Review: Caravan World Reviews the Evernew RTX35 a Truely Gas-Less Caravan

About a year ago one of my favourite colleagues, Peter Quilty, rang to chew the fat over a van he had fallen in love with. That van was the Evernew E800 RTX28 which you can read about in issue #613 or find on our website. He rang because, like me, we get excited when we find something special and in his eyes, that’s exactly what Evernew had.

Fast forward a year and it’s finally my turn to have a look at one and I got the ‘cherry on the top’ model, the RTX35 gasless, a caravan built without compromise here in Melbourne from the proud almost 60-year-old company with one purpose – give the public an affordable gasless caravan that will take them outback in real comfort.

HITS

  • Unrivalled value for money
  • Excellent suspension
  • Great layout

MISSES

  • Low water capacities

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE EVERNEW RTX35 ‘GASLESS’

As I was shooting a video on the RTX35 and needed some guidance for scripting the specs and key attributes of the van, I got a cheat sheet from Dani Bib, owner of Evernew. What I read was pretty astounding. I was to review a caravan that, on spec, was probably around 20 per cent cheaper than a similar rival’s output and it appeared it didn’t skimp to get there. If you want to watch the video, follow the QR Code link to our website where it lives.

Pulling up to Evernew’s handover and sales offices, I was met with a handful of vans with one standing out from the crowd, it was the RTX35. You’ll notice the chamfered rear end that gives a better departure angle (handy in riverbeds, deep ruts and berms outback) and strong graphics. Step a bit closer and you’ll pick up on the quality alloy wheels and Cooper all-terrain tyres as well as the Dometic awning. What you won’t see, but is a nice touch, is a keyless entry system, a WiTi Security System complete with one-touch locking, siren and GPS tracker as well as little details like the side markers wired to the indicators to add a little more safety and style on the road.

A walk around the van and I could see the vents for the Truma Combi “D6” diesel HWS and heating system and rangehood but there are not as many as a lot of vans, which is a really good thing that going gasless affords – fewer vents means less likelihood of dust getting in. On the far side of the van is an external shower and on the A-Frame, there is a DO45 hitch, Dexter DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) and jack stand plus a levelling sensor – what is that for? The top-spec Cruisemaster ATX suspension of course.

LEVEL 4 CRUISEMASTER ATX SUSPENSION

I’ve sampled every variant of Cruisemaster independent trailing arm suspension from the bespoke X-Cruise built for Patriot Campers to the more common XT and new CRS2 that I believe will take the market by storm once builders realise the value in its wide range of applications. On top of the range is ATX, a heavy-duty system that features 63mm stub axles and 46mm Monotube shock absorbers as standard, and airbags and control system as options.
The RTX35 rides on Level 4 ATX Air which adds on a remote compressor with a holding tank (this is exceptionally handy for quick reinflation of tyres and sports equipment) as well as a sensor to measure levelness and self-adjust. Does it work? Flawlessly. I manually set it on some odd angles to see how it would react and a few moments after flicking it back to automatic mode, it found the ideal ride height and level towing. It is a great addition to anyone looking at ATX in their next van. Another positive of the ATX system is its 4500kg ATM rating (when in twin axle configurations) which, when coupled with the DO45 Coupling (no pun intended), means buyers can easily upgrade their van to up to 4500kg ATM offering a mammoth payload.

A big-capacity suspension set-up is nothing without a great chassis and good topsides. Starting with the locally made chassis from G&S, it has 150x50mm main rails that are tied to the suspension mounting points by more of the same spec Aussie steel. The A-Frame is gusseted for added strength too. Water tanks are suspended high and fairly central to the van for balance and clearance and underneath, wiring and cabling are well tucked up and protected, such as at the grey water outlet. I would like to see a few more tanks underneath as the twin 95 fresh tanks do not offer enough for more than a week away but that’s the option a buyer has, add them on and either chew up some payload or option on the ATM upgrade and have your cake and eat it too.

IF YOU WANT TO SEE HOW THE EVERNEW RTX35 TOWED, YOU’LL FIND OUR SILVERADO LTZ 2500HD TOW-TEST HERE

HOW THE EVERNEW RTX35 IS MADE

The RTX35 is clad in aluminium composite panelling over a meranti frame with fire-resistant insulation between. Avid readers of my reviews will know I am not a fan of meranti as, although it is very cheap and easy to work with, it is wood and wood can rot. The benefits are great though. It is light, it allows needed flex in the body and it is easily repairable. What it needs is to be used properly. It needs its cladding to not be entirely water-tight on its lowest edges to allow some air in to ensure the wood can breathe and stay rot-free. Good builders will lip the lower edges to avoid the pooling of water between the cladding and the frame. It looks good, great even, eliciting good responses from all that came to chat at the parks and fuel stations we stopped at but what of what matters, the inside?

REVERSED LAYOUT

The first thing that caught my eye inside was the flipped arrangement. This is a couples van with a full-width ensuite and north-south queen bed but in a twist, the ensuite is at the drawbar end with the bed to the rear.

Standing on the electric step, taking it in, it took hardly any time to realise why it’s a better layout than the more common rear ensuite – privacy around the bed. A lot of us like to doze off with only the flyscreen of the door open. It is a safe way to nap as you can lock most and the tall door offers a lot of airflow but the downside is that you are in plain view of passers-by. There is also the option to add a curtain at the foot of the bed and keep your room private while entertaining guests or if allowing others to use the front ensuite. The danger is in weight balance though as the plumbing systems for the ensuite would be the second heaviest set of components after the fridge and kitchen so it could affect towing. Did it? Nope, it was a flawless tow which you can read about in my breakout.

THE POWER OF REDARC – POWERING THE RTX35

Speaking of the best, this van uses a brand not often seen in caravans to power its systems and give it its ‘gasless’ credentials. REDARC, which supplied the power and brains behind the build, is a proud, award-winning brand based just south of Adelaide in SA. Well-known in camper trailers, REDARC also provides technology for defence and industrial applications. One thing tying these diverse markets is excellence.

REDARC received the first Gerry Ryan OAM Award for Innovation from the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA) for its RedVision Total Vehicle Management System or TVMS which is what underpins this build.

TVMS is a powerful control unit that plugs into the charger and fluid level monitors and has the capability to control powered systems throughout the caravan by app or the display unit. It is not an uncommon concept with BMPRO and Enerdrive both having similar systems, but what sets them apart is the simplicity in the installation and configuration of TVMS. According to Dani Bib, who has installed systems from all major brands, the REDARC is the simplest and most rewarding from a user point of view.

The system consists of two 200A lithium batteries, a Manager 30 charger, BCDC1250D charger, a 3000W pure sine inverter and the TVMS. Combined, they power and monitor all caravan functions from the front step to the Thetford induction cooktop. The app is quick loading and simple to use with the ability to ‘fire up’ the caravan when within BlueTooth range, turn on lights, pumps, the air-conditioner and the inverter. From there you can monitor the state of charge (or discharge) of the battery bank which is fed power from 720w of combined solar panels, a 50A Anderson plug, a separate Anderson plug for solar blankets which combined can charge at up to 80A, and the air-conditioner feed which can charge at up to 30A. One cool thing about the system is that it prioritises where it is taking charge from meaning even if plugged into air-conditioner, if the sun is shining, it will pass on as much solar power as possible to the batteries to keep the costs of power down.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM THE BATTERIES AND SOLAR

Firstly, what you see is not what the next buyer of an RTX35 will get. I hate hearing it when talking to manufacturers but they’ve already said there is an upgrade coming to the REDARC Manager 30 which is being replaced with a more capable charger. For this review though, we’ll stick to what it can do but I’ll also point out where the change will benefit a user.

Currently, this RTX uses a Manager 30 rated to 30A which is capable of charging the batteries off 240V AC as well as having DC and solar inputs. It pairs with the BCDC50, a 50A 12V charger with solar inputs. Together, these have a peak charging capacity of 80A which is plenty to rapid recharge while driving or when plugged in at a holiday park.

The solar system has a theoretical maximum of 60A, which you will never see. Expect more like 20-30A on a typical day which for around six hours will pump in around 120-180A of power back into the system meaning you won’t have to be too careful with your power use in this van, you should be able to relax knowing you have the capacity in solar and charging.

A detail in the TVMS I really like is how it prioritises solar charging as well as maintaining peak charging power while appliances are in use. To explain this further, even if you are drawing around 20A through your fridges and some USB ports, if the capacity is there through solar and the car’s DC charge from the Anderson plug, it can still be pushing in up to 80A into the batteries while the van is consuming 20A. The reason this is so important is the lovely ability to run your AC for a short burst while coming up to camp. This is a trick I learned from Bushtracker who would fire up their AC remotely, and chill down the van all the while without sacrificing the charging of the battery. TVMS is operated by a small screen near the entrance or by app which means you could do all of this from the car when an hour or so from camp.

And can you run the air-conditioner off the inverter and battery bank? Yes, just. The IBS4 will draw around 60A when running around five-eight degrees under ambient conditions which means you could run it for it a couple of hours to take the edge off the heat but you would need to be confident the next day’s sunlight will be good or know you are planning to drive to recharge the bank through the car.

The rumour mill is that the incoming replacement charger is rated to a healthy 100A and will be a single unit removing the need for the Manager 30 and BCDC combo.

VALUE FOR MONEY – WHAT’S THE RTX35 WORTH?

When first talking to Dani about the replacement price, he indicated it would be under $150,000 and my jaw dropped. This is a full-bodied van with automatic airbag suspension and the ability to live without gas. The reality is though that with the coming upgrade to the power system and the constant increase in component costs, that price is likely a little higher on the next RTX35 plus I would option some more water capacity, maybe another 200A of battery and possibly the 4500kg ATM which will push the replacement value closer to $165,000 – still a bargain compared to the recent gasless vans I’ve seen.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Don’t think the RTX35 is a cut-price caravan just because it is cheaper than the competition. It is comparatively spec’d with some of the best and it has the chassis and suspension to take you anywhere. The company has a legacy of supporting its owners and a history of building quality with a good warranty so there is little to doubt you’ll get where you want to and be comfortable there and back.

EVERNEW RTX35 ‘GASLESS’ SPECIFICATIONS

  • Overall length 8.7m (28ft 6in)
  • External body length 6.35m (20ft 10in)
  • External body width 2.49m (8ft 2in)
  • Travel height 3.05m (10ft)
  • Internal height 1.95m (6ft 5in)
  • Nameplate Tare (kg) 2900kg
  • Nameplate ATM (kg) 3500kg
  • Payload (calculated) 600kg
  • Ball weight (kg) 225kg

EXTERNAL

  • Frame Meranti
  • Cladding Aluminium composite
  • Chassis 150x50mm Steel
  • Suspension Level 4 Cruisemaster AXT Air
  • Brakes Electric 30cm (12in)
  • Wheels 40cm (16in) alloy with 265/75/R16 Cooper AT3
  • Water 190L fresh, 95L grey
  • Battery 12V 400A lithium / 3000w inverter / 30A charger
  • Solar 720w
  • Air-conditioner Dometic IBIS4
  • Sway control Dexter DSC

INTERNAL

  • Cooking Thetford Induction
  • Fridge Dometic RUC6408X Compressor
  • Oven Thetford
  • Toilet Thetford C263 Ceramic bowl
  • Shower Fully-moulded fibreglass
  • Lighting LED
  • Hot water Truma Combi-D

EVERNEW RTX35 PRICE: $159,664 (AS TESTED)

MORE INFORMATION Evernew Caravans

20A Reserve Street
Preston 3072  Vic

Phone: 03 9459 7516

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.evernewcaravans.com.au

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