Norm Guthartz

See other caravan reviews written by Norm Guthartz

The experts at Practical Caravan magazine review the new for 2014 Xplore 574, a four-berth, fixed-twin-bed, end-washroom caravan from Elddis’s budget brand

Overview

Xplore is the entry-level offering from Consett-based manufacturer Elddis. It was relaunched for 2014 as a stand-alone brand to compete with the likes of Sprite, Venus and the Bailey Pursuit.

As part of the change, the line-up underwent a root-and-branch makeover, including redesigned branding and graphics, and new front and rear ABS panels. Xplore rides on a single-axle BPW chassis, which some people prefer to Al-Ko’s, and is fitted with the Swing V-Tec axle, which  BPW claims deters snaking.

As with all Elddis tourers, Xplore vans are built using the SoLiD construction method (which stands for strong, light and dry), which bonds the wall panels to each other with a powerful adhesive. This replaces hundreds of screws with a proven, water-repellent adhesive, resulting in a stronger, more rigid bodyshell without restrictions on exterior design.

All Xplore models get the same 10-year body integrity warranty against leaking that is offered for all Elddis tourers. 

It has a plated maximum weight of 1310kg, so with payload fully taken by your camping gear, it’s well within the recommended 85% of the kerbweight of the VW Passat, Mazda 6 Tourer and other estate cars.  

The 574 is one of two new layouts introduced for 2014 to the now five-van line-up, and it’s the must-have layout of the moment: four berths with fixed twin beds and an end washroom.

Pitching and setting up

Like other budget-price vans, Xplore 574 has a single, large front window. The steadies are easy to access at both the front and the rear, and the water-inlet point, drain pipes and toilet cassette are on the offside, Practical Caravan's reviewers note with approval.

The battery box and hook-up point are on the nearside. There are, though, no external hatches for access to the storage spaces beneath the sofas or beds.

The model reviewed here was fitted with an Xplore SE options pack (£375), featuring alloy wheels, a Winterhoff stabiliser, a steel spare wheel and carrier, and a CD player with MP3 connectivity and speakers.

If your tow car allows, you can uprate the MTPLM to 1350kg, increasing your payload by 40kg, free of charge.

Lounge

Step inside the Xplore 574 and you may notice that there is more headroom than in previous models – it’s now 1.95m, note Practical Caravan's experts. A new colour scheme features light-grey upholstery with green detailing, which is certainly attractive and modern-looking, and a darker walnut furniture veneer.

Overhead lockers get handles instead of the catches featured in previous models, and there’s new LED interior lighting throughout, which is good news for those who like to camp away from electric hook-ups.

You’ll notice that the sofas are rather short, which was necessitated by fitting full-length single beds and a large end washroom into a van of this size on a single axle.

Rather than offering a centre chest of drawers at the front, there’s a hinged flap that serves as an occasional table. For full meals, you’ll find the free-standing table in the wardrobe, secured by stays.

Space and water heating come courtesy of Whale, whose chunky rotary knobs are alongside the kitchen. The space heater is mounted underneath the bodyshell, so no heater frontage, like that of a Truma S, takes up storage space.

Kitchen

In the Xplore 574's kitchen, the three-burner gas hob and sink are finished in black enamel; Practical Caravan's experts say that this neatly complements the small Thetford combined oven and grill.

The Dometic fridge, which sports a smart black frontage, is across the gangway, below the wardrobe. This is one of the benefits of having an underslung Whale heater: in a van at this price point, the space under the wardrobe would otherwise have been occupied by a space-heater.

There’s a small, slide-out kitchen extension to add workspace, and the cream splashback is neatly coordinated with the cream-faced overhead lockers, to create a separate area that is demarcated visually from the rest of the caravan.

Washroom

The Xplore 574's end washroom has a domestic-style door, and is certainly roomy, but could do with a window to let in natural light, note Practical Caravan's reviewers. Instead, a sole LED downlighter illuminates it.

There’s plenty of legroom around the swivel-seat toilet, and a large, fully lined shower cubicle – something you don’t often find in vans at this price point. The showerhead is mounted to a riser bar, another positive feature.

Cream-faced lockers above the toilet, along with further cupboard and shelved space beneath the basin on the rear wall, should be sufficient to house all the family’s toiletries.

A large vanity mirror makes the room seem larger than it is.

Beds

The fixed-twin-bed layout is popular with couples and small families alike, because it offers real flexibility. Adults who prefer to sleep separately can take the twin single beds while younger kids share the large, made-up double bed in front; or if the kids are no longer prepared to share, they can occupy the single beds.

With clearly demarcated sleeping areas, and a concertina blind that partitions the rear bedroom from the rest of the Xplore 574, there’s some privacy for occupants of both areas, Practical Caravan's experts observe.

While they couldn’t be used as single berths by anyone but very young children, the lounge sofas make up into a 1.98m x 1.4m double bed, while the fixed rear singles are a respectable 1.94m x 0.74m and 1.98 x 0.74m.

A hinged bracket for a flat-screen TV is mounted to the nearside wardrobe wall and can rotate through 180˚, so it can be watched from the lounge or the rear bedroom.

Storage

Practical Caravan's expert reviewers thought that the most user-friendly storage spaces in the Xplore 574 are housed beneath the rear beds.

Reach under the mattress – note that the seat box has been shaped so you don’t scrape your knuckles – and you can easily raise the aluminium frame of the bed base, which is held in place by gas struts.

It’s self-supporting when raised, and that includes the weight of the mattress. However, without external access to these spaces, you will have to walk bulky items through the van to store them.

The wardrobe isn’t full-height, because it is above the fridge. Nonetheless, it is wide and deep enough to accommodate a family’s hanging clothes. As well as the seat boxes under the front sofas, there are plenty of overhead storage lockers throughout the van.

Technical specs

Berth4
MiRO1132kg
Payload178kg
MTPLM1310kg
Interior length5.49m
Shipping length7.11m
Width2.18m
Height2.73m
Awning size990cm

Verdict

The Xplore range was due a reboot, and its relaunch delivers on most fronts. The lack of external access to storage space and the scaled-back cooking equipment don’t help, but they’re reasonable compromises at this price.

The Xplore 574 is an attractive interpretation of this must-have layout, conclude the reviewers from Practical Caravan. What’s more, it looks and feels more upmarket than some budget rivals.  

Conclusion

Pros

  • Fixed-twin-bed layout provides small families with flexibility
  • LED lighting, modern upholstery and more headroom
  • Fully lined shower cubicle with showerhead on a riser bar

Cons

  • Lack of external access to bed boxes
  • Washroom needs a window
  • Kitchen has a minimum level of equipment
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