Now and then, I come across a relatively new manufacturer building surprisingly well-developed caravans, as if they were built by a company with decades of experience, rather than two or three years. Based on my recent experience with the new RVS196, I’ve put Atlas Caravans on that list.
While the company has been operating for only three years, it’s been developing a line-up of caravans worthy of our roads and remote areas.
It’s known as the RVS range. For the moment, it’s the only range in the Atlas Caravans stable, but it’s available in six different layouts from 18ft to 22ft 6in. Ours was the 19ft 6in centre-door family model, which we hitched up during the depths of Melbourne’s winter for a shakedown run to our favourite bush campsite north of the city.
ATLAS CARAVANS FITOUT
This model is also available in a couple’s layout. The main differences between our bunk van and the couple’s van is the fact ours had a space-saving east-west bed, a centre door, and a nearside bathroom facing the rear bunks. The couple’s layout, however, has a rear door, a north-south bed and a full-width rear ensuite.
The east-west bed, located in the front of the van, has a comfortable innerspring mattress, with a drawer for easy access to the storage space underneath and a small, slimline wardrobe between the bed and the L-shaped dinette, along with a main wardrobe near the entrance. There’s a couple of reading lights, each with a built-in USB port, a dedicated USB charging point, and a couple of 12V fans. Three large overhead lockers surround the bed.
I thought the kitchen was particularly attractive. It certainly appeared solid, too. Appliances include a four-burner cooktop and griller, an oven, an overhead microwave, and a 188L three-way fridge-freezer between the dinette and the kids’ bedroom. There’s a decent array of storage options in the kitchen, too, and the joinery here, and throughout the interior, appears faultless. If I was to add anything to the kitchen, it would be a separate tap for filtered drinking water.
The rear of the van is filled out with three kids’s bunks with ample headroom each (although, you could opt for two bunks instead). Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of concertina doors, which is what’s used here to close off the bathroom. However, in this instance, because the concertina door is very unobtrusive, the bathroom really adds to the sense of space inside the kids’ room when the door is open.
A cupboard sits on the rear wall, so you’ve got somewhere to put the kids’ stuff; however, the lower cupboard is occupied by a top-loading washing machine. The bathroom, though, really does feel spacious, although in truth it’s probably no larger than similar bathrooms on similar vans. The facilities include a cassette toilet, an attractive vanity, and a one-piece moulded fibreglass cubicle with 12V extraction hatch and black tapware to match the kitchen and vanity.
While attractive, the interior of the Atlas Caravans RVS196 offers a sense of strength and rigidity – nothing seems cheap or flimsy. And it’s not short on those essential features, either, including the powerful 3.5kW Gree air-conditioner, a 24in smart TV with Winegard aerial, a BMPRO battery management system with OdysseyLink (located in an overhead locker), a slide-out kitchen pantry and more.
THREE KEY UPGRADES
In standard format, the Atlas Caravans RVS196 is a semi-offroader equipped with the semi-offload Cruisemaster Country Road coil suspension system. However, our van had a few key upgrades, Cruisemaster XT offroad independent suspension being one of them. The other two options were a mesh stoneguard on the A-frame protecting dual 9kg gas cylinders, and the Dometic Dust Reduction System, which pressurises the van under tow in order to prevent dust ingress.
The frame is clad in smooth composite aluminium, with a one-piece fibreglass roof and a 12mm ply floor. Underneath, Atlas has equipped the RS196 with dual 95L fresh water tanks and a 100L grey water tank. While most of the plumbing appears to be out of harm’s way, to be on the safe side, I reckon the grey water spout could do with some checkerplate.
Like the rest of this van, the 12V system is above average. It is comprised of two 150W lithium batteries and two roof-mounted 200W solar panels. With that kind of on-demand 12V power, there’s plenty of scope to add an inverter down the track in order to power 240V appliances, from a hair-dryer to the air-con unit.
The RVS196 might offer loads of internal storage space, but it’s no slouch in this department on outside, too. I’m talking a large checkerplate box on the A-frame complete with dual slide-out trays, and a large tunnel boot. A gas bayonet has been mounted to the chassis rail, near the nearside tunnel boot hatch, making it easy to connect should you fit a barbie to the boot at some stage.
Some of the other equipment includes a reversing camera, a rear external shower, a roll-out awning, a couple of external speakers and awning lights, and an entertainment locker with the fittings required to watch the cricket under the awning.
Yes, there’s room to add more equipment if you wanted, but as it is, the Atlas RVS196 packs a pretty decent punch.
I can’t complain about the fit and finish of this van, or the level of features that come as standard. As I mentioned, Atlas Caravans is a fairly new manufacturer but judging by the Atlas RVS196, I think we can expect some very interesting caravans from this company in the future. I’d buy one.
FIT AND FINISH –
HITS & MISSES
- Excellent overall build quality with a sense of strength and rigidity
- Appealing internal fitout
- Good towing characteristics – I experienced no difficulty or sway
- I’d add filtered drinking water to the kitchen
- I’d like some checkerplate protection for the external grey water spout, and perhaps a front and rear LED light bar
Overall length: 8.2m
External width: 2.3m
Travel height: 3.1m
Unladen ball weight: 165kg
Frame: 25mm tube aluminium
Cladding: Composite aluminium with checkerplate protection
Chassis: 4in Painted SupaGal with 6in A-frame
Suspension: Cruisemaster XT independent coil
Brakes: 12in electric
Wheels: 16in alloy
Fresh water: 2x95L
Grey water: 100L
Battery: 2x15000Ah lithium with BMPRO BatteryPlus 35 battery management system and OdysseyLink
Air-conditioner: 3.5kW Gree reverse-cycle
Sway control: No
Cooking: Four-burner cooktop with griller and oven
Refrigeration: 188L three-way
Shower: Separate cubicle, one-piece fibreglass
Washing machine: Top-loader
Lighting: 12V LED
Hot water: Gas-electric
Dust reduction: Dometic Dust Reduction System
TV: 24in smart
Upgrade to Cruisemaster XT suspension
Dometic Dust Reduction System
Mesh stoneguard on A-frame