Best SUV for Camping: The Ultimate Guide to Top Choices
Camping is a fantastic way to reconnect with nature, unwind, and create lasting memories with your loved ones. A crucial aspect of ensuring an enjoyable camping experience is selecting the right vehicle to get you there. Among various vehicle types, SUVs have become a popular choice for camping enthusiasts due to their versatile storage, off-roading capabilities, and comfort. In this blog post, we will dive into the best SUV for camping options by examining crucial criteria, reviewing the top five SUVs, and sharing additional tips to maximize your camping experience.
Criteria for Choosing the Best SUV for Camping
Choosing the best SUV for camping involves careful consideration of several factors. Here’s an expanded look at the criteria you should consider:
Space and Storage
- Cargo Capacity: When it comes to the best SUV for camping, cargo capacity is a crucial factor. A spacious cargo area can accommodate all your camping gear, from tents and sleeping bags to coolers and cooking equipment. SUVs with generous cargo space behind the rear seats, as well as those that offer expanded space when the seats are folded down, are ideal for camping trips.
- Seating Capacity and Flexibility: The size of your camping party will determine whether you need ample seating or more cargo space. The best SUVs for camping are those with flexible seating configurations, such as fold-flat or removable seats, which allow you to customize the interior space according to your needs.
- Roof Racks and Other Storage Solutions: Roof racks, cargo boxes, and other storage accessories can add valuable space to your SUV, enabling you to transport bulky or additional items for your camping trip. These solutions can be particularly useful for carrying items like bicycles, kayaks, or extra luggage.
- 4WD or AWD Options: The best SUV for camping should be capable of tackling various terrains and weather conditions. An all-wheel-drive (AWD) or four-wheel-drive (4WD) system can provide the necessary traction and control for off-road adventures, making your camping trip more enjoyable and less stressful.
- Ground Clearance: Higher ground clearance helps your SUV navigate rough or uneven terrain, protecting your vehicle’s undercarriage from damage. This is particularly important when camping in remote or rugged locations.
- Towing Capacity: If you plan to tow a trailer, camper, or even a boat, you’ll need an SUV with sufficient towing capacity. This will ensure that your vehicle can handle the extra weight without compromising performance or safety.
Comfort and Convenience Features
- Climate Control: Automatic or dual-zone climate control can ensure a comfortable cabin temperature during long drives or overnight stays in your SUV. This feature can be particularly beneficial when camping in areas with extreme weather conditions.
- Entertainment Options: Features like infotainment systems, satellite radio, and smartphone integration can make long drives more enjoyable. These features can keep you entertained and connected during your camping adventures, providing access to music, navigation, and important updates.
- Interior Materials and Design: The best SUV for camping should have durable, easy-to-clean materials and an ergonomically designed interior. This can make your camping experience more comfortable and hassle-free, especially on long trips.
- Gas Mileage: Choose an SUV with good fuel efficiency to save money on gas and reduce your environmental impact. This is particularly important for long camping trips, where fuel costs can add up quickly.
- Hybrid and Electric Options: Some SUVs offer hybrid or electric powertrains, providing eco-friendly alternatives with lower operating costs. These options can be a great choice for environmentally conscious campers.
- Advanced Driver Assistance Systems: Features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring can enhance safety during long drives. These systems can help prevent accidents and ensure a safer journey to your camping destination.
- Crash Test Ratings: When choosing the best SUV for camping, consider models with high crash test ratings from organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). These ratings provide an indication of how well the vehicle can protect its occupants in the event of a collision.
The best SUV for camping will depend on your specific needs and preferences. By considering these criteria, you can make an informed decision and choose a vehicle that will enhance your camping experience.
Top 5 Best SUVs for Camping
1: Subaru Outback
- 1. Overview and Key Features: The Subaru Outback is a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its rugged off-road capabilities, spacious interior, and impressive fuel efficiency. Key features include standard AWD, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and up to 75.7 cubic feet of cargo space.
- Pros and Cons: The Outback offers a comfortable ride, excellent safety features, and a reliable boxer engine. However, it may lack the towing capacity some campers require.
- Pricing and Trim Levels: The Outback is available in various trims, starting at around $27,000 for the base model and going up to around $40,000 for the fully loaded Touring XT trim.
2: Toyota 4Runner
- Overview and Key Features: The Toyota 4Runner is a highly capable off-road SUV with a rugged design and a reputation for reliability. Key features include a body-on-frame construction, a 5,000-pound towing capacity, and up to 89.7 cubic feet of cargo space.
- Pros and Cons: The 4Runner excels in off-road performance, has a spacious interior, and offers a wide range of aftermarket accessories for customization. However, it has relatively low fuel efficiency and a dated interior design.
- Pricing and Trim Levels: The 4Runner is available in multiple trims, starting at around $37,000 for the base SR5 model and reaching over $51,000 for the top-of-the-line TRD Pro trim.
3: Honda CR-V
- Overview and Key Features: The Honda CR-V is a well-rounded compact SUV with a focus on practicality and fuel efficiency. Key features include up to 75.8 cubic feet of cargo space, Honda Sensing safety suite, and an available hybrid powertrain option.
- Pros and Cons: The CR-V offers a comfortable ride, class-leading cargo space, and excellent fuel efficiency, especially in the hybrid variant. However, it lacks the off-road prowess and towing capacity of some competitors.
- Pricing and Trim Levels: The CR-V is available in various trims, with prices starting at around $26,000 for the base LX model and going up to around $37,000 for the fully-loaded Touring Hybrid trim.
4: Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Overview and Key Features: The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a midsize SUV known for its off-roading capabilities and luxurious interior. Key features include an available Quadra-Lift air suspension, a maximum towing capacity of 7,200 pounds, and up to 68.3 cubic feet of cargo space.
- Pros and Cons: The Grand Cherokee offers a variety of powerful engine options, excellent off-road capabilities, and a high-quality interior. However, it has a smaller cargo area than some competitors and can become quite expensive in higher trims.
- Pricing and Trim Levels: The Jeep Grand Cherokee is available in numerous trims, starting at around $37,000 for the base Laredo model and exceeding $90,000 for the high-performance Trackhawk trim.
5: Ford Bronco Sport
- Overview and Key Features: The Ford Bronco Sport is a compact SUV designed for off-roading enthusiasts, offering a rugged design and impressive capabilities. Key features include standard 4WD, up to 65.2 cubic feet of cargo space, and a variety of off-road features like Trail Control and G.O.A.T Modes.
- Pros and Cons: The Bronco Sport stands out with its off-road capabilities, distinctive styling, and user-friendly infotainment system. However, it has a smaller cargo area and less interior space than some competitors.
- Pricing and Trim Levels: The Bronco Sport is available in multiple trims, with prices starting at around $28,000 for the base model and reaching over $40,000 for the top-of-the-line Badlands trim.
A few additional SUVs worth considering for your camping adventures include:
- Chevrolet Traverse: The Chevy Traverse is a midsize SUV with a spacious interior, comfortable ride, and up to 98.2 cubic feet of cargo space.
- Toyota RAV4: The Toyota RAV4 is a compact SUV with excellent fuel efficiency, especially in its hybrid and Prime plug-in hybrid variants, and up to 69.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
- Land Rover Discovery: The Land Rover Discovery is a luxury SUV offering impressive off-road capabilities, a high-quality interior, and up to 74.3 cubic feet of cargo space.
- Nissan Rogue: The Nissan Rogue is a compact SUV with a comfortable ride, a long list of standard safety features, and up to 74.1 cubic feet of cargo space.
- Mazda CX-5: The Mazda CX-5 is a compact SUV with a stylish design, engaging driving dynamics, and up to 59.6 cubic feet of cargo space.
Tips for Maximizing Your Camping Experience with an SUV
A. Properly Packing Your SUV
- Plan Ahead: Create a list of essential items you’ll need for your camping trip and pack accordingly.
- Organize Your Cargo Area: Use storage containers or organizers to separate and secure items in the cargo area to prevent them from shifting during transit.
- Distribute Weight Evenly: Ensure that heavy items are placed in the center and as low as possible to maintain stability and prevent overloading one side of the vehicle.
B. Choosing and Using the Right Camping Gear
- Invest in Quality Equipment: Select high-quality camping gear that is durable, easy to use, and suitable for the conditions you expect to encounter.
- Test Your Gear: Familiarize yourself with your camping equipment and practice setting it up at home before your trip.
- Be Prepared for Emergencies: Pack a well-stocked first aid kit, flashlight, and extra batteries, and ensure you have essential tools for vehicle maintenance and repair.
C. Ensuring Vehicle Maintenance Before and After Camping Trips
- Inspect your SUV: Check the fluid levels, tire pressure, and brakes, and address any necessary maintenance or repairs before embarking on your camping adventure.
- Clean your SUV Post-Trip: Thoroughly clean your SUV inside and out after your trip, removing dirt, debris, and any leftover food to prevent odors and potential damage to the vehicle.
- Schedule Regular Maintenance: Adhere to your SUV’s recommended maintenance schedule to keep it in top condition for future camping trips.
D. Exploring Off-The-Beaten-Path Camping Destinations
- Research Lesser-Known Campsites: Discover unique and secluded camping spots by searching online forums, contacting local outdoor enthusiasts, or using camping apps.
- Obtain Necessary Permits and Permissions: Ensure you have the required permits or permissions to camp in your chosen destination and be aware of any seasonal or area-specific regulations.
- Practice Leave No Trace Principles: Respect the environment and minimize your impact by adhering to Leave No Trace principles, such as packing out all trash and avoiding damage to plants and wildlife.
Finding the best SUV for camping can significantly enhance your outdoor adventures, providing comfort, storage, and off-roading capabilities. This guide has outlined the top five SUVs and honorable mentions to help you make an informed decision based on your unique camping needs. Remember to prioritize factors such as space, off-road capabilities, comfort features, fuel efficiency, and safety when selecting your ideal SUV. Happy camping!