Twin axle, offroad vans with plenty of off-grid electrical power are now the go-to choice for many couples and families looking to travel further afield. This style of van is often in the $130–150k range. Yet Jayco manages to do it for around $100k. Does it cut the mustard?
Jayco is the undisputed Australian RV manufacturing powerhouse employing over 1000 people and producing units from tiny entry-level camper trailers through to substantial motorhomes and everything in between. In this review, we take a look at the All-Terrain Off-Grid X 19.61-2 couple’s van. A glance through the Jayco brochure reveals the breakdown of the All-Terrain range. The couple’s version comes in one size — 19ft. Bunk vans are available in two sizes — 19ft and 22ft. Each of these vans is available as a standard ‘All-Terrain’ or an up-spec ‘All-Terrain Off-Grid X’. The All-Terrain name clearly tells us these vans are intended for more than bitumen touring. The Off-Grid X makes its mark with increased electrical capacity for extended stays away from mains power.
The Jayco way
Most other caravan manufacturers ‘shop’ from the same handful of external suppliers to source virtually all the necessary van components. This includes major elements such as the chassis, walls and appliances. Jayco is quite different — the team’s production volume makes them the masters of vertical integration, developing and manufacturing many of the components in-house or sourcing them from affiliate companies. Jayco also has the buying power to source some components that have been specifically developed by suppliers for Jayco’s exclusive use.
The Jayco-designed Endurance 2.0 chassis is fabricated in-house before being sent off-site for a hot dip galvanised treatment. The main rails and A-frame are the typical Australian offroad spec of 150mm x 50mm RHS steel. The additional longitudinal rails are pressed steel C-section to minimise weight.
The All-Terrain Off-Grid X features Jayco’s proprietary suspension system known as JTECH 2.0. Jayco launched its first iteration of this style of trailing arm independent suspension back in 2014. It drove a significant shift in the market away from leaf springs with many of Jayco’s competitors following suit over time. JTECH features Pedders heavy-duty shock absorbers and springs tuned to the van and toe-in-toe-out adjustment for wheel alignment.
Continuing with the in-house theme, Jayco makes its own one-piece walls and roofs. It starts with a welded aluminium frame marketed as Tough Frame. A fibreglass skin, outer and inner ply along with polystyrene insulation is then laminated to the frame in a vacuum press.
Of course, not everything is built in-house. Upfront there is a DO35 hitch which local maker Cruisemaster dominates across offroad caravans and RVs throughout the industry. Sway control and braking is taken care of by the huge US-based company Lippert, and AL-KO plays its part with a variety of undercarriage components.
We see a lot of vans with this style of layout and that’s because it works. We have a rearward door with a full-width bathroom across the back, kitchen and dining in the middle and island bed to the front. Drilling into a little more detail, the bathroom features a separate shower and toilet with a vanity in between.
The vanity benchtop is quite shallow, as are the under-bench drawers and cupboards, which gives you a bit more space to move around in the bathroom. The bowl-style wash basin that sits above the bench is very roomy for washing your hands, and as the bowl is above the bench there is more cupboard space beneath that can be utilised for storage. The bench at the toilet end is wider to accommodate a Sphere 3.3kg floor-mounted, top loader washing machine. The floor-mounted position (as opposed to a wall mount) allows for a full-width mirror but eats some storage area. You do make up some storage space with a useful nook behind the toilet. Overall, I think the bathroom is very well laid out and the big mirror makes it feel extra roomy.
Bathroom privacy is achieved with a concertina door that folds neatly out of the way. The kitchen is kitted out with an optional Dometic 216L compressor fridge (at an additional cost) with a Sphere 23L microwave above. The Thetford four-burner cooktop with grill and oven, and range hood, complete the cooking suite. The sink with drainboard features the now popular, dual tap system with one outlet delivering water from the water filter.
Overhead and under-bench storage in the kitchen area is again functional. The subtly curved doors above the dinette add a touch of class and I think Jayco does a nice job of pleasant, ‘safe’ colours throughout the van. Aesthetically, the van is let down a little with many interior fastening points being more visible than in other vans.
On the ceiling, we have a Dometic Ibis 4 reverse cycle air-con and dust reduction system to keep the inside comfortable and clean.
The All-Terrain Off-Grid X’s good functionality extends to many of the outside features. I like the design of the toolbox upfront. It has a shallow top-access compartment which is great for small items so that you don’t have to reach down to the bottom of a deep box. The main part of the box is separated into two compartments which are accessed from the sides. The advantage of separating the compartments is that it restricts fuel vapours to one area if you carry a generator. I also like that the jerry can holders are not mounted on the toolbox doors, as you see on some vans. The holders are mounted on the A-frame which intuitively makes more sense to me than putting all that dynamic load on the door hinges. It’s hard to keep me happy all the time though! The clamps holding the two 9kg gas bottles require a fair bit of flexing to remove them. Also, positioning the gas bottles between the jerry can holders makes it a bit difficult to remove the bottles without having to stand on the A-frame.
No complaints about the optioned-on external slide-out kitchen. We used it to prepare a couple of meals and the twin hob gas burner and sink with hot and cold running water worked a treat. I am also a fan of the electronically controlled awning provided compared to manual roll-out awnings as they are just so much more user-friendly.
Moving to the rear of the van, the firewood rack mounted on the bumper bar looks up to the job. The firewood rack is an exclusive Off-Grid X feature. On the All-Terrain Off-Grid X we also have a single spare wheel centrally mounted on the rear, and a second spare underslung to the chassis. I am guessing this has been done to optimise weight distribution in the van. It also gives you a bet each way in terms of the preferred method for accessing a spare. The rear mount is easy to access but it is quite a job to lift the spare up and down by hand. The underslung mount might be harder to access but the hand winder provides a mechanical advantage for raising and lowering the spare.
The bike rack sits above the rear-mounted spare wheel and did a great job of holding the e-bikes we had on board as we covered some rugged, corrugated and pothole-strewn roads during our tow test. These bikes weigh around 20kg each and I think it would be fair to say that the average grey nomad will have varying degrees of challenge lifting the bikes up that high.
Power and water
The extra electrical power on board is what defines the All-Terrain Off-Grid X model. The key upgrades compared to the standard version are a 400Ah lithium battery versus two 120Ah lithium batteries, a 3000W inverter compared to no inverter and a more sophisticated power management system to cope with the extra juice. (Both variants run three roof-mounted 200W solar panels.) You also get a fancier touchscreen display for battery and water monitoring.
So, is this extra power (and rear wood box mentioned earlier) worthwhile for you? On the Jayco website, the standard 19.61-2 is listed as tow away from $88,790 and the Off-Grid X version is tow away from $101,790. That’s a difference of $13k. It really boils down to how long you want to stay away and how much you value using 240V appliances off-grid. The upgraded package will theoretically keep your fridge running and your lights on for nearly double the time or enable you to happily run stuff like, coffee machines, hairdryers and kettles — but not necessarily all at once.
For water storage, there is a very typical two 95L freshwater tanks and one 95L grey water tank. Overall, this is a highly desirable package at a price point well below most of the competition.
We were hooked up to a brand-new Ford Everest and ended up covering a good cross-section of road conditions. I had some time in the driver’s seat, and then some more following the reviewed van in a chase vehicle and the van appeared poised in all conditions. A real plus is that this van comes in lighter than many of its competitors with a tare weight of 2561kg. A sensible payload of 600kg brings us to an ATM of 3161kg. This gives you a reasonable buffer on the 3500kg towing capacity of the Everest and many comparable vehicles.
The bottom line
The Jayco empire has been built on making vans affordable to more people and the All-Terrain Off-Grid X is no exception. It packs a lot of off-grid touring punch and the long-range electrical power system that comes as part of the package is a very useful step up from the standard model. If you are looking for a locally built go-anywhere tandem axle you will be hard-pressed to find better bang for your buck elsewhere.
HITS AND MISSES
- Well-appointed offroad touring specification
- Decent 12V and inverter package
- Light weight gives reasonable towing capacity
- Internal fasteners are more visible than in other vans
JAYCO ALL-TERRAIN OFF-GRID X 19.61-2 RATINGS
VALUE FOR MONEY
I don’t think there would be too many local challengers delivering this much van for around $100k
A twin axle with a 600kg payload and an ATM under 3200kg is a winner
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
It hits the mark
Overall, it’s great apart from interior fasteners being more obtrusive than some others
The layout and external features come together for a very workable package
Rates well with increased electrical capacity for extended stays with a reasonable water supply
Two-year manufacturing and five-year structural warranty, along with an enormous dealership network, are reassuring
While not at the cutting edge, it is great to see such functional power systems flowing through to mass production vans
Affordability, affordability, affordability
JAYCO ALL-TERRAIN OFF-GRID X 19.61-2 SPECS
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||6m (19ft 6in)|
|Overall length||8.41m (27ft 6in)|
|Width||2.47m (8ft 1in)|
|Ball weight at tare||227kg|
|Cladding||Fibreglass composite panel|
|Chassis||Hot dipped galvanised Endurance|
|Suspension||Jayco's JTECH 2.0 independent coil with heavy-duty shock absorbers|
|Brakes||Lippert 12in electric|
|Wheels||Alloy rims, 245/70R16 AT|
|Water||2 x 95L freshwater, 1 x 95L grey water|
|Battery||1 x 400Ah lithium|
|Solar||3 x 200W solar panels with 40Ah solar controller|
|Air-conditioner||Roof-mounted Dometic Ibis 4 reverse cycle|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Sway control||Lippert Sway Command Tow Control|
|Cooking||Thetford four-burner cooktop with grill and oven|
|Microwave||Sphere 23L microwave|
|Fridge||Dometic RUC8 216L compressor fridge/freezer (optional) (Standard is a Thetford T2175C 171L fridge/freezer)|
|Bathroom||Separate toilet and shower — Thetford ceramic swivel toilet and ceramic bench-mounted basin|
|Washing machine||Sphere 3.3kg top loader, floor mounted|
|Hot water||22L tank — gas/electric|
Jayco All-Terrain Off-Grid X 19.61-2 price from $101,790
- Slide-out external kitchen with twin gas hob
- Additional external 12V socket
- Additional annexe light above external shower
- Deluxe pillow top mattress
- Fold-up table
- Upgrade to Dometic RUC8 216L compressor fridge/freezer
Jayco All-Terrain Off-Grid X 19.61-2 price as shown $107,307
THE NEXT STEP
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