Happy camper, are you? Is your idea of a vacation being under the stars with a pitched tent, all the packed stuff you need, and your happy camper of an SUV? Then these are the 10 SUVs (and a few trucks) that you should seriously be eyeing for your next road trip, be they new or pre-loved.
These are not only the hardiest of SUVs that can take the nastiest of trails with ease but also have special features that make for some memorable camping trips. They burst with features that make it easy to camp out, and are so off the cuff, that any camper would fall in love with them. So which one is your favorite?
Yes, we are starting with a pricey model that most owners never take off the road – because it looks more luxurious than hardy. But let's not forget that the Discovery Sport comes teeming with so many off-road features, you may as well never take it off the off-trails.
Its Terrain Response driving modes can adjust everything – suspension, transmission and traction control to tackle whatever you are driving on. And by whatever we mean deep rivers, dunes, beaches, rocky roads et al. With its seven-passenger capacity, and an under $40,000 price tag – this is one car that can ferry campers just about anywhere – and do it danged comfortably.
So the world’s ugliest car doubles up as the world’s top 10 camping-car as well. While looking at it first thing in the morning when the sun hit your eyes could be detrimental to your mental balance, in the long run, it is a crafty camping-car full of sneaky features. Like a swing-open tailgate, and a center console that doubles up as a cooler.
The camping package it came with also included an air compressor, an air mattress, and an attachable tent. A 10-speaker music system and plenty of cargo space – it was the perfect camper if only it looked a little better.
Why the ubiquitous Ford F-series? Well, because it is so balanced in everything – you have to take it camping. It has space, tons of space, to carry everything you and the neighbor need to make for a happy camping trip. While the ride isn’t as smooth as the Discovery Sport, of course, it is still a rugged truck that can handle bad roads with ease.
There is a ton of power in that engine, the bed is spacious enough to fill it up with whatever you need, and it gives you decent gas mileage for a beastly-sized vehicle as well. It isn’t an SUV, but taking a truck camping works just as well especially when you can pitch the tent on the bed.
What can we say about this giant-sized SUV? There isn’t a car better made for camping to date. Sure, it may not top in luxury or looks – but can you beat its washable floors and stain-resistant seats? The boxy looks of the Honda Element may turn off some, but are perfect to carry large camping equipment like coolers, cooking or barbecuing stuff and whatever else you just need to have for your trip.
The all-wheel-drive can take the Element through dirt roads with ease, and there’s a 6-person tent that Honda offers as an added attachment. Enchanting, right? If you don’t like the tent, the seats can also be removed to sleep people inside the car.
Okay, this toaster-on-wheels offended almost as many people with its boxy design than it charmed, or maybe the former exceeded the latter. Whatever said and done, the Scion xB had one very strong point in its defense. And that was its EPA-rated 32mpg gas mileage.
Things just don’t get better than this – especially if you choose economy over good looks. Forget aerodynamics, the squarish design ensured you could fit in just about anything unwieldy and ungainly into these cars, over and above the other smoother-looking models. While this may not have been your go-t0 city car, it made so much sense as a camping vehicle.
One cannot mention things like camping, off-roading, road trips and not include in the Jeep Wrangler. A classic off-roader, the Wrangler is as American as you can get, and tough enough to tackle many a bad road with ease. The body-on-frame construction gives it a unique edge over other cars, and the newer models come equipped with all modern driving features like traction control.
The Wranglers of today have also gotten smoother and more luxurious than before, which has won over many new customers but also lost a few Jeep loyalists down the road. Space isn’t a luxury in the Wrangler, but there are plenty of camping accessories to splurge on. Just take off the doors and the roof, and carry on camping.
The Honda Ridgeline is Honda’s only truck, but more than a truck in looks, it’s a crossover vehicle that rides like an SUV, while giving you all the space convenience of a truck. The truck bed is a bit unique in that it can open outward or down, and when in the latter position, it is a bed – for tired campers to nap on.
Inside the truck bed is a waterproof trunk to protect any electronics or valuables you are carrying along. Honda also offers a tent that can fit into the Ridgeline for sleeping – for campers you like hit the road as soon as they are up. The downside, it is not an off-roading vehicle much.
The first and only downside to this Mini is its limited size and seating capacity. Otherwise, since it called the Camper, it was made for camping. Perfect for a solo traveler, and a snuggle fest for two on the road – the Camper is the perfect road trip for one, or two.
There’s a cot on one side, an extendable kitchenette on the other, and a fridge as well. Plus there’s a handheld shower which means camping now comes with luxuries. So you can sleep in it, cook in it, and shower around it as well. Plus with its ergonomic size and driving capabilities, it the perfect camper for a romantic getaway for two. Or one. To each their own.
If you want the ergonomics of a minivan without the look of a minivan, and the driving capabilities of an SUV for your camping trip – the Toyota 4Runner is what you need. It’s a Toyota so dependable to boot and has immense space on the inside to carry all your crew and stuff comfortably.
It has a good tow capacity as well, which means if you want to hitch a caravan to this one – its one happy camping family for you. A four-wheel drive and all the modern driving capabilities make it an able car to take on rough terrain as well, though its size can be a bit of a detriment for tight turns.
The Subaru Outback is yet another classic camping car that’s both fuel-efficient and sporty. While it may not be marketed as “rugged” as other outdoorsy cars are, it is still very agile to drive and can take on most dirt tracks with ease. It is not a huge car so space is not very big, but with the rear seats folded down – there is enough to accommodate two campers in sleeping bags.
It can also tow a decent amount and can be used in tandem with a small caravan or pull-behind camper. It’s a good car that makes economical sense, and rugged enough to be used outdoors with little to no concern.