If you’re thinking Fiat Doblo for camping, then think of the Maxi XL High Roof version. It is the tallest MPV out there – overtakes the leading VW Caddy by a whopping 25cm, giving you much more headroom or storage space (actually both!).
It’s about 8cm shorter than the Caddy, but still one of the longest cars out there with 217cm boot length. The rear seats can be folded (backrests) or lifted up & tilted forward, or easily removed – even more flexibility (see how in this video).
Combined with good consumption, the Fiat Doblo Maxi High Roof makes an amazing camping car.
The VW Caddy Maxi Life is the second biggest MPV out there (as of 2021) and probably the best small camper van option out there. If boot size is your primary criteria – you can’t go wrong with a Caddy. The car drives good too. Where it lacks a bit is comfort – it takes after its van origins and offers a more basic interior. But it makes up for it in storage – it really has a lot of compartments all over the place. It’s not the best car to take off the road completely – but you can take it down a good enough mud road without any big problems. A very good car camping / microcamping conversion candidate, unless you are planning to drive through forests and very much offroad – or you prefer a higher class interior comfort.
Hyundai Staria is the Multivan of MPVs – swivel seats with configurable position, it comes in either a 6 or 9 seat version. A big car for sure – the seats can be folded down giving you almost 2.5m legroom. The irony is though that you are paying a premium for those luxury seats, only to then hide them under a mattress. Albeit you could sleep on those reclining middle seats for a few nights too. Or go for the van (cargo) model – it’s a bit longer and taller + you can make it your own + it’s cheaper. It’s labelled as an MPV, but really, it’s just like a Multivan, not like a Caddy. We may see these categories blend somehow in the future…
The Peugeot Rifter, from the Berlingo family (and Opel Combo or Toyota ProAce City are basically the same cars), is longer, more comfortable and scores higher in safety tests than Berlingo – which just about makes it one of the top contenders for a great camper!
The VW Sharan strikes a good balance between size and comfort. Actually, it’s one of the biggest MPV’s out there. If boot size is your primary criteria – you can’t go wrong with a Sharan. The car drives nicely too and offers good comfort in the front for the driver and passenger. It’s not the best car to take off the road completely – but you can take it down a good enough mud road without any big problems. A very good car camping / microcamping conversion candidate, unless you are planning to drive through forests and very much offroad.
The Berlingo is one of the most often converted cars for camping. Despite not being the biggest – very likely because of its affordability and availability (and availability bias – when you Google small campers, you’ll see a lot of Berlingos, so people naturally assume those are the best, but they are not, read on…).
The Berlingo (and its similar cousins – Vauxhall Combo, Peugeot Partner) is a good car for car camping, but not as good for general driving & comfort during long journeys. It’s not the biggest MPV out there but offers very good mileage and low maintenance costs. It’s also very well priced – there are plenty of used van or MPV versions to be found. It’s best suited to fill the role of your second car that you can rebuild for camping. If you want it as your main car, it’s good if your budget is low, but otherwise, you’re better off with one of the more comfy and reliable or bigger MPV in our DB.
The Nissan NV200 is a very spacious car for its size. It is one of the tallest and offers a lot of headroom for a DIY camping conversion. Where it lacks behind is drive and interior comfort. It’s not a vehicle you would choose for long journeys – but of course, if you are not used to the comfort of higher class MPVs like a Sharan or your previous car, this won’t be a problem. It will get you there and you’ll be happily camping in its big boot, especially if you want to do your own DIY camper conversion or buy a camping box. For a simple conversion (not putting many storage options in) it doesn’t offer many built-in storage compartments in the back, you better come up with some good solutions yourself.
The king of camper vans is getting an electric upgrade. Actually, not just electric – the interior is looking very cosy and spacious too, as less room is needed for an engine + all its moving parts – which are now all underneath. The multifunctional rear seats + table and swivel front seats make it a very versatile car to live in. And we do like a lot of space in our campers, don’t we! The double floor + rear seats folding flat to create a surface for a mattress look very handy – compared to a Multivan, where you have to level the seats with something.
Although there are quite a few Skoda Roomster campers, it’s not the best car for the job – it’s too short (although you can push the front seats forward and put in a whole 180cm camping bed, you are sacrificing storage space + can’t drive with the bed set up). The only thing that saves the car is a slightly higher boot than a standard estate car. It’s not an expensive car, but that shows in the interior & drive quality. It’s a good choice compared to a VW Golf, but not compared to a Caddy, Peugeot Grand Kangoo (closest in the price range to a Roomster) or a Ford Galaxy.