Pacific Islander – the words conjure up images of the rhythmic patter of water on pristine white beaches, the hot oranges and reds of island sunsets, silhouetted coconut palms, hibiscus leis and welcoming Polynesian faces offering a warm greeting with, ‘malo e lelei,’ or a heartfelt, ‘kia ora’. With that in mind I took a Pacific Islander Club Lounge Caravan for a spin to a fishing spot within reach of the Sunshine Coast’s sleepy southern beachfront town of Caloundra. I wanted to know if the name was really a reflection of the look, style and layout of the caravan.
Instead the Pacific Islander’s livery, while stylish and tasteful, is reasonably conservative and doesn’t immediately inspire thoughts of beachside hula girls. Then again, if the idea of an island getaway is about the easy life rather than the look of an easy life, the Pacific Islander needs to make things comfortable and simple. Looking around the outside, with the external picnic table adjacent to television outlet, quality Dometic awning and convenient gas outlet located by the table, the van certainly ticks the ‘easy life’ box.
On the drawbar, a convenient toolbox, simple ball hitch, drawbar tap, jerry can holders and two 9kg gas cylinders are the right sort of kit. On the flip side, it’s a practical arrangement with an eye on keeping the price at an affordable level for an on-road tourer.
While there is an argument for more up-market suspension, in context of a highway tourer and with a certain price point in mind, leaf suspension does the job.
The suspension supports a 150mm Road Runner Chassis with 150mm A-frame. Road Runner has manufactured chassis for more than a decade and that experience shows in the quality of the final product.
Construction-wise, this van body includes one-piece fibreglass sandwich panel flooring with 40mm high-density foam insulation and 30mm sandwich panel walls and roof. The floor employs a sandwich panel base with plywood laminated to the top surface of the foam which is a 40mm high density extruded variety. The roof is also one-piece panelling from front to rear. The walls have higher density foam laminated in place at any spot where fixtures and fitting are attached.
All up, it means that the van’s monocoque-style construction is sturdy and won’t rot. That’s perfectly suitable for a van that’s made for highway travel.
Sometimes the differences between vans are the small details. Of note here, the drawbar tap situated on the left side could do with a little checkerplate to keep it safe. On the upside, near the front left-hand chassis rail, the battery is contained in a checkerplate box which keeps it out of the way, yet safe. A nearby Anderson plug provides somewhere to plug in portable solar panels – very handy.
A double fold-out step helps you inside the van, and it’s here this caravan really shines.
Step inside the Islander and you step into its club lounge. For my money, it takes a clever design to create a convenient, usable layout that starts with a club lounge because they typically take up lots of space.
It’s an interesting compromise, as a club lounge also means a certain feel of luxury, offering more room in which to relax than a typical dinette style usually provides. It also means moving the ensuite towards the centre of the van rather than its usual location at the rear of the van.
The Pacific Islander layout does exactly that, which means you divide the bedroom from the living and kitchen space, giving the bedroom a secluded, cosy feel. The bedroom, as in the rest of the van, boasts plenty of storage including under-bed, wardrobes and overhead.
As for the ensuite, it’s a pretty good design with ample storage, privacy doors and a shower space that is not too tight.
As in all caravan layout choices, workable compromise is key to good design. It’s all about what you want to go without to get something more important. On the plus side, the kitchen has a gas/electric cooktop with mini grill, microwave, 185L fridge, top-loading washing machine and a 24in flatscreen TV.
As elsewhere, there’s heaps of storage including a generous pantry and a convenient pot drawer.
The kitchen is plumbed with flick mixer taps as is the ensuite, which is very convenient. The van is serviced by twin 95L water tanks, which is a lot for a van that will find a home on caravan park getaway adventures. However, it’s enough water for a long weekend of free camping. Although when it comes to free camping, it has no inverter so you’re not going to charge the laptop. That’s a good thing if your caravan experience is about leaving the modern world behind.
To help create the right mood for a relaxing evening in, the van features LED mood lighting and a 100Ah deep-cycle battery to help power them.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For under $80K, this van has the bells and whistles a typical highway touring couple would expect.
A quality van that features ample storage and a stylish finish, it should grab the attention of many potential buyers. All up, considering its price and quality build, together with a good array of appliances, the Pacific Islander is worth considering, despite not quite meeting the Polynesian look its name promises.
HITS AND MISSES
- Well-constructed cabinetry
- Two tunnel boots
- Ample internal storage
- No inverter within the electrical system
- Leaf spring suspension limiting the van to on-road touring
- Unprotected drawbar tap
Weights and measures
- Overall length 9m (29ft 6in)
- External body length 6.9m (22ft 6in)
- External body width 2.5m (8ft 3in)
- Travel height 2.9m (9ft 6in)
- Internal height 1.98m (6ft 6in)
- Tare 2590kg
- ATM 3090kg
- Payload 500kg
- Ball weight 255kg
Price as shown
$74,990 (on-road, Qld)
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #568. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!