Roomy pop-top camper van sleeps the active, nomadic family of 5
You may not be able to catch the camper van Vlow in North America, but that doesn't mean you can't find a camper van roomy enough to sleep a family of five. Another recent Erwin Hymer Group release, the Hymer Aktiv 2.0 Loft Edition sleeps four to five people in a very different configuration from the Carado Vlow. Unlike the Vlow, it can also seat five during the drive. This van treats the whole family right with amenities like dual lounges, a full bathroom, a power sofa and an entertainment system.
We've been spending a lot of time looking at Erwin Hymer Group products of late, and that's because the German camper giant has spent the past year+ hitting both sides of the Atlantic with impressive new camper van launches. The Aktiv 2.0 Loft joins the Carado Axion as one of the European-inspired camper vans storming the American market as part of Hymer's overseas expansion. Owing to its pop-up roof, the commonality of the Fiat Ducato and Ram Promaster base vans, and Hymer's signature styling cues, on the outside the model looks a little like the Euro-market Hymercar Free. However, it's a very different van inside.
Hymer starts with a 249-in (632-cm) extended-wheelbase Ram Promaster 3500. That van is powered by a 280-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic and comes packaged with standard features like a rear-view backup camera, cruise control, stability program, 220-A alternator, and Bluetooth infotainment/navigation system with satellite radio.
Hymer uses the size of the extended-wheelbase van to create an extra-roomy interior for families. The fold-out rear bed measures a very roomy 70 x 71 in (178 x 180 cm). At home, that would be a reconfigured, slightly upsized queen bed (usually 60 x 80 in), but out on the open road, where beds tend to be more compact, Hymer fancies it a king.
However you want to classify it, the Aktiv 2.0 Loft rear bed amounts to a lot of sleeping area – more than the 77 x 60-in (196 x 152-cm) bed in the Hymercar Free or the 77 x 53-in (195 x 135-cm) in the Hymercar Grand Canyon S. But with only up to 5.9 ft (1.8 m) of length, the Aktiv bed will leave taller folks scrunched. We guess if you're over 5'10" (178 cm) or so, you'll have to bend your joints a little at night. Either that, or maybe the kids can sleep downstairs and the adults can sleep in the more traditionally sized pop-up roof bed that's much narrower but also longer at 78 x 51 in (198 x 128 cm). We guess each family can figure out does and doesn't work for them.
The rear bed and pop-up roof bed combine for four sleeping berths, and a fifth berth can be added optionally between the dinette set and swivel cab seats. From there, the Aktiv 2.0 Loft becomes a fully functional five-person camper van with the addition of the optional transverse power rear sofa. The sofa seats three, bringing total riding capacity to seven people when combined with the two cab seats up front and the two dining bench seats. So, unlike the Carado Vlow that's advertised only as a four-seater, the Aktiv can carry the whole family of five during the day and sleep them at night.
During the day, the rear sofa combines with two side seats and a table into a rear lounge. At night, it drops down at the push of a button to the bed.
Families that need only four seats can opt for the standard configuration, which includes the type of foldaway rear bed that's very popular on European camper vans. During the drive, the bed flips away to clear out the middle aisle, allowing drivers to haul oversized cargo like bicycles, surfboards, etc.
Up ahead of the rear bed, the Aktiv 2.0 Loft borrows heavily from Hymer's European-market van layouts. The driver side is filled out by a central wet bath and front dining area with two-seat bench, table and swivel cab seats. Across the way on the passenger side, the kitchen area just inside the sliding door houses a dual-burner stove and sink with flush tops, an 88-L fridge, a 700-watt microwave and plenty of storage.
The Aktiv 2.0 Loft also includes a standard 24-in HD TV mounted on a swiveling bracket, a DVD player, an under-mounted 22,000-BTU air conditioner, a 14,000-BTU Truma Combi furnace/hot water heater, and a 12-ft (3.7-m) power awning. The van packs dual 6V AGM batteries, and Hymer offers lithium batteries optionally. Water is carried in 114-L fresh and 87-L gray tanks.
The Aktiv 2.0 Loft starts at US$114,127, a very far cry from the €36,999 (US$42,120) price of the four-berth Carado Vlow V 601 or the €41,490 (US$47,000) price of the Hymercar Free. American camper vans tend to have a much higher standard specifications than their European counterparts, starting with the vans they're based on (larger engines, more standard equipment), but we'd still love to see Hymer complement its American lineup of Euro-inspired camper vans with more Euro-inspired pricing.