A wise man once told me to keep an eye on the little stocky bloke at the end of the bar … ‘he was going to be the one that caused all the damage when things turned pear-shaped’. This analogy has proven itself 100% correct countless times in my life, and not always with reference to the battle-hardened knuckle duster with the grin on his face when the skin and hair started flying amongst bar stools.
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We’ve all heard similar references: ‘Good things come in small packages’, ‘it’s not the size of the man in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the man’, and the list goes on.
Van Cruiser has long been recognised as a manufacturer of high quality caravans with the ability to customise many of its products to suit your personal needs – but recently the company diversified into a new and rapidly growing sector of the market and that’s where the all new Outlaw SUV is setting its roots.
The hybrid, as it has become known, is a cross between a camper trailer and a caravan: A dynamic blend of light weight and robust strength; capable of accessing the harder-to-reach destinations but still boasting some important ‘home away from home’ features of a larger comfort-packed traditional caravan. It is very attractive to adventurous travellers who want to get to the spots where they can find solitude without having to feel like they are roughing it. The Outlaw SUV ticks those boxes quite nicely.
First impressions of the Outlaw are the ones that make an Aussie bloke utter low guttural grunts and growls. It looks tough and is more than capable of stroking our egos when it comes to our fellow bush hounds admiring our setups – but a closer look exposes much more.
The Outlaw SUV is a well thought out escape capsule, capable of following you on your quest to fulfil bucket list dreams and ensure you are comfortable whilst doing so.
The G&S chassis and independent suspension are borderline overkill but, in my opinion, if there is a component in a product like this that’s worth overdoing it’s the chassis and suspension package. Electric brakes and a Breakaway braking system highlight Van Cruiser’s focus on safety, and will deliver peace of mind.
There is plenty of room on the drawbar for toys and tools. The unit I reviewed was fitted with a dirt bike carrier, outboard motor bracket, two jerry can holders and two 9kg gas bottle holders. All of these things are optional; and if you would prefer a different layout, simply chat to the sales guys.
Down the far side of the Outlaw I found an access to the bed (there’s one either side, ‘his and hers’ if you like), external access storage compartments, a remote shower attached to a gas hot water system and the filler for the 95L underbody water tank. It has a full-width storage tunnel perfect for fishing rods and the like, 12V power outlets, and even a TV connection so you don’t miss the footy.
Around the back was a spare wheel, four lockable storage compartments and a winch – which I thought was a nice touch, having personally been in the situation a few times where a rear recovery was necessary with a camper on. The winch will allow you to remove the camper under its own steam before focusing on the vehicle.
The near side of the unit is set up as your living area, which makes sense as it enables you to stop on the side of the road and make a cuppa and be on the safe side of the camper away from passing traffic. There is a pull-out awning, slide-out kitchen with sink (again connected to the hot water system), gas cook top, 12V outlets, more storage options; as well as access to a 60L compressor-driven upright fridge. I found all of this to be quite comfortable, easily accessible … and actually more than I expected from such a compact unit.
The power is delivered via dual 105Ah AGM batteries backed up by a battery management system. The batteries drive the all-important fridge as well as ample lighting and a sound system (which I thought was a nice touch). The entire battery system begins at the hitch with an Anderson plug enabling charging through either your vehicle as you drive, or by connecting a solar panel. The roof is structurally tough; tough enough in fact to carry a tinny mounted on racks (on the unit I tested) which again just goes to filling the needs of the adventurer. Whoever has the most toys wins.
Inside the Outlaw SUV is quite the surprise. Although there isn’t room for a dance (which I wasn’t expecting) there’s plenty of storage cupboards, a double bed, a 12V fan, flyscreens and privacy screens on all the windows and security screens on the doors. Everything you need to tuck yourself away when the day has become too much is there … and all at your fingertips.
Enzo and Tanya from Van Cruiser are a brother/sister team who have pioneered many developments in the RV industry in Australia. They have made moves in the past that have been described as ‘bold’ by other members of the industry who have now adapted similar directions. They are not scared to try new things without sacrificing the quality and strength that their RVs are renowned for – and it is for this reason that I look forward to watching the Outlaw SUV to see where it helps mold the hybrid range into the future.
All up, the Outlaw is tough, well designed, solidly constructed and backed by a name that is well respected. It will follow you where you’re going, and all the way home again.
Words by Craig McGown.