IH Motorhomes gives the VW Crafter camper van a different look
Not long after the debut of the all-new second-generation Volkswagen Crafter, converters around Germany started creating distinctive camper vans based on VW's latest. British converters got in on the action soon after, and one of the first British gen-2 Crafter campers comes from IH Motorhomes. The 680CRD has a homey layout with a wraparound rear lounge, well-equipped kitchen and expanded wet bath. This one feels a little more like a rolling condo, less like a camper van.
Originally launched in 2006, the Crafter will probably never become the world-over #vanlife icon that the decades-older VW Transporter is, but Volkswagen has done a very nice job generating interest in its larger van. VW followed up the initial 2016 debut of the gen-2 Crafter with the forward-thinking California XXL concept camper van a year later. Then, as part of the California's 30th anniversary celebration, it turned that concept into the production Grand California this past August. Suddenly, just as camper vans are riding a big wave of popularity and publicity, the Crafter is a growing camper van legend all its own.
As the Volkswagen PR machine has drummed up global interest in Crafter camper vans, we've found it quite interesting to look at what third-party conversion shops are doing with the latest Crafter. From the expanding foot box of the Westfalia Sven Hedin, to the growing bathroom compartment of the Knaus Boxdrive, to the diesel-electric design of the NordVan, German converters large and small have unique ideas on how to best transform the Crafter into a functional camper van complete with bathroom, kitchen, dining area and sleeping quarters.
With the IH 680CRD, we see a totally different Crafter camper van layout. IH Motorhomes chose to work with the 6.8-meter-long-wheelbase (22.3-ft) model for its initial Crafter conversion, creating the largest model in its lineup, which is focused mainly on Fiat Ducato camper vans.
Instead of the compact front dining area included on all the aforementioned German Crafter camper vans, the IH 680CRD has a larger dining lounge at the rear, complete with wraparound sofa. Rear lounges are a foundation of several of IH's camper vans, and the 680CRD has the most spacious version thanks to the size of the base Crafter. This rear lounge has the effect of separating the camper cabin from the rear load doors, and, when coupled with the drawn blinds on the windows, it makes you almost forget you're inside a camper van at all – assuming you're facing rearward and not looking forward at the driver cab.
On the downside, the rear lounge eliminates the possibility of the expanding load area trickery that Volkswagen, Knaus and Westfalia include on their Crafter campers, either with lifting or foldaway rear beds. So if you have bikes or other large cargo, you'll have to figure out a different way of carrying it.
Farther forward, IH uses the size of the 6.8-m Crafter to create larger bathroom and kitchen areas. The kitchen is particularly well-equipped, featuring a combination gas/induction cooktop, oven, glass-top sink, and plenty of countertop complete with an extension. The bathroom is accessed through a set of double doors and includes a sink with small countertop, toilet and central shower area.
It may have the added size of a long-wheelbase VW, but the 680CRD is still but a two-sleeper. The convertible rear dinette lounge can create either a 188 x 173-cm (74 x 68-in) double bed or two 188 x 69-cm (74 x 27-in) singles.
IH launched the 680CRD earlier this year and lists a base price of £65,995 (approx. US$84,550). It also showed the shorter 6-m (19.7-ft) Crafter 600CRD camper van at this month's Motorhome & Caravan Show, and we've included a few photos of that model in the gallery.