FOR MANY YEARS, fifth wheelers were something of novelty in the Australian RV market, associated with the Ford F250/GM Silverado genre of tow tugs – vehicles not so common in Australia.
However, companies like Cut Loose RV, in Burleigh Heads, Qld, decided a better approach would be to match the size of fifth wheelers to tow vehicles more readily available in Australia – Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max, etc.
There are more imported fifth wheelers on our roads than there are locally-built rigs. There are assorted reasons for this, but one of the results is that questions of Australian compliance on matters such as electrics, gas and on which side the entry door is fitted, must be asked.
To be fair, things in this area have improved considerably over the last few years, aided by the financial downturn when US manufacturers started to pay much more attention to overseas market requirements. For Nick Oliver and his team at Cut Loose RV, who bring in a good range of ute-towable fifth wheelers from the States, all compliance matters are well in hand.
Running on a 6in powder-coated and railed chassis, the Cut Loose Roebuck can be considered similar to Australian units in many ways, but shows more than a few characteristics of its country of origin. Most notably, its chassis is actually enclosed in many places, which gives some weather protection to the underside. Torsion bar suspension is fitted to the tandem axles and a double-pivot Hijacker hitch is used up front.
Above the chassis, the body has an aluminium frame and an outer covering of vacuum-laminated composite walls with a Lamilux fibreglass finish. To minimise leaks, a single-piece roof is used which, according to the Cut Loose team, is strong enough to walk on. The fibreglass nose cone looks slick and gives a very streamlined effect.
With an overall length of 6.8m (22ft 4in), the Roebuck is not a particularly long rig, especially when compared to others in the Cut Loose stable, but it does come with an offside slide-out for added space.
Around the exterior, storage space is mostly confined to the front compartment under the overhang. Other bins are home to the gas cylinders (front offside), battery and charger (front nearside) and slide-out barbecue (mid-nearside).
Windows, of which there are plenty, are a standard US-style, with lower opening hoppers in all but one (the emergency exit in the bedroom). There is also a non-opening rear window. The entry door does have a separate insect screen, but no security option.
Clambering inside the Roebuck reveals a relatively open layout. Generally speaking, the fit and finish of the cabinetry, including solid timber doors, looks to be of a reasonable finish.
Until recently, energy efficient lighting was a noticeable absentee from many US-sourced rigs. However, this criticism could not be made here – the Roebuck has both fluorescent and LED light fittings. The air-conditioner is a roof-mounted reverse-cycle Dometic unit and is controlled via a wall-mounted control panel, which also features the slide-out control and battery monitor.
With the bedroom in the overhang, and bathroom opposite the entry door, the rest of the fifth wheeler has a nice open feel about it. Space is also somewhat aided by the large picture window in the rear and the slide-out, which is home to a three-person lounge sitting opposite a smaller one. In between the lounges is a free-standing table.
The flatscreen TV is mounted on a swivelling bracket in the rear nearside corner. It’s viewable from the offside lounge, but it struck me that if it could be practically mounted on the forward wall of the slide-out, two people could easily watch with their feet up.
The kitchen bench is fairly spacious, with room for a four burner cooktop/grill, stainless steel sink and drainer, and a reasonable amount of bench space. This leaves enough room underneath for four good-sized drawers and a two-door cupboard, which is also home to a wire basket slide-out pantry. The usual overhead lockers include space for a microwave.
Fitted on the opposite side, the Nova Kool 258L fridge looks like it’s upside down, but this setup just means bending over for the freezer section, rather than the fridge. More practical in many users’ eyes.
One of the best achievements in the Roebuck is the bathroom, which remains comfortably large without taking up too much space. There’s room for a moulded shower cubicle, complete with a roller-style door, as well as a Dometic cassette toilet and vanity, which features a washbasin and mirrored shaving cabinet.
With the bathroom on the offside and full-height wardrobe on the other, the bedroom is neatly separated from everything else. Three steps lead up to the bed, the head of which is set into the front nose cone and has small cabinets either side. The base of the bed can be lifted to give access to the storage area underneath. Windows on both sides, plus a small Euro-style hatch, give good ventilation in what otherwise might be a slightly confined area.
The guys at Cut Loose also told me they are about to release their Alpha Series models, which feature Seitz windows and a unique, contemporary cabinetry design.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
My tow vehicle for the Roebuck was an Isuzu D-Max with a standard 3L turbodiesel engine and optional four-speed automatic gearbox. The auto gearbox was trouble-free, but those who like to really drive, rather than just cruise, might prefer the extra cog of the five-speed manual.
Given the tow vehicle was a dual cab, it meant the Hijacker hitch was mounted slightly behind the axle in order to allow adequate clearance.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Roebuck appears to be a well-built unit that’s constructed to Australian specifications and requirements. At nearly 6.8m (22ft 4in), this fifth wheeler offers considerable interior living space, without too many compromises, and is a great a towing package.
All of this adds up to make this US-import a very good long-term touring option.
External length: 6.8m (22ft 4in)
External width: 2.3 (7ft 6in)
Internal height: 2.03m (6ft 8in)
Travel height: 3.24m (10ft 7in)
Pin weight: 450kg
Chassis: Powder-coated and enclosed steel
Suspension: Torflex, torsion Cooktop Stoves four-burner and grill
Price: $97,500 (tow-away, Qld)
WORDS AND PICS Malcolm Street
Source: Caravan World Jan 2012
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