I might as well throw down the gauntlet right now: unless someone shows me a caravan to beat it in the second half of 2015, the Elddis Avante is likely to once again take my top vote.
Stylish, deceptively simple, easy to inhabit and easy to own: these are just some of the reasons Eldiss caravans impress. The company's publicity material heralds the range as "everything you need in a lightweight, modern and affordable caravan". First impressions concur with that.
Look and feel
My first impressions? The Elddis Avante 500-series is light, airy, spacious – gracious, even.
Mid-tone wood cabintery of a pleasing rimu shade blends harmoniously with OZ10 Coolsoft upholstered in oatmeal. Of the options available, I prefer the standard Stamford. Granite look benchtops complete the finish. All cabinetry is made with proper dovetail joints to satisfy those who value craftsmanship.
Discreet handles help the many cupboards and storage units blend into the background. Why some manufacturers try to make these features escapes me. Living in a space this size requires that essential functions are there to support easy living, while design 101 demands they do so quietly and unobtrusively.
The light theme is carried on overhead where four skylights throughout the vehicle deliver plenty of daylight to the interior.
At night a well-placed array of 100 percent LED lights promise ambience while saving battery power. Fly screens, block-out blinds and curtains are installed on all windows except the galley where there are no curtains.
The galley is a cook's dream with everything within easy reach and good-sized appliances that enhance the ease of meal preparation for two, or for a crowd. Each caravan has the latest Thetford Aspire 2 oven with three-plus-one hob and grill and a Dometic three-way fridge. Add in an 800-watt stainless steel microwave and you're cooking with gas.
All come standard with Winegard satellite dish, a 19-inch Freeview digital TV, and 150-watt solar panel with 10-amp regulator. Add to this a CD radio tuner with mp3 connectivity and USB input with charging facility and speakers and you've got your bases covered.
I love the bathroom in the Avante 574 which is generous to a fault – like a good Kiwi lass – spanning the rear of the vehicle to create a spacious bathroom with full-sized shower, vanity and toilet. Like the sleeping arrangements, the model you choose will be dictated by your layout preferences.
The 500 series Avante's are designed to accommodate up to four people in comfort. And I do mean comfort. The twin singles can be used for the kids or visiting grandkids, while the adults can enjoy the huge king-sized bed on the other side of the screen, or vice-versa.
The 550 also satisfies those who like to be able to move around the bed without disturbing their partner, but as with all RV design, the trade-off in this model is the huge rear bathroom in the 574 and 540 models. You choose.
Seriously, having thrown down the gauntlet, I look forward to being inundated with offers to see more caravans this year. Perhaps there is one out there which will topple the Elddis from its lofty perch.
- Overall appointment level
- Excellent rear bathroom (540, 574)
- 6'.5" head room
- Multiple skylights
- Pull out table an inevitable compromise (except 576)