VW California

VW California information: everything you need to know if you own it, are thinking of buying one or just want to find out more about Volkswagen’s modern-day camper van. Click on the links below for all of CAR magazine’s news, reviews, videos, scoops and spy photos of the California range.


The Volkswagen Califonia is based on VW's mid-sized van, the Transporter. Now into its sixth generation (sometimes called T6), it spawns all sorts of roadgoing passenger versions including the Caravelle people carrier and this mobile home camper version. 

60sec road test

We're big fans of the VW California. It'll suit young families, those who love the outdoor life or motorsport fans who spend weekends at remote circuits and want to camp in some comfort. It's so versatile, we even sent CAR contributor Ben Barry off to the birth of his daughter in a VW T5 California! This is not a daunting car to drive (its dimensions of 4904mm long and 1990mm wide mean it's smaller than many limousines) and its upright sides make it a cinch to park and manoeuvre. Being based on a van, it's not exactly going to corner like a VW Golf, but it's really quite fun to drive. Only diesel engines were available in the T5 and early T6 models, but Volkswagen is releasing TSI petrols into the Transporter and Calis in the second half of 2017 for lower purchase prices. Pull up, pull out the (optional c£400) awning and press a button to raise the roof electrically. This converts the California into a four-berth camper van - the best bed is up top, with a flat roof and well sprung mattress, while the back seats fold flat to make another double bed. Electric hook-up is available, so you can power the fridge in Ocean models, and you can also add a third row of seats to convert the Cali into a people carrier for weekdays on the school run. This is one hyper-versatile vehicle. Click here for our full VW California review.

The one we’d buy

Main choice is between a California Beach and an Ocean. Beach offers a more stripped-out interior/wider bed/lower price; Ocean packs in cupboards, twin-hob cooker and a kitchen sink. Yes, really...

The one we’d avoid like the plague

There are no duffers here. Just watch out for spiralling prices on top-end Calis - adding 4Motion all-wheel drive and seven-speed DSG twin-clutch transmissions can really send on-the-road prices soaring

Rivals to consider

Caravans, Mercedes-Benz V-class Marco Polo... no other manufacturers do OEM inhouse camper conversions


Sense of freedom, a home on wheels, quality of construction, great to drive, unintimidating too


Pricey to buy (though residual values hold strong), not quite as classy as a Marco Polo

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Volkswagen California reviews

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