Submitted: Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 11:14
ThreadID: 137655 Views:9749 Replies:6 FollowUps:13
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Hi all, we've narrowed our search for a new 20ft semi-offroad caravan to between Crusader and New Age. Can anyone comment on the pros and cons? We are in favour of the Crusader layout, but the New Age is a lot cheaper and has bigger wheels and brakes. Weights are not a real concern as tow vehicle is V8 Landcruiser, even though N.A. is 180kg lighter. Any thoughts appreciated. Macca
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Reply By: David I1 - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 13:17

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 13:17
Hi Macca, I had the same toss the coin issue when i bought my van. In the end I bought the NA. Then I went and beefed up the underneath to make it real off road. Semi off road is just a rubbish advertising term. Have a look at where the manufactures say you can tow the van and suddenly you find its only on well formed major dirt roads that have been graded within the last week before you go on them!! All it means is bigger mud tyres tyres(???) big lift (more ground clearance), maybe thicker drawbar and checker plate. Stones on dirt road play havoc with underneath of van. I would also say you may not have the best tow tug. Load it up with people and extras and suddenly you are over GVM. People seem to think the LC is the best, but when you have a close look you suddenly find it does not have a huge payload and that it soon gets deminished by tow ball weight, extra fuel, passenger and driver, and all your accessories. I have done the Oodnadatta, Gibb, Old Eyre Highway and Coach road, Esperence beach run to name a few with my van. However it has taken me at least a year to get it bullet proof for dirt road damage. Happy to discuss further if you want to PM me.
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Follow Up By: Member - John T (Tamworth NSW) - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 12:04

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 12:04
Just to add a bit more to this post from David. The avg. tare for the 20’ N A Semi off road van is near to 3000 kgs as can be. That is from the N A website. So by the time the OP. (Macca) puts full gas bottles aboard, fills the water tanks (I assume that a semi off-road van has them) puts foodstuffs in fridge and pantry, puts pots, pans and other kitchen stuff inside and then loads clothes etc, I am guessing that the N A20’ semi off-road now weighs close to or over 3500kgs - sorry but the Toyota 200 cannot legally tow the van. Food for thought.

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Follow Up By: Bobjl - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 18:59

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 18:59
John and David
Agree your views on the Land Cruiser being limited with the GVM. It is reasonable to expect that the Toyota LC [King of the Jungle] should be able to accommodate 3,500kg Towing and 350kg Tow Ball mass, regrettably they come off the shop floor lacking. Happily the issue is simple to fix. Either a Lovells GVM Upgrade to 3850kg [as I have had on both my LC200s] or an OME/ARB similar upgrade. When that upgrade is in place - you will be $3000 plus out of pocket but you will have a very sure footed and capable tow vehicle. Food for thought for OP. Bob
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Reply By: Gerard S - Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 21:06

Sunday, Jan 06, 2019 at 21:06
How much travel on dirt roads are you likely to do and do they both have similar suspensions? Solar panels and battery capacity are important along with water tank capacities if you are looking to spend time freedom camping.
AnswerID: 623062

Reply By: Sacred Cow - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 07:35

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 07:35
It might pay you to have a look at the Lemon Caravans and RVs in Australia Facebook information before you make such a large investment.
AnswerID: 623064

Follow Up By: Gerard S - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 11:18

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 11:18
If they do that, they'll never buy a caravan. I don't think there is any brand that doesn't get a poor review and unforetunately positive reviews are not encouraged. We had warranty problems with our van but rather than indulging in a self righteous facebook rant we dealt direct with the manufacturer and received excellent results.
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Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 12:49

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 12:49
Many people have had warranty issues Gerad and even with repeated requests for help they have been ignored or fobbed off by dealers. Its not only certain vans but most items purchased nowadays seem to have an issue of some sort. Self righteous facebook page is wrong. Wonder what you would have done if dealer told you to go elsewhere with your complaints? These sights have helped many people save money from an unscrupulous deal. Its just another tool to use in your quest for a reliable, quality unit.
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Follow Up By: Gerard S - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 16:32

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 16:32
Dealer? Never mentioned dealer. Manufacturer was awesome. We dealt directly with the manufacturers warranty division. Facebook won't fix anything, Lemon Vans FB page is a classic case of misery loves company. Lemon caravans won't help any rational buying decision.
FollowupID: 896192

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 10:08

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 10:08
The person who set up and runs the Lemon site has spent much time talking to the ACCC about van manufacturers attitudes and there seems to be some hope they're going to be forced to respect their warranty instead of using the dealers cry of "You've abused it" to stop people getting problems fixed.
Plus of course many people can't afford to pay a solicitor over 400 bucks an hour to write letters, endless letters to people who have no intention of carrying out their obligations.
Our own treatment at the hands of a Melbourne based maker and their WA dealer was disgusting and we'd bought 3 RVs off the dealer and 2 from the maker including the one we complained about.
We did get satisfaction but only after reluctant assistance from the bureaucrats at Consumer Affairs WA and then the small claims court.
We also had a suitably altered read wheel cover kindly provided by the dealer at time of purchase :), to say exactly what we thought. The dealers legal lot did send us a threatening letter about publishing untruths but as we told no lies we continued with it on the back of the van for 5 years or so until the big yellow letters I'd put on started to fall off. If you don't think bad workmanship and bad attitude from dealers/makers doesn't exist, you should have heard the amount of conversations we had with so many people in parks. BUT, virtually not one of them would take any action to help themselves.... which of course is why they believe they can do what they want.
By all means check out the lemon list on that site and also check repairers sites and read some of the horror stories.
Best of luck.

PS. The "you've abused it" rebuttal was what friends of ours got with their brand new straight out of the yard off road van after towing it all of 30 kays from yard to home when they found a wheel had nearly fallen off...
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Follow Up By: AlanTH - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 20:41

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2019 at 20:41
Further to my long winded bit above and to reply to the poster who said the lemon site didn't want good news about vans etc. That is not the purpose of that site, it is a support site for those who get the normal disgraceful attitude from many, not all, makers and dealers.
If you're having bad luck nothing is worse than some wanker crowing about his own wonderful treatment blah blah and how he never has a problem with anything.
We had the same attitude from fellow club members when we said about the probs. we'd had with the dealer about the biggest in WA. "We've never had a problem" they crowed..... then they found water damage from a leaking skylight.
Guess what. The dealer said it wasn't their problem! Off they went to the maker...same response "Not our problem, see the supplier". And they did with the same response.
They said "We'll sue you". Suppliers response to that was "Get in line, everyone says that"!
But their insurers said they'd cover the water damage which cost 6K to fix and recover the costs... I bet they didn't just accept any "We couldn't give a shit attitude" from either the maker or dealer. :)
Do not accept this attitude from dealers or makers. They are obliged under Australian Consumer Law to fix the thing. The caravan industry is worse than the car industry for fault fixing responses.
FollowupID: 896217

Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 07:37

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 07:37
Great information Alan. I am not a facebook fan but I have followed some of the disgusting attitudes of dealers/manufacturers when it comes to some of their products and warranties. Some of the players out there are downright scumbags and others are brilliant. Any information that helps sort them out is welcome.

FollowupID: 896221

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 09:28

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 09:28
Correction to the above: the supplier I wrote of was the supplier of the sky light. Apparently many people have had problems with the incorrect silicone being used to seal these things on van assembly and is incompatible with some plastics.
Something to watch for..... among other things. :)
FollowupID: 896223

Reply By: Shaun H - Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 22:23

Monday, Jan 07, 2019 at 22:23
Hi. I have only looked at New Age very quickly, one turn off for me is they have a timber frame. My personal preference is Aluminium. Had a previous van with fiberglass and had no issues.
AnswerID: 623070

Follow Up By: Gerard S - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 22:23

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 22:23
Aluminium is great, until it is damaged by impact. Not easily repairable,
FollowupID: 896236

Reply By: Gustle - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 16:01

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2019 at 16:01
Hi Macca,

Have owned a 18ft "off road" Crusader for 3 years and spend a fortune fixing basic assembly and assembly-design issues. While the chassis and suspension were up to the task of handling basic Australian dirt roads, the assembly of most components from basic fittings such as taps and hoses, windows and appliances, were substandard to say the least.
Have since purchased a second hand fit-for-purpose offroad van and never looked back.
On a recent trip across the Great Central Road, a fellow traveller with a 20ft Crusader needed major stress reduction therapy each time he opened the door and saw the inside damage. Even their gas line to the stove rubbed against something, causing a major gas leak.
In the end, if you are contemplating travelling some of our major gravel roads, I would carefully consider expanding your options. If you are mostly on the black top, you should be fine.
AnswerID: 623085

Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Friday, Jan 11, 2019 at 16:04

Friday, Jan 11, 2019 at 16:04
Hi Gustle,

Out of curiosity, which "second hand fit-for-purpose offroad van" did you purchase?

Macca (Different Macca from OP)

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Follow Up By: Gustle - Friday, Jan 11, 2019 at 17:00

Friday, Jan 11, 2019 at 17:00
Hi Macca,

I purchased a 2010 second hand Sunland Blue Heeler with all the bells and whistles. At the time (2014) it cost me a little more than a brand new van from Crusader and the like. In my opinion, the build-quality will however make it last much longer and will give me a better resale value in the end. After several trips, I have gained real confidence in this van, making our travels more stress free in remote areas.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Friday, Jan 11, 2019 at 17:09

Friday, Jan 11, 2019 at 17:09
Thanks Gustle.

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Reply By: David I1 - Friday, Jan 11, 2019 at 17:03

Friday, Jan 11, 2019 at 17:03
I think the OP should perhaps define where he intends to take the van. I have had some issues with my van but in most cases it is the result of either me driving too fast on corrugated roads, or dealer items added on later not being properly fitted for an off road van. Ie using self tappers to hold up water/grey water tanks. Extra hoses not lagged. From New Age point of view, my shower screen swivel pin was pop riveted to an aluminium frame.Now bolted and properly wedged. All water tanks have a solid checker plate bash plate and I have put in numerous tin sheet splash protectors to deflet stones and protect plastic, wires and hoses from direct hits. I do not pussy foot on dirt roads and this idea "you drive to the conditions" would have meant 20-30kph on the GSR when I did it. With all my added protection and beefing up of poor workmanship, I was able to average over 80kph for the road. The other thing you also need to consider is the dust ingress. The moment you have any internal gas appliance you must then have air venting to the outside. On dirt roads your inside becomes very dusty. Some people put covers over vents, other use scupper vents, others design their own positive pressure pumps. I have the first 2 and have minimal dust ingress. There is a lot to consider when buying a van and what is your intended use.I do understand that there are some well made "properly designed" off road van available. Trouble is I do not like their layout and to have one built to my spec was going to cost me north of $130K. My van has cost me less than half that and it was almost brand new. (ie ex demo and one year old). I could write pages on this as it took me over 2 years of research to establish what i really wanted, after my partner and I said not more tenting!!!
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