Nigel Hutson

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The impressive Xplore 586 is the wallet-friendly family caravan that feels anything but – find out how this six-berth fares in the Practical Caravan review

Overview

Buyers are almost spoilt for choice when it comes to entry-level caravans, and the Xplore range from the Explorer Group (makers of Elddis, Compass and Buccaneer) is right at the core of that choice. It’s easy to see why, too. With their smart looking bodies, built using the SoLiD method of construction, and shaped windows, they belie their entry-level status.

Newly introduced for 2016, the six-berth 586 took the gong in the 'Best Tourer for Large Families' category at our Tourer of the Year Awards 2016, where the judges were impressed by most aspects of the caravan, from its all up weight which makes it fall within the capabilities of many MPV tow cars, to its fixed bunks and spacious washroom, not to mention its “terrific value”. 

Let’s have a more in-depth look at the Xplore 586 to understand why it was a deserved winner. And to see other Xplore caravans for sale, click here.

Pitching and setting up

Not so long ago, you wouldn’t have mistaken an entry-level caravan for anything else. That’s certainly not the case with the 2016 Xplore 586. It has a body shell very similar to its upmarket cousins, has neat graphics and unique, shaped windows. It’s not all show, either. Bonded-together body panels and under-floor GRP protection ensure that it should remain watertight for many years to come.

Riding on an Al-Ko chassis, complete with an AKS3004 stabiliser and a buttonless handbrake, there’s also a smart set of alloy wheels to compliment that body. All the services are sensibly placed along the offside, whilst all the corner steadies are easy to access. The main electrical controls are just inside the unglazed entrance door, and fall easily to hand.

Lounge

Thanks in part to light coloured fabrics and woodwork, there’s a real feeling of spaciousness in the 586’s lounge area. That’s helped, too, by the huge, single front window and midi-Heki rooflight.

Seating six at one table for mealtimes in any caravan is going to be a challenge, but by using the pull-out occasional front table together with the main one, it’s just about possible here. If you don’t mind spreading out, there’s a good-sized offside dinette where two could sit in comfort, then affording the same luxury to the four at the front.

The TV point is located on top of the unit between the lounge and side dinette; incidentally, the main table is conveniently stored within this unit.

Our one quibble is that the artificial lighting is adequate but not exceptional in the lounge.

Kitchen

If you look closely, the kitchen is perhaps the main area that gives some clues that this is an entry-level caravan.

Don’t let the combination oven and grill put you off – our experience is that these work very well. The controls for the three-burner gas hob could be an issue for left-handed chefs as they’re recessed along the right-hand side. Indeed, they’re not that easy to operate by a right-handed chef.

A microwave is an option on the Xplore range, but there are loads of drawers and cupboards for storage, and lighting is pretty good here, too.

A removable drainer helps free up work surface space, but we can’t help thinking that the sink might be better sited as it’s right in the middle of the available space, even if it would mean losing one of the drawers beneath. It’s good to see a pair of mains sockets here, though.

Washroom

Having the washroom occupy the space between the fixed-bunks and the offside in the Xplore 586 has a two-fold benefit. Firstly, it opens the centre of the caravan up to create a feeling of space and, secondly, the washroom itself gains useful floor space.

Enter and you’ll find a fully-lined shower, something that is often missing at this level. Add to the specification a Thetford electric flush toilet, a good-sized and deep sink, an opaque opening window and a pop-up rooflight, and you’ll see it puts some more upmarket washrooms to shame. There’s also a decently-sized cupboard beneath the sink, plus a large mirror above it.

When it’s dark, there are only a couple of small ceiling lights, but they are operated by a single pull cord.

Beds

The lounge converts into either a double bed (1.90m x 1.28m) or a pair of decent sized singles (1.70m x 0.68m on the nearside, 1.70m x 0.68m on the offside). Once again, entry-level status shows here as there are only a pair of reading lights and, unusually, they're at the rear ends of each bunk.

The side-dinette converts into a pair of bunk beds, with a detachable ladder for the top bunk. A curtain separates this area at night. These beds measure 1.80m x 0.75m and 1.62m x 0.54m for the bottom and top bunks respectively.

Moving to the rear nearside, there's a pair of fixed bunks, each measuring 1.80m x 0.59m, where occupants are positively spoiled! Each has its own opening window, a reading light and a dividing curtain. The attached aluminium ladder has nice, wide rungs, so it should be comfortable for little (or not so little) feet to use.

Storage

We’ll start at the 586's rear. The space under the bottom fixed-bunk is totally clear, which is just as well because both seat bases in the side dinette have blown air ducting running through them (and it’s not the neatest installation we’ve seen, either).

Between the washroom and the side dinette, there’s a decently-sized wardrobe which should be adequate for a family’s attire.

Moving to the front, whilst the front nearside seat base it totally empty, its one-piece lid means that all the cushions have to be moved to gain access. Strangely, the offside base’s lid is split, but most of the space underneath is taken up by the water heater and electrics.

There are, however, nine overhead lockers around the lounge and side dinette areas, a couple of which are shelved. Add in the overhead lockers in the kitchen and the drawers in the front chest, and the Xplore 586 should cope with a touring family’s needs.

Technical specs

Berth6
MiRO1155kg
Payload173kg
MTPLM1350kg
Interior length5.7m
Shipping length7.29m
Width2.18m
Awning size1000cm

Verdict

So, having had time to reflect, was the Xplore 586 a worthy winner in the Tourer of the Year Awards 2016? In a word, yes. It is terrific value, has a feeling of space, and would cope well with a larger family.

Despite being entry-level, it has a washroom that would be capable of fulfilling family needs on CL/CS-type sites, thus not making full-facility sites a necessity. Plus the Xplore range has an extensive options list, giving purchasers opportunities to upgrade to their needs.

With one or two tweaks here and there, as outlined in our list of cons (below), we think the 2016 Xplore 586 has the potential to be an exceptional caravan, rather than 'merely' an excellent one.

Conclusion

Pros

  • SoLiD construction body
  • There's a great feeling of spaciousness
  • It has a super washroom with a fully-lined shower
  • The fixed bunks are excellent
  • It represents great value

Cons

  • The kitchen could do with a few tweaks to make it more practical
  • We're not sure about the positioning of the reading lights in the lounge
  • We don't like the one-piece lid to the front nearside bed base
  • The installation of the heater ducting is untidy
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