New Volkswagen California Breaks Cover with Extra Room, More Tech

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Volkswagen California Grows, Adds New TechVolkswagen
  • Volkswagen has revealed a new generation of the California camper van dubbed the California 6.1.

  • The new California is longer and wider than before, with every model now earning a pop-up roof and sliding doors for both sides; VW added a plug-in-hybrid version too.

  • There are five trims to choose from: Beach, Beach Tour, Beach Camper, Coast, and Ocean, each offering a unique take on the camper van—though none will be sold in California or anywhere else in the United States.

We'll forgive you if you've never heard of the Volkswagen California, as it has never been sold in the U.S., but VW has been offering some form of the camper van in Europe for more than two decades. Now, Volkswagen is giving the camper a complete overhaul with the spiritual successor to the Westfalia pop-top getting longer and wider than before while also earning some new technology. Dubbed the California 6.1, every trim level has a pop-up roof and sliding rear doors on both sides.

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The new California lineup has five models to choose from: Beach, Beach Tour, Beach Camper, Coast, and Ocean, with each model offering a slightly different take on the pop-top camper. The Beach is the cheapest of the California's offerings. It has a manual top and offers seating for six in a 2+2 configuration for the second and third rows.


Upgrading to the Beach Tour (and the trims above it) introduces swiveling front seats, lighting in the pop-up roof, sliding windows in the rear doors, and access to a new 5.0-inch control screen located in the C-pillar on the front passenger side. The new unit controls the van's camping functions, including heating and lighting systems, and can provide info on power and water levels.

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The Beach Camper earns a five-seat configuration and an admittedly "extremely compact" mini-kitchen. The kitchen houses a stove with a single gas burner, a cutlery drawer, and additional storage to hid any goodies that might otherwise get in the way. The Coast model swaps passenger space for practical space. It features a four-seat layout, a larger kitchenette complete with cabinets, a sink, a refrigerator, and a single-burner stovetop. Upgrading to the flagship Ocean brings fancier interior materials, heated front seats, storage space in the roof, and an auxiliary heater.

The updated California rides on the same platform as the long-wheelbase Volkswagen Multivan. It's 10.6 inches longer and 1.6 inches wider than before, though it retains the same height as the outgoing van. There are three powertrain options for the new van, all of which pair to an automatic transmission. There's a standard gas-fed 2.0-liter four-cylinder powertrain, a diesel 2.0-liter four-pot option, and—new for the California lineup—a plug-in-hybrid option that pairs an electric motor with a 1.5-liter gas engine.

According to VW, the new California will go on sale in June, with deliveries to start later in the year. Unfortunately for readers on our home soil, Volkswagen has no plans to begin selling the California in North America.

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