With another beautiful Queensland summer day upon us, it was time to head to one of my favourite places. Making it even better was the fact that I was going to be towing one of the brand-new Titan Caravans Blackhawk Hybrids through the scrub, putting it through its paces.
Along with me for the ride is James Creswick, the owner of Titan Caravans. After introductions were out of the way, James took me on a tour of the Titan facility at Eagle Farm, Brisbane. This facility looks after the final fit outs of all plumbing and electrical, as well as the installation of the suspension to the imported vans, hybrids, and camper trailers. The crew at Titan Caravan will even service other manufacturer’s vans as well.
With formalities taken care of, it was on to the trailer. We reversed the Colorado up to the Blackhawk 480H, lowered the DO35 hitch into place, attached the safety chains, connected the Anderson plug and trailer socket, checked the taillights, released the handbrake, and pointed our chariot north towards the beautiful Glasshouse Mountains.
When it comes to testing and reviewing caravans, hybrids and camper trailers, the Glasshouse Mountains really offer up a lot in only a short period of time. While it would be great to have all of our test vans for a couple of days to tour several locations, the harsh reality is that we generally can’t. With the Glasshouse Mountains being on Brisbane’s doorstep, it’s the ideal location to test for handling and towability, for blacktop touring at highway speeds, slower secondary bitumen roads as well as fast, loose gravel roads. Add to that some steep and rutted tracks, and if we weren’t in the middle of a drought, some mud, and you’ve got yourself the ideal spot.
There are plenty of places where you can park the trailer and set everything up, so you can crawl under and over all that the van has to offer. It’s also easy on the eye, making the pics look better too.
After leaving Titan HQ, we had an hour on the bitumen before we made our turn off for the tracks through the pine forests and bushland that surround the volcanic peaks. Although our van wasn’t loaded to the gunnels with fresh water and supplies, it tracked well behind the dual cab thanks in no small part to the Cruisemaster XT suspension that is fitted as standard. If you felt the need, an upgrade to the full air package from Cruisemaster is available.
When we hit the dirt, ruts and washouts, the suspension matched with the DO35 offroad coupling made pulling the 480H a breeze. Soaking up bumps is what the twin shock independent coil spring suspension was born to do.
On first glance, the Blackhawk 480H Hybrid does a very good impersonation of a caravan. With an overall length of 6.9m (or 22’8” in the old language) and a travelling height of 2.93m (9’7”) the 480H is by no means diminutive in size.
The sleek ‘Desert Sand’ composite panels give a modern look, while the high waisted, black powder coated aluminium checker plate screams ‘offroad van’. Your next-door neighbours will be popping over for a visit when they see this hybrid sitting in your driveway.
There is no pop top on this hybrid. All you have to do is open the back door and your set-up is almost complete. Roll out the Dometic awning for a bit of shade and drop the stabiliser legs if you really feel the need, and you’re done.
Being a hybrid, the majority of your cooking is going to be done outdoors. Lucky for you, the 480H comes equipped with the best of both worlds. Not only do you have a pull out Dometic cooktop (3 x gas, 1 x electric) with grill, but hiding on the other side of the 95L Waeco is a little Ziggy. That’s right. This hybrid comes with its own gas BBQ on its own custom slide, housed in a custom storage locker up on the drawbar.
The kitchen also includes plumbed hot and cold water, a drawer for all your herbs and spices as well as drawers for your cutlery and cooking utensils. A fold down picnic table also forms part of the outdoor kitchen area.
Around on the offside, large storage areas can be found forward of the wheels, suitable for your outdoor furniture and any other bulky items. Filler points for the two potable water tanks are located above the wheel arch, as is the external shower and mains electricity hook up point.
Stepping up inside the 480H by way of the optional double electric step (a manually operated single step is the standard fitment, providing much better offroad clearance), you are greeted with a very bright and spacious interior. There are more LED lights in here than what you are likely to find at the local amusement arcade.
Slimline dome LEDs are mounted to the ceiling and underneath the overhead storage cupboards. There are individual LED reading lights at the bedhead, while funky purple LED strip lights above and below the cabinetry create a modern feel to the interior.
Up front, the nearly-queen size bed sits up high to make getting in and out a breeze. Overhead cupboards along with hanging space on either side provide more than enough storage for your clothes. More storage is provided under the bed and is accessed by a drop-down hatch at the foot. Taking the ‘everything’s included’ mantra to the next level, Titan even provide you with storage tubs for this space. I’m also reliably told that this is a great spot to store your golf clubs when on the road.
Ranger double glazed windows (with insect screens and block out blinds) provide a cross-breeze and ventilation, while a pair of Sirocco 12V fans will take over when the breeze drops off. A Dometic IBIS 4 A/C unit is fitted as standard for when things get a little too hot and sticky.
Taking pride of place in the middle of the van is the spacious four berth dinette. While the 480H may only sleep two, it doesn’t mean you can’t invite a couple of friends around for happy hour drinks, even when the weather turns bad. A simple pivoting table is provided and is easy to install.
One thing the 480H does not want for is more storage. Your only problem may be not utilising it all if you want to stay below your ATM of 2680kg. Apart from the storage already mentioned in the bedroom area, there are more overhead cupboards above the dinette, as well as more space beneath the seats.
It is here, underneath the seats, where you will also find the Truma HWS and battery charger. These lift up lids could really have done with a gas strut or some other mechanism to keep them up and out of the way. They would get really annoying, really quickly falling down on you all the time if you were in there trying to fix something.
Up the back of the van is the kitchenette and the slimline 152L Thetford compressor fridge/freezer. The kitchenette comprises even more storage with seven soft close drawers and an overhead cupboard. Also housed in the overhead cupboard is a 25L microwave, while a hot and cold water plumbed sink resides in the benchtop. If the weather had turned particularly nasty outside, twin power points would enable you to plug in an induction cooktop to sizzle up a few snags for dinner.
Hiding in the rear offside corner of the van, behind an opaque glass door is the combined shower/toilet. Inside you’ll find the usual suspects: a Thetford toilet, a wall mounted cupboard with mirror, an adjustable height shower and a soap tray. Buy it was the unusual suspect that caught my eye. A shower rail and shower curtain.
Now, I have had many a shower in the confined spaces of a combined shower/toilet and the one thing that you cannot avoid is getting water everywhere. No matter how hard you try, it still goes everywhere. After your shower you’ve still got another five minutes of wiping everything down so the next person won’t drown as they step inside. Well, the humble shower curtain in the 480H at least saves you the hassle of having to wipe down the mirror and toilet, leaving the excess water to just drain away down the plughole.
These days, with our heavy reliance on electricity, it’s good to know that the 480H is your friend when you are in need. I counted six double power points inside, to go with the four double USB points. Even I would have trouble filling all of them when charging up all my camera gear!
A 24” LCD TV/DVD combo matched to a roof mounted digital booster antenna will let you keep up to date with your latest TV series or the nightly news. If music is more your thing, a bluetooth stereo will get the campground pumping as you blast your ‘Best of the 80’s’ Spotify playlist through the internal and external speakers!
I’ve already mentioned the suspension used on the 480H, but what else is lurking beneath? Is it out of sight, out of mind? Or do the team from Titan pay as much attention to what can’t easily be seen as to what can?
Beneath the 50mm thick composite floor, the 150x50x3.5 galvanised chassis rolls along on 265/75R16 Mud Terrain tyres wrapped around 16” black alloy rims. A three-bar rear bumper houses the single spare tyre as well as a pair of 20L jerry cans.
The three poly water tanks (2 x 100L potable and 1 x 65L grey water tanks) are protected by a zincalume shroud. Plumbing and hoses have been run high and protected where possible, with John Guest fittings being used throughout the build. Electrical cabling is run through convoluted tubing and inside chassis rails where possible, and tied up high and tight where not.
Mounted to the chassis and sitting in front of the wheels on the driver’s side is the chequer plate battery box, which houses the two 120AH AGM batteries. Sitting forward of the wheel and hanging well below the chassis rail puts them at serious risk of being damaged in an offroad situation. Personally, I’d much prefer to see them housed elsewhere.
For a mild amount of protection when traversing gnarly obstacles, 50mm rock rails/sliders run beneath the bottom of the walls.
After Sales Service
When you’re spending $60k on a van, you’re putting a lot of faith in the manufacturer to not only provide you with a quality product, but to back it up in case something does go wrong.
After speaking with James, I got the impression that he likes to deal with any problems that may arise as quickly as possible. He knows that issues and problems do occur from time to time, but it is how they are dealt with that makes the difference. His mindset is, “Just get it fixed and get them back on the road.”
Apart from each of his vans coming with comprehensive electrical, gas and plumbing diagrams for side of the road trouble shooting, every new owner of a Titan Caravan has access to a 1800 phone number that is manned 24/7 to provide additional roadside assistance.
On top of that, all new buyers have access to partaking in a RACQ accredited “First Time Towing” course, which is included in the purchase price.
The cherry on the top for me is that the warranty is a true offroad warranty, with surfaces such as corrugated dirt roads and beaches all covered and stipulated in the warranty document.
The Last Word
For the couple who want the convenience and comfort of a caravan, but still want to spend more time outdoors cooking and entertaining, then the Blackhawk 480H from Titan Caravans could be the ideal choice. At less than $60K, this is a well-built van with a list of standard features as long as your arm. To be honest, there’s not a lot more that you would want to add to this van. Except maybe your food and clothes for a couple of weeks away from the daily grind.
1. VALUE FOR MONEY – 8/10 – For sub $60k you get a lot for your money with nothing more to add
2. TOWABILITY – 8/10 – Performed well on a mixture of road surfaces
3. SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING – 8.5/10 – An offroad hybrid that will have you tackling some of the best touring locations this country has to offer
4. BUILD QUALITY – 8.5/10 – Well-presented hybrid with all plumbing and electrical done in-house in Australia
5. LIVEABILITY – 8/10 – Comfortable and roomy inside with large lounge/dinette area
6. CUSTOMER CARE (Warranty/after purchase) – 9/10 – 24hr contact number, warranted as full offroad, and Titan look after own warranties and problems
7. SELF-SUFFICIENCY – 9/10 – 240AH battery, 320W solar, 200l fresh and 65l grey water make this a hybrid that you could easily stay off grid with for an extended period
8. INNOVATION – 8/10 – An imported van mixing new materials and construction methods with the old
9. X-FACTOR – 8/10 – Turns heads with a striking external colour scheme and aggressive styling
Titan BlackHawk 480 Hybrid
WARRANTY: Two year national warranty on build, three year body/suspension chassis warranty (full offroad)
RVMAP Accredited: No
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Length (Hybrid): 15 feet 9 inches (4.8m)
Length (Overall): 22 feet 8 inches (6.9m)
Width: 7 feet 1 inches (2.16m)
Travel Height: 9 feet 7 inches (2.93m)
Internal Height: 6 feet 3 inches(1.9m)
Tare Weight: 2180kg
Ball Weight: 220kg
Bed Size: 6 feet 5 inches x 4 feet 11 inches (1.95m x 1.5m)
Frame 150 x 50 x 3.5 Galvanised Steel
Cladding Heat laminated fibreglass composite panel with structural foam core and aluminium subframe
Chassis 150 x 50 x 3.5 Galvanised Steel
Suspension Cruisemaster XT (coils) fully independent suspension system with twin shocks on each wheel.
Coupling DO35 Off road hitch
Brakes 12” electric brakes
Wheels 265/75R16 Mud Terrains on 16” black alloy rims with 1 x spare
Water 2 x 100L general (200L total) / 65L grey
Battery 2 x 120A/h AGM
Solar 2 x 160W panel
Air-conditioner 2.5kW IBIS 4 A/C system
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway Control Optional upgrade
Cooking Thetford stove (3 x gas burner, 1 x electric hotplate) and grill with automatic ignition
Fridge Waeco CFX 95DZW
BBQ Ziggy by Ziegler + Brown
Dust Reduction Dometic DRS
Fridge 152L Thetford T1152 (tropical rated) compressor upright fridge/freezer
Microwave 25L CAMEC Microwave
Bathroom Ensuite with combined shower/toilet
Washing Machine None
Hot Water 14l Truma Ultrarapid Gas/Electric hot water system
PRICE AS SHOWN
To enquire about this caravan, visit titancaravans.com.au, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07) 3216 4555.