Are you ready to go on your next road trip in a well-matched camping vehicle? Pack up your sleeping bag, your tent, your hiking boots, and your camera, and prepare yourself for an epic vacation in the great outdoors powered by one of these, our choices for the best cars and trucks for camping.
Are you a “great outdoors” person? I always thought I was more of a “glamping” — that’s camping but with comfy beds rather than sleeping bags — kind of girl. To each her own, right? I salute your camping choices, whatever they are.
Either way, one thing you do have to think about when you’re planning a camping trip is the right adventure vehicle to get you there. You’ll need plenty of room for you and your passengers, of course. Then you can start the Tetris process – fitting each piece of camping gear into the truck bed with the precision of a bricklayer. Or, just toss it all in and shake well.
Whether you’re in the market to buy a truck or you’re looking for guidance on what kind of vehicle to rent for an outdoor adventure, this list will help you decide which one you need.
Note that the Cullinan – the SUV by Rolls Royce – isn’t on this list. But if you are looking for a true glamour vacation and have a spare $400K, that’s the one for you. There’s no doubt that the Cullinan is leather luxury wrapped in steel. For the rest of us, however, these vehicles will be far more practical.
GMC Sierra HD
The 2020 Sierra HD includes an impressive 15 camera views. Especially when you don’t tow on a regular basis, the camera views boost confidence; I had the opportunity to tow a 15’ camper in Wyoming in this new truck and it was surprisingly easy since I was supported by all of the technology. By combining the images from the tailgate back-up camera and an extra camera attached to the back of your trailer, you can see what’s behind your trailer. If you are towing a boat, camper, or even a horse trailer, you can see around, behind, and even inside the trailer from inside your Sierra. (If you’re a first-timer you’ll want to read these tips for towing a trailer before you hook up the camper.
Base price: $63,700 for the Denali trim, which comes with the multi-function tailgate and camera system.
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Nissan Titan Pro4X
Off-roading? The full-size Titan Pro4X is a four-wheel drive champ. One of my favorite features is the tire pressure monitoring system, which is displayed in the gauge cluster in real time. It allows you to deflate the tires for rough terrain. When airing back up, the Titan honks its horn when each tire reaches the recommended psi. If you are the adventurous type who misses the now-discontinued Nissan XTerra, you’re going to love the Titan Pro4X.
Base price: $48,505
If you’re of the glamping variety, this is the pickup truck for you. The interior space is posh, plush, and packed with leather; a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn is a ride of epic proportions. Truly, it feels like riding while encased in a cushy couch. Or a chesterfield, if you like to get fancy. The towing capacity is an impressive 12,750 pounds, which covers a variety of items. And the new eTorque adds a hybrid touch to this big ol’ truck, improving fuel efficiency. Add a tonneau cover to the back of the truck and presto! Tons of cargo capacity, too.
Base price: $51,140, but it’s very nicely equipped at closer to $75,000.
There is something about that Jeep Life that people covet – it feels like sand, sun, and freedom. The all-wheel-drive Rubicon gives you a convertible, an SUV, and rugged all-terrain capabilities. It climbs like a mountain goat and holds four people comfortably. Even more fun, you could choose to kit it out with a multitude of options like tube doors and lights for beach camping. Sure, you could absolutely choose the Wrangler’s sister, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, but the Wrangler is more suited for the camping life. If you have bikes, motorcycles, and larger gear, you might want to take the new Jeep Gladiator Rubicon out for a spin and then choose the one that works best for you.
Base price: $28,045
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Ford Expedition Max
For a bigger family, the Expedition shines in terms of comfort and cargo space, and there is more than enough room for all of its passengers. The 4×4 models include hill start assist and hill descent control, trailer sway control, and more. Bring on the national parks! You’ve got this.
Base price: $55,835. The Expedition price ranges up to $77,000 or more of the bells and whistles like fog lamps and active motion seats that help reduce fatigue on long drives to your campsite of choice.
Toyota Land Cruiser
This vehicle is not on the budget end of the spectrum. However, this iconic vehicle has been an off-road star for 60+ years. The Land Cruiser seats 8, but you’d probably be most comfortable with a family of 5, leaving the back seat free for all of your gear. With impressive gear like a decoupling stabilizer bar, low-speed off-road cruise control, off-road vehicle settings, hill start assist, skid plates, and tow hooks, this vehicle can get you in and out of pretty much anywhere. Other options include the new TRD Pro line, which includes the Toyota Tacoma, the 4Runner, the cavernous Sequoia, and the Tundra. Fox Shocks and plenty of ground clearance give you a comfortable ride over the roughest terrain with solid road capability.
Base price: $85,315.
Land Rover Defender
The return of the Defender has been eagerly anticipated; the company stopped selling them in the US in 1997. For decades, Defenders have been used by many of the world’s military forces, for good reason: it’s ridiculously capable. There’s a reason the Queen drives a Land Rover Range Rover over the hills at Balmoral, and she’s quite selective, so we understand.
Base price: $49,900
This vehicle is underappreciated in terms of comfort and interior space. The Ridgeline is car-based, like its wildly popular cousin, the Honda Passport. It’s quiet, comfortable, and zips along, powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Honda Ridgeline earned a five-star rating for both 2018 and 2019; the brand is known for safety features and reliability. Even the fuel economy is decent for a truck this size, showing up at 18-19 mpg in the city and 25-26 on the highway.
Base price: $29,990.
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