Review: CruiseRV Fun Finder X
The CruiseRV Fun Finder X is a US caravan import with some novel and practical features.
IN THE AUSTRALIAN RV world, there is not a great deal of imported rigs around. The few you do see generally come from either the US or the UK/Europe. Within that group, most of the fifth wheelers and motorhomes come from the US, while the majority of caravans come out of the UK/Europe.
The team at Queensland RV has taken a slightly different approach, adding several US-built caravans to their existing range. Our review van, CruiseRV's interestingly-named Fun Finder X, was one of the first to arrive.
Import compliance matters, such as gas and electrical systems, have been dealt with and secured. Queensland RV's Mark Roche told me the first delivery of CruiseRV vans had all compliance work done in Australia, but that later vans would have their requirements attended to in the US factory as they are being built.
The fact that the rig has been built to mirror the US layout - the entry door on the nearside, rather than on the offside - is an immediate point of interest, but in many ways the Fun Finder X looks a lot like its Australian contemporaries, with a front bedroom/rear bathroom design, aluminium frame and fibreglass composite wall structure. But it has a few differences, too, including an offside slide-out, second external kitchen and a somewhat different design for the bedroom. Sliding glass windows and a (non-security) screened door, fitted just in front of the wheels, are standard features.
This van's dimensions are very practical. At 6.4m (21ft) long and 2.31m (7ft 7in) wide, it is not the type of behemoth we often associate with good ol' American rigs. The weights are also good for Australia. An ATM of 2480kg and Tare of 1940kg mean lightweight travellers can either look at a large capacity or a not-too-huge tow vehicle.
Underpinning the Fun Finder X is a 150mm-railed chassis. Galvanising doesn't seem to be particularly popular in the US, and this powder-coated unit follows the trend.
Up front, the ball coupling is a little different. Instead of a jockey wheel, a power-operated jack is used. This device is easy to operate, but decreases the ability to move the van around. The four corner stabilisers are also power operated.
Two 9kg gas cylinders sit unobtrusively on the drawbar behind a purpose-built weatherproof cover. The deep-cycle battery box is also fitted between the rails. There isn't a conventional boot above the drawbar, so a decent-sized tunnel boot runs across the front of the van instead. At the rear, a covered spare wheel is mounted directly on the van's body, not the bumper.
A very interesting addition sits at the rear nearside corner: a (nearly) full second kitchen, which is not something I have seen on too many vans. This one comes with a 130L 240/12V Haier fridge, swing-out two-burner cooktop, hot and cold sink and a small cupboard, plus some extra storage. This is a well executed and novel idea that will likely interest travellers who spend much of their time under the awning.
LOW KEY AMERICAN
The décor inside the Fun Finder X is probably best described as "low key American". In terms of space perception, the darker hues of the cabinetry and the generally small windows are offset by the slide-out day/night lounge. The kitchen bench occupies the nearside wall, with the bedroom to the front and the rear bathroom filling the rest of the space.
While the Dometic air-conditioner looks like a conventional roof-mounted unit, it is actually a very comfortable ducted setup. The raised shape of the roof means that air-conditioner ducts can be fitted when the van is built - it's certainly not a retro job. Most of the 12V light fittings are the older-looking incandescent style.
Up front, the 1.9x1.5m (6ft 2in x 4ft 10in) foam mattress bed has the usual bedhead with side wardrobes and overhead lockers, but no bedside cabinets. There is an underbed storage area, albeit much shorter than usual because of the tunnel boot. A cabinet sitting at the foot of the bed gives the bedroom something of a different look.
While it does take a little getting used to, the Fun Finder X's entertainment unit, complete with storage cupboards and large flatscreen TV, is a great design. The fact that the TV, which has a mirror on the back, can easily be swivelled 180° is a particularly clever design. This means it can be viewed from pretty much anywhere in the van. You can even comb your hair when looking at the other side!
Because of the rear bathroom and external kitchen, the interior kitchen bench gets a little squeezed. It contains a three-burner cooktop/grill/oven and a twin tub stainless steel sink, but there is very little bench space apart from a hinged flap at the end of the bench. A two-door 186L fridge fits in against the rear bathroom/external kitchen wall.
Kitchen storage is comprised of three drawers, one cupboard and two overhead lockers. On the opposite side, fitted in between the slide-out and the bathroom, is a full-height shelved cupboard.
After the addition of the external kitchen, the full-width bathroom is also squeezed, but there is room for the offside corner shower cubicle, Thetford toilet against the rear wall and offside vanity cabinet. The translucent hatch above the shower adds some very welcome natural light. A cupboard above the external kitchen provides good storage for linen.
THE BOTTOM LINE
As you might expect in an imported van like the Fun Finder X, there are some variations on the local products. Some do look a bit odd, but others are quite novel and, more importantly, rather practical.
A note about weights: considering the payload allowance of 540kg, it would be wise to empty the grey and black water tanks before you travel. Otherwise, with each tank full (including the fresh water tank), you'll have just 118kg for gear, less if the gas cylinders are full. But it would be fine to travel with the fresh water tanks full, leaving a payload of around 400kg - quite acceptable.
Unlike some products we see from the US, there aren't width or excessive weight problems with this van, making it easily towable behind many of our mid-size 4WDs and utes.