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
  • Coasting function not that clever?
  • Strong residual 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 pre-facelift T6 models (T6.1 figures aren't available at the time of writing) ranges from a claimed 28.5mpg for the 199hp 4Motion DSG Executive to 35.9mpg for the 150hp manual gearbox SE, according to the latest WLTP testing procedures.

(Under the previous NEDC regime, claimed fuel economy ranged from 30.7mpg for the 150hp petrol manual to 47.1mpg for the 150hp diesel automatic.)

In reality you're unlikely to get very close to any of these figures, especially if the available performance is used to the fullest extent.

In an effort to improve efficiency, VW fits a stop-start system as standard.

Coasting function

Further fuel economy wrangling comes on T6 Caravelles with the optional 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 could be seen on our test car, which swiftly turned its 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 as a commercial vehicle (a van, 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.

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 regular vehicles.

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

At the time of writing (August 2019), according to the official UK goverment 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.

High CO2, high tax costs

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

This means relatively high CO2 emissions. According to the latest WLTP testing procedure, this ranges from 175g/km at best from the short-wheelbase 150hp SE model with DSG transmission right up to 225g/km at worst from the 199hp Executive with 4Motion four-wheel drive and DSG.

For comparison purposes, the NEDC emissions figures quoted by VW before the WLTP tests came into force saw diesels at 155-176g/km, with the petrol engines both emitting over 200g/km.

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

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?