A puzzler for many a Europe-bound auto renter is how much luggage will the rental car's trunk hold?

7 Pax Van-Luggage for 6

Because rental companies guarantee by category rather than by specific make or model, a definitive answer isn't really possible. There can be small differences among vehicles in the same car category, including trunk size. To complicate matters further, rental companies lack consistency of size in their fleet categories. For example, virtually every rental company in Europe puts the Mercedes C-Class and the BMW 3-Series in the Fullsize category. Neither car offers the size or trunk space of the VW Passat, Peugeot 407, Renault Laguna, VW Touran, Opel Insignia, Skoda Octavia and several other Intermediate category rental cars that are much less expensive than several cars in the Fullsize category (wonder how many millions of dollars are spent by renters of Fullsize cars under the mistaken impression they will have more luggage space than an Intermediate car?).

Increase Your Chances for Getting the Right Car

Our best advice is to grab a suitcase or two and visit local car dealers. At your Mercedes dealer you can find out if that C-Class sedan (or similar) will really accommodate your party of four plus luggage or will your five passengers and their luggage work in an Intermediate VW Passat station wagon (unless you want to spend a really lot of money, it's just about the largest station wagon available for rent in Europe)...or do you need a seven-passenger van?

A couple of weeks ago we suggested a customer headed for Italy (where rental car prices are the highest in Europe), who was convinced he needed a Fullsize wagon for his two-week, visit his local BMW and Mercedes dealers. In doing so he discovered that Premium category sedan (BMW 5-Series or similar) would work better for his party of five than the Fullsize Mercedes C-Class station wagon...and also saved him about $500.

Of course, that ever-present rental car phrase “or similar” means you can never be 100% certain.

Click for info about rental car passenger and luggage space.