Best Aussie Vans Winner 2015 Sunland Patriot SEL-X
After an Aussie van with the lot? If you want style, size and special features galore, look no further than the epitome of caravans, the Sunland Patriot SEL-X.
This year is the first time a Queensland-built caravan has entered into the fray of Best Aussie Vans and, as I’m quite familiar with Sunland’s products, I was interested to see how the Sunland van would fare against the more commonly seen Victorian products. For the event, Sunland entered its 6.4m (21ft) Patriot SEL-X offroader, one of its top-of-the-line rigs, so I knew it would be something special.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
To create a well-balanced van, the main 190L water tank is fitted above the suspension, thus negating the problem of how full or empty the tank should be for travelling. In addition to that, there is a second 60L drinking water tank fitted immediately behind the suspension. A feature not easily seen on this van but definitely worth a mention is the rain-catcher moulded into the roof that drains into the water tanks to help fill them.
At the corners of the chassis are quick-drop Al-Ko corner stabilisers, and the whole shebang rides on Cruisemaster independent suspension, fitted with coil springs and shock absorbers.
Powering the van are two state-of-the-art lithium batteries that are charged by the 360W solar panels or the Giant Power 2400W Integrated Power System (IPS). That comes with a multi-stage battery charger, solar panel regulator, pure sine wave inverter and an auto-start feature for a generator (if fitted). It also has a feature that prioritises a certain power source so it will choose 240V mains power when it’s available or batteries (or generator) when it’s not. For the techies, software and a USB connection are available so you can easily monitor everything from a computer. One of the reasons for the IPS is that batteries, particularly lithium batteries, are expensive and need to be charged/discharged in the most efficient way to prolong their life.
Like all Sunland caravans, the Patriot SEL-X has a very advanced electrical setup. We could start with the touchscreen entertainment panel for radio/audio/TV above the kitchen bench, then add to that the multi-USB charger outlet near the TV and the Oyster satellite system on the roof – it’s a seriously impressive setup. It’s worth noting that, except for the 12V lighting, the rest of the DC system operates at 24V. As far as you, the buyer, is concerned, it doesn’t really make much difference, but it does mean that smaller cross-sectional cable can be used and voltage drop is less of a problem.
The use of advanced technology, such as lithium batteries, the air spring suspension and even the rain-sensing roof hatch are the sort of cutting edge features you rarely see on today’s caravans.
The Patriot’s body is built with an aluminium frame in box-section style, using 25x50mm and 25x25mm components that are all welded together, overlaid with fibreglass resin core moulded panels for the walls and the roof. The panel floor is made of composite fibreglass as the Sunland team reckons that composite fibreglass used in conjunction with Coolite is a great insulator.
Up front, the drawbar is neat and tidy, with all the usual items, as well as a Hitchmaster DO35 hitch for greater offroad articulation, and a Trail-A-Mate jack. Just in case the thought of winding the jockey wheel/jack up and down is all too much, the SEL-X comes with a power operated jack – known, probably more correctly, as a ‘tongue’ jack in the US.
A bin at the rear offside corner houses the very sophisticated electrical setup which includes two 180Ah lithium batteries and the Giant Power Integrated Power System. For those who like to dine al-fresco, there is not one but two hinged picnic tables fitted to the nearside of the van.
Hits and Misses
- Chassis design to give lighter weight for same strength Good-sized kitchen
- Well-finished interior
- Decent bed length
- Nicely set up lighting
- High-tech electricals
- There’s a price to pay
- Under-seat 12V socket was oddly located
Sunland Patriot SEL-X Specs
Weights and measures
- Overall length 8.6m (28ft 3in)
- External body length 6.4m (21ft)
- External body width 2.5m (8ft 2in)
- Travel height 3m (9ft 10in)
- Internal height 1.95m (6ft 5in)
- Tare 2750kg
- ATM 3500kg
- Ball weight 226kg
- Frame Welded aluminium box-section
- Cladding Resin core moulded fibreglass
- Chassis Hybrid punched alloy and galvanised steel
- Suspension Cruisemaster independent coil suspension
- Brakes 12in electric
- Wheels 17in alloy
- Water 1x190L (fresh); 1x60L (drinking); 1x60L (grey)
- Battery 2x180Ah lithium
- Solar 2x180W
- Air-conditioner Dometic
- Gas 2x9kg
- Sway control Dexter Sway Control
- Cooking Swift four-burner, grill and oven
- Fridge Waeco RPD175 175L 24V compressor
- Microwave Camec
- Toilet Dometic cassette
- Shower Separate cubicle
- Lighting 12V LED
- Hot water Instant gas
Price as shown
- $138,990 (on-road, Qld)
The full test appears in Caravan World #545 January 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!