Phoenix Taipan: Review
With a load capacity that’s almost off the scales, the Phoenix Taipan offroader has plenty of bite.
Phoenix is one of the half dozen or so names that are associated with the serious end of the offroad caravan business. Several years ago, in a business downturn, the company was taken on board by Sunland's Roy Wyss, who has since developed a new range of vans for the Phoenix stable. One of these is the Taipan, a van that clearly has a Phoenix heritage but with more than a few Sunland features. With a length of 6.55m (21ft 6in) and a Tare of 2460kg, it's not a particularly small rig. But the ATM of 3500kg provides a considerable load capacity, to say the least.
Phoenix Taipan highlights
- 6.55m (21ft 6in) tandem-axle van
- Built for offroad touring
- Load capacity of over 1000kg
Construction and offroad ability
Given the large amount of alloy checkerplate around the lower sides, not to mention the large drawbar-mounted storage bin, DO35 hitch and the 150mm drawbar rails, the Taipan has that distinct offroad look. Underneath, the hybrid alloy/steel doesn't quite look like a conventional chassis, but it's undoubtedly designed with strength and a minimum of weight in mind.
There's nothing lightweight about the Cruisemaster independent suspension, though, with its trailing arms, coil springs and twin shock absorbers per wheel. In order to keep the weight balanced, the poly-moulded water tank is located above the axles.
Above the chassis, meanwhile, the bodywork is built around a box-section aluminium frame that has aluminium-clad sides and a fibreglass roof. Everything is fully insulated.
For external storage, there's the checkerplate bin on the drawbar, large enough for two 9kg gas cylinders and more, and the slightly less obvious and smaller tunnel boot. Both should be large enough for anything you might wish to carry.
Given the Taipan has a front bedroom, full-width rear bathroom layout, one of the advantages of a 6.55m (21ft 6in) length caravan is that there’s enough space for a large and dinette area.
Keeping up with current trends, much of the wall/ceiling area and cabinetry is all white but that is offset by the darker colours used for the upholstery and benchtops. By day, there are plenty of windows for natural light. By night, the multiple ceiling-mounted LED downlights kick in.
For those who like to try a bit of bush catering, the Taipan’s kitchen shouldn't lack for much. It comes with a considerable number of drawers, cupboards complete with wire baskets, and overhead lockers, as well as more than the usual amount of benchtop space that you get these days. Alongside the four-burner cooktop/grill is a moulded (not stainless steel) sink/drainer, and above, set at eye – rather than overhead-locker height – is a microwave.
The rear bathroom is good and spacious, even though it does come fitted with all the expected items, such as shower cubicle, cassette toilet with elbow room, vanity washbasin/cabinet, and a top-loading washing machine. A few items to note are the special drain built into the shower cubicle, the drain hose fitted to the vanity cabinet such that it's not in the way of the drawer, and the roller-shutter cupboard in the corner.
There's not much doubt that if you’re after a bit of comfort and style when travelling some of the rougher roads of Australia, the Phoenix Taipan would be an excellent choice. It is a well-appointed van that will go the distance.
- General fit and finish
- Interior layout
- Front cargo bin
- LED lighting layout
- Electrical control panel
- Hinged ‘laptop’ shelf
I would have liked
- Better location for HWS
- 5V outlet
The full test appeared in Caravan World #527, July 2014. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!