Review: SWAG SCT18 RV Max

Gary Tischer — 20 July 2022
Many people asked SWAG for a hybrid caravan. SWAG has delivered, and we’ve taken a thorough look.

SWAG is well-known for its quality range of hybrid campers. Now there is a new line to add to the SWAG inventory — a hybrid caravan — and you may well be asking what the difference is. Instead of a pop-up roof, it has a permanent hard roof like a caravan, only we aren’t calling it a caravan because the kitchen is external in the same way as a hybrid. By taking the kitchen outside under an awning, you have more room inside for soft storage such as clothes and bedding while still having heaps of room for food and the kitchen externally. The SWAG SCT18 Max RV ticks all the boxes when it comes to being a great hybrid van.

From Fraser to Kalbarri and The Gibb River Road

The Brag Board on the SWAG Campers website showcases images sent in by owners, featuring every type of tow vehicle — from utes, wagons, and even a Porsche. Adventures from all corners of Australia can be seen as the SWAG hybrids take on beaches and corrugations from Fraser Island to Kalbarri and the Gibb River Road. The company is family owned and has been around since 2008, with its head office in south-east Queensland and outposts in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.

How do you create Aussie jobs, build quality caravans, and keep prices affordable for the average family? SWAG gets the shell of the caravan built overseas to their quality standards and then gets Brisbane tradies to construct the fit-out of the shell, including all the electrical and gas componentry. Australian-supplied components are fitted to each van, meaning any replacements needed are readily available.



The Build

The body of the SWAG SCT18 MAX RV sits on a full length 6-inch hot-dip galvanised chassis to keep everything strong and safe on those rough outback roads. To soften the ride, suspension comes in the form of proven heavy-duty independent trailing arm suspension combined with Monroe HD offroad shocks. This combination has showed its resilience on the roughest of tracks across Australia. The SWAG SCT18 MAX RV has four alloy wheels supporting the van with 265/75 16 tyres to complement the suspension and look of the caravan. Two spare wheels are included with on the rear. The width of the SWAG SCT18-RV is 2.23m, being narrower that the standard caravan — meaning it’s easier to access tracks that aren’t normally available to a standard-width van. There’s still plenty of room inside, so no need to worry. 

Construction of the body is German-engineered composite sandwich panel. This has several benefits over traditional building methods. Composite panel has great insulation properties keeping it cool in summer and warm in winter. It is also lighter and less prone to water or dust ingress than other materials. To protect the outside lower sections of the body, it is coated with Raptor Paint which is vastly lighter than using aluminium siding. 

The popular McHitch 3.5T Uniglide coupling is used to connect to the tow vehicle. This hitch is particularly easy to back onto when leaving camp for the next chapter of your adventure. A water tap is included on the drawer bar which is handy for washing hands after hitching up the van, while a larger front storage box on the drawer bar has room for two 9kg gas bottles as well as a generator and jerrycan. 

On top of the caravan are mounted two 150W solar panels to charge the 3 x 100Ah batteries via the PWM solar regulator and Projecta Smart Charger. A 1000W inverter comes standard and can be upgraded to a 2000W inverter. This is included as part of the ‘Platinum’ option pack with lithium batteries to power the inverter and induction cooking plate. Also mounted on the roof is a Dometic reverse cycle air-conditioner that will be used when connected to 240V power in campgrounds.

Above the main bed is a large skylight/vent providing plenty of air and light inside. An omnidirectional antenna is also fitted to the roof to provide television reception (where available) to watch those final footy matches.

The height of the caravan is 3.05m with the air-conditioner fitted. The length from hitch to rear is 7.9m and width is 2.23m. A large 5m wind-out awning provides plenty of shade over the cooking and outdoor living area. It is manually operated which both reduces cost and more importantly, keeps it simple so there are no electric motors that may cause problems in the future. An annex is also supplied should you want to enclose the kitchen and area under the awning.

Liveability

This is a hybrid van with the internal space dedicated to relaxing while on the road. The north/south king-size bed has plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the outside views even when lying in bed. In the family version there are three bunks which are large enough for kids in their early teens. There are two large windows on either side of the main bed area of the van and a window next to each bunk, meaning plenty of light and fresh air to keep you cool on the hottest of days. USB outlets are a must these days, so each bunk has both a light and a USB outlet, while the main bed also has a light/USB on each side next to a storage area.

At the foot of the bed, part of the mattress can be folded up to reveal one side of the L-shaped lounge. The photos in this review don’t show the upgraded wider seat as part of the lounge that will come standard. The longer part of the lounge and table can be used with the mattress being folded up if the bed and lounge need to be used at the same time. Under the table are 240V outlets in case you need to use a laptop computer on the table — perfect if you need to do some work while travelling. Next to the lounge is wardrobe storage suitable for hanging clothes with more storage underneath.

On the opposite side of the caravan to the lounge is a large bench with a sink built in. This is perfect for washing hands, cleaning teeth, or even grabbing a glass of water without need to go outside to the main kitchen. There is a 240V outlet over or next to this bench for a kettle or coffee maker. Below the bench are some good-sized drawers for storage. In the ‘Platinum’ upgrade pack, lithium batteries and an induction cooktop are supplied.

On the end of this bench as you walk into the caravan is the well-laid-out control panel housing switches, circuit breakers, and gauges where you can quickly see the battery health and water levels. There is no shortage of USB outlets throughout the caravan to charge all those phones and tablets we all have these days. The ‘Platinum’ pack includes a diesel heater is included to keep your warm on those icy winter trips.

There is an internal ensuite of a good size which is great for those not wanting to rough it while enjoying the outdoors. A fabric shower screen separates the shower from the toilet, providing a dry space to put towel or clothes. Above the ensuite is a vent/skylight so hot, moist air can escape outside, reducing the amount of moisture inside the van. The toilet cassette is accessed from the outside the caravan when needing to empty it at a dump point. The grey water tank is 120L which is complimentary for the 200L of fresh water on board.

There is either a 4-berth or 5-berth configurations for this van. The one reviewed here is the 4-berth with a double bunk at the rear running north/south. More storage is found under the lower bunk. A triple bunk is provided for the 5-berth option and has already proven very popular. If not travelling with kids, these spaces could be used for extra storage of light items. Either way, you still get a king-sized main bed. 

A Galley Kitchen

The beauty of a hybrid van is that you are not constrained by internal dimensions of a van when designing the kitchen. The galley kitchen of the SWAG SCT18-RV is great as there is plenty of space for preparation, cooking, and storage which will make using this kitchen a pleasure. 

Cold storage is provided by a 75L dual-zone SCT fridge that is easily accessible via a pullout slide. This can be accessed for morning tea stops when on the road and when at camp cooking up a gourmet meal. The 4-burner full gas hob means you can have four pots on the go at once. A slide-out drawer under the hob gives access to all the full-sized cutlery you would need. A stainless-steel preparation area next to the stove gives plenty of space.

On the other side of the stove is the sink and drying space and a neat twin shelf area to go vertically. This has a locking mechanism, so it stays in place. Between the sink and the fridge are two long and deep drawers for food, and pots and pans. All in all, this is a fabulous kitchen ready to support the most demanding of chefs.

The Bottom Line

The SWAG SCT18-RV ticks a lot of the requirements of a great hybrid van. The composite panel construction is light and insulating while creating a strong barrier against dust, water, and extreme temperatures. It also durable and long lasting. The suspension and chassis support the caravan over rough terrain making it easy to tow in all road conditions. 

The interior of the van is light and airy with a large amount of storage. There are plenty of USB and 12V outlets throughout the van. External storage is also good. The kitchen is laid out well and has been thoughtfully designed. 

This van comes with a lot of the luxuries without a high price tag. Both the design and production process have been considered so that quality is maintained while keeping the cost affordable.

Hits and Misses

Hits

  • Great kitchen 
  • Lightweight yet strong construction
  • Good price point with inclusions
  • Light and airy inside

Misses

  • The two-step drop-down step may scrap on rough offroad tracks
  • The lounge may be a bit squeezy for five adults

Ratings

Value for money : 8.5
SWAG has established a good model for providing good value for money with all the inclusions necessary to go off-grid for an extended period 

Towability : 8
The balance of the SWAG SCT18-RV is set up for a good 10% of the weight sitting on the ball, so it tows well. The dual axle independent suspension aids it to track well behind the vehicle.    

Suitability for Intended Touring : 8
The van is set up for offroad use and handles both bitumen and corrugations well. 

Build Quality : 8
The attention to detail, use of quality components and design of the SWAG all add up to a great build quality.

Liveability : 8

It is a hybrid van, so the kitchen located outside which may not suit everyone.

Customer Care : 7.5

A network of repair agents and 5-year structural warranty

Self Sufficiency : 8

As tested, the lithium pack will have you well set up for going off-grid

Innovation : 7.5

The SWAG hybrid van is a solid offering with a great design which works to make living on the road easy and enjoyable. 

X-Factor : 8

This is a good-looking van. It’s narrower than standard body gives it a lean look, which is ready for the open road or a winding track.

SWAG SCT18 RV Max Specs

Weights and measures 

Overall length7.6 M
External body width2.23 M
Travel height3.05 M
Tare2450 KG
ATM3100 KG
Ball weight310 KG


External 

FrameComposite panel
CladdingComposite panel
Chassis150x50x3mm Single piece hot dipped galvanised
SuspensionHeavy duty trailing arm independent
BrakesDrum
WheelsAlloy LT265/75R16
Water200 L fresh/120 L grey
Battery2 x100 lithium
Solar2 x 150W
Air-conditionerDometic roof mounted reverse cycle
Gas2 x 9 KG
Cooking4 burner gas stove
Fridge75 L dual zone fridge


Internal 

CookingSingle induction plate
MicrowaveNo
ToiletThetford swivel toilet cassette
ShowerInternal combination ensuite
LightingLED
Hot water
Truma Ultra Rapid gas hot water system


Starting Price (QLD): $74,000 

Options Fitted

Platinum Pack Options fitted (2 x 100Ah lithium batteries, Projecta Li charger, Projecta 2000W inverter, 2.5kw diesel heater, plus more )

Price as Tested (incuding Platinum Pack) (QLD)

$83,999

Supplied by SWAG Campers

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Tags

SWAG SCT18 MAX RV Caravan Review

Photographer

Gary Tischer