Australia is a vast and wonderful country, and there is much you can see and do by car. If you’re just visiting, renting a car is usually the best way to go around the country and explore. Finding a 4-wheel drive car rental in Adelaide is a great starting point for your trip. 

However, when booking a rental car, you’ll find a lot of options, and they’re mainly divided into two categories: economy and compact. If you’re wondering about the differences between the two classes of car rentals, then you’ve come to the right place. Read this short guide comparing economy and compact rental cars so you’ll know which one to choose.

Economy Class Car Rentals

Cars belonging in the economy class are the smallest on the market. These vehicles can accommodate a maximum of 4 passengers and sometimes even less, depending on the model. They’re more or less the cheapest vehicles available, and they offer excellent gas mileage. If you’re travelling light with just a few companions, an economy class rental car is your best bet.

An excellent example of an economy-sized vehicle is the Toyota Yaris. This is a great option as it is also a hatchback model, allowing more flexibility in luggage storage and seating capacity. However, not all economy rentals are hatchbacks. The actual model and specs of economy cars vary, but their common characteristics include:

  • Number of doors: Usually 2, but sometimes 4
  • Fuel economy: 30-35 mpg
  • Seating capacity: 4 occupants, comfortable for 1-2 adults and small children
  • Luggage capacity: Several small bags or maybe a medium suitcase
  • Rental cost: Cheapest option available in terms of vehicles for hire in Adelaide

Compact Class Car Rentals

If you need a little more space and legroom, a compact car may be a better option for you. These vehicles can accommodate more passengers and are a bit more spacious than an economy class car. They still come with earth-friendly gas mileage for light impact travel.

To give you an idea of the size and look of compact cars, imagine a Toyota Corolla, an excellent four-door model. However, please remember that not all compact cars come in four-door models, but the sizes of the car models are pretty much the same. Compact cars are typically slightly larger sedans designed for families of four. Some common characteristics of compact-sized cars are:

  • Number of doors: Usually 4, but sometimes 2
  • Fuel economy: 25-30 mpg
  • Seating capacity: 4-5 occupants, with up to 3 people able to fit in the backseat
  • Luggage capacity: Decent luggage space for a large suitcase, a medium suitcase and several small carry-on bags
  • Rental cost: Similarly priced to economy, but offers more room and storage space

Which is the Better Option?

The only real significant difference between the two classes is their size. Other characteristics like the cost, fuel consumption, and the number of doors don’t significantly differ between the two classes.

If you’re planning on renting a car, the only deciding factor you need to consider is the number of people and the storage space that you plan to bring with you on your trip. When going on long trips where you’ll stay in the car for long periods of time, a compact-sized vehicle is always better to make sure you’re all comfortable during the ride.


Knowing the basic car rental classes will help you better understand which vehicles will serve your needs better. Both classes are excellent and affordable options if you want to drive around and experience some great cities and sceneries in Australia.

If you’re looking for a reliable rental agency offering quality car models, there’s no better place to go than AutoSys Vehicle Rentals. We are a South Australian family-owned business specialising in budget car rentals in Adelaide. Expect the best in line service, affordable prices, and friendly customer service when you work with us. Give us a call and book a rental car today!