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7 Best SUVs for Camping Adventures: Off-Road, Comfort, and Everything in Between

Camping in an SUV offers the perfect blend of outdoor adventure and creature comforts. You can explore remote locations, sleep under the stars, and cook delicious meals on the go – all with the convenience of having your gear and supplies close at hand. But with so many SUVs on the market, choosing the right one for your camping escapades can be tricky. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! This guide explores seven fantastic SUVs that cater to a variety of camping styles and budgets.

1. For the Power-Seeking Adventurer: Jeep Grand Cherokee

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The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a force to be reckoned with on and off the road. This luxurious SUV boasts a powerful engine (the base model packs a punch with a 3.6L V6 churning out 293 horsepower) that allows you to tow hefty camping equipment with ease. Whether you’re scaling mountains or cruising down the highway, the Grand Cherokee’s cutting-edge technology ensures a smooth and safe ride. The spacious interior features stylish finishes and provides ample room for passengers and gear. While the starting price sits around $36,000, there are often deals and leases available, making this capable SUV more accessible.

2. The Off-Roading Legend: Ford Bronco

The Ford Bronco is a true off-road icon reborn with modern muscle. This versatile SUV allows you to embrace the elements completely. Feeling adventurous? Simply remove the doors and roof for an open-air experience, and reattach them whenever you need some shelter. With its advanced 4×4 drivetrain, the Bronco conquers challenging terrain with confidence, letting you reach those hidden campsites inaccessible to most vehicles. The cargo space is impressive, offering enough room for camping essentials like chairs, a sleeping pad, and a camping stove. The Bronco starts at around $40,000, but prices can climb for higher trims. Don’t forget to explore dealer discounts and Ford’s recognition programs for military personnel, first responders, and college students.

3. The Compact Champion: Honda CR-V

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For adventurers who prefer a smaller SUV, the Honda CR-V is a fantastic choice. This fuel-efficient and reliable SUV is perfect for long road trips, offering a comfortable ride and excellent safety features. The spacious interior boasts fold-down rear seats that can be transformed into a sleeping area or used to store camping equipment. The 1.5L four-cylinder engine delivers a peppy performance while keeping fuel costs in check, especially with its impressive highway mileage of around 34 mpg. With a starting price of $30,000, the CR-V is a budget-friendly option that won’t compromise on functionality. Keep an eye out for deals on the Honda website or at local dealerships to snag an even better price.

4. The All-Around Adventure Mobile: Subaru Outback

Similar to the CR-V, the Subaru Outback is a popular choice for campers seeking a blend of size, capability, and affordability. This crossover SUV offers a spacious and versatile cabin with the added benefit of a standard 4×4 drivetrain, perfect for tackling dirt roads and light off-roading. Depending on the trim you choose, the Outback can be equipped with features like increased ground clearance for navigating uneven terrain, X-MODE for enhanced off-road performance, and water-repellent upholstery that makes cleaning up after outdoor adventures a breeze. Additionally, you might find features like a 180-degree front-view monitor and LED fog lights for improved visibility on nighttime drives. The Outback boasts a generous cargo area, offering 32.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and a whopping 75.6 cubic feet with the second row folded down. With a starting price of around $30,000, the Outback is a compelling option for value-conscious campers.

5. The Towing Titan: Toyota 4Runner

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For those planning serious off-road camping adventures and towing heavy trailers or boats, the Toyota 4Runner is a beast of a machine. Equipped with a robust 4WD system featuring Active Traction Control and Multi-Terrain Select, the 4Runner handles any trail you throw at it with confidence. The spacious interior offers ample legroom and comfortable seating for passengers. When it’s time to sleep, you can fold down the rear seats to create a large and flat sleeping area. The standard 4.0L V6 engine pumps out 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque, providing enough muscle to tow up to 5,000 pounds. This impressive towing capacity allows you to bring along all your camping essentials, including a trailer or a boat, for a truly adventurous getaway. The 4Runner also boasts available skid plates and a top-notch suspension system, making it ideal for traversing rough terrains. While the starting price sits around $40,000, the Toyota 4Runner’s legendary reliability and off-road prowess make it a worthwhile investment for serious outdoor enthusiasts.

6. The Budget-Friendly Camper Companion: Honda Element

The Honda Element might be discontinued now, but it remains a popular choice for budget-minded campers seeking a unique and functional SUV. This quirky SUV boasts a box-like design that maximizes interior space, offering ample room for various camping setups. The rear seats fold flat, and the innovative front passenger seat can be flipped upright to create a comfortable sleeping area or extra storage space for luggage. The water-resistant and rubberized flooring makes cleaning up after outdoor adventures a breeze. Depending on the trim you find, other features might include 270-degree rear doors for easy access to gear, a clamshell tailgate for convenient loading and unloading, a touchscreen infotainment system, and a backup camera. While a brand new Element is no longer available, you can find good deals on pre-owned models at dealerships, with prices starting around $7,000.

7. The Family-Friendly Adventure Van: Kia Carnival

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If you’re planning a camping trip with the whole family, the Kia Carnival is a fantastic option that blends the comfort of a minivan with the ruggedness of an SUV. This spacious and luxurious vehicle boasts comfortable seating for up to eight people. With the touch of a button, the second-row seats can be transformed into a lounge area with reclining seats, perfect for relaxing after a day of exploring. The Carnival also offers a generous cargo area that can easily accommodate a cooler, a comfortable mattress for sleeping, or a camping table. With a towing capacity of up to 3,500 pounds, you can even bring along a trailer for extra storage. Tech-savvy campers will appreciate features like a large touchscreen infotainment system and a wireless smartphone charger. Starting at around $33,000, the Kia Carnival offers exceptional value for families who enjoy camping adventures.

Choosing Your Perfect Camping SUV

This list provides a starting point for your camping SUV research. The best choice for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors like:

  • Budget: SUVs range in price from affordable to luxurious. Determine how much you’re comfortable spending before you start shopping.
  • Camping Style: Are you planning on tackling challenging off-road trails or sticking to well-maintained campgrounds? Choose an SUV with the capabilities to match your adventures.
  • Group Size: How many people will be joining you on your camping trips? Make sure the SUV you choose has enough seating and cargo space to accommodate everyone comfortably.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Gas prices can fluctuate. If you plan on doing a lot of long-distance driving, consider an SUV with good fuel economy.
  • Features: Do you need specific features like a sunroof, a tow hitch, or a roof rack?
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Once you’ve considered these factors, take your shortlisted SUVs for a test drive to get a feel for the ride, comfort, and functionality. With the right SUV by your side, you’re all set to create unforgettable camping memories!

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