What’s not to love about a camping trip? The fresh air, the peace and quiet and an excuse to not shower daily are just some of the many delights of taking a long walk into the woods.
There are, however, just as many people who would much prefer the creature comforts of a five-star hotel, or at the very least would like to have a solid roof over their heads. Thankfully, there are perfect cars for both types of people.
So whether you’d like to get fully in touch with nature or if you’re the sort who would much prefer to look at it from a climate-controlled leather interior, we’ve picked ten of the best camping companions.
Do you like the idea of The Great Outdoors on paper, but in reality would enjoy it much more if you could keep the miserable weather, scary creepy-crawlies and unusual farmyard odours at arm’s length? Then why not camp in the car?
The five rearmost of the Nissan X-Trail’s seven seats can fold flat into the floor when not in use, making it perfect for throwing an air mattress in the back for a night’s sleep peaceful enough to satisfy Lenny Henry. Once the break is over, you can return home in a smooth-riding, well-built, economical SUV. A win-win situation if we ever heard one.
Use our Nissan X-Trail deals page to see how much you could save from the UK’s top Nissan dealers.
On the face of it, the Audi Q3 may not seem like the most obvious of outdoorsy types. Sure, it’s a very pleasant and practical car on the road, and most options in the range are available with quattro four-wheel drive to get you out of sodden fields. But what makes it any more worthy of a place on this list than the BMW X1 or the Mercedes GLA? Well bear with us, because it isn’t the car itself…
Browse Audi’s accessories catalogue and one discovers a tent designed specifically for attachment to the back of the Q3. The inflatable structure attaches to the open boot lid, allowing access from the three-person tent directly into the car. If you’d rather a little more freedom, it can be used as a freestanding structure too. It’ll only withstand winds up to 40mph mind you, so we wouldn’t recommend it for any Alpine expeditions. It’s pricey though – it’ll cost about £1,400 if you can find a dealer who can get hold of one.
On average, buyers save £2,800 on the Q3 – get offers from Audi dealers by using our Audi Q3 deals page.
A quick look at the Jeep Renegade’s accessories range shows that the Audi Q3 isn’t the only car available with a custom tent. As with the Audi’s blow-up offering, the Jeep option can be erected either separately or while connected to the Renegade, though its canvas construction is more traditional than the Audi design. It can house four people with ease, allowing enough space in the cabin to pack all of the other essentials for a weekend away.
Jeep also makes an awning for the side of the car, so come rain or shine the Renegade will (literally) have you covered. The Renegade is available as a 4×4 too, so you can take your pick of camping spots.
Use our Jeep Renegade deals page for the smoothest car buying experience and for a great no-haggle price.
Enjoy the beautiful views of the natural world but would rather not walk to find them? The Range Rover is more than capable enough off-road to take you most of the way. Adjustable air suspension allows the plushest Land Rover to raise above errant rocks which might otherwise damage the underside of the car, while a wading depth of 90cm should make the occasional river crossing hassle-free. Pair with the 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 engine and it boasts the torque to scale the most intimidating of inclines.
With prices starting north of £74,000, the Range Rover is only for the wealthiest of campers, but you can bring that price down by using our Range Rover deals page.
Fiat Panda Cross
Unlike the Range Rover, the low price of the Fiat Panda Cross means that you won’t feel too nervous about pointing it at the closest hill and setting off on a mini expedition. It’s great off road too: the light weight and four-wheel drive help it scramble over difficult terrain, while tiny front and rear overhangs mean that it can negotiate steep angles which many larger 4x4s might struggle with.
Thanks to that sub-£16,000 starting price (with savings to be made from our Fiat Panda Cross deals page), you’ll have plenty of cash left over to spend on the fanciest hiking equipment, too.
On almost any camping trip (but especially those taken in Britain), it’s pretty safe to assume that you’re going to get muddy – and it’s even more likely if you intend to enjoy part of your trip on two wheels. It’d be a shame to foul up the insides of a new car with muddy mountain bikes, but Vauxhall offers a neat solution to the problem.
The Mokka’s optional retractable bike rack securely holds up to two bicycles at the back without the need for an aftermarket frame. When it’s not in use, it stores neatly away within the rear bumper. Visit our Vauxhall Mokka deals page to see what you could save on the list price.
If your ideal camping trip is more ‘Bear Grylls’ than ‘Glamping’, why not make the journey there and back just as raw and extreme as the destination?
Ariel has produced the wonderful Atom track toy for years, and the Nomad takes a more off-road themed approach to the same formula. Chunkier off-road tyres, beefier suspension and a torquier engine endow it with the ability to go almost anywhere, and at breakneck speeds.
The Nomad offers up minimal storage space for camping kit, but that won’t matter – once you arrive you’ll be determined to fashion your own bivouac from the local flora and maintain hydration via your ‘own’ water supply anyway.
If your idea of getting to know mother nature better involves a big comfy caravan rather than a bed of leaves, a strong tow car is a must. Arguably the best (by which we mean ‘most over-the-top’) option of all is the BMW X5 M50d.
The regular diesel versions of the X5 do the job admirably, but when paired with the 3.0-litre tri-turbo six cylinder diesel, the staggering 546lb ft of torque across a large part of the rev range offers immense pulling power. Never mind a caravan: the M50d would be up for the challenge of dragging your entire house into the woods.
We appreciate that not everyone wants to tow a caravan about with them, but the Honda Jazz might be able to create a similar home-from-home feel.
It features Honda’s Magic Seats, which means that all five pews can be adjusted in a huge variety of ways depending on the situation. The front pair can lie almost completely flat, presenting occupants with a large, soft floor area to lounge about on. Try adding some scatter cushions for added coziness.
If you’re into beach holidays, the Jazz might be just the ticket, too. Fold those seats in another direction and there’s enough room for a full-size surfboard or two, and there’s still more than enough space for all the other vital stuff you’ll want to bring.
There are some great Honda dealers using carwow – use our Honda Jazz deals page to start receiving offers from them.
Tesla Model S
Camping gear can be big and bulky if you’re afraid to engross yourself too closely with the elements. Once you’ve packed a tent, a sleeping bag, a warm jacket, a barbecue, several spare changes of clothes, and a generator to power your fridge, 40-inch TV and satellite dish, you soon realise just how much the whole trip’s success hinges on a big boot and plenty of interior space.
Mercifully, the Tesla Model S is huge inside. Thanks to the clever packaging of the electric motors and batteries, there’s even room for seven people if you’d value friendship over comfort while in the wilderness. Best of all, the near-silent drivetrain means that you’ll never disturb the local wildlife or fellow campers.
If you need something a little different, use our interactive car chooser to narrow down all the cars on sale in the UK to a handful that suit you.