As the sole surviving Pioneer Campers dealer in Australia, we were delighted to receive an invitation to view the new release Verve hybrid caravan at one of our favourite stomping grounds.
Bendleby Ranges Station, four-hours north of Adelaide in the southern Flinders Ranges, would be our destination to test out this much-anticipated release, boasting remote bush campsites and challenging four-wheel drive tracks to push our vehicles and new hybrid caravan to the limit.
It has been three years since we’ve seen a Pioneer in our showroom, with the last making an appearance being the Pioneer Mitchell, which was similar in design to the Tvan. Track Trailer acquired Pioneer (and sibling Trakmaster Off Road Caravans) from the Gasons Group just before COVID hit three years ago, and with its head office located in Melbourne – one of the key lockdown hubs over the last few years – development was delayed.
Given the similarities to the Tvan, it wasn’t a huge shock to see the retirement of the Mitchell, replaced by a new hybrid van, the Pioneer Verve, broadening the Track Trailer range without cannibalising sales.
Unpacking the Verve
Despite its full-heigh hybrid caravan demeanour, the new Verve looks quite diminutive in comparison to hybrid counterpart T4 Rhapsody. This is thanks to its tidy, compact length – measuring at just over 6m (19.7ft). Design cues are what we’ve learned to expect from parent company Track Trailer, with contrasting exoskeletal corner trims, a T4-like pivoting front nose cone, and Tvan style kitchens amongst the features that set this hybrid apart.
Although boxy from most angles, the Verve is a good-looking rig and a perfect size for offroad adventures without getting too large and heavy. Packaging is a strong point of the Verve design, with plenty of options to appeal to families and couples alike. Key layout features include a large internal ensuite with a SOG chemical free cassette toilet; bed options including east-west or north-south queen beds, bunks, or twin king singles with a step through – the singles a rarity in this segment. The layout also features a dinette table, internal sink, and drawers. Options include internal refrigeration and cooking.
Twin Lithium batteries, large rooftop solar panels, and a pure sine wave inverter are all managed by the excellent REDARC RedVision system, including smartphone app monitoring via Bluetooth. Battery charging, water tank levels, remote switching of lighting and other functions are all managed through the app.
The Pioneer colour scheme has carried over into this model, including white walls with charcoal flanks and red and charcoal highlighting, giving the Verve a sleek and sharp aesthetic.
The Bendleby Ranges property is sublime. Approximately 40 minutes from Orrorroo, SA, via a dusty unsealed road, it’s the perfect introduction to a relaxing holiday – and a good test of dust suppression!
Our remote campsite was approximate 10-minute drive from the central office, across bumpy terrain and through several gates including a sharp drop into a creek and a short but steep climb out, testing clearance both fore and aft. A pile of red gum next to the firepit greeted us on arrival, and the nearest neighbour was kilometres away (how’s that for serenity?). A long-drop toilet with a view (mesh screen door) is provided at each camp to keep it pristine.
The self-drive four-wheel drive tracks are worth exploring (fees apply) with different gradings from easy to hard. There are many good climbs with views in all directions, including a sunset area where our little cameo with the Verve was filmed. We can attest to the difficulty of the ‘hard’ graded tracks. ‘Pat’s Peak’ had us sweating bricks, as we carefully picked our line through the boulder-strewn steep inclines and switchback corners, testing clearance and the rear locker in the Raptor.
We would have loved to have stayed longer at Bendleby to fully explore the property and spend more nights around the campfire, soaking up the natural beauty of the area. We’ll watch with interest as more information and pricing is revealed about the new Pioneer Verve, but from what we saw, we left impressed.
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