BY Nick Bulanda
Published February 7, 2021
Finding the Best Cars to Sleep In for Camping
Here at Campr Click, we love spending time in the great outdoors. If you’re here reading this, there’s a good chance that you feel the same way. However, not all trips call for a tent. Many people have begun sleeping inside their vehicle, allowing them some extra comfort and shelter while still gaining the benefits of camping.
While this trend may sound like a complete joke to some, it’s worth taking seriously. It may not be for everyone, but there are a group of adventurers out there who love trekking out into the wild and sleeping in their car. The real trick is finding a vehicle that can handle the journey, and offer plenty of comfort overnight.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with a list featuring some of the best cars to sleep in for camping. Take a look at our suggestions below the next time you’re car shopping, or to see if your current model falls on our list. You’ll find SUVs, pickup trucks and even a car or two below. We hope that you’re able to find a model you love!
We’ve done our research for this blog, and the general consensus among vehicle campers is that the Honda Element, or the ‘Hotelement’ as it is affectionately referred to, is the one to pick. The only problem? Honda stopped manufacturing with the 2011 model year. That means you’ll likely have to look out for a model in the wild, or have a specialty buyer help you find one. However, if you can track one down in good shape, you should find that it lives up to the nickname.
The Element features enough space to stretch out in when it’s time to sleep, as you’ll have the ability to remove the back seats. You should have access to a moonroof in many trim levels as well that gives you ventilation at night. This SUV offers other great features like a 12V power outlet in the rear, air conditioning and more. It’s easy to keep clean, has plenty of room for both yourself and storage, and drives great. This is undeniably one of the best cars to sleep in for camping, and you’ll quickly learn why once you spend a night inside.
The next vehicle we recommend is the Subaru Outback. Subaru still manufacturers this vehicle, so thankfully you shouldn’t have too hard a time finding one, especially if you’re buying new. It’s an SUV that is available with enough space for most people to fit in comfortably. After all, that is probably one of the most important criteria for the best cars to sleep in for camping. In addition to that, the Outback is a good choice due to very solid gas mileage, as well as great handling and performance. One of the only major issues to be aware of is that the rear seats fold down and don’t actually come out. This can make sleeping uncomfortable for some, while others don’t mind it. Just something to remember before you buy! If you can get past that, we feel this is one of the stronger options for car campers.
The next SUV we want to highlight is the Pathfinder from Nissan. This three-row seven-person vehicle features a removable back row, giving you extra room to sleep in. On top of that, it’s an all-around fantastic SUV, no matter what model year you choose. With the 2020 edition, the vehicle includes three-zone temperature control, allowing you to efficiently choose when you want to flip on that AC, along with rear lighting, multiple 12V power outlets and more. If you decide to buy a Pathfinder, you’ll have an excellent everyday vehicle on your hands, as well as something that is great to camp in. The vehicle also comes with plenty more extravagant features if you decide to go for one of the higher trim levels. The choice is yours!
If you’re looking for a modern SUV with useful features and plenty of room, the Equinox is one of the first models we’d bring up. It’s not the largest SUV out there, but it can fit quite a bit of gear as well as yourself if you need to (and you’re not too tall). On top of that, the Equinox features tons of elements that make it great for camping, depending on your trim level and model year. You might have access to features including a 120V power outlet, 4G LTE Wi-Fi® capabilities, and an available navigation system. It handles well, is impressively solid on fuel efficiency, and should offer enough space to sleep in if you’re the right size. Because of all that, we think the Chevy Equinox is one of the best cars to sleep in for camping.
Reliability is the name of the game when it comes to the Toyota 4Runner. Not only does the SUV offer lots of extra room, but it’s a vehicle you can count on to get wherever you need to go. The vehicle is available with four wheel drive, which is great for getting to your campsite no matter where it is. Along with that, this SUV features a hell of a lot of cargo space, making it great for both you and your equipment and supplies. Toyota vehicles also have a reputation for lasting a long time when they’re well taken care of. That means you can find a used one that should last, making it great for all different budget ranges. Depending on your exact model, the rear seats may even be removable. That is a surefire way to have enough sleeping space.
The next vehicle we want to talk about is the Jeep Wrangler. For many years, the Wrangler has been at the forefront of off-road vehicles. No matter what kind of situation you’re looking to tackle, you can probably find a Wrangler that suits you. That definitely includes camping. Whether you decide to opt for one of the newer models or go for a retro used SUV, we think the Wrangler is a great choice. There are some vehicles out there that are slightly better for sleeping in, but few manage to bring this level of off-road capability and ruggedness to the table. If you anticipate dealing with tough terrain to get to your site, the Wrangler is a fine option. You can rely on it for just about anything, and there’s no denying it’s one of our absolute favorite vehicles.
If you’re looking to get away from SUVs, the Volkswagen Golf could be the vehicle you’re searching for. It’s a small hatchback that still offers solid cargo space. While it may technically be possible to remove the back seats of the vehicle, it’s probably going to be a bit of a process, and could potentially void your warranty if the vehicle isn’t meant for it. However, even with the back seats still intact, many folks will still have enough room to comfortably sleep and fit their gear in the rear seat. We understand that not everyone wants to drive a truck or SUV out to their site. If that sounds like you, the Golf may be one of the best cars to sleep in for camping.
Pickup trucks can also be a strong option when thinking of a vehicle to camp in. You just have to make sure that the truck bed is covered. We don’t mean the truck covers you buy to protect your cargo, either. You’ll need to pick up an actual full cover for your bed, allowing you to sleep in it comfortably in the night. There’s no way any truck is going to be able to fit you comfortably in the backseat. However, you can definitely get the rear bed of the Tacoma nice and comfortable for yourself. The Tacoma also offers great performance on and off the road. If you’re going with a pickup truck, this is definitely the one we’d choose. We believe you can rely on this to sleep in as long as you are properly prepared.
In our ninth spot, we’ve got another Jeep recommendation for you to check out. While the Grand Cherokee may not have the same reputation for outdoor adventure as the Wrangler, it still has plenty of impressive features to offer. It offers lots of space, and is very customizable. That should allow you to outfit the vehicle with a configuration that will suit your camping trip. That could mean taking out the back seats to make a comfortable bed for yourself. The Grand Cherokee also has the advantage of great off-road performance, cementing its spot on our last as one of the best cars to sleep in for camping. Take a look at the options available in your area and you should definitely find a suitable model!
10. Honda Ridgeline
Finally, we’ve got one more vehicle we think is worth checking out, and it’s another great pick from Honda. The Ridgeline is another pickup truck for you to consider, but it’s one that shares a number of similarities with an SUV. If you can find the right cover for this truck, you’ll have no problems getting comfortable in the truck bed at night. Additionally, you will have access to a reliable vehicle that will serve you well as long as you continue taking good care of it. There’s even a special tent that you can buy from Honda that makes this vehicle an even smarter choice for camping. Take a look at the Ridgeline and see if it has all those features you’ve been seeking out in your next vehicle. We think there’s a good chance it fits the parameters.
Final Thoughts: Best Cars to Sleep In for Camping
There are countless ways that one can spend a long weekend or a vacation. While many folks would prefer to hit the big city, or a resort town, if you are like us there’s nothing that can match to a good camping trip. It’s becoming more and more popular to camp out of your vehicle, so we thought it would be helpful if we featured a list of the best cars to sleep in for camping. There is quite a wide variety of options here on our list, so hopefully there’s a model on there for everyone. Whether you’re buying new or old, it’s not a bad idea to think about camping possibilities when shopping for a vehicle, especially if you’re the kind of person who heads out often.
We hope you don’t limit yourself to the vehicles on our list, though. With the right modifications, or if you’re a small enough individual, many cars, trucks and SUVs can be used for camping. If you have any vehicle models that you would like to share some details about, or you have a great story about camping out of your vehicle, leave a comment for us below!