Medium-sized SUVs: A buyer's guide

By: Anita Pavey, Photography by: Anita Pavey


The booming SUV market has increased the appeal of compact RVs.

Medium-sized SUVs: A buyer's guide
The money saved from the total cost of ownership of one of these mid-sized vehicles can be invested in a compact RV and you still get the joy of driving a smaller car around the ‘burbs all year.

While there are plenty of big RVs on the market, there are exponentially less smaller rigs, which is interesting considering the medium-sized SUV market is booming.

Most medium-sized SUVs, such as the Subaru Forester, Holden Captiva and Mazda CX5, have a modest towing capacity of around 1800kg. And while there are less options at the smaller end of the RV market, there is still a reasonable selection of smaller vans to choose from, including rigs that tip the scales at only around 1100kg dry.

But while I’m talking dry weights above, it’s the fully-loaded weight (ATM) and the ball weight you really need to consider. The ball weight varies so you need to check with the manufacturer, although the old 10 per cent rule can be a good guide.

Be aware that, in most cases, heavy items are best carried as close to the axles as possible, although often you are restricted by the design. You should also avoid overloading toolboxes and drawbar storage as that will affect the way your RV tows.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Most smaller RVs tend to follow the KISS principle, sticking to the basics of comfort, shelter, sun protection, cooking and power. After all, this is what camping is really about – keeping it simple!

This works well, particularly when off the beaten track when you need to ration water and rethink your chemical toilet options, given the lack of dump stations out in the bush.

Thankfully, there are a number of environmentally-friendly products that cater to these needs. The Ezygonow Toilet in a Bag is a beauty – simply use with your existing porta-potty or purchase one of Ezygonow’s compact portable toilets. The bags contain a special powder that converts your business into putrescible waste, meaning it can be sealed in the bag and disposed with normal garbage.

For personal hygiene, a splash of water, cold or warm, is all you need to freshen up every few days. Forget that 10 minute shower you have in the local caravan park. Hair washing, of course, uses a little more water. And if you can train your better half in the art of hair washing, it is one of the most delightful experiences, reclined in your favourite chair at a remote bush campsite while your partner gently massages your hair with shampoo! It’s not unlike going to the salon but without shelling out big bucks for it.

So when you’re pondering over your next RV purchase, think about the style of travelling you like to do and if keeping things simple appeals, then consider some of the benefits having a smaller rig might bring.

Remember, there’s some excellent pint-sized RVs available for smaller and mid-sized vehicles. In fact, the money saved from the total cost of ownership of one of these mid-sized vehicles can be invested in a compact RV and you still get the joy of driving a smaller car around the ‘burbs all year. Smart eh?

For more advice on buying your next SUV, check out the top 5 best selling SUVs here.

See you on the trails.

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The full feature appeared in Caravan World #549 March 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!