When I started I wasn’t sure of what van to get but I tried to do my research. I posted about my reasoning back then in a post called What car to get? Now, a year later, it’s time to evaluate that decision.
Overall I’m very happy I went with the Volkswagen Transporter T5 but let’s break it down.
Going for the LWB (Long Wheel Base) model was a good move, the extra space is really valuable and it’s not too big to maneuver in the city and you can squeeze into a normal parking spot.
I have a higher roof top, not a high top but the middle one. It’s still not high enough for me to stand straight but perhaps my back aches a bit less from it 🙂 The main benefit I see is that I get some extra storage over the front seats where I put my camping chairs and a folding table. One thing that I didn’t really think of was that there are height limits on a lot of garages and parking lots and that ferries get more expensive. Being below 220 cm turned out to be a life saver more than once; with the solar and roof vent my van measures 217 cm 🙂
Of course having a larger van would be nice. It’s hard to squeeze in two adults and a kid and you can forget about having a shower or even a proper wc. So far it hasn’t been a big problem and the pros exceed the cons. Depending on how you travel and where you stay a bigger van might be the better choice for you but not for me.
I have the 1.9 TDI BRS 75kW engine. Definitely not a powerhouse but it does what it’s supposed to. I get around 0.8l/10km milage which is quite ok. I once drove up a rather steep and long ski slope which I’m surprised worked at all. Sometimes it’s pretty nice to not even bother trying to drive aggressively.
Options and upgrades
I have some upgrades on my van, some more usable than others.
Removable rear seats – at first I thought this was great. Just pop them in when I want to take some more people with me. Turned out they weigh a lot and take up a lot of space when not used. Next van will be without rear seats.
Side windows – this was a showstopper for me when looking for a van. Now I’m not that sure. I like that I get some more light into the van and that I can check out what is going on outside the van but it’s very hard to go stealth and even have some privacy with a lot of windows. I’m leaning towards getting a van without windows next time.
Single passenger seat – I wanted the double passenger seat but unfortunately didn’t get it. I still want a double passenger seat, especially now that our family has become three instead of two. On the pro side it makes it much easier to jump back without exiting the car and I have fitted a safe in-between the chairs.
A/C – it would have been hard without it.
Cruise control – This is rather handy when doing long drives.
Hill assist – I don’t know, I guess it’s nice to have but nothing I would pay extra for.
Radio – I have the RCD200 CD/radio which feels really outdated. I tried to fit an external 3.5mm cable to the line-in but apparently the radio has to be reprogrammed by an authorized VW repair shop to accept it. I’m replacing this with something more up to date soon.
Hatchback – I love the hatchback. You get rain cover and a wide panorama view. Fitting a bike rack does however get harder. I would still go with the hatchback again.
White is definitely not the best color when you want to do stealth camping. Overall the whole stealth thing is a topic by itself; it’s something that went from a non-issue to a rather important one. Next van will definitely be of a darker color.
So far I haven’t had any major issues with it. Things I had to service last year:
- One glowplug stopped heating up and had to be replaced. ~15€
- The top break light didn’t survive the winter and has to be replaced.
- Had to replace the rear break discs.~80€
- New light bulb. 1€
- Oil change with new filter. ~100€
- New air filter. ~15€