New Age Big Red 18E: Review
A mid-sized van with most of the trimmings, the Big Red from New Age has adventure written all over it.
New Age Big Red 18E highlights
- 6.1m (20ft) tandem-axle caravan
- Front bedroom, rear bathroom layout
- Mid-sized tow vehicle required
New Age is probably best known for stepping outside the box when it comes to interior design and layout. One very recent example is the Big Red 18E.
Construction and offroad ability
A look under the chassis reveals a structure of mixed dimensions. It's all DuraGal steel but the main rails are 150x50mm RHS. The drawbar rails, which run back to the suspension mounts, are 100x50mm, and the suspension mounts sit under a 50x50mm riser. Similar-sized pieces are used for the cross sections.
It all adds up to a van that weighs in with a Tare of 2240kg, and has an external length of 6.1m (20ft) – the 18ft in the van’s title being a reference to the internal length.
New Age has adopted what seems to be the current colour scheme of the moment: silvery grey aluminium cladding with a low waist of satin black checkerplate. That same colour is also extended to the awning arms, which is a visually appealing touch. Keeping things traditional, the door is a Camec security screen item, the windows are Seitz double-glazed acrylics, and the frame is meranti timber. In the front boot, there's plenty of space for camping chairs, hoses and the like. There is even a battery that is fitted in a purpose-built box behind the offside wheels.
In any number of ways, the front bedroom, rear bathroom layout is very familiar. It appears that New Age has endeavored to reduce the length and, consequently, the weight of the van as much as possible by locating the entrance in front of the wheels.
Taking up most of the nearside between the entrance and the bathroom is the café-style dinette. Across the way, and decidedly European in size, is the kitchen bench, with fridge and microwave butted up against the wall of the bathroom.
Occupying just about all of the kitchen benchtop are the four-burner cooktop with grill below and the stainless steel sink avec drainer. Those two leave little spare working space and only the cooktop has a hinged lid. This all means that bench space is somewhat limited.
The bathroom is rather spacious. As is usual, the shower cubicle, complete with variable-height shower rose and ventilation hatch, sets the width of the bathroom. There’s enough space on the opposite side for a Thetford cassette toilet, with just enough elbow room to allow for the washing machine compartment – just the cubicle space, that is, as the actual top-loading washing machine is an option that wasn’t fitted.
When it comes time to sit down and eat or relax, the dinette is a nice place to be – it’s fitted with contoured cushions for comfort and a bit of back support, which includes wall cushions for lounging sideways.
The bed measures 1.9x1.55m (6ft 3in x 5ft 1in). Although the bedhead has all the usual fittings – side wardrobes, overhead lockers and bedside cabinets – it’s neatly laid out and looks quite unobtrusive, thanks, in part, to the light colour scheme. There is, of course, the mandatory under-bed storage area, accessed by lifting the posture-slat bed base. But just to make things easier, New Age has also fitted a drawer.
I rather like the ‘Big Red’ name. Although it does conjure up images of an offroad caravan, it's actually better thought of as a van that can explore much of Australia without going offroad and without breaking the bank account.
Nonetheless, it comes with all the necessary comfort items that we are all getting used to without being excessively heavy. It’s a nice little package, actually.
- General layout
- LED lighting
- Battery charger and fuse location
- Readily accessible battery
- Drawers under bed and dinette seats
- Bright interior
I would have liked
- Different arrangement for washing machine cabinet
- Larger kitchen bench
- Larger dinette table
- 12V/5V charging facility
The full test appeared in Caravan World #527, July 2014. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!