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Volkswagen Crafter 2024 review: Kampervan

Long before a hash-tag was anything more than a confusing symbol on a typewriter, vanlife was already a thing.

And you can largely thank Volkswagen for that because its Kombi models from the 1950s, '60s and '70s help cement the idea of roaming around the planet in a self-contained car-cum-house as a counter-culture favourite. More than that, the affordable, rugged Kombi made it actually possible.

Back then, there were a couple of paths to tread. You could take a second-hand butcher’s or florist’s Kombi van (windows optional) and trick it out with a bed, a table and whatever gear you needed to survive on the road.

Or, if the cash was around in sufficient quantities, you could buy a Kombi brand-new and have it converted to camper spec. And of all those brand-new conversion options, Volkswagen’s own, in-house conversion supplier, Westfalia was (and is) regarded as the pick of the crop.

So, when VW announces a 21st Century take on the concept of a factory campervan, those who like the idea of a lap of Australia but don’t like caravans or towing, are suddenly all ears.

Like most things, the latter-day VW camper has grown a size or two over the last six or seven decades. Which is why the factory Kampervan TD1410 4 Motion (to give it its full name) is based on the long-wheelbase, high-roof version of the Crafter van rather than the original Transporter layout. (There’s still the VW Multivan-based California if the Kampervan is too big.)

The Crafter Kampervan is an Australia-only deal. The Crafter Kampervan is an Australia-only deal.

But just as commercial vehicles have become bigger and more sophisticated, and glamping has grown out of actual camping, does the modern take on a hippy legend make the grade in 2024? And does the Volkswagen offering retain any of the charm of the original campervan?

Oh, and forget about Westfalia. This conversion is the work of none other than Aussie caravan specialist Jayco.

The deal between Jayco and VW locally, means this variant of the Crafter Kampervan is an Australia-only deal.

Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Based on the top-shelf Crafter van, the Kampervan then goes on a mission to be both a car and a holiday house.

So, pull up a comfy chair, because there’s a fair bit to discuss here. This isn’t just a tent on wheels, it’s a fully functional tiny home that just happens to be relocatable on a daily basis. As such, the vehicle needs to be able to manage energy, water, gas and waste.

VW’s aim was to elevate the quality standards of the caravan industry to that of the car-making world, as well as address its customers’ main agendas, including storage, the ability to go off-grid and the management of light and ventilation for sleeping.

The Style model starts at $157,990. The Style model starts at $157,990.

That utility starts with the walk-through layout where the front seats swivel to form the other half of the dining table seating. From there, the layout runs to a full bathroom, a kitchen and then back again to a fixed queen-size bed.

The bathroom combines a shower and a lavatory with a cassette system for black-water storage and disposal.

The kitchen features a 90-litre fridge with a freezer drawer that is accessible form both inside and outside the vehicle. There’s a dual gas-hob and a 9.0kg gas bottle stored in the rear compartment (under the bed, but accessed from outside) that also includes a huge slide-out drawer for an extra fridge or whatever else needs to be carted around.

The All-Terrain model starts at $165,490. The All-Terrain model starts at $165,490.

There’s also a sink with a mixer tap and the vehicle carries 120 litres of fresh water, not to mention gas-powered on-demand hot water.

A wind-out awning runs the full length of the van, extending the living space and forming a space for the VW-branded camping table and chairs.

The bedroom includes a pair of swivelling fans for cross-ventilation, USB and 240-volt ports, a swivelling TV and blinds and screens on all windows. The standard air-conditioning system will also run for about seven hours before the vehicle runs out of power.

  • The front seats pivot for dining table seating. The front seats pivot for dining table seating.
  • Dual gas-hob pictured. Dual gas-hob pictured.
  • 90-litre fridge with a freezer drawer pictured. 90-litre fridge with a freezer drawer pictured.
  • Microwave pictured. Microwave pictured.
  • Kitchen sink pictured. Kitchen sink pictured.
  • USB and 240-volt ports pictured. USB and 240-volt ports pictured.
  • The mattress is a split queen unit. The mattress is a split queen unit.
  • Swivelling fans for cross-ventilation featured. Swivelling fans for cross-ventilation featured.
  • The Kampervan features a full bathroom. The Kampervan features a full bathroom.
  • The Crafter features gas-powered on-demand hot water. The Crafter features gas-powered on-demand hot water.
  • 9.0kg gas bottle pictured. 9.0kg gas bottle pictured.

Speaking of power, the electrical system is a force of nature. Aside from the standard Crafter battery (which remains the start battery and can’t be depleted by the equipment on board) the standard smart-alternator function has been disabled so the engine can help charge the batteries whenever possible.

That power storage array incorporates a 400Ah lithium-ion battery with a 3000-watt inverter to run the 240-volt system even when off-grid. There’s a 60A DC-to-DC charging system and, all up, VW reckons the vehicle can stay off grid for about three days straight based on normal power consumption. A multi-screen control panel tracks power usage and issues alerts when required.

So, what’s missing from the Kampervan? Climate-control air-conditioning for the cabin, mainly (the Crafter starts life as a commercial van, after all). Oh, and beds for the third and fourth passenger. Cue hippy-free-love jokes.

  • The Crafter's electrical system is a force of nature. The Crafter's electrical system is a force of nature.
  • Power storage pictured. Power storage pictured.
  • Power storage pictured. Power storage pictured.
  • Power storage pictured. Power storage pictured.
  • A multi-screen control panel monitors power usage. A multi-screen control panel monitors power usage.

The Kampervan starts at $157,990 for the on-road biased Style model and $165,490 for the All-Terrain version.

As the more off-road capable variant, the All-Terrain gets 16-inch steel wheels with all-terrain tyres, bash plates, a higher ride height and a snorkel.

In either case, the accommodation fittings and fixtures are identical, that sounds pretty steep, but go out and price a full-sized four-wheel drive and a full-sized caravan with a bathroom and then see how it all stacks up.

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

Given that the design of the camper conversion was partly the work of Jayco, there’s every reason to suspect that the end result should work for recreational users. That is, of course, provided Jayco’s caravan-building experience translates to a campervan layout.

That’s because this is not as simple as plonking a wheel-less caravan onto a Crafter cab-chassis; integration in the key here.

The various zones – driving, entertaining, sleeping, bathroom and cooking – need to work with each other with as many components having more than one job.

A modern take on a hippy legend. A modern take on a hippy legend.

The off-grid capability is also a highlight and, in the case of the All-Terrain model with its off-road tyres, bash plates and 30mm higher ground clearance, makes getting farther off the beaten track more of a reality.

A lot of people will wonder why VW didn’t simply import a batch of the campervan conversions it already builds in Europe.

The fact is, however, that the left-hand drive layout means the sliding side door would be on the wrong side for Australia, and the integrated gas system would not have met ADR standards. So was born the idea of a local conversions which is where Jayco came in.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

The Crafter’s phone mirroring system seems to work pretty well, although it’s menu-driven layout can be a bit frustrating (it’s hardly alone there) and Android phones sometimes didn’t want to connect as simply as they should have (potential user-error here, folks).

But the rest of the interior is typically Crafter-smart including lots and lots of cupholders, USB ports and cubby-holes dotted around the front seat area.

Doubtless, a few months on the road will show up design issues according to the individual, but for now, our main comment would be the proximity of the bathroom to the food preparation area (although, to be fair, most owners will cook outside the vehicle).

  • Storage pictured. Storage pictured.
  • Storage pictured. Storage pictured.
  • Storage pictured. Storage pictured.
  • Storage pictured. Storage pictured.
  • Storage pictured. Storage pictured.

The mattress is a split queen unit (rather than a single mattress) and it occupies the full width of the rearmost part of the vehicle, so making the bed might be a bit more difficult.

The location and width of the bathroom (although it feels pretty tiny once you’re in there and operates as a wet-room) also means there’s just half the rear view that the vehicle might otherwise have.

The thick pillar between the two rear barn-doors also adds to that blind spot. At least the mirrors are good; nice and wide and very clear.

The mattress spans the rear vehicle width. The mattress spans the rear vehicle width.

It’s when the Kampervan is not being used to survey this wide, brown land that its practicality starts to come into question. Unlike a conventional four-wheel drive and caravan rig, the accommodation section of the Crafter can’t simply be unhooked and parked in the driveway.

Which means it’s not really suburb or city-friendly. Underground car-parks will soon detach the air-conditioning unit in a pretty violent way, and the almost-seven-metre length will have you looking for adjacent empty parking spaces (or the car-and-trailer section at Bunnings).

Put simply, this is the touring solution for those who want to tackle the Big Trip in one go, staying on the road for weeks or perhaps even months. Obviously, that’s an observation rather than a criticism, but it remains something to think about.

The roll-out awning is a nice touch. The roll-out awning is a nice touch.

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

The Crafter is powered by VW’s now-familiar 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine which produces 130kW of power and 410Nm of torque thanks to a pair of turbochargers.

Driving through an eight-speed automatic transmission, the torque is then sent to all four wheels via VW’s '4Motion' permanent all-wheel-drive system.

It’s worth mentioning the automatic transmission is a conventional torque-converter unit, rather that the dual-clutch layout VW has championed for years now.

Under the bonnet of the Kampervan. Under the bonnet of the Kampervan.

The Crafter also uses ventilated disc brakes front and rear and the however you look at it, the modern driveline of the Kampervan makes an old air-cooled Kombi look even more antiquated (which is saying something).

And while the Crafter in commercial-vehicle trim has the option of an electronic locking rear differential, the Kampervan adds this as standard.

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

Although the Crafter’s driveline boasts energy recuperation, it’s not a hybrid system. Instead, the vehicle’s alternator is able to generate electricity during braking and store that in the vehicle’s batteries for later use, rather than storing that power in a dedicated hybrid battery.

This also helps ensure the main battery is always fully charged to power the stop-start system that is also standard on the Crafter.

Because it’s a commercial vehicle, there’s no compulsion to offer an official fuel consumption figure and, indeed, Volkswagen doesn’t.

The 75 litre fuel tank should provide 700km of range. The 75 litre fuel tank should provide 700km of range.

But our real world drive including some winding roads and a bit of freeway thrown in, gave us an average figure of between nine and 10 litres per 100km. This is likely to be a bit lower on a purely highway run, but is a good indicator of general use consumption.

The 75 litre fuel tank should, then, give an easy 700km of range, but don’t forget the Crafter’s engine uses AdBlue, so that extra cost needs to be factored into running costs.

Driving – What's it like to drive?

You can see the appeal of a high driving position the moment you step into (or climb into, really) the Kampervan. The view out is fabulous and even though the vehicle is just shy of seven metres long, you soon develop a bit of a sixth sense for where the back wheels are, based on what the front wheels have just done.

The glass area is huge with the exception of the view to the rear thanks to that bathroom placement.

The front seats are big and comfy, although the two rear seats are pretty flat and place the occupants quite close together. There’s enough adjustability in the seat and steering column to make anybody feel at home and the exterior mirrors are big and clear.

There’s enough performance, to be sure, but the sheer mass of the Kampervan and the fact that it’s moving a lot of air means you’ll be giving the rather long-travel accelerator a decent workout.

Ride quality is very good. Ride quality is very good.

Taking off into traffic is the only time the VW will feel a bit sluggish, but once the engine has a few revs on board it all gets going fairly smartly.

Unlike a lot of modern cars that can feel as though they're travelling a lot slower than they really are, the Kampervan is the opposite. Not that it’s spooky to drive, but there will be times you’ll be in a 100km/h zone, look down and discover you’re doing 90.

In the context of a leisure vehicle, this shouldn’t bother anybody apart from a highway patrol officer down on his or her monthly quota.

The engine is smooth and the transmission is refined and possesses enough smarts to make a better job of shifting itself than the driver ever will.

The Kampervan is very composed for such a big unit. The Kampervan is very composed for such a big unit.

It’s not exactly silent inside, though, with a smattering of clicks and clatters from some of the less-automotive furniture, but it’s a fair bet even a brand-new house would likewise rattle a bit if you hurled it down a bumpy road at 100km/h.

The biggest source of noise pollution, though, is in the All-Terrain model and consists of a chorus of sucking, sobbing, choking and burping noises from the snorkel which is placed right near the driver’s right ear. Obviously, it’s worse with the window open.

Ride quality is very good. Clearly, having a bit of weight on board doesn’t hurt, but even so, the Kampervan refuses to pitch or wallow despite that ride compliance. In fact, it’s very composed for such a big unit that was originally designed to carry parcels and pallets.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

The Crafter, on which the Kampervan is based, is typical of the emerging breed of commercial vehicles that try not to give anything away to passenger cars in safety terms.

Well, in the front seats anyway, because the two seats in the rear are formed by a bench seat that doubles as a kitchen-table seat, so lacks the contouring of most car seats.

More importantly, the rear seats miss out on side-curtain airbags. This is understandable given the vehicle’s origins. Both rear seats do, however, feature top-tethers for child restraints.

Up front, meantime, the two front passengers get both front and side-curtain airbags with a full array of driver aids to help with safety.

The Kampervan has not been ANCAP tested. The Kampervan has not been ANCAP tested.

They start with stability control, anti-lock brakes, brake-assist, traction-control, multi-collision braking and hill-holding function.

There’s also autonomous emergency braking that works at speeds up to 60km/h, driver-fatigue detection, a rear view camera, adaptive cruise-control, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance.

What’s missing? Apart from the side airbags for all passengers, we’d like to see tyre-pressure monitoring on such a large, heavy vehicle and AEB that works beyond 60km/h.

The Kampervan has not been ANCAP tested.

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

The Kampervan carries Volkswagen Australia’s full five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. That extends to not just the base vehicle, but the whole conversion including all of Jayco’s additions and other aftermarket fittings.

VW offers a version of capped price servicing called its 'Service Care Plan' that covers scheduled maintenance for the first five years and can be purchased at the time the vehicle is ordered.

No price for this was available as we went to press, but for reference, the same five-year service plan for the Amarok dual-cab ute costs $1900.

Standard service intervals are every 12 months or 20,000km, whichever comes first.

The Kampervan has a five-year/unlimited-km warranty. The Kampervan has a five-year/unlimited-km warranty.

This is not the vehicle for somebody looking for the odd weekend away. That’s mainly because it will take up a lot of real estate when you’re not using it (it may not even fit in a lot of car-ports or garages) and it’s far from a daily driver for the school run or shopping trips.

If you’re looking for a getaway machine that will also work at home for the other 48 weeks of the year, a conventional caravan and four-wheel-drive is likely to be a better bet, purely because the tow-vehicle can be your day-to-day transport

But if your plans include longer getaways and you have the storage space to keep the Kampervan stashed away safely, it starts to emerge as a functional alternative.

Talk to long-term travellers, and even the best camper trailer needs to be set up each night and folded away next morning, and as for tents, don’t even start us…

But like a full-sized caravan, the VW simply pulls up to where ever it is you want to stay for the night and is ready to feed, entertain and rest its occupants within seconds of stopping.

But unlike a big, heavy caravan, the Volkswagen imposes far fewer driving caveats (including fuel consumption) and is a vastly more enjoyable and simple thing to drive in pretty much any circumstance.

It's not for everybody, but for those whose lifestyle it matches, the VW Kampervan is an alternative to a caravan that deserves short-listing. Let’s face it, 50 million hippies can’t be wrong.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with accommodation and meals provided.


Based on new car retail price


Daily driver score


Adventure score


adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide


Based on new car retail price

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