a look around my camper trailer

Dave & Jenny's VistaRV Crossover XLI




 Dave & Jenny's
VistaRV Crossover XLI

The Crossovers are a full off-road, hybrid camper made – as much as possible – in the factory in Melbourne, Australia. They are extremely well made and designed to traverse our corrugated, bulldust infested outback tracks. There is a queen-sized bed which folds in half – it takes less than 10 seconds – to reveal a four-seater table. There is also a fridge and sink with a tap inside plus extensive bench space and a mass of storage. Externally there is a huge slideout kitchen with sink and twin burner stove and two drawers, many large storage lockers, a large Dacron shade awning with two zip on/off end walls and a pod ensuite. It comes with two 87 litre water tanks, each with its own water pump.

There is no canvas unless you buy the optional full annexe.

Setting up is a 30 second exercise usually – get out of the car, walk down the driver’s side and open the roof latch. Walk around the back of the Crossover and undo the roof latch next to the door. Open the door, pull out the step, climb in and push the roof up with your shoulder until the gas struts take over. Done!

If we are staying a while and want the awning up – the last trip we set it up once in four weeks – it takes us about 4 minutes and we set up the ensuite only when we need it – another couple of minutes. The awning threads into a C-channel and is not left permanently attached. This is in line with the “full off-road” concept – a permanently attached awning is in danger of being taken off by a tree branch.

We have had two previous models of Crossover – the original model now known as a “Classic”, bought in 2010 - and the now discontinued extended model called an XL, bought in 2015. The new model, known as an XLI for “internal” fridge, we picked up in June this year, the delivery delayed a couple of months by COVID-19.

I collected it from the factory in Bayswater, Melbourne, and within a few days we set off from Melbourne on a four week combination Silo Art Tour and Darling River Run as a shakedown trip, accompanied by two other couples, one in an XL, the other in another XLI.

Our new model is based on the XL, but differs in several major ways:

The ensuite is now a Pod design – it has a solid aluminium roof which hinges up from the back wall on gas struts and the Dacron walls drop down from its edges on three sides. The walls are held in place by five elastic straps with hooks on the end which attach to holes in the roof frame. The fourth wall, a skirt, slides into a C-channel on the bottom of the XLI’s rear wall and Velcros on to the other walls. The whole process takes around a minute or two, either setting up or packing up. This is a huge improvement over the original ensuite system which took longer to set up or pack up and the walls and roof had to be stored somewhere. The ensuite has a fold down shelf, 12 Volt outlet and a piston pump for water.

There is a 160 Watt light weight solar panel on the Pod roof. I carry extra panels – 2 x Hard Korr 200 Watt blanket panels - but did not actually need them on this trip, even though we stayed four nights in two places. There is a socket to attach any extra solar panels to inside the ensuite.

There is a “Portapottie Hatch” which opens both inside the ensuite and inside the Crossover to allow you to take out the chemical toilet from either side. You can, of course, use the hatch for whatever you like. Once the ensuite is set up, the toilet in place and a shower in the offing, you can place your towel and clothes in the hatch from inside, then access them from the ensuite once you are ready.

The fridge on the XLI model is now a 110 litre Dometic upright model – previously an 80 litre model - located just inside the door – previously in the middle of the rear cabinets. The inside benchtops were raised slightly to accommodate the taller fridge which has resulted in a new roof line and more space in the internal cupboards. It has also resulted in a new central cupboard. The extra space in the fridge is great and the larger freezer can now hold a couple of meals in freezer containers and still have space for my bush-made ice cream – bonus! The fridge mechanism is also more sophisticated than that of the 80 litre.

The electrics and batteries have been moved to allow the fridge to be repositioned. There is now a full Redarc RedVision system to control all things electrical. The RedVision unit plus the BCDC Manager30 are mounted inside a pillar on the left inside the door and the batteries – in my case a pair of Invicta 125 Ah lithiums – are located just in front of the wheel arches, one on each side.

The outside LED lights – a light over the kitchen is standard and I have a second light next to the door and a third on the driver’s side – are now switchable between Amber and White. This works wonders when there are lots of insects around – switch to Amber and the insects numbers are reduced dramatically.

There is a hatch to the right of the door – called the “Breakfast Bar” - which opens to 90 degrees and provides an especially useful table for use in camp or for morning tea or lunch on the track. In opens to three 100 mm deep shelves which can be used for all sorts of things.

The other new model is called the XLE – for “external” fridge - which has a fridge slide that comes out of the side of the Crossover to the right of the door – using the same hatch as the Breakfast Bar - for those who prefer a chest fridge. It can accommodate a 110 litre Evacool fridge.

We prefer the upright fridge just inside the door which is extremely easy to access at any time by simply opening the door and reaching inside to open the fridge. It has the advantage of having the new centre cupboard which the XLE does not have because the fridge is horizontal and takes up the space plus the Breakfast Bar which we use frequently.

After this four-week trip, travelling most days, we have fallen in love with Crossovers all over again, especially with the XLI. The setup and pack up is so easy and quick that moving each day is no effort at all. Longer stays are comfortable with the option of a table and seats inside if the weather is nasty and the huge awning with its end walls and optional draft skirt is great weather protection. The new ensuite is so easy to set up and pack up that you can do it on an overnight stop if you want. The Breakfast Bar is fantastic for morning teas and lunches along the way.

Towing the Crossovers is amazingly easy and stable. The tare is around 1300 kg for the XLI and XLE and 100 kg lighter for the shorter Classic. The ATM is 1900 kg for all three. I find my gross weight is usually around 1800 kg with two full water tanks and the ball weight is between 120 kg and 140 kg. The suspension is smooth and soft, giving the contents an easy ride at all times and handling rough roads, corrugations and difficult tracks with aplomb.

The frontal shape is aerodynamic, so it slips through the air and is hardly affected by passing B-doubles and roadtrains.

Ventilation is excellent with a front window - which has a “verandah” that can be left closed or opened up depending upon weather – plus a roof hatch/skylight and three large windows in the marine vinyl infill when you raise the roof. The three infill windows all have vinyl rain covers and the rear window also has a clear vinyl cover to allow light in. Two fans are fitted inside as standard for those still, humid nights. All windows have insect netting. The roof hatch has retractable fly netting and a blackout screen.

There are two Jerry can holders and two 4.5 gas bottles fitted to the front, behind the stone guards, one on each side. The driver’s side Jerry can is provided if you order the diesel heater as it is the fuel tank for it. The fuel line has a quick release so you can use the Jerry can as normal and to make it easy to fill. We find the gas bottles last around 6 weeks of travel as they only run the twin burner stove. The gas hose is long enough to reach the driver’s side bottle so you do not have to swap the bottles over when the first one runs out. I leave the hose attached as I hate brass left hand threads… I store it in a canvas bag I made which has Velcro right along the opening to stop the hose coming out and I use a chair leg end from Clark Rubber to keep dust out of the hose fitting on the end. It travels tucked between the bottle and the back of the stone guard. There are two more Jerry can holders on the Driver’s side just behind the wheel. There is a optional vented hatch cover available so you can use it as a hatch or store diesel there. If you store petrol you cannot have the cover. I duct tape over the vents when using it as a hatch and peel off the tape if I use it for Jerry cans of diesel.

The external storage is extensive and easily accessed. There are two front lockers – upper and lower. Most owners seem to store the awning and walls in the upper one, as we do. I also store the awning mat – an Enduromat Mate – there as well as the water hose, BEST water filter and few other small things. The lower locker is great for things that might get smelly – like a petrol chainsaw or small generator if you carry them. I use it for our Cobb oven and camp oven plus a two tonne bottle jack and a game of Finska.

On the driver’s side there is a large locker which is the reverse of the kitchen. It is the best insulated external locker so we store our bulk food there and it holds three 27 litre plastic boxes and our 1960’s tea table - bought at Ganmain on a National Getogether - which is held against the roof, out of the way. It also has the pole holder built in.

Next is the twin Jerry can locker which we normally use for the bush washing machine and two folding stools. In camp we often use it to store the rubbish bag as it is airtight and the goannas and dingos can’t smell the rubbish. Then there are a pair of lockers, one above the other in the rear corner. The lower one is long and skinny and the upper one is more square. The upper one easily holds a Cobb oven or a portable hot water system if you use one.

The kitchen is large with a big work area and has two drawers pus two large lockers and an opening facing the car. The smaller drawer, facing the door, we use for all our crockery plus a bag with our cutlery. The larger drawer faces away from the Crossover and holds our cutting boards, dish rack, sponges, etc..

The two lockers are up against the Crossover and have hinged lids. The smaller one has all our cooking gear – pots and pans, steamer, titanium coffee plunger, etc.. The larger one we call “The Ready Food Locker” as it holds one of everything food wise, ready for use. The open locker we use to store our cast iron skillet and grill plate. There is a grill plate on slides under the kitchen, but I prefer to use a cast iron one.

The sink and draining board slides out the end of the kitchen and there is a tap attached to the end of the kitchen which you can use over the sink but also access by simply opening the hatch cover when the kitchen is packed away.

Inside there is an L shaped bench with a sink and tap plus four cupboards and the fridge underneath. There is storage under the seats and behind them plus optional side wall pockets on both sides.

The Redarc RedVision system allows you turn lights on and off plus switch the master switches for the fridge, water pumps and optional diesel heater and inverter. You can also pair a phone to it and control everything from that.

It comes with a thick, foam mattress, but an inner spring one is an option. We have stayed with the foam one on all three of ours Crossovers as we find it very comfortable.

The standard hitch is a Cruise master DO35 which is my preferred one.

There is a good list of options available which include a diesel heater, fitted cover for storage, full canvas annexe, etc.. I did a writeup on my chosen options and personal modifications on the Owners Forum, here:


The short story:

Options –

Diesel heater – worth its weight in gold on a cold night or morning, and you can turn it on or off without leaving your bed.

2 x 125 lithium batteries instead of AGM – no decision really, they are superior in every way.

Side Pockets – great to store “stuff”.

Flyscreen – it hangs down in the door and attaches with magnets.

Draft Skirt – excellent on windy days.

Door Pantry – is bolted to the inside of the door and has three shelves plus a paper towel holder. Very handy!

Reversing Lights – I like to see behind me if I have to reverse at night plus people behind me can tell I am reversing.

USB and 12 Volt Sockets at the Bedhead – great for recharging, etc..

Ensuite Mat Holder at the front – it holds six foam mats for the ensuite in a handy spot, out of the way.

Extra external lights.

Extra 12 Volt external socket – to plug extra light into, or anything else for that matter.

Storage Cover – we store our Crossover near the beach.

Personal Modifications -

I have fitted LED lights in the internal and external lockers by running two strips of flexible LEDs through like a snake.

There are extra reflectors to aid visibility at night.

I have a twin reversing camera system – one wide angle, one narrow angle – to improve rearward vision. I have a screen that clips onto the rear-view mirror and gives me vision immediately behind when driving.

I have added a multi strand clothesline and cargo net to the ceiling.

I use a SavvyLevel, an Australian made electronic level measure which Bluetooths to my phone to get the Crossover level. It sits on a level surface inside the Crossover and plugs in to 12 Volts. On this trip I did not touch a levelling wedge once. I just moved until the Crossover was level sideways and then used either the car’s air suspension or the jockey wheel to level it fore and aft.

I found a suction cup toilet roll holder at Bunnings. It lives inside the Portapottie hatch in the ensuite and works well.

If you are looking for a rugged, comfortable, easy to tow, off road camper, give it a look.

Web links

VistaRV https://www.vistarv.com.au

 Crossover Owners Forum https://forum.australia4wd.com/index.php?/forum/166-vistarv-crossover-owners-group

Crossover Owners Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1511966972461354


Thanks to Dave Jones for this article


september 2020