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2023 Tourer Van Can Do Things Other RVs Never Even Dreamed Of: German Engineering 101

Americans are known for building some amazing RVs. But did you know that Europe is also at the top of the mobile living game? One team leading the pack is none other than Knaus, a timeless German brand that's still serving up hot ones left and right. Let's take the Tourer Van as the perfect example of what's new from the Old World.
2023 Tourer Van 18 photos
Photo: Knaus Tabbert AG / Edited by autoevolution
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Folks, the name Knaus has been a staple of the German and European RV market since 1960. Sure, its history is not as longstanding as Airstream's, but over on their native continent, Knaus RVs are everywhere. As to why you can't see them on American streets, it's because they're tuned for a different market, and Knaus doesn't deem it feasible to also build for North America. All that includes road and safety conditions too. But we can still daydream a little because the Tourer Van comes across as a prime specimen, even if only for inspiration.

Now, over in Europe, they do things a tad differently, and upon seeing the interior of the Tourer, that became apparent. In short, styling and compartmentalization is nothing like it is in the U.S. While American RVs are all about expansion and moving freely through interior spaces, the Tourer seems to be all about cramming as much functionality into one space as possible. To do that, Knaus has come up with some pretty ingenious solutions.

For example, one feature you can find in the Tourer is something called the Xpand Bath. Get ready for this one. I want you to imagine a bathroom that includes a toilet and vanity. For most of the day, that's all you'll see, but once it's time to take a shower, at the press of a button, a corner of your double bed begins to rise upward, bending part of the wall with it. Don't worry; it's designed to do that. What's happening at this stage is very simple; you're accessing your shower booth. I know it sounds odd, and it's even harder to describe in words, but check out the video below for clarification.

2023 Tourer Van
Photo: Knaus Tabbert AG
This sort of modularity isn't reserved just for the bathroom either. With an optional sliding double bed, the Tourer can accommodate four guests. This feature will be brought down over the dinette, so in the morning, you'll need to wake whoever is using it so people can move freely about the enclosure. Since I'm on the subject of sleeping, do take note of the two massive windows found near the cabover. One offers a forward view of the world, the other, the stars.

Sleeping and bathing are nice and all, but what about the rest of the interior? Don't worry; I was getting to that. One thing I want to point out is the level of storage space found in this bugger. Maybe it's just the images in the gallery, but this bugger has so much stuff in it that I'm wondering if the designer isn't a hoarder. There are overhead bins, under-furnishing storage, and little cupboards built into walls; even that crazy shower has a few storage options up its sleeve. And this story continues outside too.

At the rear of the Tourer, Knaus has included a feature that stands as a symbol of the brand, a large pass-through garage that sits under the bedroom in the 500 MQ unit and under the bathroom and entrance in the 500 TL floorplan. No matter what layout you use, this compartment is large enough for your tent, climbing gear, some inflatable kayaks, and even a bike or two, as long as you take the wheels off. For folks looking to keep the interior of their mobile cave clean while still exploring the full extent of their pleasures, this feature is a godsend.

2023 Tourer Van Galley
Photo: Knaus Tabbert AG
Now, let's pretend we spent in the ballpark of around €85,000 ($90,000 at current exchange rates) on our very own Tourer and are now cruising the European countryside. Well, once again, German engineering will ensure you make it to your destination because the chassis for this bugger is nothing more than a Volkswagen T6.1 with a living habitat thrown on top.

There you'll be, driving along with the family hanging out in the back. Maybe someone is watching a tad of TV, while others may be grabbing an easy snack from the fridge. After a few hours or so, you arrive at some landmark you've been dying to meet, and since there's a camper park nearby, you decide to pull over for the night and embark upon your adventures tomorrow.

At this stage, there are a few ways you can go about things. Either set up an outside grill or fire pit or whip up dinner for the gang using a two-burner stove. Take a seat at the dinette, enjoy the meal, and prepare the space for sleeping. Having a larger family, you grabbed the optional bed. Lights out. Once everyone wakes up, it's time for breakfast, a coffee, or some tea, and it's time to soak in all that foreign lands have to offer. The true beauty of mobile living.

When I started this piece about the Tourer Van, I mentioned that this bugger is about as full as it can be. But you can see that there's functionality in absolutely every corner of the RV. Even if you can't own it in the U.S., the Tourer stands as an inspiration for anyone who wants an RV that's a tad different from the other guys, and that's worth thinking about.

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Editor's note: Images in the gallery showcase an array of Tourer Van floorplans and features.

About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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