VW Multivan vs Sharan: Which is better for a car camping conversion?

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This post will help you find out which car is better for camping – a Multivan vs Sharan? We are going to focus on their pros and cons related to camping (i.e. size, storage, convertibility into a bed), hence we’ll pay less attention to 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, they are often considered as potential candidates – and this post will give you enough information to decide which one will work better for you.

For this comparison, we took a 2009 T5 Multivan Highline 2.5Tdi (SWB – standard length) and a Sharan MKII 2013 5-seater 1.9Tdi (yep, the one I converted here).

Sharan vs Multivan size comparison – exterior

multivan vs sharan
volkswagen sharan 2015
Sharan exterior dimensions
volkswagen t61 multivan 2020
Multivan exterior dimensions

As you can see, they are not too different in terms of length – the Sharan being only 5cm (2inches) 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. The Sharan also does this, beating other MPVs in its class, but not enough to beat Multivan. Heightwise it’s a bigger difference – the Multivan is 25cm (about 10inches) taller. The important question is whether or how can you use that additional room? We’ll get to that later. There is no difference in their exterior width.

Sharan vs Multivan size comparison – boot / interior

sharan vs multivan 1

Multivan interior / boot dimensions

Sharan vs Multivan storage comparison

multivan vs sharan storage

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 that’s at the bottom. In the front, Sharan offers more.

Sharan storage options

The Sharan offers great 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, storage just below the armrest and two sunglass compartments above the head (fit smaller items like shades, keys, phone or a tablet), one smaller drawer below each seat. Total 7 compartments.

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, two smaller compartments for a phone or a bottle. No overhead storage. Total 5 compartments. The multifunctional table in the middle is often taken out for camping as it gets in a 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.

Electric sockets – 12V outlets

Sharan 12V outlets

There are at least 3 to 5 12V outlets in newer models plus there’s a 230V outlet too!! (EU style – might not be available in all models):

  • one in the boot close to the trunk door (right hand side)
  • two between the front seats (one hidden away in the storage compartment, another next to the hand brake and another next to the gear stick on the front panel
  • one 12V on the back of the middle panel where you’ll also find the 230V outlet too

Multivan 12V outlets

There are 3 12V outlets in the Multivan:

  • one in the front dashboard
  • 2nd on the side in the middle
  • 3rd at the bottom in the boot
  • there is no 230V outlet as far as I know

Aggregate reviews score

Sharan aggregate review score

73% average score of below 7 reviews

80% – 4/5parkers.co.uk

Better looking than predecessor, frugal and eco-friendly engines, seven seats as standard. Servicing costs higher than rivals

82% – 4.1/5carbuyer.co.uk

The Volkswagen Sharan is a sensible, practical and capable seven-seat MPV, but it feels expensive compared to newer rivals

60% – 3/5autoexpress.co.uk

The seven-seat VW Sharan is a great all-round family car, with a flexible interior and grown-up driving experience

80% – 4/5whatcar.com

The Volkswagen Sharan is a spacious seven-seat MPV that’s well equipped and good to drive. It might quite be as strong an all-rounder as the smaller and cheaper Touran, and neither is it as good to drive as the equally enormous Galaxy, but it’s still certainly worthy of consideration if you need a seriously big people carrier.

70% – 3.5/5autocar.co.uk

The Volkswagen Sharan is a refined, flexible and spacious seven-seat MPV, albeit one that is more expensive than its Seat Alhambra sister car

70% – 7/10topgear.com

It’s big, expensive and not especially clever, but it is really, really good at ferrying lots of people about. Really, really quietly.

70% – 7/10carwow.co.uk

The VW Sharan is one of the best all-round seven-seater MPVs on the market but it isn’t as funky as a Citroen Grand C4 Picasso or as sharp to drive as a Ford Galaxy

Multivan* aggregate review score

70% average score of below 7 reviews

70% – 3.5/5parkers.co.uk

+ 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% – 3.8/5carbuyer.co.uk

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

Cons
Boxy shape • Ride is uncomfortable • Cheaper alternatives available

80% – 4/5autoexpress.co.uk

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% – 2/5whatcar.com (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% – 4/5autocar.co.uk

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

Bad
Limited performance • Limited desirability • Ride refinement

70% – 7/10topgear.com

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% – 4/5honestjohn.co.uk

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

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

Multivan vs Sharan price comparison

YearSharanMultivan
2020£26,688£61,997
2019£21,498£47,487
2018£18,103£43,900
2017£15,573£40,995
2016£14,835£42,300
2015£13,389£33,500
2014£9,893£28,994
sources: Sharan and Multivan 1, 2

Review summary table

FeatureVW SharanVW Multivan
Boot length with seats down (cm)208235
(225 with back rests normal position)
Boot width (cm)158 (2nd row doors) / 125 (trunk) / 110 (narrowest)162 (wall to wall) / 150 (columns)
Boot height (cm)93 (7-seater) / 109 (5-seater)132
Effective height (with bed in)90
(middle seats folded + mattress)
70
(back seats folded + mattress)
Sliding door size (cm)108×87 (148 from ground)140×100 (180 from ground)
Storage – front4/53/5
(no centre console between front seats + no overhead compartments)
Storage – back3/55/5
Comfort (interior)*4/53/5
Driving performance & comfort, handling4/53/5
Consumption (avg):
(fuelly.com)
l/100km 7.1
MPG (UK): 34
l/100km 10.6
MPG (UK): 27
12V outlets3 to 5 + 230V3
Aggregate reviews score73%70%
Ground clearance (cm)15.2-16.3 (source)16.5 (source)
ADAC rating (lower = better)2.1/5 (source)2.4/5 (source)
Our overall camping rating3.8/5
Read full review
(for details of each rating)
TBC
2009 used price£6,995
(source – with newer models still cheaper than 2009 Multivan)
£18,307
(source 1, 2)
Camping boxes (boot jumps) availabilitysomemany
TOTAL SCORE
(winning values in green)
86
* Based on the rating from carbuyer.co.uk or 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.

Conclusion

It would appear that Sharan is the clear winner if we go by the numbers only. But real life isn’t numbers only. Although Sharan 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 Sharan) – 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 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, comfort, good size at a low price? Then the Sharan is a great choice (or any similar alternatives, like the Caddy [see Sharan vs Caddy here] or Berlingo). Here you’ll get the most bang for the lowest price. The Sharan is a perfect coming together of space, comfort, good consumption and low price. If you’re into stealth camping – the Sharan is much less conspicuous, being a standard family car, not a van mostly known for camping.
Sharan vs Multivan car camping
Happy Multivan & Sharan campers 🙂

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