The rental car industry uses general size categories to classify their available vehicles and set rental rates. Mid-size and full-size are two common categories of cars. The specific vehicles offered in each category depend on the rental company's standards as well as the type of vehicles they use. Understanding the general differences between the two categories helps make the selection when renting a car.

Passenger Capacity

Both mid- and full-size cars have the capacity to hold five people, with two in the front seat and three in the backseat. The size of the people traveling in the car affects the choice. Five adults crammed into a mid-size car will likely feel uncomfortable and crowded. Even four adults may desire more room. A mid-size car is a better option for no more than two adult travelers. Two children can comfortably fit in the back seat of most mid-size cars. For more than two adults or for teenagers, a full-size car provides more interior room. The full-size option also gives more room for three children, particularly if they need car seats. A mid-size car may not accommodate all of the car seats.

Storage Space

The space in the trunk for belongings is another consideration when choosing between a mid-size and full-size rental car. A mid-size car is smaller overall and typically has less trunk space than a full-size car. Both sizes should accommodate two large suitcases in the trunk. A mid-size car can handle two smaller bags, while a full-size car should have enough room for a third small suitcase. If there is a lot of cargo to haul, choose the larger full-size option.


Because it is a higher class, the full-size cars will generally cost more each day of the rental. For a short rental period, the price difference isn't as substantial. If renting the vehicle for a week or longer, the extra cost of a full-size vehicle rental adds up. Compare the pricing between the two classes with a preferred rental company to decide if the extra space is worth the added cost.


Rental car companies use different brands of cars that vary slightly in size and available space. Typical mid-size vehicles might include a Pontiac Grand Am or a Nissan Altima. A full-size rental might include a Ford Taurus or a Chevy Impala. A mid-size vehicle with one rental car company may give more room than a vehicle in the same class with a different company. Each rental car company categorizes its own vehicles, so a vehicle considered a compact could end up in the mid-size category. Size is the most common way to classify cars, but some companies also use the features of the car. A smaller car with extra features may move up to a higher class.