Rising from the low-lying Sunshine Coast landscape, the spires of the Glass House Mountains dominate the skyline. Here, a network of pine-fringed back roads provides the perfect location to check out the Spinifex EpiX family caravan. These craggy tracks offer a chance to discover if this 7.3m (24ft) family version of the EpiX has the makings of a worthy offroad caravan. Our trek stops atop a narrow ridgeline where World Heritage-listed views invite us to set up the van and take a good look around.
This rig’s Cruisemaster independent airbag suspension makes for easy riding over moderately rough tracks. That’s not surprising, given airbag suspension offers two main benefits: improved ride and the ability to adjust the suspension to compensate for load.
What’s more, the suspension bump stops help decrease the chance of overheating and camber and tow adjustments help ensure the van tows well while reducing wear on tyres. However, this standard of ride comfort comes at a price and is probably the most expensive style of suspension on the market today. Nonetheless, you start to tip the ledger into balance when you consider the quality suspension arguably increases the van’s longevity as it takes less of a pounding when travelling along corrugated or tricky bush tracks.
At 7.3m (24ft) long and with an ATM of 4.4 tonnes, this is not a van for the faint-hearted. Given its weight, you’re going to need something like a Chevrolet Silverado or GMC-Sierra Denali to keep this rig rolling. Go too light on the tow vehicle and you’re likely to attract the ire of the law and or wear out your 4WD much faster than you might like.
On the upside, with a Tare tipping just over 3 tonnes, you’ve got plenty of payload capacity to play with before you have to think about what to leave behind on your next trip.
The EpiX’s aluminium frame sits on a 75mm dual beam Australian Bluescope steel hot-dipped galvanised chassis. A single-piece resin floor adds even more strength to an already tough rig. At the drawbar, a popular Hitchmaster DO45 hitch keeps this large van hooked on while you’re rambling along the twists and turns of an outback track. This combo of a sturdy chassis frame, great suspension and a good hitch meant the EpiX travelled easily and confidently along the forestry trails.
The outer skin is reinforced gloss white fibreglass, while silver checkerplate on the front, rear and sides protects from stray stones and rocks. Scrub bars on the chassis provide further worthwhile protection and point to this van’s true home being off the highway.
But free camping means more than getting somewhere in one piece – it means being self-sufficient when you arrive. So with twin 200L shower tanks and 65L of drinking water, you’ll be sweet for extended off-the-grid stays.
Storage wise, the Spinifex is equipped with a front utility box and two boots up front. One houses the batteries, and a tunnel boot holds the 32L fridge – handy if you’re up for a barbecue or need a beer or bait fridge. Unfortunately, there’s no barbecue included.
Beyond that, the EpiX ticks the other ‘offroad specialist’ boxes such as twin 9kg gas cylinders, jerry can holders, four 100Ah lithium batteries, and a 2kVA Honda generator.
Up on the roof, four 150W solar panels provide heaps of power. In combination with the included 80A charger/2000VA inverter, you’re in good shape electrically.
The outdoor shower has become a staple of offroad caravan manufacturing design these days. Spinifex’s exterior shower is sensibly located not far from the door and close to the fold-down table. Also, under the awning is a handy television port and support arm, so you can stay in the shade and put your feet up in front of the 23.6in HD TV.
Aimed at the family market, the EpiX has twin bunk beds for the kids in a rear bedroom. A privacy screen provides parents with a little space to themselves when the kids are asleep. Lifting the lower bunk reveals even more storage space.
The kids’ bedroom is separate from the van’s ensuite so you can use the toilet without too much risk of waking the kids. However, the toilet encroaches on the shower so that it’s difficult to open the shower door fully. Thankfully, there is enough space in the shower to pick up the soap if you drop it without having to step outside. This was one of the few spoilers to an otherwise quality layout.
Forward from the kids’ bedroom, the kitchen-dining area hosts an abundance of cupboards and drawers but no dedicated pantry. The kitchen has a standard array of appliances including a microwave, 230L fridge/freezer, Swift cooker with three gas burners and one electric burner and a fan-forced oven.
In a nice touch by Spinifex, the benchtops and cooker covers are all colour coordinated with an ebony laminate.
But if the combination of these ample benches and cooker covers still comes up short, there are nifty slide-out extensions at either end of the kitchen. I’m willing to bet this handy and practical innovation becomes a staple of caravan kitchen design before too long.
It was also pleasing to see the powerpoints around the interior are colour coordinated to match those benchtops.
It’s these sorts of details that help pull together the interior design of the EpiX as a harmonised package.
With the cooking done, you can enjoy the fruits of your labours at a comfortable dinette that also harbours further storage space below the seats. And when the night is done, the front of the caravan houses a queen-sized bed that also delivers under-bed storage. Lay back and watch your favourite show on the 23in TV, or listen to your favourite music via the entertainment system.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Through the inclusion of bunks for junior explorers, the Spinifex EpiX presents as a family van that will comfortably travel far from the asphalt. But you’ll also need a budget that can accommodate a large tow vehicle to cope with its not-insignificant weight.
While it does lean toward the pricey end of the scale, this is a van of the quality typically associated with Spinifex Caravans.
So if you value real quality over price, then this is certainly a contender worthy of your consideration.
HITS AND MISSES
- Slide-out bench extensions
- The ensuite is separate from the children’s bedroom
- Airbag suspension
- Very large tow vehicle required
- Shower door doesn’t open fully
Weights and measures
- Overall length 10.05m (32ft)
- External body length 7.32m (24ft)
- External body width 2.49m (8ft 2in)
- Travel height 3.1m (10ft 2in)
- Tare 3160kg
- ATM 4400kg
- Payload 1240kg
- Ball weight 300kg
Price as shown
The full review apprears in Caravan World #561. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!