As far as people movers go, the Volkswagen Caravelle is the Boeing A380 of passenger vans. There’s plenty of room, it carries loads of passengers and it is jam packed with features and nifty creature comforts.
Only available with one engine and gearbox combination, the Caravelle does a stellar job of using its drivetrain to its maximum potential. Under the bonnet you will find a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine that produces 103kW and 340Nm of torque.
The engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Fuel consumption on the combined cycle is an impressive 8.2L/100km.
Despite its van-like appearance from the outside, the Caravelle’s interior is well equipped and feels more rugged than industrious. Arm rests, tri-zone air conditioning, a great stereo and dual-sliding doors are all standard fitment. You can even option power sliding doors, when a push is deemed far too much effort.
The Caravelle takes up to nine passengers, with a bevy of seating configurations available depending on the people moving required. Seats can also be removed if required, which means the Caravelle can turn into a load hauling van at the drop of a hat.
Behind the wheel, the Caravelle is let down by entirely lifeless steering, but makes up for it by feeling surefooted and well planted on the road. The wide track and grippy tyres do a great job of keeping the Caravelle composed and at times give it a sporty feel.
Visibility out the front is good, but when loaded with passengers, rearward visibility is inhibitive. The large wing mirrors help with blind spots, but rear parking sensors are a must if you plan on parking in tight city parking spaces. Front and rear parking sensors can be coupled with a reversing camera for $1,890.
While the 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel won’t set the world on fire, it does a respectable job of moving the 2.1-tonne Caravelle. As passenger numbers increase, the Caravelle becomes slower – quite slower with nine passengers on board.
On the open road, the firm suspension can become uncomfortable if a B-grade road is on the cards. Switch to the highway and the Caravelle performs much better with far less fuss.
People movers have evolved immensely over recent years when it comes to safety features. Fitted with six-airbags, the Caravelle is also graced with life saving technology such as stability control and traction control. The Caravelle goes so far as to score four out of five stars in EuroNCAP crash tests.
The only other thing as long as the 5.29m Volkswagen Caravelle is its options list. Fitting cruise control, reversing camera, satellite navigation and alloy wheels instantly increases the Caravelle’s asking price by almost $5,000.
Starting at $49,990, the Caravelle ranks well amongst its peers, with the Mercedes-Benz Valente, Chrysler Grand Voyager and Toyota Tarago all more expensive.
Despite its shortcomings, the Volkswagen Caravelle represents great value for money when you take the passenger and load carrying capacity into account. If you are happy to sacrifice some of the pricey options, the Caravelle is a must have for those after a mega sized people mover.