Over the last few years, Caravans Coffs Coast in NSW has carved out a niche market for offroad caravans, and has recently added the Eden Caravans brand to its growing range. As dealer principal Andrew Altschwager explained, with his years of offroad experience he wanted to add to his offering and commissioned Eden Caravans in Melbourne to build select models to his specifications.
The 20-footer reviewed here was the first to arrive before Victoria’s second COVID-19 lockdown, and we were able to give it a run along the highway and over the picturesque Boambee Beach.
In the spirit of the whole range of vans out of Caravans Coffs Coast, the Eden Wildtrax 20 has a remarkably sturdy and current technology construction. Among the list of impressive features is a body formed with an aluminium frame and composite panel, and a suspension and chassis made for punishment offroad.
Hooked up behind Andrew’s tricked out LandCruiser, the Wildtrax was eye-catching in the mid-morning traffic. The grey smooth panel finish of the Eden matched the Toyota's livery to perfection.
The high stance of the van on the red and black alloy wheels, along with the offroad signature of black checkerplate and beefy toolboxes announced the Wildtrax as a serious getaway rig.
At the base of the rugged build is a SupaGal FP Chassis incorporating 4in rails and a 4in riser for a total of 8in of genuine Australian steel. An extended 6in A-frame has room for a large alloy toolbox with both Webber and generator slides as well as an extra storage section that runs full width. This top area is an excellent place for extra items without getting in the way of the dedicated slides.
Forward of the toolbox are two 8.5kg gas bottles with a guard over the regulator and also a full-width stone mesh and heavy-duty mud flaps with prominent logos. A Cruisemaster DO35 hitch takes care of the connection, and the centre-mount jockey wheel is easy to access.
The tandem suspension is a Cruisemaster XT setup with trailing arms and two shock absorbers at each wheel. Not that I would suggest you use it, but a rating of 3.7t gives room for error and added engineering capacity. Wheels are 16in alloys shod with Mud Terrain tyres, while 12in AL-KO Offroad brakes will bring everything to a standstill.
Installation and welding under the van look neat and craftsman-like, even down to the robust stoneguard for the high-pressure water inlet behind the wheels. Twin 100L water tanks are slung either side of the wheels, and there's another 100L for grey water. PVC pipes are neatly led and have protective covering where they are vulnerable to stone damage.
Like most of the current range of serious offroad caravans, construction of the Eden is without timber in the frame. Instead, a Henrob riveted 25mm C-section aluminium structure forms the walls and ends in a method similar to an aircraft frame. For added strength, metal gussets help keep the body stable and rigid. Insulating foam fills the cavity, and the 3mm outer skin is a composite panel with an aluminium outer face that is both attractive and resistant to hail and stone damage.
The roof is a sandwich panel of 32mm fibreglass encased high-density foam that is strong, light and extremely strong, while the floor is 12mm structural ply clad in a single sheet of vinyl.
Up front is a full-width tunnel boot which opens on both sides for more storage, and there’s a decent sized work light overhead to brighten things up at night. Further back is an entertainment hatch with the usual 12V, 240V and TV connections and overhead is a 2400mm awning colour matched to the walls. Down the back, a single spare wheel sits on a three-arm support bar.
A pull-out aluminium step at the entrance seems to be high enough to be out of harm's way and avoid damage and, although the van is relatively high, it’s positioned to make entry easy enough for most folk.
Big windows and bright hatches emphasise the contemporary design inside the van. A U-shaped dark grey leather lounge on the passenger side adds to the welcoming feeling while the gloss grey cabinetry fits the current conservative colour trend, which should stay fresh for ages.
Before he got into the caravan game, Andrew ran a successful joinery business, so he knows a great deal about furniture and has some firm ideas about how caravans should be built. So, it's not unusual that he has chosen to construct the joinery in the Eden van with traditional timber frames, believing they are stronger than the CNC produced equivalent and handle rough going much better. In the same vein, he chooses piano hinges over kitchen hinges and uses only top-quality drawer metal runners, self-closing drawers and gas struts on the cupboard doors. The modern theme continues with hidden catches on the cupboard doors.
With a rear entry and front bedroom layout, the Wildtrax 20 will suit most couples, especially as the large fridge is forward of the kitchen to add some extra privacy up front.
The kitchen is a single run along the driver's side. I liked that the bench is wider at the doorway for extra space around the stainless-steel sink and draining board. A black splashback and black designer tap fit with the modern theme, and you have to admire the fine finish of the timberwork. Appliances include a generous 224L compressor fridge, a Swift 500 grill and cooktop, Ranger hood and an NCE microwave above the bench. There are plenty of drawers and cupboards, and a slide-out pantry is handy for smaller items.
A relatively narrow table at the dinette has a sliding top to ease entry, and the lounge is
roomy and comfortable with elegant pleating of the NSW Leather Company upholstery. Thoughtful touches at the table include reading lights on flexible arms and handy USB points for charging devices.
The front bedroom has a 1.9m (6ft 4in) queen bed on a lifting base and useful side nooks with a small LED light and more USB points. Each side has the usual hanging cupboard and a small set of drawers, and I noted a switch at the bed for the ensuite light.
A full width ensuite features black and grey cabinets, but it's worthwhile mentioning here that there is a vast choice of colour options for both the interior and exterior of the van. A floor-to-ceiling storage cupboard will be great for extra bedding, and the 3.3kg Sphere washer will save some dollars on the road. The ensuite is one of the new swivelling types, but I wondered if the space available here would suit larger folk. There’s no problem in the shower though, as there’s room to move and lots of ventilation.
One of the real improvements in offroad travel in recent times has been the electronic wizardry available for living off the grid, and the Wildtrax takes full advantage with a big inventory of standard equipment. The list starts with three 170W solar panels up top for a total of 510W of power. This matches to a 200Ah lithium battery that makes the most of the available power by being able to utilise much more of its capacity than an ordinary battery. Charging is through a 40A Enerdrive charger and MPPT Solar regulator and 40A DC-DC unit.
A compact Enerdrive display lives in a kitchen cupboard along with the water tank gauge and beautifully wired fuse panel. Unfortunately, the fuses are not marked.
Our review van showed a tare of 2620kg and an ATM of 3495kg on the compliance plate. Indicated ball weight at empty was 160kg or 6.1 per cent unloaded, well within the recommended range. Carrying capacity at 875kg is generous, and in line with the expectations many of us have about what we need to take on our travels.
Of course, with this amount of storage, we need to be careful about weight distribution, making sure the weight isn’t too far to the front where it could send ball weight above the legal tow vehicle limit, or too far at the back to cause the van to sway at speed.
The 200 Series ‘Cruiser had us moving easily with traffic with no wandering or banging, and the big V8 was equally unfussed in the softer sand at the entry to the beach. As you would expect from the XT suspension, travel over the rutted track was smooth with the coils soaking up the undulations.
THE BOTTOM LINE
In today's market of big, well-equipped offroad vans, the $93,880 list price for the Wildtrax, in my opinion, is good value (there are no extras fitted, and the Weber and Generator are for display purposes only).
The Wildtrax 20 is a good compromise of size and weight for couples looking for a well-equipped and well-finished van that will travel outback roads with confidence.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 8.9m (29ft 2in)
External body length 6.1m (20ft)
External body width 2.35m (7ft 7in)
Travel height 3.13m (10ft 2in)
Internal height 2.01m (6ft 6in)
Nameplate tare 2620kg
Nameplate ATM 3495kg
Ball weight 160kg (6.1 per cent ATM)
Frame Aluminium frame and composite roof
Cladding Pro Bond composite
Chassis F&P Chassis SupaGal
Suspension Cruisemaster independent 3700kg XT
Brakes AL-KO offroad 12in
Wheels 16in Alloy & MT tyres 265x75/16
Water 2 x 100L fresh, 1 x 100L grey
Battery 1 x 200A BTEC Enerdrive lithium
Solar 3 x 170W
Air-conditioner Houghton Belair 3400 reverse cycle
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control No
Cooking Swift cooktop and grill
Fridge Dometic 12V 224L
Toilet Dometic ceramic bowl
Shower One-piece fibreglass
Lighting LED downlights
Hot water Swift 28L gas/electric
None — Weber and Generator display only
PRICE AS SHOWN
$93,880 (12 months registration, on road in NSW)
Caravans Coffs Coast
186 Pacific Hwy, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
P: (02) 6652 5523