What Cars are Intermediate SUVs at a Rental Agency

When you rent an Intermediate SUV, you will get a quality SUV that handles like a car with off-road ability. Engineers design Intermediate, also called Midsize, SUVs to comfortably carry a family of five with 3-5 bags.  

Most car rental agencies offer a variety of Intermediate SUVs to choose from. Here are the main options:

Avis Car Rental, Payless Car Rental, and Budget Car Rental

  • Ford Escape
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Jeep Compass
  • Jeep Patriot
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Kia Sportage
  • Mazda CX
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Subaru Crosstrek
  • Subaru Forester
  • Subaru Outback
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Volkswagen Tiguan

Enterprise Rent-a-Car

  • Buick Encore
  • Buick Equinox
  • Chevrolet Trax
  • Ford Escape
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Kia Sportage
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Subaru Outback

Hertz, Dollar Car Rental, and Thrifty Car Rental

  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Ford Escape
  • Honda CRV
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Jeep Compass
  • Mazda CX30
  • Mazda CX5
  • Nissan Rogue

National and Alamo Car Rental

  • Buick Envision
  • Chevrolet Captiva
  • Ford Escape
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Jeep Compass
  • Jeep Patriot
  • Kia Sportage
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Ford Escape
  • Jeep Compass
  • Mazda CR-V
  • Nissan Rogue

None of the franchises will have all the makes and models that their parent company owns. All the information you may want has been examined and sorted for you. Keep reading to learn more about the Intermediate SUV options at the big rental car companies.

Blue SUV Hyundai Tucson Hybrid stopped on a street, What Cars are Intermediate SUVs at a Rental Agency

What is an Intermediate SUV?

The standard definition of an Intermediate Sport Utility Vehicle is a roomy cab on a car or truck platform that can carry a family of five with good storage capability. Intermediate SUVs are also called Midsize SUVs by the automotive industry. The terms are interchangeable.

How Many People Does an Intermediate SUV Rental Hold?

An Intermediate SUV usually seats five people. They will have space for 3-5 bags in the back by the rear liftgate. Some higher-end models may only seat four people with Captain Chairs in the 1st-row and the 2nd-row. 

How Many People Does a Standard SUV Rental Hold?


The automotive industry usually defines a standard SUV as one that seats seven or more people with good storage capability. For the rental car industry, seven people are normal for a Standard SUV. 

How Many People Does a Compact SUV Rental Hold?

The compact SUV usually holds four people comfortably, but they have seating for five on the 2nd-row bench. The trunk compartment is smaller than an Intermediate SUV. It may only carry 2-3 bags. 

What's the difference between Intermediate and Standard SUV Rental?

The difference between an Intermediate and Standard SUV rental is the size of the vehicle. Intermediate SUVs are smaller than Standard SUVs. 

Automotive engineers usually design Standard SUVs on truck platforms to give them better off-road capability. Depending on the auto company, intermediate SUVs can be built on either car or truck platforms.

Check out "What SUVs Have the Highest Ground Clearance?"

Red ford escape sports utility vehicle parked on an empty field

What are the Advantages of an Intermediate SUV Rental?

The Intermediate SUV makes a great rental if you want car-like handling and good gas mileage. It will usually have more flexible trunk space than a sedan. The higher ceiling in an SUV than a sedan gives the SUV a roomy interior where you can sit upright in comfort.

Is a Full-size Car Bigger Than an Intermediate SUV?

A full-size car and an Intermediate SUV both have size advantages. The full-size car may have more legroom. It will often get better gas mileage and may have a larger gas tank.

The Intermediate SUV's advantages include more headroom and better off-road handling than the full-size car. The SUV has more flexible trunk capabilities with the vehicle's carrying space from the floor to the roof.   

What to Consider When Renting an Intermediate SUV

suv-driving-on-mountain-offroads, What-Cars-are-Intermediate-SUVs-at-a-Rental-Agency

Each rental car company has a variety of Intermediate SUVs to choose from. Here are some considerations for choosing one Intermediate SUV over another at the same rental agency:

  • Amount of legroom
  • Height of headroom
  • 2WD, AWD, or 4WD
  • Which carries more luggage
  • Handles like a car
  • Off-road capability
  • Whether it has a built-in roof rack
  • Built-in sporting equipment space
  • The amount of power
  • Has Lane-Keep Assist
  • Gets good Miles-Per-Gallon 

Do Intermediate SUVs Have AWD or 4WD?

Most car rental companies rent Intermediate SUVs in 4 Wheel Drive or All Wheel Drive. Some rental companies rent Intermediate SUVs with 2 Wheel Drive, particularly in urban areas. Most will be AWD in an Intermediate SUV.

The rental agreement should identify whether you rent an Intermediate SUV with 2WD, AWD, or 4WD.

What is AWD?

AWD means that power is sent to both the front two wheels and the back two wheels. In a 2WD vehicle, the engine only powers the front two wheels. In AWD, the power to both sets of wheels gives the vehicle better handling off-road or in wet weather.

Some vehicles have full-time-all-wheel-drive, and others have part-time-AWD, which transitions automatically from 2WD to AWD depending on road conditions. Part-time AWD gets better gas mileage by switching back and forth as needed.  

What's the Difference Between AWD and 4WD?

4WD vehicles have power directed to each wheel, giving it better torque for off-road driving and wet weather conditions. AWD has power to the front and rear wheels as a set rather than to each wheel individually as in 4WD. 

4WD in your SUV is better for off-road driving. AWD, both full-time and part-time, gets better gas mileage than 4WD.

Confirm AWD and 4WD Upon Rental Pickup

Car rental companies make digital contracts with customers based on the vehicle inventory if all vehicles are returned on time. This doesn't always happen. 

If you need your Intermediate SUV to have AWD or 4WD, confirm this when picking up your rental. 

Photo of black Nissan Rogue in the open air

Are Enterprise SUVs All-Wheel Drive? [4WD?]

Enterprise Rent-a-Car can rent you an Intermediate SUV with either AWD or 4WD if they have them in stock. When you make a digital reservation, make sure the type of drive is listed in your rental agreement. Enterprise Rent-a-Car's franchises should have both.

Are Avis SUVs AWD?

Avis Car Rental has Intermediate SUVs in both AWD and 4WD. Avis's website says that most of their Intermediate SUVs can be rented in either AWD or 4WD. 

Call the Franchise to Confirm Your SUV's AWD or 4WD

You may want to call the particular franchise where you are renting the SUV to confirm they will have the type of SUV you want when you arrive. Do not call the general rental company number for this confirmation, as the national call center will not necessarily know what vehicles are available with this level of detail.

Do Rental SUVs Have Trailer Hitches?

The normal Intermediate and Standard SUVs usually do not have trailer hitches. Most car rental companies forbid you from adding a trailer hitch to their rental SUVs. 

Read more here on "Can You Tow With a Rental Truck?"

Many Rental Pickup Trucks Have Trailer Hitches

Many rental companies have a truck division with available pickups with trailer hitches if you need a trailer hitch on your rental. Hertz, Budget Truck Rental, and Enterprise Truck Rental can rent you a pickup with a trailer hitch.  

Other Rental Options for Towing

View of sign U-Haul rentals on 19A Highway on Vancouver Island

If towing capacity is more important than the 5-person seating of an Intermediate SUV, you could consider renting a pickup truck with a tow hitch from U-Haul or Penske Truck Renting.

Both Penske and U-Haul often have a franchise near airports. They usually do not have a booth in the rental car area of the airport. But they may offer airport pick up for their rentals, or you can use rideshare.

What Rental Car Companies Have Merged?

Hertz rental office located in Sunnyvale

Over the past 20 years, the rental car companies have been consolidating. Hertz now owns Dollar and Thrifty car rental agencies. Avis has purchased Budget and Payless car rentals. National and Alamo have merged as well.

Each of these agencies continues to advertise and market themselves to different customer segments. In some franchise locations, the vehicle fleet will be rented interchangeably. The fleet is usually kept separate from Dollar and Thrifty's fleets for other franchises like Hertz.

Final Thoughts


Renting an Intermediate SUV will give you a quality SUV  for your work trip or getaway. You can have a roomy cabin with good luggage carrying capacity in a smaller SUV. Depending on which Intermediate SUV you rent, you can have one that is great on the dirt roads for your hiking or camping trip, or you can rent one with a smooth ride for tripping around the city.

Read More about SUVs Here:

What SUVs Have a V6 Engine?

What SUVs Have Lane Keep Assist?

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