2016 Volkswagen Transporter Gets the California Treatment
Camp Equipment Sest the People Carrier Formerly Known as EuroVan Apart From Lesser T6s
Here in the U.S., Volkswagen is almost synonymous with camping. Thanks to the cult popularity of the Microbus and Vanagon Westfalia campers (to say nothing of the EuroVan Weekender and Winnebago Rialta RV), for many, Volkswagen’s heritage is rooted in the great outdoors.
That’s why it’s such a tragedy that Americans are being denied the latest Volkswagen/nature mashup, the California. Essentially a specially equipped version of the newest Transporter (codenamed T6), the Volkswagen California gets a lineup of gas and diesel engines, a standard rooftop tent, and a variety of available features to turn the van into the most maneuverable RV on the market. Available to our European neighbors in three model lines, the California has us salivating with envy.
The base California Beach comes standard with seven seats, but an optional interior configuration substitutes a narrower rear bench and storage compartment in place of the three-across rear seating. Standard roller blinds provide privacy and shade when parked, and rotating front seats let everyone hang out together. The sliding door conceals a camp table, while the liftgate holds folding chairs, so outdoor living is easy as well.
A midlevel California Coast adds standard storage units, five-seater passenger accommodations, and a galley featuring a stainless-steel sink, two-burner gas cooker, and coolbox. The top-spec California Ocean brings electrohydraulic operation to the pop-top tent, with auxiliary heating, dimmable LED interior lighting, and double-glazed windows providing even more comfort.
The folding rear bench gives two campers room to stretch out, while the rooftop tent has space for another lucky couple. An available camp awning increases fair-weather living space as well.
Volkswagen's ubiquitous 2.0L turbodiesel TDI I-4 (with three power outputs) or a 2.0L TSI turbocharged gas engine power the California. The most efficient van is equipped with an 83hp TDI engine, while a 201hp TSI I-4 will likely provide the best performance (at the expense of fuel efficiency). The TDI is also available in 100hp, 145hp, and 200hp power levels. Five- and six-speed manuals and a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic transmission are also on offer, with 4MOTION all-wheel drive optional.
Volkswagen says this T6 will be bestselling California yet, but regardless of how well it sells overseas, don’t count on purchasing one in North America anytime soon. That’s a real pity, as the old EuroVan Weekender enjoyed a loyal (if small) following. Even a decade after its withdrawal from the American market, well-preserved Weekenders can command nearly double their original sale price. Even bottom-dollar Eurovans with a pop-top roof sell for more than $15,000, proving they’re desirable and valuable.
If Volkswagen offered a new camper to American customers, even in limited numbers, we have no doubt people would scoop them up like crazy. Some of us on the Truck Trend staff (your author included) can think of no better way to travel the world than in a self-contained, city-friendly RV, and there’s nothing much better suited to that than a Volkswagen. Start petitioning if you agree.