Option RV Tornado Equippe Family: Review

By: Malcolm Street, Photography by: Malcolm Street


The five-berth Option RV Tornado Equippe Family is ready to take the whole family adventuring off the beaten track.

Think of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and many will think immediately of sunshine, beaches and surfing, not to mention the stunning beauty of the Noosa area. However, there is another side to the Sunshine Coast - the beautiful hinterland area. Along the forestry roads between Montville and Kenilworth there are some interesting views of the surrounding district, not to mention a great drive through the Mapleton National Park (NP).

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This area is the home of Chevallum-based dealership, Caravan World, from where I had arranged to borrow an Option RV Tornado Equippe family bunk van.

I’ve mentioned previously that family-friendly caravans can be a bit hard to find among all the ‘couples’ vans on the market. But they are definitely available, in every specification from rising roof campers with extendable ends to a hard-core, full offroad versions.

Option RV’s Tornado fits somewhere in between. It’s designed – in my opinion – for rough road, rather than full offroad, use. And there was certainly no shortage of rough roads in the Sunshine Coast area to explore with the Tornado on the back of my tow tug.

ROOM FOR FIVE

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With an external body length of 6.45m (21ft 2in), the bunk bed Tornado has an island bed up front for mum and dad, an L-shaped nearside dinette, offside kitchen, rear bathroom and triple bunks off to one side of the rear. The forward entry door means this can all be fitted in without compromising too much on space in the general layout.

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That said, the more or less fixed sizes of the island bed and the bunks means the kitchen and the lounge are on the smaller side for a van of this size. For a start, the L-shaped lounge and dining table will need an extra folding seat or two, depending on the number of family members, and the table is on the small side for family dining. The inner end of the lounge does have a hinged footrest but I’m fairly sure it’s rated for feet not body weight.

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The clever folk at Option RV have figured out that younger members of the family (not to mention the oldies), often travel with at least one electronic device each that requires charging via 12V/5V USB. So the outlets on the wall by the table are a great idea.

There is also a mains double outlet alongside the low voltage outlets, as well.

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Now I have to admit that I’m not the chief cook in our house, but even I know that catering for a family requires a bit more planning and a bit more space than for a couple, especially for the main meal of the day. So it ws great to see that this kitchen has all the features you’d expect from a family-friendly kitchen, including a four burner cooker, grill, oven, Dometic three-way fridge and a microwave.

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This Tornado has triple bunks in the rear corner but you could just have two, if preferred. With the triple bunk setup, there is less head room for the upper occupant but you gain a bit of general storage space when camped up. That extra space might be useful because, instead of a wardrobe, there’s a washing machine between the bunks and the bathroom. Handy if the kids want to do their own washing! Dream on, right?

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With sleeping berths for five, there might well be a bit of a queue for the bathroom in peak periods and the caravan park amenities block could be a better option. But the onboard bathroom does provide the basics, including a separate shower cubicle, Thetford cassette toilet and a small vanity cabinet.

WEIGHT AND SEE

The van’s ATM of 2720kg and Tare weight of 2220kg gives a healthy payload of 500kg but it creates an interesting problem in the towing department. A ute like a Ford Ranger or Holden Colorado could handle it okay, but I’d make the argument for using something like a Toyota LandCruiser, as I did for this test. A vehicle of that size gives not only comfort, but also plenty of reserve capacity in both engine and weight.

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The Tornado is built on a standard box section chassis with 150x50mm (6x2in) main and drawbar rails that come shod with load sharing leaf spring suspension for the tandem axles that are fitted with 16in alloy wheels. Both 95L water tanks are fitted forward of the axles, as is the battery box which sits on the offside chassis rail.

A front tunnel boot is built into the aluminum composite/aluminium clad body but the drawbar-mounted alloy checkerplate toolbox is a welcome addition for the tools you invariably need when on the road.

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I thought the stainless steel grab handles mounted on each corner were a bit ironic. Sure, they’re more solid that those fitted in years gone by they are still more decorative than functional, given most users will never be capable of moving the van around by hand. More useful is a handle inside the entry door – something needed in many van, especially those that sit high off the ground. The electrics are pretty well sorted, with a 100Ah battery, 150W solar panel and most light switches and power points in the right places. Anyone considering going off the grid for more than a couple of days at a time might like to consider a second battery, though. In the end locker above the kitchen bench, along with the radio/DVD player, are the solar panel regulator, hot water switch and water tank gauges. Below that in the floor level cupboard by the bed is the battery charger, 12V fuse panel (without labels) and even the breakaway power supply

THE BOTTOM LINE

Option RV has used what has become a fairly common layout for a bunk van with a bathroom and it works well, especially for travellers who are not spending too much time in the one place.

Having a full annexe for the awning will certainly improve long stay living no end and give everyone a bit more room to move, which will make journeying in the Tornado a most pleasant experience for the whole family.

HITS AND MISSES

Pros...

  • Spacious for a family
  • Good sized bunk beds for kids
  • Toolbox storage on front drawbar
  • Family-friendly fridge

Cons...

  • Small dining table for family meals
  • Minimal prep space in kitchen
  • Ladder for the bunk beds is a 
  • bit flimsy

Weights and measures

  • Overall length 8.78m (28ft 10in)
  • External body length 6.45m 21ft 2in)
  • External body width 2.41m (7ft 11in)
  • Internal height 1.97m (6ft 6in)
  • Travel height 3m (9ft 6in)
  • Tare 2220kg
  • ATM 2720kg
  • Payload 500kg
  • Ball weight 140kg

Price as shown

$61,990 (on road, Qld)

You can find the full review in Caravan World #563. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!