Avida Wave PT5542: Review

By: Malcolm Street, Photography by: Malcolm Street


Small but packed with all of the essentials, the Avida Wave PT5542 handles a variety of terrains with ease.

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Avida, well-known for being Australia’s largest motorhome manufacturer, stepped back into the caravan market in 2013. Avida is based in Sydney, rather than Melbourne – the capital of caravan manufacture in Australia – so its caravans don’t always follow conventional lines.

Earlier this year, Avida produced a surprise by unveiling its Wave range of electric pop-top caravans. When most people think about pop-top vans, they also think about the hassle of the process which usually involves lifting the pop-top roof by undoing the corner clips and exerting a bit of muscle on the lift mechanism, sometimes by clambering on the bed! But not so with the Wave. Lifting the roof involves nothing more than the press of an electric button.

There are several models in the Wave range but, for this review, we chose the smallest, the PT5542, which comes with both an island bed and a full-width rear bathroom.

SPECS

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The Wave clocks in with a Tare of 1838kg and an ATM of 2300kg, giving it a very respectable payload (for a single-axle van) of 462kg – often tandem-axle vans are less than that. At nearly 2.5m/8ft 2in (including the awning), the Wave is quite a wide van but its relatively short length makes it good for the rough roads it has been built for. Avida call it the ‘Multi Terrain’ model, which I think is quite a good definition – better than the optimistic ‘offroad’ that some manufacturers use.

For towing, I used a heavyweight Toyota LandCruiser and, although it made my road travels very easy, it wasn’t at all necessary and I could have easily used something mid-range such as a Prado or anything of the utes – Ford Ranger or Holden Colorado for example – that are currently available.

FEATURES

The Avida Wave reveals lots of shiny gear underneath – hot-dipped galvanised steel for the chassis components and aluminium sheeting for the under-floor protection. Avida doesn’t use a traditional box section design for the chassis, although 150x50mm (6ix2in) RHS is used for the main rails and 130x50mm (5x2in) section for the drawbar. Punched-hole C section is used for the cross members and both bolts and welding are used to keep the chassis together.

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The all-important Vehicle Components Cruisemaster CRS independent suspension is attached to the cross members, complete with trailing arms, coil springs and two shock absorbers per wheel.

THE BUILD

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Avida uses a frameless sandwich panel construction for the walls and roof. The emphasis here is on both strength and light weight. Double glazed acrylic awning windows are used all round and, in a welcome departure from its motorhome range, a security screen door is a standard item.

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Both a front boot and a decent sized tunnel storage should contain all your essential camping items, even though part of the front boot area is taken up by the two 4kg gas cylinders. An option for the tunnel storage is a slide-out barbecue, which is something that will be appreciated by those who love to dine and cook outside.

INTERIOR

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Despite being 5.57m (18ft 3in) long and a pop-top, with a lift of 0.5m (1ft 8in), the Wave does manage to include all the features found in a large van, including a full-sized bathroom. I mention that feature in particular because it has solid walls above the partition between the bathroom and the rest of the van. Normally in a pop-top, some sort of gusset is fitted in which rises with the roof but in this case, light weight walls are fitted to the ceiling. There’s nothing quite so sophisticated for the doorway though – a simple curtain is used. However, it is all very effective and much more effective than some vinyl screens I have seen.

KITCHEN FACILITIES

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A relatively small van equals a relatively small kitchen. However, it’s large enough to have all the essentials, like the four-burner cooker and grill, stainless steel sink and drainer, 150L fridge and Camec microwave oven. An advantage of the pop-top is that the fridge is at a lower height and so is the microwave oven.

BEDROOM

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Well, the reward paid for a small kitchen and dinette is up front – an island bed that measures 1.86mx1.53m (6ft 1inx5ft). And although the pop-top walls are lower, it still comes with overhead lockers and side wardrobes plus small bedside compartments on either side. The bed base, which isn’t a posture slat model but does have ventilation holes cut into the ply sheeting, can be lifted to access the valuable storage space underneath. But the front area is occupied by the battery, battery charger and associated electricals.

ELECTRICAL

Speaking of electrics, the 100Ah battery is charged from either a mains charger or two 80W solar panels. An integrated display panel is located on the overhead locker by the entry door, near the radio and main light switches, so it’s all fairly conveniently located. LED lights are fitted in all the appropriate locations and an option fitted in this case was mood lighting – discrete LED strip lights.

THE BOTTOM LINE

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In my opinion, Avida has a little something to surf along on here with the Wave. It’s a relatively small van but is excellent value, fitted with all those little essentials we have come to like in our modern vans. And is comes with the added Avida bonus of a five-year structural warranty, three-year factory-backed warranty, and two years roadside assistance!

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Having a low towing profile, reasonable weight and designed for rough road travel, it has plenty to offer touring couples. And, best of all, it doesn’t require a large tow vehicle to pull it!

HITS AND MISSES

Pros...

  • Lightweight, manoeuvrable van
  • 0.5m (1ft 8in) lift for the pop-top roof
  • Solid internal upper bathroom walls
  • External storage area
  • Lighting
  • Chassis design

Cons...

  • Location of powerpoints under the seat
  • Compact kitchen
  • Small dinette

Weights and measures

  • Overall length 7.2m (23ft 7in)
  • External body length 5.57m (18ft 3in)
  • External body width 2.5m (8ft 2in)
  • Travel height 2.59m (8ft 6in)
  • Internal height 2.13m (6ft 7in)
  • Tare 1838kg
  • ATM 2300kg
  • Payload 462kg
  • Ball weight 144kg

Price as shown

$63,289 (tow-away; Tourer base model tow-away from $55,990 in NSW)

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #566. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!