Review: Cut Loose RV Pandora RL

Malcolm Street — 16 January 2014

The Pandora Fifth wheeler is the latest luxury rig in the Cut Loose RV range. Like the rest of the line-up, its shell is built in the US, but the electrical and gas systems are fitted at the Burleigh Heads, Qld, headquarters to comply with Australian regulations.

The Pandora RL has an internal length of 7.96m (26ft 1in), a Tare of 2900kg, and can carry nearly 700kg - depending on your tow vehicle's towing capacity. The Pandora is better towed by a Holden Colorado/Isuzu D Max, which has a GCM of 5900kg, rather than a Ford Ranger with its GCM of 5500kg.

The manual-gearbox Ford Ranger models rate better than the autos, though. We know this because Cut Loose RV's website has plenty of accurate information on tow vehicles, including an easy-to-read table to help you find a suitable mate for your RV. It clearly addresses the issue of maximum payload for the tow vehicle, too - something we don't always see.

Construction-wise, the Pandora RL has a powder-coated chassis with 150mm rails. The 15in tandem wheels are fitted with Equa-flex leaf spring suspension. Above the chassis, the frame is laminated aluminium clad with Lamilux fibreglass in a high gloss finish. The streamlined nose cone is moulded fibreglass. Although it's a "membrane" style, the truss roof is designed to be walked on so it's easier to maintain the hatches or solar panels (the Pandora is pre-wired for panels, which are available as an optional extra). Like all the current models in the Cut Loose RV range, the Pandora has a slide-out and this one is at the offside rear.

There are plenty of external bins, with two at the nearside rear; one of these is for the electric switches and a 150Ah battery. There is the usual under-overhang compartment and smaller bins on either side directly behind; the offside compartment is for the gas cylinders.

All the windows are glass hoppers, and the door has a separate (non-security) flyscreen. In addition to the two nearside wall lights, there is a third above the external shower on the offside.

The Pandora RL has a layout with a rear lounge, amidships galley, bathroom opposite the doorway and a standard front bedroom. Décor, not surprisingly, has a US look about it, although it's toned down to suit Australian tastes. Day/night blinds are fitted under the pelmets of all windows. I noted with interest that Cut Loose has had energy-efficient fluorescent ceiling and LED reading lights installed in the Pandora - many other US rigs are fitted with incandescent lighting. So this is a nice touch.

The lounge/dining area at the rear takes the full benefit of the slide-out. In the nearside corner, the L-shaped lounge is used in conjunction with the free-standing table. It folds down into a second bed if needed. Two leather recliners fit neatly into the slide-out.

Windows all round (including the large one at the rear) provide a panoramic view. Overhead lockers are fitted to both sides (the ones in the slide-out are, naturally, smaller), and there's an AM/FM radio/CD player with MP3 facility tucked under the nearside lockers.

The split kitchen has a bench along the nearside and a 190L Waeco fridge opposite set at a user-friendly height. The latter has two adjoining cupboards containing slide-out wire basket pantries.

A four-burner Stoves cooktop with grill, a stainless steel sink with drainer and filtered drinking water tap are fitted into the benchtop. There's no shortage of drawers with six in varying sizes, and there is a cupboard and three overhead lockers. A Panasonic microwave is above the cooktop.

All the necessary items are fitted into the Pandora's bathroom: a one-piece fibreglass separate shower, washbasin with cupboard below and shaving cabinet above, towel rail and Dometic toilet. The latter is operated with a foot pedal and drains into a 125L black water tank. A single fan hatch vents both the toilet and shower areas.

Two large steps lead to the bedroom. A large, two-door wardrobe fitted with a mirror is on the nearside, next to the steps. A smaller, second wardrobe is built in beside the bathroom cubicle. A powerpoint and antenna connection for a flatscreen TV fit into the wardrobe wall. Most of the bedroom is occupied by a queen-size innerspring mattress. There are bedside cabinets with shelves either side of that, with a small cupboard in the air space above. LED reading lights and powerpoints are on both sides, and ventilation comes from a Fiamma roof hatch and the windows, the offside window doubling as an emergency exit.

Given the Pandora's length and weight, it's at the top end of what we might call the ute tow vehicle market.

Its dimensions provide a generous amount of internal living area with plenty of features and few compromises. All this makes the Pandora RL eminently suitable for exploring a fair amount of Australia in style.

Source: Caravan World Mar 2010


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Malcolm Street