Purchasing a car with sleeping requirements

I am looking to replace my 1999 Ford Taurus Station Wagon. I teach and do research at a University. As part of my research I go out and collect rocks in rural areas of the United States (few hotels). The best time to collect rocks is over spring break in March. If it is snowing/raining it is no fun setting up a tent or if I am only going to be in a place for only one night it is not worth to set up camp. In this case I sleep in my car. One advantage of the Taurus Station Wagon is that I can fold down the second row seat and there is plenty of room for someone who is 5 foot 4 inches to lie down flat. With a thermorest and a sleeping bag one can sleep comfortably. If I am going to spend <$40,000, what new cars allow for this comfortable sleeping arrangement?


Take a look at the highly-rated Ford Flex. With the second and third seats lowered, it has an incredible amount of room in the cargo area.

I would suggest a compact crew or extended cab PU with a cap for sleeping in the back. Ground clearance and 4wd option are great. I camped out in mine and it had much more potential with OH reading lamp set up, screened windows, any roll up mattress you want, gas heat etc. Do not get an aluminum cap ! The rain will keep you awake. The head room potential and optional camping attachment are much more than any car can offer…plus in 2wd they are cheaper and easier to maintain. Put a rack around/on it and throw a boat/canoe on top as well…the 2’ hitch set up on back gives you additional loading platform capacity. I had a front 2" receiver hitch and mounted my bikes on front. It was a rolling motel room on the cheap with full seating capacity of any car.

Gear/clothes get wet ? Open the cap windows, string a line under the cap and everything drys while you drive w/o the smell up front. The advantages are too numerous…In 4 cyl and 2wd with LSD on Tacoma/Frontier, it’s an easy 25+ mpg. Fully equipped, you can still save $10K plus. Set it up as your physical (5’4") limitations will allow.


With stow and go seats!

While on the hunt I once looked at a used Grand Caravan where the owner had built a custom platform for the rear of the van. The top was the bed, the underside for storage. It sounds like a rock collector set up to me.

There are several new “crossover” cars that are pretty much today’s version of a station wagon. 2nd row of seats fold flat and should be a good as your Taurus. Honda has a CrossTour which is based on the Accord, and Toyota has a Venza based on the Camry. Nice driving and riding cars. They are available in “base” model trim without all the bells and whistles with 4 cylinder motors for decent mpg.

You have lots of options, so do some shopping and narrow down your choices.

Look at a Honda Element, too. They’re set up great for camping in the back, and you can get the optional 4WD for bad weather expeditions.

Instead of test-driving you should do a sleep test. bring your gear to dealerships and find the most comfortable vehicle in your price range.