Volkswagen Caddy Life (2015 – 2021) Review

Volkswagen Caddy Life (2015 – 2021) At A Glance

4/5

+Easy to drive, lots of van-like practicality, suitable for wheelchair conversion, available with seven-seats.

-A lot more expensive than other van-based MPVs, interior feels a little crude.

When it comes to affordable running costs and raw practicality, few MPVs can match the space and family-friendly nature of the Volkswagen Caddy Life. Based on the fourth-generation van, the Caddy Life is easy to live with thanks to dual sliding doors and car-like handling. It can also be specified with seven seats, although the premium price might put some off. 

Van-based MPVs have come a long way since the era of the rattly and noisy window vans of the early 2000s and few vehicles illustrate this better than the Caddy Life. All models get five seats as standard and have a maximum of 3030 litres of storage, but this can be extended by an additional 340 litres with the longer Caddy Maxi Life.

As well as offering more space, the Maxi gets an extra row of seats, which means it can transform into a minibus of sorts for the school run with seven seats, although the third row can be a little cramped for adults due to the limited leg room.

All models use the same diesel engines as the van, with a Euro 6 compliant 2.0-litre TDI offered with 102PS or 150PS. Volkswagen claims as much as 60.1mpg from the 102PS unit and all engines are linked to a smooth five-speed or six-speed manual gearbox, with a six-speed DSG automatic available as an option. 

On the road the Caddy is good to drive and handles very much like a standard family hatchback, with light steering and lots of visibility from the large windscreen and side mirrors. The quality of the ride is also impressive, with its soft suspension providing lots of protection from potholes and speed bumps.

The interior is a little crude in places and the Caddy does show its van origins with lots of cheap plastics and a basic dashboard. However, there's lots of useful storage, with deep door pockets and useful cubby holes and cup holders. DAB radio and Bluetooth are also fitted as standard. 

Admittedly, some will be put off by the Caddy's boxy looks and no-thrills interior, but the Life range is difficult to fault when it comes to practicality and durability. What's more, with its suitability for wheelchair conversion and its supportive seats, the Caddy has lots of likeable traits for older drivers too.

Ask Honest John

Can you recommend a car that will fit a wheelchair?

"I have a Ford Galaxy with a lowered floor that can accommodate my wife’s wheelchair but her new wheelchair will not fit in. Obviously, I will have to check out any new vehicle but I want something that looks like a car and not a van and will do 0-60mph in around 10 seconds. My budget is £30-35k. Do you have any suggestions? Many thanks."
Most carmakers have moved away from these type of cars in favour of SUVs and/or van-based MPVs. Personally, I think a van-based MPV would be the best choice for you. The interior quality of these vehicles has improved a lot in recent years, which means they look and feel more car-like than ever before. Both the Citroen Berlingo MPV and Volkswagen Caddy Life are excellent cars. However, if you want something more car-like, you will need to find a Volkswagen Sharan or Renault Grand Scenic. However, if your wife's wheelchair is struggling to fit in the Ford Galaxy, neither of these vehicles may be suitable. And that means a van-based MPV may be your only option.
Answered by Dan Powell

Can you recommend a ULEZ-compliant van that will fit our bicycles?

"We have a 2008 Citroen Berlingo Mulispace, which is perfect for putting bikes in without taking off the wheels, but it now doesn't comply with the London emission standards. The newer Berlingo is bulkier. Are there other models with the sort of headroom at the back as our current car without being bigger?"
It's a sad fact of automotive life that new cars are generally larger than the ones they replace - this is because new vehicles are required to meet tougher safety standards, with crumple zones and new tech pushing the vehicles to new dimensions. The compact Fiat Qubo is available as a Euro6 diesel. However, you'll get less interior space and it might not accommodate your bikes: https://vans.honestjohn.co.uk/van-reviews/fiat/qubo-2009/ You might want to consider the Ford Tourneo Connect: https://vans.honestjohn.co.uk/van-reviews/ford/tourneo-connect-2014/ Or a Volkswagen Caddy Life: https://vans.honestjohn.co.uk/van-reviews/volkswagen/caddy-life-2015/
Answered by Dan Powell

I want a van-based car for a large boot space - what do you recommend?

"I'm looking for an estate car/van-like car that would give me a big boot space. I need 6.25 feet in length and about 4 feet wide, to drive to Italy and back, but at a low cost - no glamour needed."
A van-based MPV should fit your needs: https://vans.honestjohn.co.uk/van-top-10s/top-10-van-based-family-mpvs/ The Ford Tourneo Connect and Volkswagen Caddy Life are the easiest to live with, owing to their compact size, while the Toyota Proace Verso is practical and backed by a five-year 100,000 mile warranty. If money is no object then Volkswagen Caravelle and Mercedes-Benz V-Class should top your list.
Answered by Dan Powell

I need an economical van that's easy to drive on narrow roads - what would you recommend?

"I need a six-seater, economical van for my cleaning business. It also needs to be able to manoeuvre narrow Cornish lanes. What would you suggest?"
The Toyota Proace Verso would be a great people carrier for country roads. It drives like a big family car and will return an advertised 54.3mpg. It’s also backed by Toyota’s 100,000 mile five-year-warranty: https://vans.honestjohn.co.uk/van-reviews/toyota/proace-verso/ If you want something smaller, the Volkswagen Caddy Life might work for you. It’s available with seven-seats and is much more compact than the Toyota in terms of width and height. However, it’s not as easy to get in and out of and bootspace is limited when all of the seats are in place: https://vans.honestjohn.co.uk/van-reviews/volkswagen/caddy-life-2015/
Answered by Dan Powell
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