VW Multivan Camper
The Multivan is for you if size, versatility & looking cool are your main criteria (and you can afford it – it costs 3x as much as an MPV like a Sharan, but it isn’t 3 times better for camping – it is 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 and sometimes it’s necessary to remove them to take full advantage of the boot’s size. And 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. There aren’t as many DIY Multivan camping conversions – precisely for the reasons outlined on this page, in short – it’s almost the most expensive car of the range where you are paying for flexible seats that you would take out anyway for a DIY conversion. But there are plenty of manufactured camping boxes that you can carry in the boot (behind all the rear seats) and extend when camping (see image gallery for some examples, with and without the rear seats). But then, you can do that in the cheaper Caravelle too, so make sure you know why you’re paying up for a Multivan. Overall, a Multivan can be a great camper – but not out of the box. If you just want to try car camping out, you’ll be better off with a much cheaper MPV that you convert to an occasional camper. And if you like it and decide to commit to car camping, you can try out a Multivan with a camping extension.
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- very large interior in a small body (not too different from an MPV / Minivan)
- three rows of seats (2+2+3) and all seats fold flat, move and turn about and are removable (see here) – but don’t leave much headroom with a mattress on (or storage beneath). See this video (at the start and around 13:00 min mark) for a real-life test.
- you won’t be able to use a lot of the space as the seats and the middle console/table (in some models) take up a lot of the storage area beneath
- you might need to remove the seats for a proper camping conversion or cash out for a camping box to make the most out of the space
- if you want to remove the seats and the middle console/foldable table, there’s not much sense in buying a Multivan – go for the cheaper Caravelle or Transporter
- the second row of “armchair” seats that swivel is a very good thing!
How to sleep in a VW Multivan, DIY camping conversions
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How does the Multivan compare to a smaller MPV?
VW Multivan ratings and reviews
Average rating: 4/5 = great!
Multivan interior/exterior dimensions & boot size
Possible Multivan camping configuration
(images used are mostly from Ququq)
1. Just fold down the seats & throw a mattress on top
This is the simplest way of sleeping in the Multivan – the folded seats in the back (3rd row) create a flat surface of about 1×1.5m, not enough for most adults to sleep on, so you’ll have to fold the 2nd row “armchair” seats too or add an extension. These can be purchased or you can create your own simple one. This forum post has a great visual guide. In the shorter version of the Multivan, this might not be as easy or will leave less storage room.
2. A manufactured camping box over the seats
There are many manufacturers who have a camping box that sits in the boot, behind the 3rd row of seats and extends into a bed + kitchen, drawers and storage compartments (depends on the model you get). The disadvantage here is that the seats serve no other purpose than being legs for the mattress. But they take away a lot of storage space, which you could otherwise use for most of your camping gear. Suitable for occasional camping over the weekend (or for people with not much gear). The advantage is that you can keep using the comfy armchair 2nd row seats with the foldable table (like so). Or take these out and have room for something else between your bed and the drivers & passengers seats. See the bed over seats option in action here. A demonstration of what the 3rd row of seats can do here and an overall overview of all the seats config here. Note that the Multivan comes in two body lengths – the shorter one doesn’t have as much room in the boot – behind the 3rd row of seats.
3. A manufactured camping box with the seats removed
Same as the second option, but now you can store a lot of things below your bed. Much more suitable for longer camping trips. But why would you pay more for a Multivan with it’s flexible seats if you are going to remove them. Better get a Caravelle – or any other similar size van, or perhaps a big MPV.
Frequently asked questions:
- Average used price, GBP (2015) – I use Carsite.co.uk‘s price aggregates from 2015 (or the nearest possible year if not available), or, if not found, from autoscout24.com. For new cars, I specify the closest possible match (i.e. if released this year, it’s the new price, if released two years ago, it’s the 2-years old price etc). It’s here to give you a benchmark comparison (- a like for like, an apple with an apple) of the value of each car and for filtering purposes. It’s not meant to be used as an accurate estimate of used car value – it is updated once a year, so make sure you know what the car should cost at the time of purchase if you decide to buy one.
- Boot dimensions – taken from various sources across the web, starting with official, supplemented with other reliable websites (like ridc.org.uk), supplemented by user-generated content – images of measurements from forums or social networks. It’s also used for filtering, comparison and to give you a good idea of the car’s suitability for camping.
- Comfort rating – a benchmark used to simplify the car’s comfort & driving score based on equipment, furnishings, handling, safety, and costs ratings from external sources like whatcar.com, carwow.co.uk, autocar.co.uk etc. It gives you an indication of whether the car will drive and feel like a van (low rating) or offer better interior & handling (higher rating). A simple van-like car, for example, a Renault Kangoo is 0.5, a well equipped and comfortable car like a Ford S-Max is a 2. No hard math behind it, just an indicator, f.e. 0.5= basic car that does the job, 1.5 = hey, that’s nice to have!, 2 = oooh, comfyyyy.
- Consumption – I take the average 2017 consumption or closest match from Fuelly.com, or if none is available, from other sources like honestjohn.co.uk. If there are not enough cars for a single year, an average for several years is calculated.
- NimbleCamper rating – a weighted score of boot length (45% weight), boot height (40%), consumption (10%) and comfort (5%). The logic of weighing length & height higher than consumption and comfort is – headroom is important when you sleep in the back of the car, so is the length. A comfy ride is a factor, but you can sleep in a big car that’s not that comfy, however, it’s much harder to camp/sleep in a comfy car that’s too small. Read more about the NimbleCamper rating and criteria here.
- a note for EVs (electric vehicles) – for consumption, I am using the Fuel Equivalent Consumption estimate by ev-database.org. It is usually much lower than combustion engines, giving EVs an advantage – which I think is fair. They do have a small disadvantage in terms of having to plan your trips around charging stations + longer waiting time, but that will get better over time. More charging stations, faster chargers and better batteries. Therefore I am not adjusting the calculation for EVs in any way.
- EV stats – taken from ev-database.org
- NGC rating – The NGC Rating expresses a vehicle’s environmental impact as a score ranging from 0 for the greenest vehicles to 100+ for the most polluting, taken from nextgreencar.com