Volkswagen T5 California (2010–2015)

Last updated 3 June 2018

Great use of space, high quality fit and finish, relatively efficient diesel engines, sleeps four adults in genuine comfort, compact enough to use as a day-to-day vehicle.
Gruff engine, dashboard is more ‘van’ than Volkswagen car as is driving position, expensive and very much so with options, reports of catastrophic engine problems with 2.0BITD after 60k miles.
Updated 6 October 2011
Entry-level California Beach goes on sale

The California Beach blends the appeal of the California with the practicality and versatility of the Caravelle people carrier. Inside, seating for up to seven people is available with a two-, or three-,...

Read more


The Volkswagen California may be based on the fairly humble Transporter, but its roots go far deeper than that. The California is, to all intents and purposes, today’s ‘camper van’. That gives it legendary lineage.

Being van-based means that the California isn’t the most exciting vehicle to look at – there’s very little to distinguish it from the Transporter on the outside, and it’s a far cry from the characterful split-screen Type 2 camper of old – but it does make for an extremely versatile cabin.  

Teaming with intelligent practicality flourishes, the California sails close to being a luxurious motorhome, despite relatively compact dimensions, and it can sleep four in the sort of comfort that tent-based campers can only dream of.

The current California is available in two distinct variants, entry-level Beach and range-topping SE, and with a choice of three engines, all of them 2.0-litre TDI common rail diesel units, with 114PS, 140PS or 180PS.

The entry-level California Beach is effectively a hotel on wheels, offering a rear bench that converts into a comfortable bed and an electronically operated pop-up canvas roof, capable of sleeping two more. The California SE, meanwhile, literally throws in the kitchen sink, adding cooking facilities to the interior including an on-board water supply, a gas hob, a fridge and storage units.

That flexibility doesn’t come cheap, however, with prices for top-of-the-range versions surpassing the £50,000 mark. However, the California does hold its value exceptionally well and will always be a desirable vehicle, blending camping versatility with everyday practicality.


Ask Honest John

Value my van