Although it’s not immediately obvious, the Patriot SEL is a world away from the caravans of old. For a start, the chassis is quite unique. Instead of 150x50mm (6x2in) galvanised steel rails built in a box-section arrangement, the Patriot chassis has structural alloy rails with a hot-dipped galvanised steel drawbar and suspension sub frame.
Punched-hole aluminium is used, which is a clever way of maintaining design strength while keeping the weight down. Similarly, the one-piece foam core fibreglass floor is an integral part of the van’s structure, a bit like a monocoque structure where all components are designed to complement each other.
Design & Layout
The body construction is quite different from the traditional timber frame and aluminium cladding. Moulded fibreglass is used, with a Raptor coating (made from urethane) on the front, rear and sides. Naturally, full insulation is used throughout. An external rain water catchment is included in the body design – it’s not a bad idea if you’re spending time away from drinking water supplies, although the Patriot does come with 190L of fresh water capacity and an additional 60L for drinking.
For storage, the extended drawbar comes with a very large alloy checkerplate bin. It’s large enough to hold the two 9kg gas cylinders with plenty of space left over for hoses, camp chairs and jerry cans. But if that’s not enough, the front tunnel boot should hold everything else.
With an external length of 6.58m (21ft 6in), this Patriot isn’t an overly long van, but the general layout and design, with island bedroom at the front and full-width bathroom at the rear, gives a good perception and reality of space.
The kitchen boasts a moulded sink/drainer, Dometic cooktop, grill and eye-height microwave. With the fridge on the opposite side, it leaves space for a generous benchtop (not including the flush-top lid for the cooktop) and plenty of drawers and cupboards. The laminate used on the benchtop and table matches that used on the fridge doors.
Hiding in the forward locker above the kitchen bench is a control panel and the entertainment features. The battery management panel and water tank gauges are found here, as are main 12V switches and a Kenwood touchscreen multimedia unit. The solar panel regulator isn’t located here – it’s fitted at the door end of the kitchen bench and can be easily accessed from either inside or outside the van.
Although the bathroom looks to be a fairly standard arrangement, with nearside shower cubicle, offside Dometic cassette toilet and vanity cabinet, it’s actually a little deceptive. For a start, the shower cubicle is larger than usual, there are no overhead lockers along the rear wall (creating a more open feel) and the offside corner cupboard, using the space above the shelf, has a circular shape and roller shutter-style door.
Hiding in this cupboard is the main 240V circuit breaker, and fitted into the compartment below, is the switch for the instantaneous water heater.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Like some of its contemporaries, a number of the features that help make up the price tag on the Patriot SEL are hidden.
In addition to the build items, features such as the two 100Ah lithium batteries, two 200W solar panels, entertainment system and top-of-the-line plumbing items are all there to ensure both comfortable and self-contained offroad travel. And let’s not forget, the Patriot also has a great deal of style and panache.
- Innovative chassis design
- External bin storage
- Generous windows
- Spacious feel to interior
- ‘Office shelf’ behind dinette
I would have liked…
- Nothing of note – it’s a well-built van
The full test appears in Caravan World #535 March 2015. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!