Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Miles per pound (mpp) Miles per pound (mpp)

Diesel engines 5.9 - 7.1 mpp
Low figures relate to the least economical version; high to the most economical. Based on WLTP combined fuel economy for versions of this car made since September 2017 only, and typical current fuel or electricity costs.

Fuel economy

Diesel engines 29.4 - 35.3 mpg
  • Diesels will be cheapest to run
  • Automatics have coasting function
  • Strong resale values

This is a big, heavy, boxy vehicle – meaning that you can expect it to drink plenty of fuel and be hard on other consumable items such as tyres and brakes.

Official fuel consumption for the post-facelift 6.1 models range from a claimed best of 30.7-36.2mpg for the 150hp short-wheelbase SE to 29.7-31.7mpg for the 199hp Executive with 4Motion four-wheel drive, according to the latest WLTP testing procedures. Figures for the reintroduced 204hp diesels are yet to be published.

Pleasingly, in our experience of the newer 6.1 Caravelles, these figures don't feel like a work of fiction, with examples we have tested regularly returning 31-32mpg - more when driven more sympathetically. However, these are still low numbers compared with more conventional car, hence the disappointing miles per pound figures of 5.9 - 7.1 mpp.

In an effort to improve efficiency, VW fits a stop-start system as standard - it works effectively, with the engine cranking back into life very quickly.

High CO2, high tax costs

By its very nature the Caravelle is not the most aerodynamically efficient design of vehicle. Shaped like a giant house brick, it places practicality and comfort as its priorities ahead of light weight and how easily it cleaves the air.

This means relatively high CO2 emissions. According to the latest WLTP testing procedure, this ranges from 204g/km at best from the short-wheelbase 150hp SE model with DSG transmission right up to 233g/km at worst from the 199hp Executive with 4Motion four-wheel drive and DSG.

The upshot of this is that you’re staring at a hefty VED car tax bill…

Coasting function

Further fuel economy wrangling comes on Caravelles with the DSG automatic transmission, which adds a 'coasting' function. This disengages the engine from the drivetrain to save fuel whenever you release the accelerator, allowing the vehicle to sail onwards using its momentum – and when the Caravelle weighs 2,299kg minimum, there is certainly plenty of that.

The downside to this is that in removing the mechanical engine braking in this way, you will have to use the brake pedal a lot more. Evidence of this can be seen by how swiftly Caravelles' turn their front wheels black with brake dust. You are likely to get through front brake pads at quite a rate as a result.

Fortunately, you can turn the coasting function off if you prefer; we strongly suspect the minimal fuel savings aren’t worth it.

Not all the running cost news is bad news

VW sells the Caravelle through its commercial vehicle network (van dealers, in other words), which means you can buy it with the same, attractively-priced servicing packages that are available for its other vans.

And while these are expensive vehicles to buy, they also tend to hold their value well. There are always eager buyers for well-specified Caravelles.

How reliable is the Caravelle?

  • Van-based, so robust
  • Excellent ratings so far
  • No official recalls either

These are also traditionally hard-wearing vehicles, thanks in part to their van-based origins – to van drivers time is money, and they don’t like it if their vehicle is always breaking down. As such, commercial vehicles tend to place an even higher emphasis on reliability than purpose-designed passenger cars.

The Transporter van that the Caravelle is based on consistently ranks in the top three in the FN50 van reliability survey (in 2018 and 2019 it was second overall).

According to the official UK goverment's DVSA vehicle recall website, there have been no safety recalls at all for this generation of Caravelle; the equivalent Transporter van has been subject to only one.

While this doesn't guarantee totally fault-free running, it does suggest build quality control is right up there with the best. It's very impressive.

Ongoing running costs

Road tax (12 months) £150 - £475
See tax rates for all versions
Insurance group 24 - 36
How much is it to insure?