Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. A few years back, mates Tony and Mark each searched for a suitable caravan for a trip around the country with their wives. They were surprised that their choice of van, Legend, wasn't represented in their home state of Queensland. The realisation led to significant changes to their plans and, eventually, their lifestyle. The mates were from the building trade, so they recognised the high quality of the Legend offroader they had selected.
After their lap of the country, they forsook the building trade and opened Explorer RV. In the home state of so many top-shelf builders, starting a new dealership was a big call, but the pair set up camp in Brendale in Brisbane's north and have represented Legend as a single-brand dealership for the last six years as their Queensland dealer. This is where our review of the nuggety Legend Hybrid begins.
Legend is a closely held family business overseen by the Stojanoski brothers, Zoran and Robert. Between them, they had many years in the caravan industry before starting their own manufacturing business in 2008. In the ensuing 14 years, the team has turned Legend into a Melbourne-based offroad powerhouse, taking out the 2018 Caravan of the Year and challenging the usual suspects at the top of the offroad tree with their well-engineered models.
Legend boasts a catalogue of dozens of off and semi off-road variations between 15' and 24', even including an all-terrain slideout. On top of that, Legend offers a myriad of electronics options, seven exterior colours, and dozens of upholstery and laminate choices.
Our 16’ review van joins a 15’ version in a tight offering of Hybrids, but it’s one of the best sellers, which is telling about the sort of customers who turn to the brand. Against a tide of ever bigger, ever heavier vans hitting the road, there is a lot to be said for a more compact van if more remote campsites are your destination. The reality is that the definition of an offroad van is very elastic, and a lot of big rigs will struggle when the going gets tough. On the other hand, a well-built smaller van will wind its way down gnarly tracks over muddy or sandy ground much more efficiently than larger models and is much easier to extract from a bog if you get into trouble. The downside is the loss of space inside, but the 16' model is surprisingly accommodating, as we shall see.
Like many builders in the offroad space, Legend’s aluminium frame is a significant point of difference over more touring-oriented vans in the market with Meranti in the walls. While many local builders stick with traditional timber construction for its flexibility and ease of construction, there is a strong case for the durability of metal. It doesn't rot for a start, and many offroad vans are subjected to extremes of weather and travel where the chance of water entering the internal structure is higher than travel over made roads.
The frame is formed with self-piercing rivets, and the side walls, ends, and roof sections are lock-bolted together on the chassis for a permanent and maintenance-free join. With these components fixed together, the caravan body is a highly robust structure with enough flex to withstand any movement without cracking over rough ground. According to Legend, riveting is a superior method to welding aluminium as it takes a very skilled operator to avoid overheating, which can cause the frame to warp.
A single aluminium sheet covers the roof, and all the voids in the walls and top are filled with Air-Cell Insuliner, a closed cell fire retardant core sandwiched between two facings of reflective foil. Legend claim that the combination of the honeycomb floor and the quality Insuliner delivers superior sound and heat dampening.
The body sits on a heavy-duty 200mm x 50mm Supergal chassis and A-frame with a 150mm x 50mm riser for the suspension. That's a hefty chassis for a single-axle van, but it follows the tradition of building tough to anticipate that the van will be subjected to the worst treatment possible. Combined with the hardcore body structure and compact size, many owners will want to test the van's offroad credentials by dragging it across some nasty terrain.
Cruisemaster’s well-proven XT suspension keeps the show steady, and a set of 265 x 75 MPC All Terrain tyres on 16in alloys should help shed mud to maintain traction when needed. Cruisemaster also supplied the hitch – a DO35 – which again has proven articulation and reliability in the bush.
Legend has its own plumbers and electricians to ensure compliant and safe installation of components. From what I saw in the review van, their work is neat, and the relevant leads are well-protected where they are visible.
A MODERN EXTERIOR
Aluminium composite panels clad the outside for the smooth look we have come to expect, while lower skirts of dimple plate along the sides offers protection and a more modern appeal than checkerplate. An oversize toolbox sits on the extended A-frame, and in a smaller van, it’s crucial for adequate storage. Slide-outs on each side can hold a generator and a small fridge, and higher trays will be great for hoses and electrical leads. Further forward are two 9kg gas bottles protected by a wide stone guard. While exposed gas cylinders are becoming less common as many builders hide them away inside metal boxes, gas cylinders in the open air add to available storage space and make for easy and safe gas venting.
Rearward of the toolbox is a tunnel boot, then an external kitchen that earns the 16-footer its hybrid badge. The custom slide-out has a quality four-burner gas cooktop and a stainless-steel sink with utensils and cutlery drawers. Well-presented Legend logos etched into the stainless steel, and a distressed cutting board add to the appeal. Little touches like this throughout the van show a pleasing attention to detail that will draw customers to the Legend brand.
A single spare tyre sits on a robust bar at the back, and I like how rear lights are repeated in the bar to be at a legal height, but also included up higher where they are easily seen.
By necessity, the compact 16’ van pares back features to the essentials. Still, it’s remarkable how homely the team have made the interior of the little Legend while emphasising the practical offroad ability. So, while it may be smaller than many so-called offroad competitors, couples still have a workable ensuite, comfortable living space, and the all-important north-south bed. A bonus is having the bed well away from the door for added privacy.
The interior looks sharp. White cupboards and splashbacks bestow a light and airy feeling against contrasting grey leather-look vinyl at the lounge. Couples should find enough storage space – as long as they plan ahead with what’s needed. Cupboards, overhead and below the bench, will store supplies for a few weeks, while storage alongside the bed and underneath should be enough for all the clothing needed for longer adventures.
Because most meals will be done at the outside kitchen, internal cooking facilities are limited to a pair of gas burners in a combination cooktop/sink and overhead microwave, which relies on 240v power. However, the 188L compressor fridge is a decent size for a couple, and you could easily add a 12v chest freezer to the front storage box if needed.
Down the back, a full width ensuite completes the layout. It's well-designed and has sensible cutouts on the bench at the toilet, a long mirror over the vanity, and plenty of ventilation.
The van comes standard with 400w of solar, a quality 200ah lithium battery, and an Enerdrive RB-60 for chargers and monitors. A readout in a kitchen cupboard lets you know the state of charge while the bulk of the equipment is stored in the tunnel boot. It’s quickly accessible for inspection or maintenance, but I would add the optional guard for better protection from items moving around in this storage compartment. It also wouldn’t hurt for a 300w pure sine wave inverter to be included for charging computers.
Only a year or so back, a 200ah lithium battery and 400 watts of solar was a big deal, but as customers have come to expect more the standard setup on the hybrid might look a bit lame to some readers. But the reality is, unless you want to invest in more lithium, more solar, and a powerful inverter for 240v equipment, then in my estimation, the standard supply is more than adequate. Of course, extended rainy weather will always sap the power, but plugging in a small generator or hooking up to the tow vehicle will save the day. You can, of course, option the hybrid with more electronics to your wallet’s max if keeping things simple isn’t your style.
HOW DID IT TOW?
We towed the van with Explorer RV’s VW Amarok out into the countryside west of Brisbane, and it was a perfect match. The van sat firmly behind with no vices over both made and dirt roads. The Tare weight is just over 2000kg, and there's a generous 700kg payload out to the ATM of 2800kg, the current maximum for a single axle van.
THE BOTTOM LINE
As much as big vans dominate dealer's yards and our reviews, there is much to be said for a more compact, lighter, and cheaper option. If nothing else, the alarming increases for diesel at the pumps that we currently see must be making buyers think twice about towing a 3.5-tonne van.
The Legend 16’ Trackline Hybrid is not only lighter than average, but its small footprint also means you can get to some more remote locations. The drawback might be there is less room inside but taking the kitchen into the open air helps solve this and enhances the travel experience.
The $99,500 price, as tested, isn't low but is still way under the layout for many larger vans with similar offroad build quality. You might compromise on interior space, but there's no compromise on the ability to get you over the most challenging track to where you want to be.
Hits and Misses
- Rugged build for offroad travel
- Aluminium construction for a rot-free frame
- Reliable Enerdrive electronics
- Electronics protection in the boot should be standard
Legend 16 Trackline Hybrid Ratings
Value for Money
The price reflects the hybrid’s place in the high-end offroad market, and it scores well against its competition
It’s a pleasure to tow and we could find no vices over our 150km journey
Suitability for Intended Touring
A simple layout in a compact size, but you lack for nothing.
Legend has a team of experienced builders, and it shows in the attention to detail
There must be a compromise in a smaller van and the living space is well-designed but compact
There’s enough electricity and water to keep you going for extended off grid sorties
Explorer RV has a good reputation for customer relations, but the two-year warranty isn’t generous
The custom kitchen adds to the appeal and the compact design is a winner
Looks robust without too much gaudy bling
Legend 16 Trackline Hybrid Specs
Weights and Measures
|Body length||4880mm (16ft)|
|Overall length||7315mm (24ft)|
|Width||2500mm (8ft 2in)|
|Height||3100mm (11ft 10in)|
|Ball to Tare ratio||8.5%|
|Chassis||ARV off-road chassis|
|Floor||One piece honeycomb|
|Roof||One piece aluminium roof|
|Insulation||Fully insulated with Air-Cell fire rated Insulation|
|Suspension||Cruise Master XT|
|Water||2 x 95L fresh + 1 x 110L grey|
|Battery||200ah Lithium Enerdrive|
|Gas cooktop||3 Burners|
|Cooking||Legend outdoor kitchen|
|Cooking||3-burner gas cooktop|
|Fridge||Dometic 188L Compressor|
Legend 16 Trackline Hybrid price from $95,000
Legend 16 Trackline Hybrid price as tested $95,000
Supplied by Explorer RV
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