Deluxe Caravans is a boutique manufacturer in Campbellfield, Vic. While the company doesn’t have the same profile as some caravan builders in this industrial suburb, the caravans rolling out of its small factory are well and truly up to scratch. At least, that’s what I concluded after spending some time with the Deluxe 18ft 6in Stormbreaker.
The 18ft 6in Stormbreaker is the smallest van in this particular range. There’s also a 19ft 6in rig as well as a 21ft 6in model, with a price difference of only $5000 between the smallest and the largest van in the range. Each van in the range is an offroader.
BUILDING THE DELUXE CARAVANS STORMBREAKER
Deluxe Caravans can frame up its vans in either meranti timber or riveted aluminium. Our van was framed in timber and clad with smooth composite aluminium, and black checkerplate. There are one-piece roof and floor options available as well.
The Stormbreaker has a high, purposeful stance on the road, thanks to the chassis setup. It is comprised of 6in DuraGal main steel members and a 2in raiser, giving the van 8in of steel underneath. As a result, Deluxe has fitted a double fold-out entry step. I loved the rear cutaway, too, a design feature that makes a genuine difference in offroad situations. A little extra departure angle is always welcome.
In standard format, the Stormbreaker has the main outdoor-living bases covered. There’s an entertainment locker with a TV bracket, 12V and 240V points, and the antenna connection. LED awning lights, a picnic table and speakers are included as well. The customer who had recently had this van built opted for a slide-out Dometic kitchen, which takes up most of the tunnel boot storage space. However, there’s another storage locker on the offside and, let’s not forget, a checkerplate storage box on the 6in A-frame complete with slide-out trays either side. I would add an Anderson plug inside the nearside compartment, though, in order to power a portable fridge.
Speaking of power, the 18ft 6in Stormbreaker comes with two 100Ah lithium batteries, which are secured to the offside chassis rail behind protective checkerplate. These are kept up to charge by three 170W solar panels mounted on the roof – a decent 12V setup made even better by the inclusion of a BMPRO BatteryPlus35 battery management system with internal digital Trek display, which provides real-time updates on things like battery state of charge and the levels of the two 95L water tanks. A 110L grey water tank is provided as well.
Other external features include a shower – perfect for washing the sand off your feet before climbing aboard – a couple of rear jerry can holders, a reversing camera, and front and rear LED light bars.
While the dual 9kg gas cylinders on the A-frame are protected by a mesh stoneguard, I did find this stoneguard slightly impeded winding the jockey wheel, but it wasn’t too bad and I could get the job done.
That said, the Stormbreaker’s exterior in standard format is fairly generous – I have seen similarly-priced vans with less equipment. Even the front-mounted bike rack is standard. Overall, it’s a visually appealing, high-riding rig with a bit of offroad swagger. But let’s step inside…
It’s amazing how much space can be ‘reclaimed’ by fitting the main bed east-west rather than north-south. As seen in this layout, this orientation has allowed Deluxe Caravans to not only fit a couple of bunks in the back but a split bathroom, too.
The bedroom is complete with a single 12V fan (two really wouldn’t be necessary), a powerpoint, and a couple of reading lights. Each of the reading lights throughout this van come with built-in USB charging points. Further, there’s a single wardrobe, along with overhead lockers and a drawer for easy access to the space under the bed. It’s quite an attractive space. In case you’re wondering, yes, the wardrobe features a niche with 12V and 240V points inside. Nice.
If there was a compromise in this layout, it’s the dinette. This is a simple but comfortable bench seat and a table, which can slide on either axis depending on your needs. When considering the dinette setup, it’s worth remembering that this is an 18ft 6in van with a split bathroom and kids’ bedroom, so there’s a lot here to fit inside a limited space and, I have to say, it’s done well.
A 188L three way fridge has been mounted off the floor between the dinette and bathroom, while the kitchen, directly opposite the dinette, comes with a cooktop, griller and oven, as well as a black sink with filtered drinking water. And if you’re thinking there would not be any usable bench space, you’d be wrong, especially when the lid above the cooktop is closed.
And that leaves the two bunks that stretch the width of the van in the rear. What makes this such a good use of space? First, they sit about the cutaway, which would’ve otherwise created an awkward upward-sloping area. Second, each bunk gets its own locker at the head of the bed – perfect for those devices and other things the kids will bring along. And if that’s not enough, there is a wardrobe, with shelves, on either side between the bunks and the bathroom.
There are a few other welcome design touches throughout but one that particularly caught eye was the ‘missing’ recessed step in the entryway. In fact, it was intentionally omitted in order to create additional usable walking space near the foot of the bed – a terrific idea.
While this van did include a few other options, such as ESC, instant hot water instead of a 28L Swift gas-electric unit, and the exclusion of the microwave, even in standard format, the 18ft 6in Stormbreaker carries a great deal of appeal. It is clearly solid and well built.
Further, it is squarely in mid-size 4WD territory, with a Tare of 2400kg, an ATM of 3000kg and an unladen ball weight of 200kg.
In case you can’t tell, I liked this van and if you’re on the hunt for a smaller offroad family van, I think you might too.
FIT AND FINISH –
HITS & MISSES
- The layout is a winner
- Omission of recessed step in the entrance
- Excellent storage solutions in the bunk area
- A-frame stoneguard sits a little close to the jockey wheel for easy use
- I’d like a few dedicated 12V points, especially in the leg area of the dinette, rather than relying on the USB points in the reading lights
DELUXE CARAVANS STORMBREAKER SPECS
Overall length: 8.1m
External width: 2.5m
Internal height: 2m
Travel height: 3.2m
Unladen ball weight: 200kg
Group axle capacity: 3000kg
Frame: Meranti timber (aluminium available)
Cladding: Composite aluminium with black checkerplate
Chassis: 6in DuraGal with 2in raiser; 6in drawbar
Suspension: 3000kg-rated Tough Ride independent trailing arm coil
Brakes: 12in electric
Wheels: 16in alloy
Fresh water: 2x95L
Grey water: 1x110L
Battery: 2x100Ah lithium with BMPRO BatteryPlus 35 battery management system and Trek digital display
Air-conditioner: Dometic Series 7 reverse-cycle
Sway control: ESC
Cooking: Four-burner cooktop with griller and oven
Refrigeration: 188L three-way
Microwave: Yes but omitted by customer
Shower: Separate cubicle, fully-moulded fibreglass
Toilet: Thetford cassette
Washing machine: No
Lighting: 12V LED
Hot water: Instant
TV: 24in smart
Dometic slide-out kitchen
Instant hot water
Exclusion of microwave