Demand for family caravans, in particular multiple bunk bed layouts, seems to be a bit like the lunar cycle of the moon; it waxes and wanes.
According to Andy Graham from Alan Graham’s Caravans and RVs there’s been a waxing cycle happening over the last few months. Which is why he was a bit keen for me to look over one the latest Concept bunk van designs, an Innovation 705 XTS which has a choice of triple or double bunks.
LIGHT AND BRIGHT
Aboard the 705, the layout is very much in the contemporary style of a modern family caravan, something the 7.15m (23ft 5in) layout allows. Down at the rear in the nerve centre are the all-essential triple bunks and bathroom. Further forward, a club-style lounge takes up the nearside wall area leaving the space on the opposite side for the kitchen bench. Of course, mum and dad get the island bed at the front. A mid-wall habitation door results in the maximum amount of space down the rear.
Glossy grey, white and black are the essential components of the colour scheme but what does add a seriously bright splash of colour is the optional turquoise splashback — it is very eye catching.
As with many a caravan interior these days, it mostly has a glossy finish and therefore is easy to clean. That's especially true of the overhead locker which has no protrusions thanks to its hidden catches. On the subject of door openings, the lower cupboard doors all have quite simple latches which are easy for hands of any shape and size to use.
Still on the style notes, the lighting is deceptively simple with a combination of large round ceiling downlights and reading lights for the dinette and beds.
It’s really an electrical thing but the van has some double powerpoints fitted that include USB charger points. A very neat and practical idea indeed and much better looking than some of the 12V outlets that seem like something of an afterthought and are often awkward to get at.
Measuring 2.04m x 0.7m (6ft 8in x 2ft 4in) the rear bunks are well appointed. There’s a mattress of course but each bunk comes with a window, reading light, 240V and 12V power outlets and DVD player complete with headphones.
The latter is a great idea, no noisy competition between the bed occupants and mum and dad can still relax in peace.
Also in the rear area is a good sized cabinet that comes with a front-loading washing machine below and cupboard/wardrobe and drawer space above. It’s not oversized but there’s enough room for the bunk occupants to have their bit of personal space.
Taking up all of the nearside area is, of course, the bathroom. A bit shorter than one found in a non-family van, it still has enough space for a separate shower cubicle, Thetford cassette toilet and a small vanity cabinet, complete with vanity cupboard, pedestal wash basin and a decent sized wall mirror.
Although none of the bunks has a privacy curtain, the entire rear area has a concertina curtain to close it off at night time.
FAMILY MEAL TIMES
In a family caravan in particular, it’s always good to have a generous amount of drawer space in the kitchen and here the Concept Innovation scores quite well.
The kitchen under-bench area is well sized enough to have three decent drawers, a cupboard, two floor lockers and still fit in the grill/oven. In the benchtop itself are both a four-burner cooktop and a stainless steel sink/drainer which comes with both tank and filtered water.
In the air space above the kitchen bench are the expected overhead lockers plus a microwave oven, essential for any family member who wants their meal in a hurry. The 189L, three-way fridge fits in very neatly between the kitchen bench and the rear bathroom.
It’s always a bit of a moot point just how many family members will fit around a 1.1m x 0.5m (3ft 7in x 1ft 9in) dining table, but this comes standard with extender seats which will fit 5 adults on each side when pulled out, at 130kg each. That is unless it’s a warm and sunny day when everyone will probably prefer to sit outside anyway.
Being a forward door entry caravan, there is plenty of walk-around space on either side of the 1.85m x 1.53m (6ft 1in x 5ft) island bed.
Mum and dad get a side wardrobe, with a double powerpoint and bedside cabinet each, along with overhead lockers above the bed. Clever manufacturers such as Concept also install a little compartment at the base of the wardrobe which means all those little bedtime items can easily be stashed securely and not dropped on the floor. Lifting the bed gives access to the storage underneath, an area which is partly taken by the front tunnel boot and something more exciting for soundophiles, a Fusion bass speaker. Just the thing, falling asleep to gentle vibrations…
Moving to the outside of the van, the Innovation 705 is built on a Preston galvanised chassis, one with 150mm x 50mm (6in x 2in) main rails and drawbar. The rest of the chassis is built very much in the box section style with 50mm x 50mm (2in x 2in) cross members.
Anyone contemplating a van purchase should definitely have a look in the sub chassis area — how the welding is, whether anything is vulnerable to scraping damage and if all the pipework and cabling is strapped up out of the way. This Innovation caravan scores quite well in the clearance department and the two fresh water tanks and grey tank are also protected by galvanised sheeting.
Eagle-eyed readers might note the XTS notation after the 705 model name. That designates a ‘rough road’ pack, which includes the 3500kg AL-KO Enduro independent suspension with coil springs, trailing arms, dual shock absorbers and 15in alloy wheels. Also included in the package is a Cruisemaster DO35 coupling.
Aluminium composite cladding, another XTS feature, covers the insulated Meranti timber frame. Black alloy checkerplate covers the lower waist area. Fitted into the body is Mobicool acrylic double glazed window and a Camec security door.
Two external storage compartments are supplied, an alloy checkerplate box on the drawbar and a three quarter tunnel storage across the front. That comes fitted with an easy-to-slide-out drawer which in many ways is more convenient to use than just open storage. A bonus at night time is the external lighting, with at least one light fitting on every wall — the under-awning area has three. The rear wall sports both a spare wheel and a Fiamma bike rack.
For any family which is considering a bit of remote camping, the Concept Innovation is fairly well set up for that endeavour.
Two 9kg gas cylinders are mounted on the drawbar, two 100Ah deep-cycle batteries are fitted in boxes to the front offside chassis rail and two 160W solar panels are on the roof. In addition, the van has a decent fresh water and grey water tank capacity.
With an ATM of 3376kg and a Tare mass of 2800kg, the Concept Innovation has a decent payload at 576kg.
Certainly the Ford Ranger ute I was using had no trouble towing the van at all but I reckon with a family and all their gear on board, a heavy duty tow vehicle such as a Toyota LandCruiser should be a consideration.
The Bottom Line
While it is not the cheapest family bunk van on the block, the Concept Innovation 705 XTS does come with quite a few extras that make it very appealing.
Certainly, the van's layout is relatively spacious and the rough road ability with the AL-KO independent suspension and the Cruisemaster DO35 hitch are an added bonus to touring families.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 9.3m (30ft 6in)
External body length 7.15m (23ft 5in)
External body width (incl awning) 2.44m (8ft)
Travel height 3.03m (9ft 11in)
Internal height 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Ball weight 181kg
Frame (if relevant) Meranti timber
Cladding Aluminium composite
Chassis Preston box section
Suspension AL-KO Enduro independent
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35
Brakes 10 electric
Wheels 15in alloy
Battery 2 x 100Ah
Solar 2 x 160W
Air-conditioner Air Command Ibis 3
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control Optional
Kitchen (external) Optional
Fresh water 90L
Grey water 90L
Cooking Swift four-burner, grill and oven
Fridge Dometic 189L three-way
Bathroom Thetford cassette plus separate shower cubicle
Hot water Truma 14L
Perspex splashback, three DVD players
PRICE AS SHOWN
$79,990 (on road, NSW)
To enquire about this caravan, contact Alan Graham’s Caravans and RVs
514 Pacific Highway, North Gosford, NSW 2250, ph: (02) 4328 4800