When you consider that Mountain Trail started out as an offroad camper builder, the evolution to the hybrid van we see here is no surprise. This review will reinforce what a wide range of recreational vehicles the caravan concept embraces. Even among the Mountain Trail offering, we see a range of RVs from the award-winning camper trailer through to full-size family vans, all suiting various modes of travel. The common theme of the company is genuine offroad ability.
The LXV 4.7 fits a niche market for couples who like to take their camping lifestyle to extremes. It's an edgy option for getting way off the beaten track, and it has the looks and presence to set it apart.
A compact narrow body and an emphasis on outside cooking define the LXV 4.7’s point of difference. It combines the easy towing of a camper with the style and luxury of a caravan while managing to avoid the annoying setup time of many campers.
As a builder, Mountain Trail has taken the road less travelled — firstly by setting up in the regional city of Albury on the banks of the Murray. Outsiders might say it's in the middle of nowhere, but locals claim it's at the centre of everything, the primary route between Sydney and Melbourne. Secondly, when owners Nick and Heidi Edwards set out to build vans, they didn't take the traditional local approach. Instead, they explored the world of caravanning overseas before deciding on an innovative build process of their own.
The plan from the beginning included lightweight European materials and a determination to build as much in house as possible. The pair also surrounded themselves with the technical firepower to achieve the best. A team of engineers and highly skilled staff ensure the vans are sturdy, safe and beautifully crafted.
As I have suggested already, Mountain Trail makes most of the components that go into the final product at their facility, which spreads over four factories in the Albury industrial area. The choice to do the bulk of the work themselves is less about the restrictions of their regional location than a wish to intimately control quality and consistency.
The chassis is laser cut from Australian steel, welded on a proprietary jig, then hot-dip galvanised locally. The engineers designed the trailing arm suspension, which was also fabricated in house and fitted with quality bearings, axles, and airbags. Twin EFS shock absorbers keep the properly rated alloy 17” CSA Raptor wheels in touch with the road.
Composite panels are CNC-cut and permanently bonded to form the walls, floor, and roof into a highly robust and well-insulated body. So too are the aluminium cases for the furniture, stainless steel external storage boxes, and the kitchen.
Upholstery is also produced in house, and all the vans have their own Mountain Trail wiring harness to ensure trouble-free electronics.
The 4.7 has a distinctive contemporary look that carries across the whole Mountain Trail range. The white body and similar graphics and angles tie the models together in a look that stays balanced and engaging. It's also non-pretentious. Here is a dedicated offroader without the trappings of macho excess. But look closer and find a cut-out rear end that avoids hang-ups on creek crossings, slim proportions, and a subtle but expansive toolbox upfront. But where's the gaudy checkerplate and loud graphics that should be on an offroad van? Put simply, the Albury builder chooses to let the van do the talking.
So, a line of black graphics against the smooth white fibreglass exterior has an elegant purity.. It might look understated, but a lot is going on here because a very comprehensive external kitchen hides behind three passenger-side compartments. The hatches are sealed with automotive quality rubber compressions and lock firmly to keep out any dust.
At the front, a slide-out holds a 95L compressor fridge-freezer which should be big enough for most couples. You can also option with a 30L drawer fridge inside for easy access to drinks and so on. Moving back, a two-tier storage unit opens out with a drawer above and a large pantry below. A sturdy ‘cocktail’ lid on gas struts adds to preparation space and, as the name suggests, makes a handy bar for pre-dinner drinks.
Our review van has a swing-around kitchen that slides out then turns parallel to the sides, creating a kitchen with easy access to the pantry and fridge. A stainless steel benchtop, a sink with hot and cold water and a three-burner gas cooktop are included. The metal benches look the part and make practical prep and serving spaces that will be easy to keep clean.
Because cooking is done outside, you need good weather protection. An electric awning quickly deploys over the doorway and kitchen while canvas additions are on hand to slide into sail tracks to make a roof over the fridge.
In a nook above the kitchen, we find a neat panel with a Redarc RedVision screen showing water tank level, battery condition, and solar input. Electrical outlets include 12V, 240V and a television plug, while there’s also Fusion sound inside and out.
Upfront, a Cruisemaster DO-35 connects to the tow vehicle, and there’s a hefty jockey wheel. When you join the car via an Anderson plug, a dust suppression fan starts up to keep the interior pressurised and dust-free. The drawbar includes a plate to fit optional bike racks or an outboard motor bracket. Black rubber-impregnated paint protects a large alloy toolbox with space for a single 9kg gas bottle, two 20L cans, and a tank for the diesel water and room heaters
Hatches on the driver's side house the diesel heater and two extra large, carpet-lined storage areas. The standard spare wheel storage is under the van, but you can option a rear protection bar with the spare mounted there.
The stylish fibreglass entry door has a magnetic catch and splits to either a flyscreen or full security mode. You might notice there are no vents at the base of the door, as seen on most vans. Here they are not required because this van has no internal gas, so a vent isn’t a legal requirement.
The layout has a set of storage cupboards and drawers running across the back but sharing the combination ensuite. The bed is at the front leaving the central section as the living space.
So no cooking at all, I wondered as I took in the very neat and inviting modern interior. Mountain Trail Customer Service Manager, Steve Jaksetic, was along to show me around, and he explained that it’s possible to set up a breakfast bar at the rear cabinet. You could opt for a microwave and even an induction cooktop if the idea of meal preparation outside when it’s cold doesn’t appeal. As we will see, such a solution could work off-grid, courtesy of an elaborate and highly charged solar and lithium setup.
The LXV has a total of 570W in the solar roof panels. They charge a 360Ah lithium battery through a Redarc controller and feed into a 3000W pure sine wave inverter. That’s enough for the cooking equipment and an air-conditioner. Oh yeah, and a coffee machine. Life in the bush won’t be so bad after all.
Without a kitchen taking up space, the compact interior becomes a comfortable place to relax. Lounges run either side of the central section to create face-to-face seating that’s roomy and plush. A movable table between the seats goes just where you need it to be for dining or a workspace.
A north-south queen bed is at the front, but because of the narrow width of the van, it's not a walkaround arrangement. Even so, the bed was easy to access, and there were shelves on either side for books or laptops. Overhead cupboards offer some storage, and there's a large, lined compartment under the bed.
The driver side rear corner houses the combination shower/toilet that is well designed and is roomier than your usual combined ensuit. A cassette toilet is standard, with a composting unit an option that buyers are increasingly choosing.
We have talked about the electrical system's very usable capacity. Still, I should also mention the installation by the sparkies at the factory is also incredibly well executed and as neat as you will find. Access is under the lounges, and everything has quality connections and clear labels.
Two tanks deliver 210L of freshwater, and an 85L grey tank is standard. And while there's only one 9kg gas bottle, it's only there for the cooktop, so it should last a couple of months on the road. The 12L diesel tank supplies the water and room heater, and again you should expect a decent run from that, but two spare jerry cans are on hand as a backup.
Weight is 2050kg at Tare or 2800kg when fully loaded, so the LXV 4.7 is suitable for an extensive range of tow vehicles. The 2L Ranger we had for the review had us moving at highway speeds with no trouble, and the van followed smoothly without any pitching or sway.
The high ground clearance and raised rear end will come into their own in offroad conditions, especially with extra height available at the flick of a switch for the airbag suspension.
Warranty is five years on chassis and suspension, two years on the interior and body, and the latter is covered for offroad conditions. The company has dedicated staff to handle problems and a network of repair agents.
The LXV 4.7 is a niche hybrid caravan for couples who are keen on genuine off-the-beaten-track adventures. You can get the van into many places that would be too difficult in a full-size version. Pricing starts at $149,990, and this now includes a front window, the swing away kitchen and air-conditioner. There is a lot of intelligent technology underneath and a room full of quality finishes inside that combine to make a durable and comfortable offroader.
HITS AND MISSES
- Superb build quality
- Very capable offroad
- Compact and easy to tow
- High end product and high end pricing
Value for Money : 7.5
Priced in a high-end niche market
Towability : 9
Narrow track, lightweight, and superb suspension are all there.
Suitability for Intended Touring : 9
If getting well into the bush in comfort is your thing, you’ll love the little Mountain Trail.
Build Quality : 9
10 Superb attention to detail in every corner.
Liveability : 7.5
A compact van can’t have everything, but there is clever use of space here.
Customer Care : 9
This is a company that lives on reputation, and they do all they can to keep their customers happy.
Self-sufficiency : 8.5
Lots of battery power and enough water if you are careful.
Innovation : 9
Innovative design and build from the ground up.
X-Factor : 8.5
A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Mountain Trail LXV 4.7 Specs
|Overall length||6.31 M (20’7”)|
|External body length||4.61 M (15’1”)|
|External body width||2.09 M and (6’10”)|
|Travel height||2.9 M and (9’6”)|
|Internal height||1.93 M and (6’3”)|
|Ball weight||180 KG|
|Suspension||Independent trailing arm|
|Wheels||17” Alloy (265x70 AT)|
|Gas||1x 9 KG|
|Cooking||Gas cooktop (external)|
|Fridge||90 L chest fried freezer (external)|
Price from: $149,990
Options fitted: nil
Price as tested: $149,990