RV Guru Malcolm Street from Caravan World has reviewed the CV5432QB Avida Emerald caravan.

It’s been a few years now since well-known motorhome manufacturer Avida introduced its caravan range into the world. Avida’s vans are a little different from many in the mainstream caravan market as the manufacturer uses a different construction technique with a lighter chassis and a more substantive body structure….

To date, Avida’s caravans have all had tandem-axles, so I was keen to check out the new single-axle Avida Emerald. I got my first look at the Sydney caravan show in April and, while I was sitting in it, I listened to the comments of several showgoers also looking through it. A couple of people found the lack of a second axle a bit disconcerting, but another keen couple was very interested that they could get a front bedroom, full-width rear bathroom layout in a van that was just 5.47m (17ft 11in) long with a Tare weight of just 1734kg.

This particular van has an ATM of 2200kg, giving it a very decent payload of 466kg and, if the customer so desires, the ATM can be increased, which makes this single-axle van a very interesting prospect. The increased ATM may appeal to some buyers, as filling the two 120L water tanks will take a good bite out of the van’s 466kg weight allowance.

Occasionally, I hear comments from potential buyers who are concerned about the towing characteristics of single-axle caravans compared to tandem-axle rigs, but that is not my experience – as long as the van is properly set up. Indeed, I found the Avida Emerald to be quite a stable van on the road and, because it is relatively lightweight compared to some tandem-axle vans, it was a very pleasant towing experience.

A look under the Emerald reveals a hotdipped galvanised chassis with 150x50mm (6x2in) rectangular hollow section (RHS) rails and 100x50mm (4x2in) RHS drawbar rails. The cross members are punched-hole C-section, designed to maximise strength while keeping the weight down, and there are fewer than the usual number here. That all rides on single-axle Al-Ko leaf spring suspension with a beam axle and 15in alloy wheels.

Above the chassis is a one-piece, 49mm sandwich panel floor with protective aluminium lining on the underside for rigidity. Similar to the floor, both the walls (35mm) and roof (45mm) are one piece and also made using sandwich panel construction.

With its set-back front wall and square rear, the Emerald looks quite similar to the rest of Avida’s caravan range, The square rear is offset somewhat by the fibreglass mouldings for the tail-lights and the corners where the roof and wall meets. A simple bumper bar across the rear supports the spare wheel.

Dometic acrylic windows are fitted all around the van, and the entry has a Camec security door, with a standard Dometic awning fitted on the nearside. Good-sized tunnel boots are fitted at both ends.

SQUARE EDGE

Inside the Emerald is a front island bed, a kitchen bench along the offside, a cafe-style dinette beside the entry door along the nearside wall and a bathroom across the rear. I know some people don’t like having the entry door right by the bed but, personally, I don’t mind it and, in this instance, it’s a real space saver and makes this layout work in a practical way.

Avida uses vinyl plywood for the internal cabinetry – it’s all square angles and there are few curves to be seen here. Extruded aluminium is used for the overhead lockers to give more strength to the air space cabinetry and all the drawers in the van are fitted with metal runners.

Windows surround the island bed and the mattress measures a standard 1.85×1.52m (6ft 1in x 5ft). There’s a bedhead of side wardrobes and overhead lockers, but no bedside cabinets. Instead, there are small compartments fitted into the wardrobes on either side. They are not large enough to fit a magazine or a tablet but there is a slot inside the cupboard for that purpose. It’s a bit fiddly, but it’s a neat little compromise.

Surprisingly, due to the caravan’s size, getting around the bed isn’t too difficult, even on the side where the kitchen bench is. On that same side, there is a cable tunnel running along the floor against the wall corner but it isn’t really in the way.

Lifting the bed base gives access to the compartmentalised space under the bed, the front of which is taken up by the battery, charger and breakaway power supply. The mains circuit breaker and 12V fuses are also housed here and are not easy to get at, which would make circuit testing a bit awkward.

The 23in flatscreen TV is mounted on the end of the kitchen overhead lockers, making for easy viewing from the bed and passable viewing from the dinette. It’s certainly in the most practical position for this van.

FITTING DESIGN

You have to expect a smaller than average kitchen bench in a van of this length and, indeed, the size of the kitchen is determined by the side-by-side dimensions of the four-burner cooktop and grill, the stainless steel sink and the Dometic 190L fridge (with a microwave above). Really, the only available benchtop working space is the glass lid of the cooktop.

To maximise the general storage space, three overhead lockers (one with a shelf), three drawers and one two-door cupboard have been fitted. The top drawer under the sink is notable due to its unusual shape, designed to fit around the drainage pipes.

Similarly to the kitchen bench, the dinette has been designed to fit the space available, so the two lounge seats have just a small folding table between them. Two people can fit at the table but will need to sit offset from each other to maximise legroom. Reading lights are fitted on both sides and there are magazine pouches on the bathroom wall and behind the front seat by the entry door. Floor lockers are fitted to both seats to make use of the under-seat area, with lockers overhead. Avida also offers an L-shaped lounge as an alternative, which may suit some travellers better.

The rear bathroom features a nearside shower cubicle, an offside Thetford cassette toilet and a vanity cabinet in the middle, which has a twodoor cabinet below, a decent-sized wall mirror and a set of diagonal shelves in the corner by the shower cubicle.

Next to the toilet is what looks like a nice shelf for reading material (which it could well be used for), but it’s actually the removable cover for the Truma water heater. On a practical level, this cover and the shelves above provide a bit of extra elbow room around the loo. There is a locker overhead and a window in between for ventilation.

There are a number of powerpoints located at the end of the kitchen bench, under the rear dinette seat, under the nearside of the bed and under the bathroom wash basin but, except for the latter, they are all single outlets. In this day and age of multiple appliances, I thought that seemed a bit too economical. There are a couple of 12V/5V USB outlets above the shelf on the dinette side of the entry door, which is great, but the space really isn’t large enough for an iPad.

THE BOTTOM LINE

What I like about this 5.47m (17ft 11in) Avida Emerald is that it demonstrates how you can downsize, giving you the benefit of the weight reduction, without losing any of today’s caravanning essentials. That includes retaining the front bedroom and rear bathroom that’s de rigueur at the present time.

There are a few compromises, of course, but the end result is a practical caravan which does not require an overly large tow vehicle – a benefit for those looking for a more economical way to travel around Australia.

View the original review article as posted by Caravan World on their website.