Car camping is on the rise as new technology enables campers to go farther into the wild without risking their safety. While four-wheel drive vehicles have been available for decades, the spread of high-speed internet on mobile devices has made off-road exploring more feasible. Adventurers can now find nearby campsites on their phones in seconds.
With modern technology, campers can now navigate snowy mountain roads and pitted trails to reach some of the most breathtaking locations in the country. Finding the right off-road vehicle is much easier and more reliable these days, as well. Learn about some of the most rugged adventure-ready vehicles in production below.
The Hauling Power of a Ford Explorer
Four models of the Ford Explorer offer 4WD capability for off-road driving. The base model comes with a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine with 300 horsepower and an incredible 310 foot-pounds of torque. Not only is the Explorer ideal for navigating difficult trails and slippery roads, but it’s capable of hauling a moderately large trailer, as well.
With seating for up to seven passengers and an astounding 83.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seat, the Explorer is definitely adventure ready. Its 8.2 inches of clearance make it capable of driving on unmaintained roads where rocks and pitting can cause problems for lower-riding vehicles.
Camping Out in a Jeep Cherokee
The Jeep Cherokee is a favorite among car campers for its trail-worthiness and rugged construction. It comes with 4WD capability and a nine-speed automatic transmission, making it one of the smoothest-driving off-road vehicles available. With a 271-horsepower V6 engine that’s capable of 239 foot-pounds of torque, the Cherokee can haul a small trailer without any trouble.
Under the hood, the Cherokee is reliable enough to transport its passengers to just about any location off the beaten path. Its spacious interior is definitely worth mentioning, too. With enough seating to fit eight passengers, the Cherokee can easily be converted into a car camping shelter for families with small children.
Exploring the Trails in a Toyota 4Runner
Car campers have turned to the Toyota 4Runner for decades for its solid performance and safety features. As the name implies, the 4Runner is a 4WD SUV that’s built for off-road excursions through unexplored terrain. Its 4.0-liter V6 engine is capable of bursts of 270 horsepower at 5,600 RPM, and its 278 foot-pounds of torque are suitable for hauling a moderate load over any distance.
When it comes to car camping, the 4Runner shows its strengths as a passenger vehicle. With a whopping 89.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded down, the 4Runner is one of the roomiest adventure-worthy vehicles on the road. Sleeping inside the 4Runner is almost as luxurious as staying in a hotel room. Plus, it has the added convenience of being able to access remote campsites with stunning views.
Climbing Mountains in a Nissan Pathfinder
Whether you’re exploring winding mountain trails, rocky desert roads, or bumpy gravel paths, the Nissan Pathfinder can handle the stress. The Pathfinder is a 4WD vehicle with a 3.5-liter V6 engine. It’s capable of 284 horsepower and 259 foot-pounds of torque for sustained bursts. With its three rows of seats set upright, it comfortably fits up to seven passengers.
Most car campers will want to remove the third seat to make use of the Pathfinder’s spacious cargo area. Behind the second row of seats, the cargo area measures 51.1 cubic feet. With the second-row seats folded down, it measures 78.9 cubic feet. Not only is the Pathfinder one of the most rugged off-road vehicles designed in recent decades, but it’s also one of the roomiest and most comfortable.
Braving the Backcountry in a Subaru Outback
With its legendary AWD drivetrain and spacious interior, the Subaru Outback is a long-time favorite of car campers. It’s designed to be a great all-around family vehicle for drivers who live in mountainous regions or travel to remote places for excitement and adventure. This crossover SUV boasts a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 260 horsepower and 277 foot-pounds of torque.
With a cargo area that’s slightly smaller than the Pathfinder’s, the Outback nonetheless offers more than enough room for car camping while keeping the fuel economy excellent. The cargo area measures 75 cubic feet with the seats folded down, and the Outback is still able to average 30 miles per gallon on the highway.
Going Anywhere in a Chevrolet Suburban
The Chevrolet Suburban has long been a favorite of car campers looking to travel on backcountry trails and unstable terrain. With its 4WD drivetrain and powerful 5.3-liter V8 engine, the Suburban is a workhorse with enough interior room for two to four people to sleep comfortably. The engine is capable of 355 horsepower and 383 foot pounds of torque, making it the ideal choice for hauling a trailer deep into the wilderness.
With three rows of seats, the Suburban has enough interior room to sit up to eight passengers. Most campers will want to remove the third seat, however, to access the expansive 144.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Even with the second-row seats set upright, the Suburban offers substantially more cargo room than most other adventure-worthy SUVs.
The Jeep Wrangler is one of the most iconic off-road vehicles ever produced. With its compact size, powerful yet economical engine, and sizable interior, the Wrangler is built for exploring. Whether you venture down steep hills, up rocky roadways, or through dense forests, the Wrangler will be a reliable vehicle under any road conditions.
The Wrangler’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine is specially designed for navigating uneven terrain. Some car campers may choose to take advantage of the Wrangler’s excellent hauling capabilities by pulling a sleeper trailer behind them into the wilderness. With 295 foot-pounds of torque, the Wrangler is more than capable. It may not be the roomiest off-road vehicle, but the Wrangler is certainly among the most rugged and can comfortably sleep two people.
Driving Cross-Country in a Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Adventurers with a taste for luxury will love the power and comfort of the Land Rover Range Rover Sport. With its V6 diesel engine, the Range Rover Sport packs an impressive 443 foot pounds of torque for serious hauling jobs over rough terrain. Its 254-horsepower 3.0-liter engine gets 28 miles per gallon on the highway. The Range Rover Sport comes equipped with an 825-watt surround sound system, GPS navigation, digital compass, and heated seating.
When it comes to interior comfort, the rugged Range Rover Sport truly excels. Not only does it provide enough room for five passengers to travel comfortably over long distances, but it transforms into a car camper in just a few seconds. With the rear seats folded down, the Range Rover Sport offers 73.7 cubic feet of cargo space for camping. It’s a great choice for small groups who want to take the comforts of city life with them into the wild.
No matter what your budget may be, you can find the perfect vehicle for your next car camping adventure in the remote wilderness.