With the hottest days of the year (hopefully) behind us and the cool winds of autumn on their way, now is the ideal time to spend a night or two in the great outdoors. And there’s no better place to go camping than in the Northeast. From local campgrounds to national parks, the region is overflowing with perfect locales to set up your tent. But before you can gather around the campfire, you’ll have to make your trek into nature. For this, there are some ideal cars for camping.
We’ve compiled a list of camping cars that offer everything you’ll need to get to your destination and enjoy your stay. Off-road capabilities? Check. Massive cargo space? Check. Serious towing capacity? Check. Camping accessories galore? Check and check. Take a look at these five automobiles that would be perfect for your next camping trip and decide which one is right for you.
Choose your next adventure with AAA’s Campground Search.
Ford Bronco Sport
The Bronco Sport was custom made for the great outdoors. It features five standard “G.O.A.T.” (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) drive modes: sand, slippery, sport, eco and normal. Even streams and creeks are no match for the Bronco, which can ford 26 inches of water. There’s more than 65 cubic feet of cargo space inside and enough height to fit two standing bikes. Or the bikes can go on the available roof racks, which are also capable of carrying canoes, kayaks and paddleboards.
The Bronco really begins to show off its camping cred once you reach your destination. The safari-style roof can fit a two-person tent, which is offered as an accessory. Or you can opt for a larger, 9’ x 9’ tent that attaches to the rear of the vehicle. A 110-volt AC outlet in the cargo area offered in upper trim models can charge your gear as you gather around the available foldout camp table. The FordPass Connect built-in modem turns the Bronco into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Up to 10 devices can connect at once to a signal that stretches 50 feet from the vehicle.
And when you’re ready to relax, you can pop open a cold beverage with the bottle opener integrated into the hatch. Then just sit back and enjoy the fresh air.
The Outback is a crossover with the efficiency of a sedan and capability of a SUV. A symmetrical all-wheel drive system is designed to safely traverse snow, rain and rough roads. Speaking of rocky terrain, the Outback’s 8.7 inches of ground clearance allow you to conquer any hurdles that dare stand between you and your campsite.
Inside, you’ll find more than 75 cubic feet of cargo room. The rear gate comes with an available LED lamp to illuminate the cargo space. Under-floor storage, removable cargo tray and cargo tie-down hooks all come standard. Front- and back-row USB ports allow all passengers to charge their devices. On the exterior, standard roof rails add more storage space, while blacked-out exterior trim and cladding protect the vehicle from the roughness of the terrain. Traveling with a four-legged friend? The Outback comes with a host of optional pet accessories, including a harness, carrier, bed, ramp and collapsible kennel. All this plus a starting price below $29,000 makes the Outback one of the best cars for camping.
No list of adventure is complete without at least one Jeep. While any of the brand’s models will likely meet your camping needs, no four-wheeler is better suited for the great outdoors than the iconic Wrangler.
Standard four-wheel drive, advanced traction and maneuverability, high ground clearance, and available 35-inch tires make conquering any trail a cinch. A retractable/removable roof plus removable doors allow you to be one with nature even before reaching your campsite. A weather-resistant carpet and one-way floor drain valve ensures your vehicle stays clean. The Wrangler offers available Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities, if you’d like to stay connected to the world. If you’d like to stay off the grid instead, simply turn up the radio and enjoy the music through the car’s nine-speaker audio system, complete with overhead sound bar, subwoofer and 552-watt amplifier.
Maybe the best thing about the Wrangler is its customization. The vehicle comes in 11 trim levels, two- and four-door configurations, and with seven different roof options. It’s also available in a plug-in hybrid model, making the Wrangler the first electrified open-air SUV to hit the market. To supplement this new drivetrain option, Jeep is installing solar-powered, level two charging stations along popular trails across the country.
The Pathfinder has all the power and space to get you, your traveling party and your gear to any camping destination. A four-wheel drive system can conquer all types of off-road conditions with seven drive and terrain modes. The Pathfinder’s three rows of seats can fit up to eight people comfortably. Under-floor storage in the cargo area as well as optional roof rails and bike racks provide more than enough room for all your toys. Bringing along something bigger? Powered by a 284-horsepower, V6 engine, the Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.
But what puts the Pathfinder over the top as a great camping car is one accessory in particular: a hatch tent. Available as an add-on, the 10 by 10 foot tent is factory installed. It easily unfolds either as a stand-alone or attached to the vehicle. If you want additional protection from the elements (or don’t spring for the tent), you’re in luck. The Pathfinder features folding second- and third-row seats, and an optional panoramic moonroof, creating the perfect opportunity to sleep underneath the stars in the comfort of your car.
The 4 Runner’s off-road capabilities need not be questioned – its body-on-frame construction mimics that of a pickup truck rather than a SUV. This, coupled with upgraded suspension and part-time four-wheel drive, allows the 4Runner to go most places other vehicles in its class cannot. Its truck-like DNA gives it a one-up in the utility department, as well. The off-roader is capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds.
Speaking of hauling gear, folding the 4Runner’s second-row seats down flat gives you nearly 90 cubic feet of cargo space. Loading and unloading the camping car is made easy with an available sliding rear cargo deck capable of supporting up to 440 pounds. If you need more space, the Trail Special Edition trim model comes equipped with a custom, 40-quart cooler and cargo roof basket.
Once you reach your destination, entertain the entire campsite with an available 15-speaker sound system, complete with amplifier and subwoofer. The 4Runner is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Andorid Auto and Amazon Alexa. As you kick back and enjoy the great outdoors, use the 120-volt AC power outlet located in the rear cargo area to charge everything from your phone to an air mattress pump.
Once you’ve got the right car, you can load it up with gear! Brush up on this list of the supplies every camper needs.
Do you have a great camping car? Tell us about it in the comments.