As we learn to adapt to an isolated Australia, more and more young travellers are hitting the road along with the traditional mob of grey nomads. Lots of these young families are planning travel to destinations off the beaten track, where adventure awaits around every corner.
Even before COVID, the Titan Caravans range aimed at value-conscious travellers wanting to travel rough roads without compromising on features to make the trip enjoyable. The Blackhawk range has all the ruggedness of a true offroader, but with the luxuries we are coming to expect for extended off-grid camping.
Over the last five years, Titan has developed a relationship with the factory in southern China where their van bodies are made. This gradual development includes continuous inspections of manufacturing and quality control procedures as a major priority. Regular trips to the factory from Australia have ensured their vans can compete head-on in a very competitive section of the local market. With sales now around 350 a year, production processes have been well sorted, and as each new model launches, gradual improvements are introduced based on customer feedback.
In the last few months, both the workforce and the size of the Titan facility have quadroupled. When I met owner, James, at the new Burpengary dealership, he showed vans in various stages of completion. After body shells are unloaded from containers, they are fitted with locally sourced components. The plumbing and 240V wiring is completed and signed off for local compliance, and windows are installed using the same quality brands seen in most locally built vans. Appliances are all well-known models, and the electronics are also top class and designed for remote travel.
Where the customer has selected a Cruisemaster suspension, that is also fitted locally, but I’m told most customers are happy with the Titan independent product, which is rated to 3.7t and has a five-year guarantee.
The Blackhawk 595 reviewed here is a 5.95m or 19ft 6in van and is proving to be one of the most popular of the Titan models. Customers are attracted to the more compact size and lower weight than the previous 22ft 6in version, though that larger model continues in the range if you think the extra room is necessary.
In a time when more and more customers are hearing on various forums that timber frames in caravans are a thing of the past, it's reassuring to see that the Blackhawk comes with a composite body, constructed in a highly sophisticated process. One piece walls are a 35mm panel of 2mm fibreglass sheets bonded on both sides over a high-density structural foam core. An internal aluminium sub-frame supports high-stress areas and mounting points for furniture and openings. This single panel is rot free, highly insulating and weatherproof.
The floor is a 50mm panel of fibreglass and high-density structural foam that is both waterproof and extremely strong, while the roof is a similar single-piece construction.
Wall panels are temperature cured for maximum durability, and the exterior gelcoat looks impressively smooth and is easily repaired in the event of an accident.
With a high stance and an easily recognisable offroad colour scheme and graphics, the Titan has a lot going for it with a rugged appeal and a well-balanced look. Colour choices include white, gold or the graphite of our review van, over black checkerplate. Up front, a vinyl wrap with a carbon fibre look adds a point of difference and completes the latest design update.
Sitting on a 3.5mm x 150mm x 50mm hot dip galvanised chassis, the review Blackhawk rides on an independent Titan Road Tech suspension with hefty trailing arms and twin shock absorbers each side. The optional Cruisemaster system can be ordered in coils or airbags. Brakes are 12in Dexter off-road drums and wheels are smart looking 16in alloys shod with all-terrain tyres.
Under the van, twin 95L water tanks have neat metal shields and both the electrics and plumbing look well finished and have been led out of harm's way.
An extended A-frame supports a giant toolbox containing gas bottles on one side and a slide-out for a generator opposite. There are four variations of storage boxes, and the company counsels customers about correct loading to keep the weight appropriately balanced. All vans are individually weighed and come with a weighbridge ticket.
Ahead is a full-width stone guard and while a Cruisemaster DO35 hitch is standard on Titan offroaders, the Dexter Sway control fitted to the review van is an option.
Along the kerb side is a slide-out stainless steel Dometic kitchen, a picnic table and the usual assortment of power points for entertainment. The low scrub bars should help protect the bodywork, while LEDs above the kitchen and under the awning will light up the evening.
Another LED at the back helps with reversing the van, especially with the standard Safety Dave camera showing the way. Also down the back is a sturdy rear bar supporting a single spare with two jerry can holders either side. On the roof are three 185W solar panels (two are standard), two opening hatches and an optional Dometic dust reduction system.
An electric step leads to the mid-entry interior, with the queen bed up front, a central living area and the rear section sharing a driver-side ensuite with triple bunks opposite. The look is contemporary and pleasing with a subtle colour selection of white, grey and black against subtle timber elements on cupboard faces. It's a conservative look and feel that shouldn't quickly go stale and will be easy to live with on extended holidays.
There’s also an impression of quality. The lightweight ply furniture is CNC produced and is sourced from Italy — drawers are self-closing on stainless steel runners, while the other hardware feels smooth and looks durable.
As always in a 19ft 6in van, kitchen space is a premium, so the nifty benchtop on the slide-out pantry is a great idea. Appliances include a Thetford Mini Grill with Ranger rangehood above and a 195L compressor fridge and microwave further back on the opposite side.
Storage is essential when stocking up to keep the family fed, so with overhead cupboards on both sides and lots of drawers, there should be plenty of room for extra supplies.
The L-shaped lounge might need an extra folding chair if you have a full complement of children to fill the three bunks, but the faux leather is neatly upholstered, and the padding is comfortable. For extra guests, the table drops, and there's an infill supplied to convert the space into an occasional sleepover.
Upfront, the queen bed includes an extendable frame and an innerspring mattress, while the inclusion of storage nooks with charging points on either side are on-point for an up-to-date van. LED strip lighting also indicates commendable attention to detail.
While I’m on that theme, note too the Sirocco fans and USB points at all the children’s bunks and either side of the adult’s bed. That’s a feature that's often an extra in many vans.
The bunkroom on this Titan has an interesting layout that works well, but with one limitation. The big fridge shares space down the back with the combination ensuite, and so there is no natural dividing line between the rear section and the central living space. It makes it harder to install a door between the two areas, but a vinyl concertina door or curtain is available as an option.
That aside, the layout makes sense, especially as it allows a considerable cupboard on the rear wall, which even incorporates a washing machine. The ensuite is a Dometic combination, and while it's compact, it fulfils its purpose without wasting precious space.
An offroad van isn't worth its badge without proper self-containment, and the standard Titan scores well with two 160W solar panels and a pair of chassis mounted 120Ah batteries as standard. Our review van had three 185W panels, so off-grid power should be almost unlimited if the weather cooperates.
A 40A RedArc charger takes care of the batteries, and the main electronic panel is in one of the higher kitchen cabinets. There you will also find two analogue gauges for the water tanks, controller for the King digital television aerial and a battery condition display. Interestingly there is also a dimmer for the LED external spotlights, as some owners have found the powerful LEDs need to be toned down so as not to disturb neighbours in caravan parks.
We have already touched on the five-year warranty for the suspension but on top of that is a three-year body warranty and two years on appliances. Titan also offers a 24-hour warranty hotline and a wide network of repair agents.
For our review, we travelled into the beautiful country around the Glasshouse Mountains, where we encountered some rough bush tracks and corrugated gravel roads. The V6 Amarok efficiently handled the near-empty van and its 2820kg are weight. The van travelled smoothly without sway or pitching, and the high clearance made it easy over rough ground.
ATM is 3490kg, so fully loaded with its 660kg carrying capacity it will need a decent tow vehicle like many of the new range of utes.
In five years of development, the Titan brand has continued on a path of progress and improvement, and this latest fourth generation of caravan presents as an attractive and well-equipped offroad rig. We see familiar, quality fittings throughout the van and the level of presentation is high. I've heard that the factory is seeking ISO accreditation for its facility and that should add to customer confidence and a higher resale value.
With a starting price of $82,990, the 595 Family van compares well against similarly sized offroaders, especially with its level of standard features.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 8.5m (27ft 9in)
External body length 6.15m (20ft 3in)
External body width 2.38m (7ft 10in)
Travel height 3.15m (10ft 6in)
Internal height 1.99m (6ft 6in)
Ball weight 180kg
Frame Heat Cured Fibreglass Composite Panel Cladding
Chassis 6in hot dipped gal
Suspension 3.7T Independent (TRT Independent)
Brakes 12in drum
Wheels 16in Alloy
Water 2 x 95L fresh 1 x 65L grey
Battery 2 x 120A AGM
Solar 2 x 170W
Air con Dometic Ibis4 reverse cycle
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control Dexter Installed
Cooking Thetford 4 burner/mini grill
Fridge Dometic Compressor 195L
Shower Over-Sized Combo Unit
Lighting LED Throughout
Hot water Truma Gas/Elec
Washing machine 3.2kg Top loader
252 Bruce Hwy Burpengary East
P: (07) 32164555