Although best-known for their hues, Van Cruiser caravans are also industry leaders in other ways. A good example is the 5.53m (18ft 2in) Bumble Bee, which, apart from its eye-catching yellow body colour, was the first Australian-built caravan to feature the new US Dexter Sway Control as standard.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
Unlike many caravans, Van Cruisers don’t compromise their internal dimension and usability with extreme aerodynamics. So the front of the Bumble Bee is fairly blunt and upright, and its rear end is square so there’s more usable internal space than you would normally expect to find in a full-height caravan of its compact dimensions.
Without a front or rear window, the van looks purposeful, riding on its single-axle, Control Rider independent trailing arm spring and single shock absorber suspension. There’s just one spare wheel on the rear bar, although there’s room for two there. And the towel rail on the front panel is a handy touch.
As the boot is the only exterior storage area, I would prefer the van’s main electrical components and fuse-box to be better protected here. I’d also rather a separate A-frame toolbox for all the dirty stuff (hoses, chocks, jockey wheel, etc.) than the triple jerry cans that are there. On returning the Bumble Bee, Van Cruiser confirmed that a front toolbox can be fitted, while the new battery management system that Van Cruiser is now fitting moves a lot of the electric clutter from the tunnel boot to an inside cupboard.
Underneath, there’s more good news, with the van’s rear waste piping thoughtfully lagged in foam rubber to keep it safe from stone-strike – something other manufacturers should note.
The mirror-front dLuxx microwave oven sits uncomfortably high above the van’s 175L Waeco compressor fridge/freezer and the combo four-burner Smev cooktop with grill and oven below sit alongside a large stainless steel sink.
A downside here is that there is no preparation space other than the stainless steel drainage board and the top of the cooktop, when closed; a legacy, again, of the van’s compact dimensions.
The upside is that the interior offers good storage, from the space under the lift-up bed – except for inclusion of the battery box – to the good-sized overhead and under-sink cupboards and drawers.
The ensuite is compact but well-planned, with lots of drawers and a top-loading 3kg washing machine in a cupboard beside the Dometic cassette toilet.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The bright yellow Van Cruiser Bumble Bee might be a little too daring for some caravanners but you can also get the same basic Interceptor model in more subdued white or silver. Whatever colour you choose, you get a well-made, well-equipped and competitively priced all-road compact caravan built to your exact specification by a small and dedicated team that loves what it does.
- Daring to be different
- Excellent use of space
- Stone shielding
- Standard DSC
I would have liked...
- Storage box on A-frame instead of jerry cans
- Cover for electrics in front boot
- Battery under lounge instead of bed
The full test appears in Caravan World #537 May 2015.