Franklin X-Factor: Review
The Franklin X-Factor has undergone a major facelift to become a purpose-built on-roader that doesn’t compromise on living space.
Caravan manufacturers, at times, dream up fascinating names and, occasionally, there’s a common theme. For instance, in this issue there are two vans with the letter ‘X’ prominent in the title, although both are designed for different purposes.
In this review, a 6.73m (22ft 1in) Franklin X-Factor from Kratzmann Caravans rides on tandem axles and is designed for on-road travel – which is quite obvious if you look underneath the van at the SupaGal chassis. It comes with 150x50mm (6in x 2in) main chassis rails and drawbar frame, with a 100x50mm (4in x 2in) filler back to the suspension mounts. A simple load-sharing leaf spring setup makes up the suspension which bolts on to 15in alloy wheels. Both the 95L water tanks and the offside rail fitted battery box are forward of the axles.
The X-Factor’s body shape has had a major facelift from previous models and now has what Franklin considers to be its "best exterior shape" ever. The construction of the van is a proven method – meranti timber frame and ‘Pearlescent’ aluminium cladding with insulation (styrofoam, walls and roof batts) in between. All of the lower body has alloy checkerplate cladding and the rear wall is black in colour. In addition to the standard front tunnel boot, there is also a small bin at the offside rear and an optional checkerplate toolbox on the drawbar.
For towing, the X-Factor van comes in with an ATM of 2960kg, a Tare weight of 2460kg and an unladen ball weight of 120kg. That puts the van well into the mid- to large-sized tow vehicle category quite easily. That said, it is quite an easy-towing van. Certainly, the LandCruiser handled the mixture of freeway and quiet country road touring without too much trouble. But you should keep in mind that it’s quite a large van, so manoeuvring in tight spaces does require care.
CAFÉ STYLE DINETTE
This might sound like an odd place to start when writing about café-style dinettes but this Franklin comes with the ideal combination of both a drawer under the seat end and a footrest. In particular, the footrest is a change from the usual hinged item with the metal stays that can catch the fingers if released carelessly. Instead of being hinged the footrest base slides out and a cushion, stored under the bed when not being used, inserted in position. According to the Kratzmann team, these are rated at a whopping 130kg, so can be used as additional seating. Nice idea, I reckon.
Well, if you want a kitchen that is larger than usual, then this is it! The storage capability in itself is quite impressive with three large drawers, five quite deep overhead lockers (two being shelved), one cupboard and a floor locker. But part of the cupboard space is taken by the water heater and the water filter. If I was being really picky, two smaller drawers rather than a larger one might be easier for containment purposes. Double powerpoints are fitted to either end of the kitchen bench.
There are all the expected items – stainless steel sink/drainer, four-burner cooktop/grill/separate oven and a Dometic 186L fridge mounted at floor level, meaning the microwave oven above is set at a fairly user-friendly height.
Like the kitchen bench, the bathroom CNC-machined cabinetry is finished in a glossy black laminate with 4mm perspex splashbacks.
The layout is fairly standard with a nearside shower cubicle, offside Thetford cassette toilet and a top-loading washing machine set into the vanity cabinet.
Instead of a pedestal-style washbasin, Franklin has opted for one set into the bench which limits the under-bench storage to a small drawer and cupboard.
In the corner above though, a bench-to-ceiling cupboard offers plenty of linen and towel space. For those who like to see what they look like in detail, a large mirror fills the rear wall.
Bathroom ventilation is well handled by vent fans above the toilet and shower cubicle, as well as a small offside wall window.
Up front, all-round windows surround the 1.88x1.53m (6ft 2in x 5ft) island bed, with the side ones being particularly large. Along with the mirrors on each of the side wardrobe doors, they give the bedroom quite a spacious feel. Curiously there isn’t a roof hatch which many vans of this size tend to have.
At the foot of the bed on both sides are small, parallel to the wall, cupboards. They are not going to hold much but are great for stashing small items – often bits and pieces you want secure but still handy.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With many contemporary vans being built for ‘offroad’ travel, it’s refreshing to inspect one that’s built for on-road use. Although the internal layout is often much the same, there’s a bit less weight and the length allows for the respective interior zones to be nicely proportioned resulting in a living space with room to move.
HITS AND MISSES
- Light and bright interior
- Comfortable cafe dinette with good footrests
- Spacious kitchen
- External bin capacity
- Shelves in overhead lockers
- 500kg load capacity
- Large tow vehicle needed
- Single 100Ah battery
- No front hatch
- Kitchen drawer size
Weights and measures
- Overall length 8.64m (28ft 4in)
- External body length 6.73m (22ft 1in)
- External body width 2.41m (7ft 11in)
- Travel height 3.06m (10ft)
- Internal height 2.03m (6ft 8in)
- Tare 2460kg
- ATM 2960kg
- Payload 500kg
- Ball weight 120kg
Price as shown
$74,990 (on-road, Qld)
The full review apprears in Caravan World #562. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!