Review - Volkswagen California

By Alexi Falson on 10 Feb 2023
image for Review - Volkswagen California The Volkswagen California is the range-topping campervan from the company with a very established reputation for comfortable, capable, and refined vans.

Volkswagen’s range of passenger vans was given a major update last year, with the T6.1-gen California receiving even more practical and clever packaging designs, and a range of creature comforts that make it one of the ultimate road trip companions.

Let’s take a closer look at the VW California range to see which is the pick of the bunch, and how the platform stacks up against its rivals.

Starting Price: $87,290

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Volkswagen California (TDI340 CALIFORNIA BEACH) Specifications

Model Date 2023
Series T6.2 MY23
Fuel type DIESEL
Transmission 7 SP AUTO DIRECT SHI
Drive FWD
Engine TDDFI
Engine capacity 1968
Engine configuration DUAL OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 3750 / 1500
Cylinders DT4
Torque 340
KW 110
Fuel tank size 80.0
Fuel usage specs 6.6 / 0
CO2 175
ANCAP security rating Unrated

For more details and other variants, check Volkswagen California car page.

How Much Does It Cost?

The Volkswagen California range kicks off from $87,290 for the entry-level California Beach, while stepping up to the California TDI340 4Motion brings the price to $91,290.

The range-topping California TDI450 is priced at $97,290.

Keep in mind that prices listed here are subject to change and do not include on-road costs.

How Much Can OnlineAuto Save You?

Using OnlineAuto’s car buying service, our car sourcing specialists can help you find the best value model for you.

What Features Does the Volkswagen California Have?

The Volkswagen California comes riding on a set of 17-inch alloys, and receives a five-seat layout, adaptive cruise control, a set of swiveling front seats, a pop-top roof extension, a side awning, a camping table with camping chairs, a bed extension, a second battery, a rear-view camera with front & rear parking sensors and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.

Range Features:

  • 17-inch alloys

  • Five-seat layout

  • Adaptive cruise control

  • Swiveling front seats

  • Pop-top roof & side awning

  • Camping table & chairs

  • Bed extension

  • Second battery

  • Rear-view camera with front & rear parking sensors

  • 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto

Volkswagen California Colours

The Volkswagen California range is available in a choice of ten colours, including Candy White, Reflex Silver & Iridium Grey, Reflex Silver & Fortana Red, Ascot Grey, Starlight Blue & Reflex Silver, Mojave Beige, Starlight Blue and Indium Grey.

Is it Comfortable to Drive?

Volkswagen is renowned for making its Passenger vans feel far more sophisticated than you might expect from a passenger-friendly van, and the California is proof of the fact the company has pretty much perfected the recipe.

Power for the California range comes supplied by a choice of two engines.

The first, a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel powering the TDI340 variants produces 110kW of power and 340Nm of torque, while stepping up to the TDI450 brings power up to 146kW and torque to a very impressive 450Nm.

The base engine is acceptable, but the performance of the more powerful TDI450 makes it a far more attractive offering thanks to the added torque.

Power for both variants is sent to the wheels via a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission that offers some rapid shifts at speed, with the added bonus of an all-wheel-drive system in  4Motion variants.

On a mix of roads here in Australia, the California feels stable at speed, comfortable on some of the rougher surfaces and remains impressively user-friendly while driving around town, making for a great all-rounder.

The suspension does a great job at ironing out bumps on the road while offering enough support when you’re up and moving to give the driver a great deal of confidence, while the steering remains lightweight around town and offers the driver feedback as you pick up speed.

All up, the latest California is difficult to fault thanks to the versatile and comfortable platform and Volkswagen’s range of torque-filled diesel powertrains.

Is it Practical and Spacious?

Designed first and foremost as a camper, the space and comfort are key selling points inside the Volkswagen California platform.

It’s important to note that the California is based on VW’s short wheelbase platform that measures 4904mm long, 1904mm wide, 1990mm tall, and has a wheelbase spanning 3000mm.

This means that the cargo bay measures in 2532mm long by 1220mm wide, which is more than enough for a comfortable camping environment, especially when you take note of VW’s clever packaging designs for the seats, table, bed and hidden storage areas that make a huge difference when put to the test.

Complete with a pop-top roof, the California offers far more space and headroom than the rest of the Multivan range and makes for the versatile and practical member of the VW van family that can actually sleep four people.

The front seats swivel on the spot, while there’s an extendable table that hides away into a side compartment with a heap of storage, while popping the roof allows enough space for two people to sleep up top.

All up, the California is an absolute over-achiever when it comes to offering enough space, practicality, and versatility for a family of four, and is an outstanding camping companion.

Is it Safe?

The Volkswagen California is yet to receive an official ANCAP safety rating, although it does come with a generous amount of active safety tech to help sweeten the deal.

As standard, each member of the VW California family comes packing an autonomous emergency braking system, adaptive cruise control, a rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alerts, cross-wind assistance, blind-spot monitoring and six airbags.

Is it Fuel Efficient?

The Volkswagen California is impressively fuel-efficient in base form, with the California TDI340 rated at 6.6L/100km on a combined cycle.

Stepping up to the all-wheel-drive 4Motion brings fuel economy figures up to 7.5L/100km, while the more powerful version of the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine brings economy figures up to 7.8L/100km in the TDI450 4Motion.

Our Verdict: Is the Volkswagen California Worth it?

As far as family-friendly, versatile and comfortable campers go, Volkswagen continues to lead the pack with its latest generation California Beach camper.

Behind the wheel, the California is easy and comfortable to drive and a pleasure on long-distance road trips. When it’s time to park up and relax, VW’s clever and practical interior designs make it a homely and extremely comfortable place to sleep.

The VW California remains one of the best campers on the market, and for that reason, we highly recommend you add it to your shortlist. On that note, if you’re in the market for a new car, you can get a free quote and see how much OnlineAuto can save you on your next car, or call us on 1300 719 925

Five Specs You Need to Know

  1. Five-year, unlimited KM warranty

  2. Five-seat layout sleeps up to four adults

  3. Two versions of a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel available (TDI 340 & TDI450)

  4. Fuel economy figures between 6.6L - 7.8L/100km

  5. Pop-top roof, awning, table & chairs included as standard


  • Comfortable, practical, and clever interior design

  • Second battery takes the stress out of camping

  • Smooth and refined to drive on a mix of roads


  • No official ANCAP safety rating

  • Lackluster performance from base engine

  • Seven-seat layout no more

OnlineAuto Rating: 9/10

VW California Competition

Volkswagen California

Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo Activity
Ford Transit
Renault Trafic
LDV Deliver 9
Mercedes-Benz Vito
Toyota HiAce


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

Have any questions? Call us on 1300 719 925

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