For most people, a rental car is an afterthought. On a vacation, a business trip, or after an accident, we often think about them as appliances to serve a purpose. They’re generally not even thought of as individual models, just in terms of categories: a compact, midsize, convertible, etc. But there’s a lot more to the story.
The rental car industry is a vital part of the automotive ecosystem. In 2015, as sales of compact and midsize sedans remained in steady decline, the rental industry picked up the slack. According to The Wall Street Journal, rental car companies — including Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise — scooped up 21% of all compact cars and 20% of midsize sedans sold in America in 2015. And once these models reach the end of their service, they’re sold on the used market at a steep discount.
The old idea of beating up a rental car might be enough to scare prospective buyers away. But as the industry has grown, customers expect safe, reliable, and clean cars every time they pick up the keys. These cars are washed, detailed, and mechanically maintained for the duration of their service, often leaving them in better shape than many comparable used cars.
Looking at the study on the most common fleet buys, we’ve come up with a list of 10 of the most common rentals you’ll probably land next time you reserve a car — and why you just might want to consider buying one in a year or two.
1. Chevrolet Cruze
The compact Cruze has been a boon for Chevy’s car lineup in recent years. The brand’s global best-selling car model is reliable, comfortable, and affordable. As a result, the Cruze is scooped up every year by rental fleets by the thousands. When their time in the fleets is up, these affordable runabouts are usually sold to the public at a steep discount. Next time you come across a well-appointed Cruze with a key ignition (Remember those?) and cloth upholstery, chances are it began life as a rental.
Next: This infamous flop has found its niche as a popular rental car.