Roadstar Vacationer: Review

By: Peter Quilty, Photography by: Stuart Grant


Leave the rat race behind and abscond with the stylish semi-offroad Roadstar Vacationer.

Recently, I swapped the confines of the office for the great outdoors when I was handed the keys to Roadstar Caravans’ 6.59m (21ft 7in) Vacationer.

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And it didn’t take long for me to realise that Ken Nizam and his team at Roadstar in Somerton, Vic, have fulfilled their modus operandi with the Vacationer semi-offroader.

I checked out its capabilities on the undulating dirt tracks bordering the Yan Yean Reservoir, Vic.

I was amazed to discover that the reservoir, a picturesque natural haven, is only just over an hour and about 65km from the Melbourne CBD. At the time of its completion in 1857, it was the largest artificial reservoir in the world.

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The parkland encircling the reservoir offers breathtaking views of Melbourne’s oldest water storage and has peaceful picnic areas, heaps of walking tracks, extensive wetlands, and prolific birdlife.

It made me reflect that the Vacationer is capable of helping you break the shackles of everyday life. In no time at all, I was out of the city and on the open road, and I feel confident that this van would comfortably take any holidaymaker intent on retreating from the rat race to a myriad of iconic Aussie destinations.

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My hit-and-run mission didn’t allow it, but if you’re the proverbial vacationer, you could take a pit-stop and visit other attractions in the area, including Mount Disappointment State Forest, Le Page Homestead and, for those into some amusement while in transit, Funfields.

But back to the Roadstar test van – and the reason for my visit! There’s no disputing the Vacationer’s credentials with its 3500kg-rated AL-KO Enduro Outback independent trailing arm coil spring independent suspension with twin shock absorbers, plus a sturdy SupaGal chassis (made from BHP steel) and MPC offroad tyres. That’s standard fare for a full offroad van, and a real bonus in a semi-offroader.

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Obviously, the suspension provides the extra ground clearance needed for lumpy, difficult tracks and it rendered the van extremely capable on the uneven surfaces I encountered. It really gave me a soft ride in the Toyota LC79 I towed with, and helped keep the Vacationer steady. In fact, I felt certain that the van could conquer more rugged terrain if required. The Vacationer is also available in a ‘touring’ spec with roller rocker beam axle suspension.

The Vacationer’s welded (not riveted) aluminium frame and Dibond cladding helps keep the Tare weight from blowing out too much. It weighs in at 2580kg – not exactly light, but not oversized either.

Both the frame and the aforementioned chassis are built by Australian Hitec Engineering, which is owned by Roadstar and, essentially, built in-house.

I’m a fan of flat aluminium armour on vans; it’s extremely rigid and has good corrosion resistance. And the whole van is sealed with Novatio sealant – which Roadstar exclusively uses and is very proud of.

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For those who prefer their vans frameless, the Vacationer is also available in a sandwich panel construction.

The van’s bespoke decals are showy without being effusive.

The Vacationer’s off-grid capabilities are somewhat limited – with no grey water tank, only one 120Ah AGM battery, and no exterior shower or external kitchen. Although, it does carry dual 95L water tanks, and a 150W roof-mounted solar panel.

On the flipside, a 12V Sirocco fan (supplementing the Aircommand Ibis 3 reverse-cycle air-conditioner), reversing camera and front A-frame box with generator slide and gas cylinders, are handy standard inclusions – although the twin 9kg gas cylinders, which are safely concealed, occupy half of the front storage locker.

There’s protection at the van’s front courtesy of a window cover and checkerplate below, plus the checkerplate front storage locker, but it could possibly still do with a mesh stoneguard for added fortification.

INTERIOR

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While it’s important for a caravan to perform well on the bitumen and out on the tracks, for many, it’s just as important that these out-of-the-way destinations can be reached in comfort and style.

There’s plenty of internal eye-candy in the Vacationer with some high-quality touches and details Roadstar has become known for – soft-closing drawers, brushed aluminium handles, and CAD-designed furniture cut to millimetre-specific tolerances.

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This van had a muted but contemporary colour scheme of whites and browns, with beautiful high-gloss cabinetry. But, as with most vans these days, the internal colours are all optional and can be ordered to suit your taste.

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I thought one of the real standouts was the extravagant (for a caravan) kitchen and exquisite rear ensuite – both emitting not only a high level of luxury but dual brightness high output LEDs.

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Any chef on the move would be impressed with the quality kitchen appliances and the 184L Thetford N604 two-door three-way evaporative fridge – plus a water filter tap at the kitchen sink and the impressive aesthetic of a laminate tile-look kitchen splashback.

I packed the whisper-quiet fridge with enough items for my short sojourn, but the N604 can be adequately stocked for extended trips. It’s Thetford’s biggest size and has a separate freezer compartment that can hold 47L. What’s more, it is rated for tropical conditions, has an adjustable thermostat to respond to high ambient temperatures and varied use, and comes with two ice trays and a fruit/vegetable crisper.

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The bathroom offers mod-con after mod-con including a chic ceramic vanity bowl with architectural-style flick mixer tap, enclosed top-loading washing machine, full-height one-piece shower cubicle, and a Thetford C-263CS ceramic bowl toilet.

Meanwhile, entertainment in the Vacationer is provided by a 22in HD LED TV (supported by a HV digital boosted antenna) and Pioneer CD/MP3/DVD sound system with remote control.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Roadstar Vacationer is purpose-built for recreational redemption; the emancipation from the hustle and bustle of the big smoke.

And it’ll take you further afield than a typical on-roader, given its bona fide semi-offroad badging. And, as an added bonus, its moniker imitates life itself – it’s devoted to pleasure, rest and relaxation!

HITS AND MISSES

Pros

  • Semi-offroad capability
  • Spacious and stylish interior
  • Smooth and sleek exterior finish

Cons

  • One battery, no grey water
  • No external kitchen
  • Gas cylinders take up valuable external storage

Weights and measures

  • Overall length 8.54m (28ft)
  • External body length 6.59m (21ft 7in)External body width 2.39m (7ft 10in)
  • Travel height 3.05m (10ft)
  • Internal height 1.94m (6ft 4in)
  • Tare 2580kg
  • ATM 3030kg
  • Payload 450kg
  • Ball weight 180kg

Price as shown

$90,500 (on-road, Vic; ‘Touring’ spec price from $78,300)

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #564. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!