TESTED: ON THE MOVE GRENADE
The On the Move Grenade caravan is a heavy hitter that’s truly fit for purpose.
On the Move is a particularly apt name for this caravan manufacturer and Brisbane dealer Kratzmann Caravans believes there’s something to be said about the latest addition to its extensive stable of caravans.
"The On the Move range, which is mostly designed for rough road and offroad use, nicely complements our existing caravan brands," the dealership’s Clint Kratzmann said.
On the Move vans have interesting model names such as Storm, Hornet, Infinity, Grenade, Typhoon, No Limits and Eclipse. That last model sounds different to the rest because it’s a motorhome, not a caravan.
Made available for our review was a Grenade – which I’m pleased to say did not have a warlike feel about it! Instead, the grey aluminium cladding and extensive black alloy checkerplate makes the van look and feel fit for purpose. This is enhanced by the front boot, which extends partly over the drawbar, and the storage bin fitted to the rear.
Sealing around caravan joints, which is generally done quite effectively but on some vans looks somewhat messy, doesn’t often rate a mention. But on the Grenade, it’s very neat indeed.
The Grenade is an offroad caravan and there are a few clues to this on the drawbar. The first is the Hyland 3.5t coupling. The second is the stone mesh guard that surrounds the two 9kg gas cylinders and two spare wheels. It’s probably easier to get the spares on and off the drawbar than a rear bumper, where they’re often located, but it does add to the ball weight, which on this van comes in at 280kg (unladen).
Stepping into the Grenade through the Aussie Traveller security door shows that On the Move has decided on a contemporary look for the interior. It’s mostly a brilliant white, including the walls and ceiling, but that is nicely offset by the beige/chocolate colour of the cabinetry, overhead locker doors, benchtops and upholstery. It’s an interesting take on the usual colour schemes and certainly makes for a bright interior. There are front and mid-van marine-style hatches and large Mobicool windows throughout. For after hours, lighting consists mostly of LED downlights, with wall-mounted reading lamps for both the dinette and bed.
The Grenade sticks to an à la mode layout with a front bedroom, full-width rear bathroom, mid-nearside kitchen bench, and a mid-offside dinette. Located forward of the wheels, the entry door sits between the bedroom and kitchen.
One of the benefits of the forward door is that it can mean more space to walk around the bed, at least on the bed’s nearside. But there’s less space on the offside because of how close the dinette seat back is to the bed when the bed is extended by the bolster.
The innerspring mattress measures 1.75x1.53m (5ft 9in x 5ft), which can be extended to 1.93m (6ft 4in). It sits on a contour slatted base that can be lifted to get to the storage space underneath. The base has diagonal corners, creating a little more foot room when negotiating the single step to the side of the bed. There’s a reason for that step – it raises the floor slightly to create more space for under-floor storage, accessible by floor hatches on both sides of the bed.
In addition, there is an arrangement of bedhead lockers, side wardrobes and bedside cabinets. The full-width compartment, which runs behind the bed, is an unusual, but welcome, touch. It is particularly good for all those items you like to have within reach at night.
There really are no surprises in the full-size bathroom. It comes with a separate shower cubicle on the nearside and a Thetford china bowl cassette toilet on the other side. In between, running across the rear wall, is a vanity with a good selection of overhead lockers and cupboards, not to mention a very contemporary washbasin and full-width mirror.
Like many current caravans, the Grenade has a top-loading washing machine fitted into the offside corner beside the loo. Bathroom ventilation is handled by a small window and two 12V fan hatches.
One of the stand-out features of this van is the large kitchen bench. There is a decent amount of benchtop working space, plus a stainless steel sink, drainer and four-burner cooktop. The latter has three gas burners and one electric, along with a grill and oven.
The size of the kitchen allows for two cupboards, three drawers and a wire basket slide-out pantry as well. Above the bench are three overhead lockers, with a fourth containing the 12V fuses, solar panel regulator and battery charger monitor. Outside the locker, the panel is used as the mounting point for a Fusion radio and iPod holder.
There’s certainly no shortage of fridge capacity, thanks to the 258L Novacool fridge/freezer that sits on the opposite side between the dinette and bathroom wall. But the fridge’s height means the microwave above sits at the same level as the overhead lockers.
Opposite the kitchen bench, the dinette, with its wall cushions and hinged leg supports, will seat four, but it’s really designed for two to sit comfortably. The large adjoining window makes it easy to observe the world going by outside.
Between the seats, the tri-fold table is ideal for both a drinks and nibblies stand, as well as a full-sized table.
For electrical devices, the powerpoint towards the front of the van is handily located but, given this is an offroad van, a 12V socket might be useful. In addition to the overhead lockers, there’s under-seat storage but it’s a little fiddly to get to, as you have to get the seat cushions out of the way first.
The Grenade is supported by a chassis with a substantial amount of RHS DuraGal steelwork, incorporating 150x50mm for the main rails and the sub chassis structure connecting to the drawbar. To keep the weight down a bit, punched-hole C-section steel is used.
The Grenade runs on Control Rider independent suspension with the usual trailing arm and coil spring setup but with the shock absorbers inside the coil. The 16in wheels are fitted with 12in brakes. The ground clearance of this van is great, with all the pipework well-strapped up out of harm’s way, and the rear section chamfered up for sharply undulating terrain.
Given the unladen weight of this van, a largish tow vehicle is required. I had a Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series for this test which, as always, proved to be very capable. On this occasion, I was running without a weight distribution hitch and the van was well-behaved. However, on one leg of my travels, when it was quite windy on the freeway, the van was a bit twitchy. A WDH would no doubt have counteracted that.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Grenade is not a particularly large van but it does have the essentials for long term touring. To some degree, this is reflected in the van’s weight. It is just something to be kept in mind, because there is plenty of storage capacity, both inside and out. It has a some nice touches, such as the diagonally-cornered bed base, Fusion entertainment system, 12V compressor fridge and solar panels, which all make a difference to the touring experience.
Overall, the Grenade is well built and equally well equipped.
This particular van has a Tare weight of 2640kg and an unladen ball weight of 280kg. When I asked about the ATM, I discovered that On the Move works with its customers to produce vans that suit their tow vehicles in order to maximise the payload capacity.
As On the Move owner Lenny Mifsud pointed out, the 400kg generally given to tandem-axle vans built in Australia is somewhat limiting.
"Just by filling the water tanks in many vans will use up much of that payload," he said.
At the end of the day, what matters is that the actual loaded weight of the caravan is equal to or less than the towing capacity of the tow vehicle. Let’s say this van, with its ATM of 3240kg and Tare weight of 2640kg, is loaded with 360kg worth of gear. Therefore, the actual fully-loaded weight is 3000kg. This would mean a tow vehicle with a maximum tow rating of 3000kg is perfectly legal, even though the van’s ATM is 3240kg.
Of course, it’s an excellent policy to visit a weighbridge to check both loaded weight and ball weight before setting off on your travels.
- Good ground clearance
- Neat external sealing
- Large kitchen
- Central location for all electrical switches, etc.
I WOULD HAVE LIKED...
- More space around the bed when it’s extended
- Easier under-seat access (like an inwards facing drawer)
- Better entry door/front window arrangement
Originally published in Caravan World #516, July/August 2013.