Best Cars for Car Camping: Your All-in-One Adventure Vehicles

Car camping is a fun way to explore the great outdoors if you’re still not ready to be an RVer. With the right vehicle, you can go to a remote campsite or a scenic spot along the coast that might be inaccessible for a big RV. 

Compact SUVs and hatchbacks provide plenty of space without a big price tag. We’ve compiled a list of 9 best cars for car camping.

All these models have cargo room that can fold down seats for a sleeping area, AWD or 4WD for tougher conditions, and other features that make them the best cars for road trips and camping.

9 Best Cars for Car Camping 

When going car camping, you’ll want a vehicle that can handle rugged terrain while providing plenty of space for your gear. 

We’ve selected 9 best cars to camp in that offer decent ground clearance to navigate obstacles in the wilderness and enough cargo space for your equipment like tents, coolers, and chairs. 

1. Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback has long been a favorite for adventurers. Its raised ride height and standard all-wheel drive gives it solid off-road chops to reach campsites other vehicles can’t. 

There is generous cargo space that provides plenty of room for equipment, while mesh pockets and tie-downs keep gear organized. And folding down the rear seats will free up space for a large air mattress. The Outback’s spacious rear folds flat easily to accommodate tall items, like tents or bicycles, with rear-hatch access. 

Connectivity aids in this car are a bonus. Whether navigating less-traveled roads or passing time at camp, the touchscreen and Wi-Fi keep travelers in touch or entertained. The Harman Kardon sound system pumps up the party. 

For the driver, rear camera and LED lights improve nighttime visibility on forest trails. With proper equipment, it can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which means you can bring along a small pop-up trailer or boat.

2. Land Rover Defender

The Defender could make the best vehicle for car camping. It has a spacious interior and cargo space that lets you pack everything needed for an overnight. The back holds a full-size air mattress, cooking gear, and clothes with no problem. You can easily throw in chairs or other light furniture pieces too.

This SUV is also very capable of off-road journeys. Its rugged steel frame and aluminum body let it handle rough forest roads and dirt trails. The 4×4 system, with 5-inch of ground clearance and water fording depth of 35.4 inches, means puddles and bumps aren’t an issue. 

The car’s comfort features keep riders happy on long drives to camping spots. Options include a touchscreen, wireless device charging, and a nice sound system. 

Safety tech assists the driver when navigating tricky terrain. Features like ground view and rear view cameras help see what’s below or behind the vehicle. Drivers can select different terrain response modes for varying conditions. The 2023 model can also tow over 8,200 pounds, which is enough for a small camper or trailer.

3. Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V has a roomy interior that provides everything needed for comfortable camping trips. The spacious cargo area allows for carrying all necessary gear like tents, sleeping bags, coolers, and more. With the rear seats folded down, there is plenty of space to sleep or store additional items.

Setting up a sleeping area is also easy in the CR-V. The flat load floor creates a large surface once the seats are folded. Many find it comfortable to use full or queen size air mattresses. 

The roof can support around 125-150 pounds of extra weight too, allowing for a roof top storage box for more cargo space. For cooking, the back hatch provides a stable work surface.

Fuel efficiency is another big advantage. Exploring new trails and driving between campsites is affordable in a CR-V. It gets good gas mileage whether using the standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. The ride is also smooth on various road conditions to make long traveling days relaxing.

Safety features include Honda Sensing technologies that help watch the road and assist the driver. And the infotainment system keeps passengers entertained. 

4. Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Grand Cherokee is one of the best cars for car camping because of its roomy interior. It’s spacious to keep everyone comfortable on long road trips. And you can spread out when it’s time to sleep. 

The features of the car will keep you entertained with the advanced touchscreen and sound system. High-tech extras, like Bluetooth and navigation, make camping convenient. 

What really stands out is the car’s off-road abilities. It can take you to remote spots that bigger vehicles can’t reach. Its four-wheel drive grips different types of terrain with ease. 

A bonus is the Grand Cherokee’s powerful towing capacity of up to 7,200 pounds in the 2023 model. You can bring extra gear like boats, jet skis, or carriers for bikes and kayaks. Transporting a large camping trailer is no problem either. Its engines, including available V8s, pull heavy loads with authority.

5. Honda Element

The Honda Element has a boxy shape that makes the most of interior space. You can configure the car in different ways to suit your camping needs. Removable rear seats let you spread out in the back. You can also fold the front seats flat to get a big sleeping area. The durable rubber floor is easy to wipe clean when you get back from hiking with muddy boots.

This car is built to handle whatever you bring along. Its towing capacity of 1,500 pounds means a small trailer or motorcycle can join the trip. The rear cargo area doubles as a shelter if it rains. Just open the big rear doors and clamshell tailgate for easy access. You’ll find lots of storage nooks too, with over a dozen cup holders and power outlets.

Element has a 7-inch touchscreen and backup camera to make driving fun. The premium sound system provides great music around the campfire. And Honda reliability means this vehicle will get you to all your camping spots with little trouble.Β 

6. Toyota 4Runner

The SUV can handle all kinds of outdoor adventures while hauling your camping gear with ease. It gives you plenty of room with a large cargo hold. Some models have a sliding deck on the back, which makes grabbing your tent, chairs, or food very convenient without unpacking everything.

The 4Runner is built tough for going off the paved roads. It has four-wheel drive to get through muddy or sandy trails. There are special settings that let you choose between different terrain modes, like mud or sand. Having features, like an underside protective plate shield, also help by preventing damage from rocks and roots.

Towing a trailer or boat is no problem either with 4Runner’s powerful engine and towing package of up to 5,000 pounds.

7. Subaru Crosstrek

The Crosstrek can go places that other smaller vehicles can’t, thanks to its 8.7-inch of ground clearance and all-wheel drive. The interior is comfortable with enough space to stretch out in the back and sleep comfortably. 

With the cargo space in the back and passenger areas, the car can hold all your camping gear with room to spare. You won’t have to leave anything at home. And when it’s time to drive to the next site, the fuel efficient engine means you’ll spend less time refueling. Some Crosstreks even have a hybrid option, which offers even more fuel efficiency.Β 

8. Ford Bronco

With its removable roof and doors, the Bronco lets you feel close to nature no matter where you set up camp. You can see the stars above and listen to the sounds of nature. And it has impressive off-road capabilities. Its 4×4 system and over 5 inches of ground clearance can handle rough terrain.

Bronco has all the features you need for an overnight trip. The spacious cargo area fits your sleeping gear, such as a sleeping pad or cot with room left for a foldable chair or something else. There’s also storage for your cooking stove, food coolers, and other equipment. And with up to 3,500 pounds of towing power, you’ve got options to bring extra fun items, such as a small boat, bikes, or snowboards along for adventure.

The car has all modern features to stay connected and entertained. An available 12-inch touchscreen lets you navigate to new places. Use the onboard wireless hotspot to check maps or stay in touch with friends. You can also stream music and movies through the Bronco’s sound system for entertainment around the campfire.

9. Nissan Pathfinder

The Pathfinder has a spacious interior that fits up to eight people comfortably. The three rows of seating provide plenty of space to store camping gear, while still having room for passengers. 

The large cargo area holds everything from tents and coolers to chairs and tables. When you need to load up the roof, the Pathfinder supports up to 150 pounds, so you can safely transport kayaks, bikes, or other outdoor equipment.

Its powerful drivetrains come in either front-wheel or four-wheel drive options, letting you easily access campsites down dirt roads. Also, you’ll have no problem hauling all your supplies with its high towing capacity up to 6,000 pounds.Β 

Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson is a seasoned RV traveler and professional mountain biker with a great sense of humor. After earning a Master's degree in Automotive Engineering from Columbia University, Scott spent years working as an RV technician at Camping World and Outdoorsy. Today, he enjoys exploring the US in his fifth wheel and truck with his wife. With over 15 years of RV living and road tripping experience, Scott now shares his knowledge and expertise as a travel blogger, helping others make the most of their RV adventures.

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