Nigel Donnelly

See other caravan reviews written by Nigel Donnelly

Find out what Practical Caravan's experts say about the 2013 Elddis Xplore 505, a low-price, family five-berth with a side dinette and fixed bunks

Overview

When the Elddis Xplore 505 was launched for the 2013 model year, Practical Caravan immediately recognised that it was one of the most interesting budget-price family tourers. 

The Xplore features parallel seats in the front lounge, an offside dinette that converts into a single bed, two fixed bunks, a small washroom in the nearside corner, and a good-size nearside kitchen. It is designed for a family of five, but the layout promises to be fairly flexible for a family of four, because the side dinette need not be converted at night, and provides space for children's quiet play. 

The 505 is built using Elddis’s groundbreaking ‘SoLiD’ construction method. It also undercuts rival tourers on price and weight.

Pitching and setting up

The Xplore 505 sits on a BPW Swing V-Tec chassis with Winterhoff hitch stabiliser and buttonless handbrake. All corner steadies are easy to locate, but the rear ones don’t have guide tubes.

The front gas locker has locks at either end but no strut; you pull it up and use an old-fashioned stay to keep it open.

The battery box is on the nearside, and the water system connects on the offside. Less ideally, the toilet’s waste tank is in the nearside rear corner, so it will open into a full awning.

Lounge

Elddis eschews the sunroof fad in favour of a more traditional look: two overhead lockers and a pair of corner lights in front, above a centre chest with a slide-out top and two drawers.

The single-piece window confirms the caravan’s entry-level status but, together with the side windows and mini Heki rooflight, it lets in plenty of light.

The ash-wood tones go well with the light brown upholstery, and the seats are comfortable with good back support. A TV can be set up on the small dresser at the end of the kitchen worktop.

Kitchen

Cooks aren’t spoilt for work surface in the Elddis Xplore 505’s galley, but extra space is available on the lounge dresser and dinette table.

Equipment-wise, you get a cooker with three gas burners and there’s a separate oven and grill underneath. A fridge with separate freezer compartment sits at the opposite end of the kitchen, and is helpfully offset from the sink, so you can get the milk out while someone does the washing up.

The sink itself has an aluminium finish and is 13cm deep, so it’s practical as well as looking smart. There’s a rooflight above the sink, a small side window and a strip light along the bottom of the lockers.

There’s no microwave as standard; the left-hand overhead locker has space for one but lacks an electric point. A pair of sockets at the lounge end of the kitchen will take a kettle or toaster.

Washroom

Despite the domestic-style door and handle, only a wet room lurks behind them. The shower tray takes up the foreground, with an electric-flush swivel toilet behind it. A basin swings out from the side wall to rest in front of a half-length mirror. It’s a good use of the limited space, but will really cover only basic ablutions.

The shower area uses wallboard instead of a moulded enclosure, so keeping an eye on the condition of the sealant is advised.

A toilet roll holder sits to the right of the toilet, and a towel ring is fixed high on the wall opposite.

Beds

The lounge seats convert into a double bed of 2m x 1.6m, or they could be used as two 1.8m x 0.67m-singles. The double makes up easily on pull-out slats. A pair of spotlights is available for night-time reading, at the midships end.

The side dinette provides the fifth berth, while a pair of fixed bunks each measuring 1.82m x 0.6m is in the offside corner. Each bunk gets a light, and a cupboard next to the wardrobe contains a slide-out TV bracket.

Storage

Eleven overhead lockers are available, the majority without shelving and all with handles. Limited cupboard space is available between the cooker and the fridge, but a dresser at the end of the kitchen offers extra capacity.

The front seat boxes can both accommodate bedding, and further room is provided under the side dinette’s lounge-end seat base. There’s more storage space under the lower fixed bunk for larger items you won’t need to access often.

The wardrobe next to the bunks at the rear wall is 0.47m wide and has two hanging rails, one at shoulder height and one at waist height. A drawer sits underneath for small garments.

The washroom features a small moulded plastic cupboard in the nearside corner, which will swallow a multitude of toiletries.

Technical specs

Berth5
MiRO1145kg
Payload187kg
MTPLM1332kg
Interior length5.47m
Shipping length7.12m
Width2.16m
Height2.73m
Awning size990cm

Verdict

This is a cracking caravan, with very respectable specification for a tourer in this price range. Its fit and finish are of a high standard and the 10-year bodyshell integrity warranty (for the first owner only) adds reassurance to the package. 

Our few reservations concern small flaws that are nonetheless significant. The mains input is on the nearside so the hook-up cable must go through the awning. Opening the nearside toilet cassette hatch into a full awning won’t be ideal either, nor will services that drain at the rear; if your pitch isn’t level drainage could become a problem.

With up five people on board, the wet room will be stretched to its limits, although this won’t faze families who use site washblocks. 

Despite these reservations, the Elddis Xplore 505 is a lot of van given its low weight and price. The amount of kit, the layout, the construction method and the  warranty go a long way to make it quite desirable.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Sharp exterior looks
  • 'SoLiD' construction method reduces weight and risk of damp
  • High equipment levels for the price

Cons

  • The plain fabrics will show impact of heavy family use
  • The cramped wet room could be a compromise too far
  • Nearside hook-up socket and toilet cassette access will clash with a full awning
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