What type of vehicle should I rent?

So many cars to choose from…


There are a number of factors to consider in order to select the most suitable vehicle for your Costa Rican driving.

Location and destinations

Generally speaking, visitors that intend to remain in the Central Valley or to travel destinations with a well-developed roads, such as Jacó, can rent a sedan. For anywhere else in the country, an SUV is usually recommended. There may be some hotels or places of interest that require a robust 4×4, such as Santa Rosa National Park in Guanacaste, but mostly visitors are more comfortable driving a vehicle with higher clearance than a sedan can offer.


During green season, an SUV is more useful for traveling the country and the bonus is that as these months are low season, it’s likely that rental prices are lower than other times of the year.

Credit Card CDW

Check that fine print with a magnifying glass! Renting a vehicle with more than 8 seats usually is not covered by the credit card provider and different cards offer different terms; some exclude CDW coverage on larger or premium SUVS, so be sure that the terms of coverage apply to the car category rented to reap the benefits of this free perk.

Number of passengers and luggage

Long, hot car journeys can be tiring enough, but nothing is worse than being squashed into the seat by other members of the family or group too! Check the description and vehicle type offered in the car category before making the reservation. Points to consider:

  • A child seat is bulky and will take up as much room as an adult passenger.
  • For extra luggage or surfboards consider a luggage rack.
  • Weigh up price against comfort—often the next car category up is not a huge price leap.


Car categories

Do read which make(s) and model(s) are listed in each car category. Frequently, Costa Rican car categories differ from North American ones and what constitutes ‘full-sized’ at home may not be the same here. Typical car makes/models and car categories are listed below:
Economic sedan Nissan Tiida, BYD FO, Nissan Celerio

Compact/mini sedan Toyota Yaris, Hyundi Accent Blue, Nissan Sentra, Suzuki Alto

Standard sedan Toyota Corolla, Nissan Versa, Kia Cerato, Hyundi Elantra

Mini SUV Suzuki SX4

Compact/small SUV Suzuki Jimny, Dahiutsu Bego, Dahitsu Terios

Intermediate SUV Dahitsu Bego

Standard SUV Suzuki Grand Vitara, Nissan X-trail, Hyundi Tucson, Mitsubushi Montero

Full size SUV Toyota Prado, Nissan Xtrail, Mitsubishi Nativa

Premium/Luxury SUV Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Prado, Sequio, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Landcruiser

Minivan Mitsubishi Zinger

Van Hyundai H1, Nissan Urvan, Jac Refine

Hybrid vehicles

These are available but not in common use.