Volkswagen T5 Caravelle (2010 – 2015) Review

Volkswagen T5 Caravelle (2010 – 2015) At A Glance


+Similar cabin to Volkswagen car models, very quiet and refined on the move, luxury feel, plenty of rear space, strong performance from 2.0 TDI engine, upmarket looks.

-There are considerably cheaper seven seat people carriers available, running costs are high, rear seats are heavy and awkward to lift out. Catastrophic engine problems with 2.0BiTDI after 60k miles.

As luxurious and genuinely spacious people carriers go, few vehicles are as good as the Volkswagen Caravelle. As is pretty obvious, it's based on the Volkswagen Transporter van, so the boxy shape means there's masses of space in the back and it can carry seven adults in real comfort.

You're probably more familiar seeing the Caravelle being used by hotels and airports, or as an upmarket private hire vehicle, but it's ideal as a family carrier too - especially if you have a large family. It's very versatile thanks to rails that are integrated into the floor and allow the second and third row of seats (and the clever multifunction table) to be moved backwards or forwards to maximise luggage space or legroom.

The rear bench can also be converted into a large, almost completely flat bed. Plus there's an optional 'sleep pack' which can turn the Caravelle into a campervan with a bed extension for the rear seats and additional blinds for the windows.

This 2010 Volkswagen Caravelle isn't actually all new, it's a thoroughly revised versios of the T5 Caravelle from 2003, but there are key changes, particularly inside where there's a high-class interior that's very similar to Volkswagen passenger cars like the Golf. It also uses Volkswagen's 2.0 TDI common rail diesel which is far smoother and quieter than the previous diesels in the Caravelle range.

This newer engine is also more economical and has longer service intervals than before which means lower running cost. However the Caravelle is still expensive to buy new, especially when there are cheaper seven-seaters available - although few are as upmarket as the Volkswagen.

Driven: Volkswagen Caravelle

In the MPV space race there are few vehicles that can match the Volkswagen T5 Caravelle for sheer size or all-round ability. The Caravelle is effectively the heavyweight champion of the large MPV sector, combing large van-like dimensions with the driving characteristics and cabin quality of a luxurious family hatchback.

Read our first drive here >>


Ask Honest John

Can I get the tax band of my car changed?

"I have owned a 2014 Volkswagen Caravelle 2.0 TDI for the last 3 years and have pad £340, £360, and £395 car tax for those three years. It states on my registration document that the CO2 is 203g/km but at the two MoT registered garages I have used they state that they cannot read the emissions as the engine is so clean. Is there anybody that I can contact to get my road tax reduced?"
It is important to note that the emissions measured during the MoT and the emissions your vehicle produces in relation to Vehicle Excise Duty are separate issues. VED is charged based on the declared carbon dioxide emissions of the vehicle and the VED rules that apply at the time of registration, which is why the amount you have paid historically has changed over the years as the VED rules have changed. For diesel vehicles the MoT tests the amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide in exhaust gases, so carbon dioxide emissions are not measured.
Answered by David Ross

Which Caravelle is best for £20,000?

"I have been looking to buy one of these second hand and would like some help. I appreciate the fact that these vehicles hold their value incredibly well and therefore I will have to pay a hefty price to get one, but presumably I will get a good price when the time comes to sell it. The equipment that comes with the Caravelle Executive suits our needs well, leather seats, moveable seats on tracks etc, and large opening barn door at rear etc. My questions: Which is the best engine? I fancy the 2.5-litre engine which I believe is chain driven but is the 2.0 TDI a good option? I have always driven manual transmission cars (and would prefer a manual van but there are not many available. Is the DSG auto a good alternative? I don't want to spend more than £20,000, should I go for an older vehicle with low mileage or a newer ones with high mileage and a full service history?"
The Caravelle is a very desirable van-based MPV. Many of the best examples are snapped up by camper van builders (both DIY and professional) which means finding a good one can be something of a challenge. You should always buy the newest van you can afford. Avoid older, low-mileage vans that have been used for lots of short journeys. These low miles will not help the engine or DPF, owing to the fact a diesel engine needs around 15-miles to reach optimum operating temperature and cycle the DPF. The 2.5 TDI is gear-driven so there are no belts or chains to replace, which would make it my preference. The 2.0 diesel is also a good engine but I would avoid the 2.0 BiTDI - we have received a number of serious complaints about this version of the 2.0 TDI. You can read about them here: The seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox is fine, but it'll need a fluid and filter change every 40,000 miles. Avoid the old six-speed DSG auto.
Answered by Dan Powell

Injector in our Volkswagen Caravelle failed - are we due any goodwill from Volkswagen?

"Our 2011 Volkswagen Caravelle broke down suddenly (no warning lights) a month ago. A local, non-franchise Volkswagen garage replaced the number one injector. The van broke down again on a long run last week. Same garage now says low oil pressure/high temp means oil thinning too much to be injected, hence it failing. Diagnosis is that it needs a new engine (£4000), and says others have had similar problems with the same vehicle with same engine. Volkswagen franchise replaced the EGR valve two years/15,000 miles ago. Is it worth approaching Volkswagen UK? We were planning to sell to fund college fees, but we're reluctant to pass it on for someone else's hard earned cash. What's best to do?"
Worth approaching, but they have plenty of other problems so the budget for goodwill is tight. But I can confirm that this is a common problem and the engine was one of those subject to the NOx emissions fix recall. If the failure occurred after the fix you might be in for some goodwill.
Answered by Honest John

The garage doesn't know if my van needs a new cam belt - what should I do?

"My Volkswagen Caravelle T5 needs a 100,000 mile service. There's some confusion about the frequency of a cam belt change and the dealers are all saying different things. They can't tell from the national database whether one has even been fitted (but it should have been, when it was four years old). Any ideas?"
If in doubt, change timing belt, tensioner, waterpump and alternator belt. Better to spend £500 - £600 on that than £5000 - £6000 on a new engine if the belt snaps.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen T5 Caravelle (2010 – 2015) cost?