Family caravans don’t hold the dominant position they once did in the caravan industry but they are now making a comeback. One example is the new Trackvan TourX 7.4m (24ft), designed exclusively for south-east Qld dealer Caravan World.
Family vans such as the Trackvan TourX are usually more sophisticated than their forerunners of the 1980s, when simple double-bed layouts with bunks or a folding dinette were the norm. That’s due in part to the rise of camper trailers.
The TourX still has a main bed for mum and dad but also has triple bunks in a separate rear area, along with a large bathroom. There are, of course, the other essentials: the kitchen bench and dining area. Style and comfort are emphasised throughout, with features like the slimline venetian blinds and external barbecue, while windows all round, fore and aft roof hatches, and a centrally mounted roof air-conditioner provide ample ventilation.
We’ll start with the children’s bedroom, given it’s a family caravan. The bedroom has three 1.83x0.75m (6ft x 2ft 5in) bunks along the rear nearside wall. They are not just any bunks – each bed comes with its own window, two small lockers for a bedhead, a magazine pouch, halogen reading light, powerpoint, and a DVD player and screen.
Between the bunks and opposite bathroom wall is a large storage cabinet with hanging space and three drawers, a small bedside shelf and double powerpoint.
There’s a bathroom in the opposite corner of the rear area – a contemporary trend. It has a separate shower cubicle, bench-style Thetford cassette toilet and small vanity cabinet with a wall mirror and powerpoint above. The toilet and shower are vented by fan hatches. Although handy, this arrangement means that when mum and dad go to the bathroom at night, they might disturb those family members who are (hopefully) fast asleep.
I reckon that family vans should have kitchens a cut above those in most two-berth vans. Admittedly, the TourX’s isn’t much larger than usual (probably at the expense of the larger bathroom), but it does have a
good-size 186L fridge/freezer and a reasonable bit of benchtop space. It also has other essentials like the Swift four-burner cooktop/grill/oven, stainless steel sink/drainer and a Daewoo microwave. The latter is set in the overhead locker area away from small fingers but a bit too high for general use. General storage consists of two cupboards, a floor locker, one drawer, three overhead lockers and a wire basket slide-out pantry. The benchtop is lit by a fluorescent light and the rangehood halogen and there are powerpoints at both ends.
Opposite the kitchen bench, the dinette is the L-shaped style with contoured cushions and a single pole-mounted table. Three people will comfortably fit around the table but for a larger family, an extra chair or two will have to be drafted. The dinette is lit by a fluorescent light and halogen reading lights, and has lockers above.
In the master bedroom, a 1.9x1.55m innerspring mattress sits on a metal frame base with posture slats. It can be lifted easily to get to the storage space underneath. Normal storage space is of course supplied by the bedhead with its overhead lockers, side wardrobes and cabinets. This is supplemented by small diagonal cupboards opposite the corners at the foot of the bed – but, in a slight quirk, the kids still get more hanging space.
Also in the offside corner is a wall-mounted flatscreen TV, as well as the necessary powerpoint and antenna connection.
The TourX is built on a DuraGal steel chassis with 6in rails that rides on tandem axle load-sharing leaf spring suspension fitted with 14in alloy wheels. Two 90L water tanks are between the chassis rails, and up front, two 9kg gas cylinders are on the drawbar, with a jockey wheel and mains pressure tap. At the rear, the bumper bar sports a spare wheel.
The van body has a plantation cypress timber frame instead of the usual meranti. Caravan World’s Luke Amendolia explained, “We think the plantation cypress is better because it’s about one third lighter than meranti, is kiln dried and resistant to fungus and borers.”
The frame is covered by the usual aluminium cladding with Camec tinted hopper windows and the ubiquitous triple-locker security door. In addition to the spacious front boot, there’s a tunnel storage compartment directly behind. Access to this storage is closed on the offside, however, due to the Suburban water heater.
No family van these days is complete without an external barbecue, and this one has its own compartment, just above the nearside wheel arch. There’s also a picnic table on the other side of the entry door, under the window.
The Trackvan TourX’s layout combines practicality with style. I always like to see family vans because they encourage families out into the great Australian countryside and (hopefully) sow the seeds for the next generation of vanners. The TourX fits that bill very nicely.
Caravan World, 227 Nambour Connection Road, Woombye, Qld 4559, (07) 5442 1600, www.caravanworld.biz.
Read the full review in the March issue of Caravan World, on sale now!