The Option RV Distinction is a mid-sized van boasting all the essentials for a comfortable road-going lifestyle.
I don’t live there, but I’m something of a fan of visiting South East Queensland for the Recreational Vehicle (RV) business. Apart from the climate, particularly in wintertime, there’s plenty of diversity among the dealers and local manufacturers.
Chevallum-based Caravan World is no exception to this, with a good range of caravans on display. When I arrived, my Option RV Distinction 18’6 review caravan was, as always, washed and ready to roll. Well almost. It was time to head off after a slight delay because the seven to 12-pin converter was missing from my Isuzu D-MAX — the Caravan World staff kindly found one in their workshop. On a busy day, that assistance was much appreciated.
Like many places these days, photoshoot locations are declining in number, but I have a couple of favoured locations around the town of Kenilworth and once off the Bruce Highway, it’s always a very pleasant drive. Unfortunately, my favourite cafe along the way to Kenilworth appears to have closed at some point during the COVID-19 period.
Option RV is, like so many, a regional Melbourne-based manufacturer and, having been around since 2007, has amassed considerable experience in building caravans. Described as a boutique manufacturer, Option builds a small range of vans, including the Distinction.
Getting to a few technicalities, my review Distinction has an external length of 5.66m (18ft 7in) and an ATM of 3300kg, making it a bit edge of the ballpark for an Isuzu D-MAX tow vehicle. It has a maximum towing mass of 3500kg and a gross combined mass (GCM)of 6000kg. However, the Distinction 18’6 has a tare mass of 2260kg, giving a decent payload of 1040kg. With a bit of care, the overall weight can be kept under the 3000kg mark, making the D-MAX a good prospect as it was on my towing test, which went well. On the freeway, the review van was a very stable proposition, and along the undulations of Eumundi-Kenilworth Road, it tucked in behind the D-MAX without any problems.
Among the crowd, the Distinction does stand out. It has a slightly squat appearance that’s primarily due to the angular shape of the front wall but also because of the deep lower waist of the black checkerplate. Being a Campbellfield-built van, no surprise that it has a timber frame, complete with insulation underneath the aluminium composite walls and fibreglass roof. All the windows are the standard double-glazed acrylic, and the Mobicool habitation door has a full security door. A minor point of note is the hinging of the door and the location of the nearby windows means that everything can be open simultaneously. Only sometimes a feature in every van.
The external bin capacity is quite good. In addition to the front tunnel storage and the smaller bin at the offside rear, there is also an alloy checkerplate box on the drawbar. The two 110Ah AGM battery holders take no space; they are chassis mounted on either side of the offside wheels. Also, between the rails are the three water tanks, the two 95L freshwater tanks up front and the 100L grey tank behind the wheels. Behind the Cruisemaster DO35 hitch, the drawbar sports two 9kg gas cylinders, a mesh stone guard and a storage box.
Making a good base for the van is SupaGal RHS box section chassis with 150mm x 50mm (6in x 2in) drawbar rails and 100mm x 50mm (4in x 2in) chassis rails. Designed for rough road or semi-offroad travel in Option RV speak, the Distinction is fitted with Alpha 3.3T independent suspension with coil springs and two shock absorbers per wheel.
It’s a little hard to find on the Option RV website, but the manufacturer offers a 12-month warranty on the structure and all components fitted. Given what other manufacturers offer these days, it’s a bit light on.
The Distinction 18’6 is a mid-door van with an island bed up front, a nearside cafe dinette facing an offside kitchen and a full-width bathroom. The level of appointment inside the van is quite high, with the emphasis clearly on the comfort of a touring couple. That starts at the entry door. I liked the prominent handle that was easy to grab on the way in and the way out. I’ve noticed that as one ages, these features become more of interest. By day and night, the Distinction has a very bright interior. In the case of evening time, there are LED light fittings, mainly of the downlight style, in every conceivably helpful space.
In the forward area, the caravan queen-sized bed has good access space on both sides. Natural light and ventilation aren’t a problem because both sides have large windows. An interesting touch is the bedhead wall, upholstered like the dinette seats. The bedside cabinetry is built in the contemporary style with side wardrobes, bedside cabinets and overhead lockers. Although, I noticed there aren’t any pillow cubbies, a feature that is increasingly common in the world of caravans. Double power points on both sides of the bed but no USB outlets. Like the rest of the van, all the doors have piano hinges, and the drawers have metal sides. Lifting the bed reveals a slightly smaller than usual storage area, but that’s primarily because of the front tunnel storage.
The cafe dinette is designed for the comfort of two, with both wall cushions and hinged footrests. The trifold table for both meal and non-meal times adds to the convenience factor, as do the double powerpoints and USB hub on the adjacent wall. Under the table, the little cupboard is excellent for stashing smaller items but a little awkward to get at. Above the dinette, the overhead lockers offer a decent amount of storage space.
The kitchen bench and the 188L, three-way Dometic fridge fill the mid-offside wall area. The bench fittings include a stainless-steel sink with a drainer and a four-burner cooktop with a separate grill and oven. As always, the NCE microwave oven is located in the overhead lockers. There’s a single cupboard, two drawers, and one overhead locker for general storage. The second overhead locker is for the electrics, including the MPPT solar controller.
Like the rest of the caravan, the rear bathroom is well-appointed with a good level of fit-out. The nearside shower cubicle has room to turn around, and the neat-looking vanity cabinet area includes a pedestal basin and top-loading NCE washing machine hiding under the cabinetry. There’s a fair bit of storage space, part of which is a large cupboard with a hanging rail. Above the Thetford cassette toilet, ventilation is handled by a small window and a fan hatch. There’s a matching hatch above the shower.
The bottom line
The Distinction has much to offer a couple of travellers who desire a mid-sized caravan, yet one with all the essentials for a comfortable road-going lifestyle. It’s a van designed for rough road travel, which means a fair chunk of Australia can be easily explored yet done in style.
HITS AND MISSES
- Can be towed by a good range of vehicles
- Spacious internal layout
- Piano-hinged cupboard doors
- Seat footrests
- Battery capacity
- Limited kitchen storage
- No device chargers by the bed
- No pillow cubbies
OPTION RV DISTINCTION 18'6 RATINGS
VALUE FOR MONEY
Option RV is a boutique manufacturer with a price to match
An easy towing van, ideal for a ute
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
Designed for a couple with rough road travel in mind
Well-appointed with a good fit and finish
For a couple who don’t want a particularly large van, I reckon this is ideal.
Has enough battery and water capacity for a number of days off grid
There’s a 12-month warranty on structure and components
Option RV tends to stay with the tried and trusted
The overall look of the van, inside and out
OPTION RV DISTINCTION 18'6 SPECS
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||5.66m (18ft 7in)|
|Overall length||8.08m (26ft 6in)|
|Cladding||Aluminium composite walls, fibreglass roof|
|Suspension||Alpha Independent 3.3T with dual shocks|
|Water||2 x 95L freshwater, 1 x 100L grey water|
|Battery||2 x 110Ah AGM|
|Solar||2 x 170W|
|Air-conditioner||Dometic Ibis 4|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Sway control||Not standard|
|Cooking||Swift 400, four-burner gas, grill and oven|
|Fridge||Dometic RUA 6408X 188L three-way|
|Bathroom||Thetford cassette toilet, separate shower cubicle|
|Washing machine||NCE top-loading|
|Hot water||Swift 28L, gas/electric|
Option RV Distinction 18'6 price from $92,990
645 Chevallum Rd
Chevallum Qld 4555
P: 07 5445 2215
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