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Sleek camper van pops the top to sleep four

But without rear passenger seats, it’s still better for two

New to the market, the Carado Axion Studio uses a pop-top sleeping space to create a more spacious van.
Courtesy of Carado/Erwin Hymer Group

Despite the many types of camper vans available in the U.S., one version that has been lacking in the North American market is the pop-top van. Iconic vans like the Volkswagen California are—rather ironically—not available stateside, and most pop-top conversions are performed by custom companies like Sportsmobile, Colorado Camper Van, or smaller outfitters like Ursa Minor Vehicles. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.

Thanks to consumer demand, that’s changing. An increasing number of pop-top vans have emerged on the market, including the Free Bird from Washington-based Caravan Outfitter, and the Envy camper from Recon.

One of the biggest announcements came recently from the Erwin Hymer group. Although headquartered in Germany, the Hymer Group has recently debuted several new campers in the U.S. We’ve reported on the Carado Axion in the past, and now Hymer has expanded its affordable American lineup to include a pop-top version.

Dubbed the Axion Studio, the van is Carado’s first North American-market pop-top camper van. While the original Axion is a compact camper that can sleep two, the Studio’s four-person pop-top design adds an additional sleeping space above.

The Carado Axion Studio uses the exact same interior layout as the Axion, but with a pop-top addition.

Both Axions use the Ram Promaster 1500 as their base, designed with a central living area and a rear wet bath that uses a fold-down sink, shower head, and the ever-important toilet. A long sofa on the driver’s side functions as a couch or work space during the night, and transforms into a sleeping space for one or two. A small galley kitchen features an expanding countertop, dual-burner propane stove, 700-watt microwave, indoor-outdoor fridge in the kitchen block, and plentiful storage in upper cabinets.

Climb into the pop-top, however, and you see the difference in the Studio model. The rooftop bed is larger than the one down below, measuring 78 by 51 inches and sleeping two easily. Three large screened windows help with airflow and provide views outside, and a handy ladder provides access to it all.

The Hymer Group debuted the $83,533 Axion Studio in December. That’s much more affordable than the Hymer Aktiv 2.0 Loft Edition (priced at $114,127) that also features a pop-top sleeping area. The main downside of the Studio, however, is that it doesn’t have space for rear passengers while driving. Even though a family of four could sleep in the van, they wouldn’t all be able to drive to a campsite together.

This means that—like many pop tops without good seating options—the Axion Studio is best for a traveling couple who wants a sleeping area that’s separate from their living quarters. That is a nice perk, especially when one person wants to sleep and the other isn’t quite ready. If the Axion Studio sounds like a fit for you, head over here.

A rear wet bath solves the eternal question: Do you need a toilet in your RV?
Courtesy of Carado/Erwin Hymer Group
Courtesy of Carado/Erwin Hymer Group
Courtesy of Carado/Erwin Hymer Group
Courtesy of Carado/Erwin Hymer Group