Winning the Value for Money category for the second time running, this well-rounded couple’s van has solid scores in every category at an attractive price.
In its seven-year history, Snowy River has grown into a real success story and one of Australia’s fastest-growing caravan brands with solid sales and a loyal crew in an online owner’s forum. Best described as a blacktop couples tourer, the SRC21 has a robust build that’s also capable of tackling long sections of dirt road travel.
The latest range of Snowy River vans has been rebadged to reflect outside dimensions, so the SR19 now presents as the SRC21 and appears with some upgrades to trim and colours. The vans combine overseas and local manufacturing with the body and chassis arriving in Melbourne for fit out and installation of electrics and plumbing. It’s a process that delivers a well-equipped and competent looking, if conservative van, at a very competitive price in a crowded market of semi-offroad couples tourers.
At our last competition in 2019, Snowy River took out best value van, and it has backed up this year to top the vote again in the same category.
The Snowy River was matched to an unusual tow rig in a Mercedes Benz twin cab ute. This rig was a short-lived collaboration with Nissan to rebadge and upgrade a Navara, and it wasn’t short of power over our tow course. The van’s suspension is an AL-KO rubber torsion system, and while it might be unusual in the caravan industry, it works very well. Around town, the van felt light and manoeuvrable, and on the bumpy sections of rural roads, there were no signs of wandering, pitching or banging from the 50mm ball hitch. Freeway driving was just as trouble-free.
The SRC21 weighs in with a tare of 2377kg. Its maximum payload is 623kg, so there is plenty of opportunity to load up for long trips up to an ATM of 3000kg. Many mid-range tow vehicles will be a good match.
Now in production for six years, the Snowy River range has had ample time to show any defects in its innovative body construction, and we have seen no reports of problems. The monocoque body is made up of a welded alloy frame inside a foam and fibreglass composite sandwich panel structure, balancing the benefits of strength and light weight.
The body is built overseas and delivered in containers to be fitted out in Australia. Most electrical and plumbing work is completed here, and appliances are all familiar mainstream brands.
The tandem suspension AL-KO rubber torsion system has been fitted for many years on brands as diverse as Jurgens and Airstream, where it has proven itself over thousands of kilometres of challenging travel. The furniture is well built and looks neat, although some of the colour choices are starting to look a little dated.
Built on a DuraGal chassis with a 150mm (6in) drawbar and 100mm (4in) rails and a ball coupling, the SRC21 has a semi-offroad rating with a normal ground clearance. That’s not a disadvantage because the van is essentially designed for sealed road and well graded rough road travel, something the AL-KO independent rubber suspension should handle without too much trouble.
With an ATM of 3000kg and a tare of 2377kg, it has a decent payload of 623kg and is suitable for towing with something like a dual cab ute. Snowy River has stepped away from the traditional timber/aluminium cladding with single piece fibreglass sandwich panel construction. Black alloy checkerplate is fitted to the lower edges for the rough road look, but it is more for looks than anything else. Like all black vans, a downside is that it shows the dirt very quickly. For external storage, there’s both a front boot and a tunnel storage with the spare wheel being mounted on the rear bumper bar.
A van for couples, it has a front island bed with a full width rear bathroom. Inside, the large window area allows for plenty of natural light and ventilation. Neither the kitchen with full facilities nor the dinette are oversize but features like the multi-fold dinette table give the perception of more space than there actually is. It’s a neat design trick. Internal storage is quite generous, aided by the wire basket pantry and the cupboard built into the nearside bathroom wall by the entry door. Consequently, there’s plenty of storage inside and out.
Having a semi-offroad rating, the SRC21 is mostly well-equipped for that with two 95L freshwater tanks, one 120Ah AGM battery and one 200W solar panel. In addition, there’s a Dometic 171L, three-way fridge and two gas cylinders. The three-way fridge, while having some disadvantages, is excellent for conserving battery power and using the LP gas as the energy supply. For those who are happy to enjoy remote stays using a minimal 12V load — lights, fan and portable device chargers — the van is relatively well equipped. Naturally items like the 240V microwave oven and the air conditioner can’t be used. The only thing missing is a grey water tank, which is an option — mounting bolts are already in position for this add-on. Not having the grey water tank isn’t a major disadvantage, but it’s restrictive in certain areas like national parks.
At just under $66,000 the Snowy River SRC21 is hard to beat.
It looks good, feels roomy and is beyond functional with big appliances, big windows, a sleek finish and nice touches like the neutral, changeable décor and the sliding washing machine lid. There’s a modern approach to the build, using single-panel composite construction and aluminium frames.
The warranty and customer care are impressive. There is a five-year structural and two-year manufacturing warranty, with a promise from Snowy River to help sort things if the dealers can’t.
Snowy River think you can’t buy a better option for a first or even second van, and I tend to agree.
Tim Van Duyl
A reigning champion always has more to prove, but the Snowy River SRC21 stood up. Back in 2020, the SR19 took out Best Value for Money and now, the evolved 21 has followed it up.
The 21 is, for all intents and purposes, the same van with the naming convention now describing its external length (the 19 used the internal length for its designation) and it stars where it matters most for the company, on value. But it is backed up by a good fit and finish (better than the 19, I believe) and decent customer care.
In reviewing the SRC21 I couldn’t stop counting the small details that complete the package. A great tow, a good number of inclusions and a contemporary build method that keeps weight down, dust and water ingress low and insulation levels high. The X-Factor has to be the price but after you’ve put down your hard-earned, you have to live with the van so the warranty and support will play a big part.
Being an import, or at least a semi-import with final construction done in Melbourne, there are plenty of detractors who would suggest the quality and support won’t be there, so Snowy has to go above and beyond. That they do with a five-year structural and two-year manufacturer warranty, around 40 approved repairers and a dedicated warranty team. This is a level of support that I’d suggest is better than average but not quite industry-leading (that would be New Age). Between Snowy and sister brand Regent, the company that delivers the vans to the dealer yards is producing around 40 units a week, which goes a long way to explaining why I’m starting to see so many on the roads, and should give you some confidence that the company is in it for the long-haul and the right reasons.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 6.36m (20ft 10in)
Overall length 8.24m (27ft)
Width 2.39m (7ft 10in)
Height 3.07m (10ft)
Ball weight 150kg
Frame Welded alloy
Cladding Fibreglass composite sandwich panel structure
Chassis 4in Duragal
Suspension 1.8t AL-KO Torsion
Coupling Tow ball
Brakes 12in electric
Water 2 x 95L
Solar 1 x 200W
Sway control N/A
Fridge Dometic 171L
Microwave Yes 240V
Bathroom Separate toilet and shower
Hot water N/A
PRICE AS SHOWN
Snowy River Caravans
Warehouse 2/24/32 Stanley Dr, Somerton VIC 3062