Driving the KEA Navigator T555 around the north-west region of Victoria for a review made for an easy transition from my usual towing caravans into driving a motorhome, especially since the Navigator is set up for touring and ease of driving — it was pretty much a matter of get in and go. As much as it’s top heavy, it’s still got a solid grip on the road, and I felt like if I’d put the pedal to the medal, it may have a bit of grunt too. However, the purpose of this review was to see just how comfortably it would fit a family of four (or a couple) and how well it would drive with this in mind.
FIT FOR FOUR
The KEA Navigator T555 sleeps four people in double beds, which is an impressive feat given its length of 5.55m (18ft 21in). The mini Luton peak over the cab includes a double bed at 2m x 1.2m (6ft 5in x 4ft) which can also be used for extra storage space (it has extra ventilation in its roof). The other double bed is 1.85m x 1.24m (6ft x 4ft) and drops down towards the rear of the vehicle, which can then be stored away and converted into a comfy dinette for four at breakfast time. For extra comfort and privacy, there are flyscreens and roll down blinds for each window and a handy partition between the cab and the rear of the van.
There isn’t anything out of the ordinary when it comes to the electronics, with the usual CD player with AM/FM Radio with aux input and bluetooth, a couple of front and rear USB points and 12V outlets to the rear of the vehicle, but it has all the basics in easy reach. Unfortunately, the air conditioning and heating is only available in the front cab section of the vehicle but it shouldn’t take long to cool or heat the length of the van.
All the KEA models are ex-rentals and are refurbished once they come off the rental fleet and onto the market, which means you know you’re getting something that has been well-maintained/serviced and is built to last — especially since they are built locally on the reputably tough Toyota HiAce Super Long Wheelbase. It comes with a 3.0L unleaded petrol- or diesel-powered engine with automatic transmission that runs smoothly through the gears, albeit with a slow pickup, and the reversing camera built into the rearview mirror is handy when reverse parking a vehicle of this size.
It comes with a payload of just over 700kg, which doesn’t amount to much when you include four people, supplies and the extra toys that come with a camping trip, but then, the comfort and space hopefully means you’ll be spending more time entertaining and relaxing indoors without the need for extra-curricular activities to fill your time. In saying this, there is still ample storage internally and externally for the necessary items.
MY KITCHEN RULES
This KEA Navigator (normally known as the Voyager in the Britz and Maui rental fleet) has basic fittings and a simple layout but with a couple of minor scratches, which made me think that it could have done with a small kitchen makeover even after its refurbishment. However, generally speaking it was in good condition.
There’s ample kitchen space and storage, with a large prepping area that includes a two-burner Dometic stove top, sink (no hot water) and integrated Nero microwave. However, there is a rather awkwardly placed footstep fitted into the kitchen table-top for stepping up and onto the double bed above the cab — not ideal for when someone is prepping food, but great for anyone who has a weird foot fetish!
A decent sized 85L Engel fridge should fit enough supplies for a family of four on the road. I like that there’s plenty of storage space for cutlery and dry goods as well.
There’s a drop down dinette table which comfortably seats four without the elbow squeeze, and with the house stereo in reach with USB charging point, this could be the main point of attraction over the summer months — playing some ambient dinner tunes, sharing a meal and avoiding the mosquitos and flies outside.
WHISPERING SWEET NOTHINGS
A little lover’s nook or bench space is created in the boot of the vehicle once the bed has been dropped down, so that when the boot is up, two people can swing their legs over the back and sit and appreciate their natural surroundings — well, that’s what it’s supposed to do, but I’d rather put an esky there for easy access of the wine bottle while seated in chairs al fresco-style.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The basic design and layout of the Navigator gives the feeling of freedom and open space when all the business is up front and the party is at the back. I’ll admit, it’s not the sexiest of designs for a motorhome, with the mini Luton peak hanging over the cab like some sort of alien growth. However, that doesn’t seem to affect the overall driveability and aerodynamics of the vehicle (because I’m a NASA scientist and know all about that! Disclaimer: I am not).
On the plus side, it provides extra room for sleeping arrangements and/or storage space while freeing up space for foot traffic within the motorhome. I envisage the KEA Navigator as a great space for cooking and general entertaining for family and friends, or even a great option for the couple who require extra room and comfort on the road.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
External length 5.55m (18ft 21in)
External width 1.93m (6ft 4in)
Internal height 1.98m (6ft 5in)
Travel height 3m (9ft 8in)
Base vehicle Toyota HiAce Super Long Wheelbase
Engine 3L unleaded petrol or diesel
Max power 111kW
Max torque 241Nm
Fresh water 39L
Grey water 44L
Air-conditioner Cab only
Cooking Dometic 2-burner
Fridge Engel 85L
Lighting Vehicle only
Hot water No
PRICE AS SHOWN
1300 720 020