Review: Traveller Sensation Evolution
A clever layout and an eye for the finer things make the Traveller Sensation Evolution a great long-distance proposition.
EXPERIENCE COUNTS IN the caravan game and Adelaide's Northland Caravans has a justifiably strong reputation in the industry. Run by the Kessner family, Northland has traded in the same location for the past 40 years and, in a logical move, specialise in only one brand. This means the team knows its product inside out.
"The only new vans we sell are Traveller models, which ensures we are experts in that brand," Brett Kessner said. "We find it keeps the customers happy if we are well informed when called upon. But at other times we just let them wander through our range hassle-free and take their own impressions."
I recently visited this SA dealer to test its new flagship offering: the 7.32m (24ft) Traveller Sensation Evolution.
"This is an exclusive model to Northland Caravans, one we came up with ourselves using the best aspects of our most popular vans," Brett explained. "It is designed for extended travel and for someone who wants a bit of extra luxury with the name-brand appliances and high-end fittings and fixtures as standard."
LIFE ON THE ROAD
For those heading off on lengthy adventures, there is increased cause to ensure your van is well specified with essentials and luxuries (if they can be afforded). Starting with the Sensation Evolution's 7.3m exterior, there's no reason to live indoors the whole time with a slide-out stainless steel hooded barbecue alongside a slide-out Waeco drawer fridge. Add to that the large fold-down picnic table and I'd fancy owners would be dining outside most evenings.
The external slide-out fridge may seem an extravagance, but having chilled meat for the barbecue without having to go inside each time makes cooking a breeze. And being able to reach for that extra beer or bottle of Chardonnay without leaving your seat will be a well-appreciated luxury for many.
However, as Brett explained, these vans are all built to order so if you wanted to remove items like the fridge or barbecue it would not be a problem, and your bespoke van would be priced according to your desired features.
There's good front and tunnel boot storage on the outside, plus a generator storage area, ample annexe lights, exterior speakers, and a 130W solar panel on the roof - excellent for those longer journeys.
I particularly like the simple colour scheme of this Sensation Evolution, as well as its wrap-around checkerplating and sensible checkerplate stoneguard up to the halfway point of the front end; it appears more modern than many vans being produced today.
Two 9kg gas bottles sit on the 6in RHS A-frame, which also features a centre-mounted 8in jockey wheel. The whole unit rolls on modern 15in alloy wheels.
Having two spare wheels as standard shows Northland Caravans' experience - there's little sense scrimping on such things if you're planning a long journey.
You can often step into a caravan and quickly see where your money is going. At close to $90,000, the Sensation Evolution is far from a cheap van, but after settling in it's clear that money is well spent.
The interior layout is superb. The queen-size bed runs east-west at the van's front to ensure no wheel box gets in the way at the end of the bed, so walking around it is hassle-free.
The design has allowed for an extensive series of full-length deep wardrobes along the front of the van, and in addition to a 22in flatcreen TV in the lounge, there is space for a 19in TV in the bedroom. Again, this is ideal for those who will be living in their caravan long-term and need the extra space and comforts. You will never feel cramped in this Traveller.
The dinette leads off the bedroom, and the 100 per cent leather seats are firm but comfy.
If I was being really picky I would suggest sitting four around the fold-out table would be a a squeeze but it is more than ample for two diners and no doubt designed with a luxury-loving couple in mind.
A nicely-finished and long angled benchtop fills the kitchen, and you'll find drawers everywhere, with most brilliantly deep. The fan-forced oven and 184L fridge are quality items of large size. The built-in microwave looks excellent, but may be on the high side for some people.
Cupboards are plentiful and of quality design. My only gripe would be with the glass-fronted doors above the dinette (and bed), where I'd only feel comfortable storing soft items such as clothes or linen to avoid any damage.
Fitting three 95L water tanks shows the teams at Northland expects the Evolution to be used for extended trips, with one of these tanks having its own 12V pump for filtered drinking water. Travel with the tanks full, though, and that's 285kg of your payload taken up - so pack with care.
The extra water will, however, be appreciated by those wanting to use the 3kg washing machine that is installed in the bathroom just above a Thetford cassette toilet. Access to the washing machine is simple, and there's a generous linen cupboard above the machine in the very good-sized ensuite.
The fibreglass shower is roomy and very light, while the sink and cupboard space are very hard to fault.
THE BOTTOM LINE
For this sort of money you'd expect a pretty special van, and the Traveller Sensation Evolution more than delivers. You can lose some of the features included in this test van to reduce the price, but the layout will remain the same, and in my opinion, that's a good thing.
Northland Caravans' years of experience shines through with the design of the Evolution - it's a highly desirable interior you'd be happy to spend a lot of time in.
With an ATM of 3200kg this is a heavy van, but not restrictively so and there are a number of Australian-delivered 4WDs capable of towing it. Its Simplicity independent suspension will allow basic rough road work and its quality build should ensure you can get into the wild and make use of its self-contained setup.
If money were no object I'd take the Evolution specified just the way it is; a fine mix of all the necessities with the odd luxury thrown in to make life more enjoyable. For a planned life on the road, the Sensation Evolution is one that would not disappoint.