It’s time to take a road trip — and rent an even better ride. (Photo: Getty Images)
With summer in full swing, there’s nothing like a quick weekend road trip to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate — especially if you’re doing it in an upgraded ride. Just because your midweek is all about the minivan doesn’t mean you can’t be living the luxe life as road warrior come Friday. Whatever your car preference or price point may be, from stylish to sporty, we’ve got the keys to unlocking a memorable weekend getaway.
Jaguar F-TYPE convertible (Photo: Jaguar)
Instead of: Chevrolet Corvette
Try: Jaguar F-TYPE
Why: A two-seater convertible is the ultimate summer car, and the Corvette is a prime example, but Jaguar’s newest car raises the bar — and it’s guaranteed to turn heads. It won World Car Design of the Year in 2013, but it’s more than just a pretty face and frame. From the moment you hit the keyless pushbutton ignition and hear the guttural growl of the 340 hp three-liter Supercharged V6 engine purr to life, you’ll be hooked. The sleek, sexy sports car goes from 0 to 60 mph in only 5.1 seconds, so just be warned: Onlookers may get whiplash checking you out as you roar off into the sunset.
Where to rent it: Enterprise’s Exotic Collection in the U.S.; Hertz across Europe; Avis in the U.K.
Approximate cost: $250 a day
Audi A5 Cabriolet (Photo: Audi)
Instead of: Chrysler Sebring
Try: Audi A5 Cabriolet
Why: Let’s face it: Sebrings are pretty snooze-worthy as far as larger convertibles go. Luckily there’s Audi’s new A5. The all-wheel-drive vehicle features a fully automatic, electro-hydraulic soft top that can be operated while driving at up to 31 mph, so no need to pull over to put the top up. This sporty ride is also speedy, topping out at 174 mph (not that you would ever drive it that fast). The A5 seats four and even comes with an Audi Connect Wi-Fi hotspot option, so lucky passengers can catch up on work while en route, or just research the best restaurants and beaches at their final destination.
Where to rent it: Enterprise’s Exotic Collection or Avis (in the U.K.)
Approximate cost: $135 a day
Jeep Wrangler (Photo: Jeep)
Instead of: Jeep Cherokee
Try: Jeep Wrangler
Why: Wranglers are our go-to iconic beachmobile because they combine the best of both SUVs and convertibles. You can remove the roof and doors to maximize the open-air feel, so this 4x4 is perfect for off-roading on the beach. Just don’t forget your permit and to take some air out of the tires before going for a spin on the sand. If you rent one of these, you should also learn the “Jeep Wave,” a gesture of camaraderie given to fellow Wrangler drivers when you pass on opposite sides of the road.
Where to rent it: Wranglers are available from most major rental agencies, including Budget, Dollar, and Hertz, but we found the best deals on RelayRides, where you rent cars directly from their owners.
Approximate cost: $200 per day from rental agencies, or as low as $50 per day on RelayRide
Range Rover Evoque (Photo: Range Rover)
Instead of: Ford Explorer
Try: Range Rover Evoque
Why: The Evoque is an SUV with class and heart. It’s Land Rover’s leaner, greener version of a regular Range and the company’s smallest, lightest, and most fuel-efficient vehicle yet. Parallel parking in the city or at crowded beaches is a cinch, thanks to the Intelligent Park Assist feature, which helps you select a spot and maneuver into it. The luxury crossover, named SUV of the year by Esquire, features upscale details such as standard leather interior and optional televisions in the headrests.
Where to rent it: Enterprise Exotic or Avis (in the U.K.)
Approximate cost: $150 a day
Toyota Prius (Photo: Toyota)
Instead of: Smart car
Try: Toyota Prius
Why: Lots of people want to save green by going green, but a Smart car isn’t practical to take on freeways or highways for long hauls. Plus, the two-seater is too small to be comfortable for any trips longer than 30 minutes. With the Prius hybrid, you get a whopping 55 miles per gallon, and the eco-friendly hatchback is roomy enough to accommodate your whole crew or family.
Where to rent it: Avis, Budget, Hertz, and through Toyota dealerships, where we found the lowest rates
Approximate cost: $100 a day, and you’ll definitely save dough on gas.
Chrysler 300 (Photo: Chrysler)
Instead of: Chevrolet Impala
Try: Chrysler 300
Why: This full-size, well-equipped sedan is perfect for anyone who longs for a lavish-looking ride but doesn’t want to blow their budget. The slick styling on the 300 could even be mistaken for a Bentley at a fraction of the cost, and it’s got plenty of room for passengers and their luggage.
Where to rent it: Most major rental agencies
Approximate cost: $50 a day
Fiat 500 (Photo: Fiat)
Instead of: Hyundai Accent
Try: Fiat 500
Why: The chic Italian coupe is a sporty and affordable alternative to the usual no-frills contenders in its category, plus it boasts lots of European personality. The small size makes it nimble to navigate and possible to park almost anywhere. And hey, if it’s good enough for a diva like Jennifer Lopez, who starred in commercials for the car, it’s good enough for us.
Where to rent it: Budget and Hertz’s 24/7 program
Approximate cost: $45 a day
Cruising in the mountains in a convertible is pure summer bliss. (Photo: Getty Images)