Jayco Expanda Outback Model review

By: Bill Savidan


Jayco Expanda Outback Model review Jayco Expanda Outback Model review
Jayco Expanda Outback Model review Jayco Expanda Outback Model review
Jayco Expanda Outback Model review Jayco Expanda Outback Model review
Jayco Expanda Outback Model review Jayco Expanda Outback Model review
Jayco Expanda Outback Model review Jayco Expanda Outback Model review
Jayco Expanda Outback Model review Jayco Expanda Outback Model review
Jayco Expanda Outback Model review Jayco Expanda Outback Model review

Check out this review of the Jayco Expanda Outback Model 17.56-2 from October 2015 issue of Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations magazine.

The two ways the Expanda Outback is different from the standard Jayco caravan are spelt out in the name. The Expanda quite literally expands. In its towing state it has a body length of 5180mm and a travel height of 2670mm. On the campsite with the end beds lowered the body grows in length by 2000mm to 7180mm and raising the pop-top increases the height to just over three metres.

The ‘Outback’ part of the name refers to the specification upgrade that makes the caravan more suited to off-road use than the standard specification caravan. The earthy types call it ‘separating the men from the boys’.

Hitched up behind the latest Nissan Navara NP300 ute, the Expanda looks the complete package. In this particular new Nissan model, the double cab has the 2.3-litre 140kW twin-turbo diesel motor; five-link independent rear suspension; 3500kg braked tow rating; plus all the electronic safety aids imaginable – vehicle dynamic control (VDC), traction control system (TCS), anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA). It sips diesel at around 6.5/7.0 litres/100kms on its own – although a bit more when towing.

Visually, the Expanda Outback is a relatively plain offering with a strong dose of utility thrown in, which is about right for an off-roader when you think about it – less chance of fittings getting broken or knocked off. When raised, the end panels form canopies over the end beds, so there aren’t any windows at the front or back of the caravan.

Some of the Outback features are easier to spot than others. Immediately obvious is the increased ground clearance, the solid rear bumper bar and the checker plate protection trim down each side that complement the Pebbleguard trim across the front. The rig is mounted on 15-inch alloy wheels with 235/75R15 tyres. The Endurance chassis has been upgraded with 150-by-50mm galvanised rolled hollow section (RHS) chassis members and the front A-frame upgraded with 125-by-50mm RHS beams.

Increased ground clearance means you need to step higher to enter, so a manually operated heavy-duty galvanised steel slide-out entry step is provided. Mudflaps are fitted to reduce collateral damage from flying mud and stones. Additional external fittings include a gas bayonet connection for the BBQ and a weatherproof 12-volt socket.

Some features are not so obvious, for instance JTech the suspension system. This suspension was developed by Jayco for the Endurance chassis. The traditional beam axle is replaced with Alko stub axles mounted on trailing arms bearing Pedders heavy-duty off-road shock absorbers and coil springs. With the wheels acting independently, stability is improved and removing the beam axle increases ground clearance while reducing unsprung weight resulting in a smoother ride.

Expanda5

Once inside I was surprised how much room there was to move about, and how bright it was. Each end canopy has three ‘zip windows’ and there are four more – one in each of the vinyl panels that connect the pop-top roof to the body of the caravan. Opening just a few of these provided a wonderful sense of space to the interior.

It’s worth noting at this point that you can walk around inside with the roof down, which you may choose to do while in transit. There is 1680mm of clearance so you have to duck your head when walking but not when seated at the dinette.

The layout is designed for family use. There are beds for six adults – a double at each end and the large dinette can form a third, with two smaller folk on bunks created by converting the smaller two-person dinette. That’s a lot of options for a medium-sized RV.

Generally speaking, Kiwis like large kitchens in RVs so the Expanda Outback will appeal on this front, too. It has a 1780mm-long bench, three LPG hobs plus one electric, separate grill plus full oven, microwave and 150-litre fridge.

There is no separate lounge seating. Instead, there are two dinettes. The larger one seats four and doubles as entertainment seating.

The bathroom/toilet cubicle is very compact. A Thetford C200 bench style toilet faces aft towards a small shower tray. Above the toilet is a foldaway hand basin. It is a utilitarian solution with just enough room to fulfil the basic ablution needs without any frills attached. Two fresh water tanks of 82 litres each are fitted and a 40 litre roll away tank is supplied for dealing with the grey water.

The verdict

I commend Jayco for creating a caravan that can sleep eight family members; it’s easy and economical to tow, and yet low and short enough to store in a large residential garage. The Outback component provides ground clearance and protection for excursions off the grid.

The Jayco Expand Outback reviewed was supplied by South Auckland Caravans and retails for $59,995 inc GST.

Pros

  • The rugged ‘Outback’ look.
  • Reduced height and length benefits; fuel economy and easier storage.
  • Airy, spacious interior.

Cons

  • Lack of a grey water tank. I’d fit one before hitting the road.

Check out the full article in issue #134 of Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations magazine (on sale now!). Subscribe here.

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