12 of the Best Camping Cars to Buy in 2023
Written by DriveAxis.ca April 19, 2023
Camping is considered a Canadian tradition, and why not? With so much open landscape to explore, adventures wait around nearly every tree and hilltop. There’s a reason so many Canadians love to escape to the outdoors and get in touch with nature, and this pastime dates back as far as the country itself. In the modern age, however, it helps to have a car that can tackle the outdoors and make the whole experience a lot more convenient.
Thankfully, Canadians have a lot of options to choose from. When it comes to camping cars, the only limits are personal taste, family unit, and how much they want to rough it in the wilderness. Each of the following cars is a great option when it comes to escaping into the freedom and tranquility of nature, while making the drive there and back a memorable one.
CARS FOR THE DIEHARD CAMPER
Diehard campers like to go all in when it comes to the full experience. That means they pack light, and enjoy roughing it down and dirty with makeshift campsites, small tents and the bare necessities. It usually also means they prefer to go far deeper into the woods than most, rather than camp out at a provincial park or other convenient space.
Jeeps are still considered the primary go-to solution for this type of camping excursion, since they’re capable of handling rough terrain like a trooper. The ever-popular Jeep Wrangler is one model that goes the distance, and can handle some of the most punishing terrain, including shallow water. It also has enough cargo space to travel light, without leaving the must-haves behind. The Wrangler is so hearty and well-equipped for the outdoors that it even has removable drain plugs and water-resistant carpeting, which is great when drivers really get into the thick of nature.
Another option is the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, which, like the Wrangler, is capable of tackling rough environments, yet has a more refined and family-centric design. It’s capable of hauling some decent cargo, even on the roof, and its 4WD capabilities add peace of mind when venturing far away from the nearest highway.
If Jeeps aren’t your thing, Toyota’s 4Runner is an excellent alternative. It also has 4WD capabilities which are married to a 4.0-litre engine capable of generating 270 horsepower with some serious torque. It also boasts over 2,500 litres of cargo space, which is enough to pack the family, the gear, and the dog. The 4Runner also comes in different flavors such as the TRD Off-Road and Pro packages, which make it even easier to get around.
CARS FOR THE MID-RANGE CAMPER
Mid-range campers tend to eschew hacking their way through the underbrush to craft their own campsite, and instead prefer spaces that are already set up, such as provincial parks. With most of the maintenance taken care of, they’re free to enjoy the outdoors and time with family and friends.
These campers don’t need a heavy-duty hauler like a Jeep Wrangler, and may instead opt for the Subaru Outback, one of the most popular choices for mid-range campers. The Outback has enough tech and build quality to go the distance, even if it can’t quite climb 75 degrees up the side of a mountain. Instead, it’s all about convenience, comfort and reliability, aided by a symmetrical AWD (all-wheel drive) system, lots of ground clearance and over 2,100 litres of cargo space.
Not to be outdone, Jeep also has an offering for mid-range campers in the form of the Renegade Trailhawk. It’s a smaller and more compact model than its siblings, but it does boast the same 4WD system, plus a Selec-Terrain option for tackling rougher terrain, if you so choose. Plus, it’ll squeeze nicely into most camping spots without taking up too much space.
CARS FOR WEEKEND WARRIOR CAMPERS
For many Canadians, camping is a lifestyle choice, but not everyone has the same taste. Some just want to get away once in a while, and zip back to town in time for the commute to work on Monday morning. These campers tend to pass on tents in favor of setting up a comfy sleeping area inside of the car, and they like to bring some amenities and appliances from home to make things more comfy.
The Jeep Cherokee is one of the best models for this type of camper, since it comes with enough power, storage capacity and tech options to make for a comfortable ride, and an equally comfortable camping trip. The 3.2-litre Trailhawk V6 is also capable of towing over 2,000 kilograms when properly equipped, in case you want to haul a small trailer, ski-doo or jet ski to the campsite. For those who want something a little less overstated, the standard Cherokee ditches the heavy towing capacity and keeps things light with a 2.4-litre engine.
And of course, it would be a sin not to mention Toyota’s RAV4, a hearty car that can easily tackle weekend warrior camping duties with ease. While it lacks the off-road muscle of a Jeep, it makes up for it with a reliable AWD system, a Multi-Terrain Select system for handling different kinds of trails, and a near-1,600 kilogram towing capacity.
CARS FOR LIGHT CAMPERS
Some Canadians just want to escape to the outdoors without putting too much effort into the excursion. These folks prefer comfortable lodges and well-maintained campsites where most of the hard work is already taken care of, so they can focus on roasting marshmallows over the campfire. They may also opt for an RV or trailer instead of a tent, or the back of the vehicle, which means towing capacity is a must.
The GMC Sierra 1500 is bred from the same automotive DNA, and is excellent for hauling large trailers and campers. With nearly 5,450 kilograms of towing capacity, there’s little it can’t handle. Plus, it’s large and tough enough to rumble over harsh terrain just as easily as the open highway. The ability to carry so much cargo means never having to worry about leaving creature comforts - or family members - behind.
Of course, the 1500 has competition from Ford; specifically the ever-trusty F-150 and F-250. Both are considered easy to handle, have plenty of power to handle the bumpiness of the dirt road, and more than enough towing capacity. The F-150 is capable of towing a maximum 6,350 kilograms, while the F-250 beefs that amount up to 9,979 kilograms. Or, if you feel you really need the extra tugging power, a five-wheel option pushes the towing capacity to a wild 10,433 kilograms!
Everyone has a different opinion and preference when it comes to camping, but one thing’s for sure - you can never get too much of the Canadian outdoors. Escaping the bustle of everyday life for the peace and tranquility of nature is a soul-enriching experience, and it shouldn’t be mired by a bad drive. The cars mentioned above are all designed to fit a particular kind of camper, and rest assured, there’s fun to be had in each one as you venture off the beaten path and into the beauty of nature.
Still not sure which model is right for you? Contact DriveAxis today, and we’ll help you narrow down your choices from our inventory of fantastic pre-owned camper cars. Better yet, we also handle all financing in-house, which means everyone gets approved, regardless of their credit rating. There’s no better time to purchase your next camper car, and pursue your next camping adventure!