If you’ve got a ringing in your ears it might be adventure calling. Here’s how to answer...
By Richard Robertson
For a lot of people, especially those at the lower end of the age spectrum, getting away for months on end simply isn’t an option. Yet. But weekend, mid-week and annual holiday escapes are, as is a growing desire to get away from the crowds.
Talvor’s Adventure Camper is a basic, no-frills vehicle designed primarily for the fleet of its rental arm, Apollo. It is, however, available new to private buyers and as a Talvor dealer, Albury Wodonga RV World made available a near-new, low kilometre unit for us to play with – I mean, review.
Back to Basics
The Adventure Camper is built on a Toyota HiLux 4X4 single cab-chassis, which makes a lot of sense given the HiLux’s ‘unbreakable’ reputation and Toyota’s vast service and support network. Love ‘em or loath ‘em, there’s no better Make to be heading bush in than a Toyota...
Powered by a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel producing 126 kW and 343 Nm and driving through a 5-speed manual gearbox with part-time 4WD and a 2-speed transfer case, this HiLux is as traditional as 4WDs come. It’s completely in keeping with the Adventure Camper’s basic, non-nonsense personality and when combined with simple-but-rugged independent front suspension and a live rear axle with hefty leaf springs, it’s likely to get you where you want to go – and home again – with minimum fuss.
The no-nonsense approach extends to the HiLux’s cab, where a single driver’s seat and two (small) person passenger bench seat take up most of the room. Dual airbags, cab airconditioning, power steering, remote central locking, electric windows and sound system with Bluetooth ‘phone integration are all included, as are audio controls on the steering wheel. There is, however, no through-cab access.
Like all HiLux’s the Adventure Camper is an ergonomic and comfortable drive. The narrowish camper body, with it’s low-profile pop-top roof, makes for easy threading through tight spots and helps keep the centre of gravity low; all of which are invaluable when exploring off-road. On road, the reduced frontal height and width also make for easy open road cruising without a substantial fuel consumption penalty, although cruise control would be a worthwhile addition.
This particular vehicle is a 2010 model, although I don’t think it was registered until 2011. It only has about 3000 km on the clock and is basically brand new, and although a part of the AWRV World rental fleet it has seen very little work.
Outside the Box
Effectively a big fibreglass box, the Adventure Camper’s body is narrower than a normal motorhome, which helps when nosing down bush tracks, and shorter in height too, thanks to its pop-top roof.
Outside, the no-nonsense theme continues with a white gelcoat finish and a number of external storage compartments, some of which have dedicated functions. On the kerb side are two compartments: one for a pair of 20 L plastic water containers (in lieu of a fixed under-vehicle tank) and another that houses a pair of tiny 2 kg (I think) gas bottles while also having a bit of extra storage space. Also on the kerb side is a drop-down table/bench that has a small Companion-brand two-burner gas cooker attached and a cutout where a plastic bowl fits that also has a hinged lid above.
On the driver’s side are two lower storage bins plus a small compartment for the single house battery and a larger locker that houses a pair of 20 L plastic fuel containers. Given the Toyota’s 76 L fuel tank, being able to safely and easily carry an extra 40 L provides significant extra range. Finally, there is an extra storage locker in the body, at the rear. All in all the amount of external storage on this small vehicle puts many larger ones to shame!
Returning to the kerb side, the little fold-down kitchen unit is a clever thing, even though you need to remove one of the small gas bottles from its compartment to attach its hose to the cooker. A small yet functional, pull-out/push-in awning provides just enough cover to keep the sun or light rain off the outdoor kitchen, but if the weather gets too inclement there is always the indoor kitchen!
The entry door is in the rear corner on the kerb side and has a pull-out step to help with the slightly raised body height, but before you enter you need to release the four corner roof latches so that when you step inside you can raise the roof.
Inside the Box
Raising the roof is simple and doesn’t require much effort, thankfully, as it’s quite a decent size. You can still move around inside with the roof lowered, but most times you stop you’ll need to raise the roof.
The Adventure Camper’s internal layout is simple and quite spacious, but it’s spoiled somewhat by the rough, unfinished surface on all the internal fibreglass sections. Up front is a large partly over-cab bed, there’s a kerb side kitchen, a driver’s side dinette and a removable, automotive-style Engel chest fridge/freezer sitting on its own in the driver’s side rear corner, opposite the door as you enter. There is no bathroom or potty, which means this really is a camping vehicle, nor is there a water heater or water system of any sort for an outside shower. In fact the Adventure Camper doesn’t even have a grey water tank, so sink water drains directly onto the ground (use a bucket!), yet it does have a airconditioner...
There is only one openable window inside, above the fridge, but plenty of fresh air and light can be introduced by unzipping any or all of the five fly screened panels in the roof gusset. Strangely, there isn’t an opening panel in the gusset above the rear window. Come the night, lighting is limited to a single fitting above the kitchen bench, while swapping between mains power and the house battery is done via a switch on the front of the main dinette base unit, where you’ll also find the battery condition meter.
Despite its rough and rugged pretensions, the Adventure Camper’s interior furniture is of the same high quality and appearance as ‘normal’ Talvor motorhomes. The small kitchen unit, which sits between the entry door and bed, has a spirit stove with a benchtop lid above it for space efficiency. The sink with a hand pump, which draws from a 40 L plastic container in the cupboard below, and which you fill either by taking outside or bringing in a hose or the exterior water containers.
There are two cupboards beneath the kitchen benchtop. The one on the left, beneath the cooker, is a general pantry-cum-storage area, while the one on the right, beneath the sink, houses the water container and has a small shelf above for cutlery and cooking implements. As previously mentioned, the fridge is an Engel unit, of the type usually found in the backs of ‘serious’ four-wheel drives. Top loading, it can also be used a freezer and it is removable, should you wish to use it in another vehicle or even at home.
The Adventure Camper has a slightly odd-shaped dinette, with the main seating being inwards-facing down the driver’s side wall and an L-shaped return across the centre of the vehicle, facing aft. In the corner where these two meet is a box that houses a small Teco airconditioner and this has a handy piece of bench top above it that makes a convenient place for your wine cooler, condiments and other essentials while dining.
A removable swivel table is provided and we found the best and easiest way for two people to dine was to position the table so one person sat on the main section and the other sat on the centre section.
A massive bed (1960 mm x 1915 mm) is cunningly provided by using a sliding base that comes out over the centre dinette seat, airconditioner and part of the kitchen work bench. It’s the full width of the vehicle and when deployed provides what is essentially a king sized bed. I spoke with one of the AWRV World staff who said he’d gone bush in the vehicle with his two boys and all three of them had slept comfortably in the giant bed. You just need to use the dinette seat as a step up, or be tall to easily get into bed.
This is an interesting vehicle with a lot of potential. Think of it as a campervan with livable inside space rather than a motorhome without a bathroom and you’re on the right track. Compared to a VW or HiAce campervan it’s got oodles of interior room and is a vehicle you could easily sit-out nasty weather without driving each other crazy. It’s also far more capable off road than a van-based camper.
It’s compact enough to easily double as a daily driver; could fit into most shopping centre car parks and single car spaces and yet would easily be at home camping on a remote beach, tackling rocky fire trails or just parking on someone’s driveway after a big night out.
The lack of through-cab access is a bit of bummer, but no real problem, and if you could add a grey water tank then it would be sufficiently self contained to allow you to free camp and leave no trace.
New, a Talvor Adventure Camper retails at $80,883 driveaway, according to Talvor’s website. This one can be yours for just $67,626 driveway (in Victoria) and with just a couple of thousand kilometres on the clock it’s a real bargain. If you’ve got a taste for adventure and a hankering for the great outdoors call Dave Murray at Albury Wodonga RV World on (02) 6024 4222, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go check it out at 5 Melrose Drive, Wodonga.
- Capable 4X4
- Extra fuel capacity
- External storage
- Rugged body
- Good interior space
- Huge bed
- No through-cab access
- No bathroom
- No grey water tank
Click HERE to visit the Talvor website.
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