Steve Banner assesses how the rear-wheel drive VW Crafter has stepped up to the task of facilitating both loading and unloading.
With a prop shaft to accommodate, rear-wheel drive vans such as our long-term-test Volkswagen Crafter have a higher loading height than their front-wheel drive counterparts.
That can make loading and unloading more onerous, especially if you are manoeuvring heavy items on board, or if you are on multi-drop work and constantly need to climb in and out of the cargo area.
In our case Volkswagen has made the task as simple as possible.
Both the side and rear door apertures feature steps and grab handles to make it easier for drivers to climb in and out.
That was something that I welcomed as I set about loading various domestic items deemed surplus to requirements and earmarked for disposal.
Nor are those apertures a tight squeeze. They are both big – really big – so if you are carrying anything bulky then you’ve got plenty of room to manoeuvre. With a dozen floor-mounted tie-down rings, cargo should be easy enough to strap down.
A full-height, opaque, steel bulkhead should ensure that if something isn’t secured then the occupants of the cab will not end up being walloped by it if it slides forwards. I can testify to how effective that bulkhead is after the elderly driver of an ancient Volvo estate trundling along the inside lane of the M50 suddenly braked for no readily apparent reason.
The Crafter’s front-assist system immediately used an acoustic alert and a red warning light on the dashboard to warn of an imminent collision, so I braked hard and avoided spoiling the gentleman’s (and my) entire day. Had I been daydreaming and slow off the mark, then front assist would have started to decelerate the Crafter for me.
I ‘waved’ to the other driver in time-honoured fashion as I moved smartly into the next lane and whizzed past.
And the bulkhead? It received a number of muted thumps as two old bedside tables and several cartons full of household bric-a-brac bounced off it, but it shrugged them all off without any ill effects.
Report Card: Load area = 4/5
Easy to access with lots of tie-down points and a beefy bulkhead, but needs timbering out.
VW Crafter CR35 LWB Trendline 2.0 TDI 140hp 6-spd manual RWD
Official combined consumption 36.2mpg
Our average consumption 33.0mpg
Price (ex VAT) £33,280
Price range (ex VAT) £23,920-£33,655
Warranty 3yrs/unlimited mileage
Service intervals 2yrs/30,000mls
Load length 4,300mm
Load width (min/max) 1,380/1,832mm
Load bay height 1,861mm
Gross payload 1,267kg
Load volume 13.6m3
Engine size/power 1,968cc/140hp
Gearbox 6-spd manual
Business Pack £1,265
Click below to see previous report