There’s a trendy caravan layout around these days, known by me as FBRB. That is a Front Bed, Rear Bathroom with the kitchen and dinette in between. There are variations, of course, mainly in van length but also which sides the kitchen and dinette are on and where the habitation door is located — mid door or rear door.
I understand the popularity, but it makes writing about the van challenging to come up with something different when considering various manufacturers. Consequently, I get very interested when a van like Design RV’s CRX V8 appears on my radar. Sydney RV’s Norman Roe was kind enough to point me in the right direction in his sales yard and not long after, the van was hitched up and ready to roll.
Also known as the 2110-F, the V8 (nothing to do with engine capacity) has an external length of 6.65m (21ft 10in) and a mid-door entry — something a little unusual in a van this length.
Inside there’s a front club lounge, a mid-area kitchen and a full-width rear bathroom. Forward of the bathroom is an east-west bed that butts up against the offside wall. Often with this bed arrangement, manufacturers add a slide-out but by not having a wall cabinet at the base of the bed, that’s not necessary in the CRX V8. It saves weight, money and something that requires maintenance. Design RV has quite a few different layouts on its books and there’s an interesting variation to this particular layout. Instead of a club lounge up front, there’s the alternative of two recliner chairs with a table in between.
The general ambience of the interior is quite pleasant, with a colour scheme that’s primarily grey and white. The lighting is a well-sorted mixture of downlights, reading and strip lights — practical by day and various brightness levels by night. The door handles are of a style that I particularly like and are pretty easy to use, even for those with arthritic fingers.
CNC machines cut the plywood for all the internal cabinetry and the one-piece plywood floor. All the drawers have metal sides and a soft close feature, and the overhead locker doors have piano hinges and metal struts. It’s a minor point but all the cupboard and lockers have a finished look about their interiors, with no odd pieces of raw timber — it gives a clue as to how the rest of the caravan is built.
All round view
Most club lounges in Australian caravans are to be found in the rear, so one at the front is a bit of a novelty. I like it because it’s right by the door and surrounded by windows, which means plenty of good views to enjoy while you sit back and relax. The nearside window is relatively small but that’s primarily because of the awning arm position. Fitted on a Nuova Mapa mounting, the non-rectangular table looks a bit odd. However, it’s shaped to fit better with the adjacent kitchen bench yet still has a reasonable surface area. Overhead lockers are fitted above the seats, and a double power point and USB/12V outlet are in the usual lead-tripping location under the seat.
To fit in with the rest of the layout, the kitchen bench is a split arrangement with the Thetford 175L compressor fridge and microwave oven in the nearside space by the doorway and the rest of the kitchen facilities on the opposite side. The kitchen bench is fitted out with a four-burner hob and grill adjacent to the sink/drainer with a black ceramic finish.
A notable feature of this kitchen is the exceptional amount of storage. Although it looks small, the kitchen bench has five drawers, two cupboards, three overhead lockers (two shelf fitted), a wire basket pantry and a couple of other compartments. In addition, a waist-high cabinet is located on the doorway side of the fridge cabinet.
Although the 1.85m x 1.53m (6ft 1in x 5ft) innerspring mattress bed takes up a fair chunk of the rear area, it’s been carefully designed and there’s no space issue at the base of the bed. The wardrobe and quad drawer set add a decent storage capacity on either side of the bedhead. Each bed occupant gets a pillow cubby with mains power and USB charger point. Lifting the bed base reveals a spacious under-bed area, the only item there being a 3000W inverter. For space reasons, there isn’t a wall cabinet at the bottom of the bed; instead, there are two full-height diagonal corner cupboards. These cupboards are not particularly large but offer valuable space for storing smaller items.
A place for everything
In keeping with the rest of the van, the bathroom is well-appointed. No real surprises, though. The shower cubicle takes up the nearside corner area and the Thetford cassette toilet sits opposite. Built into the cabinetry are several drawers and cupboards, a noticeable feature in this van generally, a china bowl vanity sink and a top loading washing machine in the vanity unit.
The CRX V8 is built on a galvanized box section chassis with 150mm (6in) main rails and drawbar. All 95L water tanks — two freshwater, one grey — are fitted between the chassis rails and protected by alloy checkerplate.
Above the chassis, the van has a Meranti timber frame with aluminium cladding. Gold Batt fibreglass is used in the roof and Styrofoam in the walls for insulation. Around the lower areas of the van, there’s the usual black alloy checkerplate. Instead of using J-moulds along the lower edges, the checkerplate is wrapped under the edges. Both the composite floor and the roof are one-piece items to maximise strength and minimise water entry. The external storage is fairly typical — front tunnel boot, offside rear bin and a checkerplate storage box, including jerry can holders on the front drawbar.
Two 110Ah Lithium LiFePO4 batteries are fitted as standard to the CRX V8. The batteries are mounted in boxes fitted to the offside front chassis rail. The associated BMPRO Battery Plus 35 II HA, a 30A charger with an inbuilt MPPT regulator, is located in the overhead locker above the kitchen bench and, therefore, easily accessible. As is the touch panel monitor by the entry door.
My tow vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, proved more than adequate for a road drive. Having a tare mass of 2704kg and an ATM of 3254kg, the Design RV CRX V8 is a moderately heavy van and with care, a dual cab ute would be a reasonable match. The van is fitted with a rear-view camera for manoeuvring around, which connects to a monitor in the tow vehicle.
Even on a rough road, the van was relatively smooth to tow and the 6.65m (21ft 10in) length really isn’t a problem. Not surprising really, since the van rides on Alpha Ultra Duty independent suspension, rated at 3300kg and has coil springs and dual shock absorbers. The 15in alloy wheels are fitted with 235/75R15 tyres and have 10in electric brakes.
Like too many other manufacturers, Design RV’s warranty details are a little hard to find on its website. However, the manufacturer offers a five-year structural warranty which is quite impressive by industry standards, with the usual individual guarantees on anything not made by Design RV. There’s some fine print on offroad use.
The bottom line
The CRX V8 offers a couple’s layout that’s slightly different from the usual. It’s not impractical and for many, it has a great deal of appeal. Additionally, it does not require a heavy-duty tow vehicle, which adds to the selling points. On top of all that, it’s a van that does not feel confined; there’s plenty of room to move.
HITS AND MISSES
- Front club lounge and east-west bed
- Better than average internal storage
- 12V system capacity
- General fit and finish
- Still using a Meranti timber frame
- Power outlets under the seat
DESIGN RV CRX V8 RATINGS
VALUE FOR MONEY
It’s not a cheap van but then it has a higher-than-average number of features
Excellent and can be towed by a range of utes
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
Great, a couple’s tourer with a different layout
Generally speaking, most things were well put together except for being a little messy underneath.
A spacious layout with the attractive front lounge
Good with two 110Ah Lithium batteries, 390W solar and 3000W inverter
A five-year structural warranty and the usual OEM component warranties are offered
It’s not unique but the front club lounge gets the attention
A different to usual layout
DESIGN RV CRX V8 SPECS
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||6.65m (21ft 10in)|
|Overall length||9.02m (29ft 7in)|
|Width (incl awn)||2.45m (8ft)|
|Height (incl AC)||3.3m (10ft 10in)|
|Ball weight at tare||282kg|
|Chassis||ARV 150mm (6in) rails and drawbar, galvanised|
|Suspension||Alpha independent with coil springs and dual shock absorbers|
|Wheels||15in alloy wheels, 235/75R 15kg tyres|
|Water||2 x 95L freshwater, 1 x 95L grey water|
|Battery||2 x 110Ah lithium|
|Solar||2 x 195W (390W total)|
|Air-conditioner||Dometic Ibis 4|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Cooking||Thetford four-burner hob and grill|
|Fridge||Thetford T2175C 175L 12V compressor|
|Bathroom||Thetford cassette, separate shower cubicle|
|Hot water||Swift 2L, gas/electric|
Design RV CRX V8 price from $94,990
Sydney RV Caravans & Motorhomes
9/20 Lemko Place
Penrith, NSW 2750
P: 02 4722 3444
THE NEXT STEP
The sellers will be happy to help and answer any inquiries you may have about the products advertised for sale.