Luxury offroad. It almost seems like an oxymoron. The two can’t go hand in hand. Almost by definition the very idea of offroad means you’ll be roughing it. You will get dust in your toothbrush. You will need to trade style for bush-ability. And you will need to forgo many luxuries in order to keep weight down. Yet, here we are with the Mountain Trail LXV 5.7 proving all that wrong.
For those familiar with Mountain Trail, it’ll be hardly surprising. For those familiar with Nick and Heidi, the dynamic duo behind Mountain Trail, it’ll be almost expected. We recently had the opportunity to not only spend the day exploring their Albury manufacturing facilities, but to put the very first LXV 5.7 in existence through its paces.
Flipping open the rear entry door and stepping up into the LXV 5.7, it’s immediately obvious just how important liveability is to the Mountain Trail team. There are no dark shades, no complicated kick-out cabinets eating into space, and no walls or partitions breaking up the interior. The result is a beautifully bright, open and airy living space from front to back.
The focal piece is the large queen-sized bed taking pride of place at the van's head. The mattress is a pillow-topped innerspring with soft touch panels not only at the bed's edge, but along either flank allowing for easy storage of pocket-fodder, with the curved bedhead adding to the five-star experience. Controls fall to hand perfectly around the bed, too.
Make your way back down the length of the van towards the door and you'll notice it’s broken up into two distinct sides. On your right, you’ll find a full-length lounge wrapped in marine grade vinyl by Mountain Trail’s in-house motor trimmers. The lounge is complemented by an easily adjustable table providing ample bench space by day, that converts into a single bed at night if required.
On your left is a full interior kitchen. Mountain Trail has designed the LXV 5.7 to be an all-weather van for when storms roll in, and part of that is staying out of the elements. The kitchen features ample storage space above and below for everything from pots and pans to groceries. There’s a three-burner Triplex stovetop above the oven/grill combo with a mixer sink converting into more bench space if required. A 50L upright fridge nestled in below the kitchen benchtop will avoid having to do a midnight run for a cold glass of water. Hot water is provided by a diesel hot water system that's plumbed into the sink, as well as the shower. It also works as a diesel heater, although if you’re hooked to mains power the reverse cycle AC is a more efficient way to heat or cool the interior.
Of course, the fun isn’t all contained within the LXV 5.7's walls. On the outside under the electric awning is a full living area, not only with a full second kitchen including a Dometic and three-burner stove, but a flip-over stainless serving bench which can double as a bar when friends come around. There’s also the obligatory outside shower which is fed both hot and cold water. The result is huge living spaces both inside and out. You can be comfortable bunkered down inside on cold nights, or open the van right up and entertain guests in the outside area.
Rather than screw the LXV 5.7 together out of cladding and heavy frames, Mountain Trail looked to the future and ordered up a whole heap of lightweight composite panels. These German-built panels have a gloss white fibreglass sheet on the inside and outside, with a foam insulation panel sandwiched between. It’s part of why the LXV 5.7 has such a relative light weight, but also simplifies the construction process with no painted surfaces to fade, and no corrosive materials susceptible to the elements underneath. Services are run through one of two bulkheads along the length of the van.
Starting from the bottom, the LXV 5.7 runs Mountain Trail's familiar independent swing arm suspension system. The arms themselves are made in-house at the firm's Albury facility then outfitted with four Firestone airbag springs which are then kept under control by eight EFS shock absorbers. The whole arrangement is controlled by an Accu-Ride air management system that continuously monitors the van's position on and offroad then adjusts bag pressures to keep things level and, more importantly, stable.
The system also allows for quick and easy selection of one of three ride heights, the lowest allowing ease of access, intermediate providing a balanced ride on road and the highest setting providing considerable ground clearance for offroad – something we saw extensively with our time at Mountain Trail.
Peer pressure is a hell of a thing. The system also allows for an adjustable ball weight to suit the tow vehicle and can self-correct for changing loads throughout your trip without any input from the driver. While the adjustability of the air suspension is bound to garner interest, the real boon is an increase in longevity, the smoother ride glossing over harsh bumps and corrugations often found with remote touring.
The suspension mounts are integrated into the chassis too rather than a typical bolt-on arrangement, and the whole affair is Aussie-built then hot-dip galvanised with no painted surfaces prone to sand-blasting on dirt roads. Due care has been given to everything from brake cables to wiring and hoses, all being securely mounted up high and out of the way. That stout chassis extends all the way to the body too, with Mountain Trail's EROK system bracing the lower edges of the van's body ensuring wayward rocks or unexpected obstacles don’t destroy lower quarter panels. Likewise, despite the water tanks being made of suitable poly, they’re fitted front to rear with skid plates to ensure nothing snags as the van bottoms out through undulating terrain. If you find yourself turning around on the trail it’s because of size limitations, not because the LXV 5.7 can’t do it.
Despite having a reasonable Tare of 2580kg, the LXV 5.7 is no lightweight when it comes to creature comforts and accessories. The heart of the system is an extensive 12V setup. Nestled deep inside the body are two 100Ah lithium batteries for a total of 200Ah. When you’re on the road they’re kept topped up through a 50A Anderson plug on the drawbar with a RedArc 30A BMS monitoring charge levels. The system can automatically switch over to solar when disconnected allowing the huge 540W worth of thin-film solar panels on the roof to feed into the system.
When you’re plugged into 240V mains the BMS will replenish the batteries as well as feed into the 240V outlets throughout the van. Yank the extension cord and the 2000W pure sine wave inverter springs into action to feed the 240V power outlets. It also packs enough grunt to power the reverse cycle air-conditioning.
With enough solar to overcome battery drainage and a 95L Waeco fridge/freezer included as standard, the LXV 5.7 is well and truly suitable for extended touring.
Of course, when you’re on the road your biggest concern is water, but that’s well taken care of, too. Drinking water is split between three food-grade poly tanks. A 125L and 85L water tank provide a total of 210L of clean drinking water. A third 85L tank is included for grey water with separate gauges monitoring the levels across each tank.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If I’ve wafted on about the LXV 5.7 I apologise, but it’s hard not to. In a sea of mediocrity, Mountain Trail is a shining beacon of forward thinking. It’s evident in every single inch of the LXV 5.7. From the airy interior, flowing layout, multiple living options and beautifully appointed fitout right through to the trailers very foundation itself. It’s simply on another level from almost all other manufacturing.
Sure, it’s a hair over the $100K mark, but considering the spec level and quality of the base caravan, that figure should be higher.
Through a combination of smart manufacturing techniques and minimal overheads Mountain Trail has put together what is simply one of the most advanced caravans on the Aussie market by decking it out with appointment levels reminiscent of high-end German cars, and putting it on the market at a price not much higher than many imported offerings.
The LXV 5.7 is the kind of caravan you could comfortably load up and set off into the sunset for years at a time. Factor it in with their incredibly high resale value and they start making a lot of financial sense. I wonder if they take Afterpay?
HITS AND MISSES
- Comparatively light weight
- Clever construction methods
- Large open plan living
- Needs a large tow vehicle
- Large footprint may struggle on
- tight trails
- I can’t afford one
Weights and measures
- Overall length 7.2m (23ft 7in)
- External body length 5.7m (18ft 8in)
- External body width 2.1m (6ft 11in)
- Travel height 2.89m (9ft 6in)
- Internal height 1.98m (6ft 6in)
- Tare 2580kg
- ATM 3500kg
- Payload 920kg
- Ball weight 180kg
Price as shown
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #571. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!