Blue Subaru Forester car camper with roof top tent parked in woods

10 Amazing Car Camper Conversions

Key takeaways

Considering converting your car into a camper?

Because it’s cost-effective, versatile, and non-permanent, converting your car to a camper is a great option for van life.

But what about the space inside? And what kind of conversion can you build with your daily driver?

In this post, we’ll find out.

10 Amazing Car to Camper Conversions

Here are 10 of the coolest car camper builds ever:

#10: Overland-Ready Toyota Prius Car Camper Conversion

  • Highlights: This incredible hybrid Toyota Prius is fully kitted out for overland trips. It has all-terrain tires and a spare mounted on the roof rack, lots of heavy-duty storage, an antenna for Wi-Fi, and even a winch hidden in the front bumper. The interior has a mattress laid over the rear of the car and a fridge.
  • Van: 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid
  • Owner: @black.jmyntrn

 

#9: Lifted Subaru Crosstrek Car Camper With Roof Rack & Awning

  • Highlights: This lifted Subaru Crosstrek features larger tires to fit the lift, as well as a roof rack and awning. The owner tent camps but the Crosstrek has plenty of space inside to fit a mattress.
  • Van: 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek
  • Owner: @konyudouxvgp7

 

#8: Overland Volkswagen Touareg Build With Roof Top Tent

  • Highlights: This unique overland style VW Touareg features a lift, larger tires, and custom graphics. Up top, the owner mounted a roof rack, lights, and a roof top tent from the German brand Arcta.
  • Van: Volkswagen Touareg
  • Owner: @jack_.herer_.fpv

 

#7: Subaru Outback Conversion with Platform Bed and Slide-Outs

  • Highlights: This Outback conversion kit from Compass camper comes with everything you need to turn your Outback into a camper. It includes a platform bed and two slide-out drawers. The slide-outs can be accessed from the trunk and contain storage and countertop space for outdoor cooking.
  • Van: 2003-2025 Subaru Outback
  • Owner: @compasscamper

 

#6: Subaru Crosstrek Hatchback With Car Camping Kit

  • Highlights: This versatile conversion kit works with tons of different hatchback cars including the Crosstrek. It comes with a bed platform sized at either a twin or double mattress, and a rear slide-out kitchen with a sink and room for a stove.
  • Van: Subaru Crosstrek
  • Owner: @vanpackersconversion

 

#5: Subaru Outback With Roof Rack and No-build Camper Interior

  • Highlights: This impressive rally inspired Subaru Outback features a no-build campervan interior setup complete with a slide-out kitchen and inflatable mattress.
  • Van: 2016 Subaru Outback
  • Owner: @wildernessoffroad

 

#4: Custom Car Mattress Kit to Turn Your Crosstrek Into a Camper

  • Highlights: If you want to easily convert your commuter to a camper, a heavy duty mattress like this one from Luno is a great way to do so. These mattresses can be inflated on both sides, or just one if you need extra room. This mattress fits in most cars–not just the Crosstrek.
  • Van: Subaru Crosstrek
  • Owner: @luno.life

 

#3: VW Touareg Overlander Conversion With Lift, Larger Tires, & Awning

  • Highlights: This modified VW Touareg is ready for tent camping thanks to a roof-top awning, lift, larger tires, and extra storage. The owner is not-at-all afraid to take this thing off-road.
  • Van: 2010 VW Touareg 3.6
  • Owner: @jbo237

 

#2: All-Wheel-Drive Audi A4 With Roof Rack & Dual-Battery Setup

  • Highlights: This beautiful Audi A4 is almost too nice to take off-road… but thanks to it’s aftermarket all-terrain tires and all-wheel-drive, it’s surprisingly capable. Up top, the owner has fitted a low-profile roof-rack, large awning, and lighting.
  • Van: Audi A4 Allroad
  • Owner: @pascua_photography

 

#1: Converted Subaru Forester Car Camper With Roof-Top Tent and 2″ Lift

  • Highlights: This S-Edition Subaru Forester is lifted 2 inches on BFG KM3 (235/75r15) tires. Thanks to the roof top tent by BNL Outdoors, the owner has a convenient place to camp. As you can see from the photos, the owner has taken it through it’s paces.
  • Van: Subaru Forester S-Edition
  • Owner: Subiex4

 

10 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like Converted Car Campers

Car campers are super convenient – but are they best option for van life?

Here are 10 reasons why vanlifers like car camping:

  1. Convenient: One of the best things about converting your car into a camper is that you already own the car! All you have to do is convert it.
  2. Works with Almost Any Car: If your car has long enough cargo space, then it can be converted into a camper.
  3. Cost-Effective: Traditional van campers can cost upwards of $100,000 or more once converted. Car conversions are much cheaper–especially when you don’t have to buy a brand new van.
  4. Non-Permanent: If you don’t want to totally gut your car, you don’t have to. Plenty of car camper owners install temporary builds for short trips.
  5. Simple Builds: Converting your car to a camper is a much easier DIY project compared to converting a van. It can be relatively easy if you have the right tools even if you aren’t the handiest person.
  6. Good Fuel Efficiency: Cars get better gas mileage compared to large cargo vans. You’ll be saving a lot of money on gas.
  7. Versatile: There are tons of different builds you can do in a car. You can alter the bed size, add rooftop and bumper storage, awnings, have a fully outdoor portable kitchen set up, and more.
  8. Stealthy: No one will suspect your daily driver car is actually a camper, which makes it easier to park places overnight to sleep.
  9. Good for Weekend Trips: Because a lot of these builds are non-permanent, they’re great for a weekend camper that can be turned back to a commuter car that can transport passengers during the weekdays.
  10. Lots of Conversion Kits Available: There are a good amount of companies out there that make conversion kits for almost any vehicle. They’ll ship the kit right to your door and they’re pretty easy to install.

6 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike Car Camping

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to converting a car to a camper.

Here are 6 reasons why vanlifers dislike car camping conversions:

  1. Not Great for Full-Time Van Life: Because of the limited room inside, full-time van life in your car can be a bit more difficult compared to a large van.
  2. Less Room for Amenities: Overall, you’ll have less room inside for amenities that might be essential to you, like a shower, or indoor kitchen.
  3. Poor Insulation: You’ll probably have to live with the insulation that’s in it already rather than installing insulation like you would in a gutted cargo van.
  4. Not as Stylish: Working with less interior space means you probably won’t have an Instagram-worthy camper like those fancy Sprinters you see online.
  5. Lack of Ventilation: Installing a vent fan into the ceiling of your car isn’t really an option, so you’ll have to rely on cracking the windows for ventilation.
  6. Feels Cramped Inside: An indoor hangout space isn’t really an option when converting your car. Most likely you’ll have very little headroom, which can make car campers feel cramped inside.

 

Car to Camper Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more about car campers, let’s see how popular models stack up.

Car Camper Cost

Cost: Subaru Crosstrek vs Subaru Outback vs Toyota Prius V vs Volkswagen Touareg

Model New Used Price
Subaru Crosstrek $24,995 $22,400 Check Price
Subaru Outback $28,395 $18,990 Check Price
Toyota Prius V N/A $14,340 Check Price
Volkswagen Touareg $49,495 $15,780 Check Price

 

Car Camper Dimensions

Dimensions: Subaru Crosstrek vs Subaru Outback vs Toyota Prius V vs Volkswagen Touareg

Model Interior Height Interior Length (cargo) Interior Width Ext Length
Subaru Crosstrek 39 inches 61 inches 37 inches 177 inches
Subaru Outback 40 inches 76 inches 44 inches 191 inches
Toyota Prius V 39 inches 70 inches 44 inches 182 inches
Volkswagen Touareg 39 inches 72 inches 59 inches 189 inches

 

Car Camper Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: Subaru Crosstrek vs Subaru Outback vs Toyota Prius V vs Volkswagen Touareg

Model City Highway Combined
Subaru Crosstrek 33 MPG 28 MPG 31 MPG
Subaru Outback 33 MPG 26 MPG 28 MPG
Toyota Prius V 43 MPG 39 MPG 41 MPG
Volkswagen Touareg 17 MPG 23 MPG 19 MPG

 

Conclusion: Is a Car Camper Conversion Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to consider converting your car to a camper. It’s cost effective, versatile, and perfect for weekend trips– but they may not be for you.

Biggest factors:

  • Convenient
  • Cost-Effective
  • Small Interior
  • Poor Insulation & Ventilation

So should you build one?

Yes! There is very little downside to building out a car camper especially if you go the no-build route. Plus, if you’re considering a car camper conversion over a traditional van life or overlanding build, experimenting with a simple car camper build-out will help you decide if you won’t to invest more in a big build later on.

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