mpgFuel economy ranges from 25 – 30 mpg
More affordable; a great option for couples, small families, or small groups on a budget; perfect for high-traffic areas with tight parking spacesOffers ease of driving; great for short day trips and in-town driving
Examples include Mitsubishi Mirage, Audi A1, Chrysler 200, Chevy Spark, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Ford FocusExamples include Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cobalt, Audi A3, Fiat 500L, BMW 1 Series, Hyundai i30, Mercedes A Class, Nissan Versa