Annual Fall Rally Recap - Leisure Travel Vans
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This engagement continued through all the fantastic meals we had over the next three days.
The Leisure Travel Vans team had prepared a jam-packed agenda and naturally, Sharon and I signed up for something in all available time slots. On Thursday morning we attended the Mercedes Benz Seminar covering how to take care of your Sprinter chassis and also seeing the all-new Sprinter.
The Mercedes reps covered things such as ensuring you use the correct engine oil with specification In the LTV Technical seminar, the engineers went over various house systems and talked about some of the new things they are testing out.
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The CI efforts have helped the factory become more efficient and continue to improve the already great quality of their products. Many people went on the actual factory tour hosted by Dean but we had seen it a few times before. Lastly, I attended Claude Angers very inspiring photography class where he taught you several techniques to make your photos more interesting and to present your travel story in a better way.
Later in the week, they did a random draw with four lucky winners getting to take home the LTV collapsible fire pits. Friday started off with Waffles cooked over open flames by the LTV staff for breakfast with all the fixings. It was very interesting learning about the history of this prairie area and seeing how day to day tasks was performed.
He toured us around the property to see his works and to marvel at his stories of obtaining and positioning the enormous stones and how he carved them by hand. He even told us about a local granite driveway that he created that took the equivalent of 11 years work to create!
Baby and mother faced fairly major health issues and, as such, were ensconced at University College Hospital in Euston, north London, just before the end of the year. Given my daughter lives in Peterborough, Cambs, and I reside in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, this left me to act as go-between with all the family.
This involved visiting London, picking up various other grandchildren to look after, feeding pets and doing all the things a doting granddad does on such occasions. As a result, the miles are piling on our doughty Caddy as it negotiates ice, rain, mud and snow as a valiant van. One thing I like about all VWs is that the heaters seem to work almost instantly, unlike some other vans I could mention.
Those heated seats have certainly been welcome through the winter months, too. That said, this hotseat little goodie does not come as standard. The collision prevention system actually came into its own the other day while in town, when a careless driver pulled out of a side junction right in front of me. I wondered at first if some unseen deity had taken pity on me as the brakes slammed on of their own accord, before I realised what was happening. What a fantastic piece of kit this is, and I take my hat off to Volkswagen for adding it as standard to all its commercial vehicles.
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Other manufacturers take note! Mind you, I was reminded the other week not to take bits of technology like this for granted and ignore my responsibilities as a driver when I hit a snow storm in town. January Trevor Gehlcken finds that his admiration for the 'plucky' VW Crafter just grows and grows in his latest long term review.
As commercial vehicle journalists, we spend quite a bit of time talking those at the sharp end of the business — i. One thing we have discovered is that quite often, what the drivers want and need and what they are actually given by their fleet managers are two different things.
This can have quite an impact on the bottom line, especially as one of the things we have learned is that, quite often, the vehicles provided are bigger than they really need to be. So, while quite a few drivers are given, say, a medium panel van, a lot of them could just as well use something the size of the Volkswagen Caddy, the van on test here, which, of course, could be cheaper to both buy and run.
I say this with some experience as I have been testing vans since the early s and know that most tradespeople can cram all the gear they need into a van of this size with a bit of pushing and shoving. Even if the odd bigger loads need to be carried sometimes, it would still be cheaper for a fleet to run the smaller vans and spot hire something bigger on those few occasions. The smaller vans are easier to drive, simpler to park and can winkle their way into those tiny multi-storey car park spaces.
True, most medium panel vans can get into these car parks height-wise, but you just try parking one in those ridiculously cramped bays.
Regular readers will know that a large amount of my time is spent moving stuff from one house to another among my extended family and phone conversations regularly begin with: This item is a Godsend when transporting small bits of cargo as it saves them sliding all over the place between points A and B. Once you get one, they are nigh on impossible to eliminate cost-effectively and could knock hundreds of pounds off the value of the van when you come to sell it.
Meanwhile, there are eight load-lashing eyes to keep things in order. The only complaint is that our rear doors feature see-through glazing.
- 2018 Annual Fall Rally Recap
- Buy The Vans x Odd Future Collection
One of the reasons we run long-term test vehicles is that, quite often, we get a completely different handle on a vehicle than we would by just testing it for a week. Living with a van day in, day out over a period of six months and covering thousands of miles can lead to either gold stars or brickbats. For starters there are vanity mirrors to be found under both driver and passenger sun blinds. Such items are only usually included in vans that are derived from cars.
On top of all that, we both have heated seats. Not many fleet drivers are going to get those. This not only acts in reverse but will flag up any obstructions in the front. It seems to do just about everything but make the tea. Well, as usual, I have found a couple of gripes, although by rights they should perhaps be described as nit-picks. The writing on the heater dials is so small I have to put my specs on to see it, which is a pain.
Also I could do with a USB port on top of the dash as, despite the fact that this van has a built-in sat-nav, I still use my own TomTom unit as it has all my details keyed in. This means the wire trails across the dashboard and into the cigar lighter down below in an untidy manner.
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This van is so whisper quiet that on a couple of occasions I thought the engine had stalled. And talk about standard specification! In my 25 years of testing commercial vehicles, things have moved on at a staggering rate and the Caddy boasts a spec sheet that would previously been unheard of. This system brakes the van to a standstill in the event of an anticipated crash up to 30mph.