If you are planning on renting a car in Costa Rica, you’re probably trying to decide which car is the right one for your trip. What car to rent will depend on three things: budget, number of people and destinations. In this post, I will go over the popular types of cars to rent in Costa Rica.
Prices for cars depend on the time of year as it goes by the tourism season and availability. High season (December to April and usually July) and holidays such as Christmas and New Years are always more expensive. The prices below are for car rental price, not including insurances, fees, taxes or extras and may vary depending on availability, time of year, car rental company and other factors. Prices are just an estimate and are quoted in USD. And please, remember to contact your host about what car you should rent to be 100% sure you do or do not need a 4wd/4×4.
Read our tips for renting a car in Costa Rica post for more information.
Compact Car: Hyundai i10, Hyundai Gran i10
The Hyundai i10 and Gran i10 are two common compact cars for rent in Costa Rica. They generally come in automatic and manual transmission and can fit up to 4 people. It also comes in hatchback. You can see what the Hyundai Grand i10 2019 looks like in this video.
Cost: This car is the most budget friendly car to rent. A hatchback manual i10 is around $18-30 a day to rent and the automatic is around $24-33 a day.
Number of people: This car can fit up to 4 passengers but the trunk is not the biggest so keep that in mind if all 4 people are bringing a lot of luggage. It can comfortably fit 4 carry ons but if everyone is bringing a large check in plus a carry on or backpacks, it won’t be that comfortable.
Destinations: This car is perfect for major destinations and cities. You can get from San Jose to La Fortuna, Liberia to Tamarindo, San Jose to Puerto Viejo, and down to Jaco and Manuel Antonio. We do not recommend this car if you plan on explore and go off the main roads however, especially during rainy season.
Sedan: Hyundai Accent Blue, Hyundai Elantra
A common sedan to rent in Costa Rica is the Hyundai Accent Blue and Hyundai Elantra. The Elentra is considered a premium/luxury sedan since it is bigger. The Accent blue comes in manual and automatic transmission.
Hyundai Accent Blue Video
Cost: The Elantra is considerably more expensive than the Accent. An Accent manual runs around $40 a day,an automatic is around $50 and the Elantra is around $60-65 a day. The Elantra also only comes in automatic.
Number of people: Both cars can fit up to 5. The Elantra is bigger but if you have 5 very tall or bigger sized people, it will be extremely tight and not recommended.
Destinations: Like the compact, this car works for most roads in Costa Rica and major destinations. We don’t recommend it for going off the main roads either.
Economy SUV: Suzuki Jimny
The Suzuki Jimny is an economy SUV that comes in manual transmission only and 4×4. It’s an excellent car if you want a 4×4, can drive manual and are visiting alone or as a couple since it’s more budget friendly. This is one of the best cars to rent for 2 people in Costa Rica as it can go to all the roads. It’s a great little 4×4 car.
Here is a video on the Jimny.
Cost: The Jimy is around $40-50 a day.
Number of people: It’s a 2 door car and fits up to 2 people. You can technically fit 4 people but the backseat and trunkspace is tiny for 4. Definitely not recommended for 4 people but for 2 with luggage, it is great.
Destinations: The Jimny is an awesome 4×4 and can go anywhere in Costa Rica.
Compact SUV: Ssangyang Korando and Mitsubishi ASX
The Ssangyang Korando and Mitsubishi ASX are two compact SUV’s that are one of the most popular types of cars to rent in Costa Rica because it’s great value. Both are both 4wd and are excellent cars for couples who need a 4wd or small families.
The ASX is automatic, the Korando is normally manual.
Mitsubishi ASX video
Cost: The ASX costs around $45 a day in low season, around $60 in high season. The Korando is a bit cheaper because it is manual.
Number of people: Both fit up to 4 people.
Destinations: These two cars are 4wd so great options for those who want more security than a sedan. Keep in mind that these cars are not very high though. They are the same height as a sedan so do be aware of that when driving on gravel roads and over pot holes.
Mid size SUV: Hyundai Creta, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota Rav 4
Popular mid size SUVs to rent in Costa Rica are the Hyundai Creta and Hyundai Tucson. They both come in automatic and manual, the Creta usually comes in 4×2 and Tucson is 4wd.
The Toyota Rav4 is more of a premium car and not found in all agencies. It’s also more expensive (Toyota in general is more expensive in CR).
Cost: The Creta runs around $45 a day (automatic is a little bit more expensive) and the Tucson is around $48-60 a day. There are some Hyundai Creta manuals which are a tiny bit cheaper.
Number of people: Both cars can fit up to 5 people. The Tucson is a bit bigger than the Creta though. However, for bigger sized people and those bringing a lot of luggage, you may need to rent a full size SUV instead. Both cars will be very tight for 3 people in the backseat if they are bigger/really tall.
Destinations: These cars can go to pretty much all roads in Costa Rica. Keep in mind the Creta is not 4×4 but it is higher than a normal sedan and works well for unpaved or gravel roads. However, if you need to go up mountains or steep roads, you may need an actual 4×4.
Full size SUV: Mitsubishi Montero Sport, Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Explorer
For larger groups, a full size SUV is the best option. All these cars are 4×4, automatic and are super spacious. The Ford Explorer is considered a premium car in Costa Rica so it will be a lot more expensive.
Mitsubishi Montero Sport
Hyundai Santa Fe
Cost: These cars are more expensive since they are bigger and 4×4. You can get the Mitsubishi in diesel though, which does save on gas because diesel is cheaper than gas in Costa Rica. The Santa Fe is the cheapest option at around $70 a day, the Montero Sport around $110-120 a day and Explorer automatic around $170 a day.
Number of people: These cars can fit up to 7 people as they have a third row of seats you can pull up.
Destinations: Everywhere pretty much. These 4×4 cars will get you to your destination in Costa Rica even if it’s up a steep mountain or through some muddy roads in the rain. Just remember to put on the 4wd/4×4 if you need to.
Pick up truck: Mitsubishi L200, Isuzu Dmax
Popular pick up trucks to rent in Costa Rica are the Mitsubishi L200 and Isuzu Dmax. These cars are powerhouses, built for hauling big loads and going up rough roads, so if you’re a group of surfers or for some reason, need to move a big load, these are the two best trucks to rent. Both cars come only in manual. See what the Mitsubishi L200 looks like in this video.
Cost: The Mitsubishi L200 costs around $100 per day.
Number of people: These trucks have a double cabin so it can fit up to 5 people.
Destinations: Pretty much anywhere in Costa Rica as these trucks are 4×4 and very sturdy!
Van: Hyundai H1
For even bigger groups, a Hyundai H1 is a great option. It fits up to 12 people without luggage, 9 with. It’s not great for rough roads and it’s a bit slow though, but for big groups, it’s the only option (or you can rent two SUV’s if you need the 4×4). It comes in both automatic and manual. See what the Hyundai H1 looks like in this video.
Cost: The Hyundai H1 costs around $100 for both automatic and manual.
Number of people: 9 with luggage, 12 without.
Destinations: All touristic areas and main roads but not great for steep unpaved hills. It can make through normal gravel roads.
Read our tips for driving in Costa Rica if you’re worried about driving. You’ll find all you need to know such as road signs, road conditions, safety tips and more!