I replaced my Generation II Prius with the latest Generation III Prius after my last Prius was totaled while I was parked at a traffic light. I used my last Prius on numerous photo trips with much success. Click here for a description of how the Prius was organized to convert it into a "mini-RV". My hope was that the new Generation III Prius would be similar to my last Prius in this regard.
During my most recent photo trip, the Desert Southwest Road Trip, I used the Prius as a camping vehicle for 19 of the trip's 23 nights. I learned that some adjustments were necessary to make the new Prius as comfortable as the previous Prius for camping.
When the front and rear seats are folded down, the previous Prius provided a flatter sleeping surface. With the new Prius, I wasn't able to get the sleeping surface flat enough. Although I am using some throw pillows and a 3" thick mattress, there was still a noticeable bump in the area below my back--and this made sleeping very uncomfortable. After a few days on the road, I finally came up with a good solution to this problem. I stopped by a Home Depot and had a piece of 3/4" thick plywood cut to fit the passenger side of the car. The plywood is just over 6 feet long and about 23" wide. It provides a solid base under the mattress. With the plywood in place, the sleeping surface was perfectly flat and very comfortable.
Knowing that the Desert Southwest would be very hot in the summer months, I brought my Prius tent along. Surprisingly, most nights were cool enough so that the tent wasn't necessary. But, it came in handy on four or five nights for allowing a nice summer breeze to blow through the cabin. The image below was captured at a campground in Topeka, Kansas:
If you look at the rear side windows of the car, you'll notice a new item that I introduced for this trip--screen windows! Basically, this is some mosquito netting that is stitched into the shape of a big sleeve. With the door open, the netting slides over the window. It's held in place by the closed door and the magnets on the outside of car door. The windows can roll up and down without disturbing the netting.
Unfortunately, the Heatshield window coverings from the my old Prius did not fit the new Prius. So, I ordered replacements. Here's a photo of the new Prius with everything in place--window coverings, screen windows and the tent!
A couple of nights were too hot even for the tent and screen windows to do any good, so I used the cabin temperature control feature available through the Prius--setting the cabin temperature for 77 degrees and letting the Prius maintain that temperature mostly by using the electric motor.
So, I'm happy to report that Prius camping lives on through Generation III.