Review: Trackvan Classic
Explore Australia's coast and many places in between with the new Trackvan Classic.
FOR THOSE WHO LIVE in Australia's major cities and occasionally like to escape to places where progress hasn't been so rapid, there is always the twin challenges of distance and time.
But there are little places close to hand that are worth some exploration. Eudlo, in the hinterland between the Sunshine Coast and the Montville-Maleny area in Qld, with its old fashioned store - complete with petrol pumps outside - is one such place.
Handily for this reviewer it is also not far from the Nambour dealer Caravan World, from which I borrowed a Trackvan Classic for this review. Trackvan is a brand that belongs exclusively to the dealership, and the Classic is just one of an increasing range of vans that Brad Pembleton and his team at Caravan World have been putting together over the last couple of years.
With an external body length of 6.4m (21ft) and an ATM of 2586kg, this Classic offers plenty of space for internal designers and it is not too surprising that the current design trend in Oz vans - a front bedroom, rear bathroom with rear-door entry - has been chosen.
Having the door by the bathroom, instead of further towards the front, means you step into the general living area rather than the bedroom. When standing at the door, the kitchen bench is to the immediate left and the comfortable dinette is directly opposite.
Given that the dark timber look for cabinetry and walls dominates this Classic, it was good to see that roof hatches were fitted, along with fairly large NCE double-glazed windows. In particular, the windows in the front bedroom are very big, which has become a hallmark of Caravan World's designs. There are no curtains; rather, integrated blinds and insect screens are fitted to all windows. Energy-efficient 12V LED lights, both down and reading, are mounted in all the right places.
A translucent material is used for the doors of the overhead lockers in the living area, rather than timber. Each benchtop and splashback in the kitchen and bathroom is finished in "Marble finish, Black Amore" laminate.
With its leather upholstery, the dinette is an inviting place to sit and take stock of the rest of the van. But it is not just a place to eat; with the tri-fold table folded back and the hinged footrests lifted up, it's a comfortable lounge for two. The hinged footrests, however, mean no drawer or footlocker access to the under-seat area.
Both 240V and 12V outlets are fitted above the table and there's a small cupboard underneath.
A slight problem with the dinette arrangement is that the flatscreen TV mounted in the bedroom cannot be seen from the front dinette seat. A second bracket is required either above the kitchen bench (which wouldn't be easy, given items like an opened cooktop lid) or perhaps high on the bathroom wall. An alternative might be a free-standing TV on the kitchen bench.
The kitchen has catering taken care of. A full Swift stove (cooktop, grill and oven) is built in by the entry door and adjoining that is a stainless steel sink avec drainer, while a microwave sits overhead. Both tank and filtered drinking water are supplied to the sink, which has a lid that matches the benchtop, adding to the work space when in place.
In addition to the usual overhead lockers, some of which have a second (very useful) shelf, there are three cupboards, two drawers, floor lockers and wire-basket pantry.
Mounted opposite is a 186L Dometic three-way fridge. Above the fridge are an AM/FM radio/CD player and water tank gauges - the latter quite high and slightly difficult to read for wearers of multifocal glasses. On either side of the electronics are small, open storage compartments.
A slight oddity on the dinette side of the fridge is the partition that has been extended out and up from the dinette, giving the impression that the fridge is in the bedroom rather than the kitchen - I understand that in future models this partition will not be there.
BED, BATH AND BEYOND
A fairly standard bedhead of wardrobes, overhead lockers and cabinets surround the 1.88x1.52m (6ft 2in x 5ft) bed. Not so standard is the very useful back-of-bed shelf. The posture-slat bed base lifts up for access to the storage area underneath and there are split diagonal cupboards in each corner at the foot of the bed.
In the bathroom, the rear wall not taken up by the offside shower cubicle features an extensive vanity cabinet. In addition to the contemporary washbasin and top-loading washing machine in the nearside rear corner, there are two cupboards and three overhead lockers.
Err, should I point out that it's possible to load the washing machine while sitting on the Thetford cassette loo? Both shower cubicle and main bathroom area have fan hatches for ventilation.
The van body is built with a timber frame, polystyrene insulation, aluminium cladding and propeller plate for the front and lower sides. Body fittings include a front boot, tunnel boot (which doesn't go all the way through), picnic table, slide-out Swift barbecue, offside external shower, 23L Suburban hot water heater and Sunburst Eclipse awning.
Supporting everything is a SupaGal chassis that comes with a 150x50mm (6in x 2in) drawbar - the rails run back to the leaf spring suspension mounts for the tandem axles. Two 9kg gas cylinders are fitted to the drawbar, but the spare wheel is mounted on the back bumper.
On the road, the Classic handled well enough and the weight distribution hitch didn't have to work too hard. My tow vehicle was a Nissan Navara (towing capacity: 3000kg) with a 4L V6 petrol engine. I have to say I am more used to the diesel Navara, and although the petrol engine certainly had enough power and torque (198kW/385Nm), I think I prefer the lower-powered (140kW) but more torquey (450Nm) turbodiesel. If buying a new tow vehicle and considering the merits of both, there is nothing like a little test drive to decide.
THE BOTTOM LINE
First impressions are everything with caravan design and in this respect this Trackvan Classic comes up trumps. And on closer inspection that good impression holds up. Although it is a fairly standard front bedroom/rear bathroom layout, there are enough features (such as the dinette footrests and overhead locker shelves) to make a difference. Its weight makes it suitable for a good range of tow vehicles, too.