Rugged tourer extreme in name and nature

John Hughes — 1 June 2022
Established in 1963, Evernew has the know-how to make a van go the distance in even the toughest of conditions

Established in 1963, Evernew has the know-how to make a van go the distance in even the toughest of conditions.

There are a couple of really important aspects to building a good caravan. Component/supplier selection can never be underestimated. The majority of small-to-medium caravan manufacturers do not make any of the parts that come together to create a van. Instead, they source parts according to the standard of van they want to build, and then put it together. The processes in place and the attitude to ‘putting the van together’ drive the build quality. Sometimes it doesn’t cost a lot more to build a van well, it’s just a case of discipline. In this review I’ll consider how these variables play out in creating the Evernew RTX28 S2.

Some context



I met up with Evernew owner Dani Bib to spend the day checking out the van and learn more about the company. I like to ask the manufacturer what the model number stands for as it can give you an insight into the intent of the vehicle. In this case, the RT stands for Rugged Tourer; the X stands for extreme; 28 designates an ATM of 2800kg; and the S2 designates series 2.

Evernew are custom builders in that they can tailor designs to meet your individual requirements, but they still work off set platforms of designated chassis lengths and ATM categories. To give the range some context, the Evernew website shows RTX28 has twin axled big brothers in the form of the RTX 30 and RTX35 (both with an ATM of 3500kg), while the RTX40 which has an ATM of 4000kg.

4WD towing a caravan

Underpinnings for rugged touring

The chassis and suspension on any caravan are so important to the overall package. Dani is an automotive engineer, so you would expect him to be all over getting the specification right on the undercarriage — and I think he’s nailed it.

All Evernew caravans feature a chassis by G&S built to the design supplied by Evernew. Computer modelling stress tests known as finite element analysis is used by Evernew engineers to identify where reinforcement is required to deal with the loads imparted in rugged conditions. This has resulted in a smart-looking gusset running under the A-frame to beef it up. The A-frame main beams are 150mm x 50mm, as are the main chassis rails. The complete chassis is hot dip galvanised. Dani concedes this adds a small amount of weight compared to some other coating methods, but it is a proven corrosion protection process.

We mentioned the “X” in RTX stands for extreme, and a fair bit of this can be attributed to the Cruisemaster ATX suspension. Positioned as Cruisemaster’s top-of-the-line offering, you can see it is a serious piece of kit intended for tough conditions. The ATX features piggyback shocks which hold additional shock oil. When shocks work hard — driving over continuous corrugations, say — they build up heat, which detracts from performance and can ultimately cause failure. The additional shock oil keeps them running cooler for longer. Steel cables prevent the suspension over-extending when travelling across extremely bumpy terrain. Stub axles measuring 63mm are a heavy-duty size and would need quite a pounding to break.

I like that Evernew call this van a ‘Rugged Tourer’ rather than an offroader because it better describes how you would use it. To explain this further, the RTX28 is sparkling with full offroad spec components, and in reality, the caravan suspension could be described as higher performance than you would find on many tow vehicles. You won’t find too many 4WDs come off the showroom floor with piggyback shocks. Evernew are not shy from a warranty point of view, either — they’re confident that there are no limits on the kinds of roads you can travel on if you drive to the conditions. This should give you great confidence about ‘rugged touring’ on the Birdsville Track or even tougher tracks like the Gibb River Road. 

At the end of the day, you are still talking about pulling around a van that is 7.5m long and weighs nearly three tonnes loaded. If you go ‘hero offroad’ in the high country or sand dunes, sooner or later you are going to find the limits of the tow vehicle, get stuck, or smash something (from my former life adjudicating warranty claims, ‘smashing’ something is not the same as a part failing because of a design or manufacturing fault!)

If you do find yourself stuck, the rear of the chassis is fitted with rated recovery points which will make getting out of trouble a lot easier provided you can find someone to pull you out. The General Grabber all-terrains are a quality tyre rather than a generic product used by some manufacturers to save a few bucks.

Caravan crossing through water

Build - Quality in the detail

Evernew takes an old school approach to construction. Building a caravan based on a meranti frame is hardly cutting-edge, but they know how to do it well. Not all of the attributes that go towards making a great van can be easily seen, but I had the advantage of a factory tour. The vertical studs in the timber frame are at 300mm centres and the roof beams are 70mm thick for increased strength, while the foam insulation pieces placed in the frame recesses were a good fit without big gaps. Pink Batts insulation is used in the roof.

I am a fan of lightweight vans, but I can appreciate Evernew opting to increase weight. Dani explained they use 4mm rather than 3mm composite panel as it reduces the chance of any rippling being apparent when you look down the side of the wall. This adds about 40kg to the build. 

Evernew goes to great lengths in the sealing process, considering it a trade secret. They didn’t want me taking photos, but they will happily show you if you go to their factory. In simple terms, to make a join with the wall and roof, first tar tape is applied, followed by silicone, the composite panel, another application of silicone, the J-mould, and finally more silicone is applied in the screw holes. Another feature I like is the curved roof, which allows for water runoff.

There are some things you can see for yourself. The composite panels on the wall are divided into sections and joined with H-moulds. These are effectively expansion joints to allow for movement with temperature variations. I have viewed tech documents from composite panel suppliers specifying that this prevents panel buckling or possible shearing of the adhesive holding the panels to the frame. Speaking of adhesives, Evernew definitely does not cut corners when it comes to bonding the floor to the chassis — when you look under the van you can see there has been a generous application of adhesive evidenced by the constant bead exposed along all the contact surfaces.

Interior of the Evernew caravan

Waterworks

We don’t usually have a section dedicated to plumbing, but I felt it provided a great insight into Evernew’s attention to detail and commitment to providing a positive customer experience. 

The sinks and shower are fitted with traps (just like in your house) so that nasty smells from the greywater tank can’t find their way back into the interior. I have travelled in a motorhome without traps where I left the grey water in the tank for just a couple of days in warm weather, and the stink was terrible. The grey water tank is also fitted with a bypass valve, meaning if you’re in a location that accepts grey water you can put it straight into their system or run it onto the ground without running it into your tank first. 

On the freshwater plumbing side, Evernew use a combination of copper pipe and cross-linked polyethylene pipe usually used in housing rather than the lower cost systems typically used in caravans. Evernew tell me they do this to reduce the chance of water leaks.

Liveability

I mentioned this is the Series 2. Dani tells me they increased the body length to 17ft 6in compared to the 17ft 1in of Series 1, affording more space for a longer bed and roomier bathroom. Speaking of roomy, the bathroom furniture is contoured in a clever shape such that people of more ample proportions can comfortably sit on the toilet.

The leather cafe lounge seating was very comfortable with lumbar support agreeable to me. The trifold table made the space feel very open and was easy to use. Mirrors on the bedside robes also made the space feel open but walking through the bed and kitchen bench was a little tight.

The Dometic windows had the nicest operation I have felt in a long time. Some other windows can be quite fiddly, closing or not staying in the position you would like, but these stayed in place with no fuss. You don’t always see curtains and pelmets in vans anymore, but they certainly look the part in this model.

Another nice touch was mounting the TV into a recess in the furniture, creating a very clean look compared to the exposed TV mounting brackets we usually see. The furniture delivered functional storage and the Italian sourced cupboard latches had a very nice feel.

Interior of the Evernew caravan

Off-grid worthy

The van is kitted nicely for the water and power consumption level you would expect a couple to use. 190L of fresh water is a good number and will cover you for quite a few days if you are careful. The 95L grey water tank is in line with the industry norm of about 50% of the freshwater capacity, but I still wonder where the other half goes. You’ll have two 9kg gas bottles that’ll outlast your water supply many times over, plus two180W solar panels working with a 200Ah battery. A Redarc battery management system should outrun the water, too.

Weights

The RTX 28 S2 has an ATM of 2800kg which makes it sensible for most larger contemporary tow vehicles with so called tow ratings of 3500kg. To learn more on this subject, refer to Malcolm Street’s recent excellent article on weight definitions in issue 622 of Caravan World. A tare weight of 2300kg is a little on the heavy side, but in line traditional approach of old school builders. After you subtract the tare weight, the payload comes in at a reasonable 500kg. For context, if you fill up with 190L of freshwater, you have 290kg of payload left to play with. If you pack sensibly, the payload can be very workable. If you need to carry more stuff, than perhaps the twin-axled RTX 30 or RTX35 (ATM 3500kg) might be more your groove, though you’ll have to be more selective about your tow vehicle.

Customer care

Evernew rates well with a five-year structural warranty on the body and chassis. The suspension is covered for three years with an additional two-year limited warranty on parts only. As Evernew sell direct, all warranty claims come back to them for processing. My impression is Evernew is small and tight enough that you won’t get lost in the system and works closely with suppliers to resolve issues. As with many small-to-medium manufacturers, Evernew do not have a formal service agent network but work with customers to identify suitable providers as required.

The bottom line

While conservative in construction method, Evernew are ahead of the game in build quality and component specification. The RTX28 comes together as a package capable of decades of service in the toughest of conditions.

In brief

5.3m single axle rugged tourer

2800kg ATM with top-of-the-line suspension

Traditional style construction with emphasis on quality

Pros

Build quality is exemplary

A van is only as good as the components used and Evernew choose amongst the best

The extra thought that has gone into the plumbing is an example of the commitment to building a top level van.

Cons

Not the lightest van in its category.

Ratings

VALUE FOR MONEY 8/10

“Rising costs and increased demand across the industry has driven prices up, and Evernew is no exception. In this current market, the price is in line with the high-level build quality and specifications.”

TOWABILITY     8.5/10

“Evernew customise the axle position on every van for optimum balance, and it showed.”

SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING   8/10

“Has the right undercarriage for rugged touring with a reasonable payload.”

BUILD QUALITY  9/10

“Emphasis on a strong frame and a perfectionist approach to sealing see this van score well.”

LIVEABILITY       8.5/10

“Comfortable, practical, and stylish.”

SELF SUFFICIENCY         8.5/10

“Plenty of water and power alongside a premium battery and management system.

”CUSTOMER CARE 8.5/10

“Direct line of communication to a small team where you won’t get lost in the system.”

INNOVATION  8/10

“Evernew admit that they are not at the forefront of new technology — they do, however. shine with using high end components throughout the van.”

X-FACTOR          8.5/10 

“The X-factor comes in the heritage of the company and the commitment to a quality van build.”

Weights and Measures

Body length       5.3m (17ft 6in)                                    

Overall length 7.4m (24ft 5in)

Width   2.5m (8ft 2in)

Height   3.1m (10ft)

Tare 2300kg

ATM 2800kg

Payload 500kg (calculated)

Ball weight at tare 190kg

EXTERNAL

Frame Meranti

Cladding 4mm composite aluminium 

Chassis 150mm x 50mm main rails, hot dip galvanised

Suspension Cruisemaster ATX Off Road

Coupling Cruisemaster DO35

Brakes 12” Cruisemaster drum brakes

Wheels 16” Grid alloy rims with General Grabber all terrain tyres

Water Fresh water – 2x 95L, Grey water – 1x 95L

Battery 1x 200A/hr Redarc Lithium Ion

Solar 2x 180W

Air-conditioner Ibis4

Gas 2x 9kg

Sway control Dexter Dynamic Stability Control

INTERNAL

Cooking Swift 3 gas / 1 electric burners with grill

Microwave NCE 25L

Fridge Dometic 188L compressor fridge / freezer

Bathroom separate shower and toilet

Hot water Swift 28L gas / electric

PRICE FROM $95,890

OPTIONS FITTED

Nil

PRICE AS SHOWN $95,890

MORE INFORMATION

To enquire about this caravan call (03) 9459 7516 or visit evernewcaravans.com.au

Tags

Evernew Rugged tourer caravan review

Photographer

John Hughes