The name says it all, doesn’t it? The Family Escape is all about getting away from it, escaping from the drudgery of work and landing with the family somewhere serene. How’s the serenity, as Darryl Kerrigan would ask.
Nova has been building quality caravans for over ten years and prides itself on custom building to client’s requirements. After relocating to accommodate growth, the company recently moved into a purpose built, state of the art facility in Campbellfield in a show of confidence in the RV industry’s future.
The Family Escape on review has been made for Nova’s Melbourne distributor, May West Caravans in Hoppers Crossing west of the Yarra, and optioned with features including the GT Sports Pack. These include deluxe alloy wheels, Aluminium Chrystal raised aluminium cladding with striking orange trim and black finish on doors, grab handle, awning arms, and J- mouldings. It’s a great look and, without appearing too brash, the result retains an air of quality.
At 19’6” the van is the middle of three in the family range and is designed as a hardtop tourer. Ground clearance is limited, and the rear overhang is quite long, so it’s not the choice for the Cape or the Gibb River Road, although it easily handled the hard packed dirt roads and farm tracks on our way to our photo destination. The suspension is an Al-Ko Rocker Roller load sharing system which uses leaf springs and is reliable and efficient over our less than perfect highways.
Well-proportioned lines and an aerodynamic swept-back entry are accentuated by an elegant ASA plastic front cover over the front, flowing seamlessly back to a single piece moulded fibreglass roof. An APS window cover and boot hatch complete the stylish and individual-looking front end, with the bonus that it’s a lightweight material and resistant to stone chips.
The full-width boot has room for chairs, hoses, mats and tools and also houses the batteries and fuse box and the battery charger on a neat panel. I liked the way the fuses for each circuit are all explicitly named, one sign that attention to detail and customer care is paramount.
A stone guard protects two 9kg gas bottles, and the hitch is a simple 3500kg 50mm ball coupling. Al-Ko Electronic Stability control is a very important safety feature and it’s standard on all Nova Vans, and because the van is over 2000kg, there’s also the regulatory breakaway system.
As you might expect, inside is just as modern and well conceived as the exterior would suggest. Dark high gloss Ashwood timber doors and drawers are complemented by lighter Silver Moon splashback laminates and, with an extensive palate of furniture and upholstery colours from which to choose, customising your design is almost unlimited.
Parents will likely appreciate the separation of the bedrooms- kids up the back and mum and dad up front- with a living area between them and a sliding door for peace.
Being able to see through to the back of the van better allows you to appreciate the size and they achieve this by placing the bathroom lengthways opposite the bunks to give a walkway past the bunks to a rear storage cupboard.
There’s a choice of double or triple bunks, but it makes sense to go with the three-up layout in the test van, as it gives the option of bringing along friends or using any unused beds for storage. Each of the bunk beds has its own window and fold down DVD player with a headphone jack. So it will be nice and quiet with no spats over the choice of shows.
In locating the ensuite lengthways instead of across the van, some vanity space is lost, which is a small compromise given there is still a full-size single piece fibreglass shower unit and ample room around the Thetford cassette toilet. Twin 80L water tanks and the gas/electric heater will enable some off the grid camping with judicious use of the shower, although I suspect the van will be tethered to amenities much of the time.
The parent’s bedroom has a Caravan Queen (6’2″x 5’4″) surrounded by Dometic double glazed picture windows, hanging cupboards, side tables and reading lamps. Overhead is a Swift Cormorant Air conditioner, at 3.5kw, one of the highest capacity units on the market, so it should cool the whole van without any worry when plugged into mains power.
Appliances in the kitchen include a Thetford Mini Grill, range hood, Daewoo microwave and a family size 184L Thetford 3-way fridge. A laminate cover over the stove adds to food preparation area, and you can also use the long dining table opposite for larger meals.
As on most vans, a television and stereo are standard features, but the Nova also comes with RV Wi-Fi, which is almost a prerequisite these days for moving the family away from home.
All the well-finished CNC cut joinery in the van is lightweight but strong poplar ply, and the hardware looks both fashionable and sturdy.
There is room for two adults and three young children at the L-shaped dinette, with space in the aisle for folding chairs or stools for more. It’s also long enough to sleep an extra person, taking the total number of beds to six.
An ATM weight of 2605kg means that the current crop of 4wd utes are well capable of towing the Nova with ease, and during our drive around the outskirts of Melbourne, the van tracked nicely behind the Jeep tow vehicle with a well-balanced ride that delivered no jerks or wandering.
With a list price of $64,990 the Family Escape has a lot to offer, especially since caravan parks have evolved into family destinations with facilities and entertainment for everyone. With the bonus of enough onboard power and refrigeration for a few days off the grid, this Nova is an excellent choice for getting away from it all at your favourite holiday destination.
Manufacturer: Nova Caravans
Model: Family Escape 196-8C
Overall length: 6.69m
External Body Length: 7.14m
Travel height: 2.87m
Travel width: 2.45m
Tare weight: 2205kg
ATM weight: 2605kg
Ball weight: 280kg
Price as reviewed: $64,900
Find Out More
May West Caravans
336-344 Old Geelong Rd Hoppers Crossing 3029
Ph. 03 9369 3300