I was alerted to this rather awesome-looking Volkswagen California XXL camper van by our policy editor and chief Ars van aficionado David Kravets. Based on the VW Crafter, this is a 21st-century descendent of the iconic VW bus (aka the Bulli/Camper/Kombi/Transporter/Type 2). It’s also perhaps the ultimate expression of car camping, short of one of those Russian things that are a spinoff of the armored personnel carrier.
Under the hood is a Euro 6-compliant TDI engine, pneumatic suspension, and a Haldex all-wheel drive system, but that’s pretty boring compared to the rest of this tricked-out ride. For one thing, the rear section has been stretched to provide room for a proper-sized bed, big enough for two adults to sleep comfortably.
In addition to the big bed upstairs, there’s another sleeping area at the back for smaller humans, and both areas feature heating and cooling (presumably just like the seats). Oh, and did I mention the van uses underfloor heating for all-year appeal?
And when they’re awake, the California XXL is tall enough inside to stand up, with 7.2 feet (2.2m) of head room, beneath a massive panoramic roof for watching the skies. But wait, there’s more. Putting a small kitchen in a VW camper is old news, as people have done that since the 1960s, but this one includes two gas burners that retract down into the aluminum work surface at the push of a button, not one but two fridges, and an integrated espresso machine.
Perhaps more impressive than the kitchen, this one also features a pull-out wet room that includes a toilet and shower—complete with rainfall shower head. When not in use, the wet room compacts down behind a door. And for those times when the great outdoors gets a little boring (or clouds make star watching impossible) there’s a built-in LCD projector that you can control (along with just about everything else on this ultimate tourer) via a mobile app.
“That is by far the sweetest VW I’ve ever seen,” Eurovanophile David Kravets told me on Ars Slack this morning. Sadly for David and anyone else in the US who thinks this thing would be ideal for driving vacations, VW has no plans to bring any of its commercial line of vehicles here to the US, despite a Facebook petition with more than 5,500 followers.