Heading out into the wilderness and camping in the summer is a brilliant thing – fresh air, no distractions, and getting close up and personal with nature... It’s something a lot of us look forward to all year. The only thing that could improve a summer camping trip is the right vehicle, and that’s true whether you want an off-roading SUV, something spacious for all your gear, or a practical option to suit a family.
We’ve picked out our top five favourite cars for summer camping trips in 2022 – giving your time roughing it a flashy upgrade.
Some of us fall into the ‘all the gear, and no idea,’ category, and there are others who actually have the gear, know what to do with it, and need a car that will fit it all in. For those people, we offer the brilliant Audi Q7. This model has an absolutely massive boot at the rear, ranging from around 605 to 770 litres, the latter of which is more than twice the size of that of a Golf hatchback. You can even expand on that boot space by dropping the rear seats, upgrading you to an even bigger 1835 to 1955 litres.
We know it’s big, but the Audi Q7 is also massively on trend and looks great inside and out, so you won’t be sacrificing style for space. It’s a more luxurious option for the avid camper, with added tech like parking sensors and cameras to take the edge of its size, a flashy digital dashboard, and heated seats in case the British Summer lets us down.
The Q7 comes with a choice of engine options that features some muscular 3.0 litre V6 set-ups, and it gets the iconic Audi quattro all-wheel drive – perfect for heading off the beaten track. It’s even available in hybrid electric form, for added fuel efficiency.
Family camping takes a special kind of patience, but there’s a special kind of car that will make things feel much easier and, dare we say, really enjoyable. The Hyundai Tucson manages just that, and offers a family-friendly drive that doesn’t feel boring.
The Tucson’s interior features lots of hardwearing and durable materials that will stand up against daily use, and you can get models with features like sunroofs for when you need some fresh air (or the backseat gets too loud...), but it’s the sheer volume of space that will do it for most families. The boot itself ranges between 459 to 513 litres, and the cabin ahead is airy and spacious. You also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the infotainment system – perfect for smartphone connectivity and that all-important road trip karaoke. Plus, Hyundai’s turbocharged engines are efficient to run, especially when paired with a hybrid system, and come with both manual and automatic gearboxes, as well as all- and front-wheel drive setups.
Did we mention you can grab a top-spec model for under £30k on cinch? It’s a real box ticker for the perfect family camping car.
The Land Rover Defender might look like one of the flashier models you’d want to take camping – but underneath that stylish exterior is one of the most rugged, practical bases from any segment. We love a reason to justify a fancy car, and the Land Rover Defender does all the talking itself. It’s hugely spacious, has incredible and genuinely off-road-capable four-wheel drive talents, and it oozes luxury all over.
Maybe you’re thinking you wouldn’t want to take a car as fancy as the Defender camping, but it’s tough build quality and clever engineering means you don’t need to tiptoe around in it. The Defender will take heavy use and brush it off – even the Royals favour them for hunting trips.
As for what’s under the bonnet, the Defender comes with a choice of punchy petrol, hybrid and diesel engines that have no trouble shifting this big, rugged machine around. In the meat of the line-up, you’ll find choices ranging from 2.0 to 3.0 litres in size, with a power-focused 5.0-litre model at the top of the pile. No matter which engine you opt for, the Defender’s genuine four-wheel drive setup makes light work of some seriously challenging terrain. Opt for the more powerful models, and that’s accompanied by some decent on-road performance, like a 0-62mph time of around 6 seconds. Plenty quick enough to outsprint Big Foot in the wilderness...
It wouldn’t be summer in the year 2022 if an electric vehicle didn’t creep on to this list – except the Volvo XC40 Recharge doesn’t even bother creeping. This is the kind of SUV that you just can’t help noticing, thanks to its sleek design and generous amounts of interior space. When it comes to camping, the roominess will come in handy – despite not being a massive SUV, you get around 452 litres of boot space to fill with all the gear you could need. The cabin is just as impressive as it offers that space with comfort, and an added luxury feel that you’ll be grateful for after a night with the elements.
When it comes to driving, the Volvo XC40 Recharge can offer a claimed electric range of up to 260 miles on a full charge. That means you ought to have enough in the battery for most stints on the road, and can stop off and recharge (hence the name) using the growing number of public fast chargers on the way if needed. If you’re seeking to really connect with nature on your camping trip, a near silent, battery-powered car is a great way to really blend in.
Not everyone needs a massive car to head off on a summer camping adventure – sometimes it’s just as enjoyable to go it solo. If that’s the case, a smaller car will probably suit you a lot better and there are some brilliant models that pack in a lot of space without needing to be a massive SUV. The Citroen C3 Aircross is a great middle ground, as it’s a more compact car that’s still roomy enough to pack up and get on the road. The high roof is a helpful touch that might be overlooked – it really helps you to pack up to the brim, and allows for adults to sit throughout the car without feeling cramped in. Plus, the boot space can be extended to an impressive degree: starting at around 410 litres, sliding the backseats for 520 litres, and dropping them completely for 1289 litres.
We also love the quirky appearance of the C3 Aircross and how much it stands out in a crowd (or carpark). For a long-distance camping trip, the engine line-up is made up of some brilliantly efficient options, with the 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine genuinely capable of around 70mpg on a steady cruise.