Unlike caravans, offroad motorhomes are not that prolific. Indeed, some manufacturers don’t offer them at all. There are two main reasons for this; one is the cost, the other is the lack of readily available base vehicles for the medium-sized motorhome market.
However, for those prepared to make a few compromises — mostly in the size category — there are a few good options. Sydney-based Suncamper Motorhomes has some considerable expertise in this area and its Sherwood model has been around for several years. Technically the Sherwood is a C class motorhome but given its size, it’s more like a junior C class.
Based on the venerable Toyota HiLux cab chassis, there are a number of Sherwood layout options available, five to be precise — the E, L, R, S and T series — all with various combinations of double or single beds, different dinette layouts, seating arrangements and even wet or dry bathrooms.
ALL HAIL THE CONQUEROR
The Sherwood E series was the original, and some think the best. However, a variation of that, with a few external additions, has recently been introduced. Called the Conqueror, it’s an eye-catching motorhome. Indeed, it certainly drew attention as I motored along the Old Pacific Highway. The Conqueror has a fitness-for-purpose look about it.
BASE VEHICLE MODIFICATIONS
A problem for motorhome manufacturers, in particular those who use the HiLux, is that the GVM hasn’t been particularly great, especially when compared to some of the current competitors like the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT50. However, the 2020 model saw that increased to 3050kg. It’s still not really adequate, so for the standard 4X4 Sherwood the HiLux gets an engineer certified GVM upgrade to 3500kg and for the Conqueror the GVM is better again at 3620kg. All the work is done by Pedders Suspension and Brakes.
That’s good news for travellers, since even with the Conqueror having a tare (wet, that is with all tanks full) of 3140kg, it still has an impressive payload of 480kg. Suncamper fits a 1500kg towbar to the Conqueror which, given it has a GCM of 5850kg, is being quite conservative. For those who like long distance travel in remote places, the 80L diesel tank has been replaced by a somewhat larger 140L capacity.
In its base form, the Conqueror has an aluminium frame for the walls and roof, and a steel frame for the floor area.
For the external cladding, fibreglass composite panels with fire retardant foam are used for the 30mm walls and 45mm roof.
Inside the motorhome, all the cabinetry is made from plywood that is screwed and also glued together.
Double glazed acrylic windows are fitted all around and, compared to the standard Sherwood model, the Conqueror gets larger windows in the rear area. It also gets a larger rear nearside external storage area, a good feature since external storage in smaller motorhomes is often limited.
While the basics of the motorhome construction might sound a bit standard, the extra goodies fitted to the Conqueror certainly aren’t. Undoubtedly the standout feature is the roof-mounted brush bar that runs across the front and down both sides.
What adds to this attention grabber are the four LED spotlights and 60in light bar mounted on the brush bar. Additionally, the Rival alloy bumper bar has a 30in light bar fitted. Anyone who does a serious amount of night driving is certainly going to appreciate this vehicle!
The Rival bumper bar is an item of interest too, as it’s lighter than the original, has full ADR compliance and has an underbody bash plate, two recovery points and is winch compatible.
Other features of note are the 17in alloy wheels fitted with chunky 265/70R17 mud terrain tyres, snorkel, bonnet scoop with Raptor protective paint, front wheel arch flares, a Toyota TRD grill and headlight surrounds.
At the rear are two larger-than-life spare wheels mounted above the bumper bar and a roof ladder of a type I have not seen before. It consists of four small fold-out steps which are a little tricky to negotiate but very unobtrusive.
All of the above might sound like a long list but in addition to being practical, they all add to the general ‘look’ of the Conqueror.
There are of a course a few more regular and expected items including the awning, Dometic security door, gas bayonet and better-than-usual external lighting.
Certainly, the general layout of the Conqueror looks familiar. There’s a luton bed over the driver’s cab, small club lounge in the rear, mid area kitchen and a bathroom cubicle behind the driver’s cab. What’s different from previous models is that the general appearance has been given something of a makeover, the result being a very contemporary and attractive look to the interior. Concealed latches on the overhead lockers, leather upholstery on the rear dinette, stone benchtops and a relocated electrical control panel all make an amazing difference. LED lighting is fitted throughout, including some touch-operated/dimmed strip lighting.
General cupboard storage is quite good for this size motorhome, but it’s still limited compared to something more conventional, so lightweight packing isn’t a bad idea.
Given the rough road/remote living theme of this motorhome, there isn’t an air-conditioner fitted as a standard item (it’s optional) nor is there a microwave oven, as both items require 240V mains power for operation. However, the Webasto diesel heater and 12V Sirocco fan are included for all year-round travel.
Undoubtedly the biggest disadvantage of this style of motorhome, not just those made by Suncamper, is the lack of walk-through cab access. The existing hatch is quite small and not really practical.
BRIGHT BED AREA
Above the cab, the luton bed measures 1.9m x 1.53m (6ft 3in x 5ft). Blue/white reading lights are fitted above the nearside end of the bed and, just in case that’s not enough illumination, the roof hatch has in-built strip lights as well. A small step and grab handle eases the bed access but, like any motorhome this size, it’s a bit awkward.
Ventilation is well assured with two good sized windows on either side plus a large roof hatch. Indeed, the latter is large enough so that it’s possible to stand on the bed and reach out to do something like clean the solar panels!
Cooktops and fridges don’t usually change much but the Conqueror offers new-look items for both. The Thetford cooktop has two burners which sit above the ceramic glass base, rather than being recessed.
Under the bench, the Norcold DE105 fridge doesn’t have any external vents, thus reducing dust ingress. But because it circulates air internally, it may increase the general internal temperature. It will be interesting to see how much effect that has on very hot days.
Benchtop space is moderate but there’s a bench extension that swings out from the front bed, across the doorway. Just watch your head when you step in! Also, the wire basket slide-out pantry acts as a bench extension as well.
On the other side of the motorhome, the black enamel sink with smoked glass lid is fitted into its own cabinet. It’s the type that includes a removeable draining board and rack, cutting board and washing-up bowl. However, there really isn’t anywhere for the drainer, so the rear table is the next best thing. Filtered drinking water is supplied to the sink.
Possibly the only area in the Conqueror where there aren’t any surprises is the bathroom. It’s just big enough to turn around in with a combo wet unit featuring a bench-style cassette toilet and a flexible hose shower. Also fitted are a small corner wash basin, extendable towel rack and a wall mirror. A fan hatch delivers the ventilation.
To deliver the necessary 12V power, the Conqueror comes with a 120Ah lithium battery and 405W of solar panel capacity. Also, for those who need it, there’s a 2000W inverter.
Water capacity consists of a 95L freshwater tank and a 43L drinking water tank. For preserving the environment, a 43L grey water tank is a standard item.
The latest generation HiLux comes with a 2.8L turbodiesel engine that delivers 150kW of power and a generous 500Nm of torque, which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. All of this means the Conqueror is a brisk performer on the road. Though I did not have the opportunity to try any serious offroad stuff, it seemed that the HiLux is a willing performer.
I was wondering how much the Pedders suspension upgrade might affect ride comfort, but the answer is not much. Because of increased ride height, there is a tendency for smaller motorhomes like this to suffer from a bit of rock n’ roll when cornering, but generally speaking, the ride wasn’t too noticeable. Buffeting from strong winds or passing trucks was probably more noticeable.
Some manufacturers leave the existing rearview mirror in situ, but they aren’t really adequate for safe driving and I appreciated the fact Suncamper has fitted Clearview extension mirrors. In conjunction with the reversing camera, they work a treat.
On the information/entertainment front, Toyota’s latest inclusions are a new sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, touchscreen infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, most of which can be operated from the steering wheel. Suncamper has added a few items as well, such as the GME UHF CB radio, tyre pressure monitoring system, and a Hema navigation system. It’s all very shmick!
THE BOTTOM LINE
As noted previously, the Conqueror does draw plenty of attention. Undoubtedly built for the serious 4WD enthusiast, the Toyota-based motorhome has a great deal going for it, including the legendary Toyota reliability.
Certainly a motorhome for one or two people, it’s ruggedly built, yet offers just about all the usual travelling comfort items.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 5.85m (19ft 2in)
Width 2.21m (7ft 3in)
Height 3m (9ft 10in)
Tare 3140kg (full fuel and water)
Base vehicle Toyota SR HiLux
Engine 2.8L turbodiesel
Max power 150kW@3400rpm
Max torque 500Nm@1600–2400rpm
Gearbox Six-speed auto
Water 95L fresh, 43L drinking
Battery 1 x 120Ah
Gas 2 x 4kg
Cooking Thetford two-burner
Fridge Thetford DE105 90L 12V compressor
Bathroom Thetford cassette toilet/combo shower
Hot water Swift 28L gas/elec
PRICE AS SHOWN
Unit 3, 9 Sefton Rd
Thornleigh, NSW 2120
Ph: 1300 416 854