Volkswagen makes the world's favorite camper van bigger and better
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 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.
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.
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.
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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Hah! And not a single one of those ever sold by VWoA in the US. The irony.
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.