Within the Australian caravan industry, many manufacturers build caravans that look similar in looks, layout or design. It creates a problem among buyers and even RV journos because a ‘unique selling point’ (USP) can be difficult to appreciate.
Some, like Sunshine Coast-based Vision RV, set out to do something different — a characteristic of several of the manufacturer’s contemporaries in the same area. From small beginnings, Vision RV now produces a range of caravans from its Coolum factory. One of those is its hybrid VH16-C model. Hybrid refers to a caravan with all the associated comforts and several camper trailer features that make it great for a relaxed outdoor lifestyle.
Something that Vision RV likes to make a big point of is that its caravans are 100 per cent timber free. For the body construction, the walls and roof are 30mm German composite panels with 2mm fibreglass inner and outer layers with a closed-cell polypropylene inner core of efficient insulation. Everything, including the honeycomb floor, is bonded using a German glue that joins the walls, roof and honeycomb floor into a permanent structure.
For financial reasons, the composite body is not made in Australia but is manufactured into a robust monocoque shell that is extremely strong yet lightweight. Like some European caravans but unlike those made in Australia, the body can be lifted off the chassis as a separate component. This might sound odd, but it does mean the body does not rely on the chassis strength, which can therefore be made into a lighter design.
Designed and built by Vision RV, the chassis is formed from 3.5mm thick 150 x 50mm (6in x 2in) Australian steel before being hot dip galvanised. It is fitted with a Cruisemaster DO35 hitch and Vision’s tandem independent trailing arm suspension with airbags and shock absorbers; the airbags can be manually adjusted by switches located behind a nearside panel. In keeping with the Vision van’s offroad capability, the 17in alloy wheels are shod with 285/70 Mickey Thompson tyres. The wheels are available in stud patterns to suit most tow vehicles and there’s a spare mounted on the rear bumper bar. In a welcome change from the standard drum brakes, electric over hydraulic disc brakes provide the stopping power.
Underneath the VH16-C, it all looks very clean; that is to say, items like the water tanks, pipework and cabling are all strapped up, well out of harm’s way. The water tanks all have alloy sheet protection and where piping goes through the chassis components, it is all protectively grommeted.
Being a hybrid, the VH16-C has a full kitchen along the nearside and it’s not only quite an impressive arrangement and takes little time to set up. It’s a mixture of hinged shelves and things that slide out. The benchtop is hinged but the three-burner gas hob slides out. Built into the bodywork are sets of both narrow and deeper shelves. Adjacent to the kitchen, the stainless-steel sink also slides out. The sink is a decent size and is both hot and cold water supplied. A set of two drawers are neatly fitted in above the sink, offering practical storage space. In addition, above the drawers, there’s a row of switches, mainly for the external lights but also for the airbag controls.
That other kitchen essential, a dual zone fridge/freezer complete with slide-out, takes up the front area and is well positioned for alfresco living in style. The front storage box has also been designed to accommodate a small slide-out Weber barbecue.
In addition to the barbecue, the storage box is quite multifunctional. There’s also a slide-out on the opposite side designed to take a generator, a firewood tray on top and a front extension that houses two 4kg gas cylinders and has space on either side for water and fuel jerry cans. It looks like overkill, but the hot and cold faucets fitted to either side of the storage box are an appreciated feature.
Although the VH16-C is a relatively small van, there’s no shortage of external storage. In addition to the items already mentioned, two decent-sized storage bins are at the front offside. Large enough for all the camping essentials, including some more oversized items. Although the VH16-C is a relatively small van, there’s plenty of external storage — I have seen larger caravans with less.
Getting away from it all
There’s no doubt that the VH16-C is built with remote travel very much in mind. There are three 90L freshwater tanks and a single 70L grey tank — the gauges for those located above the fridge storage bin. Looking a bit like the analogue gauges from a 1970s sports car (Smiths anyone?), they did have a pleasing retro look but were very easy to read. The electrical capacity is no slouch, the batteries being the 300Ah Enerdrive lithium (LiFePO4), which was an optional upgrade for the review van, and the four 200W solar panels. There’s also an Enerdrive battery management system with a 60A mains charger, 40A DC-DC charger and a 2600W inverter. All of which are controlled from an ePro Plus battery monitor.
A quality build
Just like the external build, the internal cabinetry has no timber construction. It consists mainly of aluminium with stainless steel fittings and Corian for the bench tops. All the aluminium cabinetry is laser cut, machine folded and powder coated, in this case, a glossy white colour. The furniture frames are fixed to the walls to ensure a solid structure. It’s not all metal; the seats are upholstered in automotive-quality leather.
The van has quite a simple layout. Up front, a king bed takes up pride of place. Separate shower and toilet cubicles fill the rear offside corner and wall area, leaving space for a small rear wall kitchen. Even with all that, there’s still enough room for two lounge seats, a shorter one adjacent to the bed and the longer one along the nearside wall. Although the internal area is relatively confined, it still feels quite spacious, aided somewhat by the generous window area. The most notable feature is the great amount of interior storage in the form of overhead lockers along both walls and drawers under the bed, the offside seat and the kitchen bench. The usual under-seat storage area is already taken up by the battery management electronics. All are easily accessible, including the 12V fuses, which I noted came with all the circuits labelled to assist with fault finding. There’s enough space for everything that can conceivably be carried.
Room with a view
This one is a winner for anyone who desires a large bed! Easily accessible from either side, it’s great for a comfortable night’s sleep. I particularly liked the large windows on either side — no need to clamber out of bed to check the weather — and the individual pillow nooks. The wand-style reading lights and Sirocco fans are a bonus.
Another great feature is the asymmetrical seating which caters for more than just dining. At first glance, there isn’t a table but in keeping with the rest of the van, there’s a simple slide-out that sits under the bed when not in use, an excellent little space saver.
Having the toilet and shower cubicles adjacent but not connected is slightly different for those used to full-width caravan bathrooms. However, it’s quite a practical arrangement and a space saver, yet still offering enough room to turn around in the shower. The storage cabinets built into the cubicle wall are certainly a thoughtful addition. What’s different about the toilet is that it’s not the usual cassette arrangement but a composting toilet instead. The Vision team reckon it’s great for the environment.
As well as the external kitchen facilities, the VH16-C offers internal catering. The kitchen is fitted out with a round stainless-steel sink and a Vitrifrigo 115L compressor fridge. Instead of a gas hob, an optional induction cooktop is available. The well-located electrical panel in the corner behind the kitchen bench has the necessary switches for lighting, air compressor and water pump. Additionally, there’s a mains powerpoint and device charger sockets.
Warranties are not always as straightforward as they could be, but Vision RV’s is fairly clear. The manufacturer offers a three-year, full offroad warranty on its van build, but OEM appliances have their own warranties. To assist customers in the event of a problem, there’s a nationwide support network, an in-house warranty manager and a dedicated warranty portal on the Vision RV website.
On the road
Being less than 5m (16ft) in length, the VH16-C is a great towing package, an excellent feature for an offroad caravan. The weight factor is quite good too. With a tare mass of 2346kg and an ATM of 3500kg, the van has a payload of 1154kg. That gives a choice of tow vehicles, a dual cab ute for lighter-weight travel or something in the Toyota LandCruiser class if fully loaded.
The bottom line
A van with much to offer the outdoor lifestyle, the VH16-C is fitted with all the necessary comforts yet designed to handle the rough stuff. In addition, it’s a manageable van, which does make it very easy to handle when travelling on heavily undulated roads. It’s very difficult not to be impressed by this hybrid offroader.
HITS AND MISSES
- Designed for offroad travel
- Fully equipped kitchen
- Storage capacity inside and out
- General fit and finish
- Ground clearance
- Nothing of note
Vision VH16-C Hard-Top Ratings
VALUE FOR MONEY
Not a budget van but it is very well appointed and has a high level of fit and finish
Excellent towing prospect for several tow vehicles
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
Designed very much for the offroad/outdoor lifestyle.
Underneath and on top, it looks very well put together
It’s not a particularly big van but it doesn’t feel cramped either
A winner here, there’s enough battery and water capacity for days of remote travel and the composting toilet eliminates the issue of the toilet capacity
Three-year, full offroad warranty, with OEM warranties on appliances
Easy access to all the switches, controls and electrical components
The overall design of the van, it works very well and has a good look
Vision VH16-C Hard-Top Specs
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||4.87m (16ft)|
|Overall length||7.22m (23ft 8in)|
|Width||2.16m (7ft 1in)|
|Height||3.12m (10ft 3in)|
|Frame||Frameless, composite wall structure|
|Chassis||Hot dipped galvanised, 150mm (6in) rails|
|Suspension||Independent airbag with dual offroad shock absorbers – (button controlled)|
|Brakes||Ventilated electric over hydraulic disc brakes|
|Water||3 x 90L (270L) freshwater and 1 x 70L grey water tank|
|Battery||300Ah Vision lithium (standard)|
|Solar||3 x 200W (600W total)|
|Air-conditioner||Truma Aventa reverse cycle air-conditioner|
|Gas||2 x 4kg|
|Cooking||Dometic external gas-burner, (Internal induction cooktop is optional). Weber barbecue external|
|Fridge||Vitrifrigo C115, 115L 12V compressor fridge/freezer|
|Bathroom||Compost toilet, separate shower cubicle|
|Hot water||Truma AquaGo instant gas hot water system|
|Air-conditioner||Truma Aventa (standard on Hard-Top range)|
Vision VH16-C Hard-Top price from $142,990
- 96L external fridge
- Induction cooktop
- 60A charger
- 2600W inverter
- 1 x 200W solar panel
- 300Ah Enerdrive lithium battery upgrade
Vision VH16-C Hard-Top price as shown $152,410
290 Nicklin Way
Warana, Qld 4575
P: (07) 5491 1888
THE NEXT STEP
The sellers will be happy to help and answer any inquiries you may have about the products advertised for sale.