For those avid voyagers who think that the regular Volkswagen California camper van isn’t enough for their needs, there’s a new, even bigger VW pop-top called the Grand California. Based on the larger Crafter commercial van rather than the smaller Transporter, this bigger van is for those who want to live a larger van life.
Bigger inside in nearly every dimension, the Grand California is wide and tall enough to accommodate a kitchen, a bathroom, and multiple sleeping perches—including an optional bunk bed for kids. Nearly everything from the concept version of this van, the California XXL that was shown last fall, carries over to production, including the rad two-tone color scheme, the optional skylight in the raised roof, and the swiveling rear seats.
The windows at the side and rear all pop out. They’re also fitted with screens to keep insects and other creatures from sneaking in while they’re open. Likewise, there’s a mosquito net in the door. The roof features a large skylight to help provide natural light to the interior. There’s also a blackout screen for the front cab. The exterior is fitted with lights above the sliding door so you can have powered light at your campsite. Out back, there are hookups for an external shower with adjustable water temperature.
The speakers in the living area can be controlled via Bluetooth, even when the rest of the car is powered down. That means you don’t have to run the accessories to listen to music. The front seats swivel backward while rear occupants can use a bench seat. In the middle, there’s a dining table large enough for four people. The kitchen area features two gas burners, a sink, a fridge with a freezer and a number of drawers and cabinets for storage. All in, the Grand Californian can hold about 29 gallons of water.
That said, the regular California camper has a number of those features already. The thing that makes the new model so grand is the built-in bathroom. No one enjoys using the damp and musty public restrooms at campsites. The Grand California has a toilet, a shower, a fold-out sink, shelves for toiletries, towel holders, a pop-up skylight for ventilation and — get this — an integrated cupboard that protects your toilet paper from getting damp. There are no light switches in the bathroom. Instead, the lighting is activated by motion detectors.
In addition to the bunk bed, there’s a roof-mounted air-conditioning unit, bike racks, an awning and a folding table and camp chairs (that can be stored in the door). The standard gas heating can be expanded using a gasoline or diesel generator. Finally, there’s an optional solar panel for the roof, a satellite for TV reception and an LTE/Wi-Fi hotspot.
VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive will be offered, and the van even accommodates an 18-gallon fridge and can hold up to 29 gallons of water for the bathroom and kitchen. Unfortunately, this van, like the California, won’t be offered in the United States, despite its America-centric name. So aspiring vagabonds in the States can only dream from afar or figure out a way to import one from abroad.
Other options include driver assist features and an updated infotainment system. The former includes surround monitoring, city brake assist, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, park assist and adaptive cruise control.
VW is set to launch a new camper van in 2019, so this will probably be the last new version of the California they make for now.