The $100k+ 3500kg ATM family van is a booming category in the RV market with plenty of stiff competition. The Kokoda Force 8 is a strong contender in this space.
Kokoda has forged a reputation for rugged offroad vans since 2011. The Force 8 sits at the top of the tree in the Kokoda family van range and is the most offroad oriented with high-spec suspension and better departure angles. The layout is a little bit different with forward bunks creating a more spacious feel in the living area. And with the optioned-up version we reviewed, it packs plenty of off-grid punch for extended remote stays.
Kokoda vans are built to a tried and trusted formula that appeals to many mainstream buyers. The key elements are a ply floor, a meranti frame for the walls and roof, and a composite aluminium skin. Proponents of this classic building style espouse that a well-built meranti frame has just the right amount of flex to absorb the rigours of our arduous roads and hence protect against failures such as components cracking or vibrating loose. Good sealing against water ingress is key to longevity with this style of building. Kokoda tackles this with the use of premium silicones and a disciplined approach to applying them correctly.
Something I have noticed in vans I have happened to see recently is the elimination of step wells at the main door. It takes away the chance of falling into that little hole inside the van and makes for cleaner lines on the van exterior. Another benefit is it takes away a low point for water to get in if you are keen on crossing rivers.
Kokoda backs its build with a three-year factory warranty. This covers structural, plumbing and electrical. Kokoda spells out its warranty details online, which is nice to know where you stand. Kokoda states that all warranties related to appliances and suspension are directly raised with the respective manufacturer.
TAKE A LOOK INSIDE
The Force 8 layout is a little different than most vans, with the bunks and bathroom located at the front and the main bed at the rear. As soon as you step in the door and glance to the rear, you get a real sense of space without the closed sensation of bunks and a bathroom. Of course, when you glance to the front you see the bunk/bathroom partition, but the layout does create quite a different feel for me.
Looking in more detail starting at the rear, the storage around the main bed is sensibly laid out with typical overhead cupboards, robes and bedside drawers. Little corner cupboards on either side near the front of the bed are handy. It is pretty normal that it is a bit of a squeeze to fit past corner cupboards. However, the Force 8 is a bit more challenging because a small part of the wheel box section protrudes above the floor line, leaving not quite enough room for your feet. It’s not a deal breaker and after a while you will just get used to it.
The mid-section is a conventional kitchen/dining area. The kids will find the optional Dometic 188L compressor fridge within immediate striking distance from the door. The microwave sits high above the fridge and would require adult supervision for little ones to avoid spilling hot food. A Swift three gas/one electric burner with oven rounds out the food-related appliances. The bench surface is nice, continuing over the top of the cooker for good meal-prep space. Across the way is the L-shape lounge with enough seating room for parents and two kids.
The colour palette also contributed to the open breezy feel. The light grey overhead cupboard doors contrasting with the dark grey lower doors were nicely balanced. And concealed latches on the overhead doors created sleek, clean lines.
Moving onto the front, the kids’ area can be separated by a concertina door. The shower and toilet are in separate little rooms making it more practical for both facilities to be used at once. The wash basin and storage capacity in the toilet are quite compact but still functional. The bunks are fine with the lights and USB points we have come to expect. The cupboard and drawers between the bunks and bathroom work well or you can sacrifice some of that space in favour of a washing machine option.
16” rims with big offroad tyres have become virtually the standard spec these days. Sometimes I feel they may be a little bit of overkill for most situations. Yet we encountered a practical example of how these big wheels can come in very handy. We had to negotiate a tight rural driveway, and a large concrete block forming part of a drain became an obstacle in our path. We approached very slowly, and the big profile tyre contoured around the squared edge and just crawled up and over. It saved a lot of angst about getting out. If the wheels were any smaller, we would have been facing a lot of backwards and forwardsing to make it.
Above the big wheels is a very capable suspension system. The van on review featured the very capable AL-KO Enduro X offroad suspension system. Kokoda tells us the 2023 line up will feature Tuff Ride 3.5T Independent Arm Suspension, which the team holds in high regard.
The van has a decent cut-out at the back which is great for departure angles. But it does limit room for an external hatch at the rear. Kokoda tells me you can choose not to have the cutaway and get extra storage if you prefer. While we are on storage, there are twin external hatches up front that access a boot that runs north-south under the lower bunk rather than the typical front tunnel boot that runs east-west. And a toolbox on the A-frame has access doors and handy slide-out trays on each side.
The 150mm x 50mm DuraGal chassis complete with 50mm raisers will ensure you can head offroad without a worry. The Cruisemaster DO35 pin coupling is a crowd-pleaser. Its multi-axis articulation performs well in offroad applications, makes it easier to hitch/unhitch on uneven ground and can mitigate the risk of the van rolling the car over in a nasty situation.
It’s worth noting that the warranty states that Kokoda vans are designed for limited unsealed road usage and not designed for four-wheel-drive-only tracks. I think this position is not unreasonable and gives you a clear indication of where you stand.
HOW DOES IT STAY OFF-GRID?
The expectation for off-grid living in $100k+ family vans is high, and the Kokoda Force 8 delivers. An example of the abundance of power is the capability to run the air-conditioning for short bursts to cool the van via the optional 3000W Redarc inverter. This is possible thanks to the optional 400Ah lithium battery capacity. The 340W solar collection could be beefed up a bit to keep this system going for longer with a couple more panels. Two 9kg gas bottles will keep you cooking for weeks. 190L of freshwater is standard and you can carry a bit more using the twin jerry can holders out the back.
HOW DOES IT TOW?
Unsurprisingly, towing was effortless hooked up to a Chev Silverado. The van felt composed in a variety of driving conditions. A cautionary note applies to selecting a suitable tow vehicle whenever purchasing a van with a 3500kg ATM. This is not about the van; it’s about the car because many standard-sized utes will have not much payload capability left when their gross combined mass (GCM) is taken into consideration.
Kokoda is on a winning formula with the Force 8. Put simply, it delivers what many people want. You get plenty of living area. There’s a dedicated space for the kids that can be closed off for privacy. The shower and toilet are in separate rooms, which is bound to keep the family happy. The off-grid power is good and could be easily made even better with a couple more solar panels up top. And the offroad credentials are up to the task.
HITS AND MISSES
- Rear main bed layout creates a very spacious feel
- Great offroad platform with industry-leading AL-KO and Cruisemaster components
- Plenty of 12V capacity for off-grid living
- Limited space to fit between the ends of the main bed and the corner cupboards
KOKODA FORCE 8 RATINGS
VALUE FOR MONEY
This option loaded version packs a lot of punch at $123k
Choose the right tow vehicle and it will be smiles for miles
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
Kokoda knows how to spec vans for extended family touring
A solid example of a traditionally built van
The layout is functional for kids and it’s a nice environment for parents
400Ah lithium batteries go a long way to making for an extended stay out bush
Three-year warranty is good. Like many van builders, you are pointed to the appliance manufacturers when needed
The forward bunks layout just makes it a little bit different
There’s not one single stand out but you get a great overall package
KOKODA FORCE 8 SPECS
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||6.9m (22ft 6in)|
|Overall length||8.9m (29ft 3in)|
|Width||2.5m (8ft 2in)|
|Height||3.1m (10ft 2in)|
|Ball weight at tare||200kg|
|Cladding||Aluminium composite sheet|
AL-KO Enduro X Outback
For future models: Tuff Ride 3.5T Independent Arm Suspension
|Wheels||16” alloy rims with 265/75R16 mud tyres|
|Water||2 x 95L freshwater|
|Solar||2 x 170W|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Cooking||Swift full oven|
|Bathroom||Separate rooms – shower and toilet|
Kokoda Force 8 price from $105,990.00
- 400A lithium
- Redarc 3000W inverter
- 1 x 95L grey water
- Compressor fridge
- Concertina door
- Two Sirocco fans
- ARL dust suppression
- Rear camera
Kokoda Force 8 price as shown $123,090.00
THE NEXT STEP
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