Zone RV is a relatively new name in the caravan industry, but even a brief look at its range of caravans suggests they’re doing things differently. While some members of the Zone RV team have plenty of caravan manufacturing experience, others have learned their skills in industries like professional yacht racing. That might sound like an odd combination, but the same sort of composites used in large yachts can easily be applied to the building of caravans.
For my first serious look at a Zone RV caravan, I took the 20.6 model for a spin – a 6.3m (20ft 8in) tandem-axle van built for offroad use. It is quite a streamlined van, and one of the eye-catchers is the angled-down drawbar. It has been designed that way to accommodate the raised van height without the need for a laminated rail construction.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
I took the 20.6 for a drive along the forestry roads between Yandina and Kenilworth in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. It towed exceptionally well, especially given it was very lightly loaded, and it made for confident towing along the narrow bush tracks.
I should point out that the van has a very large load capacity – over 1000kg – which is excellent for people who like to take the kitchen sink with them. Due to this large capacity, you will need to consider how much you will be loading up before choosing an appropriate tow vehicle.
Two electric fold-out steps give access to the van’s interior – which is all nice, bright and beautifully finished. Although the rest of the 20.6 is a little different to conventional caravans, the internal layout is more familiar, with a front island bed, nearside kitchen bench, offside dinette and full-width rear bathroom. Partially concealed LED strip lighting runs the length and width of the van, and the white colour of the overhead lockers adds to the feeling of spaciousness.
There’s no timber to be seen in the general cabinetry work. All the external surfaces are aluminium composite with an aluminium frame underneath. The cupboard doors and drawers are all nice, lightweight items, too.
BEDROOM & STORAGE
Heading towards the front bedroom, one of the first things you notice is that the island bed is raised higher than usual off the floor. The floor is also raised on either side of the bed, with hinged panels providing access to the shallow storage compartments underneath.
There is a large open storage area underneath the posture slat bed base but, given the extra height, a drawer or even a couple of shelves would fit quite well here. The wardrobes and overhead lockers around the bedhead are fairly conventional, although there are no bedside cabinets or any shelving under the windows.
The mounting for the flatscreen TV, complete with the necessary power and antenna connections, is located at the end of the kitchen bench, close to the foot of the bed. It can be seen fairly easily from either the bed or the dinette.
The kitchen storage looks like it is all cupboards but, in fact, behind all the doors is a good selection of drawers, making the most of the usable space. Fitted into the bench are a four-burner cooktop, grill and oven, and a square sink but no drainer. Even with those two items there is still plenty of usable benchtop.
Between the dinette and the bathroom wall are the 190L fridge and a floor-to-ceiling pantry. Although there wasn’t a microwave fitted to our test van, it is a standard component in this model.
The bathroom is fitted out with the same simple lines as the rest of the van. It has a fairly standard layout, with the shower cubicle on the nearside, cassette toilet opposite and a nicely- appointed vanity cabinet in between. There’s a pedestal-style wash basin and a Daewoo wall-mounted mini washing machine. Effective use has been made of the LED strip lights.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Zone RV has taken an individualistic approach in the design of the 20.6 – a trend I often see in Queensland manufacturers.
While it is a conventional van in some respects, there is certainly a move away from traditional caravan manufacturing techniques here, something which I imagine is driven, in part, by having relevant experience in an outside industry.
HITS & MISSES
- Stylish looking van
- Engineered for lighter towing weight
- Very large load capacity
- Cabinetry design
- Internal lighting
- Electrical panel above the table
- Lack of bedside shelving
- Pricey – but you get what you pay for