Once upon a time, the Recreational Vehicle (RV) industry looked very different. Holden Kingwoods, Ford Falcons and Chrysler Valiants were considered to be adequate tow vehicles and the geographical base of caravan manufacturing, where names like Millard and Viscount reigned supreme, was not regional Melbourne but southwestern Sydney.
I mention all that because Millard, albeit in very much a changed form, is still a Sydney-based manufacturer and has been for more than two decades in its current form. There are some advantages to that; your staff can’t just walk down the road to get a similar job and copying a fellow manufacturer isn’t as easy. But there some disadvantages too, such as where the component manufacturers/importers are located.
A couple of years ago, the ownership of Millard Caravans changed hands but judging from the subject of this review, a Millard MFlow 17ft 6in, things are only on the up and up. It’s a single axle caravan with a rear door entry, but a point of note is that the 17ft 6in is also available in the same layout but with a centre habitation door and it’s interesting to do a comparison.
HITTING THE ROAD
Sydney’s Millard dealer is RV Connection at St Marys, NSW. A convenient location not far from the M4 freeway, and one with several other caravan and motorhome dealers close by. When I arrived the MFlow had been polished up by the RV Connection team and once hitched up behind a turbo diesel-powered Holden Colorado, I was soon on my way.
Having an external body length of 5.51m (18ft 1in) and a Tare Mass of 1976kg, the single axle MFlow isn’t a heavyweight van. Indeed, it was a pleasure to tow and tracked along behind the Colorado without any dramas at all. The tow vehicle certainly has a tow rating much higher than the MFlow, but towing with excess weight capacity and a powerful turbo diesel just makes things much more relaxing and gives the ability to enjoy the passing scenery.
SOME THINGS DON’T CHANGE
Back in earlier times Millard caravans were built with an aluminium frame and they still are today. Aluminium was also the cladding choice, in a distinctive style that’s still recognisable today. Differently, as you might expect, the MFlow has flat aluminium composite sides and a one-piece fibreglass roof to minimise water getting in. That easily era-identifiable material of choice - black alloy cladding - is used around all the lower areas. There’s just one external storage, a tunnel boot across the front but it’s certainly large enough for hoses, power leads, camping chairs and even fishing rods. A plastic box or two on runners would keep things tidy and prevent stuff sliding around too much. For outside living, the Dometic awning, picnic table and decent LED wall light do the job very well.
Chassis construction is done very much in the contemporary box section style, but Millard has resisted the temptation to use 150mm x 50mm (6in x 2in) RHS for the main rails and drawbar (which seems to be the trend in many cases), instead using smaller and lighter 100mm x 50mm (4in x 2in) which should be more than adequate for this particular van. Every kilogram saved counts. Both the 95 litre freshwater tanks are fitted forward of the axle and the 95 litre grey tank is located towards the rear of the van. Stabilisers are fitted to each corner, and all come with a feature I have not seen before, a simple steel cord and carabiner clip to prevent the stabiliser clip from accidentally dropping down when the van is in motion.
On the drawbar, things are very uncomplicated, there being the essential ball coupling, hand brake and two 9kg gas cylinders. At the rear, the bumper bar is used for mounting the spare wheel at a user-friendly height.
FRONT BED, REAR BATHROOM
Just about everyone familiar with caravan design will know that the layout of choice these days is one that consists of a front island bed, full-width rear bathroom with the essential kitchen and seating area in between. This is probably the smallest length of van that arrangement is going to be achievable without the layout becoming impractical.
Essential in a van like this, mostly to give a light-feel interior in a relatively small space, are large windows and that’s what the MFlow has, along with decent-sized roof hatches
WASHING MACHINE INCLUDED
Compact is definitely the word to use with this particular bathroom. It’s fitted out very much in the standard style with a shower cubicle on the nearside and a Dometic cassette toilet opposite. The vanity cabinet is surprisingly well appointed and comes with a large wall mirror, pedestal wash basin and a good selection of overhead lockers and drawers, along with a corner cupboard that has multiple shelves. There’s certainly no shortage of storage space, especially as a front load washing machine is fitted in as well. The elbow room around the toilet was a bit tight on the door side and while the area has fan hatches above the loo and the shower cubicle, there’s no wall window. The subtle LED strip lighting both above and at floor level is done well.
DINING, COOKING AND SITTING BACK
It’s just as well this is just a two-berth van because the L-shaped lounge is just big enough for two people to sit comfortably around the 08.m x 0.5m (2ft 8in x 1ft 8in) table. Mounted on a pedestal base, its position can be shifted around quite easily.
Across the walkway, the kitchen is a bit like the bathroom, compact but practical with all the essentials. Butting up against the bathroom wall is a Dometic 173-litre absorption fridge, with the microwave oven above. It’s set at a height slightly lower than the adjacent overhead lockers, thereby being fairly user-friendly. Fitted into the kitchen bench is a Dometic four-burner hob with a grill underneath. Alongside that is a round stainless-steel sink. It doesn’t have a drainer and that’s a slightly cheeky way of making the bench top area appear bigger than it is. That said, in a little bit of compromise design the bench end does overhang into the bed walk-around space, which does work quite well.
The forward end of the overhead locker is where the TV mounting arm, radio and 240V circuit breakers are to be found. The TV position does make it easy viewing from the bed but slightly awkward for the person at the diner facing the rear
Behind the lounge, the 1.85m x 1.53m (6ft 1in x 5ft) queen bed sits centre stage. It has the expected cabinetry around the bed head, including pillow cubbies at the base of the wardrobe on either side. Those are complete with 240V power points and USB hubs. Large windows on either side give a good light level and cross flow of ventilation.
Lifting the posture slat bed base reveals a moderately sized storage space. It’s also where the 110Ah AGM battery is to be found. Some installations I have seen have cables dangling everywhere which is a damage risk, but in this case everything is tucked neatly out of the way.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For a couple, this MFlow ticks all kinds of boxes. It’s not a particularly large van yet has a fairly user-friendly layout. It’s well-appointed with all the expected comfort items that are fitted into contemporary vans. Finally, from a towing perspective, it’s not a heavyweight van and won’t require a heavy-duty tow vehicle. A winner on several fronts.
Millard MFlow 17ft 6in CENTRE DOOR floor plan
As noted in the article, this particular van is available with a rear habitation door as reviewed or a centre habitation door (ie. in front of the wheels). There’s not much difference but what you do get with the centre door layout is a slightly more open layout around the bed, kitchen and diner. There’s not much in it but I reckon in a smaller van like this, the centre door is a better option for usable space reasons.
HITS AND MISSES
- Great towing van
- No real design compromises
- Light and bright interior
- Internal lighting
- Hidden door catches
- No sink drainer
- TV viewing angle from seat
- Bed walk around space
Millard MFlow 17ft Ratings
Value for Money : 7.5
“Prices have certainly been rising in recent times but it’s a well-appointed van”
Towability : 8.5
“With an ATM of just over 2600kg, it doesn’t require a heavy-duty tow vehicle”
Suitability for Intended Touring : 8
“For a couple who desire a bit of comfort in a smaller van”
Build Quality : 8
“A few glitches but everything seem to function as it should”
Liveability : 7.5
“A few compromises but nothing you wouldn’t expect”
Self-sufficiency : 8
“Grey tank fitted and with a three-way fridge, off the grid stays for several days are quite possible”
Customer Care : 8
“Millard offers a five-year structural and a two-year manufacturing warranty”
Innovation : 7.5
“Nothing of significance stands out but it’s the smaller items like the semi concealed lighting that make a difference”
X-Factor : 8.5
“A relatively small and lightweight van, makes for an easy towing proposition”
Millard MFlow 17ft Specs
Weights and Measures
|Body length||5.51m (18ft 1in)|
|Overall length||7.38m (24ft 3in)|
|Width (incl awn)||2.49m (8ft 2in)|
|Height||2.96m (9ft 9in)|
|Cladding||Aluminium comp sides, fibreglass comp roof|
|Chassis||Hot dipped galvanized,150mm/4in rails and drawbar|
|Suspension||Single axle leaf spring|
|Brakes||30cm (12in) elec|
|Wheels||40cm (16in) alloy|
|Water||2 x 95L|
|Grey water||1 x 95L|
|Battery||1 x 110Ah|
|Air-conditioner||Dometic Ibis 4|
|Gas||2 x 9.0kg|
|Cooking||Dometic four burner hob and grill|
|Fridge||Dometic RMD10.5XS 173 litre three-way|
|Bathroom||Dometic cassette toilet, separate shower cubicle|
|Hot water||Swift 28 L gas/elec|
- Grey water tank
Millard MFlow 17ft price as shown $73,285.00
Supplied by RV Connection
THE NEXT STEP
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