Can You Sleep in a Prius? (With How To Video!)

I love camping in a tent, but sometimes that’s not possible. If you’re like me, you travel a lot and might need to use your car to catch some Zs. If you have a Prius or are thinking about getting one, it’s important to know if it’s big enough to sleep in. 

Can You Sleep in a Prius Can You Sleep in a Prius? (With How To Video!)

Can you sleep in a Prius?

The Prius comes with an extremely spacious interior. The front seats slide forward while the rear seats fold forward. Once you’ve made these adjustments, you will have plenty of space where you can place a mattress. Therefore, the Prius makes a comfortable place where you can spend several nights.

Most everyone can intuit that SUVs have enough space for sleeping, but many probably assume a Prius is too small. You can comfortably fit in two people sleeping horizontally in the back of your Prius.

But wait, there’s more! While you can sleep in your Prius, we haven’t addressed the hows and the wheres. Read on for a complete guide to sleeping in your Prius in safety and comfort.

Sleeping in a Prius: Rough and Ready Guide

Now that you’re getting ready to get snoozing in your Prius, I’ll give you some secrets to maximize your space in the Prius. I’ll also let you in on what kind of materials will keep you the most comfortable. 

First Things First: Preparing the Sleeping Space

To sleep in your Prius, you’ll need to make the most room possible in the back of the car. The first thing we need to do is put down the back seats.

In this short guide, we’re going to assume that you’re parking your car for the night and won’t be driving anymore. That being said, to begin, you should move all of your extra items (suitcases, etc., into the front two seats).

Once the back seats are cleared, scoot the front seats up towards the dash as much as possible. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to adjust the seats, check out this video.

Next, put down the back seats. To do so, press down the small levers on the top of either side of the seatbacks. When you press these levers, your seats should fall forward to a horizontal position. If they don’t, you haven’t moved your front seats forward enough. 

Pro tip: If you don’t want to move your front seats forward, you can also take the headrests off the back seats. This will allow you to make the seats flat. 

With the seatbacks flat, you should have enough room to lay down for the night.

The Gear

Now that the seatbacks are flat, it’s time to break out your gear. I recommend sleeping pads, sleeping bags, and comfortable pillows. 

The seatbacks on the Prius are pretty hard, so I’d recommend getting a good sleeping pad. I’ve reviewed car camping sleeping pads extensively, but I’ll just say here that my personal favorite is the Sleepingo pad

The Sleepingo is a great pad that I use for car camping. It’s firm enough to provide support while still putting a buffer between you and your rock-hard seatbacks. But I digress.

Whatever sleeping pad you use, put it down in your Prius, pop your pillow and sleeping bag on top, and get ready for a super comfy sleep!

What Are the Advantages of Sleeping in a Prius?

The writer doth protest too much, you may be thinking. Why not just sleep in a regular camping spot with a tent?

That’s a great point, dear reader. I typically sleep in a camping site if I can. Sometimes when you’re on the road, however, it’s just not possible. Furthermore, sleeping in your car is an excellent cost saver. 


Sleeping in your car has the advantage of giving you virtually unlimited freedom about where to spend the night. Rather than looking for hotels and campsites on the road, almost any exit on the highway has places where you can stay.

Car sleeping opens up maximum freedom, but it’s also great for the wallet.

Cost Saving

Many people consider camping the apex in economical travel. While campsites are often (though not always) cheaper than hotels, staying in nice campsites can rack up the Benjamins.

If you’re staying in national parks, for example, the cost of renting a campsite for the night can be as high as $60. 

Alternatively, sleeping in your Prius is often free. Read on to see what to look for when parking overnight.

Keep the Elements Away

Depending on where you’re traveling, it may simply be infeasible to camp outside. I would be rather unhappy if I had to break out the tent in the middle of a Minnesota winter.

Sleeping in a car is an excellent alternative: the car’s hard and sturdy frame keeps the elements away while you can warm up in your sleeping bag. 

The Prius, as a hybrid vehicle, offers another benefit to car camping. Because the Prius can stay on with electric power, you can have the heat blasting while you sleep. 

No need to worry about battery power either; when the battery gets low, the Prius will kick on the gas to charge the battery. 

Of course, sleeping in the Prius with the engine on has its downsides, not least of which is the fact that you’ll need to plan and have a full tank of gas. 

Sleeping in a Prius: Where to Park for Free

Those new to sleeping in a car often find it uncomfortable cruising around looking for a spot to sleep. Here are a few of my go-to free parking spots.

Highway Rest Areas

Rest areas are my favorite spots to park when sleeping in my car. Rest areas are often quite secluded, but they’re also usually very safe because they’re on the highway.

Another benefit of rest areas is that they’re government-owned, so no one will bat an eye if you decide to sleep there for the night. As 24-hour operations, facilities are always available when nature calls.

The final thing I love about highway rest areas is that I’ve often been able to find a parking spot outside of the lamplights. As a light sleeper, having as much darkness as possible is key.

Huge Parking Lots

The well-trodden cliché of sleeping in one’s car has its driver sleeping in a Wal-Mart parking lot. While Wal-Mart isn’t my favorite place to park, Wal-Marts are essentially ubiquitous and always up for consideration.

Wal-Mart, Cracker Barrel, and other establishments with huge parking lots are great places to park. Depending on where you park, though, you may not have access to facilities. 

Park Camping

Local, state and national parks have campgrounds, where you can park your car and spend the night. Unfortunately, the campgrounds fill up with motorhomes quite fast, especially during the peak seasons. However, their parking lots are usually available and spacious. Some even have restrooms. Therefore, they provide yet another option where you can park and sleep.

How To Shower Living In A Prius

Is a Prius Good for Camping?

A Prius is suitable for camping for many reasons. It’s very spacious, it saves you gas in the long run, and if you’re sleeping in your Prius, it can provide climate control.

How Long Can You Leave a Prius Running?

You can leave your Prius running all night, so long as you have enough gas to recharge the battery if it needs it. If a 12V Prius battery runs out of juice, it can take as long as eight hours to fully recharge the battery using gas power.

Can a Full-Size Mattress Fit in a Prius?

Short answer: yes. However, I don’t see very much usefulness in having a full-size mattress in your Prius. You can’t drive with the mattress out, so would you be just sleeping in your car and never driving it?

Maybe you have an air mattress, but at that point, I would recommend just using a sleeping pad. If you want some more tips to make car camping comfy, you can check out my other recent article.

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