Anyone experienced in towing a van knows that weight is the enemy. Not the sort I manage to accumulate eating hearty breakfasts when travelling but the kind that weighs the van down and adds to the fuel bill.
For many Australian derived vans, to some extent, weight has been seen as a benefit as it could be an indicator that the van was built on a robust platform capable of being dragged through the roughest terrain without breaking.
On the other hand, Jurgens Caravans have taken the road less travelled yet they have arrived at similar offbeat destinations through taking out weight wherever possible within the confine of keeping the van capable and durable.
They have done this by starting with a chassis that has been engineered for strength and thoroughly tested for durability while at the same time shedding kilos of unnecessary weight. Their C-section beams are beefed up in stress areas and years of trouble free service here and overseas have proven the boffins correct.
Assisting the slimming process is an innovative Australian made AL-KO independent rubber suspension system that, again, has proven reliable and durable. Iconic American builder, Airstream, share this technology, and their vans have also been travelling the world for years.
But it’s not just the underpinnings where bulk is cast off. The bodywork is also built from an innovative sandwich wall that does away with a massive frame. The walls, floor and roof, form a super strong monocoque structure with high insulation properties.
Despite construction process that might appear as revolutionary, Jurgens is a quite conservative company. Their range is extensive, but they are resistant to introduce new models to market for the sake of it. When they do – like with their recent Tufftrax and Travado – the result is ground breaking, but their ethos is to improve the range as new technologies emerge over time.
So while the Lunagazer on test has been around for a while, it has undergone subtle improvements and variations to the layout to suit different customer needs. While Jurgens may not be a custom builder, there are many design options within the models to fit most families.
Four different layouts offer various kitchen positions and a choice of a double or twin beds. Meanwhile, six different dinette options should suit most tastes.
All variations share the same ensuite as well as the same basic colour scheme, which soft fabric options can personalise.
Standardising joinery and bathrooms across the range add to the value proposition of the brand by keeping costs down through better purchasing power.
For our review of the Lunagazer, we hooked it up behind a 100 Series Landcruiser and travelled 80km along the expressway then along country roads to Noojee and into the surrounding forest. Across all road surfaces including some bumpy, potholed tracks the van towed faultlessly with no weaving or jerking, emphasising the benefits of a well-balanced design. And in the event that things were to get out of shape the AL-KO Electronic Stability Control – ESC would come into play.
While dirt road capable, the J24 series is more of a general touring van than an off-roader. Both ground clearance and approach/departure angles would limit more extreme travel.
This J2405 delivered a queen bed and a driver side kitchen in twin axle package that fits right in the most popular 21’ category. It came with everything you would expect for a travelling couple but with a tare of only 1745kg, hundreds of kilos lighter than most similar sized vans.
The Jurgens family of vans are easily recognised on the road, sharing as they do similar fibreglass nose cones and light grey, flat panelled sides. Even the logos and badges, apart from the off-road models, are consistent across the range, and the winged Jurgens logo is becoming a familiar sight.
At the front is a full-width boot containing 2 X 4.5 kg gas bottles in a walled off section with a scissor jack and room for hoses and mats opposite. The spare lives in a cradle under the rear of the van. Above the boot, a large window is covered when travelling with a removable blanket. A second boot will store longer items and allows access to items stored under the bed.
Twin 60L water tanks are slung out of harm’s way under the van, and the electrics and most pipes are positioned to avoid damage. Wheels are 14″ alloys on a five-stud Ford pattern and tyres are road style 195Rx14C tyres rated to 180kph.
Entry is towards the rear and once inside I found a happy mix of modern and traditional. Modern fitout, appliances and fabrics contrasted against more conventional timber finishes on cupboards doors. It works well and differentiates the Jurgens from many of the stark ultra-chic designs that may have a short shelf life. I reckon the Jurgens approach will still look fresh in years to come.
To the rear of the entryway is the ensuite which has a slightly offset door to maximise space in the main cabin without impinging on bathroom room! The designers have achieved this by narrowing the unused area around the toilet and optimising the rest of the ensuite where you need space to shower and dry off. It’s thoughtful things like this that can mean a lot in the long run.
This ensuite has an elegantly curved vanity with a stainless steel sink, good storage cupboards and a shower with a handy moulded seat and shelves for soap. A full-length mirror on the outside of the shower door adds to a feeling of space.
The living area has the familiar layout of the galley running along the driver side with diner opposite and the bed up front. Large windows and an overhead hatch brighten up the interior, but there are inbuilt blockouts as well as curtains for privacy. LED roof and reading lights throughout are part of the technology update, they are well placed at the galley, diner and bed.
The fridge is an 184L AES three-way (12v, 240v and gas) and there’s a microwave above while further forward you get a Thetford Mini Grill, rangehood, a stainless steel sink with drain board, cutlery drawer. Cupboards and drawers are CNC cut for a neat flush finish are built from durable and light poplar ply.
Over the other side is a four seater, U-shaped diner with a table that drops to convert to a bed. Storage under the lounge is welcome, and there are plugs here for phones and computers. I liked the addition of bookshelves with fiddle rails between storage lockers over the diner.
An extendable island queen (1.9mx 1.5m) lives up front along with hanging lockers, small bedside tables and overhead cupboards incorporating a sound system and speakers.
Pricing is $63,490 as tested and you don’t need a big vehicle to tow it. A lot of couples will enjoy the Lunagazer for its roomy layout and the full complement of inclusions. It’s a comfortable van and has the benefit of thoughtful engineering to endure rough roads to some of the more out of the way places.
Model: Lunagazer J24
Overall length: 7.4m
External body length: 6.325m (20’ 9”)
Travel height: 2.77m
Tare weight: 1755kg
ATM weight: 2200kg
Carrying capacity: 455kg
Ball weight: 125kg
Price from: $63,490
Price as reviewed: $63,490
Find Out More
Jurgens Caravans Australia
13 Sharnet Circuit, Pakenham VIC 3810, Australia