AVAILABLE FROM: www.tracktrailer.com.au
RRP: Canning from $67,490
WE SAY: Costly, but well designed and exudes quality, comfort and reliability.
THE TRACK Trailer Tvan is 20 years old this year and in that time has built an enviable reputation for quality, reliability and unequalled off-road ability. In 2017 the Mk5 released, featuring some 250 sheetmetal changes from the previous incarnation and four different models to choose from. While the Mk5 is still distinctly a Tvan it is better in nearly every way than its predecessors, and it has stayed true to its reputation of delivering unparalleled ride, great comfort and off-road capability.
All Tvans share the same key characteristics including the somewhat idiosyncratic looks, the unique MC2 suspension, a hot-dipped galvanised chassis, durable riveted steel and aluminium construction of the cabin and lower body lockers, an aluminium rear folding deck, off-road electric brakes, and a fully articulated off-road coupling. Thereís also the quick-erect tent that drops down easily and quickly from its own compartment and never gets anywhere near the bed.
While the tare weight of the Murranji (the top-of-the-line variant) is 1100kg the standard suspension is rated at 1500kg, providing a payload of 400kg. An optional upgrade to the suspension (and 12-inch brakes) ups the rating to 1800kg, giving a mammoth 800kg payload. Fitted to our rig were 265/70R17 tyres and, while you can go to 33-inch rubber, these are about as big as you can go on the Tvan.
The most noteworthy changes of the Mk5 over its predecessors include a taller roof design to provide more head room, more cabin space with a slightly wider interior, a lighter weight rear deck, a host of electronic and electrical improvements and equipment, a more refined tent with easy-to-use magnetised clamps around the floor, and many other smaller modifications. The Murranji also gets the unique Skyward Rear lift-up deck, among a host of other goodies.
We recently took a Canning (below the Murranji on the Tvan line-up) model on a gruelling two-week jaunt through the South Australian outback. This unit had been optioned up with a few choice accessories including a diesel hot water system and sliding glass windows.
Both Canning and Murranji models get the Premium Kitchen, which is a beauty and offers a three-burner cooktop, three large drawers for everyday items from cutlery to coffee, a large stainless steel preparation area, a glass-top sink with mixer tap, and the brandís easy-to-liftinto-place windshield. Both models also get Trackís Quick Cover swing-out awning that covers the kitchen area quickly and effectively; itís one of the best and most clever awning designs Iíve ever used.
The kitchen stove, protected by the lift-up shielding, works in all but the windiest of situations, when extra tall shielding or all-round shielding is required Ė the awning helps in many of these situations (depending on wind direction). The kitchen area and its stainless steel preparation surface is more than adequate for preparing the biggest of camp meals.
These two Tvan models get as standard a front storage area which comes with two sealed lockers, the one on the left being insulated and fitted with a sliding fridge drawer, 12-volt power and filtered venting. Itís suitable for an Engel 40-litre, ARB Blue 50, or a National Luna 55-litre fridge, but there would be some bigger units on the market nowadays that just wouldnít fit. The locker to the right is fitted with an optional sliding tray ideal for jerry cans, a generator, a second fridge or whatever you want. The spare tyre is mounted atop the front boot, while two 4kg gas bottles nestle inside their own compartment in the central area of the boot. A 108-litre water tank is mounted underneath the body behind the axle, while an optional 70-litre tank can be fitted.
A lower body locker on the right-hand side of the camper is suitable for storing items such as the full annex and walls (another option), toolboxes or soft bags, while a small full-width compartment is ideal for carrying extra poles or an axe (or similar). An open compartment on the left side can carry a jerrycan, while a water pump system that has the ability to draw water from an external source tucks in beside the jerrycan compartment. The diesel hot-water system, behind a lockable lid, was on the opposite side of the camper.
The drop-down deck can carry up to four MaxTrax, while a small folding shelf can carry a surprising amount of wood. The levelling legs for the deck now lock within the deck frame and mount quickly and easily into place. The lift-up hatch entry door easily and lightly swings up to provide access to the inside of the camper, or it drops down to close the camper. Itís extremely dust proof and Iíve never had any dust issues in any of the Tvans Iíve owned.
ON A 5000km jaunt over a variety of roads including long stretches of soft sandy track, the LC79 towed the camper effortlessly and returned in the vicinity 17 to 18 litres per 100km.
A queen-size double bed takes up most of the room under the hard roof, and itís always set up and always away from any damp canvas. The windows, rooftop vents and the higher roof of the Mk5 gives the camper a pleasant, spacious feel. Three storage drawers can be found under the bed, while a roof storage system and side-wall storage pockets hold plenty of soft gear including clothes and books. Two threespeed fans are positioned up high and on each side of the cavernous entry door (which is bigger than previous models). Air conditioning is optional on all models.
A battery management system, DC-DC charger, circuit breakers, power outlets, USB sockets, pure sine-wave inverter and switches are on the right side of the interior, while an AM/FM/Bluetooth Fusion sound system is on the left hand side. The 105amp/h AGM battery (lithium is optional, as is a second battery) is contained in a box beneath the floor, while a 120W solar panel is mounted on the roof.
THE MC2 Suspension title comes from the Australian military spec classed as ĎMobility Category 2í, which is the highest performance rating for the suspension for an unpowered vehicle. This spec remains unmatched by any other trailer manufacturer I know of, either here or overseas, and it delivers a remarkable softer and flatter ride. The Australian military use it on their very best trailers, carrying their finest optical, electronic and satellite communication equipment.
The tent has been refined from previous models and, while it stores and drops into place in a similar way, the floor is held in place by strategically placed magnets. Packing up is also made easier by the simple use of pull-down straps. While it is different to any other camper-trailer tent on the market, the Tvan tent is quick to deploy and takes less than five minutes from go to whoa. We rarely set the tent up, though, preferring to use the rear insect screen which is a 30-second fit to the entry door area.
The Tvan is ideal for the couple who want to tour the hardest and most remote tracks on the continent, as itís capable, more comfortable and has more features than ever before. It may be costly, but these units are the epitome of design and Australian manufacturing, exuding build quality, comfort and reliability. The Tvan comfortably rode behind the Cruiser, proving its suspension is better than most tow vehicles. Approach, departure and rampover angles are first class, with the Tvan tracking accurately, only cutting the sharpest of corners by a tad.
The Tvan Canning sells for $67,490, but adding the diesel hot-water heater, sliding windows and a sliding drawer bumps the price to $76,660 (as tested). History has shown there is a strong market for Tvans, where they hold their value extremely well. For example, the first Tvan ever built was sold to a friend of ours 20 years ago for $20K. Today it is again up for sale for $18K Ö howís that for holding value!