A car that can carry (or tow) all you need for an al fresco weekend is a real asset for anyone who loves spending time in the great outdoors. Of course, any car used for camping must combine a number of qualities: it has to get you to and from your destination safely and reliably, it has to be practical and, ideally, it should be able to handle a little light off-roading when you get to the countryside.
There are a lot of cars on the market that can fulfil these criteria, but which ones are the best?
We’ve looked at all the available options and picked out a few cars – different types of vehicle at different price points – that will do the job of lugging you, your passengers and all your camping kit to your destination.
Our top 10 best cars for camping are:
1. Dacia Duster
- Boot capacity: 411-478 litres
- Towing capacity: 1,100-1,500kg
- Dimensions: 4,341mm x 1,804mm
- Best for: budget campers
Despite its inexpensive nature, the Duster is a quietly impressive car, especially if you’re looking for a spacious, practical SUV with the option of four-wheel drive. The interior is as basic as the price suggests, but it’s comfortable enough, and the boot capacity of 478 litres (1,478 litres if you fold down the rear seats) should allow you to get a fair bit of camping gear inside.
The Duster isn’t the sophisticated car to drive, but it is capable and comfortable enough on the road, particularly if you accept its price-related limitations.
2. Citroen Berlingo
- Boot capacity: 209-3,500 litres
- Towing capacity: 750-1,250kg
- Dimensions: 4,753mm x 1,921mm
- Best for: space
Space might be the final frontier, but for the Citroën Berlingo, it’s only the start. Because while the Berlingo’s charms are obvious from its van-like design – it is hugely spacious – it’s not all there is to this French people carrier.
The boxy design that only a mother could love has been funked up with some cool alloys and exterior styling features, and the interior is filled with cubbyholes and useful storage solutions. The practicality doesn’t end there, either: sliding doors make for great accessibility for kids or older family members and the interior is comfortable (if a bit cheap looking), even on longer trips,
3. Volkswagen Amarok
- Boot capacity: 1.13 tonnes (max payload weight)
- Towing capacity: 3,500kg
- Dimensions: 5,254mm x 2,228mm
- Best for: active sports fans
Pickup trucks are handy camping vehicles, with that large loadbed (1.55m x 1.62m) able to swallow up tents, sleeping bags and all the other necessities for a camping trip. The Amarok is our favourite option (although there’s little between it, The Ford Ranger and a Toyota Hilux), with the latest generation having four variants, all of which are practical, but some come loaded with kit for consumer, rather than business owners.
The Amarok will cut a dash on the campsite, with its stylish new design and sturdy presence. Inside, depending on trim level, you can get the likes of leather seats, a 12” touchscreen and high-quality audio system. And if you’re an active sports aficionado, that loadbed is ideal for surfboards, mountain bikes, hang gliders or however you like to get your adrenaline pumping.
4. Kia Sorento
- Boot capacity:604-2,011 litres
- Towing capacity: 2,000kg
- Dimensions: 4,810mm x 1,900mm
- Best for: reliability
The Sorento has been a solid performer for generations, but the latest version has another step up in quality and features lots of the latest technology, which should make getting to the campsite an enjoyable trip.
The trump card that the Sorento has over many rivals is its spacious interior. Indeed, it’s so roomy that it’s one of the few true seven-seater cars, with enough space for adults. Of course, if you don’t need the third row of seats, you can fold them down and get 616 litres of bootspace. Fold down the second row of seats and you have up to 2,011 litres to pack all your camping gear in.
5. Fiat Panda Cross
- Boot capacity: 225-870 litres
- Towing capacity: 800kg
- Dimensions: 3,686mm x 1,672mm
- Best for: wild campers
The Panda is very much a city car, but in this 4×4 version, it becomes a different animal. With the ability to handle tricky terrain that you would assume would be beyond the abilities of an urban runabout, the Panda 4×4 will get you to the most off-the-beaten-track campsites with surprising ease and comfort.
OK, you’ll have to pack pretty light, because the 225-litre boot won’t swallow up the likes of a bell tent, but lower the rear seats and you can access a very respectable 870 litres. It doesn’t have the most sophisticated of infotainment systems (a CD player?), but there’s enough smartphone connectivity to remind you you’re in the 21st Century.
6.Toyota Land Cruiser
- Boot capacity:120-1,270 litres
- Towing capacity: 3,000kg
- Dimensions: 4,840mm x 1,885mm
- Best for: campers wanting peace of mind
The Land Cruiser is a bit of a legend for those who like to dabble in off-roading. It can handle pretty much any terrain, from deserts to arctic conditions, so getting to your campsite should prove pretty straightforward. Toyota also has a justified reputation for reliability, which means you can be confident that it won’t break down on you in the middle of nowhere.
The cabin is practical, but opting for a higher trim level will add the likes an 8” touchscreen for the infotainment system and DAB, etc. A stiff dose of practicality comes in the form of a sliding second row of seats and up to 1,270 litres of boot space.
7. Mini Countryman
- Boot capacity: 350-1,390 litres
- Towing capacity:
- Dimensions: 4,299mm x 1,822mm
- Best for: festivalgoers
For urban dwellers who tend to only consider camping as part of a music festival experience, the Countryman offers an interesting option. Yes, it’s a Mini – albeit one on steroids – so it has all the cool associations with the iconic original car and looks at home in the car park of an urban farmer’s market. But if you go for an ALL4 variant, there’s also a decent four-wheel-drive system that should cope with the kind of gentle off-roading that camping often involves.
The Countryman is a more practical Mini, so there’s up to 1,320 litres available (if you lower the rear seats) for all your camping gear. It’s also a Mini, so it’s engaging to drive, while the premium levels of comfort and equipment will make camping trips fun.
8. BMW 5 Series Touring
- Boot capacity: 430-1,700 litres
- Towing capacity: 2,000kg
- Dimensions: 4,963mm x 1,868mm
- Best for: making a statement
A big estate car is always a good option for a camping trip, thanks to the extra boot capacity and the ability to add a roof box, bike racks, etc. In the case of a BMW 5 Series Touring, you’re also going to get prestige German motoring, with all the high-quality standards that entails.
You’ll enjoy your journey because, well, it’s a 5 Series, so it’s great fun to drive. The interior is also of the highest quality, in terms of materials and fit and finish, plus there’s all the latest safety and infotainment technology at your disposal. And that badge will instantly grant you some campsite kudos.
9. Volvo EX90
- Boot capacity: 310-1,915 litres
- Towing capacity: 2,200kg
- Dimensions: 5,037mm x 2,039mm
- Best for: safety
If safety is your biggest concern when buying a car, you can’t get much safer than the latest large Volvo SUV, the all-electric EX90. Featuring everything that the Swedish carmaker has learned about safety up to now, the EX90 is the safest car you can currently buy, with a full complement of cameras, radar and lidar sensors.
But it’s a lot more than that, too. Combining zero tailpipe emissions with a 360-mile range, it’s an accomplished EV, with the added bonus of a stylish, minimalist Scandi design interior and lots of infotainment options.
10. Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
- Boot capacity: 446-1,171 litres
- Towing capacity: NA
- Dimensions: 4,974mm x 1,967mm
- Best for: ultra-luxe glamping
OK, so you have to be heading to some pretty exclusive luxury glamping for the Taycan Cross Turismo to not look out of place, but this high-performance EV does have a shooting brake profile, so the countryside is arguably its natural stomping ground.
The Taycan Cross Turismo has four-wheel drive across the range, so it should be able to handle some mild off-roading, while the maximum storage capacity of 1,171 litres (with the rear seats down) should be plenty of space – especially if a posh tent is waiting for you at the campsite.
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