John Ford - Caravan World Editor-At-Large
Last year's winner, Titan, returned to our event with yet another innovative addition to its lineup of well-priced and well-equipped vans. It arrived prepared to protect the crown earned last year, but times have changed, and prices have ballooned across the board for all manufacturers, so how would it fare in the new market with an optioned-up mid-size van that tipped the scales to over $100k?
The 575 Blackhawk has been positioned to fill a gap in the popular 18ft 6in range for a family. Only a few years ago, expecting to fit a family and an ensuite into a van this size would have been a big ask, so a lot of smart thinking has gone into the design. Titan has also tightened up build procedures. While the body, chassis and furniture are still made overseas and shipped here in a container, more of the build is happening at Titan’s factory in Burpengary, Queensland. Plumbing and electrical installation are done there, and the company has moved to AL-KO Enduro X as the standard suspension.
Anyone looking for a competent and compact family van that will reach remote destinations unscathed might find the new 575 Blackhawk fits their needs. This up-specked version has enough off-grid capability as long as you are frugal with water use for showers. It’s compact but a family with three kids can fit inside without falling all over themselves. Of course, a van this size won’t fit down every gnarly narrow track that a smaller camper can follow, but adding the AL-KO suspension should bring more confidence to the journey.
A combination shower/toilet is inevitable in a van this size, and this one is big enough to suit. The external kitchen is well-conceived and takes the pressure off cooking inside. Unfortunately, like all family vans, seating at the dinette is underdone. There just isn't space. However, the van is about an outdoor lifestyle, so get the kids out in the fresh air.
Titan has a history of offering innovative designs in compact caravans, and the 575 version continues that with a well-thought-out strategy. I also like the simplified but capable electronics options and the use of Victron equipment because it’s a proven marine industry product which is uncommon across the RV sector. Victron works reliably in boats, so it's a natural go-to for offroad vans.
I like how Titan’s outside kitchen has evolved with each new model, and the latest version looks great and is more substantial and user-friendly.
Including the GripSport bike rack and ARB rated recovery points is innovative thinking, showing attention to detail and giving buyers sensible points of difference when choosing a van.
Tim van Duyl - Caravan World Creative Director
I wasn’t ready for a Titan with an asking price of over $100k but then I also didn't expect the team to be able to easily import a full-width, full-size bunk van either. It is a credit to the team who arranged its build and shipping to get it in and fitted out locally with such quality components.
Consider the powerful Victron system, the AL-KO Enduro X independent suspension and baked, frameless composite walls and ceiling and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a top-tier (and top price) brand, such is the savings made with having the chassis and body built offshore.
The interior could do with a refresh for 2024 with more contemporary finishes and a tighter fit of the cabinetry and I’d suggest the Titans would be bloody hard to beat next year. Am I saying that the 575 is not a worthwhile investment? Quite the opposite. For what the team asks for one, I think it's bloody good value especially when you look at how comprehensively it is supported in its warranty.
Titan Caravans bested the industry a couple of years ago with its 490 Blackhawk and 480 Hybrid. They smashed it out of the park with exceptional value for money, fantastic build quality and inclusions.
This 575 has all of those attributes and although it didn't take any gongs this year, it still is an exceptional van with a contemporary build quality and excellent power suite. Maybe it suffers a little for being in a much more competitive space, being an 18ft 9in but this is not a van to discount if you're looking for a van for a young family.
People at holiday parks will be keen to hear about what it's like to live with and no doubt they’ll be impressed as it has the capacity to live off-grid for a week and a layout that will work for families with young kids, all without breaking the bank.
Allison Watt - Caravan World Deputy Editor
James’ new V8 Nissan Patrol towed the 575 Blackhawk with ease with no discernible movement or sway – it was a very smooth ride. With a tare weight of 2660kg and 3.8T AL-KO Enduro X independent suspension, the hybrid is not a big, heavy van so does not require a huge tow tug.
The 575 Blackhawk Hybrid Bunk is named a hybrid for its ability to be as liveable outside as it is inside, and it certainly lives up to its name.
An outdoor slide-out kitchen is constructed of powder-coated alloy and features a Thetford cooktop and grill, sink and handy utensil drawers. The outside cooking is complemented by the adjacent Ziggy Nomad barbecue. There’s an external shower for hosing off sand and dirt from a day of adventures. Under the large awning is a picnic table and entertainment hatch with space to hook up the television.
Heading inside, the east-west bed is located just inside the front entry door and has large windows on three sides to let in the natural light. There are no overhead cupboards above the main bed which adds to its feeling of spaciousness and also minimises the risk of one partner hitting their head when they have to get out of bed. There are the usual reading lights for the main bed and two Sirocco fans to circulate the air.
The kitchen is located on the van’s nearside and features a recessed cooktop, black bench and white cabinetry along with plenty of storage both overhead and under the bench. I particularly liked the slide-out pantry with wire racks including special spaces for wine bottles. The interesting feature of the kitchen is its slight angle – narrow at the entry door and widening towards the bathroom at the rear to provide some additional width for the shower on the other side. A clever trick to find some extra space.
A leather sofa and adjustable table comprise the dining space, however you may need to bring in an extra chair to accommodate two adults and three children. Completing the interior is a 190L compressor fridge, microwave, top loader washing machine, Truma hot water and roof mounted air conditioning, a combination shower/toilet bathroom, and Fusion stereo with inside and outside speaker. The three bunks each enjoy their own reading light, Sirocco fan and adjacent individual locker for clothes and toys.
Malcolm Street - Caravan World Field Editor
Designed and built as a family layout, the 5.75m (18ft 9in) van is undoubtedly built and equipped for off-the-grid travel. The AL-KO suspension and DO35 hitch are well chosen for handling the rough stuff. For living remotely, the two 200Ah lithium batteries charged by three 200W solar panels give the capability for an extended stay. Although the battery system will run the air-conditioner via the inverter, the five Sirocco fans fitted to each bed are a better alternative on not-so-hot days.
Managing the electrical system is a Victron Multiplus II inverter/charger, with a rating of 3000VA. It caters for multiple inputs from a mains supply, a generator and an MPPT solar panel controller. A Victron Cerbo GX allows for remote monitoring on a smartphone.
There are two 9kg gas cylinders in the drawbar box and a generous water capacity: three 95L freshwater tanks and one 95L grey water tank. There's a mains bypass for the tanks to preserve good water.
Titan's caravans are only partly built in Australia. The chassis and shell are constructed in China and then exported to Australia in a container. The fit-out of most of the Titan vans is done in Titan’s Burpengary, Qld, factory, using components that are familiar to any Australian caravan buyer. For that reason, the general result looks like many other Australian vans. Generally speaking, the fit-out is done quite well, but some areas, like locker door alignments, could be improved. I liked several features of note: the angled kitchen bench, the concealed blue lighting and the aluminium rails fitted inside the overhead lockers. Underneath the van, the wiring and pipework were mostly tidy and water tanks were all galvanised sheet protected.
The 575 is quite a compact family van but it's been exceptionally well-appointed, even the bunk occupants get all the goodies. The dining table is small but features like the rear cupboard significantly add to the interior storage.
Unlike a few other manufacturers I have encountered, the warranty details are fairly simply laid out in a dedicated booklet. The warranty details are as follows: caravan build/fit out and internal construction – three years; caravan chassis and suspension – five years and wall: floor and roof – water and dust ingress, delamination – 10 years. There are a few conditions attached to maintaining the warranty. For instance, the van has to be serviced every 10,000km or 12 months but a reputable service agent can do it, and Titan Care must be notified immediately in the case of any failures within the caravan or any of its components. An app is available for keeping track of the van's service history and if the caravan is sold within the warranty period, it can be transferred as long as the service record is maintained.
Titan 575 Blackhawk Hybrid Bunk Specs
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Overall length||8.2m (26ft 9in)|
|External body length||5.75m (18ft 9in)|
|External body width||2.3m (7ft 5in)|
|Travel height||3.1m (10ft 2in)|
|Internal height||2m (6ft 6in)|
|Structure||XPS closed cell structural foam, aluminium sub frame|
|Cladding||Gel coat fibreglass (marine grade finish)|
|Chassis||6in galvanised chassis|
|Suspension||AL-KO Enduro X independent suspension|
|Brakes||AL-KO 12in offroad|
|Wheels||16in alloy wheels|
|Water||3 x 95L freshwater tanks, 1 x 95L greywater tank|
|Battery||2 x Victron 200Ah, 1 x Victron 3000W MultiPlus II Inverter Charger (MultiTouch 70 Display)|
|Solar||3 x 200W|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Cooking||Thetford 353 combo three-burner gas hob|
|Fridge||190L Dometic compressor|
|Hot water||Truma ultra rapid|
Titan 575 Blackhawk Hybrid Bunk price from $94,990
- Stage 2 Off Grid Package
- GripSport Bike Rack
Titan 575 Blackhawk Hybrid Bunk price as shown $104,990
P: (07) 3216 4555
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