Sunshine Coast-based Zone RV is a manufacturer that knows something about building offroad caravans. Having been in business since 2015, the caravan manufacturer specialises in units that are tough enough to handle the Australian outback with an emphasis on keeping the weight down as much as possible.
Currently, there are three models in the Zone RV range: the Expedition, a very different style pop-top, the 19ft Peregrine and the 21ft Sojourn. The latter, being the largest, is available as a family caravan. Still, my review van is designed for just two people and, being a customer-ordered van, is fitted with many options.
OPTIONS AND WEIGHTS
The options listed on this van are pretty interesting, not only for the lengthy list of them but also for what’s considered an option. For instance, an air-conditioner and microwave oven are standard features on almost any caravan manufactured in Australia today. A diesel heater would be de rigueur on a caravan of this calibre, but not here.
Of note is the effect of the options on the tare mass and ATM. The van has a tare mass of 2656kg in standard form, but with all the options fitted that rises to 3038kg. The ATM increases from 3500kg to 4000kg to maintain a good payload. That certainly pushes the review van well into US pickup truck towing territory and is a consideration when order time comes along. That said, the Zone RV Sojourn has a very generous payload.
A perusal under the van reveals a hot dipped galvanised chassis with 150mm/6in rails and drawbar. A characteristic of Zone RV caravans is the slightly droopy look of the drawbar, the pointy end of which has a Cruisemaster DO45 tow coupling.
An upgrade to this model is Zone RV’s Protection Pack. A rubberised coating is applied to the side walls, drawbar and rear bar. Designed to minimise damage from debris and stones on the road. Alloy checkerplate protects all the water tanks, held firmly in place by aluminium strut work. It’s a good piece of engineering.
Giving the van a very smooth ride is the Cruisemaster ATX airbag suspension; it’s rated at 4.5T and, therefore, eminently suitable for rough offroad travel. Providing extra stopping power are the optional hydraulically operated disc brakes. The undercarriage on the Sojourn is certainly well-kitted out.
Above the chassis, a feature of the bodywork is the innovative bonded composite monocoque structure characteristic of Zone RV vans. Indeed, the entire van is of timberless construction. All the joins are bonded together, including the single-piece floor panel, laminated to the chassis. Built into the bodywork is a front tunnel storage but that’s dwarfed by the drawbar-mounted storage box with gullwing doors on either side. The offside is for the two 4kg cylinders, but the nearside offers a generous storage area. In front of the storage box are two large metal pouches, one containing the diesel tank for the heater. The front wall of the van is utilised as a storage space for the MAXTRAX. Similarly, the rear wall is where the spare wheel and a folding ladder (for roof access) are to be found. Handy for cleaning the solar panels and roof hatches, if nothing else.
The Sojourn’s external kitchen is well-appointed. A large flap hinges down to reveal a set of shelves large enough for all kinds of cooking items, including a water supply. In addition, there are both 240V and 12V hubs, along with the necessary TV connections. The lowered flap is large enough to accommodate a portable wash basin and induction cooktop yet still has space to spare. It’s simply done but well-appointed.
Mid-offside, there’s a door that looks like a storage compartment but is really the department of electrics. At the top is the Redarc battery management system with the associated fuse links and circuit breakers. The 200Ah Lithium LiFePO4 battery (part of the 800Ah upgrade) and the Redarc 3000W inverter are lower in a vented compartment. The other three lithium 200A batteries are located under one of the dinette seats. Future installations like this will have to be modified to meet new AS/NZ 3001.2 electrical standards. A feature I liked was the large, laminated diagram stuck inside the door. It showed how everything, including the 1060W of solar panel capacity, is wired together. It is very useful to understand how it’s all connected and for fault tracing.
A double electric step leads the way into the Sojourn interior which is done very much in the contemporary look of bright white, along with darker shades for the cabinetry and upholstery. The layout is the popular front bedroom, full-width rear bathroom with kitchen and dinette in between. In keeping with modern themes, the lighting is mainly LED strip fittings, along with three ceiling fittings and reading lights for the bed. Large windows give good natural light and ventilation.
Around the bed are the usual array of overhead lockers and side cabinetry. The wardrobes with hanging rails have removable shelves fitted, so are multifunctional. That includes pillow cubbies hidden behind the cabinetry systems.
The cafe-style dinette with the optional leather and diamond-stitched upholstery looks the part, especially with the wall back cushions and hinged footrest. It has what might be described as a ‘sit down and relax’ look! The Nuova Mapa Table mounting can be raised or lowered as required. As mentioned, the batteries occupy one under-seat area, and the Webasto diesel heater partly occupies the other.
Across the aisle, the kitchen bench has a very uncluttered look about it, with just a Safiery dual induction cooktop and a square stainless-steel sink built into it. As a consequence, benchtop space is very generous. Storage space is equally good, with a good selection of drawers of various sizes and overhead lockers. A microwave oven takes up part of that same space, as does the Satking Promox and Cel-Fi Go mobile Signal Booster hardware in a separate locker.
By the doorway, the end of the kitchen bench is where the Fusion radio, main light switches and the airbag suspension controls are located. The latter is an excellent location when standing outside the van.
On the opposite side of the van, between the dinette and the bathroom, the space is filled by a Thetford 274L compressor fridge and a full-height wire basket pantry, offering substantive food and drink storage.
Across the rear, the bathroom area is quite spacious. It contains all the expected items: shower cubicle, vanity cabinet and wall-mounted washing machine. There’s a toilet, too, except that it’s not the usual cassette style but a Nature’s Head composting toilet. This means there’s no tank to be emptied on a regular basis.
Zone RV offers a very mixed warranty: Five years on the chassis, two years on many components, including structural, locks, handles and lights and then 12 months on other OEM items. As always, it’s a good idea to read the warranty properly.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It’s been several years since I last checked out a Zone RV caravan. There’s no doubt that the Sojourn is an upmarket van, but clearly one that has a fitness-for-purpose look and feel about it. It is designed very much for rough offroading in the great outdoors but done in style and comfort.
HITS AND MISSES
- Electrical setup
- Front storage box
- External kitchen
- Composting toilet
- Options like extra lithium batteries can add considerably to the payload
- Long options list
ZONE RV SOJOURN RATINGS
VALUE FOR MONEY
It’s not a budget van at all, but one built for a purpose, and that’s reflected in the price
Fully optioned up, it’s quite a heavy van and will require a suitable tow vehicle
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
Designed very much for offroad travel, it certainly has all the gear for handling tough Australian terrain
Overall, the van looks very well put together. Certainly, the sub-chassis area, often a bit messy, is very neatly done
Being a 6.4m (21ft) van, it’s spacious inside but suitable for living outside, too
It’s well equipped electrically and water-wise, including the compost toilet for some days of camping in remote locations
The warranty offered is quite good, two years on many items, but it’s pretty specific on several components, mostly 12 months
The front storage box and the external kitchen rated for me
It’s all in the look. The Sojourn doesn’t look like a boofy offroad van, but that’s what it is!
ZONE RV SOJOURN SPECS
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||6.4m (21ft)|
|Overall length||8.8m (28ft 9in)|
|Width||2.5m (8ft 2in)|
|Height||3.1m (10ft 2in)|
|Tare||3038kg (standard is 2656kg)|
|ATM||4000kg (standard is 3500kg)|
|Payload||962kg (standard is 844kg)|
|Ball weight||180kg standard|
|Frame||Composite wall structure|
|Cladding||Four-piece composite bonded design, composite panels on floor, walls and roof|
|Chassis||Hot dipped galvanised chassis — drawbar, rear bar and chassis one piece|
|Suspension||Cruisemaster ATX air bag|
|Coupling||Cruisemaster DO45 (standard is DO35)|
|Brakes||Disc (standard is drum brakes)|
|Wheels||18in alloy (standard 17in)|
|Water||3 x 80L (240L total) freshwater, 1 x 100L grey water|
|Gas||2 x 4kg|
|Battery||4 x 200Ah (800Ah total) (standard is 200Ah)|
|Solar||1060W (standard is 540W)|
|Inverter||Redarc 3000W pure sine wave|
|Air Heater||Webasto diesel air heater|
|Sway control||N/A (not needed with disc brakes)|
|Cooking||Safiery dual induction|
|Fridge||Thetford T1274E, 274L, 12V compressor|
|Bathroom||Nature’s Head compost toilet, separate shower cubicle|
|Hot water||Webasto diesel 15L|
Zone RV Sojourn price from $143,000
- 800Ah lithium batteries
- 1060W solar
- One tank isolated for drinking water
- Protection Pack – rubberised coating
- Disc brakes
- Auto-levelling airbags
- Two sets of MAXTRAX
- Pillow top queen bed
- Cafe lounge layout
- Leather and diamond-stitched upholstery
- Diesel air heater
- 28in TV
- Satking Promox
- Cel-Fi Go Mobile Signal Booster
- 2.5kg washing machine
- Electric awning
- Rear ladder
- Barbecue slide
Zone RV Sojourn price as shown $198,930
85-91 Quanda Road
Coolum Beach Qld 4573
P: 07 5471 6410
THE NEXT STEP
The sellers will be happy to help and answer any inquiries you may have about the products advertised for sale.
Watch the Zone RV ZF-18.6 Offroad review here: