While planning a great outdoor adventure, hitting the road with VW California or VW Transporter Camper can be the wisest. Camper vans have always been an excellent choice for people looking for a great experience and flexibility on their outdoor adventures. The Volkswagen California and the VW Transporter Camper are two of Volkswagen’s best-selling models. While both vehicles provide a cozy and practical means of transportation, essential differences between them should be considered before deciding.
To help you make an informed decision and select the camper van that best suits your needs and preferences, we’ll provide an in-depth comparison of the VW California vs. VW Transporter Camper in this article, comparing their features, amenities, and prices.
What types of Vehicles are they?
It’s nothing new that both the VW California & VW Transporters are famously known as camper vehicles. Both vehicles are from van models built on the Volkswagen Transporter platform. Their compact design makes them ideal for road trips and outdoor adventures.
The VW California is a modern version of the classic VW camper van. At the same time, the VW Transporter Camper is a more basic version of the same model.
VW California vs. VW Transporter Camper: The Differences
For decades, the famously known brand Volkswagen has been developing camper vans. While both the California & Transporter Campers are designed for camping, there are some significant differences between the two that make them unique.
Features of VW California
The VW California is built to be a temporary residence with all the comforts of home. It has a kitchenette, a foldable bed, and an additional sleeping area with a pop-up elevating roof on the top. The VW California is commonly available in two models: Beach and the Ocean.
The Beach model has a two-burner gas stovetop, a small sink, and a cooler instead of a fridge, making it the more basic. It has a seating area that can be made into a double bed and an additional double bed on the pop-up roof. The Ocean model, on the other hand, is more opulent, with a fully furnished kitchen with a refrigerator, a two-burner gas stovetop, and a sink. Additionally, it has a swiveling front seat, an integrated wardrobe, and a pop-up roof with a second double bed.
Features of VW Transporter Camper
The VW Transporter Camper is a larger campervan designed to be a more spacious living space. There is a bigger seating area and a basic kitchen that comes with more storage options. There are Startline, Trendline, Sportline, and Highline – the four trim level models of the VW Camper.
The Startline model comes with a two-burner gas hob, a sink, and a fridge installed in it. It provides a seating area that converts into a double bed, and an optional pop-up roof that also provide additional sleeping space. The Highline model on the other hand is more of a luxurious version. With a fully equipped kitchen, a fridge, a two-burner gas hob, and a sink it opens an experience of luxury. It also has a built-in wardrobe, a swiveling front passenger seat, and an optional pop-up roof just like the Startline has.
The Design Differences of VW California vs. VW Transporter Camper
The VW California and VW Transporter Camper both have iconic VW designs that are instantly recognizable. The California’s design is based on the VW T6 Transporter, while the Transporter Camper is based on the VW T6.1 Transporter.
The California is more modern than the Transporter Camper, with a sleeker and more aerodynamic body shape. It has a distinctive two-tone paint job with a contrasting roof color that can be customized to your preferences. The pop-up roof provides additional headroom and sleeping space and has a range of safety features, including lane assist, front assist, and crosswind assist.
The Transporter Camper has a more traditional appearance and a boxier body shape similar to the vintage VW campervans. Its paint is simpler; the body and roof are painted the same color.
The Weight and size
The VW California comes in a length of 4.9 meters, 1.9 meters wide, and 1.99 meters tall. Its gross weight, including the vehicle’s weight and maximum load, is 3,080 kg.
Depending on the model of the base vehicle, there are different sizes of the VW Transporter Camper available. 2,500 to 3,000 kg is about how much it usually weighs.
The Interior and layout
The interior design of the VW California is well put and optimized for space. It has a modular design that allows the users to easily convert the living area into a sleeping area. The rear bench seat can also be converted into a bed. The VW Transporter Camper, however, is more customizable. Normally, the layout and design of the interior will depend on the conversion kit the users choose.
The VW California offers a range of color options, including standard colors such as Candy White, Deep Black Pearl, and Reflex Silver Metallic. There are also premium colors such as Mojave Beige Metallic, Acapulco Blue Metallic, and Chestnut Brown Metallic. The VW Transporter Camper’s paint options depend on the base vehicle and your conversion kit.
The VW California has various advanced technologies, such as a touchscreen infotainment system, adaptive cruise control, and a rearview camera. It also includes features such as App-Connect, which allows you to access your favorite smartphone apps through the infotainment system. On the other hand, the VW Transporter Camper does not come with the same level of technology as the VW California. To suit user’s needs, it can be modified using the aftermarket technology and accessories.
Comfort and convenience
Long trips in the VW California will be convenient and comfortable. It has a cozy bed, a kitchen that is fully furnished, and lots of room for your belongings. Depending on the conversion kit you select, the VW Transporter Camper may not have the same features or as much storage space while still comfortable.
Performance and handling
The VW T6 Transporter platform, renowned for its superior performance and handling, serves as the foundation for the VW California. It is equipped with a number of potent engines, including a 2.0-liter TDI diesel and a 2.0-liter TSI gasoline engine. Performance and handling characteristics of the VW Transporter Camper largely depend on the base car and the conversion kit selected.
Overall Practicality of VW California vs. VW Transporter Camper
Regarding practicality, the VW California and VW Transporter Camper have some differences.
As the VW California is a more compact campervan, it is easier to drive and park than the Transporter Camper. Because it has a lower roof height, it can be more suitable for low-height car parks and tunnels. It has a smaller turning circle, and maneuvering in tight spaces makes it more accessible. However, the VW California has a smaller living space than the Transporter Camper, making it feel cramped if more than two people travel.
With its wider seating area and more room for storage, the Transporter Camper is better suited for longer journeys or for families with kids. However, the VW California is easier to drive and park in than the Transporter Camper, and it might not fit in regular parking lots or garages. Additionally, maneuvering it in small spaces could seem a bit difficult because of its wider turning circle.
The VW California & Transporter Camper has various power options, including electric hook-ups, solar panels, and heating and cooling options.
The price range differences between the VW California and VW Transporter Campers
Despite costing more than the VW Transporter Camper, the VW California has additional features and facilities.
The VW California can be purchased for as little as $90,990 after some additional fees, while the VW Transporter Camper can start at about $40,000.
Pros & Cons
The following are the main pros and cons of owning a VW California and VW Transporter Camper –
Pros of VW California
- Custom-built camper with excellent interior layout.
- Fully-equipped kitchen and comfortable sleeping arrangements.
- Powerful engines and excellent performance.
- Comes with a range of features and amenities.
Cons of VW California
- More expensive than the VW Transporter Camper.
- It may not be as customizable as the VW Transporter Camper.
Pros of VW Transporter Camper
- It can be customized to your specifications.
- More affordable than the VW California.
- Any VW Transporter van can be converted into a campervan.
Cons of VW Transporter Camper
- It may not have as many features or amenities as the VW California.
- The conversion process can be time-consuming and require some technical knowledge.
- Limited warranty and support compared to the VW California.
- It may require additional investments in equipment and accessories to equip the camper for camping and road trips.
All the differences between the VW California vs. VW Transporter Camper mentioned above are there, which you may consider while buying any of them. Although, they are both well-equipped, with a range of power, heating, and cooling options and so on.
Considering each model’s benefits and drawbacks and your own needs and priorities, it will be your call to make an informed choice of investing between the two. Hope the write-up will help you choose an enjoyable and unforgettable camping or road trip ride.