VISTA RV CAMPERS IN CLOSE UP
We visited the company's Melbourne factory and we've done a bush test.
Vista RV campers are 'crossover' designs that blend camper trailer and off road caravan characteristics. These revolutionary vehicles are built in Melbourne, with a very high degree of Australian content.
It isn't easy keeping abreast of the camper/caravan manufacturing business, because there are hundreds of manufacturers, varying in size between 'backyard' businesses that produce small numbers, up to companies like Jayco that turn out hundreds of units each year.
Vista RV sits in the middle, producing several units each week from a spotless factory complex in Victoria. The company's bread and butter business is in sheet metal fabrication, so there's state of the art tooling that's denied to many camper builders.
At OTA we pull up short of reporting on true caravans - even so-called 'off road' ones - that compromise a 4WD towing vehicle's off-road capabilities. Like an off-road camper trailer the Vista units are said to cause no such compromise: almost anywhere the tow vehicle can go a Vista RV should be able to follow.
We also did a touring test of a Vista unit, but, as with any of our tests, we like to check out the company's credentials first - hence our visit to Bayswater, in Melbourne's east.
The Vista RV business began with the release of the Crossover model three years ago and since then the range has expanded to include the more compact TVK (Touring Van Kompact) and the larger XL version. All models come with a queen-sized bed and vary mainly in the amount of interior living space.
The basis for all Vista RVs is a hot-dip galvanised chassis, fabricated from box-section rails and welded, tubular cross members. A hat-section cross member mounts a cross-over swing-axle suspension that looks like that employed by T-van, but with some design differences.
Instead of the T-van's single trailing arm each side the Vista RV design has twin trailing arms each side - said to improve suspension geometry and reduce bump-steer. Coil springs and Koni dampers are standard.
On top of the chassis sits bodywork that's formed from several different materials: sheet metal front and rear for strength and suitability for mounting sub-assemblies; fibreglass for the pop-top roof and FRP-faced composite side panels.
Ongoing development is obvious in the recent inclusion of a hot-water system option for the XL model.
OTA Team members Juana and Tony Ford have been using a Vista unit as their bush home for past few months and are very pleased with its performance and durability.
They've done several severe off road trips and are delighted with the ability of the Vista to follow their Patrol coil-cab ute wherever it can go.
A minor issue they've had is dust buildup on the back of the roof that hardened and affected the sealing ability of the roof rubber. A daily sweep-off with a small brush, when in bulldust areas, solved the dust buildup problem.
They also found that the rear-mounted solar panel wasn't in an optimum position for sun collection when travelling or when camped, so they intend to relocate it to the roof.
The Fords didn't opt for a roof vent when they bought their Vista, but have since had one retro-fitted.
Like some other Vista owners they had kitchen slide-out problems, but Vista is using new slide mechanisms on current models.
Check out the video of the Fords' Vista in Rudall River National Park in Western Australia:
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