4 out of 5 4.0
Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Loads of space, surprising grace and now even more tech

Volkswagen Caravelle (15 on) - rated 4 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £51,639 - £63,957
Lease from new From £744 p/m View lease deals
Used price £20,730 - £58,080
Fuel Economy 29.4 - 36.2 mpg
Road tax cost £155 - £490
Insurance group 24 - 36 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Blends spaciousness, practicality and versatility
  • Surprisingly refined and comfy to drive
  • Van-based underpinnings should last well

CONS

  • Expensive, but feels very plush
  • Its height can limit where you can park
  • No disguising the van-like styling

Volkswagen Caravelle rivals

Written by CJ Hubbard on

People carriers don't come much larger - or better appointed - than the Volkswagen Caravelle. As you will no doubt have guessed from its tall, upright lines, the Caravelle is based on the Volkswagen Transporter van – meaning that in MPV terms it not only has enough room for up to seven adults inside, it also has space for plenty of luggage.

This version, known as the T6 generation, was launched in 2015, with the first versions of the substantially updated Caravelle 6.1 arriving in the UK in early 2020. Those revisions included a facelifted exterior design, completely updated dashboard and enhanced technology and safety.

Despite these recent changes, in June 2021 VW announced that the Caravelle is to be replaced by an all new model called the Multivan. You can find out more about this in our Volkswagen Multivan news story.

Lots of space and clever design

With such vast space inside, these kinds of vehicles are often popular with taxi firms and hotels - though with a substantial options list and such a cleverly thought-out interior, the Caravelle also makes for a very practical family car, while the quality of finish inside is ideal for executive transport where space is of paramount concern.

You can even arrange the middle row seats in a face-to-face, lounge-style configuration and hold a meeting on the move. The degree of thought and level of quality make the Caravelle the car to beat in this class, ahead of more workaday rivals such as the Ford Tourneo Custom and Vauxhall Vivaro Life, and we’d pick one over the posher Mercedes-Benz V-Class as well.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise once you learn that the underlying Transporter van is now in its sixth generation – VW has been building these things for a long time and it shows in the attention to detail throughout. It’s no wonder you see so many customised versions on the UK’s roads, obviously the pride and joy of their owners.

Caravelle engine and gearbox choices

All versions of this-generation Caravelle are powered by 2.0-litre engines. Initial choice was limited to 150hp and 204hp TDI turbocharged diesels, though in July 2017 a pair of TSI turbo petrol engines with identical power outputs also joined the range, before being discontinued again in September 2018.

In summer 2018, the 204hp TDI engine was replaced by a 199hp version, in order to meet the latest emissions regulations. Amusingly, while the 6.1 facelift models initially launched with the 150hp and 199hp diesels, the latter was upgraded to 204hp again before the end of 2020 to meet another set of emissions requirements.

At launch there Volkswagen offered a choice of manual or automatic DSG gearboxes, but the former was dropped with the introduction of the Caravelle 6.1. Front-wheel drive (FWD) and 4Motion four-wheel drive (4WD) is available, depending on engine and specification level.

Trim levels and wheelbases

Two standard trim levels are offered on the Caravelle 6.1: SE and Executive.

A very fancy special edition called the Generation Six was also offered for a short while prior to the Caravelle's facelift. These were aimed at enthusiasts and came with a high price tag to match their glitzy appearance. Not that any version of the Caravelle is particularly cheap, of course, and that's before you begin perusing the optional extras. VW does sell a people-carrying version called the Transporter Shuttle if you’re looking for a more budget-oriented choice.

The Caravelle SE is available in short-wheelbase (SWB) and long-wheelbase (LWB) variants - both seat seven as standard, but the LWB has more room for luggage behind the third row of seats.

Executive specification models only come with the SWB body, much to the chargrin of some UK customers. Volkswagen stubbornly refuses to build this range-topping trim with the larger body for UK customers, even though rivals offer comparably-specced alternatives.

Surprisingly good to drive, wide range of options

Given those van underpinnings, buyers are best not to expect this Volkswagen to be quite as nice to drive as a car-based seven-seater MPV – such as the Ford Galaxy or even Volkswagen's own Sharan. These types of cars are a dying breed, though.

However, with that proviso, you may be pleasantly surprised at just how easy these big vehicles are to handle, especially after the 6.1 upgrade, which now features a more modern electrocmechanical power steering in place of the older hydraulic system of the earlier T6 models.

The high driving position delivers great visibility, the engines are powerful, and VW has even offered adaptive suspension as an option - it's expensive, but worth it in our experience.

As you’d expect, all the usual VW infotainment systems are available in the Caravelle, with the 6.1 version upgraded to the latest operating software and fitted with touchscreens that are better integrated into its more stylish dashboard.

Other interesting options include a Good Night Package (comprising of window blinds, bed covering, shelves, mini torch and waste bin), a 32-litre cooling/warming box, auxiliary heating systems and two-tone paint. It is an exceptionally versatile and desirable machine.

Read on to find out in the full Parkers Volkwagen Caravelle MPV review, or click here to jump straight to our thoughts on its practicalityinteriorrunning costsdriving dynamics and how we rate it overall.

Volkswagen Caravelle rivals