What are the Best Cars to Sleep In?

I’ve road tripped from the East coast to the West coast of the United States a couple of times in my life and it is an amazing experience. I will admit this was in my mid to late 30s so it never even crossed my mind to save money by sleeping in my car.

Hotels after all are not cheap and when you're younger your back doesn’t hurt as much so sleeping in your car might not be a huge deal. In this post we will take a look at some of the best cars that are good to sleep in should the need arise.

What Makes a Car Good to Sleep In?

Size is all important when it comes to a car you can sleep in should the need arise. You need a car that is large such as an SUV or station wagon type vehicle. This means you will have more room and ideally you need a vehicle that allows full reclining of seats or a wide back seat.

You might want to consider a car that has tinted windows or that you can have tinted as this will give you some privacy from prying outside eyes. You can of course jerry rig some kind of window coverings as well.

The Honda Element

This model is a big favorite of campers who wittily refer to it as the Hotelement. Admittedly this is a model that Honda discontinued in 2011 so you will be buying used but frankly if money is important then used cars shouldn’t really be a deal breaker.

The Element is known for having more than enough room for the average person to stretch out in. There is usually a moonroof for ventilation at night if needed. A 12V power outlet in the back is good for powering small devices if needed.

In terms of storage space most models have plenty without compromising the sleeping space you have. Dog owners might be interested in tracking down a 2007 Element as in that year the model won Dog Car of the Year from Dogcars.com.

This compact crossover SUV is certainly worth looking into for those who may spend some time sleeping in the car for whatever reasons.

Volvo XC90

Introduced in 2002 and still going strong the Volvo XC90 is a midsize luxury SUV with tons of room thanks to its long design. With ample storage space and cabin room you can easily get a good night's sleep.

Motor journalist Jeremy Clarkson who stands 6ft 5 has actually owned 3 XC90s over the years and describes them as extremely practical. At almost 16 feet nose to tail this is a long vehicle which depending on trim has 5 or 7 seats. These seats of course can be pushed down to create an ample sleeping surface.

Subaru Outback

Introduced in 1994 and still in production today you have a decent chance of finding one for sale somewhere that may be in your price range. This is an SUV that has enough space for the average person to lie down in.

Rear seats fold down allowing you to set up a sleeping surface although some people may favor a vehicle in which the rear seats can be removed which would not be the Outback.

This is a car with good fuel economy which of course can add to your overall road trip savings. It was designed based on the Subaru Legacy which was a wagon type car so it is generally longer than the average station wagon.

Ford Escape

Those who may be going a little further off the beaten track for their camping might find the Ford Escape a better option. This is a large car which frequently comes with tinted windows and of course it’s four-wheel drive.

In production since 1990 the Explorer is an SUV that is currently in its sixth generation. Spacious and rugged it’s a great camping car but it does suffer from poor gas mileage. There is enough room to lie down and still ample storage space for your belongings so it still may be worth a look.

Nissan Pathfinder

The Pathfinder is a three row seven person SUV which has a completely removable back row. This allows you to modify the vehicle for extra potential sleeping and storage space should it be required.

It is an excellent everyday vehicle in general but can really be turned to a sleeping situation if needed with ease. There are really no bad model years for this car and when it comes to features you might find some real bargains on a tricked out used Pathfinder.

Built to accommodate a sizable family for every day trips it’s ideal for one or two people who need to use it as a place to sleep on occasion. It was introduced in 1985 so there are a lot of Pathfinders out there and they are still being built.

Chevrolet Equinox

This is likely the best SUV for sleeping thanks to copious amounts of space and smaller windows. These compact windows are great for extra privacy and with decent gas mileage it’s certainly a money saver. A used Equinox might cost less than $4,000 but that of course depends on model and trim.

Introduced in 2004 and still rolling off the production lines it is a long vehicle which has high ground clearance and impressive head room. A good night's sleep will not elude you in an equinox.


There are a lot of cars out there that could potentially offer a comfortable night's sleep so shopping around a little might be wise. In general a longer car that allows you to either remove a row of seats or completely lay them down should be a priority.

You also want to make sure that you can maintain storage space as well without compromising sleeping space. Small and or tinted windows can be helpful because you don’t need to wake up to some nosy individual watching you sleep.

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