Wes Whitworth reviews the Ezytrail Parkes 13 with pricing, specs, practicality, off-roadability and verdict.
Ezytrail Parkes 13 Specifications
Tare: 2140kg ATM: 2700kg Suspension: Independent with twin shocks and coil springs Brakes: 12-inch electric Coupling: AL-KO 3.5-tonne ball Style: Compact hybrid Length: 6100mm Width: 2280mm Height: 2660mm (inc. air con unit) Kitchen: Stainless steel slide-out Battery: 3 x 100Ah AGM Price as standard: $39,490+ORCs
Images by Liam Foster. The Parkes range from Ezytrail is a pretty common sight on the trails. Compact off-road vans are experiencing plenty of popularity as they offer loads of space, make camping simple, and provide bang for your buck. We recently had the chance to take one along on a semi-desert trip to experience it for ourselves.
- Entry level budget
- Generous inclusions
- Turn-key solution
- Solid suspension and ground clearance
- Large internal shower
- Rear tyre carrier needs to be beefed up
- Awkward internal dining
- Dust sealing is not great
- Reasonably heavy
Nothing beats arriving at a chosen camp and being completely set up in under 10 minutes, and that is what this van offers – simple yet slightly luxurious camping. While this is not a new concept to the caravan world by any means, the compact size, coupled with a solid off-road suspension, means that there are not too many tracks that are not open to you. A 21 or 24-foot off-roader will not only mean additional weight, but you can forget about tight and twisty tracks. This is where the compact range comes into its own.
Arriving at camp went something like this: pull up and leave hitched, undo the lid latches then open the door, walk in and pop the top. Walk around the back, lower the twin spare carrier and unfold the rear bed compartment. Deploy the awning, pull out the kitchen, connect the gas and water, grab a chair from the front compartment and voila, beer time, feet up.
Unhitching the rig would mean the additional step of lowering the outriggers, but hey, you get the idea; pretty simple.
COMFORTS OF HOME
Not all of us require nor want the comforts of home when travelling, but there are plenty that do. And this is the appeal; you have a king-sized bed, a spacious indoor shower, TV, indoor seating area and plenty of cupboard space, not to mention easy access to the external slide-out fridge, kitchen and even more storage for the other camping gear. The Parkes also has roof-mounted air con with a heating element.
This is a feature that may not appeal to some. The beauty of a pop-top, though, lies in the fact that you are towing a much more compact and streamlined beast. Forget trying to skim under that low-hanging branch in a full-height unit. An important aspect of the hybrid compacts is their small space footprint; that is part of what makes them so appealing. It is a relatively new segment in the RV market, and it is a design spawned by demand. People want their cake and to eat it too. Relatively low weight, easy to set up, smaller size, yet fully featured and off-road capable, it ticks the boxes for so many. The operating system on the Parkes is straightforward, with two large metal levers front and rear, making it easy to lift the canvas pop-top.
Today’s offerings are a pretty well-proven thing. Independent suspension is the norm and has been for a long time. Why? Well the live axles (or solid axles) of the past, much like their parent 4X4s, have seen their day. It is all about independent now, even if it is a single-axle beast. Having better ground clearance and the benefit of the smoother coil-sprung system means a more capable and pleasant ride. That equates to less fruit and veg thrown around in the van, not to mention less force placed upon the tow vehicle. Trailing independent arms with dual shocks are fitted, and they do well. The Parkes 13 copped plenty of abuse and held composure; the van sat well and tracked the vehicle nicely. Dampening, which is an important and a not-often talked about factor in suspension, was well looked after, there was minimal residual roll after big impacts and consecutive offset ‘wombat’ holes – which will always test the sway of anything on wheels.
There is room in the guards to fit larger diameter tyres, meaning you can run the same size tyre as your tow rig, but this would be best discussed with the manufacturer beforehand. The dual spare carrier on the back adds a lot of rear weight though, which is offset by the rearward positioning of the wheels. Just be careful not to overload the rear, in order to keep trailer sway in check.
The entry and departure angles are good. Unless you are driving through tight steep gullies, the likes of which your tow vehicle will scrape the front end, or you will drag the arse end, you should be fine. The wheels, suspension and clearance on the Parkes 13 we drove had no problems at all in this regard, easily traversing what the 4WD did. Dust sealing to the external areas needs improvement; we noticed this in the kitchen box, in particular, having to wipe down the surfaces before use. The interior fared much better, however.
The standard electrical system is decent, including tank level indicators, a 240V/gas hot water service, 12V charging sockets, battery management system (with gauges), TV and stereo system. The inclusion of three 100Ah AGM batteries is a nice touch, but the lack of a standard solar panel is a little disappointing – instead, it is sold as an optional extra for $1,500.
While the larger (longer) models allow for the kids to sleep inside with included bunks, the smaller ones do not. If you are travelling with the kids you will want to deploy the included fully enclosed annex (or throw in a few swags). For the more extended stays, there is an optional detachable canvas kids’ room so you can leave the main tent clutter-free.
The kitchen is well laid out and featured, but would benefit from additional bench space if cooking elaborate meals. A simple table would remedy this, and there is ample space to pack one in the storage areas. The internal table is awkwardly positioned and only usable for two people.
It is very conceivable that a family could comfortably tour in this unit, albeit at the expense of longer set-up times. There is ample water, power and gas storage to see you remotely travelling, with the two spare tyres adding further assurance.
BANG FOR BUCK?
For the $39,490 outlay (as tested) you do get a lot of van for your buck. The standard inclusions mean this is a turn-key solution to hitting the tracks in comfort. While the van does not bear the quality and finish of the more expensive premium units, it is a good option for getting away on a budget.