In July 2021, a new company emerged from the woods, and has given us yet another choice of how we tour Australia in comfort and style.
Basing his showroom in Caboolture, Qld, Steven Van Schagen is the man behind the K9 Vans lineup of six uniquely themed caravans, with an equal choice of three hybrids and three caravans. After 20 years of developing and manufacturing quality sunshades, Steven has a particular eye to quality control and customer service. His no-nonsense attitude lends itself to the new venture he has recently undertaken with building caravans.
Steven’s vans are built in China, and he was earnest to state the fact that the quality control he assures on the building of these vans abroad, translates to a strong, reliable build without the big price tag. He assured me that having a direct relationship and clear contact with the factory eliminates confusion and ensures a high standard. With some excruciating waiting times for delivery on many Australian-built caravans these days, a two-month turn around on the order for a K9 sure makes it an attractive option.
BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE
The first time I laid eyes on the Coyote I had a feeling of excitement because I love seeing unique designs and different ways of luring attraction to what we all know is basically a box on wheels. It’s important to keep things fresh and divergent when competing for sales in this market.
Each of the K9 vans is named after different dogs and they have their own colour scheme to suit that particular pooch. However ‘what you see is what you get’ with colour customization unavailable across the range, but that’s no deal breaker because the art design is great in my opinion.
The lineup consists of four pop-top hybrid offroad vans, and two full-size hybrid offroad vans, with names like Wolf, Dingo, Red Fox, Jackal, and, our review van, Coyote. With the simple yet attractive geometric coyote head glaring at you from the front and sides of the van and making a clever appearance on the wheels, is a distinctive and memorable attribute to the visuals. The mountain-like geo decals wrapping around the rear of the van gives nice composition as a whole. Bright orange splashing the custom wheels and rock sliders sure make it a noticeable presence on the road. Black checkerplate covering the bottom panels gives a rugged look paired with the practicality of great off road protection accompanied by beefy rock sliders. On close inspection, all the paint, fittings and componentry on the outside and underneath looked to be good quality.
GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY
Like a Coyote, this van is designed and built to withstand the elements while discovering the land. As a hybrid, it comes with advantages while out tackling tight tracks like a low profile of 2750mm and a relatively low 2000kg tare. ATM is 2800kg, so you’ll be able to take all the extra items you need for an overland adventure.
The awning packs away into a slimline hard casing that will stand up to the odd beating of a branch while winding through thick scrub. Wearing 32in mud terrain tyres with two spares mounted to a strong rear bar will give a sense of confidence in remote locations. Offroad independent trailing arm suspension is fitted to keep the van stable and composed on undulating and rough off road surfaces but is missing airbags in this model. The underbelly of the Coyote is painted with a durable coating that protects from stone chips and all wiring and piping is neat and tidy away from potential damage.
As for storage there are two tunnel boots, one above the other, at the front spanning the width of the body. The top one can store various long items and the lower one has a slide out drawer to house a 96L fridge on one side and generator storage on the other. This, accompanied by the front storage box with firewood tie down rails on the lid, makes for plenty of options for your camping items.
I love an outdoor cooking alternative, which is my preferred method, and the Coyote provides that. A full slide-out stainless steel kitchen includes cutlery drawers, dish rack, sink and extendable benches to prepare meals is a welcome feature. The K9 keeps things simple with a manually retractable awning and entry step. There’s also an outdoor shower to rinse yourself off after your bushwalk or beach day.
Greeting you at the entrance to the Coyote is a blue lit K9 Vans logo cut into the black checkerplate lining of the step well. This is one of those small details that add to the wow factor and a feeling of classiness. Continuing that trend are modern timber-look cabinetry, accent lighting along the under sides of the benches and black diamond embossed vinyl cushioning on the lounge.
The space feels cosy and contemporary with plenty of shiny fittings and marble-like benchtops. The well sized bathroom with toilet and sink is just as fancy, with more blue lit K9 Van branding just in case you forget where you are. All the cooking will be done at the outside kitchen, with there being no cooking options inside, which in turn saves space for more cupboard storage for personal travel items. An 89L Dometic fridge and air conditioning will keep things cool on hot days.
The timber-look vinyl floor makes for easy cleaning and the white finished aluminium composite walls keep it light and bright while providing good insulation. Surrounding the upper walls are large air vents in the vinyl pop-top that can be unzipped with insect screens that allow for ventilation. And at the rear is a queen size innerspring mattress.
To enjoy the interior there are quite a few steps to take because a number of latches and slightly awkward processes turn this from a 13ft to 16ft van to accommodate the bed. I understand the logic in keeping things simple and mechanical to lessen the chances of electronic components malfunctioning, but even just making the roof extend by power would make the process of setting up a little easier. That said, once set up it is a pleasant and comfortable setting to be in.
OUT IN THE ELEMENTS
If you’re planning to be off-grid, the Coyote will have you covered for a good amount of time. Although not the most advanced system, it should suffice with three 100W solar panels charging three 120Ah AGM batteries, two 120L drinking water tanks and an 120L grey water tank. All water and power information gauges are tucked away behind a cupboard at head height for ease of checking on your power and water supply. When touring for a long amount of time in extreme remote locations, confidence in the reliability of the equipment is paramount. So I was a little concerned that there were no recognisable, reputable brands seen in the electrical system of the Coyote. In saying that, the build quality throughout the van is high and I feel it should hold up well on long hauls around the country. The 6-year fix-anywhere in Australia, no-fuss documented warranty Steven provides on all of his vans is reassuring.
The Coyote has an affirmative stance and a striking new way of standing out from the crowd with its dog-themed siblings. It’s a well-rounded tourer that should be able handle itself on and off the tarmac. This new company is set to make a splash into the local caravan market with fast delivery, quality build and attractive price. Though some things could possibly be reviewed for improvement down the track, what you get for your $52k seems fair. I had a lot of fun with the Coyote and look forward to seeing where this new company leads its nose.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 3.9m (13ft)
Overall length N/A
Ride height 2.55m (8ft 4in)
Height 2.75m (9ft) (packed down), 3.05m (10ft) (set up)
Max ATM 2800kg
Payload 800 kg
Ball weight 150kg
Ball to tare ratio 7.5 per cent
Body Aluminum composite panelling
Chassis 6in galvanised steel
Suspension Independent trailing arm coil suspension
Coupling Offroad pin
Wheels 265/70r16 M/T
Water 2 x 120L fresh, 1 x 120L grey
Battery 3 x 120Ah AGM
Solar 3 x 100W
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control N/A
Cooking External only
Fridge Dometic 89L
Bathroom Toilet, shower, vanity combo
Hot water Trauma rapid heat gas and 240V
VALUE FOR MONEY 8/10
“The Coyote coming in at just under $52k makes it a strong contender.”
“A low profile on road and good offroad suspension keeps the Coyote stable and planted.”
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING 7.5/10
“Small couples hybrid van with good off-grid and offroad ability.”
BUILD QUALITY 7/10
“A strong, well-built chassis and solid composite panelling. High quality of finish inside and out.”
“While setting up the Coyote can be a bit of a chore, once done it’s a nice place to be with a queen size bed and a roomy toilet shower combo.”
SELF SUFFICIENCY 7/10
“Good power and water supply for extended off-grid living.”
CUSTOMER CARE 7/10
“Long warranty and plans for local servicing.”
“Fresh look and useful off-grid equipment.”
“With the K9 lineup all themed with different dogs makes for a fresh look.”