VW’s new Crafter is now an in-house creation

Volkswagen has just updated its largest euro-style van, the Crafter, for the 2017 model year. “Update” might be an understatement, though, as the Crafter is new from the wheels up. This comes as Volkswagen split with its long-time van-building partner, Mercedes-Benz. Yep, VW basically badge engineered itself the Crafter off the Mercedes Sprinter platform. Mercedes even built the van for VW, though the Crafter was powered by VW-sourced powertrains.

The new Crafter still plays on the extreme functionality found in the Sprinter. Its low load floor and available high roof heights allow for large amounts of cargo and even walking room. The van’s short overhangs and tight turning radius is perfect for navigating narrow European streets.

Volkswagen engineers didn’t just reverse-engineer the Sprinter for VW’s use. They reportedly conducted an extensive survey of Crafter customers to find what features they liked, didn’t like, and wanted to see in future products. VW says this lead to driver aids like a backup camera, adaptive cruise control, a side wind compensation system, and even the availability of VW’s 4Motion AWD system.

On top of these features, VW updated the standard powertrain option. The new “EA288Nutz” 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder is offered in four output levels, including a twin-turbo variant with 175 horsepower. What’s more, the Crafter offers more drivetrain choices than just about any vehicle in recent memory. Customs can order FWD, RWD, or AWD, on top of an automatic or manual transmission. Impressive.

Keep reading for more on the Crafter.

Continue reading for the full run-down.

  • Year:
    2017
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Energy:
    Turbodiesel
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    10.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    110 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
  • size:
  • body style:

Exterior

2017 Volkswagen Crafter - image 683718
2017 Volkswagen Crafter - image 683717
2017 Volkswagen Crafter - image 683716

The Crafter now wears a unique exterior design that is unmistakably all Volkswagen. The smart new styling reflects VW’s current design language, including the twin horizontal bars in the grille, the raised accent lines in the hood, the LED-equipped headlights, and deep bodyline the runs the length of the vehicle.

"Beyond the styling, the Crafter is available in three different lengths and three different roof heights."

Down low, grey plastic molding protects the Crafter’s sides from door dings or wayward shopping carts. Reflectors help increase the vans’ visibility at night. Out back, the large doors fold to 90 degrees and around to the van’s sides, at nearly 180 degrees. This allows for easy entry and exit, along with keeping the doors out of the way. A wide step bumper further makes entry into the cargo area a snap.

For a cargo van, the 2017 Crafter is a looker. Those keep body lines below the door handles and above the wheel arches really give the van some character, not to mention the clean, modern design of the front clip.

Beyond the styling, the Crafter is available in three different lengths and three different roof heights. This gives customers the opportunity to customize their Crafter to exactly their needs, whether it be long-haul highway use, or in-town deliveries.

Interior

2017 Volkswagen Crafter - image 683719

Volkswagen’s modern theme continues inside the Crafter. The driver and front passengers’ position is clean and sleek, with a no-nonsense dash full of useful cubbies, slots, and cup holders. The gauge cluster features two main analog gauges with a small driver information screen between them. A large infotainment system can be had, as well. Modern features like dual zone climate control and heated seats are also available.

The Crafter also offers seating for three occupants up front, with the driver getting his own bucket seat, while a two-person bench seat sits beside it. And not only does the dash offers plenty of storage spots, the door panels give two levels of cubbies. There’s even storage on top of the dash, near the windshield.

Drivetrain

The 2017 VW Crafter comes powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder TDI. This turbodiesel is available in four outputs, including 102 PS, 122 PS, 140 PS, and 177 PS. This equates to 100, 120, 138, and 175 horsepower. Torque figures were not available at this time of this writing.

The most potent version of the TDI, the 177-horse version, comes with a twin-turbo setup, which forces more air into the engine than the conventional single-turbo setup.

VW has paired each output with the various drivetrain choices. As mentioned before, the Crafter can be had in FWD, RWD, or AWD. This gives customers the chance to pick which drivetrain best suits their needs. Furthermore, all engine and drivetrain pairings are offered with the choice of an automatic or manual transmission.

Price

2017 Volkswagen Crafter - image 683714

Volkswagen has not released pricing for the 2017 Crafter yet, but the van is expected to closely follow last year’s pricing levels. The 2016 model starts at £29,355, or roughly $39,000 at current exchange rates. Prices of course rise when choosing a longer wheelbase, taller roof, or upgraded powertrain.

Competition

Ford Transit

2014 Ford Transit - image 509390

The Transit van has been around for decades in Europe and across the globe, while Americans are only just figuring this out since Ford killed off the Econoline van. Nevertheless, the Transit offers a similar setup to the Crafter, with its low loading floor, tall roof with optional heights, an various lengths. The Transit is also available with a variety of engine output options from its 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel, along with the standard FWD or optional RWD and AWD drivetrain choices. Ford also offers both a manual and automatic transmission.

Read more about the Ford Transit here

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

2015 Mercedes Sprinter - image 625788

The Sprinter has also been around for decades in Europe and other places around the world. It was also the first Euro-van to invade U.S. shores, showing Americans the added functionality of these large vans compared to the smaller, truck-based vans built by domestic automakers.

The Sprinter comes powered by a choice of a four-cylinder or V-6 turbodiesel with several outputs from each. Both automatic and manual transmission are offered, as well as the option for 4WD.

Read more about the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter here

Conclusion

2017 Volkswagen Crafter - image 683715

Volkswagen’s move away from the Mercedes Sprinter seems like a great move for Crafter vans. The van now offers more driver aids, improved powertrains, a ton of drivetrain options, and vastly improved designs both inside and out.

What’s more, Volkswagen has built a new manufacturing plant in Wrzesnia, Poland, adding more than 3,000 jobs to the town of nearly 30,000 people. This is VW’s second plant in Poland.

Large commercial vans aren’t the sexiest or most talked-about vehicles on the Internet, but their role in commercial industry and a handful of consumer segments is undeniable. These vehicles are the workhorses that move good and people with little recognition. So for that, we commend Volkswagen for committing itself in building a better version of the Crafter. Those who use it will surely appreciate the extra dedication.

  • Leave it
    • Not available in the U.S.
    • On the expensive side

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Press Release

The clear objective when designing and engineering the all-new Crafter was to produce a customer-focused transport solution, offering high economy and low total cost of ownership: to that end it was developed precisely in line with the specific demands and requirements of various user groups and will achieve class-leading performances in a number of areas.

  • Available with front, rear or 4MOTION all-wheel drive
  • Manual and automatic gearbox options
  • 4 base models, 3 lengths, 3 heights
  • Completely new vehicle with a Cd value of 0.33
  • Equipped with commercial vehicle diesel engines
  • Extensive range of driver assistance systems available
  • State of the art production at new plant in Wrzesnia in Poland

Design: developed around the customer

In order to understand precisely different customers’ requirements, engineers from Volkswagen accompanied vehicle users from key customer groups, including couriers, construction workers and long distance drivers on their rounds during the development stage. This meant they could identify the genuine needs of these drivers and fleets and produce a vehicle which met their requirements. For example, what systems help in inner-city traffic? How can accidents caused by tiredness be reduced? What makes manoeuvring easy on a muddy building site? As a result the Crafter offers innovative, practical and electronic solutions for various individual challenges.

Engine: top in economy and environmental compatibility

The Crafter’s all-new EU 6 engines and new exterior design give the model the lowest consumption and emission figures. The engines are designed for both short and long-distance driving to ensure downtime is never a problem. The new Crafter also scores with its robustness and low maintenance and repair costs, all of which have a positive effect on total cost of ownership over the vehicle’s life cycle.

Practical: outstanding functionality and everyday utility

The optimal dimensions of the new Crafter ensure maximum practicality and ease in everyday situations. For example, the new vehicle combines extensive cargo capacity with minimal external dimensions, making it extremely manoeuvrable yet solid in its handling, regardless of payload.

Flexible: multiple engine and drivetrain variants

The new Crafter now offers an extremely wide range of derivatives. The new "EA 288Nutz" 2.0-litre TDI engine, developed especially for this model, is available with four power outputs: 102 PS, 122 PS and 140 PS, plus a bi-turbo TDI with 177 PS.

The choice of engines depends on which drive system is selected. Here customers have a choice between front, rear and all-wheel drive (4MOTION), as well as the option of a manual or automatic gearbox. Such variety has never been seen before in this segment.

There are also up to three different vehicle lengths available depending on the model chosen, while the closed body variants come with up to three different roof heights. This means customers can configure their new Crafter exactly in line with their specific requirements and find the right combination of engine, gearbox, drive system, vehicle length and roof height to meet their needs.

New standards: wide variety of driver assistance systems

The new Crafter sets new standards for assistance systems in the large van sector; not for the sake of it, but to optimise occupant protection through the use of active and passive safety concepts regardless of payload.

This is made possible in large part due to an electro-mechanical steering system used for the first time in this vehicle class which means active driver assistance systems, such as ESP with trailer stabilisation, ACC Adaptive Cruise Control, post-collision braking system, side wind compensation system and a trailer manoeuvring assistant system among others are all available.

In terms of passive safety, front, side and head airbags for the driver and passengers and an extensive range of warning systems that includes a reversing camera, parking distance monitor and the Rear Traffic Alert system are also on offer. LED headlights, cornering lights and Light Assist ensure a clear view of the road ahead at night, while the Crafter also comes with online services that are tailored to the specific needs of customers.

New factory: bespoke Crafter plant

A new production facility was built in Wrzesnia, Poland, especially for the new Crafter. The facility is the brand’s second production location in Poland; the other is the Volkswagen plant in Poznan-Antoninek, which has been operating for more than 20 years now.

The Crafter plant occupies an area of approximately 540 acres – or around 300 football fields. More than 3,000 people will work at the Wrzesnia plant when the facility is operating at full capacity. Several supply companies will also open up factories in the area, creating additional jobs for the surrounding region.

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