AL-KO Best Aussie Vans 2018: Legend Kick Back Review

By: Tim van Duyl, Photography by: MATT WILLIAMS AND CAM INNISS


Past winner, Legend Caravans' continuing commitment to innovation and style, has produced a true offroader with a 'home beautiful' disposition.

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A LEGEND RETURNS

Tim van Duyl

Led by Zoran, the team at Legend Caravans are widely regarded as among the nicest and most hospitable in the industry. Wide smiles and genuine care meet anyone who walks onto a show stand or through the doors of their newly refinished factory in Campbellfield, Vic. There is also a sense of peace about the company and its people, nothing is rushed and every idea is heard and considered. It's no surprise then  that Legend is a past winner of AL-KO’s Best Aussie Vans and a hot favourite again in 2018.

This year, the team have bought more than just a considered, gorgeous and impeccably styled van. This one has a new heart or should that be skeleton. All the company's vans built late in 2018 and beyond will have  frames that are robotically riveted alloy box section, giving greater accuracy and strength, and guaranteed rot-free. We had seen alloy frames from Legend before but not made with this new method, and inspecting a sample brought up from the factory, it was easy to understand the benefits. Riveting doesn’t distort like welding can, is strong and, importantly, allows some movement. A little movement means the alloy will not fatigue, an important consideration especially around welded joins.

The bits you can see are also built on strong fundamentals, starting with a G&S chassis and their heavy duty independent trailing arm suspension. Designed with long hours on corrugations and the need to articulate over rocks and bumps in mind, the plate steel and box section suspension are virtually indestructible, yet the comfort and detail inside the van would have you think you were in a luxury tourer. It is this blend of Aussie toughness and euro-chic that makes Legend vans so popular and a worthy contender for AL-KO’s Best Aussie Vans 2018.

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Peter Quilty

Total score: 90.5

The Legend Kick Back is a quintessential home away from home. And it goes without saying that bona fide offroaders of this ilk under $90K are scarce as hen’s teeth.
The Kick Back reveals painstaking attention to detail…typical of the Legend breed. For starters, it boasts a 3mm-thick aluminium composite sheathing and a 1.3mm-thick machine-riveted aluminium frame (walls/roof).

And its sturdy underpinnings include a G&S chassis and G&S Control Rider TS suspension.
Legend’s mid-range van (between the Groundbreaker and the Trackline), the Kick Back is also adorned in high X-plate at the front along with galvanised nudge bars for added protection, and a stone deflector to shield the twin 9kg gas cylinders.
The term ‘go-anywhere van’ is often used loosely, but not in this case. The Kick Back is a self-sufficient ‘beast’ equipped with 240Ah of battery capacity, 190L of freshwater, 110L of grey water, and 320W of solar power.

Meanwhile, the nearside of the large checker plate storage locker features a slide-out Weber Q for al fresco cooking. A reversing camera and work light are also thrown in as standard inclusions.

The plush internal layout showcases design nous - from the galley to the capacious internal storage.

The angled kitchen offers plenty of ‘waterfall’ benchtop space while the microwave is at a sensible height. And a 224L Dometic compressor fridge will be worth its capacity in gold in tropical climates.
But wait there’s more… No, not the proverbial steak knife but a magnetic knife holder!

I’m also a big fan of the Kick Back’s architectural tapware, Roman blinds and pelmets, and mood lighting. Screwed-in cabinetry, glistening rubber-lined acrylic cupboard doors and positive lock catches, add to the appeal.

The leather cafe dinette is an up-to-the-minute zone to kick back and relax, with flip-out footrests and adjustable-height headrests.

The boudoir features a caravan-queen-size bed, innerspring mattress and a gargantuan padded bed head, while the swanky bathroom has a centrally located vanity complete with circular ceramic pedestal washbasin, architectural tapware, and full splashback. There's also a fibreglass shower module with a glass door.

Yes, there’s plenty to like about the interior décor.
This Legend has got the whole box and dice for the discerning off-grid explorer, including a 4kg Camec front-loading washing machine.
It's an all-purpose offroader with a ‘Home Beautiful’ disposition.

 

John ‘Bear' Willis

Total score: 79

I can certainly see myself kicking back in the lap of luxury, enjoying a bucket list location and living life to the fullest in this Legend. A former BAV divisional winner, Legend returned to our 2018 competition with a real contender in the $80 -90k category with the Kick Back, combining quite serious outback capacity with a beautiful internal fit-out and discernible European flare.

The Kick Back layout was designed for a cruising couple with a taste for some rugged adventure away from the black top, but who also enjoy deluxe comfort inside. From its gloss cabinetry to the faux- marble benchtops, superb linings, mood lighting, branded mirror highlights and thickly upholstered trim and leather lounge, the internal living space is a treat.

There’s plenty of amenity including Ibis air conditioning, full oven, cooktop and grill plus an external Weber Q, microwave, a huge 224L compressor fridge/freezer. To keep it powered Legend included the Victron Energy BMS charger and solar regulator for twin 120A  AGM batteries kept charged by two 160W solar panels when away from a 240V source.

The construction is quite unique. Legend's self-piercing rivet system for the insulated aluminium frame provides enormous inherent strength and the checker plate protection is returned under the van for greater sealing protection. The G&S chassis and independent suspension is strong and capable for long runs on shuddering corrugations and there’s plenty of dust-proof storage and payload to carry all of your toys.

Top all that off with a great system of nudge bars, DO35 offroad coupling and 190L water capacity, plus the grey water tank, and you have a van for a couple wanting to live very comfortably in the extremes for a great adventure, at a very realistic price.

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Malcolm Street

Total Score: 80.5

There are several caravans at BAV this year that have stepped away quite markedly from the traditional construction technique of a galvanised steel chassis  and timber frame with aluminium cladding. Legend’s Kick Back happens not to be one of them - well to some degree.

Underpinning the van is a G & S SupaGal chassis, with 150mm x 50mm (6in x 2in) rails laminated to a 100mm x 50mm (4in x 2in) riser. It’s designed in a box section arrangement but, apart from the suspension mounts, the cross members are all punched hole C section. Legend has opted to stay with the G & S product by using that manufacturer’s independent suspension, complete with coil springs, two shock absorbers per wheel and trailing arms. A look under the chassis reveals a very good ground clearance – a serious consideration for any offroad van. Gal sheet protection is used on all the water tanks and scrub rails are fitted on both sides of the van.

Above the chassis, a machine-riveted aluminium frame and aluminium composite panels are used for the body construction. It’s always good to ask how a caravan is constructed. Some manufacturers seem a little coy about this, yet it’s often the areas that cannot be seen that make a difference. For instance Legend use Self Piercing Rivets (SPRs) which give a very good rivet joint and, for cable runs, plastic grommets  ensure no cable insulation chafing.

Inside, all the cabinetry is fitted together very well and finished with glossy laminates. Stainless-steel hinges are used for all the cupboard and overhead lockers doors. Although the drawers all have obvious handle/catches, the overhead lockers have concealed openers, will will be appreciated by those who have difficulty with the oft-used smaller fittings. The concealed and not-so-concealed light fittings add to the interior charm even by day.

While some offroad vans  tend to be more practical than good looking, the Legend has plenty of "bling" about it. There’s nothing wrong with its practicalities either, in addition to the usual offroad equipment, the Kick Back is ready for remote travel with two 120AH batteries, two 160W solar panels and a 60A Victron battery management system

 

Laura Gray

Total Score: 84.5

This is not Legend’s first rodeo at Best Aussie Vans and last year’s category winner again brought the goods with the offroad Kick Back, sitting at $89,990, nearly $10K less than its rival, the Coromal PEX. Taking the price difference into account, the minute difference in the Kick Back's overall scores is a huge boon for Legend, and one they should be very proud of. This fully equipped offroader for under $90K is definitely near the top of its field.

What I’ve always admired about Legend, and was evident again here, is the company's commitment to evolution and change, rather than sticking with old methods. A few years ago, we saw a Legend at Best Aussie Vans with a poplar frame, that the company claimed had water-resistant and bug-proof qualities. No doubt that was true, but the team has now moved quickly past that, into aluminium frames - clearly a superior choice for both those reasons.

But the one thing that stays constant in every Legend van I see - and the Kickback is no exception - is the slieek and shiny finishes, inside and out. From the mirrored ‘Legend’ decal on the back of the van to the glossy cabinetry and all-leather interior, they've spared no expense in this department. There’s no doubt you’ll have one of the flashiest vans on the road, or the van park, if you’re kicking back in this van.

It's incredibly well kitted out for the price - with slightly more solar power and a larger fridge than its competitor. And the external kitchen is a hugely welcome bonus, and one that's missing from its rival, the PEX.

Inside, the angled kitchen bench is the star of the show, pleasing to the eye and allowing so much extra space.

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Peter Quilty

Laura Gray

Malcolm Street

John Willis

Value for Money

9.00

8.50

8.50

9.00

Self-Sufficiency

9.00

8.00

8.50

7.00

Towability

9.00

10.00

8.50

9.00

Suitability for Intended Touring

9.00

9.00

8.00

8.00

Layout

9.50

8.00

8.00

8.00

Quality of Finish

9.50

8.00

8.00

8.00

Build Quality

9.50

9.00

8.00

8.00

Creature Comforts

9.00

9.00

8.00

8.00

Innovation

8.00

7.00

7.00

7.00

X-Factor

9.00

8.00

8.00

7.00

Totals

90.50

84.50

80.50

79.00

Judges Average

83.625

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MORE INFORMATION

To enquire about this caravan, please visit: www.legendcaravans.com.au or call 0415 802 763

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #582. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!