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PARK RIDGE, N.J. — A new online program from Hertz that can help quell some of the used-vehicle purchase trepidation among shoppers by giving them a three-day test drive has been picking up steam as of late, according to the company.

Specifically, Rent2Buy is currently offered in 18 states, and that number is likely to be expanded to 37 by the end of 2010, according to the company.

As rental companies have been taking on more risk vehicles, they have been exploring different ways to achieve higher returns when they resale these units. This is the latest idea from Hertz.

Here's how the program is designed to work.

If shoppers are thinking about buying a specific used model, they can visit www.hertzrent2buy.com to reserve a three-day test drive of the model from the nearest Hertz location.

They can then test-drive the vehicle for up to three days.

Should the driver decide she wants to purchase the car, the customer simply pays the listed price for the car and does not have to pay the rental fee. However, if the person elects not to buy, he needs to return the vehicle and pay the standard $49 per day rental fee ($99 per day fee for higher-end models).

Shoppers can choose from a wide variety of units maintained by Hertz professionals, including vehicles from such brands as Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes, Nissan and Volkswagen.

If a shopper ends up buying a vehicle via Rent2Buy, she is provided a complimentary comprehensive limited warranty for at least 60 days or 2,000 miles.

Additionally, there are competitive financing options and additional vehicle protection plans available, as well.

Officials pointed out that Hertz Rent2Buy is offered in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

"With the economy beginning to recover, consumers have been relatively cautious about major purchases like automobiles. Since we've started Hertz Rent2Buy, we've sold hundreds of cars online at prices oftentimes below the Kelly Blue Book retail value," stated John Thomas, executive vice president of global supply chain management.

"What better way to buy a used car than to test drive it and really 'kick the tires' for three days," Thomas continued. "Customers are able to drive with family and friends to determine if the vehicle suits their needs and lifestyle."