Car Camping

Car camping has gained immense popularity among outdoor enthusiasts in recent years. It offers a perfect blend of adventure and comfort, allowing individuals to explore the great outdoors without sacrificing basic amenities. One crucial aspect of car camping is choosing the right vehicle, particularly an SUV that can accommodate your camping gear while providing a comfortable space to rest. In this article, we’ll explore the best SUVs for car camping and provide insights into what makes them stand out.

Understanding the Concept of Car Camping

Car camping involves using your vehicle as a base camp for outdoor adventures. Unlike traditional camping, where you pitch a tent in a designated campground, car camping allows you to travel to remote locations and set up camp wherever you please, as long as it’s legal and safe. With an SUV, you have the flexibility to carry all your gear, including tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, and supplies, making it an ideal choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

Criteria for Choosing the Best SUV for Car Camping

When selecting an SUV for car camping, several factors need to be considered to ensure optimal comfort and functionality during your outdoor adventures.

Space and Storage

One of the most critical factors is the interior space and storage capacity of the SUV. Look for vehicles with ample cargo space, foldable rear seats, and additional storage compartments to accommodate your camping gear efficiently.

Off-road Capability

Since car camping often involves exploring off-the-grid locations, it’s essential to choose an SUV with excellent off-road capabilities. Opt for vehicles with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive systems, high ground clearance, and robust suspension to tackle rough terrain with ease.

Comfort and Convenience Features

Comfort is key when spending extended periods in your SUV during camping trips. Look for vehicles with comfortable seating, climate control systems, and entertainment options to ensure a pleasant camping experience. Additionally, features like a power liftgate, keyless entry, and a roof rack can add convenience to your outdoor adventures.

Fuel Efficiency

While exploring remote locations, fuel efficiency becomes crucial to minimize refueling stops and extend your camping range. Consider SUVs with efficient engines and hybrid options to reduce fuel consumption without compromising performance.

Budget Consideration

Lastly, consider your budget when choosing the best SUV for car camping. While some models may offer advanced features and capabilities, they often come with a higher price tag. Evaluate your budget constraints and choose a vehicle that meets your camping needs without breaking the bank.

Top SUVs for Car Camping

Several SUV models excel in meeting the criteria for car camping, offering spacious interiors, off-road prowess, and versatility for outdoor adventures. Here are some top picks:

Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts for its spacious interior, standard all-wheel drive, and rugged design. With ample cargo space and available roof racks, it’s well-suited for carrying camping gear to remote locations.

Toyota 4Runner

Toyota 4Runner

The Toyota 4Runner is renowned for its off-road capabilities and durability, making it an excellent choice for adventurous campers. With a robust body-on-frame construction and advanced off-road systems, it can handle challenging terrain with ease.

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is an iconic SUV synonymous with off-road adventures. Its rugged design, removable roof and doors, and advanced 4×4 systems make it an ideal companion for exploring remote camping sites.

Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V offers a perfect blend of comfort and utility, making it an ideal choice for car camping enthusiasts. With spacious seating, ample cargo room, and available all-wheel drive, it provides versatility for outdoor adventures.

Ford Bronco Sport

Ford Bronco Sport

The Ford Bronco Sport is a newcomer to the SUV market but has quickly gained popularity among outdoor enthusiasts. With its rugged design, capable off-road features, and versatile interior, it’s well-suited for adventurous camping trips.

Comparison of the Top SUVs

Let’s compare the top SUVs for car camping based on key criteria:

SUV ModelCargo SpaceOff-Road CapabilityFuel Efficiency (City/Hwy)Starting Price
Subaru Outback32.5 cu ftStandard AWD, X-MODE26/33 mpg$28,395
Toyota 4Runner47.2 cu ft4WD, Crawl Control, Multi-Terrain Select16/19 mpg$38,805
Jeep Wrangler31.7 cu ft4×4, Rock-Trac, Locking Differentials20/24 mpg (4-cyl)$29,995
Honda CR-V39.2 cu ftAvailable AWD28/34 mpg (AWD), 28/34 mpg (Hybrid)$26,600
Ford Bronco Sport29.4 cu ftStandard AWD, Terrain Management System25/28 mpg$28,265
comparison table of key specifications and pricing for the top SUVs for car camping

Space and Storage

  • The Subaru Outback offers generous cargo space and roof racks for additional storage.
  • Toyota 4Runner provides ample cargo room and an optional third-row seat for additional passengers.
  • The Jeep Wrangler offers a versatile interior with removable seats and ample cargo space.
  • Honda CR-V features a spacious cabin with configurable seating and cargo arrangements.
  • Ford Bronco Sport offers a rugged interior with durable materials and clever storage solutions.

Off-road Capability

  • Subaru Outback comes standard with all-wheel drive and offers X-MODE for enhanced traction on challenging terrain.
  • Toyota 4Runner features advanced off-road systems like Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select for tackling rough trails.
  • Jeep Wrangler is renowned for its legendary 4×4 capability, with available features like Rock-Trac 4×4 system and electronic locking differentials.
  • Honda CR-V offers available all-wheel drive for improved traction on slippery surfaces.
  • Ford Bronco Sport comes standard with all-wheel drive and offers features like a Terrain Management System for off-road adventures.

Comfort and Convenience

  • Subaru Outback offers comfortable seating, standard dual-zone automatic climate control, and available amenities like a power liftgate and panoramic moonroof.
  • Toyota 4Runner features a rugged yet comfortable interior with available features like leather-trimmed seats and a power-adjustable driver’s seat.
  • Jeep Wrangler offers a functional interior with available amenities like heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and a touchscreen infotainment system.
  • Honda CR-V boasts a refined cabin with available leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, and a hands-free power tailgate.
  • Ford Bronco Sport offers a durable yet comfortable interior with available features like heated front seats, a power moonroof, and a SYNC 3 infotainment system.

Fuel Efficiency

  • Subaru Outback offers impressive fuel efficiency with its standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and available turbocharged engine option.
  • Toyota 4Runner is less fuel-efficient due to its larger engine and rugged design but offers decent mileage for its class.
  • Jeep Wrangler’s fuel efficiency varies depending on the engine choice and driving conditions, with the four-cylinder turbocharged engine offering better fuel economy.
  • Honda CR-V is known for its excellent fuel efficiency, thanks to its efficient turbocharged engine and available hybrid powertrain option.
  • Ford Bronco Sport offers competitive fuel efficiency with its turbocharged engines and available hybrid powertrain options.


  • Subaru Outback is competitively priced among its competitors, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious campers.
  • Toyota 4Runner comes with a higher starting price but offers excellent resale value and durability over the long term.
  • Jeep Wrangler is priced slightly higher than its competitors but offers unmatched off-road capability and customization options.
  • Honda CR-V offers a great value proposition with its affordable pricing, fuel efficiency, and reliability.
  • Ford Bronco Sport is competitively priced in its segment and offers a wide range of features and options for outdoor enthusiasts.

Tips for Car Camping with an SUV

  • Organize your gear efficiently to maximize space and accessibility.
  • Invest in quality camping equipment that is durable and space-saving.
  • Plan your camping route and research campgrounds or dispersed camping sites in advance.
  • Pack essential supplies like food, water, a first aid kit, and emergency equipment.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment and preserve natural resources.


Choosing the best SUV for car camping is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable outdoor experience. Consider factors like space, off-road capability, comfort, fuel efficiency, and budget when selecting your vehicle. Whether you opt for a Subaru Outback, Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Wrangler, Honda CR-V, or Ford Bronco Sport, each SUV offers unique features and capabilities to enhance your camping adventures.

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