Peter BaberSee other caravan reviews written by Peter Baber
Our in-depth test of the Acadia 860, a 5-berth caravan from Coachman that makes an excellent entry-level caravan for couples and families.
Coachman's Acadia was only launched this season. Designed as an amalgamation of the Vision and Pastiche ranges, its arrival also enabled the company to boast that it has become the first Alde-only caravan manufacturer. No more trying to position yourself in front of the heating vent on a chilly evening.
So it’s no surprise that pretty soon after the range launch, Coachman should include one other nod to luxury that has been doing the rounds this season – an 8ft-wide model.
The Acadia 860 was launched at the NEC show last October. A five-berth with a rear corner double bed and a corner washroom, we wondered if it might have made a (rather large) present under someone’s caravanning Christmas tree this year.
Most other van manufacturers including 8ft-wide models in their line-ups have tended to reserve L-shaped front lounges for their more upmarket offerings.
Coachman has done the opposite. While none of its top-notch Laser Xcel models features conventional parallel seating, the Acadia 860’s front lounge is L-shaped.
There are still three windows across the front and one near the front on each side – Coachman hasn’t blocked off the nearside window to make way for the TV.
On the outside, the range also includes Coachman’s other innovation of recent years – two separate gas bottle lockers either side of the hitch, rather than a single locker stretching across the front. This allows for more room on the inside, while the locker doors won’t get in the way of the jockey wheel handle.
With its black-framed windows matching the sunroof, and its long blue, white and grey decals on the side, the 860 looks a very svelte beast out on the road.
Pitching and setting up
Our test model didn’t have it, but we think that you should almost certainly go for it. Let’s be absolutely clear: there is nothing inherently wrong with this van’s stability within legal speed limits. We were never in any danger of losing control.
It’s just that at speeds close to 60mph, you began to get a slight feeling of swaying. Over a long distance, this can be a little tiring. It was nothing to do with our tow car, either. We were driving a Hyundai Santa Fe with a kerbweight of 2407kg, so even if the caravan were filled to its MTPLM of 1870kg (which it wasn’t), it would still easily fall within the 85% ratio.
At least the Acadia range does come with Easi-Slide covers for the hook-up point and other external access points. That means you don’t have to worry about the covers coming loose and flapping in the wind before you have time to stop.
Considering Acadia is officially Coachman’s entry-level range (even if all models do cost more than £20,000), it comes with a great collection of goodies on the outside. You get an external barbecue point just to the left of the door on the nearside, and an exterior mains socket and satellite connections within the exterior-access battery box on the offside.
There are also neat holes to guide your steady-winder into the corner steadies at the front, while heavy-duty steadies on the rear are within easy reach.
Although the shape of the front lounge means there is no underseat locker on the nearside that you could have external access to (as there is on all other Acadia models), on the 860 there is external access at the rear (on the nearside) to the large and clear area under the corner bed. So getting at your outdoor furniture should be easy.
The main door, however, is a single unit, with a handle that’s not huge on the inside – although the door does have a window. All of the controls are easily accessible immediately above this door.
The whole lounge feels incredibly airy, not just because of the extra width, but because of the large sunroof that stretches right across the caravan. When you stand up in here, it really creates a sense of the outdoors coming in.
The absence of a TV wall could even seem quite a good thing. In any case, Coachman has included a 12V and TV socket, and a hole for a cable, in the shallow cupboard that takes up the area between the settee and the door on the nearside. So you could easily rest a smaller TV on top of this unit if you wanted to.
There are four individually switched spotlights around this lounge, each with a night-light setting, and there is ambient light behind all of the lockers. But although there is a rooflight, there is no light fitting in the ceiling. You might want to include a small lamp on the front sill, because there is just enough room for it, and a handy mains socket in the nearside corner next to the switch for the ambient lighting.
The side dinette is just as comfortable, although it has a striplight under the lockers, rather than spotlights. You could easily seat five people around the pedestal table here, although the table itself probably only has room for three places. If there are more of you, you might need to take out the folding table that fits in the front lounge and has its own (slightly awkward) storage slot on the other side of the kitchen. Coachman does not include a footstool in this lounge, so you could only seat people on two sides of that table, unless you bring an extra seat along yourself.
The only things that seem to be missing in here are those all-important USB sockets. In fact, the only USB in the whole caravan is in the Pioneer stereo that sits under the corner locker in the front nearside (and connects to two speakers in the front). We think a device-friendly family might need more than that. And an upgrade to Bluetooth connectivity is £160 extra.
Up above, you get a microwave and two sizeable overhead lockers, each with some kind of crockery rack. But space lower down is a bit compromised by the double wheel arch. The pan locker under the oven lives up to its name, but the large double cupboard to the right of this under a cutlery drawer only really has one shelf, because of the arch, and the arch also protrudes into the narrower cupboard to the right of this.
Fortunately, there is one more shallow cupboard under the Dometic Series 10 133-litre fridge. This fridge comes with a door that opens either way.
There is a shallow cupboard with a toilet roll holder under the basin, but you also get an extra shelved cupboard over the opaque window beside the toilet, with two more open shelves beside it. One extra touch of luxury is the Roman blind over the window – a change from your average cassette.
There is a huge shower – Coachman is making the most of the extra space here. The shower sits on a riser bar, and there’s a handy shelf and a clothes hook, but only one drainage hole.
This whole area – the bed, washroom and wardrobe – can be partitioned off with a plastic concertina screen. If you do this, however, it can be a little on the dark side; there’s no ceiling light here.
Another double bed can be made up at the front by pulling out a platform from the settee, while a large single can be made by lowering the pedestal table in the side dinette. We found both beds easy to put together, with no confusing infill cushions, and they were comfortable, too.
Best of all, even when the front double is made up, there is still room on the settee for someone to sit down.
One snag with L-shaped settees is that the platforms that turn them into beds can make it harder to access the locker below. That is the case here, but at least once you have raised the platforms the space is clear, so they could still be all right for items you might not need to access all the time.
The wardrobe towards the rear is a good size, with two large drawers underneath. There are plenty of overhead lockers – five around the rear bed (three shelved) and three above each of the lounges, two with shelves. All have Coachman’s curved doors that close without too much fuss, and stay closed. There is also a set of small shelves in the far corner of the bed, and two corner lockers up front, which open downwards.
The 860 might appear more expensive than other 8ft-wide entry-level ranges, but that extra cost can probably be accounted for by the Alde heating. Compare the Acadia with other manufacturers’ Alde-heated models, and there is much less difference. This is a well-equipped van, particularly in the washroom. We would perhaps only like to see a couple more USB sockets.
The 860 should be comfortable for families, or couples with occasional visitors. Its lounges, beds and washroom are good. This van is certainly worth a look.
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- The pair of gas lockers frees up space within the van, and the doors don’t obstruct the jockey wheel handle
- Luxurious corner washroom