10 Best SUVs for Camper Conversions
Considering an SUV Camper Conversion for Overlanding?
With their great gas mileage, easy potential for conversion, and the fact that you might already have one in your garage, SUVs are a great option.
But what about the small interior space? And what kind of conversion can you build with an SUV?
In this post, we’ll find out.
10 Amazing Overland SUV Camper Conversion Builds
SUV campers provide a good platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?
Here are 10 of the coolest SUV campers ever:
#10: Around The World Toyota Land Cruiser SUV Conversion
- Highlights: This 78 Series Toyota Land Cruiser was one of several vehicles that took part in a three-year, 58,196-mile around the world trip across all 7 continents.
- Vehicle: 78 Series Toyota Land Cruiser
- Owner: @scott.a.brady
#9: Toyota 4Runner SUV Overland Build W/ Pop-Top Camper
- Highlights: This super clean 4Runner build has it all. Up top the owner mounted a roof-top tent with a flexible solar panel. In the rear of the vehicle is a full kitchen setup complete with a fridge, storage, and gas cooktop.
- Vehicle: Toyota 4Runner
- Owner: @drty_t4r
#8: Lifted Toyota 4Runner SUV Conversion With Roof-Tent
- Highlights: This Toyota 4Runner build features a sleek roof-top tent by Maggiolina that fits the vehicle perfectly. Outback, the owner mounted a spare tire carrier and storage rack.
- Vehicle: Toyota 4Runner
- Owner: @go.xplre
#7: Jeep Wrangler Overland Conversion With Slide-Out Kitchen
- Highlights: This clean Jeep Wrangler Rubicon has a full slide-out kitchen with a 2-burner gas stove, refrigerator, and foldable table. Up top, the vehicle has a pop-top tent for sleeping.
- Vehicle: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
- Owner: @gpsgeeps
#6: 4×4 Mitsubishi Montero SUV Conversion With Camper Top
- Highlights: This lifted Mitsubishi Montero features a roof mounted tent, solar power, storage, a winch, and tons of exterior lighting.
- Vehicle: Mitsubishi Montero
- Owner: @deltawoodbombers
#5: Jeep Gladiator With Camper-Top Conversion & Racks
- Highlights: This Jeep Gladiator features a roof-mounted tent, tons of storage, bumpers, aftermarket lighting, and pretty much everything else you can to a vehicle. The owner is a photograph and so the photos do not dissapoint.
- Vehicle: Jeep Gladiator
- Owner: @blkaut.photo
#4: Built Mitsubishi Montero Camper With Roof Rack
- Highlights: This cool looking 1986 Mitsubishi Montero know as “The Shorty” was built by it’s owner in Costa Rica and is used for overlanding trips. The SUV camper features front and rear bumpers, a lift, roof rack, and tons of other modifications.
- Vehicle: 1986 Mitsubishi Montero
- Owner: @shorty_overlander506
#3: RTW Toyota Land Cruiser SUV Camper Conversion
- Highlights: This clean 92 Land Cruiser build is another RTW vehicle with a simple pop-top camper setup and rear kitchen. The owner is 78 countries and 124,274 miles into his 3 year around the world trip.
- Vehicle: 1992 Land Cruiser HDJ 80
- Owner: @muddybumper360
#2: Simple Land Cruiser Camper Conversion Built for RTW Living
- Highlights: The owners of this classic FJ60 Land Cruiser are 486’000 miles and 186 countries into their almost 39 year continuous trip around the world. Their build is very basic with roof-top storage and several different sleeping options.
- Vehicle: Toyota LandCruiser FJ60
- Owner: @Emil Schmid
#1: 45 Series Toyota Land Cruiser With Kitchen & Rooftop Camper
- Highlights: This 45 Series Land Cruiser has been on the road since 2003 and has covered over 172 thousands miles. The build features a simple double bench setup in the back with a pop-top tent.
- Vehicle: LWB 45 series Land Cruiser
- Owner: @landcruising.adventure
8 Reasons Why Overlanders Like SUV Conversions
SUV campers are great – but are they the best option for overland travel?
Here are 8 reasons why overlanders like SUV campers:
- Non-Permanent: Most builds for SUVs are temporary, meaning you can switch back and forth between using the car as your daily driver, and using it to camp in.
- Cheaper Than a Van: Buying an SUV can be way cheaper than buying a van, plus, if it’s the car you already own, you won’t have to buy a new one to convert.
- Easy to Drive & Park: SUVs are made to be driven around cities, so they’re very easy to drive around, and can fit into pretty much any parking spot.
- Super Stealth: One of the best things about SUV campers is that no one will think they’re a camper. That means you can more easily park and camp overnight.
- Easy and Inexpensive to Convert: If you’re looking for a simple, cheap DIY build, SUVs might be the way to go. Their small interior space and easy-to-remove seats make for a very simple build.
- Lots of 4WD, AWD Options: Most SUVs on the market today are either 4WD or AWD, which is great for getting to hard-to-reach campsites and up and down mountain roads.
- Companies Sell Conversion Kits: If you don’t want to do a totally DIY build, plenty of companies sell conversion kits for lots of different models of SUV. The kit gets shipped to you in a box and you do the installation.
- Great Gas Mileage: SUVs are more compact than typical vanlife vans and therefore get way better gas mileage.
6 Reasons Why Overlanders Dislike SUV Campers
As with every vehicle, there are downsides to SUV campers.
Here are 6 reasons why overlanders dislike SUV campers:
- Very Little Interior Room: The most obvious drawback of an SUV is its lack of interior space. This means you’ll have to leave out some potential must-haves, like an indoor kitchen, toilet, or shower.
- Tricky Interior Angles: Unlike vans, which tend to have more right angles, SUVs can be tricky to build out because of their odd angles.
- Low Headroom: SUVs have a very low interior height, so you definitely won’t be able to stand up inside.
- Not Much Storage: Because of the small interior, you’ll probably have very little storage space inside of an SUV.
- Poor Insulation: Because you probably don’t want to rip out the whole interior of your SUV, you’ll probably have to settle for what’s already in there, which basically means poor insulation.
- Limited Ventilation Options: It’s not super practical to jigsaw a hole into the top of your SUV to install a fan. For ventilation, you’ll probably have to stick to just cracking the windows.
Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy
Now that you know a little more about SUV campers, let’s see how they stack up.
SUV Camper Cost
Cost: Jeep Gladiator vs Jeep Wrangler vs Toyota Land Cruiser vs Toyota 4Runner vs Mitsubishi Montero
|Jeep Gladiator Rubicon||$51,490||~$40,000||Check Price|
|Jeep Wrangler Rubicon||$40,000||$30,000||Check Price|
|Toyota Land Cruiser||Discontinued||$20,000+||Check Price|
|Toyota 4Runner||$40,155||~$30,000||Check Price|
|Mitsubishi Montero||Discontinued||$10,000||Check Price|
SUV Camper Dimensions
Dimensions: Jeep Gladiator vs Jeep Wrangler vs Toyota Land Cruiser vs Toyota 4Runner vs Mitsubishi Montero
|Model||Interior Height||Interior Length (cargo)||Interior Width||Ext Length|
|Jeep Gladiator Rubicon||42.8 inches||60 inches||44.8 inches||218 inches|
|Jeep Wrangler Rubicon||46 inches||32 inches||N/A||188-190 inches|
|Toyota Land Cruiser||38 inches||66 inches||61 inches||195 inches|
|Toyota 4Runner||39 inches||73 inches||58 inches||192 inches|
|Mitsubishi Montero||37 inches||48 inches||N/A||192 inches|
SUV Camper Fuel Economy
Fuel Economy: Jeep Gladiator vs Jeep Wrangler vs Toyota Land Cruiser vs Toyota 4Runner vs Mitsubishi Montero
|Jeep Gladiator Rubicon||14-18 MPG||18-23 MPG||16-20 MPG|
|Jeep Wrangler Rubicon||14-18 MPG||17-23 MPG||15-20 MPG|
|Toyota Land Cruiser||13-18 MPG||17-24 MPG||14-20 MPG|
|Toyota 4Runner||16-19 MPG||19-23 MPG||17-21 MPG|
|Mitsubishi Montero||13-17 MPG||17-21 MPG||15-18 MPG|
Conclusion: Is an SUV Camper Conversion Right for You?
There are a lot of reasons to like SUVs for vanlife and overlanding. They’re easy to drive, get decent gas mileage, & are simple to convert – but they may not be for you.
- Easy DIY Conversions
- Inexpensive to Purchase and Convert
- Small Interior Space
- Very Low Headroom
So should you get one?
Yes! SUV’s offer the reliability of a daily driver vehicle plus 4WD which makes them great for van life and overlanding.