From its beginnings in 2003, Concept Caravans has grown into one of our most popular caravan builders. And, with the recent acquisitions of some heritage brands, the group has expanded its reach and distribution across new dealerships nationwide.
Concept Caravans was born when three key employees of Windsor Caravans decided to establish their own brand, bringing with them years of experience.
At the core of the company's success is the range of high-value models that includes the Innovation series. The 670 reviewed here is a stylish and roomy van with a thoughtful design that isn’t often seen in locally-built models. The central ensuite layout makes a lot of sense as it separates the sleeping space from the living space, creating an actual room up front for the bed.
The arrangement of the central ensuite means the van has a flat floor throughout, with no raised sections where the wheel well would typically sit. To achieve the extra height for wheel travel, the whole floor is higher than most vans, with the body sitting on a 6in chassis with 3in riser and an extra 2in support bar at the suspension mounts. This setup is taller than many similar-sized vans with the same suspension but isn’t markedly different from those with independent suspension.
Construction is the traditional Meranti timber frame with polystyrene insulation inserted in the voids and lightweight aluminium cladding. The roof is a 3mm composite aluminium sheet over insulating bats. It’s pretty standard fare, but if the rest of the van is an indicator, then the builders have taken extra care sealing the joins for efficient weatherproofing and, with a timber frame, that’s important.
In fact, some of their processes go beyond many builders. Only top-quality Japanese silicone sealers are used, and extra sealant is air injected under the J-mould join between the roof and walls to ensure no moisture gets under the cladding.
The area under the van is neatly finished, and the welds on the Preston SupaGal chassis look neat and robust. Water and electrical leads are generally well protected and secure, although a couple of wires were hanging and looked vulnerable. A couple of cable ties would fix it.
OUTSIDE THE VAN
From the outside, the flat floor design gives the van a distinctive look, with the wheels, tyres and much of the chassis visible and a straight line of black checkerplate underscoring the silver finish of raised profile aluminium cladding. Bright 15in alloy wheels are clad in all-terrain LT tyres, emphasising the high stance of the van as well as adding a sporty impression.
Perhaps unusual for a soft road touring van, the 670 has a Cruisemaster DO35 hitch to better cope with the higher A-frame point. The rest of the front section is pretty standard with two 9kg gas bottles on an extended frame that leaves room for an optional toolbox if needed. It was good to see metal shrouds protecting the gas regulator and the water tap.
Higher up on the swept-back entry is a Perspex cover over the front window, which is set in a modern-looking smooth composite panel.
An advantage of the central ensuite is being able to fit large tunnel boots at each end of the van. Big enough to store a small barbecue, the front version is straight through, while the rear one is larger as it conforms to the shape of the club lounge above.
Central to the outside is a locking picnic table and an entertainment hatch with TV arm and the usual powerpoints. Overhead is a set of Fusion speakers, two LED lights and a full-length Dometic awning.
The rear of the van is unusual as it sports a large window for the club lounge. It’s set in a black composite panel and continues the van’s impressively distinct look, while lower down is a single spare on a minimalist support bar.
Even with a recessed step at the entry, the van is higher than most so some may need an additional removable step as well as the manual alloy one provided. I like that the three-way Camec security door folds forward for an extra level of safety. If you forget to lock it when travelling and it comes open, then it's not going to bash itself and the back of the van to death in the wind.
Classy-looking black padding doubles as a map holder at the stairway and the brushed metal grab bar helps with access into the van. To the right of the entry is a club lounge, covered in black leather-look vinyl, with genuine leather an option.
The large table swivels and slides to almost any position you want, and it’s on a hydraulic arm so it can drop down to make a bed for guests or the grandkids with an optional infill cushion.
That rear window we mentioned combines with smaller ones on the sides to offer extensive views and admit loads of light and air. Windows throughout the van are the newer style Mobicool versions with improved sliders and a smooth blackout rather than the older problematic concertina style that was prone to jamming on the tracks.
Concept's latest interior design looks great, and the extra two inches of ceiling height, the 2020 model gives a generous 2m (6ft 8in) of headroom. To help with the higher reach to the roof, the overhead hatches now have roof level winders, which makes it quick and easy to get more fresh air into the van.
The matte finish of the cupboards also looks better in my opinion, adding a softer feeling and a finish that should be less susceptible to dirty finger marks.
The main feature of the Innovation 670 is the central ensuite design, and it's a layout that, to me, makes a lot of sense as it creates three separate rooms divided by sliding doors. The ensuite is handy to the bedroom and living space and gives an extra level of privacy and separation of the bedroom if one partner wants to sleep and the other one wants to stay up and watch TV.
The kitchen has ample room and with cupboards either side of the central aisle and enough bench space to keep the cook happy. The amount of storage also gets a big tick — overhead cabinets all around the lounge and a floor-to-ceiling pantry will soak up lots of supplies. Drawers and cupboards under the benches add to the mix, and I liked the self-closing sliders, hidden catches and quality struts on the doors.
Appliances include a Swift 500 oven with a rangehood, a Dometic 186L three-way fridge/freezer, a front load washing machine and a flush-fitting Dluxx microwave set neatly into its surround. A roof-mounted Ibis 4 reverse cycle air-conditioner will keep you warm or cool when hooked up to 240V power.
The ensuite is simple and effective with a good size shower on the passenger side and the rest of the amenities opposite the central walkway to the bedroom. It can look a little open from the living space, but it’s easy enough to close off when guests call around.
A lightweight opaque door opens to the shower, which has its own extractor fan in the roof hatch. It’s a moulded single-piece fibreglass structure so there should be no leaks, and a built-in shelf is a handy feature.
A plastic base Thetford toilet is opposite (ceramic is an option), and again there’s an overhead vent as well as a high window. A sidewall houses the vanity and a large mirror with a nifty LED light surround, operated from a small touch panel on the mirror.
With the door closed, there isn't a great deal of room at the foot of the bed, but the privacy the door brings will be welcome. More overhead cupboards, as well as those alongside and under the bed, are ample.
It’s pretty common now to have storage nooks with USB and 12V points alongside the bed, but they are still a great idea that most folk will find useful, so it was good to see them included. There’s a second TV mount on the wall and a Fusion surround sound speaker built into the bed base for music or shows.
A single 170W solar panel and 110Ah chassis-mounted battery provide a degree of off-grid capability, and there are two 95L water tanks but no filter. So, although the van is ideally set up for caravan park travel with occasional stays in the bush, it wouldn’t take much to add a second panel and battery for more self-sufficiency.
A BMPRO Odyssey system handles battery charging and monitoring with the main panel in a bedroom cupboard and the Oddessy display at the entrance, where you have readouts of all power specs and water tank levels. The panel also has the main light switch right where you need it.
ON THE ROAD
Despite giving the impression of a high centre of gravity, we didn't experience this at all in our test drive. The van is well balanced and, perhaps because the van is relatively long, it seems to be able to handle the extra height rather well. The payload is a sensible 500kg, which should be plenty for most couples, so the ATM of 3110kg is safe for today's flock of twin cab utes and larger offroaders. ESC isn’t standard but is an option for vehicles without the feature.
The 670 innovation sits in a big range of Concept vans and is aimed squarely at couples who like a bit of room to move and the practical separation of the living space from the other areas. I'm told it's one of the company's biggest sellers, and at $78,990 it offers a lot for the price. From what I can see, it's well put together from a team with a wealth of experience and the passion for doing things correctly.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 8.97m (29ft 4in)
External body length 6.7m (22ft)
External body width 2.45m (8ft 1in)
Travel height 3.17m (10ft 4in)
Internal height 2.03m (6ft 6in)
Nameplate tare 2610kg
Nameplate ATM 3110kg
Ball weight 221kg
Frame Meranti timber
Cladding Traditional high-profile aluminium
Suspension AL-KO roller rocker
Brakes AL-KO 10in electric
Water 2 x 95L
Battery 1 x 110Ah
Solar 1 x 175W
Air conditioner Ibis 4
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control Offered as an option
Cooking 3+1 recessed oven
Fridge Dometic RUA6408X
Shower Huge one-piece fibreglass
Hot water Trauma gas/electric
Washing machine Dometic front loader WMD 1050
PRICE AS SHOWN
$79,490 including NSW
Princes Hwy, Eden NSW 2551
P: (02) 6496 4411