Automotive

Volkswagen makes the world's favorite camper van bigger and better

Volkswagen makes the world's f...
Volkswagen will hold the Grand California's world debut at the upcoming Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
Volkswagen will hold the Grand California's world debut at the upcoming Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
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Volkswagen chopped the extended bodywork of last year's XXL concept camper off the production Grand California but did develop an aerodynamic high roof good for housing an optional kids' bed
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Volkswagen chopped the extended bodywork of last year's XXL concept camper off the production Grand California but did develop an aerodynamic high roof good for housing an optional kids' bed
The rear sleeping compartment is smaller than on the concept but still offers room for two adults
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The rear sleeping compartment is smaller than on the concept but still offers room for two adults
VW keeps things bright on the Grand California with light, natural color selections and plenty of windows
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VW keeps things bright on the Grand California with light, natural color selections and plenty of windows
The optional kids' bunk bed includes a skylight overhead
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The optional kids' bunk bed includes a skylight overhead
The Grand California's kitchen area is much more traditional than the XXL concept's, featuring the usual dual-burner/sink unit 
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The Grand California's kitchen area is much more traditional than the XXL concept's, featuring the usual dual-burner/sink unit 
One handy feature borrowed from the concept: the indoor/outdoor fridge/freezer in the entryway
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One handy feature borrowed from the concept: the indoor/outdoor fridge/freezer in the entryway
The Grand California loses the XXL concept's signature slide-out bathroom, but still manages to offer a sink, toilet and shower
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The Grand California loses the XXL concept's signature slide-out bathroom, but still manages to offer a sink, toilet and shower
Overhead storage on the VW Grand California
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Overhead storage on the VW Grand California
Volkswagen will hold the Grand California's world debut at the upcoming Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
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Volkswagen will hold the Grand California's world debut at the upcoming Düsseldorf Caravan Salon
The new VW Grand California poses with its older, smaller brother, the Transporter-based California Ocean
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The new VW Grand California poses with its older, smaller brother, the Transporter-based California Ocean
With its rear bed and optional bunk bed, the Grand California can support both couple and family vacations and adventures. VW will offer an optional outdoor table and chairs that store away neatly in the doors 
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With its rear bed and optional bunk bed, the Grand California can support both couple and family vacations and adventures. VW will offer an optional outdoor table and chairs that store away neatly in the doors 
The VW Grand California will offer a suite of driver-assistance and infotainment technologies courtesy of the new Crafter van that serves as its base
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The VW Grand California will offer a suite of driver-assistance and infotainment technologies courtesy of the new Crafter van that serves as its base
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A year after getting van lifers' minds tingling with the California XXL concept camper, Volkswagen has revealed the production version, the Grand California. Based on the Crafter van, the Grand California adds some extra space and amenities to the world-renowned California camper van lineup. If you love the idea of an all-new Volkswagen bus camper and need a little extra room to stretch out, the Grand California might just be your van of choice.

The Volkswagen California is one of the most well-known camper vans the world over, and according to VW, it's also the most successful. The German automaker has sold more than 160,000 Transporter-based Californias since first showing the model back in 1988. It's spent this year celebrating the camping icon's 30th anniversary, and the introduction of the Grand California serves as a major highlight of that ongoing celebration.

The new VW Grand California poses with its older, smaller brother, the Transporter-based California Ocean
The new VW Grand California poses with its older, smaller brother, the Transporter-based California Ocean

The Grand brings some extra size and space to the California camper van lineup. It's based on the Crafter, VW's largest van and a step up from the Transporter that underpins the regular California. Volkswagen has relied on its decades of experience evolving the smaller California to create a large van that's suitable for all types of road-tripping adventure.

Set to launch in early 2019, the Grand California follows the style and feel of the XXL concept camper van, keeping things light and bright with white furniture, light gray upholstery and boat deck-style flooring. The full-length glass roof of the concept has been stripped away, but Volkswagen still lets plenty of natural light in with skylights over the rear bed and dinette and opening camper windows on the sides and back.

VW keeps things bright on the Grand California with light, natural color selections and plenty of windows
VW keeps things bright on the Grand California with light, natural color selections and plenty of windows

As expected, the concept camper van's more creative features – the expanding slide-out bathroom compartment, projector screen bedroom wall, retractable stove burners, built-in coffeemaker, etc. – are nowhere to be found in the Grand California announcement, left behind in favor of a simpler, more classic interior.

The Grand California does maintain a central bathroom area, however, a feature not available on the smaller California. Simpler than the bathroom on the XXL concept or Crafter-based Knaus Boxdrive, the Grand California's bathroom features a wet bath layout with shower, toilet and fold-out sink. There are also towel holders, storage for toiletries, a cabinet with integrated toilet paper holder, and a ventilated skylight. Bathroom lights are controlled by motion detectors, shutting on and off as occupants enter and leave.

The kitchen, too, is more traditional than the forward-thinking XXL concept's galley but does maintain an indoor/outdoor-access pull-out fridge built into the front end of the block. That 70-L fridge/freezer is joined by a classic dual-burner stove and sink combo and a variety of drawers, shelves and pull-out storage compartments. Dinner is served just across the aisle, the swivel front seats joining the dual-seat rear bench in accommodating four people around the dining table.

The Grand California's kitchen area is much more traditional than the XXL concept's, featuring the usual dual-burner/sink unit 
The Grand California's kitchen area is much more traditional than the XXL concept's, featuring the usual dual-burner/sink unit 

One interesting cabin feature derived directly from the XXL concept is the audio system. The Grand California lacks the full, smart home-style tablet control system the XXL had, but the living area speakers can be controlled independently of the infotainment system via Bluetooth-connected smartphone or tablet, providing a more seamless sound system experience at camp.

The Grand California has a newly developed camper van high roof but lacks the extended bodywork of the XXL concept, so it has a more compact rear sleeping area with a transverse double bed. That'll sleep the adventurous couple, and for families VW will offer an optional alcove kids' bed.

The optional kids' bunk bed includes a skylight overhead
The optional kids' bunk bed includes a skylight overhead

Other standard and available features detailed in VW's announcement include a 110-L fresh water tank, interior heating, roof-mounted solar, satellite TV, LTE/Wi-Fi connectivity and air conditioning. The Grand California exterior is outfitted with a rear outdoor shower, awning, electric entry step and lighting above the sliding door entry.

The Grand California will be available with 4Motion all-wheel drive, along with driver-assistance technologies like adaptive cruise control, front monitoring with city emergency braking, lane assist and blind spot monitor. VW will offer both single- and dual-color exterior paint options.

Volkswagen will premiere the Grand California at the 2018 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon later this month, where it will reveal pricing and other details. New Atlas will be attending the show and will bring you all the latest about this highly anticipated camper van.

Source: VW Commercial Vehicles

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4 comments
Morgan
Is this camper van going to be available in US?
BlueOak
"The German automaker has sold more than 160,000 Transporter-based Californias since first showing the model back in 1988"
Hah! And not a single one of those ever sold by VWoA in the US. The irony.
Longtermthinker
I would like to amplify the previous comment. Why does New Atlas and Volkswagen tantalize us with these vehicles and then not provide information on their availability? I am interested in VW's van design evolution but viewing a steady stream of dead ended concepts is frustrating.
C.C. Weiss
@Longtermthinker - this van is not a concept, but the production version of last year's concept. It will be available by early next year and VW plans to announce more details on pricing/availability in Dusseldorf this month.
VW doesn't sell any of its vans or camper vans in the US, so unless that changes, don't expect this one in the States.