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What’s the best car to rent in Iceland?

Think back to the amount of consideration you gave to your choice of car when you last changed your vehicle. There’s so much variety in performance, quality and specifications that it’s a pretty big decision. Though you’ll only rent your hire car in Iceland for a week or two, it’s worth taking a step back to identify your needs and wants before making your reservation. Book early to ensure that the car you want is available. Here are a few things to factor in as you pick the best car to rent in Iceland for your needs.



It’s rare to be able to choose a precise make and model when renting a car; instead you’ll book by category. Before you opt for an economy class vehicle, think about how many people you’ll be travelling with. Rent a 3-door car and those in the back are going to have to clamber out while the front seat passenger waits in the cold. If you’re going to spend hours in the car each day, it has to be more comfortable than a car that’s just going to be used for a short time.


Boot space

Everyone will have luggage, and if you’re planning a road trip, that’s going to mean you’ll need a roomy boot. The day packs, handbags and coats you’re carrying will go in the car itself – if you’re travelling as a couple they can go on the back seat or in the passenger footwell. If you’re hiking, factor in space for muddy boots and wet raincoats too. You don’t want to have to stack muddy gear on top of the cases that you’ll be taking into your hotel bedroom.


Fuel consumption

Petrol is relatively expensive in Iceland so if you’re planning to clock up a lot of miles then you’ll want to think about your fuel consumption. This will vary according to the speed you’re doing, with differences between urban driving and the open road. If you’re planning on tackling hills with a fully loaded car, it’s no good hiring a car with a tiny engine, for instance, no matter how cheap it might be to run.



Depending on where you’re from, it might be more common to drive a manual car or an automatic. If you’re happy to drive an automatic, you won’t have to worry about changing gear when you really need to focus on where you’re going. Sat Nav is a useful add-on, say for example if you’re planning to venture off the ring road. Though it’s possible to load up maps on your phone, make sure the areas in which you plan to travel have sufficient coverage to make this reliable. And thanks to Iceland’s unpredictable weather, air conditioning isn’t likely to be a major consideration, but a decent heater is.


2WD or 4x4?

The question of whether you need all wheel drive is a common one for rentals in Iceland. Some visitors assume they’re going to need a 4x4 but in fact it really depends on what your planned itinerary is and when you expect to travel. If your holiday is outside the summer months when there’s a much higher chance of rain, fog, snow or ice, then you might want to opt for a 4X4 to benefit from the extra grip you’ll get on the potentially slippery roads.

Off roading is banned in Iceland but if you’re coming for a summer vacation and want to experience the country’s mountainous interior, you’ll be accessing this wilder and more remote part of Iceland via the F roads. These are gravel, steep in parts and likely to be potholed at least in some sections. You might even have to cross a shallow river. If this sounds like something you’re likely to be doing, then not only are you going to need a 4x4 but you’ll also need to select a vehicle with higher ground clearance so you don’t become stranded.