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Top 10 Used Cars That Can Be Converted Into Campers

Credit: Edmunds

In these summer months, it’s easy to see the appeal of camping. It’s a fun thing to do. Invite some friends, find a spot in the middle of nowhere, setup “camp” and get eaten alive by mosquitoes. What’s there not to love?

The thing is, most people think that their old beater can’t be turned into a weekend bed on wheels. But it can…

In this list we’re going to focus on 10 vehicles that can easily be turned from anything like very small, cramped but bug-free sleeping places to full on RV’s.




#10. Volvo XC 70

Volvo XC 70

A great all around vehicle. Why? Well, it’s boring. Boring is good. Boring is reliable and cheap. Boring is what you want. It’s got an optional turbo charged engine and all wheel drive and roomy. Don’t get excited, you’re still driving a Volvo. But remove the rear seats, squeeze in a cheap mattress and what’s that? You’re sleeping under the stars? Hey, it’ll feel like a cheap motel but you know, nature is a place to be humbled.



#9. Subaru Legacy

Subaru Legacy

This car is the epitome of granny drivers. Huge amounts of cargo space, Subaru’s renowned all wheel drive system, optional dual sunroof, softish suspension. It’s a good choice for someone who needs more space and with all the large windows with small pillars, you have a great viewing experience as you watch that bear eat all your food. Damn, I hope you like berries for breakfast…



#8. Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester

This car is basically a Legacy that’s been lifted up about 3-4 inches. It still has the same soft ride, lots of cargo space, perfect all wheel drive and enough ground clearance to drive over fallen branches and very small rocks without breaking something. That’s a good thing. There’s no cell reception where you’re gonna be.



#7. Toyota 4Runner

Toyota 4Runner

A good little 4×4. With a 3.4 litre engine, it can easily pull your family/friends and a cute little trailer behind it filled with all your camping gear. Ground clearance and an electric liftgate window make it great to load/unload and also enjoy a nice view, especially if you throw some netting on and leave it open for the night. What’s awesome about this truck and the others below is the fact that it’s common to install a bigger alternator and a secondary battery. Now you can operate a cooler/small fridge even when the truck is off and you can also do some small repairs like soldering and such.



#6. Nissan Pathfinder

Nissan Pathfinder

Another good SUV option would be a pathfinder. Built in a similar fashion to the 4Runner, these little trucks can get any job done. With a V6 engine, a good towing capacity and a tested 4×4 system, it only edges out the 4Runner in torque which is important, especially if you’re relying on getting a trailer to pull most of your gear. It’s also good as it has nice cushioned suspension and it’s easier more common to find models with leather seat options than with the 4Runner.



#5. Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Offers exactly what you expect. Lots of room, lots of cargo space, rediculous offroad capabilities and best of all, a 4.7 litre V8 that will pull almost anything you throw at it. At this point, you can now get small trailers going up to around 13 ft. Maybe more but it’s best to check with an RV store to know exactly what you’re looking for and what you can start pulling safely.



#4. Chevrolet Suburban

Chevrolet Suburban

If there ever was a truck that didn’t know what it was, it was the Chevy Suburban. An SUV, built like a truck, made to work both as an SUV and a pickup and had a flat interior made to accomodate a decent air bed for even the biggest couples. It’s like a hick mating ground. Only comfier. It is also good for towing small RV’s and has great off roading capabilities. The greatest option in the jeep category if you’re planning on sleeping inside due to the fact that the rear wheel wells don’t stick out like sore thumbs inside the cabin.



#3. Toyota Tundra

Toyota Tundra

Yes, we had to put a few trucks on the list. The fact being, you can take a crew-cab truck, throw on a tent in the bed, carry a lot of equipment AND pull a trailer all the while going over small obstacles with ease. You can now carry collapsible tables and chairs and maybe even some swimming gear like a small inflatable boat or even surfboards. The Tundra offers all that and more. Great towing, a huge 8 foot bed and amazing reliability, it’s an easy option for anybody on a budget. Towing is great in it but it is limited when compared to other trucks. No matter what truck you think is good for your needs, you will need to do some upgrades if you’re planning on pulling anything pretty heavy. Some reinforced leaf springs, air suspension, bigger brakes, electric trailer brakes and a heavy duty class hitch are all very good options just to be on the safe side of things.



#2. Ford F-150

Ford F150

This is the king of trucks. Prices for a decent tow-packaged 4×4 can go as low as a few grand depending on how old you’re willing to go. These trucks last forever and have many different models to choose from. Very comfortable ride, amazing towing capacity and standard off-roading abilities make it a very close pick for the top position. You can also add a tonneau cover, as with the Tundra, and sleep inside the truck if you don’t want to lug around a full-size tent.



#1. GMC Savana

GMC Savana

Yes, a cargo van made the top pick. Why, you ask? Well, this article is all about converting a beater car/truck/van/suv into a solid, reliable, cheap camper. And there’s nothing better than a cargo van. Huge amounts of space, seats that can be easily removed or relocated, easy to sleep in or install creature comforts such as a small shower or a sleeping/viewing area. You can literally carry anything and everything you will ever need for a small weekend getaway with it. Or even go on a roadtrip and see where the road leads you. It can pull a trailer, carry a bunch of people, look retro and bring you back home all in a few days… or weeks… or months… Depending on when you want to come back or how well maintained it is.

Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them, but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. I founded GearHeads.org and then built and ran AutoWise.com until selling it to Lola Digital Media in 2020. I look forward to watching AutoWise grow as part of the AllGear group.