Volkswagen Transporter
(2016 - 2021)

  • Attractive styling
  • Excellent driving dynamics
  • Supremely practical
  • Strong performing engine
  • Major concerns for reliability and longevity
  • DSG gearbox can fail
  • No rearview camera on many models
  • Expensive parts and servicing costs

While the Transporter may be fundamentally engineered as a commercial trade vehicle, many within the “van life” community have embraced the ultra-practical Volkswagen as a highly desirable exploration vehicle.

However, while it is undoubtedly one of the more stylish vans on the market and offers a refined and almost car-like driving experience, the Transporter has a far from ideal reputation when it comes to reliability and maintenance.

While available in a host of configurations and receiving a recent mid-life update, is the Transporter a van to be considered at all?

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What goes wrong
  • Head gasket issues
  • Diesel and vacuum pump problems
  • Turbo failures
  • EGR cooler failures
  • Timing belt tensioner and idler failures well before service intervals
  • DPF issues
  • Driveshaft and hub failures
  • DSG transmission mechatronic units are riddled with issues and are very expensive to repair
  • Various electronic gremlins
  • Reports of water leaking into the Transporter via the sliding windows on the crew cab body shell
  • Reports of water filling the rear tailgate
  • Reports of the door handle either failing or just sticking in place
  • Common issues or failures with the central locking
  • Water can build in the inner wheel arches potentially leading to rust
  • Air conditioning can fail
  • A heater fan can become very loud
  • An infotainment system can freeze and/or fail
  • Lighting behind the gauge cluster can fail
  • Button the steering wheel can fail
  • Reports of various electronic gremlins
Model range, pricing and features

Transporter TDI250, 340, TDI400, TDI450 (2016-2021)

  • Price when new: $32,990 - $60,490
  • Price used: $24,000 - $62,000

Available in a host of configurations with an immense amount of optional extras, the Transporter was available in Australia with the one 2.0-litre, 4-cyl, turbo-diesel tuned to varying outputs dependent on body type, size, and variant.

Standard features:

  • Single sliding side door (SWB & LWB)
  • Roof-mounted tailgate (SWB & LWB)
  • Electric windows (SWB & LWB)
  • Trailer hitch preparation (SWB & LWB)
  • 16-inch (SWB) or 17-inch (LWB) steel wheels with full-size spare
  • Cruise control (SWB & LWB)
  • Rubber cab floor (SWB & LWB)
  • 5.0-inch touchscreen (SWB & LWB)
  • Bluetooth/USB/SD (SWB & LWB)
  • Reversing sensors (SWB & LWB) (not available on the cab chassis)
  • Rear seats with 2 x ISOFIX anchors and three adjustable headrests (Crewvan)
  • Dual sliding side doors (Crewvan)
  • Sliding side windows (Crewvan)
  • Rubber covering in load compartment (Crewvan)
  • Multi-collision brakes
  • Fatigue alert
  • 6.3-inch screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and sat-nav (standard from 2015)
  • Reversing camera (standard from 2015)
  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) (from 2017)
  • Updated exterior w/ squarer headlights, a new grille design, and sportier-looking bumpers (from 2020)
  • Heavily revised interior (from 2020)
  • City emergency braking (CEB)(standard from 2020)
  • Crosswind assistance (standard from 2020)
  • Blind-spot monitoring (standard from 2020)
  • Rear traffic alert (standard from 2020)
  • multi-collision braking (standard from 2020)

Optional extras:

  • Metallic or pearl paint
  • Medium roof
  • High roof with rear barn doors (LWB-only)
  • Rear barn doors
  • Rear barn doors on LWB with
  • 250-degree hinges
  • Driver’s side sliding rear cargo door
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Fixed side window/s
  • Sliding side window/s
  • Three-person bench
  • Rear air conditioning
  • High fixed cargo partition with window
  • Rubber floor covering SWB/LWB
  • Wooden floor covering SWB/LWB
  • Mechanical rear diff lock for 4Motion
  • Rough road suspension/heavy duty suspension
  • Second battery with cut-off relay
  • Reverse-view camera
  • 6.3-inch screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and sat-nav
  • Driver Assistance pack (SWB-only) with lane assist, power-folding mirrors, ambient cabin lights, and cornering fog lights
Should you buy it

While the Transporter is a stylish, enjoyable to drive and supremely practical, the chances of things going very wrong are way too high in our opinion and we just don’t think the Transporter it’s worth the risk.

Unless you’re mentally and financially ready for the potential stress that comes with a Transporter, sorry but no, you shouldn’t buy one.

Warranty & servicing


3 years/unlimited km
5 years/unlimited km from 17 December 2018


15,000kms or every 12 months

Tech specs

Body style:

  • Van
  • Crew van
  • Single-cab chassis
  • Dual-cab chassis


  • 2.0-Litre, 4-cylinder, turbo-diesel


  • 75kW – 81kW (TDI250)
  • 103kW (TDI340)
  • 132kW (TDI400)
  • 146kW (TDI450)


  • 350Nm (TDI250)
  • 340Nm (TDI340)
  • 400Nm (TDI400)
  • 450Nm (TDI450)


  • 6-spd manual front-wheel drive
  • 7-spd dual-clutch DSG automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 7-spd dual-clutch DSG automatic, 4Motion all-wheel drive (TDI400, TDI 450)

Fuel use:

  • 6.8L – 8.3L/100km (combined and depending variant, configuration and spec)



  • 1990mm
  • 2177mm
  • 2477mm


  • 4890mm (SWB van)
  • 5304mm (LWB van)
  • 5300mm (Single-cab chassis)
  • 5500mm (Dual-cab chassis)


  • 1904mm (Van)
  • 1994mm (Cab chassis)

Kerb weight:

  • 1661kg – 2262kg (Depending on variant)

Information correct as of June 04, 2021.

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