Volkswagen Crafter has long been a fixture in the light commercial sector, with a plethora of choices and variants. The latest addition to that choice list is the 4MOTION variant.
Launched in July 2019, the 4MOTION Crafter adds another dimension and broadens the uses that the Crafter can fulfil.
What does the Crafter 4MOTION look like?
At first glance it looks like a big slab sided white box with wheels. Yet when you look closer the subtle design tweaks appear. Like the stylish bonnet with sloping ridge highlights, sliding down to integrated, range adjustable twin Halogen headlights. The Grill also sits nicely below. The frontal design makes the whole vehicle look sleeker that it actually is.
From the side and rear it still looks like a big white box but with some styling. However there is a very appealing quality to the overall look, something that was reinforced by a couple of comments from people walking past my house when it was parked outside.
The rear barn doors are wide opening and have heated window, rear wiper and washer system. Given the size of the van the 16” steel wheels with centre wheel trim – 235/65 R16 C115/113 R look a little small, but do the job well enough.
What is the inside of the Crafter 4MOTION like?
In a word HUGE! You climb up into the cabin on a handy step and grab handle. Driver’s seat is comfortable and spongy. I’m usually one that likes extra lumbar support, but the Crafter seat was comfortable even after a few hours in the driver’s seat.
The van I had was fitted with a separating panel. This had the effect of making the cabin slightly insulated from the noise behind, but also slightly limited the seat back recline. This led to one of the only grumbles about the cabin. The angle of the seat and accelerator pedal meant that my foot was at an odd position and occasionally cramped. Probably also because I have extra-long legs.
The driver’s seat in the base version offers longitudinal & height adjustment, electric 4-way adjustable lumbar support as well as adjustable armrests. However as this is a work van and driver health is important, the driver’s and front passenger seat can be upgraded to the AGR-certified ergoActive version: The ergoActive shock-cushioning seat includes the same functions as the Comfort seat ‘Plus’ and additionally offers an electric massage and suspension.
Otherwise the cabin is extremely comfortable. The outstanding feature is the amount of practical storage areas. There are door pockets, cup holders, handy shelves, dash top trays and USB and 12V inputs (took me a while to realise they were there). And decent glove box. In addition there are overhead parcel trays that accommodate heaps. The storage is amazing.
The front bench offers storage underneath the seat. The bench is split so that you can fold up the seat separately making access to the under seat storage really easy. The backrest of the middle seat folds down and locks in. There are two cup holders and storage for a tablet, documents etc.
What are some of the other features of the Crafter 4MOTION?
Other features include electric windows as standard, firm side supports for increased seating comfort, seat cushion tilt and forward/back adjustment, two adjustable armrests on the driver’s seat the optional single front passenger seat, a footrest for the person in the middle on the double front passenger bench seat that creates an ergonomic position, a non-reflective partition window with protective grille and a step integrated into the front spoiler for use when cleaning the windscreen.
There are two 12-volt plug sockets provided as standard for the driver in the cockpit of the new Crafter. The supply of warm or fresh air can be controlled manually for one uniform zone, or optionally for two zones (front and back).
Where necessary, these can be supplemented by a second air-conditioning unit, which is housed aerodynamically inside the vehicle rather than on its roof.
What is the Crafter 4MOTION like to drive?
The Crafter 4MOTION runs a transversely mounted 2.0 litre turbo diesel that produces power of 130kW @ 3,600 and torque of 410Nm at 2000 rpm and delivers this through an 8-speed automatic transmission and all four wheels.
The 4MOTION all-wheel drive system in the new Crafter provides reliable traction on practically every surface and a high level of active safety. The Haldex coupling enables a variable distribution of drive system power between the front and rear axles. The Haldex coupling is solidly mounted on a rear axle specially developed for the purpose. The provision of sufficient spring travel for this has already been taken into account in the development and design process. The new Crafter thus also provides an all-wheel drive system for the vehicle segment with heavy tonnage: at up to 4 tonnes the new Crafter advances powerfully and reliably when using the all-wheel drive system even on muddy building sites, in forests and up slopes.
I also drove the Crafter on sand and while I wouldn’t venture too far into the soft stuff, it certainly held its own. If I was buying the Crafter I would take the LED headlight option as they are adequate without being great.
The low delivery of maximum torque means that the Crafter happily hums along. It takes a little to get it going though as it’s a hefty van. Forward visibility is excellent and with large external mirrors looking to the rear is good if you have a full load. However there is a blind spot from the ‘B; pillar when you are looking to the side. It’s a little restrictive.
The other thing that impressed me was that despite this being a large van, it felt so easy to drive with a tight turning circle, easy engine transmission combination and for a van, good handling. Parking in shopping centres was easy with a clear rear camera.
The rear suspension was harsh unladen, but obviously more compliant when loaded. On the freeway in a strong crosswind it became more exciting, not. Crafter considerably more agile in city traffic, something that is further aided by helpful driver assistance systems such as sensor-controlled Side Protection, Park Assist, Rear Traffic Alert, and numerous others
What are the safety features of the Crafter 4MOTION?
As with all Crafter variants safety is to the fore of its class, and now comes with the added surety of on-demand 4MOTION AWD.
Standard are front and side airbags, Front Assist with City Emergency Braking, front and rear park distance control, rear-view camera, multi collision baking, driver fatigue detection and crosswind assist. Park assist, rear traffic alert, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, sensor based side assist and adaptive cruise control can be optioned along with a mechanical diff lock and hill descent assist
Dimensions and payload, what are they like?.
As there are so many variants this is a difficult area to pin down. One thing I noticed was that despite having a high roof line, that didn’t translate to a low floor and room for taller people to stand in the back.
Variations as mentioned have different capacitates but in concrete terms across all derivatives the new Crafter provides the greatest possible capacity in its class for loading Euro pallets and roller containers. In the longest variant of the new Crafter there is, for example, space for up to nine roller containers. In the medium-length variant with single rear wheels it is possible to load six Euro pallets (each 1.20 m x 0.80m) or four Euro 3 pallets (each 1.00 m x 1.20 m).
Also a handy feature is that the Standard GVM 3.55t can be upgraded to 4.0t
Loading the Crafter is easy with barn rear doors and a wide opening side door. The floor is a reasonable height and there are loads of convenient tie down points in the internal infrastructure, not to mention the optional racking infrastructure available.
What are the owner benefits?
All new Volkswagen’s come with 5-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and the option of the Volkswagen Care Plan which limits the cost of the Crafter’s servicing to $1400 for three years and $2300 for five years. These come with free roadside assist for the chosen period, conditional on observing the service schedule.
Overall the Crafter 4MOTION is a great addition to the range where the benefits and safety of the AWD system are needed. It adds about $4500 to the price of an equivalent van but that’s relatively inexpensive compared to alternatives.
Crafter 4MOTION will become available in all body types: Van MWB and LWB; and LWB Single- and Dual-Cab Chassis. There will be a more in-depth review coming soon.
Overall I actually really enjoyed driving the Crafter. Its high seating position, ease of driving in normal traffic and convenient cargo capacity means it had many benefits. I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed the Crafter. It felt more SUV like than van.