Once Upon A Dreamtime
Kea’s former flagship is a sound second-hand buy…
by Malcolm Street
Rental company Kea’s four and six berth motorhomes were quite successful in both the rental and private markets. For this review I decided to have a look at a four berth former rental motorhome that Australian Motor Homes have – or had –available.
Based on the venerable Ford Transit the Four is just over 6.8 m (22 ft) long, has a tare weight of 3400 kg, an ATM of 4250 kg, giving it a generous 850 kg load capacity. For a rental motorhome a few years old, the Four looks pretty snappy with a moulded fibreglass luton peak and curved edges that take away the usual boxy look.
External storage space for a rental motorhome was quite generous, with bins on either side behind the driver and passenger doors plus a ‘ski locker’ across the back. Also on the roof were two solar panels. Another interesting feature was that the Kea came with a decent security door that could be remotely locked with the cab doors.
Externally this vehicle had very few signs of wear, apart from items like the grey mouldings looking a bit faded and some deep scratches on the door – I did wonder if someone had had a go at breaking in at some point!
On The Road
Although it had nearly 100,000km on the clock the Ford still performed willingly and had no trouble maintaining highway speeds. Certainly there were a few squeaks and rattles, but no more than I have heard in younger motorhomes.
Inside the Four the spacious layout features a Luton peak (over cab) bed, nearside kitchen, bathroom behind the driver’s seat, dinette/lounge in the rear and a sort of kitchen/general cabinet mid offside. The general décor had been designed with rental use in mind, i.e. practical but fairly plain, but when it’s all said and done it actually looks quite good. All the windows had curtains or blinds and there was a roof mounted air conditioner.
At the rear it is very much a ‘New Zealand back,’ with the dinette/lounge and large windows all round, but one with a versatile difference. A two person lounge sits along the rear nearside and a three person dinette is located in the nearside corner. Both nearside seats have belts and both the dinette and lounge can be made into a small double and single bed or a big double.
General storage around the rear of the Four is quite generous, with overhead lockers plus the usual under-seat areas. Under the sideways lounge is an interesting addition – a small safe that’s out of sight and is handy for small valuables. Lighting too is quite generous, with an overhead fluorescent plus four under-locker halogen down lights.
Between the dinette and bathroom is a very neat little piece of cabinet work. Split more or less in two, one half is a low height wardrobe, with a microwave above: The latter, amazingly (slight touch of sarcasm in case you missed it) is set at a height that’s usable for most people. Alongside that is a lower cupboard with shelves and four nicely sized drawers. It also makes an ideal work bench for parking the lap top and other journalist type paraphernalia. Conveniently, there are power points and under-locker fluorescents fitted here, plus an AM/FM radio and DVD player, which is used in conjunction with the flat screen TV mounted in the cupboard above, on the back of the cupboard door. It’s out of sight usually, but with the door open can be seen easily from the dinette and lounge in the rear. Beside the TV cupboard is a 12 V control panel for all lights and appliances, plus battery voltage gauge and water tank level indicators.
Time to Eat
In keeping with the rest of the vehicle the kitchen is a practical set up. Mounted next to the door is a four burner cooktop with integrated grill and alongside that is a moulded sink/drainer/bench. An all-round lip is moulded in so that drainage water doesn’t run everywhere.
Fitted under the bench top is a Vitrifrigo 135-litre 12 V compressor fridge plus a 2 door cupboard and 3 drawers; 1 of the latter having a specially built frame for plates, bowls, glasses and cups. Even the cupboard has been kitted out with shelves and – a garbage bin!
Above the bench top are lockers, two having clear plastic windows, so that the contents can easily be seen. A big tick for this kitchen set up, generally speaking.
Above the driver’s cab the bed isn’t quite like most Luton designs I’ve seen – it’s better. For a start, it can be made up into a big single, small double or, with the cushion insert fitted, a big double. We opted for the big single because leaving the insert out made it easier to climb in and out. Two gooseneck halogen reading lights are fitted to the offside, plus in an innovative item – small moulded bedside shelves in each corner.
Bathrooms are generally compact spaces but this one is slightly more spacious than usual. Complete with Thetford cassette toilet, fold-down wash basin, flexible hose shower, mirrored shaving cabinet, moulded in shelves and towel rails, it is well fitted out.
What I think
Although this motorhome has quite a few km on the clock, it's in remarkably good condition given its service use. Being a rental layout, it doesn't have an island bed but the luton is very large and does have a good ceiling height. It's also a layout that would suit a family on a budget.
The design works well and still looks good
Slightly different dinette and lounge layout
Versatile Luton peak bed with reading lights and bedside cabinets
Specific kitchen drawer for plates, cups, etc
Height and length warnings on both quarter vent windows
Generous grey water capacity
All white finish
TV antenna that could not be rotated
Limited external storage
About reviewing pre-loved motorhomes
When reading through reviews on used motorhomes a few points need to be kept in mind. Although we will have a test drive of the vehicle, it should in no way be considered a thorough evaluation of the mechanical components. We will open and shut everything we can find, as well as turn on and off all the appliances (if there’s gas in the cylinders - Ed). Although we will try and list all the specifications, some like solar panel capacity and house battery capacity might well have changed since original manufacture. There might also be items that a former owner has added. Finally – and this might sound bleedin' obvious – but the particular vehicle we review might well be sold between review and publication, so these reviews should be seen very much as a guide.
Warranty and other issues
A particular concern with buying a used motorhome is that all the appliances function correctly. Bert van Leeuwarden, from Australian Motor Homes, told me that when a used motorhome is bought from them the AMH team spends half a day at pickup time not only showing the new owner how everything functions but also turning on items like the fridge (which take time to cool), Webasto heaters (which take time to warm) and air conditioners, to demonstrate they function correctly. It's a good question to ask any dealer about, whether this sort of service is offered. Warranties vary from dealer to dealer so make sure you understand the finer details of any being offered.
Click below to download a PDF of the full test, including specifications, photos and contact details.