Over the years we’ve gotten the chance to test and explore Volkswagen’s modern Transporter vans — the T6 generation, mostly in its camper van form — and we’ve always been smitten with the damn thing, at its usability and versatility and clever design and packaging, so much so that it always stings to remember that VW has no plans to sell any of these in America. Now VW has unveiled the latest version of the Transporter—the T7 — and it looks pretty great, and, as alway, tough mammaries for any American who wants one.
The “T7" designation comes from the fact, if you’re not aware, that this is the seventh generation of Transporter that VW Commercial has made, starting with the original Type 2 air-cooled Microbus from 1950.
It’s also notable that this generation, T7, finally shifts the balance from equal numbers of generations of rear-engined Transporters and front-engined Transporters, so now there have officially been more front-engined Transporter generations.
The all-new 2022 T7 Multivan (the passenger-carrying version, the Transporter cargo one will come later, along with the camper) is now based on VW’s modular MQB platform, and it now can come with a plug-in hybrid powertrain: a 1.4-liter TSI inline-four and a 85kW electric motor, for a combined total of 215 horsepower.
The 13 kWh li-ion battery is mounted on the floor, and as of yet VW has not released EV-only range numbers. The Multivan also comes in 134 hp/1.5-liter TSI, 2-liter/201 hp TSI, or 148 hp diesel flavors, all bolted to a seven-speed DSG.
It’s a little bigger than the T6, and the interior layout and design is new, with individual rear seats instead of benches.
There’s also a cool pop-up center console with wings that fold out to make a useful-looking table, which is pretty cool, too.
The cockpit has been upgraded with some interesting-looking new materials and textures, bigger screens, a heads-up-display, and some mood lighting, it seems.
The exterior is all-new, but still very much within the evolution of the Transporter line. Visual touches that have been a hallmark of VW vans since the get-go, like two-tone paint schemes divided at the beltline are retained to excellent effect, and this latest version seems to emphasize that beltline more than the outgoing one.
Lighting units have also been modernized, with a distinctive headlight signature that includes a full-width light accent bar that intersects the main headlight units in a clever way.
Grille and various intake meshes have a new, techy-looking texture, and I’m proud of VW’s designers for just letting that front radar emitter hang out there, front and center, without shame or clumsy attempts to camouflage.
It appears to be a good-looking, extremely useful, cavernous van, the kind of thing that I still think could sell well here in America, providing so much more flexibility than most SUVs or crossovers on the market, but VW has made it pretty clear that’s not happening, so, you know, too bad.