AutobahnThe German AutobahnThe information on this page will answer some of the questions you may have regarding the car rental quote you received from

GPS-Satellite Navigation

Some rental car categories in Europe, usually premium and luxury category cars, have factory-installed satellite navigation (GPS). Most rental cars, however, are not so equipped. Usually, but not in all cases, a portable GPS can be ordered in advance. Prices vary depending on rental car company and country, but range from about €6 to €18 per day. Both factory-installed and portable devices offer coverage in the countries in which they are rented. Currently it is not possible to guarantee in advance a GPS with multi-country coverage. We recommend taking your own portable device from the U.S. Make sure it has map software that covers the part of Europe in which you plan to travel.

If the car we quote you is equipped with GPS that will be noted in our quote, such as: "Mercedes Benz C-Class or similar, air, manual, GPS."

Luggage and Passenger Space

Rental car companies guarantee not by make or model but by car category: economy, compact, intermediate, etc., though vehicles in the same category are similar in size. We thus cannot be specific about the luggage or passenger space in the car you will ultimately be assigned at the rental car counter. In any case, it is always a good idea to limit the size and number of bags you take to Europe. We recommend traveling with suitcases no larger than 25-inches high. Soft-sided duffels and folding hanging bags conform better to the sometimes limited available trunk space in European automobiles.

Within the category of car you have chosen, rental car companies are often able to provide a choice of vehicles. However, if those fail to meet your needs you may have pay extra to upgrade to a vehicle with more luggage space. If you choose to upgrade at the counter, paying the difference directly to the rental company may be the quicker solution, though you may get a better price by calling our toll-free help line from Europe. It is staffed 365/ and that phone number will be on your voucher.

Here are our recommendations for the maximum number of passengers with luggage that can be accommodated by the various vehicle categories. We have included a sample vehicle for each category:

  • Economy: (Ford Fiesta) 2 persons
  • Compact: (Ford Focus) 3 persons
  • Intermediate: (VW Passat) 4 persons
  • Fullsize: (Mercedes C-Class) 4 persons
  • Premium: (Volvo S70) 4 persons
  • Luxury: (BMW 5 Series) 4 persons
  • Compact Wagon: (Ford Focus Wagon) 4 persons
  • Intermediate Wagon: (VW Passat Wagon) 4 persons*
  • Fullsize Wagon: (BMW 3-Series Wagon) 4 persons*
  • Premium Wagon: (Mercedes E-Class Wagon) 4 persons*
  • Luxury Wagon: (BMW 5 Series Wagon) 4 persons*
  • Intermediate Special: (VW Touran) 4 persons*
  • SUV: (Audi Q3) 4 persons*
  • Fullsize Van (7 seat VW Sharon) 6 persons
  • Standard Van (9 seat W Caravelle) 7 persons

(* May be suitable for 5 passengers in these circumstances: luggage is limited, one passenger is a child under 12, and, if all are adults, planned trips are two hours or less. While almost all sedans and wagons in the compact category and above have five seat belts, five adults will not be comfortable for long trips nor, in many cases, will there be sufficient space to accommodate luggage for five persons.)

These are our recommendations based on more than 20 years of booking car rentals in Europe. You the renter, however, best know your own situation and must make the final choice of car category. For example, a family of four, with two children 12 and under may find that a compact sedan meets their space requirements. The same is true for groups of five persons in intermediate category and above station wagons, SUVs and the intermediate special category.

Car Rental Insurance

All our rental quotes include third party liability insurance. This will cover you in the event you are found responsible for damage to persons or property outside your vehicle. As renter and principal driver, however, you are responsible for the vehicle itself should it be damaged or stolen. To cover the vehicle itself, you will want to have collision and theft coverage, often called CDW (collision damage waiver), theft insurance or LDW (loss damage waiver). You can purchase this insurance from us before your trip, at the rental counter when you pick up the car, or rely on a credit card. It is also possible in some cases to purchase CDW and theft insurance from a third-party insurance provider such as Travel Guard or Travel Insured. However you choose to insure yourself against damage and theft, be advised that some items will not be covered. Typically, those include tires, wheels, glass, interior and, in some cases, undercarriage and roof. Note also that you may be held responsible for certain mechanical breakdowns. For example, if the clutch on your manual transmission vehicle fails the rental company may determine that the driver failed to properly shift gears and is thus responsible for repair costs. Personal accident insurance is available for purchase at the time of rental but please note it may duplicate your own medical coverage. Read more about car rental insurance.


A large percentage of European rental are powered by diesel engines. Diesel fuel costs less than gas and delivers better mileage. Unfortunately, rental car companies are usually unwilling to guarantee a specific engine type. Only if the description of your car category in your quote or confirming voucher includes the word "diesel" is diesel guaranteed, such as "VW Golf or similar, four-doors, air, manual, diesel." Avis in Germany, however, will guarantee a diesel engine car for a fee of €3 per day to a maximum of €42. Otherwise diesel can be requested at the time of rental.

Additional Drivers

With a few exceptions, you can expect to pay from about €5 to €17 per day to add one or more additional drivers to the rental contract. Europcar in Germany, however, does not charge for a spouse or immediate family member with the same last name to be added as a second driver. Other rental offices, at local discretion, may waive the extra driver fee for a spouse. This, however, cannot be arranged or guaranteed in advance.

Tolls, Vignettes, and Environmental Permits

Rental cars come equipped with the necessary permits and windshield stickers for the country in which the car is rented. Except for the "green card" which shows the rental car carries third-party liability for travel within Europe, the renter is responsible for obtaining all necessary documents and equipment for driving outside the country of rental. A car rented in Germany, for example, will come with the “Green Zone” sticker for driving in the designated environmental zones of more than 40 German cities, but it will not not have the “vignette” sticker that permits driving on the Autobahn in Switzerland, Austria or any of the other countries that require a special permit. A rental car from Spain will not be equipped with the two breathalyzers required for travel in France. Read more about Autobahn vignettes and Germany's Green Zone emission stickers.

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For additional information about renting a car in Europe please refer to:

Car Rental Europe: The Basics

Car Rental Europe: Tips and Advice

Our free Special Report: “What You Should Know About Renting a Car in Europe”