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California XXL: A Gigantic Camper Van Brought to You by Volkswagen

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 9/13/2017 Alexander Stoklosa

Volkswagen California XXL California XXL: A Gigantic Camper Van Brought to You by Volkswagen California is a big state, so it makes sense that Volkswagen would borrow its name and slap it onto a big-ass camper van along with the letters XXL. Well, there's also the small detail that VW's California camper is a well-known and popular van in Europe. 

This new big-and-tall VW won't be sold in California, or the United States at all, though. We ran into the not-hard-to-spot van at the Frankfurt auto show. It was initially revealed in August at a camper show in Dusseldorf, but we don't attend German camper shows. We do attend the Frankfurt International Motor Show, though, so here's the XXL.

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So far, the California XXL is only a concept. It is a sweet concept, however, with a fixed ultratall roof cap slapped atop its diesel-powered, all-wheel-drive Crafter transporter van body that affords a mega 86 inches of standing room in portions of its interior. The roof is 4.0 inches taller than the Crafter's usual Super High Roof option and integrates large open panels. It shrouds forward and aft bed areas (the back ones are cooled and heated), a kitchen near the vehicle's center, and a dinette just behind the cockpit.

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There's even a pull-out wet bathroom that deploys from a wall like a drawer and, with its door shut, can be used as a shower. Luxuries such as a boiler, tanks for both fresh and waste water, a grill (stored in the van's cargo hold), and portable camping chairs are part of the deal, too. There are two 1.8-cubic-foot refrigerators, a magnetic spice rack, and a kitchen counter that can be reconfigured for additional food-prep surfaces.

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The van is enormous, with a 143.3-inch wheelbase (the middle span in the Crafter lineup) and a total height of 114.2 inches. Length is an interesting measurement for the California, at 235.7 inches below the door handles and 245.6 above them, the extra bit coming at the rear where it carves out more space for the sleeping quarters. (For reference to something familiar, consider that the Ford Transit XLT, the biggest one, measures 263.9 inches stem to stern on a 147.6-inch wheelbase.) The most critical dimension, according to VW, is the width, a reasonable 79.9 inches, despite all the bells and whistles packed within.

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The idea was to get a usable camper with tons of space in a smallish, wieldy package, similar to the California models based on the Transporter van, a vehicle last sold here as the EuroVan. Unlike those rigs, this concept is outfitted with a California XXL app, which is a digital control module that can manipulate the lights, music, video screens, and other functions.

California XXL: A Gigantic Camper Van Brought to You by Volkswagen© Alexander Stoklosa California XXL: A Gigantic Camper Van Brought to You by Volkswagen

The California looks great, but we challenge VW to go one step further and introduce a camper based on the upcoming I.D. Buzz electric van, hailed as the second coming of the brand's iconic Microbus. That'd be a California that could be sold in California, even if they named it Westfalia.

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