caddy vs multivan nimblecamper - Caddy vs Multivan - which one is better for camping?

Caddy vs Multivan – which one is better for camping?

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This post will help you determine which car is better for camping – the Multivan or the Caddy Maxi Life. We are going to focus on their pros and cons related to camping (i.e. size, storage, and convertibility into a bed), and will therefore pay less attention to their engine, speed or driving experience comparisons. Aren’t they a different class of cars? You can certainly say that. But when it comes to camping, both are often considered potential candidates – and this post will give you enough information to decide which one will work better for you.

Read, if you want to find out:

  • which one is better for car camping and sleeping in? Caddy Maxi Life or Multivan?
  • which one has more room at the back? Which is longer / taller?
  • which one has more storage space?
  • which one is cheaper to drive (better consumption)?
  • which one is better for driving?

Specifically, we are comparing Caddy Maxi Life (the passenger version with seats at the back, not the cargo version) with the standard Multivan L1 (not the long wheelbase version).

You might find our Multivan vs Sharan comparison interesting too.

Caddy Maxi vs Multivan comparison table

This table gives you a quick overview of both cars and their key camping criteria and measurements and how do they compare. Keep reading further to see visual comparisons and galleries.

VW Caddy Maxi Life
VW Multivan
Body type
MPV / Minivan
People carrier
Boot height (cm)
Multivan +6cm taller
Boot length (cm)
Boot width (cm) [wheel arches]
Multivan +33cm wider
Comfort rating
Multivan more comfortable
Consumption l/100km
Caddy 30% lower
Consumption MPG (UK)
Caddy 30% lower
NimbleCamper rating (out of max 5)
Caddy 13% better
Average used price, GBP (2015)
Caddy 65% cheaper
Boot door type
Safety rating
EURO NCAP safety rating (2015) 4/5
ADAC Rating (lower = better) 2.3/5
EURO NCAP safety rating (2022) – 5/5
ADAC rating (lower = better) – 2.6/5
NCAP – Multivan better
ADAC – Caddy better
12V outlets
Multivan has one 12V outlet more in the back

Caddy Maxi Life vs Multivan L1 size comparison – exterior

volkswagen caddy maxi 2015 dimensions - Caddy vs Multivan - which one is better for camping?
VW Caddy Maxi
volkswagen t61 multivan 2020 - Caddy vs Multivan - which one is better for camping?
Multivan exterior dimensions

Comparison image source:

caddy vs multivan - Caddy vs Multivan - which one is better for camping?
Multivan (L1) in the back (red), Caddy Maxi in the front (blue)

As you can see, they are almost identical in length – the Caddy is only 12cm (4.7 inches) shorter. The Multivan has one more trick up its sleeve – the front seats and the engine are aligned closer together (you sit diagonally above the engine), creating more room in the boot. It isn’t too different in terms of their absolute height – the Multivan is only 7cm (about 2.8 inches) taller. The critical question is how well can you use the interior for camping. We’ll get to that later. The Caddy is 11cm (4.3 inches) narrower compared to the Multivan.

Caddy Maxi Life vs Multivan size comparison – boot/interior

Winner: Multivan

The key difference between both cars is in their width – the Multivan is 33cm (13 inches) wider than the Caddy Maxi, giving you much more space for a bed or shelves on the side of the car.

If you are looking for a wider car, but not as big or hungry as the Multivan – have a look at our Sharan vs Multivan comparison (or Sharan vs Caddy). The Sharan is not as long as the Caddy Maxi, but it’s as wide as the Multivan and eats half as much.

Caddy Maxi interior/boot dimensions

Multivan interior/boot dimensions

Caddy Maxi vs Multivan storage comparison

Winner: Caddy Maxi Life

You’ll find more overall space in the Multivan thanks to its bigger size (between seats, at the back behind the last row of seats). But without a camping box kit or some DIY work it’s just space without shelves, so can get messy. Or you’ll have to dig through piles of stuff to find that one thing at the bottom. In the front, the Caddy offers more.

Caddy Maxi storage options

The Caddy offers excellent storage options in the front – aside from the standard passenger’s side glove compartment, one in the middle/top of the dashboard, and two cup holders. One of the biggest wins of VW Caddy is the overhead storage.

Caddy’s storage options in the back are good too, helped by the variability of the rear seats – fold them up, down or easily remove them. They fold flat, creating a good sleeping platform, but you still need to put something on top to fill in the gaps.

Its flat wheel arches work well for a camping conversion and their flat tops come in handy – use them as shelves when standing.

Multivan storage options

The Multivan offers similar but fewer storage options in the front – aside from the standard passengers’ side glove compartment, there’s one in the middle/top of the dashboard, two cup holders, and two smaller compartments for a phone or a bottle. No overhead storage. The multifunctional table in the middle is often taken out for camping as it gets in the way. It’s more suited for a long journey where you don’t sleep and store all your tools in the boot. But with a suitable camping box that only fits in the boot, you can keep it in.

The Multivan offers even better variability of its rear seats – you can fold them flat, slide them easily back and forth, remove them and best of all, you can turn them around (swivel). It also offers a drawer under each seat.

Electric sockets – 12V outlets

Winner: Multivan

(all this depends on the model and year the car was made)

Caddy 12V outlets

There are at two 12V outlets:

  • one in the front dashboard
  • one between the front seats

Multivan 12V outlets

There are three 12V outlets in the Multivan:

  • one in the front dashboard
  • 2nd on the side in the middle
  • 3rd at the bottom of the boot

Aggregate reviews score

Winner: draw

Caddy Maxi aggregate review score

70% average score of below 7 reviews

78% – 3.9/

The van-based people carrier with VW quality

60% – 3/

A car like this tends to be bought out of necessity rather than desire, and the Volkswagen Maxi Caddy Life is a good option if you need the huge space and practicality that it offers. However, rivals are now better than ever, and the Caddy Life is no longer the best in class. The Citroen Berlingo XL, for instance, is almost as practical but features styling that’s distinctive instead of conservative. Its engines are more economical and slightly quicker, and there are more to choose from. The Volkswagen also suffers from a slightly utilitarian interior and a smaller standard kit list than newer alternatives. If you only test-drove this car you’d probably be very happy with it but we’d recommend testing some of its rivals before you make a decision.

70% – 3.5/5 (Their website gives it a 2/5 rating, but I think this is a mistake as they rate the car around 3-4/5 in all areas, but then give it a 2/5 overall rating. Doesn’t make sense. So I made an average rating from their sub-ratings.)

The Caddy Maxi is a perfect example of how far van-based MPVs have come. It’s big, practical and surprisingly good to drive

80% – 4/

If space and versatility are a priority, the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Life will appeal.

60% – 6/

It’s impossible for the Caddy Maxi Life to completely shake off its van attributes, but Volkswagen has done a good job of turning what is essentially a commercial vehicle into a family MPV. The driving experience is enough like that of a car to make the Caddy more than acceptable to drive and decent specification and safety levels mean it can pass muster as a family vehicle. It’s highly practical, too.

60% – 3/

Sensibly priced seven-seater with enough space for seven and their luggage, huge loadspace with seats removed.
Rearmost bench seat does not fold and has to be removed to free up space, noisy on the motorway.

Multivan* aggregate review score

70% average score of below 7 reviews

70% – 3.5/

+ Comfortable and spacious interior, well equipped, high quality, strong TDI engines, sliding rear side doors

– Firm ride, expensive for a van-based people carrier, dated dashboard design

76% – 3.8/

Diesels offer impressive economy • Good-quality interior • Spacious cabin

Boxy shape • Ride is uncomfortable • Cheaper alternatives available

80% – 4/

The Volkswagen Caravelle [Multivan] sits right at the pinnacle of this van-based MPV niche, justifying its premium price tag with a spacious and versatile interior that rivals many executive saloons in terms of opulence and tech. It’s an ideal solution for luxury taxi fleets or business class airport transfers, but big families might also consider the Caravelle [Multivan] as a roomier alternative to that 7-seat luxury SUV they were considering.

40% – 2/ (2020 model)

Spacious for seven, and the long-wheelbase version adds versatility when you need to carry lots of luggage. It’s pricey, though, rivals are more comfortable and the interior finish suffers in comparison to smaller MPVs.

80% – 4/

Versatility • Comfort and convenience • Flexibility of spec • Car-like handling

Limited performance • Limited desirability • Ride refinement

70% – 7/

Good: Great at transporting many people long distances in comfort.
Bad: Bit pricey, seats can be awkward to move around. Still looks like a van

80% – 4/

Similar cabin to Volkswagen car models, very quiet and refined on the move, luxury feel, plenty of rear space, strong performance from 2.0 TDI engine, upmarket looks.
There are considerably cheaper seven seat people carriers available, running costs are high, rear seats are heavy and awkward to lift out. Catastrophic engine problems with 2.0BiTDI after 60k miles.

*used Caravelle or the closest model where no Multivan review was found. They are mostly the same, Caravelle is longer and has different seating options, but the engine and overall drive comfort-wise are the same. Which is what most of the above reviews are about.

Value in green = better, gets a point. Total points at the bottom = overall winner.

Caddy Maxi Life and Multivan used price comparison

Caddy Maxi Life
sources: Caddy and Multivan 1, 2

Review summary table

VW Caddy Maxi Life
VW Multivan
Boot length with seats down (cm)
(225 with the front backrests
in a normal position)
Boot width (cm)
162 (wall to wall) / 150 (columns)
Boot height (cm)
Effective height (with a bed in)
(middle seats folded + mattress)
(back seats folded + mattress)
Storage – front
(no centre console between front seats + no overhead compartments)
Storage – back
Comfort (interior)*
(newer models offer about the same or more comfort as a Caddy)
Driving performance & comfort, handling
Consumption (avg):
l/100km 7.4
MPG (UK): 38
l/100km 10.6
MPG (UK): 27
12V outlets
Aggregate reviews score
Ground clearance (cm)
ADAC rating (lower = better)
2.3/5 (source)
2.4/5 (source)
Our overall camping rating
Read full review
(MPVs category)
Read full review
(passenger carriers category)
2015 used price (GBP)
(source 1, 2)
Camping boxes (boot jumps) availability
Breakdown score (lower = better)
(winning values in green)
* Based on the rating from or the closest match (includes interior, running costs, driving quality etc). 1= basic car that does the job, 1.5 = hey, that’s nice to have!, 2 = oooh, comfyyyy.

Both cars are very similar, the Multivan is 12cm longer than the Caddy Maxi. But inside, they offer almost the same boot length – 225cm, making both good cars for sleeping in.

I give the edge to the Caddy Maxi Life – it is almost as big as the Multivan, but costs more than half the price, offers better interior storage options, and has much better consumption/mileage. Its seats aren’t as practical and versatile, as the Multivan’s, but they do come close and take less room in the car, making it an easier occasional camper, at half the price. It makes more sense to buy a Caddy Maxi Life for everyday use and some camping given its price and consumption, manoeuvrability and very comparable size to the Multivan.

According to their recall statistics, they are both very reliable cars, both with the same low score of 12 in 2020.

Comparison summary

It would appear that the Caddy is the winner if we go by the numbers only. But real life isn’t numbers only. Although the Caddy scores better in more categories – not all categories are equal – it all depends on your preferences and top criteria:

  • Is it size, versatility & looking cool? Then the Multivan is for you (if you can afford it at twice the price of a Caddy) – it’s a cult car that offers a lot of space in a relatively small package, with the added bonus of being able to move and turn the seats and table around as you please + fold them down into a bed. But they can also get in a way + you’ll have to get some kind of camping box or a bed to sleep comfortably and make the most of the sheer space. The Multivan is a bit of a cult car and keeps its value even with very high mileage (300K+) and 10+ years of age, so be prepared to pay the price.
  • Is it economy and great boot size at a low price? Then the Caddy is a great choice (or any similar alternatives, like the Sharan [see Sharan vs Caddy here] or Berlingo). Here you’ll get the most bang for the lowest price. The Caddy is almost as big as the Multivan, it offers much better consumption and at half the price of a Multivan. If you’re into stealth camping – the Caddy is much less conspicuous, being a standard family car, not a van mostly known for camping.
Post author:


Founder of, avid traveler and outdoor enthusiast. Car camping and microcamping allows me to keep traveling and exploring with a much greater level of freedom & privacy – to go anywhere and sleep anywhere. I didn’t have 30K to buy a VW Multivan, so found my way to the world of everyday car camping conversions. Here I share my experiences and what I learn.

Check out my thoughts on a balanced life:

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