For a company that’s been around since 1975 and that now produces nearly half the RV’s built in Australia each year, Jayco has taken a long while to catch on to the off-road phenomenon. Things are changing fast and as caravanners become more adventurous, the lure of remote destinations is harder to resist. Part of this is because the proliferation of social media alloys everyone to share photos of beautiful locations that become bucket list items in no time.
Adventure vans are flavour of the moment, and Jayco has joined the bandwagon with a range of three caravans and a poptop, all aptly named Adventurer, to suit the off-grid lifestyle.
Previous dirt roaders from the big Dandenong based company have been labelled as Outback’s, but are pretty tame in comparison and came with very deliberate warnings that they were designed for “limited unsealed road usage” and not “severely rutted roads or tracks.”
Despite this, plenty of owners dragged them where they weren’t meant to go, of course, and it’s a tribute to the company’s design and build capability that most of them survived intact.
The new model is a different kettle of barramundi indeed. It’s intended for real bush travel and, within the confines of damage due to deep-water crossing and abuse, if the track is suitable for a typical four-wheel drive, then the van is built for the task.
Don’t be fooled by some of the gung-ho activity you see on the Internet. If you rip the air conditioner off the roof or dislodge the suspension on a one-meter boulder, then don’t expect any redress from the warranty crew.
Somewhat proving my point about younger folk taking up the off-road challenge, the van on review fits the family traveller to a Tee. It’s a big, bold statement that Jayco is fair dinkum about stepping out of their comfort zone and into the wild. With the somewhat bland model name of 19.60-03, I think the techno boffins must have won the naming rights lottery over the PR pool. Either that or all the remote Australian place names are taken already. It differentiates from its 19.60-02 sibling by having a bunkroom, compact ensuite and east-west double bed instead of a more conventional couples-only layout.
Two years of planning and development went into the range before prototypes hit the road for testing. While the team might have taken proven internal layouts from the existing fleet, the new models required a lot of rethinking, re-engineering and retooling. The robust J-Tech suspension follows the proven design of other off-roaders with independent trailing arms but apart from the Jayco specified Pedders dual shock absorbers, the Al-Ko stub axles and coils it’s all built in-house. So too is the Endurance chassis and A-frame which have been engineered for lightness and strength.
The caravan body has also come in for special treatment. Aluminium framed composite panels form the walls and roof and are fixed together with a bonded ply floor to create a single ultra sturdy entity that is secured to the chassis. The outline shape and openings for windows and door are lazer cut for a perfect fit, and the panel edges are bonded to create an enduring weatherproof seal.
This new model is a very different Jayco that attracted admiring but curious stares in our travels with the van. Bold angles and lashings of hardwearing checkerplate trim reinforce the high stance and battleship grey body panels for an effect that fits the off-street cred. The underside is protected by standout red rock sliders each side of distinctive tandem alloy wheels and chunky all-terrain tyres. The theme continues at the back with a pair of matching spares mounted on a stout bar inside reinforced metal boxes for the taillights.
Two fresh water tanks, a dedicated drinking tank and a grey water tank, batteries fed by solar panels and up to date charging technology all add to the off grid experience.
Inside the van is where the emphasis on family travel is most apparent. This version of the Adventurer 19 comes complete with an ensuite, a well-equipped kitchen and dining area as well as a dedicated bunk room down the back and a parent’s double bed up front.
Jayco has recognised the stresses that offroad travel puts in the internal fittings, so all the cabinetry has internal aluminium reinforcing, and particular attention has been paid to make sure appliances are securely mounted. I was particularly impressed with this as, over the course of some very rough conditions, nothing came loose or moved, and no drawers or doors came open and that can be a real test for many supposed off roaders.
Some will bemoan the east-west double bed, and that’s understandable, but it’s an inevitable compromise in a family van of this size and a relatively small price to pay for the benefits of including all the family in the fun. In this vein, I can see some grey nomads, who like the idea of occasionally travelling with grandchildren being drawn to the van.
For our extended review of the Adventurer 19, we took it from Jayco headquarters in Melbourne along expressways and secondary roads north into the dirt backroads and tracks in the Snowy Mountains before heading down through steep fire trails to the NSW South Coast and into the forests of northern Gippsland. Over two weeks, towed behind a 200 Series Landcruiser, we clocked up nearly 2000km of road conditions varied enough to give a good impression of the van’s performance. We encountered river crossings, corrugated roads, muddy tracks, steep fire trails and at the end, the Jayco earned nothing but praise from our crew. The only limitations were manoeuvrability on some of the gnarlier sections and the height of the van under low hanging tree limbs.
Nothing came loose, cupboards and doors remained closed, dust and water ingress was minimal, and except the fold-down step that clogged up with mud, everything worked as it should.
TARE weight is 2825kg and we were loaded with full water and plenty of food and camping equipment, so all up the van would have been close to maximum ATM of 3500kg.
The Toyota handled the load well, and the van tracked behind with no tendency to wander or push. Brakes were efficient at all speeds, and the 19 reversed into campsites predictably and without fuss. But weight is significant, and even the beefy 200 Series had work to do up some of the steeper hills, both on the tar in the mountains and at slower speed through the bush. It definitely needs a tow vehicle among the more capable four-wheel drives.
The Adventurer 19 shows that Jayco is serious about being in the off-road market. They have put the might of their development and engineering department behind the project, and it shows in the close attention to the critical aspects of build quality and strength as well as in a very modern and livable space inside. At $85,990, the big Adventurer is very competitively priced and it shouldn’t be long before they are a common site out in the bush.
- Rugged style and sturdy build
- Roomy interior with family accommodation
- Capable off road
- east-west bed
Find Out More
Model: Adventurer 19.60-3
Overall length: 8.24m
Travel height: 3.1m
Tare weight: 2825kg
Ball weight: 180kg
Price from: $85,990
Contact: Jayco Australia
1 Jayco Dr Dandenong South 3175
Ph: 03 8792 2000
Company founder Gerry Ryan started building camper trailers from a small Melbourne backyard in 1975, and since then Jayco has grown to be the most prominent RV builder in Australia and one of the biggest in the world. In 1995 they moved to the recently vacated 20-hectare Nissan site in Dandenong with 60,000sqm undercover manufacturing. Today the company employs over 1,000 workers who produce around 10,000 examples each year. Towards the end of 2017 more than 180,000 Jayco RV’s had hit the road.
The Adventurer is the latest in a range of caravans that includes the upmarket Silverline, the entry level Freedom and space-saving Expanda, all of which are available with dirt road capable Outback upgrades.
Essential to Jayco’s popularity is their network of more than 100 service agents and a nationwide group of 32 dealers.