Recreational vehicle manufacturer Sunliner in Bayswater, Vic, is well known for its motorhome range, and it was something of a surprise a couple of years ago when a Sunliner caravan appeared on the scene. That initial trickle of caravans has now evolved into quite an extensive range of single and tandem axle vans, all built in the Sunliner style.
Australian Motorhomes, just south of Newcastle, NSW, has had Sunliner motorhomes on its books for some years, so it really wasn’t a surprise when it also took on the caravan line-up. As Australian Motorhomes’ Bert van Leeuwarden explained, "We were looking for something to extend our RV range and the Sunliner caravans were a perfect fit. Of course," he added with a grin, "some of us took a little while to get used to a Sunliner without a motor!"
GOING ON A HOLIDAY
The aptly named Holiday is a typical example of the Sunliner range and comes in a variety of single and double-bed layouts, all with an external body length of 5.27m (17ft 4in). Also available are the longer Advantage and Provincial models. Our particular review Holiday was the HC4 with an east-west double bed, rear bathroom and a front dining/kitchen area.
It comes in with an ATM of 1940kg and a Tare of 1460kg, making it ideal for a considerable range of tow vehicles including Commodores and Falcons. Our tow vehicle for the trip was a Toyota Prado three-door turbodiesel, which was a bit of overkill, so it was a very easy trip!
Sunliner’s caravans are built in Melbourne and, inside and out, look much like the motorhome range. Underpinning the Holiday is an UltraGal 100mm box section chassis which rides on shock-absorber-fitted, leaf-spring suspension.
At the business end, instead of a standard ball coupling, a European-style Al-Ko AKS 3004 stabiliser coupling is used. It’s a little different to operate but no more difficult than a standard fitting. Apart from a jockey wheel, brake handle and checkerplate drawbar cover, there isn’t anything else– the two 4kg gas cylinders are in a front storage locker halfway up the left-hand side of the front wall. This is definitely a different arrangement and only really works with the lighter 4kg gas cylinders– 9kg would be too heavy to lift up there.
There isn’t a conventional front boot for external storage; instead, an offside rear locker gives access to the under-bed area. A disadvantage with this arrangement is that there really isn’t anywhere to put wet items like hoses– a large plastic box might be very useful.
Body-wise, the Seitz windows and Camec security door look very familiar but the body structure is Sunliner’s ThermoTough one-piece arrangement using a cross-ply/Duplo foam core structure. The DuraRoof is similarly made, except that is has a reinforced timber structure as well. The walls, roof and floor are all insulated. Like the motorhomes, the caravan body is a very smooth structure and includes the top and bottom fibreglass mouldings at the rear.
BRIGHT AND OPEN
Anyone familiar with Sunliner motorhomes will instantly recognise the interior décor of the Holiday caravan –
the light-hue timber look
– which is very easy on the eye indeed. Large windows give plenty of ambient light and even though this is not a particularly big van, it feels quite spacious. Some aspects of the layout look familiar, too, with the full-width rear bathroom being achieved by having an east-west bed and a slightly compressed layout elsewhere.
The bathroom is quite a clever design– it has a shower cubicle fitted into the rear offside corner, a Thetford cassette toilet in the opposite corner and a narrow vanity cabinet with washbasin in between. Apart from the shower cubicle, everything else is open to the rest of the van but can be closed off by a concertina curtain. The effect is to give a much more open feel to the interior of the van, except when the bathroom is being used. The shower cubicle has a fan hatch for ventilation but the toilet just has a largish window in the rear wall.
BEDROOM AND KITCHEN
With its bedhead under the offside window, the innerspring mattress bed measures 1.7m (5ft 7in) in unextended form and 1.9m (6ft 2in) with the extra mattress piece fitted. When extended, the walk-around space is reduced somewhat. Given the space available, there aren’t any bedside cabinets; instead, a full-height wardrobe sits on the forward side of the bed.
More bedroom storage is provided by a three-quarter-height cupboard on the opposite side, next to the fridge. Lifting the posture-slat bed gives access to the under-bed storage area, partly taken up by a deep-cycle battery and the spare wheel.
With its relatively large bathroom (for a van of this size), the Holiday’s kitchen is going to be quite small. Fitted into the offside bench is a stainless steel sink, Spinflo three-burner cooktop/grill/oven, two cupboards, two drawers of different sizes and two overhead lockers. Hidden under the overhead lockers are a powerpoint, 12V socket and a fluorescent light. Given the short length of the benchtop, a hinged flap at the forward end of the bench wouldn’t go astray.
Opposite, beside the entry door, is a 121L three-way fridge, with a Daewoo microwave above at a very user-friendly height. Above both of those and the adjoining cupboard is a shelf– too high for a kitchen benchtop but okay for things like the 15in flatscreen TV/DVD player. The necessary powerpoint and antenna connections are on the wall behind, along with the standard Sunliner Jensen AM/FM radio and CD player. The radio unit also has a 3.5mm socket for an iPod.
Instead of a usual two-seater dinette arrangement, Sunliner has opted to fit an L-shaped lounge into the front offside corner. This lounge fits in quite well in conjunction with the windows on both the side and front walls, and with the table which has an unusually wide table leg –
thus making it very stable– as well as a multi-way fitting for moving the table around.
Tucked into the front nearside corner is a half-height, two-shelf cupboard. The shelf that runs across the front of the van above the lounge seat is also worth a mention, as is the semi-enclosed shelf above the offside seat.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Holiday has the Sunliner design and ambience all over it, which makes it very attractive. So too does its relatively light weight, despite features like a full-width bathroom and island bed.
Of course, all of this introduces compromises such as a small kitchen, but that’s a choice the buyer gets to make because there are several other layouts available with items like single beds or smaller bathrooms.
But whatever your choice, the Holiday offers a number of attractive touring features and options.
Belmont Pines Lakeside Holiday Park for the use of its very scenic location –
Supplied by Australian Motor Homes, 31 Pacific Highway, Bennetts Green, NSW 2290, (02) 4948 0433, www.australianmotorhomes.com.au
For more about Sunliner Caravans, and to find your nearest dealer, visit www.sunliner.com.au
Words and Pics Malcolm Street. As featured in Caravan World issue 482, October 2010. On sale now.