Volkswagen Van For Vanlife: 11 Reasons Why It’s the Best

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Considering the VW Campervan for Vanlife?

With it’s cool aesthetics, huge online community, and functional interiors, the old VW Vans are a vintage-van-lover’s dream.

But how does it stack up against other popular throwback van models like the Toyota HiAce, Mitsubishi Delica, & Nissan Urvan?

In this post, we’ll find out.

Here’s everything you’ll learn:

11 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like the VW Van

The Volkswagen van is cool, functional, & hold it’s value well – but is it the best option for vanlife?

Here are 11 reasons why vanlifers like the Volkswagen campervan:

  1. Most Come Already Built Out: If you’re not looking to DIY a van build, a vintage VW Van is a great option because almost all that you’ll find are already built out.
  2. Large, Wrap-Around Windows: The VW Vans all have huge windows that wrap around the entirety of the van, providing lots of natural light and great visibility.
  3. Awesome Street Cred: If you care about street cred, an old VW Van is for you. Just be ready for lots of gawkers on the road, and tons of questions about your van.
  4. Pop-tops and High Roofs: Many VW vans come with high roofs, and pop-tops for more sleeping room.
  5. Good for Off-Roading: The VW Van (while very slow) is surprisingly good for off-roading because of its high clearance.
  6. Functional Interiors: The factory interiors of the VW vans are highly functional. Most have a lot of storage space, and convertible dinettes.
  7. Great Visibility: Owners say that when driving this van, you can really see everything on the road because you’re high up, and the windows are really large.
  8. Large Online Community: No matter which VW Van you choose, you’ll be able to find a large community online of other people who own your van. There are also yearly meetups for old VW buses.
  9. Easy Repairs: Owners say that the engines in VW vans are very simple and straightforward to do repairs on.
  10. Holds its Value: VW Vans hold their value like few other cars on the market. They are a collectable car, and may even increase in value as they age.
  11. Unique Interiors: Each VW Van you come across will have a very different interior, be that an original vintage interior, or a DIY build-out.

7 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike the VW

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to the Volkwsagen van.

Here are 7 reasons why vanlifers dislike the VW:

  1. Slow: Most VW Vans struggle to drive above 60 or 70 miles per hour. If you like to speed on the freeway, this can be frustrating.
  2. Requires A lot of Maintenance: VW Vans are not low-maintenance cars. Expect frequent roadside repairs in addition to routine maintenance.
  3. Rust Issues: Since these vans are old, many are going to come with frame rust, which is a difficult and expensive fix.
  4. Safety Concerns: Old VW vans have very few safety features, many don’t even have airbags.
  5. No A/C: Older VW vans do not have air conditioning, which is something to keep in mind if you plan to travel in hot weather.
  6. Pricey: For how old and broken down some of these VW Vans are, they are still pretty expensive to purchase.
  7. People Will Know You’re Camping in Them: If you care about “stealth” camping, this isn’t the van for you. VW buses really stand out from the crowd and people will be able to tell right away that you’re camping in one.

 

9 Amazing Volkswagen Van Builds

With large windows, high-roofs, & tons of aftermarket parts, the VW campervan provides a good platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?

Here are 9 of the coolest VW campervans ever:

 

Build #9: Restored High Top VW Van with Rear Bed and Front Kitchen

  • Highlights: This 1971 VW bus has the original paint on the outside. Inside, the bus has been completely gutted and restored. The van includes a rear bed, a large bench seat in the middle, and an interior kitchen, which you can stand up in thanks to the high roof.
  • Van: 1971 Volkswagen Bay Window Bus
  • Owner: @burn_slow_bus

 

Build #8: Pop-Top Eurovan that Seats Seven

  • Highlights: This more modern VW Van has its original interior, with a large bench seat that folds into a bed, and a pop-up dinette table. The large pop-top adds sleeping room for two more people.
  • Van: 2002 Volkswagen Eurovan Weekender
  • Owner: @vwbuscamper

 

Build #7: VW Vanagon Low Roof with L-Shaped Kitchen

  • Highlights: This VW Van DIY conversion has a large bench seat that slides down into a bed. The front of the van has an L-shaped countertop with room for a stove and some storage and a cooler underneath. 
  • Van: 1980s Volkswagen Vanagon
  • Owner: @vankookz (more photos at vankookz.com)

 

Build #6: Pop-Top Volkswagen Riviera with Original Interior

Pop-Top VW Riviera with Original Interior

  • Highlights: This 1970 Riviera is in pristine condition. It has a large slide-down bench and seat, complete with red upholstery. The pop-up table functions as a dinette or workspace. The large pop-top adds sleeping room for two more people.
  • Van: 1970 Volkswagen Riviera
  • Owner: @vwbusancamper

 

Build #5: 1970’s VW Campervan Conversion with Interior Kitchen

  • Highlights: This clean and simple VW conversion has two bench seats, with one that slides out into a bed. The pop-up table is positioned between the two benches as a dinette, and there’s a fully indoor kitchen, complete with a sink, fridge, and countertop space.
  • Van: 1973 VW T2 Van
  • Owner: @vwbusandcamper

 

Build #4: Pop-Top Westfalia with Kitchenette and Storage Space

  • Highlights: This Westfalia has the original factory interior. The cushioned bench seats “downstairs” fold down into a bed. There’s a large kitchen unit with countertop space and a fridge, plus a wardrobe area and more practical storage. The pop-top adds more sleeping room “upstairs”.
  • Van: 1989 Volkswagen Westfalia
  • Owner: @surfwesty

 

Build #3: Boho VW Van for a Family of Three

  • Highlights: This stylish VW van is a full-time home to a family of three. It has a bench seat that folds down into a bed, and another platform bed that sits above the rear engine. In the front of the van is a kitchen area with room for a stove on top, and storage underneath.
  • Van: 1982 Volkswagen Kombi
  • Owner: @perdidos_en_una_kombi

 

Build #2: Bright Orange Pop-Top Volkswagen Van with Modern Interior and Awning

  • Highlights: This awesome bright orange VW Van has a completely redone interior. It includes a bench seat that slides down into a bed, and tons of cabinetry for convenient storage. The van also has a pop-top for more sleeping room, and a large awning.
  • Van: 1991 Volkswagen Caravelle Syncro
  • Owner: @pablothesyncro

 

Build #1: Pop-Top VW Camper with Original Interior

  • Highlights: This 1981 Westfalia still has its original interior, with its stock sliding bench seat, kitchen area, and storage cabinets. The large pop-top adds some extra sleeping room.
  • Van: 1981 Volkswagen Westfalia
  • Owner: @vanagon_man_

 

Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more about the Volkswagen van, let’s see how it stacks up against the Toyota HiAce, Mitsubishi Delica, & Nissan Urvan.

 

VW Van Cost

Cost: Volkswagen Van vs Toyota HiAce vs Mitsubishi Delica vs Nissan Urvan

ModelUsedPrice
VW Van$30,000Check Price
Toyota HiAce$15,500Check Price
Mitsubishi Delica$19,777Check Price
Nissan Urvan$14,577Check Price

 

VW Van Dimensions

Dimensions: Volkswagen Van vs Toyota HiAce vs Mitsubishi Delica vs Nissan Urvan

ModelInterior HeightInterior Length (cargo)Interior WidthExt Length
VW Van53.1 inches106.3 inches59.1 inches168.9 inches
Toyota HiAce55.9 inches91.9 inches60.8 inches185.6 inches
Mitsubishi Delica51.2 inches86.6 inches55 inches188 inches
Nissan Urvan60.8 inches112.8 inches53.2 inches200 inches

 

VW Van Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: Volkswagen Van vs Toyota HiAce vs Mitsubishi Delica vs Nissan Urvan

ModelCityHighwayCombined
VW Van16 MPG19 MPG17.5 MPG
Toyota HiAce17 MPG20 MPG18.5 MPG
Mitsubishi Delica18 MPG22 MPG20 MPG
Nissan Urvan19 MPG21 MPG20 MPG

 

Conclusion: Is a Volkswagen Van Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to like the Volkswagen Van: they are incredibly cool inside and out, highly functional, and hold their value really well – but they may not be for you.

Biggest factors:

  • Awesome Interior and Exterior Style
  • Hold Value Well
  • Require Lots of Maintenance
  • Pricey

So should you get one?

Absolutely! Although classic Volkswagen Campervans are not as practical as some newer vehicles, they have an undeniable cool factor that more than makes up the difficulties traveling in an old van brings. For vanlifers who are on the fence about getting a VW camper for vanlife but can’t bring themselves to spend the extra money, the Toyota HiAce, Mitsubishi Delica, & Nissan Urvan offer similar options for much less.

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