Renting a Car Before Buying One

by Lori Straus

Have you ever thought about renting a car as part of your car-buying research? It might be useful if you’re considering changing the type of vehicle you want to drive. Test drives in those instances might not give you enough time to evaluate the new vehicle. After all, how will you know if the new type of car will fit your lifestyle? Driving a rental car for a few days as part of your research could help you answer that question.

Family road tripFamily Changes Can Mean a New Car

Is your family growing? Or has the last of your flock moved out? Changes in family size are often a reason for buying a new type of vehicle. If your family is growing, though, would a minivan suit your needs better? Or an SUV with a third row you can fold down when not in use? If the last of your children has just moved out, do you want a crossover vehicle? Or a small sedan?

No matter how much research you do before you visit the dealership, you’ll never be able to fully appreciate the roll a new vehicle model will have in your life until you test it. Test drives are part and parcel of purchasing a vehicle. However, taking only a test drive might not let you fully experience how the vehicle will fit your new life.

For example, will a larger vehicle be too difficult to handle? Will you feel intimidated in a small vehicle? Moreover, spending a few days with the model you want to buy can help you avoid making a snap decision.

Turo—the Airbnb for Cars

But no dealership will let you test drive a vehicle for several days. Enter Turo, a website that lets “hosts” offer their cars for rent. You search Turo’s website for the exact vehicle you want in your city and then you book it. Unlike your standard rental company that has a fleet of a select number of makes and models, Turo offers almost any car. It just depends on what’s available in your town.

Prices range widely. When I searched for a vehicle in my city, I could rent a 2019 Subaru Forester for $51/day, a 2013 Kia Sorento for $42/day, or a 2017 Ram 1500 for $126/day. (There were many other options, of course.)

Helping You Find the Right Car for the Next Stage in Your LifeNissan Convertible

Renting a car for a few days will never let you test drive the exact car you want to buy: all used cars are unique and you’ll likely find very few current-year models on the carsharing platform. However, renting a car will help you decide if an SUV is more suitable for your growing family than a minivan and if a small sedan is comfortable enough for you after you’ve spent 20 years in an SUV.

Renting a car for a few days Before you buy might just be the ticket that could save you thousands of dollars from buying the wrong car for the next stage of your life.