AL-KO's Best Aussie Vans 2017: AUSRV Byfield XT Review

By: Michael Borg, Peter Quilty, Ron Moon, Malcolm Street


AusRV rethinks chassis and body design in the Byfield XT lightening the load out on the tracks.

Only months before, new kid AusRV impressed us with the Byfield All Terrain, a striking all-roader sporting a fibreglass body working in tandem with the chassis for optimal strength on our national park tracks.

So when our judging crew heard CW would be inspecting the Byfield Extreme Terrain at Best Aussie Vans, they were thrilled. But did it take the cake at camp? Read on and find out.

DELIVERING THE GOODS

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The Byfield XT was like a breath of fresh air to review, mainly because it’s unique to the rest of the mob. The caravan we tested and judged was fluoro green in colour, which I reckon looks tops but actually serves an even greater purpose – you’ll see it coming through clouds of bulldust from a bloody mile away! So straight away it’s got a real point of difference when it comes to touring safety, in my opinion.  

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As you would expect from a caravan in this price range, the Byfield comes with just about everything you could ask for: a washing machine, and wireless activation for most electronic equipment inside was a big plus.

The XT part of the name signals that it has been designed for extreme offroad, and when you pop your head underneath and take a look, you can tell it means business.

It employs the expertise of AL-KO’s Enduro Outback suspension, which is an all-out offroad suspension system designed specifically for the toughest conditions Australia can throw at it. Then you’ve got AL-KO’s Electronic Stability Control system included too, which in my opinion should be installed on every registered caravan – it’s that good.

The chassis all looked the goods, too. The weld quality was great; it’s all braced and supported where it should be and it’s obvious there’s been a fair bit of thought put into the overall design, too.

A DURABLE FINISH

Decked out in bright green the Byfield attracts the eye from quite a distance, and the colour, rather surprisingly, grows on you!

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This 22ft van is a full offroad unit and while it may seem expensive, it features the most modern build structure and a plethora of equipment. Full composite construction for the 25mm thick walls and roof make for a strong van, while the 32mm floor is Kevlar coated for the ultimate in protection. The heavy duty fully galvanised chassis as well as the lower portion of the body and the front storage box are Raptor coated for a very durable finish.

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The unit rides on a heavy duty AL-KO independent dual axle suspension backed up by AL-KO's electronic stability control, 16in wheels with offroad rubber and 12in brakes all round.

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Inside, the van has a good roomy layout and I particularly liked the lounge and entry area. While the Byfield has all you’d expect from a top line caravan what steps up the ante even further is the quality appliances from the Redarc battery management system, the Fusion stereo system that is controlled from your mobile phone, to the wireless control of all the LED lights (there are a lot of them!) throughout the cab.

The Byfield comes in a number of floorplans and all are meant for adventurous travel across this great country of ours and resort-style living, or staying off the grid for as long as your little adventurous heart desires.   

LIGHTER AND BRIGHTER

It’s probably been mentioned before but the most noticeable feature of the AusRV Byfield XT is the bright green colour. In the caravan world, that’s the rough equivalent of click bait. Potential buyers get attracted by the colour, have a closer look at the design and then order one with a more conservative hue. There’s nothing wrong with that in a world of many white similar looking box-like shapes.

At $100,000, the Byfield is not a cheap van at all. However, it does come with many of the necessary features for a true offroad caravan. Including weight or should I say lack thereof. Its purpose built chassis and composite wall/extruded aluminium body structure is all designed to function in a complementary way, thus negating the need for a Harbour Bridge-style chassis.

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In addition to that, the Byfield layout comes with a rear club lounge and a decent size split kitchen leaving the front area for an island bed and split bathroom. Even though the Byfield does not look like a big van from the outside there is certainly plenty of room inside. The Tare mass of 2700kg and payload of 800kg result in a very versatile caravan, one that can be towed by a wide range of tow vehicles, depending on the loading strategy of the users.

‘FIELD’ OF DREAMS

Revered as the flagship of the fledgling AusRV fleet, and totally built in-house, the Byfield XT is a full-blown offroader. And loaded up with a ‘monohull’ AusRV chassis and AL-KO Enduro Outback suspension, this extreme terrain (XT) model will take you miles off the grid in complete peace of mind.

It’s purpose-built for a life of adventure out in the sticks, with several impressive capacities – batteries (2x100Ah AGM), solar (1x200W) and water (2x85L), plus a 1000W power inverter.

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Encased in a tough-as-teak one-piece frameless 25mm-thick fibreglass composite panel, it’s hail resistant – and with no joins, there’s no chance of water ingress.

With the external walls bonded to aluminium extrusions, accompanied by a one-piece ceiling, floor and internal walls, this Byfield is bulletproof if not virtually indestructible!

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This offroad brute caters for inside and outside cooking, and you’ve just gotta love the massive ‘storage centre’ at the front.

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And if the external attributes don’t win you over, well, there’s always the elegant interior. Stylish to say the least, the intelligent internal design dishes up all the necessary mod cons throughout – particularly in the swish mid-mount ensuite with a separate shower and toilet, washing machine – and has an emphasis on privacy.

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Exuding innovation, the Byfield boasts custom benchtops, colours, doors and fabrics, and remote wireless light switches. And the rear four-seater cafe dinette also converts to a bed.

More diligent eyes will also appreciate the StyleLite finish to the cabinetry, quality black chrome tapware, and arthritis-friendly catches.

And methinks the utilisation of LED strip lighting all-round, rather than the ubiquitous downlights, creates a better ambience.

Making a noise (if you’ll excuse the oxymoron) is the van’s insulation which prevents the intrusion of outside sound. It’s so quiet inside you could hear a pin drop!

All in all, the AusRV Byfield XT is a picture of sartorial splendour – inside and out.

Weights and measures

  • Overall length 9m (29ft 6in)
  • External body length 6.7m (22ft in)
  • External body width 2.56m (7ft 8in)
  • Travel height 3.03m (9ft 10in)
  • Internal height 2m (6ft 6in)
  • Tare 2700kg
  • ATM 3500kg
  • Payload 800kg
  • Ball weight 163kg

Price as shown

$99,990 (drive-away, Qld)

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #570. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!