Best SUV for Camping: Top Picks and Essential Features

When looking for the best SUVs for camping, it is crucial to consider factors such as ground clearance, all-wheel drive, cargo space, and towing capacity. These features not only ensure a smooth and comfortable ride but also contribute to the vehicle’s performance in various terrains and weather conditions. Additionally, having ample storage space is vital for carrying all the essential camping gear, making the SUV a comfortable home away from home during the adventure.

A variety of SUVs on the market fit these criteria, such as the Subaru Forester Wilderness, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Ford Bronco Sport. These models have been specifically designed with camping in mind, offering an array of features that cater to this niche market. As more people embrace the outdoors, the demand for reliable and versatile camping SUVs continues to grow, resulting in more options to suit various budgets and preferences.

What Makes a Great SUV for Camping

When it comes to choosing the perfect SUV for camping, several factors come into play. One of the most critical aspects to consider is the ground clearance. As campers often venture off-pavement, a good SUV must have a solid ground clearance to ensure it can clear obstacles and navigate rough terrains without the risk of getting high-sided in areas with poor cell reception.

Another important factor is cargo space. A camping adventure typically involves carrying a fair amount of gear and supplies, so ample room for storage is essential. Look for an SUV with a spacious interior that can accommodate passengers and camping equipment comfortably.

All-wheel drive capability is also a significant element in a camping SUV. Being able to handle different road conditions and terrains is crucial when venturing into the great outdoors. As such, an SUV with symmetrical all-wheel drive can effectively maintain stability and traction even in challenging environments, ensuring a safe and enjoyable camping experience.

In addition to these features, a great camping SUV should have a reasonable towing capacity. This allows campers to haul trailers or additional gear on their journeys. An SUV holding a 3,000-lb towing capacity or more can significantly enhance the camping experience by accommodating extra supplies, bikes, or even boats.

Lastly, practical features like easy-to-clean interiors, washable floors, and stain-resistant seats can make a world of difference when spending time out in nature. It is inevitable that dirt and grime will find their way into the vehicle, so having an SUV with low-maintenance surfaces simplifies the cleaning process, making the return trip home just as enjoyable as the adventure itself.

Top Five SUVs for Camping

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is a popular choice for camping enthusiasts due to its off-road capabilities and rugged design. Notable features include a four-wheel drive system, removable doors, and ample ground clearance for traversing rough terrain. The cargo space is ideal for storing camping gear, and the foldable rear seats provide additional room for larger equipment.

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is a practical and reliable option for campers seeking a balance of off-road capability and on-road comfort. With its all-wheel-drive system, the Outback can tackle various driving conditions with ease. The roomy interior offers plenty of storage space for gear, and roof rails allow for additional cargo-carrying options. The Outback also boasts impressive fuel efficiency, making it an economical choice for long camping trips.

Toyota 4Runner

A versatile SUV, the Toyota 4Runner is well-equipped to handle both off-road adventures and daily driving needs. Offering a spacious cabin with a generous cargo area, the 4Runner is perfect for hauling camping equipment of all sizes. The available four-wheel drive system and durable body-on-frame construction help ensure that the 4Runner can easily navigate challenging terrain, making it a great pick for outdoor enthusiasts.

Honda Passport

Designed for comfort, safety, and off-road performance, the Honda Passport is an ideal companion for camping enthusiasts. With its standard V6 engine, the Passport possesses a robust powertrain that can confidently manage off-road conditions. The ample interior space can accommodate passengers and their camping gear, while numerous connectivity and safety features make long drives more enjoyable and secure.

Chevrolet Suburban

For those who prefer an SUV with ample room to transport both people and gear, the Chevrolet Suburban is an excellent choice. With seating for up to nine passengers and an expansive cargo area, the Suburban can readily accommodate even the most extensive camping trips. The powerful engine and towing capacity allow for the hauling of recreational vehicles or trailers, and the available four-wheel drive system ensures that the Suburban can handle diverse terrains with ease.

Key Features to Look for in a Camping SUV

Ground Clearance

When choosing an SUV for camping, ground clearance is a crucial factor to consider. A higher ground clearance allows your vehicle to comfortably traverse rough terrains and navigate over obstacles such as rocks and tree branches. A suitable camping SUV should have at least 8 inches of ground clearance to ensure adequate performance in off-road conditions.

Cargo Space

Camping trips often require a significant amount of gear, so it’s essential to select an SUV with ample cargo space. Look for roomy interiors and versatile configurations that can accommodate camping equipment, supplies, and passengers. Cargo capacity can be measured in cubic feet, and it’s advisable to choose an SUV with at least 60 cubic feet of cargo space for a comfortable camping experience.

Towing Capacity

For campers who plan on bringing along additional equipment like boats, trailers, or campers, towing capacity is an important feature to consider. A suitable camping SUV should have a towing capacity of at least 5,000 pounds to ensure it can handle the extra weight without compromising performance.

Off-Road Capabilities

Off-road capabilities are essential for accessing remote camping spots and tackling uneven terrain. Look for features such as four-wheel drive (4WD), front and rear locking differentials, hill descent control, and skid plates that protect the SUV’s underbody components. Additionally, vehicles equipped with a terrain management system that allows the driver to select specific driving modes for varying conditions can enhance off-road performance.

Fuel Efficiency

Lastly, fuel efficiency is a crucial consideration for camping SUVs, as better gas mileage directly translates to lower costs and lesser environmental impact. Aim for an SUV that achieves at least 20 miles per gallon (mpg) combined for a balance between performance and fuel consumption. Hybrid or electric SUVs are also worth considering, as they offer improved fuel efficiency without sacrificing power or capability.

Benefits of Using an SUV for Camping

SUVs are increasingly becoming the preferred choice for camping enthusiasts due to their versatility and adaptability. Using an SUV for camping offers numerous advantages that make the experience more convenient and enjoyable.

Firstly, SUVs provide ample cargo space which is essential when traveling with camping equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, and cooking gear. Space is not only limited to the trunk as most models offer foldable or removable rear seats, allowing for even more storage room. This added flexibility lets campers pack everything needed for their adventure without compromising comfort.

In addition to the generous storage capacity, SUVs offer increased ground clearance. This feature is crucial when driving off-road or on uneven terrains commonly associated with camping locations. High ground clearance ensures that the vehicle can easily navigate across obstacles like rocks, bumps, or ruts, preventing potential damage and ensuring a smoother ride.

Another benefit of using an SUV for camping is the availability of all-wheel or four-wheel drive options. These systems improve traction and control, especially when driving on challenging surfaces or in poor weather conditions. Campers can safely reach their desired destinations without worrying about getting stuck in mud or slipping on loose gravel.

Furthermore, SUVs boast impressive towing capabilities. This feature allows campers to hitch trailers or boats easily, expanding their options for outdoor activities. Whether it’s a weekend trip to the lake or a cross-country adventure, the right SUV can accommodate various recreational activities with ease.

Lastly, SUVs provide better passenger comfort and space compared to traditional sedans. Taller rooflines and larger cabins make long road trips less strenuous, providing ample legroom and headspace for everyone. An enjoyable journey is just as important as the final destination, and an SUV ensures that all occupants arrive at the campsite feeling refreshed and ready for adventure.

In summary, choosing an SUV for camping increases cargo capacity, improves performance on rough terrains, provides better passenger comfort, and enhances the overall camping experience. With numerous models available, there is an ideal SUV to suit the needs of any avid camper.

Potential Drawbacks

When considering the best SUVs for camping, it’s essential to be aware of potential drawbacks. While these vehicles offer numerous benefits, they may also have some limitations that could affect your overall camping experience.

One potential drawback is fuel efficiency. While some SUVs boast decent gas mileage, others may have higher fuel consumption rates, making them less economical for long road trips or frequent weekend getaways. This can result in increased fuel costs and a bigger carbon footprint, which may not align with the environmentally conscious values of many campers.

Another concern when choosing an SUV for camping is the vehicle’s off-road capabilities. Some SUVs are more equipped for off-road adventures, while others may struggle on uneven terrain or unpaved roads. When venturing off the beaten path, it’s essential to prioritize vehicles with high ground clearance, sufficient suspension, and available all-wheel drive or 4×4 systems to avoid getting stuck or damaging your vehicle.

Additionally, the interior space and cargo capacity of an SUV can be a drawback for some campers. While larger models provide ample room for passengers and gear, smaller models may struggle to accommodate all your camping essentials. This can lead to limited storage space and cramped interiors, making it difficult to transport essential equipment and stay organized on your trip.

Lastly, the higher purchase price of some SUVs may be a concern for budget-conscious campers. With the range of prices for SUVs, finding a suitable option within your budget might be challenging. It’s crucial to balance the expected benefits with the initial investment and ongoing ownership costs, such as maintenance and insurance.

In conclusion, being aware of these potential drawbacks before committing to an SUV for camping can help you make a more informed decision about which vehicle best suits your camping needs and personal preferences.

Maintenance Tips for SUVs Used for Camping

Regular maintenance is essential for keeping your SUV running smoothly and safely, especially when using it for camping adventures. This section provides some vital tips for maintaining your SUV in top condition.

Inspect tires frequently: Before and after each camping trip, check your SUV’s tire pressure and wear. Uneven wear, low pressure, or damage can affect the vehicle’s performance on rough terrains. Consider investing in all-terrain tires to enhance your SUV’s off-road capabilities.

Check the suspension: Pay close attention to your SUV’s suspension system. Off-road camping can put additional stress on the suspension, leading to wear and tear. Regularly inspect the shocks, struts, and other components and replace them as needed.

Clean your vehicle regularly: Clean both the exterior and interior of your SUV to prevent dirt and debris buildup from affecting its look and performance. After an off-road camping trip, make sure to remove any mud or dirt that may have accumulated under or around the vehicle.

Perform regular oil changes: Oil changes are essential to keep the engine running smoothly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for oil change intervals, and always use the recommended oil type.

Examine the brakes: The performance of your SUV’s brakes is crucial for ensuring safe travels on and off-road. Inspect the brake pads, rotors, and fluid levels regularly, and replace worn or damaged components as necessary.

Keep the fluid levels in check: Besides the engine oil and brake fluid, it’s also essential to monitor other fluid levels, such as coolant, transmission, and power steering fluids. Check these levels regularly and top them off if needed.

Replace air filters: Dirty or clogged air filters can reduce your SUV’s performance and fuel efficiency. Check the air filter at regular intervals and change it as required.

By following these maintenance tips for your SUV, you can confidently tackle any camping adventure while ensuring your vehicle stays in optimal condition.

Choosing the Right SUV for Your Camping Needs

When selecting the perfect SUV for camping, there are several factors to consider. This section will guide you through the process of choosing the right SUV by focusing on key aspects such as ground clearance, cargo space, and off-road capabilities.

Ground Clearance: A crucial factor to consider when choosing an SUV for camping is its ground clearance. This will ensure you can tackle rough terrain, clear obstacles, and avoid getting stuck in remote areas with poor cell reception. For example, the Subaru Forester Wilderness boasts a substantial 9.2 inches of ground clearance, making it ideal for camping and off-road adventures.

Cargo Space: Another important aspect to consider is the SUV’s cargo capacity. When camping, you’ll need ample space to store your gear and accommodate passengers comfortably. The 2023 Kia Seltos offers a class-leading 62.8 cubic feet of cargo space, making it ideal for hauling camping equipment and essentials.

Off-Road Capabilities: While not all camping trips require off-road capabilities, having an SUV capable of traversing difficult terrain adds versatility and peace of mind. Vehicles with features such as all-wheel drive (AWD) and durable exterior cladding should be prioritized when narrowing down your choices. For instance, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a 1,300-pound payload capacity, 63.3 cubic feet of cargo volume, and can tow up to 7,200 pounds, making it well-suited for camping and off-roading.

Towing Capacity: If you plan on bringing a camper or boat along, you’ll need an SUV with a strong towing capacity. Check the vehicle’s specifications to ensure it can handle the weight of your camping equipment. As previously mentioned, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a substantial towing capacity of 7,200 pounds.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a fortune to equip yourself with a capable camping SUV. Vehicles like the Subaru Forester Wilderness offer excellent value with a starting price below $35,000. By focusing on these primary factors – ground clearance, cargo space, off-road capabilities, and towing capacity – you’ll be well on your way to choosing the right SUV for an unforgettable camping experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top SUVs with spacious interiors for camping?

Some of the top SUVs with spacious interiors for camping include the Subaru Forester Wilderness, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Ford Bronco Sport. These vehicles boast substantial cargo space, allowing you to bring along all your camping gear and comfortably sleep inside.

Which SUVs offer the best off-road capabilities for campers?

For off-road capabilities, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport are excellent choices. These SUVs feature impressive ground clearance and are designed to handle a variety of challenging terrains, making them suitable for reaching remote camping locations.

What are the most fuel-efficient SUVs suitable for camping?

Fuel-efficient SUVs suitable for camping include the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, and Honda CR-V Hybrid. These vehicles offer excellent fuel economy, allowing campers to travel farther while reducing their impact on the environment.

Which SUVs have the best towing capacity for camping gear?

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee stands out for its towing capacity, capable of hauling up to 7,200 pounds. This allows you to tow heavy camping gear or even a recreational vehicle, enhancing your camping experience.

What are the top affordable SUVs for camping adventures?

Camping enthusiasts on a budget should consider affordable SUVs like the Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, and Honda CR-V. These vehicles offer ample cargo space, respectable off-road capabilities, and great fuel efficiency, all at a lower price point than some other options.

Which family-friendly SUVs provide the best camping experience?

Family-friendly SUVs that provide an exceptional camping experience include the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, and Toyota Highlander. These SUVs offer an excellent balance of comfort, space, and safety features, ensuring that your family’s camping trip is both comfortable and enjoyable.

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