Enthusiasts of the old Westfalia pop-up camper rejoice – the van lives on, but you can’t buy one.
If we were to stage a debate right now, we’d probably come up with a few dozen answers as to what makes the ultimate road trip car. Some might argue today’s big SUVs are pretty sweet affairs. Space enough for five to eight passengers and all the gear you could ever think of carting across the country. Maybe a big station wagon evokes fond memories of childhood trips with the folks as you fought with your siblings in the back seat. Although, some would argue a Volkswagen camper van would make the ultimate roadtrip vehicle. From the original Type 2 Microbus to the Transporter/Vanagon and the “Eurovan” of the 1990s, Volkswagen offered not just a car, but a lifestyle.
Happily, in the spirit of the Westfalia-modified Transporter vans live on today in the form of the modern T6 Volkswagen California. With a pop-up roof, seats that swivel about and fold to make beds, and even a useful awning, you’d be forgiven for wishing VW actually sold this van here. After all, it is named the California. Even the trim levels bespeak a cool, easy-going lifestyle: Beach, Coast, and Ocean. Unfortunately, with prices starting at over $50,000 (converted from Euros), the California isn’t exactly cheap.
Space for everything, a bit of power, and all-wheel drive? Sign us up!
Despite that, the Volkswagen California does have plenty of features that make it a great camping vehicle. Apart from the roof and seats, it also has a foldable table stored in the rear door, chairs stored in a zipper compartment on the tailgate, an actual range for cooking, a sink, and much more. It also has a 201 horsepower, 258 lb-ft torque 2.0-liter engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. When things get tough, there’s the brand’s ubiquitous 4MOTION all-wheel drive system to get you out.
Volkswagen doesn’t currently plan to import the California to the United States. However, we had the chance to actually head to California and test it out. In doing so, perhaps the company is gauging public reaction. We are supposed to get the all-electric I.D. Buzz in the next few years. Living the camping dream in a VW van may not be as far away as it seems. What do you think? Let us know in the comments? Check out the video below for our first experience with the Volkswagen California: