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.
We have a partnership with Adobe Rent a Car, a 100% Costa Rican car rental company to give our readers extra benefits and discounts.
Prices for cars depend on the time of year as it goes by the tourism season and availability. Certain times of the year, some car rental companies run special promotions for certain cars. 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 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 exploring off the beaten path destinations such as the Osa Peninsula, Costa Ballena (Uvita, Dominical and Ojochal), Monteverde, the Nosara and Ostional area or any destination that is more remote or not touristic.
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. You can see what the Hyundai Accent Blue looks like in this 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 they will be a bit of a tight fit for bigger people.
Destinations: Like the compact, this car works for most roads in Costa Rica and major destinations. We don’t recommend it for the same areas such as Osa Peninsula, Monteverde, Costa Ballena, etc.
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 and are only two people 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 $38-50 a day.
Number of people: It’s a 2 door car and fits up to 2 people.
Destinations: The Jimny is an awesome 4×4 and can go anywhere in Costa Rica, including all the bad roads and mountains.
Compact SUV: Ssangyang Korando and Ssangyang Tivoli
The Ssangyang Tivoli and Korando are two compact SUV’s that are one of the most popular types of cars to rent in Costa Rica because it’s a great value. Both come in only manual transmission and are both 4wd. You can see what the Tivoli looks like in this video.
Cost: The Tivoli is around $45 a day, the Korando is around the same. The price is very similar for both cars but the Korando is a tad bit bigger. During certain times of the year, some companies put the Tivoli on promotion and you can get it for really cheap.
Number of people: Both fit up to 4 people.
Destinations: These two cars can go pretty much everywhere in Costa Rica, including destinations with bad roads and require a 4×4. 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.
Here is a video of the Koreando.
Mid size SUV: Hyundai Creta, Hyundai Tucson
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 4x 2 (sometimes 4×4) and Tucson is 4×4. You can see what they look like in these videos.
See what the Hyunadai Tucson looks like.
Cost: The Creta runs around $35-45 a day (automatic is a little bit more expensive) and the Tucson is around $48-60 a day. These are two cars that some companies have on promotion sometimes during low season so you can get them for super cheap (~$10 a day).
Number of people: Both cars can fit up to 5 people, the Tucson is a bit bigger than the Creta. However, for bigger people and those bringing a lot of luggage, you may need to rent a full size SUV instead because it 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 though.
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, normally come in automatic (you can find them in manual sometimes) and are super spacious. The Ford Explorer is considered a premium car in Costa Rica so it will be a lot more expensive. You can see what the Mitsubishi Montero Sport looks like in this video (we actually have this car).
See what the Hyundai Santa Fe looks like.
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 $50-60 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 and anywhere. These 4×4 cars will get you to your destination in Costa Rican even if it’s up a steep mountain or through some muddy roads in the rain.
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.
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 though and it’s a bit slow, 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 hills. It can make through gravel roads but it has a bit of trouble going up hills.
Don’t forget we have a partnership with Adobe Rent a Car, a 100% Costa Rican car rental company to give our readers extra benefits and discounts!
Most Popular Cars to Rent in Costa Rica
Hyundai Santa Fe
Ssang Yang Tivoli
Mitsubishi Montero Sport
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!