Trail-lite 7.2m

By: Bill Savidan

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Pukekohe manufacturer Trail-lite has designed and built a smart new caravan for those who like plenty of personal space

Trail-lite 7.2m
Trail-lite 7.2m

In recent years MCD has reviewed many motorhomes, both imported and NZ-made. Caravans have been less frequent and have often been imported models. It was cause for excitement when I heard Trail-lite was producing a brand-new caravan, and I was keen to review it on your behalf.

On what seemed to be the only fine, sunny day in the middle of August, I headed out through Tuakau, past the swollen Waikato River, to the Trail-lite factory at Pukekohe to inspect its latest offering.

My first impression of the new 7.2m was its size and style. It continues the Trail-lite tradition handed down since it built its first caravans in 1954, with large windows, plenty of headroom, solid construction and attention to detail. It has been a few years since Trail-lite introduced a new model caravan to the market.

"We saw a need in the market for a luxury caravan with a contemporary interior design," says Shaun Newman, Trail-lite’s sales and marketing manager. "It required the same high level specification as our motorhomes, with a large living area, spacious bathroom and comfortable sleeping, providing the luxury of a mobile apartment."

The lounge and kitchen layout in the new 7.2m caters to traditional Kiwi demands. On entry there is a U-shaped seating area to the left. It has comfortable seating and the back angled cushions provide excellent support. The dining table can be located in this area or in front of a second L-shaped settee that faces the kitchen bench. Above this settee is a 26-inch widescreen LCD TV, mounted on the aft bulkhead. Beneath the settees are storage drawers, and overhead lockers above. It is a spacious area that will meet the needs of summer vacationers quite handsomely.

The cook has plenty of bench space and good natural lighting and ventilation from both the windows and the large ‘Heki’ roof hatch. A sleek faucet feeds the stainless steel sink with a dish drainer. The chopping board provided fits into the sink opening.

Kitchen amenities include a Spinflo Caprice oven, grill and four-burner hob with range hood, a Dometic three-way, 175-litre fridge/freezer, a Panasonic microwave and, lo and behold, a water filter. I’ve had the view that water filters have no place in the New Zealand back-to-basics campground scene. A recent encounter with waterborne bacteria has changed my attitude. Water filters are definitely 'in'.

You won’t go short of storage space in this kitchen. There are five deep overhead lockers plus numerous cupboards, drawers and hatches beneath the bench.

The bedroom with ensuite is located at the rear of the caravan. The ‘east-west’ permanent double bed provides easy access for both occupants, and there is adequate room to pass the foot of the bed to go to the bathroom. I liked the window above the bed head. It was high enough to allow one to sit up in bed while offering good light and ventilation.

Good storage is provided in the corner lockers, bedside cabinets and overhead, as well as beneath the bed. Sensibly placed reading and overhead lights and a roof vent provide satisfactory lighting and ventilation. I didn’t sleep in the bed but I had a bit of a lie down and it proved to be comfortably sprung and of a good size.

The ensuite has the shower to the right, vanity straight ahead and Thetford swivel toilet to the left. A surprise awaited me there. Nestled discreetly in a cabinet beside the toilet was a washing machine. Being a 230-volt model, it is best used when connected to mains supply. As a caravan of this size is most likely to spend a lot of its time in holiday parks, I thought this addition was a winner.

I prefer to wash clothes little and often, so this arrangement would suit me very well. The rest of the bathroom was tastefully appointed and practical, with a heated towel rail, extractor fan, good lighting and ventilation, and a separate screened shower. I particularly liked the stylish rectangular, but very usable, ceramic hand basin. It could contain a useful amount of water without being wasteful, and you could get at it and have a good splash around.

Victoria Scott of Dragonfly Lane Interiors designs the interiors of Trail-lite caravans. Customers are encouraged by Trail-lite to use its modular design process to develop a floor plan that best suits their lifestyle and to work with Victoria to create their own interior.

This caravan has dark bench cabinetry set against the standard ‘Illusion’ pre-finished vinyl walls. The cushion fabric of grey/brown compliments the champagne-coloured roman blinds, with the overhead lockers in Spanish white above. The floor covering in the kitchen/lounge area is a grey/beige plank-effect vinyl, and in the bedroom is a dark chocolate short hard-twist carpet.

There are large Camec tinted windows with fly screens throughout, with the option of double glazed acrylic windows, should you prefer. The result is an interior that is carefully understated and ready for the ultimate owners to personalise by adding their own colourful touches and optional extras.

Features I liked

The new 7.2m complies with New Zealand self-containment requirements. It comes equipped with separate 100-litre fresh and grey water tanks, a 25-amp smart charger, a gas/electric hot water heater, a 130-amp hour battery, and water and battery monitors to avoid your being ‘caught short’. For safety it has a security screen door and for comfort it is fitted with a Truma gas heater and the "trademark" Trail-lite large opening front window. A spare wheel is supplied.

Outside the caravan this front window is protected, with a cover made from clear vinyl covering the window and black padded vinyl protecting the bodywork and the door to the large front locker. Three lockers provide the outside storage along the sides of the caravan, with one capable of accommodating fishing rods.

There is an effective outside light over the entry door. The stop, indicator and park lights are the new LED type. The rear of the caravan is protected with a large tubular alloy bumper. Four heavy-duty alloy wheels rated for caravan duty embellish the caravan’s appearance.

The caravan body is mounted on a braced, fully galvanised steel chassis. This caravan is a heavy unit that will just top the two tonne mark with all your goodies aboard at holiday departure time.

Our test tow vehicle was a near-new Ford Ranger three-litre turbo manual flat-top. It proved more than capable of handling the caravan in test mode but would be the minimum size tow vehicle for a fully laden 7.2m.

On our short demonstration run, the caravan seemed to be well balanced, tracked well and was generally well-mannered. It was fitted with an over-ride braking towbar that is not satisfactory for this weight caravan.Electric brakes will be fitted in future.

Trail-lite’s objective for this new model caravan was to provide a luxury caravan with a contemporary interior design. It has combined its motor home interior fit-out skills with its traditional caravan manufacturing methods to produce a well-made, traditional Trail-lite product.

After reviewing the 7.2m I believe it has achieved the objective it set itself. The market-place test will be whether this product of traditional methods will meet the needs of the continually evolving RV market we currently find ourselves in.

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