Are Rental Cars All-Wheel Drive? (Checked & Explained)

Rental car companies strive to offer a wide variety of vehicles to meet the needs of their customers effectively. It would be bad if a customer checked into a rental car company and couldn’t get the specific kind they are looking for.

Beyond the kinds and classes of cars, renters also frequently request all-wheel drive and four-wheel-drive vehicles. This is especially the case with tourists who are looking to go on skiing expeditions with their families.

There have been rumors about rental cars being curiously short of all-wheel-drive cars. This article seeks to examine the situation while providing bits of help and tips where necessary.

Here’s the Short Answer to Whether Rental Cars Are All-Wheel Drive:

The truth is most rental car companies do not guarantee the availability of four-wheel or all-wheel drive cars. This is primarily because these cars are expensive and are in high demand, especially in places near ski resorts. However, you can get all-wheel drive cars if you make a reservation early enough.

Nissan Rogue

8 Car Rental Companies that Offer All-Wheel-Drive Cars

Here’re 8 car rental companies that provide customers all-wheel-drive vehicles:

1. Sixt

Sixt is one of the few car rental companies that promises readily available all-wheel-drive vehicles. In their words, they “offer a range of models with all-wheel drive capability so you can feel confident no matter what the weather throws at you.”

However, they were careful to mention that renters will only get a car of that type based on “availability.”

2. National Car

National Car also has the option of booking standard AWD vehicles on its website. To complete a reservation, you’d need to fill in a city, airport, and zip code. Also, while it wasn’t expressly mentioned, it’s safe to assume AWD vehicles won’t always be available.

3. Hertz

Hertz is one of the biggest car rental companies, and as expected, they offer AWD and 4WD cars. The classes of AWD cars offered include SUVs and minivans.

During times of scarcity, being part of the Hertz loyalty program may get you some special treatment and land you an AWD car still.

4. Enterprise

Being one of the most reputable car rental companies, Enterprise offers AWD and 4WD cars for rent. All you need to get started is to fill in your city and postal code, after which you can make a reservation.

5. Avis

Avis also has a fleet of compact cars and SUVs with an all-wheel-drive system perfect for off-road terrains and rough weathers.

In their words,

“If you are specifically looking for a 4WD vehicle, we will do our best to get you in a car that will meet your needs.”

6. Subaru Car Rental

Now you probably know Subaru as a foremost automobile manufacturer with millions of cars carrying its name.

However, Subaru also owns a car rental company known as the Subaru Just Drive Rental.

And the rumor is true- almost every Subaru vehicle comes with an all-wheel-drive system, and this applies to their rental cars as well. In their own words, “Every Subaru rental car comes with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive for confidence on rough terrain and in all kinds of weather.”

However, if you are booking a rental car with Subaru, you are limited to just Subaru vehicles. Fair enough, right?

7. SilverCar

SilverCar is a growing rental car company proudly affiliated with Audi.

In their own words,

“All vehicles in the Silvercar fleet have the Quattro All-Wheel drive system from Audi.”.

8. Turo

Turo is a car-sharing marketplace with tons of vehicles available for rental in several locations around the world.

The website has an option to search specifically for AWD cars, which then links you to the ones available for rent around you.

Related: Do Rental Cars Offer All-Season Tires? (Explained)

Can You Expect to Get Car Rentals to Offer All-Wheel-Drive?

As is clear from the list above, rental car companies do offer all-wheel-drive cars. However, it is extremely pertinent to keep your expectations at a reasonable level.

This is because, even at the major rental companies, the AWD vehicles are sometimes unavailable.

Sometimes, these companies prefer to rent them out as some sort of reward to loyal customers only. The point is, do not count on AWD rental cars being always available because, truth is, they aren’t always available.

And if you do manage to get one, be prepared to spend a lot more money than you would on a regular rental car. That’s just the way it works.

Why Is it So Hard to Get An AWD or 4WD Rental Car?

Renting a 4WD or AWD car is not a walk in the park, and those who have tried renting one in the past can attest to this. It’s not as simple as just walking in and making a reservation because they aren’t always available.

Matter of fact, very few rental companies offer a special search option for AWD and 4WD cars on their websites.

According to AutoSlash, the biggest reason for this difficulty is “logistical.” This means that rental car companies aren’t willing to promise that they can make one available. It’s why when you try to inquire about AWD cars from a rental company, they always mention that booking one is based on “availability.”

There is also the problem of cost. Rental car companies don’t make that much money off renting AWD cars even though they usually charge higher.

This is due to reasons ranging from depreciation to early car rotation.

Another reason car rental companies do not sweat AWD/4WD cars is that most renters prefer 2WD cars. This is largely because 2WD cars are renowned for getting much better fuel economy, which helps renters save costs in the long run.

Related: Do Rental Cars Pay Tolls? (Solved And Explained)

How Much Extra Does it Cost to Rent an All-Wheel-Drive Car?

If you want to rent an AWD car, especially in winter seasons when they are in high demand, you’ll be spending a lot.

According to AutoSlash, during these periods, companies rent their cars out for as much as $300 daily.

What Car Models Do Car Rental Companies Offer As All-Wheel Drive?

Some rental companies offer various vehicle models as all-wheel-drive.

For instance, Avis offers various SUV models, including:

  • Ford Escape,
  • Nissan Rogue,
  • Jeep Cherokee,
  • Subaru Outback,
  • Kia Sportage,
  • Toyota RAV4,
  • Hyundai Tucson,
  • amongst others.

There are also rental companies that offer specific models as all-wheel-drive. An obvious example is the Subaru Just Drive Rental, which offers only Subaru models. In addition, most SilverCar AWD models have the Audi nameplate.

Related: Are Rental Cars New Or Used? (Checked & Explained)

Does All-Wheel Drive Matter If You Choose a Bigger Rental Car?

We must state clearly that the fact that a rental car is bigger than others doesn’t necessarily mean it has All-Wheel-Drive.

Hence, if you really have a need for an all-wheel-drive car, be sure to confirm, even if it’s a large SUV or minivan.

All-wheel-drive vehicles get better traction and therefore have better stability in snow, ice and on paved roads.

They are also better for off-roading and towing. However, most rental car companies prohibit off-roading and towing owing to the high chances of severe damage.

On the whole, a bigger rental car will only be of help if you are worried about space and style. If your concern is traversing a snowy area, please stick strictly to reserving an AWD vehicle, whether it’s “big” or not.

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