It was with a little bit of surprise that I noticed a 6.56m (21ft 6in) River Dreamliner van complete with a slide-out fitted to the mid-offside wall when wandering the dealership of Parravans Caravan World, based in Windsor, NSW. There were a number of River caravans on display, both single and tandem axle in on-road and offroad configurations with many layouts, but the Dreamliner was the lone slide-out model, making it the flagship in the Dreamliner range.
It’s often underestimated just how much difference a slide-out, even a small one, can make in a relatively confined interior space. In this case, the slide-out has a length of 2.26m (7ft 5in) so it’s larger than most.
The layout of the Dreamliner is the familiar front island bed, full-width rear bathroom, nearside kitchen and offside dinette — the popular Front Bedroom Rear Bathroom (FBRB) layout. It’s difference, of course, is that the club lounge dinette is fitted into the slide-out.
When fully opened, there is a considerable amount of floor area in the middle of the van, enough for a small dance floor — well at least for one happy couple, anyway. Apart from anything else, it’s great for anyone not so keen on confined spaces.
I’ve seen a few slide-outs with a clunky operation when opening or closing but the Dreamliner’s was smooth and relatively quiet. The operating switch is quick to access in a handy location above the fridge, out of harm’s way and preventing it from being accidentally opened.
Apart from a height-adjustable table, the slide-out includes two extra windows in the side walls. Something to keep in mind is it might be easy to forget open windows when closing the slide-out, which could result in expensive repairs. It might be a good idea to put a removeable warning label on the switch when the windows are open.
These side windows aren’t something every manufacturer offers, yet they make a considerable difference when seated at the club lounge. That, of course, can be done in comfort given the seat cushion space available and the footrests at the end of both seats. Something to be careful of though is the step up the to the slide-out, which can be awkward — the butt first, swing legs around approach is recommended for taller persons.
Where we did this review didn’t have 240V mains power and I don’t have a generator to power the air conditioner, the 12V Sirocco fans (one is in the lounge, the other is in the bedroom) was a welcome relief. While on 12V power, the lighting in the slide-out is quite good with a single ceiling LED light and two wall lights. Tucked into the rear corner is a USB charger hub with two outlets. What there isn’t is a 240V socket, so you’ll have to plug the laptop in someplace else.
One final point on the slide-out is that unlike some RVs I have seen, the Dreamliner bathroom facilities can be used with the slide-out closed, there’s just a little less room to move around.
MORE SPACE ELSEWHERE
Moving the dinette away from the kitchen gives much more space around the kitchen bench area — handy if there is a cook or two or it’s washing up time. The kitchen is still rather compact but has a surprising amount of storage that includes two overhead lockers, four drawers of various sizes and four wire basket pantries. There is certainly adequate capacity for a couple of weeks worth of food supplies.
Bench top space is reasonable and can be increased with the flush top lid for the cooktop and the bench extension that sits under the stainless-steel sink. All the cooking is handled by the Swift four-burner cooker/grill/oven and the dLuxx microwave fitted into the overhead locker area. 240V mains power points are fitted at both ends of the kitchen bench and the middle overhead locker is where the BMPRO battery management touch pad is found, along with the 240V circuit breaker. In keeping with the dry food storage, the fridge, located on the opposite side of the van between the slide-out and the rear bathroom, is a three-way with a capacity of 216 litres.
A benefit of this layout is there are partitions on both sides of the bedroom area and by using the concertina style curtain, the bedroom can be closed off from the rest of the caravan. On the downside, it results in a slightly confined feel around the 1.85m x 1.52m (6ft 1in x 5ft) bed, even if three large windows and a marine style roof hatch to give a good air flow on a warm night.
Fitted into both corners of the bed base are a couple of diagonal cupboards which might not sound like much except that they are in addition to the usual array of wardrobes and storage around the bedhead. Novel features are magazine pouches on either side at pillow height and, as usual, the bed base can be lifted to use the storage space underneath.
There’s no shortage of power points in the bedroom area with one in each corner. Additionally, bed occupants get a USB hub above their bedside cabinet. These, being almost flush with the wall, are classier than fittings found in other vans that can almost look like an afterthought.
The airspace above the nearside bed base cabinet houses the TV mounting bracket and there’s both TV antenna connection and power point in the appropriate location.
A WASHING MACHINE TOO!
Almost de rigueur these days is a washing machine in any full-width bathroom and there’s certainly one here.
The ensuite is quite spacious I have to say, with the necessary separate shower cubicle and Thetford cassette toilet. Cupboard space is generous with one under the pedestal wash basin, adjacent to the front-loading washing machine and a multi-shelf cabinet in the offside rear corner air space. A window above the loo and two fan hatches take care of the air circulation without too much trouble
In the 12V department the Dreamliner is well equipped with two 120Ah AGM batteries box mounted on the rear offside chassis and two 150W solar panels on the roof. All power charging is handled by the BMPRO Battery Plus 35 management system in the front tunnel storage. Also here are the non-labelled 12V fuses and the breakaway unit, making them fairly easy to get at.
There’s nothing like being a little distinctive, and the sea grey colour of the Dreamliner body stands out. The aluminium bodywork isn’t all a grey though because the lower waistline is the more familiar black alloy checkerplate. Adding to the look are the black and white decals on each side of the van.
Wheels are 16in alloy and are fitted as standard, as is the alloy checkerplate storage box on the drawbar. It comes complete with slide-out trays on both sides, handy for generators, fridge or toolboxes. In addition to the front tunnel, there are two additional storage bins at the rear nearside one on top of the other, which does make the top one a bit awkward to get at.
Under the van the C & R SupaGal chassis is built using RHS components in box section style. Both main and drawbar rails are 100 x 50mm (4 x 2in) but a slight difference from the norm is that the drawbar rail runs under the chassis rail to the axles, making the link extremely strong. Suspension is a load-sharing leaf spring setup with beam axles and the brakes are 10in electrics. The two 95-litre water tanks are fitted on either side of the axles, while the 95-litre grey water tank is at the rear, the readily accessible drain point being behind the offside rear wheel. On the drawbar, the usual suspects are there — two 9kg gas cylinders, handbrake, jockey wheel, mains pressure tap and ball coupling. The latter item is of note as it is made by Ark and has a handle that folds over when not being used.
ON THE ROAD
With a Tare of 2800kg and an ATM of 3500kg, the Dreamliner is at the top of most tow vehicle capacities. So, when fully loaded, a reasonably heavy-duty vehicle will be needed to move it around, but unladen on our review with the Nissan Navara I was using, it was fine. The van was well behaved and tracked along smoothly, with little signs of pitching and yawing.
THE BOTTOM LINE
To slide or not to slide, that is the question. As I noted in my intro, slide-outs are not all that common in caravans but it’s easy to see the advantages in the Dreamliner. In a van this length, a slide-out adds a considerable amount of very welcome space. That’s not only good for a couple when camped but will also be great if you like to have a few guests over for afternoon tea on an inclement weather afternoon. The slide-out does move very smoothly, creates a nice bay area for the relaxing club lounge and the van can still be used easily with the slide-out closed up — a well-rounded package.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 6.56m (21ft 6in)
Overall length 8.83m (29ft)
Width (incl awn) 2.49m (8ft 2in)
Height (incl ac) 2.93 (9ft 7in)
Ball weight 300kg
Frame Meranti timber
Cladding Aluminium composite
Chassis C & R SupaGal box section
Suspension Roller rocker leaf spring
Brakes 10in elec
Wheels 16in alloy
Water 2 x 95 litre
Grey water 1 x 95 litre
Battery 2 x 120Ah AGM
Solar 2 x 150W
Air-conditioner Dometic Ibis 4
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control Dexter
Cooking Swift 500 4 burner, grill & oven
Fridge Dometic RU8408X 216 litre
Microwave oven dLuxx
Bathroom Thetford cassette & separate shower cubicle
Hot water Swift 28 litre gas/elec
Fusion stereo system
2 x Sirocco fans
Geni slide toolbox
PRICE AS SHOWN
Sale price $89,900
To enquire about this caravan,
Parravans Caravan World
38 – 40 Mileham Street
Windsor NSW 2756
Ph: (02) 4577 5577