Apparently continuing on a theme I would like to propose that although the first generation of RAV4 may have been ultimately more capable off-road, I think the Second Generation is a more visually pleasing vehicle while remaining suitably capable off-road so as to be an ideal camping vehicle for a party of 2.
With short overhangs (which I’ll agree is mostly irrelevant in the level of off-roading the average camper will attempt with the vehicle), a short wheelbase, available manual transmission, exterior loading of the spare wheel, and a capable roof rack; this is a good sized vehicle for the demands of a weekend warrior who would like to get a little further into the wilderness than an RV campground, but not quite as far as might “necessitate” the standard $70,000 modified Jeep Wrangler to access.
While it does seat 4 or 5 I propose removing the rear seats (they clip in and out with ease) and making it a couples expedition. That extra room in the rear isn’t enough to sleep in coming in at just over 5 feet and with an uneven floor. But it would make camping into a near-glamping experience with all the gear that could be easily hauled.
Fit an extra set of wheels with more aggressive mud/snow tires and you’ll be set for both your weekend expeditions and for some of the more severe winter weather Canada and the US have to offer. Keep the stock wheels with a set of well mannered highway tires and it remains a capable commuter car.
Jalopnik was kind enough to remind us about the First Generation RAV-4 in this recent article: