Automotive

IH Motorhomes gives the VW Crafter camper van a different look

IH Motorhomes gives the VW Cra...
IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van
IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van
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One disadvantage of the rear lounge layout is that it eliminates the possibility of a moving bed/extended rear load area
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One disadvantage of the rear lounge layout is that it eliminates the possibility of a moving bed/extended rear load area
IH Motorhomes shows the 680CRD camper van
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IH Motorhomes shows the 680CRD camper van
The IH 680CRD has a well-equipped kitchen block, complete with countertop extension and outdoor tabletop
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The IH 680CRD has a well-equipped kitchen block, complete with countertop extension and outdoor tabletop
With its blinds and vibrantly upholstered rear lounge, the IH 680CRD looks less like a camper van than other VW Crafter campers we've seen
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With its blinds and vibrantly upholstered rear lounge, the IH 680CRD looks less like a camper van than other VW Crafter campers we've seen
A look at the 680CRD interior
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A look at the 680CRD interior
IH shows the 680CRD
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IH shows the 680CRD
Inside the 680CRD bathroom
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Inside the 680CRD bathroom
Inside the IH Motorhomes 680CRD
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Inside the IH Motorhomes 680CRD
The kitchen includes an oven and three burner gas/electric stove
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The kitchen includes an oven and three burner gas/electric stove
The bathroom includes a dual-door design
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The bathroom includes a dual-door design
The 680CRD becomes the largest camper van in IH's lineup
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The 680CRD becomes the largest camper van in IH's lineup
The kitchen offers plenty of worktop space
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The kitchen offers plenty of worktop space
TV and digital controls just fore of the rear lounge
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TV and digital controls just fore of the rear lounge
Instead of adding extra sleeping berths or equipment, IH used the greater length to create spacious kitchen and bathroom areas
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Instead of adding extra sleeping berths or equipment, IH used the greater length to create spacious kitchen and bathroom areas
The bathroom is a little more spacious than the average wet cell
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The bathroom is a little more spacious than the average wet cell
Inside the 680CRD bathroom
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Inside the 680CRD bathroom
The main dining table may not be up front, but the 680CRD still has swivel cab seats
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The main dining table may not be up front, but the 680CRD still has swivel cab seats
IH offers a roomy rear lounge on the 680CRD camper van
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IH offers a roomy rear lounge on the 680CRD camper van
Other Crafter motorhomes use flip-away sinks to save space, but the 680CRD has a fixed sink with counter
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Other Crafter motorhomes use flip-away sinks to save space, but the 680CRD has a fixed sink with counter
IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van
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IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van
IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van
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IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van
IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van
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IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van
IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van
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IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van
IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van floor plan
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IH Motorhomes 680CRD camper van floor plan
The shorter 600CRD makes its show debut at the recent Motorhome & Caravan Show in Birmingham, UK
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The shorter 600CRD makes its show debut at the recent Motorhome & Caravan Show in Birmingham, UK
IH Motorhomes 600CRD camper van
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IH Motorhomes 600CRD camper van
The 600CRD shares the same general layout as the 680 but has more compact dimensions 
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The 600CRD shares the same general layout as the 680 but has more compact dimensions 

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.

The 680CRD becomes the largest camper van in IH's lineup
The 680CRD becomes the largest camper van in IH's lineup

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.

IH offers a roomy rear lounge on the 680CRD camper van
IH offers a roomy rear lounge on the 680CRD camper van

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.

The kitchen offers plenty of worktop space
The kitchen offers plenty of worktop space

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.

Source: IH Motorhomes via A Bus and Beyond (YouTube)

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