The Volkswagen Crafter is a Segment-M or light commercial vehicle produced by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) since 2006.
The first-generation Crafter was a rebadged Mercedes Sprinter. Daimler AG built it, but a VW engine powered it. As a result of this collaboration, the Crafter is akin not only to the Mercedes Sprinter but also to Daimler’s Freightliner Sprinter and the Dodge Sprinter.
The second-generation Crafter has cut its cord off from the Mercedes Sprinter. It has been engineered solely by Volkswagen starting in 2017. It also comes by other nameplates, namely: Volkswagen Grand California camper (which comes with a loo) and MAN TGE van and single cabs (under Man Truck and Bus).
When it came to Volkswagen light commercial vehicles in the 1950s, the Type 2-based Kombi range covered the entire segment. The lineup included the Type 2-based utes and panel vans. However, the demand for transporting much heavier and larger cargo increased, and this prompted the automaker to design and produce a more heavy-duty transporter. Thus, the LT came to inception. The abbreviation LT stands for Lasten-Transporter, German for cargo transported.
Volkswagen produced the VW LT for two generations under the following design codes: Typ 28, 21, 29, and 35 (Typ 2D). The second-generation Typ 2D, which shared the same platform with the Mercedes Sprinter, was a result of the joint venture between VW and Mercedes Benz. This generation is the direct ancestor of the VW Crafter, which carries the code of LT3 in the production lines.
1st Generation: (2006–2017)
The first-generation Crafter rolled out from the same plants in Germany where Mercedes-Benz produced the Sprinter. The exterior front displays twin halogen headlamps and a four-bar front grille. This fascia is profoundly evocative of the VW Constellation, a commercial cab-over-engine truck from which French designer Laurent Boulay took his design inspiration.
While the Crafter shared the platform of the Mercedes-Benz, its power came from Volkswagen engines. In Australia, it was available in medium and long wheelbases (MWB and LWB, respectively) and a turbocharged diesel engine with the following specs:
- 2.5L TDI CR I5 turbo-diesel engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission (100 kW, 300 Nm)
The first-generation Crafter was available in either 3.5-tonne or 5.0-tonne gross vehicle mass (GVM), 3-door 2-seat configuration, either medium or long wheelbase and in the following variants:
- 35 MWB
- 35 LWB
- 35 LWB XL
- 50 LWB
- 50 LWB XL
The “35” designation refers to 3.5-tonne GVM, while “50” means 5.0 tonnes. All MWB variants get a wheelbase of 3,665mm, while LWB and LWB XL variants get 4,325mm. The LWB XL models have the same wheelbase as the LWB but come with an overhang. Body lengths are 5,905mm for MWB, 6,940mm for LWB, and 7,300mm for LWB XL.
All Crafter models came with this standard equipment: front airbags (with side/curtain airbags offered as options), seatbelt pretensioners for front seats, ABS, load-adapting ESP, ASR traction control, electronic differential lock, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, engine immobiliser, traction control, air conditioning, 4-speaker radio/CD, power mirrors, power steering, and power windows for the front.
A Euro 5b-compliant 2.0L TDI engine replaced the 2.5L TDI engine in 2011. It has the following specs:
- 2.0 TDI CR I4 turbo-diesel engine (80-100 kW, 300-340 N⋅m)
Another variant was released the next year – a 4Motion (Volkswagen-speak for four-wheel drive). It came with the below engine:
- 2.0 BiTDI CR I4 turbo-diesel engine (120 kW; 400 N⋅m)
The Volkswagen Crafter received the following awards from various players in the automotive industry:
- UK – 2006 Overall Van of the Year (What Van?)
- UK – 2006 Large Van of the Year (What Van?)
- UK – 2007 Large Van of the Year (Professional Van and Light Truck Magazine)
- UK – 2007 Best Large Panel Van (Van Fleet World)
- Australia – 2007 Large Van of the Year (Delivery Magazine)
- UK – Best Van-derived Chassis Cab of the Year (Professional Van and Light Truck Magazine)
2nd Generation (2017–present)
Volkswagen decided to produce the second-generation Crafter using their in-house platform and machinery. The variants include van and cab chassis body styles and are offered in two lengths – 5,986mm and 6,836mm. In 2018, an RV variant made its debut as the VW Grand California at the Caravan Salon Düsseldorf in Germany. Meanwhile, Volkswagen Australia offered at least 30 variants, all rated at 3.5-tonne GVM. The range of models includes various combinations of the following options:
- Transmission – 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual
- Torque – 340 N⋅m or 410 N⋅m
- Wheelbase – MWB or LWB
- Driveline – FWD, RWD (dual rear tyres), or 4Motion
- Roof height – standard, high roof, or super-high roof
- Overhang – with or without overhang
- Body style – van (2 or 3 seats), single cab chassis (3 seats), double cab chassis (7 seats)
All engine offerings for this generation are compliant to Euro 6 emission standards and have the following specs:
- 2.0L TDI CR I4 turbo-diesel engine mated to an 8-speed auto or 6-speed manual gearbox (103 kW, 340 N⋅m)
- 2.0L BiTDI CR I4 turbo-diesel engine mated to an 8-speed auto or 6-speed manual gearbox (130 kW, 410 N⋅m)
This auto gearbox is a version of the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission with torque converter used in the VW Amarok.
All variants come with a partition window between the cabin and the storage area, rear barn doors, and the following standard equipment:
- Safety systems – front and side curtain airbags for front row, three-point seatbelts, autonomous emergency braking, parking sensors (front and rear), driver fatigue warning, ESP, EBD, brake and crosswind assist, multi-collision braking, traction control, adjustable speed limiter, and remote-controlled locking
- Technology suite – 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, memory card reader, and voice recognition system
- Convenience features – air conditioning with pollen filter, LED reading lights, rubber floor cover, a high-comfort seat for the driver, power lumbar support for the driver, and a lot more
The muscled Crafter, particularly the 410 and 4Motion variants, stacks up well against the Sprinter and other competitors in the light commercial vehicle market segment. Its vast range of models and business-oriented configurations make it the ultimate solution for transporting cargo.