THERE ARE PLENTY of four- and five-berth caravans on the market, but not all suit the needs of a small family. We eliminated those with a fixed bed because these are more suitable for a couple who want a lounge and a dedicated sleeping area. The small-family van buyer is left with a limited choice of one or two brands that have child-friendly layouts.


In four-berth vans, the side-dinette layout has served the small family well, providing two bunks, usually with a curtain for privacy, and a second seating/dining/play area. For families of five, the twin-dinette layout – one at the rear as well as at the front – has given children a dedicated space that can be shut off from the rest of the van.


When choosing vans for this category, we had plenty to consider. Do the layouts provide a play area for children as well as an adult space? We chose vans we thought provided just that.


Sprite Musketeer EB
Sprite Musketeer TD
Coachman Amara 520/4

Winner, Best Caravans for Small Families: Elddis Avanté 554

The Avanté has seen huge improvements for 2011. Modern, practical interiors and efforts to reduce weights have put Elddis back on track.


The 554 boasts a unique layout that will work well for small families as they get older. The fixed bunks and a large end-corner washroom make this a unique layout, while the large sideboard unit facing the kitchen provides a great storage space and plenty of room for games consoles, televisions and all the other paraphernaila the modern touring family takes with them.


That’s not it where storage is concerned, either. Two wardrobes provide an unusually realistic amount of space for stowing your family’s clothing.


The washroom offers a full-sized shower, cupboards above and below the basin, and a towel rail on the door.The kitchen is well-equipped, too, with a big fridge, oven, grill and a four-burner gas hob and a microwave. A flip-up worktop extension and a vast worktop opposite mean there is ample room to serve family meals.


The big lounge has parallel sofas with loads of room for family meals, but again, it’s the storage that impresses with eight large overhead lockers and access to the underseat areas via drop-down locker fronts.


The Elddis is not perfect. The layout is novel, but it feels bigger than it needs to be and is still heavier than we’d like. A curtain around the bunks would be better than the cumbersome dividing curtain. That said, this is a great caravan that can grow for years with your young family.


Price £15,399 MTPLM 1490kg MiRO 1318kg

Find out more about the Elddis Avante 554 here