Volkswagen Crafter Review 2024

Volkswagen Crafter At A Glance


+Pleasant and very easy to drive, comfortable and refined with a top-class cab design, impressive array of safety tech available.

-Not as efficient on paper as its big van rivals, cabin may seem a bit dated to some, much of the tech is optional

The Crafter is Volkswagen’s largest and most versatile van. It’s available with a wide choice of bodystyles - including panel van, tipper and dropside - while the largest versions will easily carry six Euro pallets and offer gross vehicle weights of 5.5 tonnes.

Admittedly, the VW Crafter isn't as established a name in the big van market as the Ford Transit or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, but the Volkswagen has more than enough in its locker to hold its own against the class leaders.

The range spans 69 different versions, with a wide (if slightly confusing) choice of body lengths and heights. Front-wheel drive versions offer a cargo capacity of 18.4 cubic metres, spanning 3.0 - 4.0 tonnes, while rear-wheel drive versions cover gross vehicle weights of 3.5 - 5.5 tonnes. 

Unlike its predecessor, the Crafter is no longer built by Mercedes-Benz alongside the Sprinter. Instead, for the first time in 20 years, the Crafter is built by Volkswagen. This means it benefits from its comprehensive range of tech, with the 2.0 TDI engine and gearbox sourced from the T6 Transporter. You'll also find the Crafter rebadged as the MAN TGE

The Crafter's four-cylinder diesel engine is available in four versions, 102PS, 122PS, 140PS and 177PS, with the latter using a twin turbocharger. All pull strongly through the low gears, while engine and road noise levels are well suppressed at motorway speeds. However, with claimed economy in the region of 38mpg, the Volkswagen doesn’t match its rivals for economy, with many large vans in this class surpassing the 40mpg barrier.

The Crafter does handle better than many other large vans, with smooth and light steering that makes it easy to navigate narrow streets or heavy traffic. The stress of inner-city driving can further be reduced with an automatic parking system - for hands free parallel parking. You can also fit a useful cross traffic system, which will warn you of approaching vehicles when you're reversing off a driveway or out of a space.

The Crafter’s biggest selling points, however, lie in its big load carrying potential and its impressive handling. Indeed, for its size, it is surprisingly easy to use and its driving characteristics are more akin to a much smaller van. Some might be put off by its higher running costs, but the comfortable and high tech Crafter remains a worthy rival to the best large panel vans.

Ask Honest John

Can I tow a trailer without a tachograph?

"Can I tow a 2.5 - 3-tonne trailer with a Volkswagen Crafter without a tachograph?"
If you are planning to tow for business use then you will most-likely need a tachograph for these type of weights:
Answered by Dan Powell

Are there any electric or hybrid large minibuses?

"Do you know if there are any manufactures that sell hybrid, PHEV or full electric 16/17 seat minibuses?"
As things stand, there are no partial or fully electric powertrains for large minibuses. However, over the next 12/24 months, that will change when the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter and Volkswagen eCrafter go on sale. We've already driven a prototype version of the eSprinter:
Answered by Dan Powell

I need a heavy duty pick-up. Does anything exist in the UK?

"I am looking for a pick-up truck that can carry a 1.5 tonne load, in the shape of an American slide-in demountable camper. All of the pick-ups available in the UK seem to be light-duty, the biggest payload available is the Ford Ranger, at about 1.25 tons. Will I have to look at American pick-ups, or is it possible to get a UK pick-up upgraded to carry a bigger load?"
Most pick-ups in the UK will carry around a tonne of payload, while towing weights range from 2.5 - 3.5 tonnes. For heavy duty carrying, your best best will be a van-based flatbed like the Volkswagen Crafter, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Iveco Daily. You could get an American pick-up, but the fuel and maintenance costs will be huge.
Answered by Dan Powell

I want an economical pick-up that can pull a 3500kg trailer - what do you advise?

"I need an economical van or pick-up that can pull a 3500kg trailer. What's your advice?"
The Nissan Navara has the lowest advertised fuel costs of any pick-up on the market. It will also tow up to 3.5 tonnes: The Ford Ranger should also be on your shortlist: Both the Ford Transit and Volkswagen Crafter will tow up to 3.5 tonnes, but you’ll probably need to fit a tachograph if you plan to use it for business:
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Crafter cost?