In our early 20s, my husband (then boyfriend) and I quit our jobs in the UK and drove around Australia in a 1974 VW Kombi that we called Bessie and had THE time of our lives, endless adventures and made the best memories.
So I was soooo super keen to test the new Volkswagen Multivan and re-live some of that ‘on the road again' feeling!! This time with our daughter in the back and testing it out for its family friendliness…
We tested the Comfortline long-wheelbase model, and when I sat in the back of the Multivan, looking forward at the shape of the windscreen, visors and roofline it reminded me of my Bessie and I reminisced those carefree and simpler days I could have looked at that all day… If it wasn't for my toddler jumping all over me!!!! 🙂
Where do I start?! Who would have imagined a van so big you can walk around inside it would be sooo userfriendly with kids! It started to change the way I thought about cars and how I wanted to use them, I could get in at any door, walk to where ever my daughter's seat was, strap her in, and then walk through to the front seat. I imagine if you have more than one child it is a huge time saver because you can just walk from seat to seat doing them up without having to origami yourself through small gaps, go around to each side of the car, bring seats forward and back, uninstall and re-install child seats etc. Also, the side doors slide along rather than opening outwards, which has the same benefits in car parks as I found in the Honda Odyssey and the Kia Carnival.
With the seats positioned so there was enough room for a 182cm passenger in the front and third row and a rear-facing child seat in the second row, the boot space was still EPIC!! I could stand up a tandem, twin or single stroller in the boot space with shopping too!! We used it as a family of four and just LOVED that we could throw anything in the boot without consideration for whether it would fit! Paddleboards, stroller, Esky, kids toys etc.
Now we come to the seats. There are two individual seats in the second row which independently slide forward and back and even turn around to create a living room style space in the back of the van (which we did use for a few lunches in with our girl) although I should mention you can not travel along with the seats facing backwards with child seats fitted into them. Both second-row seats have ISOFix and top tether and child seats fitted in both nicely.
The third row is a bench of three big adult-sized seats, which are super comfy and three child seats fitted easily across them. All three have top tethers and the two outer seats have ISOFix.
Storage in the front is excellent and the doors had more storage wells than even our daughter could fill with small plastic toys or apple cores, however that didn't carry through into the rear. The second row has two map pockets and two drawers underneath the seats but there are no cup holders at all for the second or third rows and, of course, the rear seats are too far back to pass drinks and snacks while driving!
The rear side windows all have built in window shades, which is fantastic so you don't have to worry about keeping little passengers shaded from the sun on car journeys.
The drive was surprisingly nice for a van. We tested the long wheelbase variant and I have also driven the smaller model too and both were great. I did feel its size when I did Kindy drop-offs in their tight little car park, when I thought to myself “you are dropping off one child in a vehicle the size of your house”!! It actually wasn't too difficult because the reversing cameras and the big side windows made visibility better. But I did not attempt to negotiate parking between all the other parked cars!
I found the lack of cup holder storage in the back irritating over our week, there was nowhere for my daughter's cup, snacks etc and it was too far back for me to reach to pass them (I believe they can be added as optional extras).
Another little niggle in the back is the ceiling mounted interior lights and air vents which were a constant source of amusement for my testing toddler!! The lights are controlled by a simple rolling switch and it was not obvious at all that they were on so I found they could be left on all day without you noticing. On the same note, the Multivan's air vents are not reachable from the front while driving but they are reachable by larger young passengers so you end up with an air and light free for all in the back!!!
The media system does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the system is simple to use. The reversing camera image was clear however I found the Park Pilot far too sensitive, loud and continued beeping at anything and everything, even when sat still in the Kindy car park with the car in ‘park'?!
The VW Multivan is an awesome BabyDrive! As a family with only one child I would opt for the shorter wheelbase because I could still get my daughter in the back ith oodles of space and have room in the back for our paddleboards, stroller etc. For larger families it's so versatile, I didn't test it but you could probably get your bikes in the back too!
The VW Mutlivan has not yet been tested by ANCAP or given a safety rating overseas.