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AL-KO Best Aussie Vans 2018 – $65k – $80K Category

Sword in the Stone

“Simplicity on a grand scale with luxury in spades”, that’s how AL-KO Best Aussie Vans 2018 host, Tim van Duyl, described the Crusader Excalibur Prince and one look inside and you’ll have to agree.

The longest and tallest van at BAV ‘18, the Prince’s internal length of 7.14m and a cathedral-like internal height of 2.03m, Crusader didn’t fill the space with gadgets and extras. They retained a spacious and minimalist aesthetic, but that was always the plan from the proud Victorian builder all along.

With a rear club lounge lovingly upholstered in black leather; split centre ensuite and front north-south queen bed, privacy is created by way of sliding doors that separate each zone within the Prince. This privacy means owners can find space to themselves and guests will not be expected to sit in the bedroom; the layout was a judges favourite.

White works with any colour and adds brightness, as do the inset downlights and massive hatches and windows, while the faux-marble look in the kitchen adds a touch of class. Owners will appreciate the volume of benchtop space, like the van, it’s massive. Coming in right at the top of the $80,000 category limit, the Crusader was deemed to have excellent value for money, no doubt down to its size but also for its semi off-road abilities.

With a decent payload of around 780kg, even with a full complement of water (190L), there is room to fill the 190L Dometic three-way fridge, and the ample overhead and low cupboards.

Construction is robust with a single piece roof that drapes low on the front to floor level at the rear of the van. A 42mm thick composite floor is complemented with a fibreglass skin to aid in rock protection. The frame is Meranti with Alupanal cladding for the walls.

With an averaged score of 79.63, the Crusader Excaliber Prince was a clear winner in the $65k-$80k category at AL-KO’s Beat Aussie Vans 2018.

“The Excalibur ticks the open-plan living box.”
Peter Quilty (BAV Judge)

“Big and spacious, with good headroom and bench space. I like the walk-through ensuite.”
John Willis (BAV Judge)

“Most of the innovation is in things not seen, like the 42mm insulated composite floor and hail-resistant roof.”
Malcolm Street (BAV Judge)

“Ideal for the sociable touring couple who want to do some rough road or national park trips.”
Laura Gray (BAV Judge)

ROUGH DIAMOND

The road-focussed version of the popular and award-winning Coromal Pioneer XC 632S, the RTV (Road Touring Vehicle) had big shoes to fill in the competitive $65k-$80K category of AL-KO’s Best Aussie Vans 2018.

Unfortunately, the RTV came in well underdone with complaints raised by the judges on the state of the wiring, particularly an exposed earth terminal, and issues in the fitment of drawers and cupboards in the kitchen.

Questions were also raised on the suitability and design of the Coromal-made wishbone suspension that was rated to 2885kg. One of our expert judges pointing out that the company should have turned to the experts at AL-KO for a set of Enduro suspension to match the AL-KO supplied brakes and ESC.

It was a shame, as the construction of the body (frameless, fibreglass skin over foam) is innovative and aids in giving the RTV a decent 650kg payload. Plus, aside from quality issues in the kitchen inside impressed with a very useable layout and a bright airy feeling due, in part, by the big, automotive glass windows and light colour palette.

Value for money was deemed above average with the layout and construction technology helping offset the not insignificant $73,795 drive-away cost for the 6.3 by 2.47m bodied caravan.

Ultimately the Coromal Element RTV was let down by its quality issues which dragged its averaged score down to 68.88 from our four judges.

“All the comforts you’d need or expect at this price”
Laura Gray (BAV Judge)

“The Future Teck construction and modular chassis design are great steps forward.”
Malcolm Street (BAV Judge)

“I liked the internal aesthetics”
John Willis (BAV Judge)

“A smooth operator both on-road and on dirt tracks.”
Peter Quilty (BAV Judge)

MEET THE AUTHORTim Van Duyl

Tim van Duyl

Coming from marine publishing Tim now oversees Caravan World and Trade-a-Boat for the Adventures Group as their Senior Editor. With experience garnered from travelling the breadth and width of his home country New Zealand in all manner of ways, his mission is to see all Australia has to offer. Having already sampled Cape York, Murray-Sunset National Park, Wilsons Promontory and the bulk of Victoria’s West, he has plans to add to the small parts of WA and NT already seen. When not on the road you can find Tim passing time at lakes around Australia or in the high country camping with his close friends and family with the Murrindindi a popular spot.

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