AL-KO's Best Aussie Vans 2017: New Age Big Red BR19E Review

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


If comfort’s a priority, then the New Age Big Red BR19E with club lounge and slide-out may be the catalyst for your next grand adventure.

The barriers to embracing adventure can vary, and if a dislike for confined quarters is what's stopping you, then New Age's Big Red could be your way in.

Pegged at around $80K, the New Age Big Red BR19E Slider provides a slide-out for space to walk around the east-west bed, making way for a full-width bathroom, large kitchen and U-shaped lounge.

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With comfort so firmly placed at the fore, Caravan World was keen to put it under the microscope at Best Aussie Vans. But did the judges approve? Let's see what they said.

GOOD COMPROMISES

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New Age has really hit the nail on the head with this one. I mean, it feels spacious and comfortable from the second you walk inside. Then you realise, hang on – it’s got a slider! Yep, it makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the internal layout. For a while there it had me stumped as to how they could afford to offer such a big expensive feature for the asking price. Something’s got to give, right? Well, the quality is all there. And being a full on-road caravan means it doesn’t need to be built like a Sherman tank, either. So I guess they’ve saved a buck by sticking to good quality running gear without going overboard. AL-KO is the brand of choice for the 50mm full beam axles with leaf springs and drum brakes. Then there’s the alloy rims with some decent rubber on them. You don’t get a massive payload out of the package, though. And the plywood floor leaves a bit to be envied if you ask me – modern materials seem to feel much sturdier on the foot these days. It all sits on a Preston Chassis, which are known for their quality and resilience. But all in all, I think it’s a great compromise between quality, features included and comfort.      

BLACKTOP OZ-WIDE

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The New Age Big Red van was the only van that featured a slide-out in this year's Best Aussie Vans competition. This 6.3m van is an on-road model built in a very traditional style.

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The 6in galvanised chassis sits on a dual axle with leaf springs, 15in tyres and 10in brakes all round. The body panels consist of a meranti frame with ribbed alloy cladding with insulation between the outer and inner sheeting. A low skirt of checkerplate protects the panel work somewhat for its occasional forays onto a section of dirt road.

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The front entry door leads into the large club lounge area which takes up the front section of the van. The central section of the van is the kitchen area with all the normal appliances you've come to expect. Then there's the large queen-size bed opposite the slide-out, which allows for a large screen TV to rise up from the wall opposite the bed at the switch of a button. At the back of the van, taking up the full width, was a good sized ensuite with separate shower and toilet, a vanity basin and a washing machine.

While the Big Red sports a couple of 120Ah batteries, solar power was non-existent although I'm sure that could easily be added. As is, this New Age van can easily handle a night or two off the grid which could see you wander around Australia on the blacktop with few, if any, issues.       

WEIGHT VS SPACE

From the Big Red range of New Age caravans, this BR19E Slider is unique in this year’s BAV event in that it’s the only one with a slide-out. Does that carry any advantage, given the price tag at about $80,000. Well mostly, only if interior space is a serious requirement and a front club lounge is highly desired.

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Because that’s what you get with this layout, along with a full-width rear bathroom and an adjoining east-west bed with the bedhead set into the slide-out providing room for the large flatscreen TV in the cupboard. Something else that is going to suit many buyers, is the fact that the living area, ie, the dinette/lounge and kitchen, is at the front of the van and the bedroom/bathroom is towards the rear.

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Slide-outs do add weight to the van, of course, in addition to the extra space. Which might explain why this model is one of the few at BAV with the standard payload of 400kg. Careful loading is therefore required, given the twin water tank capacity but it also means that a Nissan Patrol or similar is not the default tow vehicle.

A GREAT SLIDE-SHOW

This value-for-money caravan emits a fair dollop of wow factor.

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Obviously, the real head-turner is the stately slide-out bedroom with an east-west bed. It’s really the piece de resistance of the van’s lavish and spacious internal layout. In fact, when the slide-out is deployed, I reckon you receive almost an extra metre of living space. Moving around inside the van is effortless!

Not only do you gain a heap of interior floorspace, but the 40in TV offers a ‘Gold Class’ cinema effect. It’s on a pop-up electric slide bracket that provides excellent viewing from the bed. Quite simply, it’s a room with a view!

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Now if the east-west bed to the front of a rear ensuite configuration fails to elicit the comforts of home, then the ultra-comfortable U-shaped lounge and a pragmatic kitchen with all the bells and whistles will seal the deal.

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Any camping connoisseur will delight in its suite of mod cons.

All in all, it’s a fully functional and well thought out interior design.

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I was also taken by the stylish full-width rear ensuite complete with the convenience of a mini-washer, along with an up-to-the-minute curved benchtop.

Attention to detail is a hallmark of this contemporary New Age van, and that is evidenced in the quality glossy cabinetry, mirrored robes and LED strip lighting under the overhead cabinets.

Externally, the BR19E Slider looks resplendent bedecked in ali-comp cladding, with high checkerplate at the front.

Other nice touches on the Big Red are the massive two-compartment toolbox on the A-frame, gal-lined tunnel boot and a centre support bracket for the awning.

Weights and measures

  • Overall length 8.4m (27ft 6in)
  • External body length 6.38m (20ft 11in)
  • External body width 2.5m (8ft 2in)
  • Travel height approx. 2.92m (9ft 7in)
  • Internal height 2.03m (6ft 8in)
  • Tare 2650kg
  • ATM 3050kg
  • Payload 400kg
  • Ball weight 210kg

Price as shown

$79,995

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #571. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!