Coromal is a well-known name in the Australian caravan scene but of late has kept something of a lower profile than usual. There’s a reason for that — the manufacturer has been developing a new range of caravans.
Called the Seeker series, there are two different sub ranges available. The Soul Seekers are designed for couple or singles, and the Adventure Seekers are aimed at a family or maybe a grand family, depending on how you travel. Both the Soul Seekers and Adventure Seekers are available in three different lengths, so there’s something for everyone. I’m told in the near future, offroad models will also be available.
Apollo, the owner of Coromal, is based in Brisbane, Qld, but the Seeker caravans are built in the caravan capital of Australia, Campbellfield, Vic, by Majestic Caravans.
For this review, dealer Sydney RV was kind enough to make the smallest in the range, a Soul Seeker 18ft, available, just after the Sydney caravan and camping show, where the Seeker range was on display for the first time. Apparently, it was a good introduction because whenever I went near the Coromal stand, it was always quite busy.
I opted for the 18ft model for a couple of reasons. Of late there have been Caravan World reader requests for vans that don’t require a heavy-duty tow vehicle nor built for offroad use. The Soul Seeker 18ft fits that criteria rather nicely since it weighs in with a tare of 1868kg and an ATM of 2700kg. In addition, it comes with a variation of the much-favoured layout, a front island bed with a full width rear bathroom. Keeping the overall weight down is helped by the fact that this model is a single-axle rig.
A couple of years ago, Coromal produced a new series of vans, the Pioneer/Element Evolution range, which were built a little differently to the more traditional method — the vans had a composite sandwich panel structure and an FRC chassis that was rivetted and had C section rails and cross members. I was expecting the same for this van, but because the van production was shifted to Victoria, the Soul Seeker is built along more conventional lines, having a 100mm railed SupaGal box section chassis with a 50mm raiser and a 150mm drawbar. The corner stabilizers are all the ‘quick drop’ style, which are so much easier than those that fully wind down. Something that has become a familiar attachment to the chassis rails these days is the battery box, located just in front of the offside wheel.
Slightly unconventional is the Dexter Torflex independent suspension fitted with 16in alloy wheels that have 12in electric brakes as standard. Keeping the weight balanced, the two 95L water tanks are fitted either side of the axle. Most of the cable and pipework is strapped up out of the way and both the water tanks have galvanized sheet protection. It’s not always the case, but the underside of the Soul Seeker does look reasonably neat and tidy.
From the outside, the Soul Seeker is a smooth-looking caravan. That’s mostly due to the aluminium composite body panelling under which hides the strength of the body structure, the Meranti timber frame. Although this is not an offroad caravan, Coromal has clad the lower waist areas in the de rigueur black alloy checkerplate. Aussie Traveller has supplied the door and double-glazed acrylic window fittings, the latter being quite generously sized, especially the front bedroom windows.
Fitted along the nearside wall are all the expected features — awning, picnic table, wall light and external speakers. Across the front wall is a standard tunnel storage and for those muddy campsites, the external shower at the rear is a welcome feature.
White is bright certainly applies to the inside of the Soul Seeker 18ft. It’s the dominate colour but is offset by the Milano Grigio (mottled grey) of the bench and tabletops, the Viva Storm (sea grey) of the upholstery or the plane old glossy grey of the lower cabinetry. Despite all the flashy language of the colours, it all comes together quite nicely.
Natural internal lighting is aided by the large windows and the two good-sized roof hatches, one towards the front and the other at the rear. LED lighting systems draw little comment these days; most RV manufacturers seemed to have learnt how to use a mixture of ceiling fittings, reading lights and strip lighting, concealed or otherwise, very effectively. Coromal is no exception and it’s done well in this van. The general fit and finish are done reasonably well; all the drawers have metal runners and the overhead locker doors have metal struts.
In some ways, in this length van a forward door might make better use of available space, but the axle position might preclude that, so we have a rear door entry van. Across the rear wall is a full width rear bathroom, pretty much a standard item these days. The kitchen area fills all the mid-offside wall area and that faces an L-shaped dinette on the opposite side. Up front, the island bed takes pride of place, and in some ways, dominates the relatively small interior space.
Often in vans this length, the bed walk around space is quite limited because of design constraints, but in here, it’s possible to get around the bed on both sides without too much trouble. Measuring 1.85m x 1.53m (6ft 1in x 5ft), the inner spring mattress sits on a metal framed postured slat bed base. Apart from anything else, it makes it easy to get to the storage area underneath, which is downsized because of the tunnel storage but otherwise empty. I like the way the bedside wardrobes, drawers and overhead lockers are all flush — it looks neat. It does mean no bedside shelf, but the pillow cubbies are a practical touch and there’s a power point hidden inside each.
To fit everything in, the kitchen bench area is relatively small, with the space mostly taken up by the four burner (one electric, three gas) cooktop and stainless-steel sink/drainer. The 184L Thetford fridge takes up the corner position next to the bathroom. Bench top area is certainly limited but the general storage, four drawers, one cupboard and two floor lockers scores quite well. Part of the cupboard space is taken up by the wheel arch and the water pump and there’s no overhead locker space, with that being taken up by the NCE microwave oven and in the adjoining area, electrical essentials like the BMPRO battery manager, several 240V control switches and the radio/CD/DVD player. While it all takes up storage space, the central location is handy and does make fault-finding easier.
It’s definitely a van for two, and the L-shaped lounge and table are certainly good for a couple but not much more. In this layout, the open style seating is better than a cafe style dinette. Three overhead lockers supply much needed storage and there’s also a floor locker for the underseat area, but part of the wall space is taken by the wheel arch.
Despite the size of the van, the bathroom area is surprisingly spacious. Fitting in are a separate shower cubicle, Thetford cassette toilet and a vanity cabinet. That looks a little bigger than it is because the two compartments on either side are fully occupied by a top loading washing machine on the shower side and partly occupied by the hot water heater on the wall side. Between the two are couple of drawers and a small cupboard. Of course, the vanity cabinet also gets a wash basin and a full width wall mirror. Two overhead lockers sit above the mirror.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Electrically speaking, the Soul Seeker is quite simply set up. The 100Ah AGM battery is charged by either a 160W solar panel or via the BMPRO Battery Plus 35 Management System. Power points and light switches are mostly fitted in practical locations, except the dinette, which is awkwardly placed below seat level.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
On the road, the Soul Seeker 18ft is a well-balanced traveller and certainly no strain for the Jeep Grand Cherokee that I was using for my test drive. Realistically though, a lighter tow vehicle could be used, including the good range of dual cab utes that are currently available. Many having a tow rating of 3500kg but in reality, it’s something considerably less than that when the GCM rating is taken into consideration, meaning this van’s ATM of 2700kg, gives plenty of spare capacity and a safe tow.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I suspect for many, the attraction of the Soul Seeker 18ft is the weight factor. It’s well suited to a relatively large number of tow vehicles, yet has a layout that lacks for nothing, having all the features expected in a road touring caravan.
At $61,990, it’s not budget priced but at the same time very affordable, especially as it comes with many of those features we have all come to expect in a contemporary caravan.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 5.56m (18ft 3in)
Overall length 7.2m (23ft 7.5in)
Width 2.42m (7ft 11in)
Height (incl AC) 3.06m (10ft)
Ball weight 135kg
Frame Meranti timber
Cladding Aluminium composite
Chassis SupaGal box section, 4in frame, 6in drawbar
Suspension 2.7T Dexter Torflex
Brakes 12in electric
Wheels 16in alloy
Water 2 x 95L
Battery 1 x 100Ah
Solar 1 x 160W
Air-conditioner Houghton Belaire 3500
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control Optional
Cooking Thetford 4 burner & grill
Fridge Thetford N614-E.3F 184L three way
Bathroom Shower cubicle and Thetford cassette toilet
Hot water Swift gas/elec 28L
PRICE AS SHOWN
9–20 Lemko Place
Penrith NSW 2750
Ph: 02 4722 3444