The Volkswagen LT was sold between 1996 - 2006 and was replaced by the Crafter. This big panel van was based on the Mercedes Sprinter, but it didn’t get the same attention as its three pointed star sibling.
Though, the vehicle was fairly practical thanks to its big, bulky body and had a spacious and strong built interior.
The Volkswagen LT was available with various engine outputs that developed between 90 hp and 130 hp. Gross vehicle weights varied from 2.8 tonnes to 4.6 tonnes with a starting price of $ 25.300. There were also three wheelbases and two roof heights available.
Keeping it up with the trends of its time, the Volkswagen LT had a robust and boxy design that was a perfect match for its utilitarian DNA.
The overall design was pretty similar with the Mercedes Sprinter, but the front end was slightly different as the LT received a bigger and more imposing grille, combined with larger rectangular headlights. The wraparound bumper featured a rudimentary style too and was fitted with a thin air intake.
The van received a big windscreen which was heavily raked following the same angle as the sloped bonnet. As most vans in the segment, the Volkswagen LT was fitted with unglazed rear doors which open to 270 degree on some versions. There were also sliding side doors to offer easy access to the load area.
Talking about load, the LT’s volume capacity ranges from 7 to 13.4 cubic meters, with maximum payloads varying from 1045 kg to 2.543 kg. The cab and load area were separated by a solid full steel bulkhead that was offered as standard feature.
Along the years, van cabs have made a fast and very big evolution, but the Volkswagen LT never lead the way when it comes to comfort or technological upgrades.
Despite the fact that it was based on the Mercedes Sprinter that was usually ahead of the pack in terms of comfort and technology, the LT’s cab remain dull and spartan.
The overall style was basic with a floor mounted gear knob and a pretty unpractical dashboard. Materials weren’t something to rave about either, but the build quality was pretty solid.
The center console was also more on the rudimentary side of things, but most of the controls were placed within easy reach. The instrument panel was fitted with three round gauges that were pretty clean and easy to read.
Fortunately, the four spoke steering wheel had a modern design and was also available with a few adjustments to help you find a proper driving position. The seats were big and offered decent comfort on a long run. There were also some useful adjustments in all directions on offer, permitting you to get cozy behind the wheel.
As most of the vans in this segment you’ll get a commanding driving position combined with a great road visibility. The plate sized exterior mirrors were also up to the task and kept blind spots to minimum.
Compared to its rivals the LT falls pretty short when it comes to equipments and offers only a standard radio cassette player in a time when other manufacturers have equipped their vans with features like CD players, air bags and even air conditioning.
Engines and performance
To be able to appeal to a wider range of customers, the Volkswagen LT was offered with two diesel engines. The first one is a 2.5 liter unit which develops 90 hp and 109 hp, while the seconds has a 2.8 liter displacement and churns out 130 hp with a maximum torque of 280 Nm.
The stronger unit offers faultless performances with crisp acceleration, being able to cope great with both city and highway traffic. The 2.5 liter unit isn’t bad either and offers a good balance between fuel consumption and performance.
There’s no lack of pulling power even on steep slopes, but the floor-mounted gearstick, proves a tad notchy unlike the dash mounted unit found in the new Crafter. The clutch is more on the heavy side which makes you feel like driving a truck.
Volkswagen LT Engines Specifications
|2.5 ||90 @ 3500||220 @ 1800-2500|
|2.5 ||109 @ 3500||280 @ 1400|
|2.8||130 @ 3500||280 @ 2200|
Ride and handling
The Volkswagen LT was a rear wheel drive vehicle with leaf springs suspensions. This configuration translates into a pretty harsh ride like most of the old vans in this segment. However, with some load at the back the ride will start to be more forgivable.
Apart from the bumpy ride, the LT has good road manners and despite its tall height the body roll isn’t something to worry about, as it’s pretty well kept in check.
All models come with standard power steering which makes them pretty easy to drive around the city.
You can also rely with confidence on the LT’s brakes, as the vehicle it’s fitted with all-around discs combined with standard ABS. An immobiliser comes also as standard, but you’ll need to pay extra money for central locking and airbags.
The old Volkswagen LT was far from being as refined as the new Crafter which currently is among the best models in its class. The LT’s cab was highly rudimentary and its floor mounted gearstick spoiled all the fun.
On the other hand, the build quality was pretty good and the engines were among the best units found around. The ride was pretty harsh but this is a usual thing in this segment so we won’t complain too much about it.
The overall road manners however, were pretty decent and we also liked the generous load volume and the various body styles which made the LT a fairly versatile work horse.