JB Gator 17’10”

JB Caravans marketing team might have watched too much television and overdosed on American Unreality shows like Swamp People before naming their tough offroader after those thick skinned and nasty reptiles from the Everglades. Or perhaps, an outdoor shoe company had already claimed the Australian equivalent of Croc.

The name Gator conjures up the image of a self-sufficient, wild and very tough creature so the marketing boffins might be on the right track because the JB version has all these attributes and then some.

Although JB has only been producing vans for around six years, they have established a loyal following by offerings lots of standard features in well-built and attractive models. The Gator is packed with features designed to get it off road and spend extended time away from civilisation in comfort.

The Gator joins the larger Scorpion models in the JB range of off road capable vans but is a lighter, single axle version designed to cater to those vehicles with a 2500kg towing capacity, like the Prado. Its shorter length and lighter weight will appeal to a wider audience, though, because among other things, it’s more manoeuvrable in tricky situations on confined bush tracks where a longer van can be a bit of a handful.

The body is built on a meranti frame and clad in raised profile aluminium, but the rear of the test van is dominated by a large high gloss red flat alloy panel that also comes in a range of optional colours. Black checkerplate panels along the sides and across the front protect the van from stone damage and enforce the offroad impression.

As well as being tough, most owners want their offroader to look the part, so the Gator’s high stance and bright colours fit the image. The van is built on JB’s own Supergal 4” chassis and 6” A-frame with 2800kg rated Cruisemaster XT trailing arm independent suspension using twin Vehicle Components shock absorbers each side. Connection is through the proven DO-35 hitch for superior articulation over rough tracks, and washouts and wheels are 16″ alloys shod with 265/75 off road tyres.

A full-width stone guard protects two 9kg gas bottles as well as a pair of jerry can holders on the A-frame while further back a through boot gives plenty of storage.

Two 60L water tanks, as well as a 95L grey water tank, are protected by checkerplate cladding, and all electrical and plumbing lines are well protected and out of harm’s way.

Along the side of the van are a full-length awning and a fold-down picnic table with power outlets and a swivelling bracket for the standard 24” television. You also get an external shower, water tap on the A-frame and a single spare wheel mounted on a sturdy rear bumper.

Step inside, and you discover a welcoming bright interior with lots of white walls to reflect the light and a modern timber finish to the cabinetry. It would be a perfect place to relax after a hard day’s travelling rough dusty tracks and with a well laid out kitchen and comfortable surrounds, cooking dinner should be a pleasure. The layout is a sensible use of space with the bedroom at the front of the living area and a full-width ensuite across the rear.

The caravan queen bed is a deep innerspring and lifts on struts to access storage. Bedside tables, hanging space and overhead cupboards will take care of clothing and personal items, the LED bedside lights are welcome, and the remote bathroom light is a handy inclusion. Windows either side and over the bedhead permit a proper flow of air and offer views into your surroundings but sliding screens allow privacy when required.

Small corner cupboards take advantage of the space between bedroom and kitchen but still allow enough room for access and leave sufficient wall space to view the television from either the bed or the dinette.

Probably the biggest compromise in a compact van with an ensuite is in the kitchen bench space, and the Gator is no exception. JB has made the most of the room available to include a recessed Swift grill and gas and electric cooktop, 12v rangehood and a stainless steel sink with draining board. Further rearward is a 190L Waeco compressor fridge, while a 25L microwave is set into the high mount cupboards.

The latest compressor fridges are remarkably energy efficient so the two 150w roof-mounted solar panels powering twin 120ah AGM batteries should keep the fridge going for a few days even without sunshine if handled sympathetically. Included in the electronics package are a 25amp Projecta charger, a Projecta battery monitor, water tank gauges and an Andersen connection to the tow vehicle to help top up the batteries.

JB logos on the headrests give an individual touch to the Café dinette where there is room for two adults and a couple of children around a bi-fold table. Fold out extensions and richly upholstered backrests let you sit comfortably lengthways when watching TV or just kicking back with a cold one.

Strip lighting under the kitchen and overhead dinette cupboards are a nice romantic touch because the latest LED room lights can be a bit overwhelming when relaxing. An Ibis reverse cycle air conditioner is set on the roof, but you will need 240v power or a decent size generator to run it.

The ensuite has contemporary styling and ample room to move. The driver-side ceramic toilet isn’t cramped and the Daewoo wall mounted washing machine is easy to reach, and its practical height means no bending to load it up. The moulded fibreglass shower is roomy enough, and there’s a gas/electric heater and two 12v roof fans for proper ventilation.

The Gator should appeal to couples that like the idea of travelling rough roads but not living rough. It has the build quality to get you there and the comforts and features to keep you happily in your favourite campsite for extended periods.

Pricing ex Melbourne is $66,500 so it’s very competitive and would only need a generator to complete the very comprehensive package for remote travel.


Manufacturer: JB CARAVANS

Model: Gator 17’10” Centre Door

Overall length: 6.86m

Width: 2.46m

Travel height: 3.0m

Tare weight: 2076kg

ATM weight: 2500kg

Price as reviewed: $66,500 (ex Melbourne)

Find Out More

JB Caravans

311 Hume Hwy Craigieburn Vic 3064

Ph. (03) 83397223


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