Serious outdoor recreation enthusiasts know you need certain things in the Best Cars for Camping: room for gear, reconfigurable seats, utility hooks, easy-clean floor, adequate power on- and off-road, and towing ability (if you plan on hauling boats or sporting equipment). How many people you plan to carry and where you’re going also factor into the equation. The good news is there are many terrific vehicles that fit the bill for Best Cars for Camping.

These three Best Cars for Camping offer something for everyone: body-on-frame design of truck-based SUV for towing, versatility of a hybrid, and all-purpose wagon. Take your pick.

  • Chevrolet Tahoe HybridAuto USA singles out the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid full-size SUV for its utility, 4X4 fuel economy of 20 mpg city/20 mpg highway (with hybrid 6.0-liter V-8 engine), and ability to chevrolet_tahoe_hybrid_2010“traverse difficult terrain, tow watercraft or other sporting equipment, and off-road with the best of them.” Use the 115-volt outlet to power small appliances without draining the SUV’s battery. Tahoe Hybrid seats up to eight, and removable third row opens up to 60.3 cubic feet of cargo space – and still seats five. U.S. News and World Report hails 2009 Tahoe Hybrid (and conventional Tahoe) as the U.S. News Best Car for the Money in the large SUV class. Highlights include the fact Tahoe Hybrid can “go off-road, tow boats and horse trailers and offer comfortable seating for seven in luxurious and roomy cabins.”
  • Nissan XterraMotor Trend says of the 2006 Nissan Xterra Off-Road model (also named MT Truck of the Year), “Nissan has built a sport/utility vehicle that’s exactly nissan_xterra_2010what the customers want: it’s rugged, versatile, fun, solid-looking, honest, and will take you and your gear anywhere you want to go – without costing a fortune.” Powered by a 265-hp 4.0-liter V-6 engine, Xterra Off-Road models come with hill descent control and hill start assist. All 2009 Xterra models, according to Edmunds, feature easy-to-clean cargo area floors, adjustable channel system for securing bike racks and gear, and plenty of utility hooks and storage space.
  • Subaru OutbackEdmunds lauds the 2009 Subaru Outback as “straddling the midsize wagon and crossover SUV segments…offers more off-road chops than other wagons and better handling than crossover SUVs,” but no third-row seat is available. All-wheel drive is standard, and as of 2009, so is electronic stability control, and subaru_outback_2010there are three engine choices. Auto USA puts the Outback on its Best Car for Camping list, saying the car can handle almost any terrain, “was built with outdoor living in mind and includes a DC outlet in the rear, rubber mats for easy cleaning, and fold-flat rear seats that create a nice bunking area in a pinch.” Outback boasts 65.4 cubic inches of storage space and many optional racks to tote camping gear/sporting equipment.

Other Best Cars for Camping include Chrysler Town & Country (no off-road here), GMC Yukon, Honda CR-V and Element, Jeep Patriot, and Toyota RAV4.

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