Since its debut a few years ago, it seems to me that caravan manufacturer Zone RV is constantly working on something new. That is no mean feat, I have to say, when that seems to have been the philosophy of Zone RV when it was first set up by yacht builders Dave Biggar and Matt Johns.
Something new for 2019 is the manufacturer’s Venture Series range of caravans. Zone RV has hithero been known for its offroad models but the Venture Series is designed for less tough road conditions.
The clues for this are the use of Cruisemaster’s Country Road Suspension and that the van sits about 100mm/4in lower than the offroad equivalent.
Even though it's not a full offroad caravan, there’s nothing different about the way the Venture Series is constructed. To minimise water ingress, one-piece fibreglass composite walls are used for the floor, roof and side walls. No fasteners (that is screws, rivets or staples) are used to join everything together; instead, a bonding technique that is used in both the marine and aviation industries is employed. The point being that something that’s good enough for flying through the sky is also going to work for something travelling along the ground.
When building the van body and interior, Zone RV uses the inside-out technique, that is, all the cabinetry work and internal fittings are built in before the walls are added. Apart from making it easier during the construction process, it also aids doing all the electrical (240V and 12V) cabling. When all the electrics are complete, the system can easily be tested and any faults rectified before the walls are added.
To get cables and piping through a caravan floor, many a manufacturer simply drills the necessary holes and uses a copious amount of sealant. Zone RV has taken a different (and more expensive) approach by using a specially designed plate fitted with grommets which makes a very neat entry point for the cables and piping to the underfloor area and also minimises water and dust entry.
Underneath the van, the purpose-designed DuraGal chassis does have some 100mm x 50mm (4in x 2in) RHS components in keeping with a traditional design but the emphasis is on weight reduction with less steel work and quite a few punched holes. In addition, the 32mm composite floor is bonded directly to the chassis improving the strength factor.
Having a 6.84m (22ft 6in) body length means there’s a bit more scope for an alternative to the somewhat common front bed/rear bathroom layout and that’s been done with this rear door entry layout which still does have a front bedroom but also a club lounge in the rear; an arrangement that does have some benefits for the residents.
A split bathroom butts up against the bedroom, leaving the rest of the space for a split kitchen.
The end result is certainly a spacious interior, one with a monochromatic colour scheme — glossy white for the upper areas and various shades of grey/back lower down. There is no timber used in the cabinetry at all, instead Zone RV uses a laminate/fibreglass composite panel structure. The concept, similar to the rest of the body work, is for a lightweight yet strong structure.
I must admit that I do have a certain liking for a rear club lounge, something I suspect that harks back to a time when I spent quite a few years motorhoming around New Zealand, as just about every motorhome in those days had a rear club lounge with all round windows. Actually, it was more like a day/night lounge. This van doesn’t have the all-round window bit — missing one on the nearside and the seating is certainly asymmetric — but it’s still quite easy to sit back and relax in.
The lounge does come with all the expected features including overhead lockers and a table on a sturdy mounting but it also comes with a decent set of speakers, a 12V Sirocco fan and both 240V and 12V/5V USB sockets under the rear seat.
There’s the usual issue with trailing leads but the sockets are tucked into one corner. Between the kitchen and rear lounge is a bit of cabinetry which offers upper cupboard space, and some benchtop area and a washing machine hiding in the lower cupboard. The mid wall space is where a flatscreen TV can be fitted, given that is where the brackets and necessary connection points are located.
A feature of the mid nearside kitchen bench is that it comes with more than the usual number of drawers, in addition to one cupboard and two overhead lockers. Just a little sidebar on the drawers — the locking mechanism has an alloy plate on the inside, to ensure positive locking every time. That aside, you get the expected items such as the full stove, square stainless steel sink and a microwave oven. Facing the kitchen bench is a two door Waeco 190L 12V compressor fridge. It’s certainly quite a spacious kitchen area.
Split bathrooms seem to cause split opinions. Some like ‘em and some don’t. I don’t have a problem myself because I reckon they are a bit of a space saver whilst not losing much functionality. A case in point being this one, with a shower cubicle on the nearside and a full toilet/washroom opposite, which can be closed off from both sides. Fitted into the shower cubicle are a fully height adjustable shower rose and moulded in shelving.
Not to be outdone, the toilet cubicle comes with pedestal style wash basin, the expected cassette toilet and a very generous amount of cupboard and drawer space, including a multi-shelved wall cupboard — space for everything bathroom related.
Up front, the queen-sized bed sits between the standard array of overhead lockers, side wardrobes and bedside drawers. There is one difference to the usual though, with the small steps on either side of the bed concealing a handy bit of floor storage. Good for a number of pairs of shoes or small items requiring discrete hiding places.
As noted, this van is really designed for rough road travel rather than full offroad and the same philosophy has been applied to the remote travel capability, ie for short time trips away from mains. That’s really all the 100Ah lithium battery and 110W solar will allow. But for those who want something more hairy chested — if the budget allows, — that capacity can be doubled and more. Allowing also for a good capacity inverter. This thinking applies to the standard 100L fresh and grey water capacities.
The Bottom Line
What Zone RV’s Venture Series offers is the same construction features as the manufacturer’s heavy duty offroad caravans but at a cheaper price which well suits those travellers who really aren’t into the serious offroad scene but desire a Zone RV van. With this particular layout, what you the purchaser also gets is a rear club lounge something a little different to the more common rear bathroom arrangement.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 9.05m (29ft 7in)
External body length 6.84m (22ft 6in)
External body width 2.5m (8ft 2in)
Travel height 2.95m (9ft 8in)
Internal height 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Ball weight 175kg
Cladding Fibreglass composite
Chassis RHS DuraGal steel
Suspension Cruisemaster CRS independent coil spring
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35
Brakes Dexter 12in electric
Wheels 17in alloy
Battery 100Ah lithium
Air-conditioner Truma Aventa
Sway Control Dexter
Cooking Swift four-burner, grill and oven
Fridge Waeco 190L 12V compressor
Bathroom Dometic cassette toilet and separate shower cubicle
Hot water Truma 14L gas/electric
Options fitted All options fitted to review van
Price as SHOWN $113,990
To enquire about this caravan, please visit www.caravanworld.com.au/spec or (07) 5471 6410
Zone RV, 41 Link Crescent
Coolum Beach, QLD 4573
Ph: (07) 5471 6410
- Overall construction technique
- Considerable attention to detail
- Rear club lounge
- Internal storage, especially in bathroom and kitchen areas
- Relatively low Tare mass but with a considerable payload
- Not a particularly cheap van
- Under-seat power socket location.