Review: Jayco Freedom RM 23-4

By: Bill Savidan, Photography by: Bill Savidan


a camper It’s a spacious and functional motorhome a camper
exterior jayco Put your bikes on the rack and you are ready for action exterior jayco
kitchen jayco2 Ample of storage above and below the bench kitchen jayco2

MCD reviews what's hot on the market, looking specifically at Jayco Freedom RM 23-4's excellent value for money making it ideal for first-time buyers

Jayco, founded in 1975, is Australia’s largest RV manufacturer. As well as caravans, which incidentally are 90 percent of their business, they manufacture and sell motorhomes.

They have three products ranges—Freedom, Conquest, and Optimum—and within each range are a number of different models. Freedom and Conquest have four models each and Optimum has two.

Under review is the Freedom RM 23-4—a semi-integrated motorhome with a Luton over the cab housing a generous sized double bed.

At the rear is a U-shaped lounge and in the middle, a large kitchen benchtop facing the ablutions block. It is a popular layout for many Kiwi motorhome buyers. My wife, Jill, and I and owned a Jayco Conquest a few years back with this same layout and loved it.

The difference

Moving in a new direction, Jayco has changed steeds and mounted the RM 23-4 on a Renault Master cab-chassis that differs in two significant ways from its Italian predecessor.

The Master has dual rear wheels and the twin turbo four-cylinder 2.3-litre diesel motor drives these rear wheels through a six-speed AMT auto gearbox.

Renault and Nissan share components and technology, so it’s no surprise the diesel motor in the Renault Master range is the same one Nissan uses in the Navara utility range.

The Master has a full suite of safety features: stability control, hill-hold, trailer stability control, and Renault’s Grip Xtend that offers traction control in soft or slippery situations.

All this at a price comparable with current front wheel drive units on offer.
It’s a smart looking machine. The fit and finish of the cabin plastic components is tidy.

A sloping bonnet and slim A-pillars allow a good all round view from the driver’s seat. Having these seats swivel allow them to become comfortable armchairs when the motorhome is parked. There are just two airbags, one each for the driver and passenger.

Exterior highlights

Outside

With rain threatening and the wind blowing, it’s difficult to visualise hot summer days are on the horizon, but the Freedom RM 23-4 is prepared. Under its 4.5m Carefree Freedom awning, a fold down picnic table, a pair of outdoor ready for action. And so is the bike rack mounted across the rear wall.

An electric step makes getting in and out of the motorhome easier, and the solid main door backed up by the Roamsafe security screen door ensures both you and your motorhome are secure from unwanted intrusions.

There is an external locker for LPG bottles and another with a slide-out galvanised metal tray suitable for storinga generator. 

Outdoor furniture, a barbecue, fishing rods, and golf clubs can be stored in lockers under the settees inside.

A tough frame

Jayco’s build system—they call it ‘Tough Frame’—has five-layer vacuum-bonded walls and floor for strength as well as thermal and acoustic insulation. The roof is a single piece of fibreglass and is both insulated and hail-resistant.

Like the roof, the high gloss fibreglass walls are both hail- and dent-resistant. For extra strength and longevity, the wall and floor framing is aluminium not timber.

Galvanised plates are bedded into the structure to provide secure anchor points for the internal furniture. Pre-finished lightweight Azdel ply composite lines the walls and ceiling.

Interior décor

Cabin -jaycco

The interior palette is conservative, with shades of taupe and light and dark brown, creating a peaceful, quiet ambiance. The cushions are leather-covered. The windows have curtains as well as effective lightproof blinds and retractable insect screens.

Lounging about

Table -jayco

Large rear lounges such as this one are not so common now even though they are still popular. There is room for six to sit around the table at mealtimes or happy hour.

The lounge is a convivial space for entertaining, and it is versatile, too, with settees long enough to be made up as single beds or together, converted to a king-sized bed by dropping the table and rearranging the cushions.

Jill and I favoured this arrangement in our ‘Conquest’ days. But the RN 23-4 has another trick up its sleeve: a drop-down bed located right above the lounge.

And to bed

Bed -jayco

On the side of the drop-down bed is a label with clear instructions on how to lower and raise the bed. Out of sight, in an adjacent cupboard, are the push button controls.

Each corner of the bed is captured in a guide rail, keeping it stable, and the lift/lower mechanism operates smoothly.

Lowered, the mattress is around a metre off the floor. A short ladder provided helps getting in and out. When raised for stowing away the bed, linen and pillows can be left made-up on the bed. One disadvantage is you can only enter and exit on one side, meaning nocturnal toilet visits can be quite disruptive.

Mattress cover, pillows, and pillowcases are included in the sales package. Overall, it is a good example of a drop-down bed.

There is a second queen-sized sleep space over the cab in the Luton. It has an opening window each side for ventilation and light for reading.

It needs a ladder for access and is better suited to the young and agile rather than the mature and sensible. Otherwise, it is an excellent place for carrying all sorts of gear that might otherwise be awkward to stow.

Mealtime

Kitchen -jayco

"That’s what I call a kitchen bench," said the wife of a couple who inspected
the RM 23-4 while I was there. More than 1800mm long and inset with a sink and stove, there is ample room for meal preparation and serving.

Beside the bench-mounted lever-action faucet is a separate tap for filtered water. The cabinet above houses the microwave, range hood, and four large cupboards, while below are a set of drawers, another cupboard, an oven with a separate grill, and a slide-out pantry.

Opposite is the Thetford N3185 3-way 185L fridge/freezer. It’s a well-equipped, sensibly set out galley kitchen with room to walk past the meal preparer without interference.
A practical bathroom

Jayco has stayed with their tried and true bathroom formula—a fold-down handbasin with mirror doors on a cabinet above, and a Thetford C400 bench style cassette toilet below. On the wall, opposite the door, is a full-length mirror.

In a departure from the formula, they have added a shower cubicle to the bathroom. Sensible in size, it is fitted with a shower handpiece on a slide and a bright LED light. Above, a ceiling exhaust fan helps keep the bathroom steam-free.

Practical rather than elegant, the bathroom is an efficient use of space. Light, power, and entertainment

In keeping with today’s trends, the RM 23-4 has lots of LED lights: LED ceiling and reading lights and LED strip lights to the underside of the overhead cupboards.

There are 240-volt power points throughout and a 12-volt internal power point in lounge seat base. Jayco’s move to fit Fusion radio systems to their RV has been a success.

Aboard the RM 23-4 is a Fusion Premium Stereo CD/DVD/radio system with external speakers, and it’s a cracker. While there is an LED TV fitted as standard (18.5inch TV/DVD Sphere LED 12 volts), the TV aerial is not.

It is left to the customer to decide what aerial system they want, and it is retrofitted.

Camping off the grid

While the RM 23-4 is set up for freedom camping, the time spent off-grid will be limited by the size of the water tanks (fresh 80 litres, grey 75 litres), which will need emptying/replenishing after three or four days. In sunny summer, with careful management, the solar panel/house battery combo should be sufficient, but in the cooler, cloudier months, it could struggle.

Verdict

Outside -again

The new Freedom RM 23-4, ideal for first-time buyers, is a spacious and functional motorhome that offers excellent value for money.

Those buyers who dislike front-wheel drive vehicles can now rejoice that a rear-wheel drive option is available at an affordable price.

Jayco Freedom RM 23-4 Specifications

Berths: 4

Overall length: 7930mm

Overall width: 2390mm incl. awning

Overall height: 3200mm incl. air-con

Freshwater capacity: 80L

Grey water capacity: 75L

GVM: 3850kg

Price (as reviewed): $150,000 (including GST)

Speakers

Pluses

  • Built on a 
  • rear-wheel drive Renault Master
  • Excellent 
  • drop-down bed
  • Great kitchen with lots of benchtop space

Minuses

  • An external hatch accessing internal storage would be better
  • Serious freedom campers would appreciate larger water tanks and more powerful solar panel/house battery combo

For more information, contact South Auckland Caravans Ltd on 09 271 3434 or visit caravancentre.co.nz.

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