TESTED: SOUTHERN CROSS ADVENTURER 7800 TOY HAULER

By: MALCOLM STREET, Photography by: MALCOLM STREET


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The Southern Cross Adventurer Toy Hauler is a fifth wheeler with a difference – a multifunctional garage designed to carry a couple of motorbikes or your choice of toy.

TESTED: SOUTHERN CROSS ADVENTURER 7800 TOY HAULER
The Southern Cross Adventure 7800 Toy Hauler. A Mazda BT-50 or Isuzu D-Max would be more than adequate to tow this.

Toy haulers, like fifth wheelers, are a phenomenon that have crossed the Pacific from the good old US of A to Australia. It might sound like a pretty odd name but it’s accurate – these RVs carry ‘toys’, albeit rather large and expensive toys, while travelling.

Brisbane-based manufacturer Southern Cross is well-known for its fifth wheelers, partly because it is one of only a few companies to put the main bed down the back, rather than in the overhang. But with the Adventurer Toy Hauler, they made a break from tradition and put the main bed in the overhang.

I took the Adventurer out to the Kingston Park Raceway, just south of Brisbane, where there were plenty of toys such as go-carts to have some fun with.

Like the rest of the Southern Cross fleet, the Adventurer is built on a SupaGal RHS chassis, which is constructed in the company’s factory, not by an outside supplier. Airbags are fitted to the suspension, along with trailing arms and, in this case, twin shock absorbers on each wheel. The wheel alignment can be changed if necessary.

Many fifth wheeler manufacturers and importers use a turntable coupling that’s raised off the bay of the tow vehicle, but Southern Cross uses a 10t ball coupling. This requires a tray on the ute rather than a tub, but it also means the ball coupling can be removed if it’s not needed. Southern Cross will build a custom rear for your tow vehicle if required.

A Mazda BT-50 or Isuzu D-Max would be more than adequate to tow this RV. Our review Adventurer had a Tare of 2560kg and an ATM of 3500kg, giving it a load capacity just shy of 1000kg, which is ideal for carrying a motorbike or two in the back.

Southern Cross doesn’t use a frame, as such, and instead uses composite laminated fibreglass walls, which the company maintains are good for strength, insulation and keeping weight low. The RV has Seitz acrylic windows and two entry doors – a standard security entry door and a large door for the garage.

For external storage, there are two bins on the nearside, two under the overhang (one for gas cylinders) and one on the offside (containing the airbag and electric jack controls).



IN THE GARAGE

Although the external length of our review Adventurer is 8.5m (28ft), the living space, due to the garage, is somewhat compressed compared to a rig of similar length.

But the garage adds a different dimension to a standard RV layout. It measures 2.5x2.1m (8ft 2in x 6ft 11in) and offers a large amount of storage for things like motorbikes, quad bikes, kayaks, surfboards or even a small mobile workshop. And it is not just an empty space. There are cupboards on either side and ramps for the rear door. There are also two folding bunks along the nearside in case extra sleeping room is required.

Measuring 1.77x0.76m (5ft 10in x 2ft 6in), the bunks have checkered aluminum bases, lightweight mattresses, and a ladder. There is access from the garage and the rest of the RV but no door is fitted. I thought it might be nice to have one, especially if you’re hauling machinery with an oily or greasy smell.

The Adventurer’s bed is across the front, with a shower/toilet cubicle behind and a wardrobe on the opposite side. This leaves the main entry door and kitchen along the nearside and the dinette and fridge across the way.

Having an east-west bed in the overhang of a fifth wheeler is a bit unusual. Most are either singles or island doubles but, in this case, the overhang is fairly short, so the 1.93x1.4m (6ft 4in x 4ft 7in) bed fits quite well. The reading lights are located in the front corners rather than on one wall and TV viewers can put a freestanding TV on the shelf, but they’d have to sleep the other way around.

In keeping with the rest of the layout, the kitchen bench is quite short. In fact, it’s about as long as is necessary to fit a four-burner cooktop and stainless steel sink with drainer. The microwave is under the cooktop, leaving enough room for three good-sized drawers and a cupboard underneath the bench, and three lockers above.

The 175L Waeco fridge beside the dinette is handy for both the living area and the garage. The sideways-facing dinette has been upholstered to look like a car bench seat. It comes with an adjustable table, overhead lockers, and car-style upper and lower stereo speakers.

Bathrooms as small as the Adventurer’s are often difficult to photograph but that doesn’t mean they are too cramped to use effectively. A variable-height, flexible-hose shower, Thetford cassette toilet and corner washbasin all fit in and there’s also a shaving cabinet, towel rail and a loo roll holder. Ventilation is handled by both a ceiling vent and a good-sized window.

No space has been wasted in this layout – the wall space between the entry door and the bed has a half-height cabinet and full-height wardrobe with shelves in the lower half and hanging space in the upper half.

Electrically speaking, the Adventurer comes with most of the necessary items: deep-cycle battery, charger, solar panels, LED lights and 240V powerpoints in all the right places.

I should note that our review fifth wheeler had a number of options fitted, including solar panels, which can add a significant amount to the base price.



THE BOTTOM LINE

Although the Adventurer’s garage is designed to take big toys, it is, perhaps, larger than some might require but it does offer secure storage for items such as surfboards and kayaks, which might otherwise travel on tow vehicle roofs.

Although slightly compressed, the fifth wheeler has a very liveable layout, with the benefit of the garage space as well.

There’s not much doubt about who the Adventurer Toy Hauler is aimed at. Basically, anyone who likes to travel in style and take their toys along for the ride will find something to like here.



I LIKED...

  • Yet another RV variant
  • Good drawer space in kitchen
  • Easy-to-clean interior
  • Unique dinette set-up
  • Good-sized bed shelf
  • Multifunctional garage



I WOULD HAVE LIKED...

  • Door between living area and garage
  • Grill with cooktop
  • Bed reading lights on same side
  • 12V switch in less awkward location


Originally published in Caravan World #511, February 2013

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