The story of Jeb’s success lies in his clarity of purpose. “Life is meant to be lived in more than one spot,” he says. “We aim on helping 10,000 people travel by 2030.”
Adelaide RV is on track to hit its goal and families are doing more than their fair share of the heavy lifting. “The average age of our buyers is 42 years old,” Jeb says. “55 to 60 per cent of the vans we sell are family vans.”
Adelaide RV keeps around 40 to 50 vans in stock, with Supreme and Leader its mainstays. I recently met up with Jeb to check out their Leader Gold LE in its 2160 configuration. This comfort capsule with rear-bunks is geared to host a family of four or even five if you count the convertible dinette.
Thirty minutes north and the understated grey-black 2160 was cruising along the bitumen through Seppeltsfield and Greenock. A glorious day for reviewing in Adelaide’s Barossa, all told, even if we did get caught behind a horse and cart for a few minutes. The whole affair reminded me how far recreational vehicles have come.
The Leader Gold LE starts with a 6-inch Permagal full-box section 4mm-thick chassis, made by associated company Roadking Chassis. This is supported by AL-KO Rocker Roller leaf spring suspension, with the tandem axle contributing to an even ride.
There’s light-truck all-terrain 265/70R16 J-Trax tyres with a six-stud LandCruiser pattern. If you buy Leader, you might be eligible for one free puncture repair at Bob Jane T-marts, but an included Kojack jack allows for when the tyre is too far gone for Bob Jane to resuscitate it.
The body has a wooden meranti frame and aluminium composite panel walls, with the side walls bearing a carbon fibre look. Around the body’s lower third, black checkerplate offers protection. It’s relatively clean underneath with the poly tanks protected by metal sheet and without anything seriously exposed for regular usage.
The Gold LE is a large specimen, with a body over 6.5m long, a 2608kg tare and 3108kg ATM according to the nameplate — and though you may wish for a touch more payload, you wouldn’t necessarily want the higher ATM that’d make that possible.
The trade-off is the interior, but, that said, the Gold LE still manages to be smooth on the tow and demonstrates superior balance. Brad, the bloke who drives (and reverses) all the vans around Adelaide RV’s display centre, certainly believes this. His actions bear him out — he’s just bought himself a new 20ft Leader!
Roughly 200kg transmits through the 50mm AL-KO ball hitch. Leader has included a fabrication to hang your chains on when at camp, so they don’t get wet and muddy, keeping them rust-free for longer. Near this, the jockey wheel is centrally mounted, ensuring it takes the weight straight along its axis. The two A-frame-stored 9kg gas bottles are plumbed, with a manual change-over valve for simplicity.
Behind these, a horizontal metal sheet creates a shelf but there is limited tie-down provision, making this spot more practical for storage when stationary. The front wall features a generous front boot, its interior wall holding all standard tooling. Two drainage holes prevent catastrophe by anticipating leaking gear (e.g. a water cask), which demonstrates a degree of forethought common throughout.
Towards the front of the sides, a door each side opens onto the tunnel boot that runs the full internal width. Near both openings, the ceiling is higher than in the centre, allowing storage of larger items at the extremities.
On the non-living side towards the rear, a rectangular door opens onto a storage recess, which can also be accessed internally.
Two lockable water fillers feed into the separate 95L tanks, making for 180L of freshwater storage. Meanwhile there’s a 110L grey water tank with a drainage valve which is easily diverted via a hose attachment.
Two 100Ah AGM batteries are stored in a sheltered external tray in front of the axle, on the outward rail of the chassis. You don’t see this much, but Jeb says they’ve done it in anticipation of upcoming regulation changes. It makes sense from a perspective of battery malfunction and keeping toxins away from the living space. There’s room for the batteries to vent, which is also room for water to enter, but given the positioning this ought not to happen. The front panel can be unscrewed and lowered for access.
The spacious Dometic awning shelters your outdoor chill time
The rear bumper bar is supported by four bars, which beats the normal two or three found on vans when it comes to supporting additional weight, such as bike racks, an additional spare, jerry can holders or generator boxes.
LIVING OUT AND ABOUT
A sizeable Dometic awning rolls out on the living side, covering about everything except for the front tunnel boot. There is the standard extendable support leg either side, plus an additional central leg that can be brought into play during strong wind such as is often found at coastal campsites or when camping on high. Several LED lighting fixtures are under the awning, allowing light to be contained and reflected.
A picnic table folds down off the side wall and holds at 90 degrees. Towards the rear from this are two storage capsules. One contains the toilet cassette, the other a swing-out TV arm so you can mount and watch TV outside. It’s a great way to tune into a footy game this winter while rugged up with a glass of sherry and fellow likeminded travellers.
Speaking of conviviality, two NCE speakers are external and play right into this space. You can play songs off your devices using Bluetooth or insert a CD into the internally-installed entertainment system.
Also supporting your outdoor living, there’s 12V and 240V power and a gas bayonet point ideal for hooking up a Weber or BBQ.
The mains tap is on the drawbar this side, protected from 4WD-tyre missiles by a checkerplate fabrication. Leader has positioned the tap here not only for quick access but so that, if it was ever to leak or be left on by the kids, you’d realise before the whole campsite turned to mud.
On the non-living side, an external shower makes for easy rinsing off of feet or dirty munchkins, or proper external showering with or without a pop-up tent.
NOTES ON THE INSIDE
The ‘two radius’ entry door has rounded upper edges, preventing the chances of ripping the awning material. It has a separable screen section, and a sleek pull-down blind covers the window. A retractable step pulls out underneath to grant entry. Nice touches when returning from nighttime adventures include the LED light running across the front of the rung of the step-up and the illuminated grab handle containing bubbles in clear acrylic.
Natural light floods into the 6650 x 2250mm interior through well-spaced double glazed windows. I’m particularly fond of the large square ones either side of the bed which take advantage of available wall space to gift you a lovely view. A Houghton air-con (as seen) will regulate the air as will those composite walls and the numerous ceiling-mounted in/out fans.
The ceiling itself features multiple skylights, an internal NCE speaker, and overhead LED lights that can switch between three intensities and a blue setting (just make sure you can reach). This ceiling is high at 1980mm, making this van a realistic option for families with a particularly tall dad or mum.
Furniture is all CNC cut for precision. Cabling is run inside the living space, so the van doesn’t have to be pulled apart if there is an issue, but there is next to no in evidence thanks to a discreet disguise effort. The laminate floor was of a faux wood design as seen.
ISLAND BED PARADISE
The north-south island bed to the left upon entry is a comfortable innerspring mattress of full dimensions (roughly 150 x 190cm) without a bed extender or bolster. The gently sloped bedhead wall has a faux leather padding for style’s sake and two flexi-neck lights. Cut-outs in the side wall of both side cabinets allow sleepers to store items by their bed and access 12V and 240V power.
The window above the kitchen gives the cook a view
The bed’s bottom corners are rounded off for easy access down both side passages. At the end of these passages, there’s symmetrical cabinetry. A tall upper door swings to reveal an upper shelf and a rail for hanging clothes below (however, hung items may interfere with power outlet access from bed). At bed level there’s a shelf formed by the protruding lower cabinet. This itself has a door and behind this a drawer and a recess. Above the bed there’s two additional cabinets.
The bed hinges up on gas struts and unveils an open storage space below, permanently occupied only by a panel affixed to the back upright that holds the Meanwell 3-stage AC to DC charger and the RV Electronics Breaksafe System.
The cooking occupies one side of the passageway, the dinette the other. On the cooking side, there’s a benchtop with a well-sized sink to the left. A sink strainer stops scrap food from clogging your pipes and creating a funky smell. The plumbing below the sink runs through the back wall and not the floor below, which makes the cabinet where this resides more usable.
To the sink’s right the bench space features the classy, marbled theme mirrored throughout. In a neat display of multi-purposing, part of this bench space is a hinged lid that lifts to reveal the four burners that are part of the Swift cooking unit. These burners are one of-a-piece with the oven below, with three being gas-powered and one electric for fallback. Pulling into the hall are two columns of fully removable drawers which are sturdily constructed of metal and firm wood in favour of flimsy ply.
On the left side of the upper kitchen cabinetry, there’s a Dluxx microwave, which I don’t love in this high position due to the spill risk of hot food. Next to this are three cabinets. Like most high cabinets in the Gold LE, these feature a cut-out surrounding the edges of the open face. This retains items that have been disturbed during transit, sparing the user a bruised toe.
Throughout, 240V and 12V power is at hand where it needs to be. Leader have not been stin›y on the power outlets! To the kitchen’s right nearer the van’s rear, the door of the upright 184L Thetford fridge/freezer correctly hinges away from the chef. An additional cabinet sits above the fridge.
Opposite the kitchen, on the right as you walk down the passage, is the L-shaped dinette. This mirrors the faux black leather at the bedhead and is well padded and comfortable. Over-the-shoulder reading lights are a welcome touch, not to be taken for granted in what is a preferable reading position compared to most van beds.
If you install a TV, it taps into the roof-mounted Winegard antenna and mounts to the microwave’s left on the side wall, meaning you will have to twist your neck a bit whether watching from bed or the dinette. This is a common compromise not at all unique to Leader’s Gold LE.
The Nuova Mapper Table can move around way more than most tables and is powered electronically with simple controls, allowing it to be fully rotated or lowered. This has the benefit of making it easier to access the underseat storage. Furthermore, if put at the right height it can support cushions to create an additional flat bed — a handy piece of versatility for wider family holidays.
The semi-loose lead running to the controls makes the whole thing possible but could present a slight annoyance, as would the unlikely event of accidentally bumping the controls while eating!
On the side wall, upper cabinetry mirrors the cooking side. Three cabinets are open shelves whereas the fourth, furthest right, holds the entertainment system, a master power switch for assurance everything is off when at home, and the Enerdrive PWM 30A battery management system.
The rear section of the van is accessed through a doorway that can be closed off with a curtain that bunches up when not in use. Having the option of privacy is good for parents and perhaps even better for kids, who I expect will enjoy the sense of having their own space.
Ahead as you enter this space are the rear-wall cabinets which feature four drawers and a two-doored cabinet above. To the left are the two kid bunks, both with their own rectangular windows. Bunk length is generous at around 6ft with 5in mattress thickness superior to much of the competition, and headspace pleasant. The reading light plus 12V and 240V power welcomely acknowledge that kids use devices nowadays.
The upper bunk features a flip-up side panel that stores below the mattress when not on use, mitigating the little one’s fear of rolling into the abyss. Three cut-outs in the panel enclosing the foot of the bed act as steps. If you’re a serious buyer, get whichever kid will be using the upper bunk to climb up and see what they think (this is a good rule of thumb for all bunk vans).
The ensuite uses available space fantastically to present comfortable amenities, without resorting to the two-in-one shower/toilet combo that inevitably results in a wet bum. The shower door hinges from partway along, allowing the door to swing out further before contacting the vanity’s sink. While space within the fibreglass shower is naturally limited, I could stand up tall, plus the showerhead can be removed from the mount so you can get fully clean.
The shower door itself has a pattern across it in part, creating a bit more privacy for the modest. Those who’d rather not run the risk can lock the ensuite’s space-saving sliding door with a spring-lock, somewhat oddly located at ground level. When you’re driving along this door is prevented from sliding by a cabin hook. It sure beats a door that swings into your living space.
The sink itself is a nice big bowl with an in-built press-plug that cannot be misplaced. The vanity mirror allows you to comb your hair into semi-respectability before heading to the local sports club for dinner. There’s cabinetry above and below. Again, there’s 240V power points at hand.
Skylight fans reside above the shower and the toilet. The ceramic Thetford toilet right swivels around, giving more leg room for mum and dad. That’s a huge win and makes this aspect of camping a lot less cramped.
The shower door hinges from partway along so the shower door can swing out further
The Leader Gold LE looking at home in the Barossa
The chassis has a five-year warranty, the van itself a three year warranty, and the items within their own manufacturer’s warranty, generally 12 months. At Adelaide RV, Jeb and the team have a client experience officer and are able to make warranty decisions independently. Further to this, they have an in-house service centre and have increasingly set themselves up as a single point of contact, even recently acquiring an automotive electrical company.
As seen, the Leader Gold LE has a price tag of $71,990 with Adelaide RV, but it is set up to deliver priceless memories. This is a van that puts comfort at the top of the priority list, that irons out common ergonomic issues, that caters to the growing family market, and that does a few small things differently — leading to a big reward for the customer.
Find more Leader vans here.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body Length 6.55m (21ft 6in)
Overall length 9.05m (29ft 8in)
Height 2.81m (9ft 3in)
Payload 500kg (calculated)
Ball weight 204kg at tare
Cladding Aluminium composite with ribbed pattern and carbon fibre look
Chassis 6in Permagal Roadking chassis with 4mm thickness
Suspension AL-KO tandem axle Rocker Roller leaf spring suspension
Coupling AL-KO 50mm ball
Wheels 265/75R16 J-trax All-Terrain, one spare standard; 16-inch alloy rims
Water 2 x 95L fresh, 110L grey water
Battery 2 x 100Ah in chassis-mounted battery tray
Solar 2 x 150W on roof, provision for portable panel
Air-conditioner Houghton as seen (but Dometic IBIS 4 standard)
Gas 2 x 9kg bottles, A-frame mounted
Sway control None standard
Cooking Swift Holiday Oven with three gas burners, one electric, and grill
Microwave Dluxx microwave
Fridge Thetford N614 upright 184L fridge/freezer
Bathroom Ensuite with Thetford Swivel China Bowl toilet, vanity with sink with mixer tap, fibreglass shower with removable showerhead
Hot water Swift Gas and Electric, positioned behind bunks
PRICE AS SEEN
$71,990 with Adelaide RV (pricing dealer-dependent)
674 Port Wakefield Rd, Green Fields SA 5107
Ph: (08) 8281 8889
Find your local stockist leadercaravans.com.au