Malcolm Street - Caravan World Field Editor
Built by Victorian-based Kokoda Caravans, the Commando F226 is a very purpose-built van. One designed very much for exploring the back blocks of Australia with a family and made for Kokoda's owner Trevor Price. It’s a bunk van with a difference. With an external length of 22ft 6in, an overall length of 29ft 8in and a tare mass of 3450kg, the Commando F226 is not a small van. The reviewed van's size means a Chevrolet Silverado tow vehicle with a maximum tow rating of 4500kg is required. While a standard Commando F226 will have an ATM of 3700kg.
The Commando F226 has triple bunks for the junior members. Unlike a more conventional bunk van layout, the parent’s king bed is down the back and the bathroom and bunks are at the front of the van. Another option is the standard double bunk layout, which provides under bed storage and another external boot.
Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) sandwich panels are used to construct the frameless bodywork. Bonded corners and interlocking rebates all ensure a strong structure. A frameless design is a little unusual in an offroad caravan, but it's good to see someone trying something different to the usual ‘sticks n' tin’ approach much loved by the caravan industry.
For handling the most challenging offroad tracks, TuffRide 4500kg Level 4 airbag suspension is fitted; that is, it comes with an onboard air compressor and tank, wireless remote control and auto ride to keep the van level as much as possible. A distinctive feature of the Commando is the rear cutaway, designed to navigate steep road dips.
A feature of note on the Commando is the number of external storage compartments, particularly at the rear of the van. Two built-ins under the rear bed offer considerable space for camping chairs, tables, body boards and fishing rods. Best of all, they are at a height that does not require bending over to get gear in and out. Across the rear of the van is another interesting idea; a rear storage bar that houses the usual items like spare wheels and jerry cans and a lockable drop-down compartment that is usable for everything from tools to firewood. Still on storage, the upfront toolbox designed to hold a custom laser cut fitted slide-out for the standard 98L Evacool fridge with storage behind large enough for a generator.
Something that's done differently in the Commando is the external kitchen. It looks like a much-enlarged picnic table but has inbuilt shelving, a flick mixer tap for the portable washing-up bowl and a single hob induction cooker. It differs from the usual slide-out kitchen but still does an effective job and is quite space efficient.
There are quite a few notable features in the van but the pièce de résistance for me was the slide-out garbage bin holder built into the internal kitchen. There were two bins, one for general rubbish and the other for recycling. Quite simple but lacking in many a van.
Tim van Duyl - Caravan World Creative Director
There’s no beating around the bush, you need a big rig to tow this big rig. Now that we’ve established that, look at the ground clearance at the back and under the main rails, watch it go up and down on its air suspension and all of a sudden, it's clear that this van will probably go anywhere you can take your 1500 or 2500 Series truck.
On testing, the Commando F226 was faultless behind the Silverado supplied by Trevor at Kokoda. Visibility was good down the sides of the van and the braking system (factory controller in the truck) and disc brakes on the van worked without fuss down our challenging test route. I’m quickly becoming a fan of discs on vans over 3000kg just for their more progressive application of braking force which, credit to TuffRide, was perfect on this van.
The Commando is all about living in the moment, off-grid. It is a base to explore secluded beaches, hike alpine parks and let the kids' imaginations run wild which means it needs a few things. It has to be easy to live with and easy to clean. It needs to embrace the outside and it needs to be able to give its user some respite when it really gets a bit much. The Commando nails it in every regard.
Internally, the layout is kid-friendly and the floors are easy to clean. The shower and toilet share this philosophy and the ensuite includes a handy laundry chute. Continuing the family-friendly theme, the kitchen has the space to cook up a storm on the induction cooktop. The external kitchen is a work of art and with the capacity to run a fridge outside; you can really close the door and live outside under the massive awning (or stars), but most importantly, if it's all a bit too much, head into the climate-controlled sanctuary.
The ability to run the air-conditioner off the battery was a surprise a few years ago, but now it's common. You really only need a 3000W inverter, around 400A of lithium and 700–1000W of solar to be able to do it for a few hours a day, but what if you had 14kWh of battery (a little under 1200Ah at 12V), 3200W of high-voltage solar and a 5000W inverter? You never worry about running out of power and if you want, you offer it up to your fellow campers.
John Ford - Caravan World Editor-At-Large
The Kokoda team quoted a $213,290 price point for the big van with an extensive and expensive wish list of options, including the high-end electronics pack, disc brakes and Starlink installation.
The market-leading solar and battery equipment soaks up most of the options cost with $19,500 of the extras. At that price, the Commando F226 positions itself among our elite offroad manufacturers in a very competitive sector and one that might be the most fragile in our inflation-stressed economic environment. The new owners of Kokoda Caravans have taken the company to improved levels of quality and are out to prove the brand's value. They tell us the margins on the Commando are tight, and given the size of the van, the numerous standard features and its top-end composite body construction, I can well believe it. The Commando is a big step away from the traditional timber frame Force 8 family van of the same size and almost twice the price. But the Commando is built under strict supervision in Kokoda's very own factory, where quality control is a high priority, which is evident in the review van.
Anyone who thinks caravan ownership isn't a competitive event hasn't been in a caravan park when a big black 3500 Ram rolls in with a monster checkerplate-clad offroader in tow.
It's mine's bigger than yours at 40 paces. Quick, duck inside; I think the kettle's boiling. The Commando rolls in with guns blazing. It's bold and big and has every possible extra to impress and improve life on the road. At 22ft 6in and 3450kg empty, it rates up there with the biggest in the market. The payload is 950kg, and that will shut down most load-carrying arguments. Slide-out solar panels will impress the most jaded, and the 14kW of 51V battery power is a shocking display of the sort of off-grid capacity currently available. The conclusion — it’s not subtle.
Allison Watt - Caravan World Deputy Editor
This is a tough offroad caravan for families who like adventure and going off-grid on the toughest tracks Australia has to offer, and it has been designed and built accordingly. This is not a van for caravan parks.
Owner Trevor Price built the Commando to test its limits for strength and durability. He took it on a two-month, 16,000km shakedown trip with his family and openly admits that he tried to break it on some of this country’s toughest tracks. He didn’t succeed, other than sustaining some stone marks on an underneath water tank.
At 22ft 6in, the dual-axle Kokoda Commando F226 with its rear cutaway and 17in Mickey Thompson offroad tyres looks an imposing beast.
It is built on an Intelligent 6in DuraGal steel chassis with raptor coating to protect it from saltwater. TuffRide Level 4 airbag suspension provides clearance in rough terrain when needed and auto levelling once you’re parked at your destination.
It’s frameless with interlocked and bonded fibreglass-insulated composite panel walls, front, rear and roof and a honeycomb composite floor. The insulation properties of this construction are such that the insides of the interior cupboards never get hot regardless of the outside temperature.
The cutaway at the rear provides for extra clearance on challenging terrain. The entire van is protected by Raptor paint to protect against bush scratches and stone chips.
The Commando is tough but it’s also clever. Trevor’s experiences travelling with his family show in simple innovations such as the simplicity of the external kitchen, to the functionality of the external storage lockers which are wide enough for tables and chairs and long enough to accommodate surfboard and fishing rods without having to dismantle them.
Kokoda offers a three-year structural warranty and a one-year warranty on everything else. It doesn’t sell through dealers and in the event that travellers do have problems on the road, they will be put in contact with reputable repairers. Trevor also keeps an eye on the Kokoda owners’ Facebook group which is where customers often share information if things go wrong.
The Commando has been designed to be almost fully self-sustainable. It has more solar power capacity than my house with 3.2kW (3200W) of solar powering 14kW of 51V lithium batteries via the OzXcorp DCX system with a 5000W inverter — enough power to run the air conditioning all night and probably still have some leftover to power your neighbour’s van. At the click of a button, the solar panels slide out from the roof on the van’s near side to maximise the exposure to the sun. Trevor said he never has to worry about power.
He doesn’t worry about water either, but he does need to manage it when he’s off-grid and there are five people using the precious resource. The review van carries a total of 558L of water (4 x 110L freshwater and 2 x 59L drinking water tanks with a dedicated pump). Trevor doesn’t have a composting toilet in his van, but it is an option to stretch your water supply even further. Trevor prefers a 40L bladder to manage their grey water, but a fixed tank is an option. The Commando is a gasless van. Outside cooking is taken care of with an induction cooktop. There is also an induction cooktop built into the interior kitchen benchtop and the microwave is convection for roasting and baking.
Kokoda Commando F226 Specs
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Overall length||9.1m (29ft 8in)|
|External body length||6.85m (22ft 6in)|
|External body width||2.4m (7ft 8in)|
|Travel height||3.1m (10ft)|
|Internal height||2m (6ft 5in)|
|ATM||4400kg (3700kg as standard)|
|Structure||Fibreglass insulated composite panel walls, front, rear and roof, composite poly flooring|
|Suspension||TuffRide 4500kg Level 4 airbag system with onboard compressor and tank|
|Brakes||12in disc brake|
|Wheels||17in alloy with Mickey Thompson offroad MT tyres|
|Water||4 x 110L freshwater, 2 x 59L drinking water, 1 x 40L portable bladder greywater|
|Battery||DCX 14kW lithium at 51V51V 14kW lithium with dual fire suppression system|
|Solar||3200W on electric slide-out actuators, running at 330V|
|Cooking||Internal and external induction cooktops|
|Fridge||Indoor 274L Thetford fridge and 96L slide-out outdoor fridge|
|Bathroom||Full ensuite shower/toilet|
|Washing machine||External 3.5L front loader and laundry chute|
|Hot water||20L electric|
Kokoda Commando F226 price from $179,990
- Upgrade to 4500kg rating TuffRide Level 4 airbag suspension with onboard air compressor and tank, with DO45 coupling
- 2 x 110L water tank, includes gauge and additional water filter
- 2 x 59L drinking water tanks with a filtered tap at kitchen
- Upgrade from two-bunk to triple (Note: 2 x drawers and external storage was removed).
- Upgrade to 14.3kW battery
- Upgrade to 3.2kW solar system
- Upgrade to disk brakes
- Install onboard roof-mounted Starlink
- Upgrade microwave to convection oven
- 2 x additional under chassis toolboxes
Kokoda Commando F226 price as shown $213,290
P: 1800 577 430
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