Review: Market Direct Crusader Expedition
We test and rate the Market Direct Campers Crusader Expedition, a contender ($15,000 - $30,000 category) in Camper Trailer Australia's 2014 Camper Trailer of the Year awards.
MARKET DIRECT CAMPERS CRUSADER EXPEDITION CAMPER REVIEW
Market Direct Campers (MDC) is one of Australia’s largest producer of camper trailers with projected sales of over 5000 units per year. The company uses a range of imported components and assemblies to help maintain tight cost control, while still delivering campers that are fully engineered to meet local ADRs.
While entry level softfloor campers have been the main focus up until now, production is expanding to tackle a number of other key categories. At $24,990 as tested, the Expedition Crusader hardfloor fits into the mid-priced Expedition range, bringing added creature comforts and more sophisticated running gear.
The foundations are built around a solid galvanised chassis and drawbar with independent coil suspension with dual shock absorbers per wheel, 12in offroad electric brakes, 16in alloys with a choice of quality Coopers all-terrain tyres, plus two spare wheels supported on a rear wheel carrier.
BEDDING AND CANVAS
The camper’s strengths are its bedding and well-equipped under-canvas areas. The roof of the Crusader pivots to the front to form the base of the main bed, leaving the rear tub to accommodate a large wrap-around lounge that converts to a second bed with an infill base and cushion. In this mode, mum, dad and even a few kids can sleep comfortably off the ground. But for sitting, I found the cushions a little soft, discovering the firm bases a little too quickly. The lounge is also very low, and therefore a little awkward for long-legged folk.
External storage is also a highlight, with most external cupboards offering storage trays that slide out for ease of access. A large fridge slide can accommodate an 80L fridge and a lined slide-out pantry offers good depth, although the sides could be a little taller — particularly at the rear — to offer a more useable space.
The stainless steel kitchen offers some storage, a stainless sink with 12V water and a recessed four-burner stove, providing some protection from the wind. The driver’s side scores further compartments with slide-out storage for the Aqua Cube hot water system, a hooded stainless marine barbecue, plus access to the electrical switchgear, water pump and few additional shelves. Items like the Aqua Cube could benefit from tie-downs for bumpy offroad sojourns.
A large annex offers plenty of additional shelter and is fitted with windows, screenings and a PVC bucket floor. The standard canvas is an MDC 14oz close weave, or buyers can opt for Aussie-made Wax Converters canvas as an added cost option ($4000). A tropical roof is fitted as standard, although it didn’t fare too well in the blustery winds at Robe, catching the gusts and buffeting the rest of the canvas.
It is good to see designers thinking outside the box, as they clearly have with the Crusader. Fundamentally, the design has merit, although it does limit internal storage for clothes and other items which may detract some buyers. The front of the trailer tub is consumed with storage for the fridge and pantry, while much of the storage potential at the rear is forgone with the lounge design and kitchen. There is some under-seat storage although the fenders, batteries and switch gear chew out a decent share of this. On the upside, there is still plenty of storage area on the floor if you are happy to live out of boxes or soft bags.
THE CAMPER TRAILER AUSTRALIA VERDICT
The Crusader presents well with good fit and finish for the dollars asked; how well it will fare long term and at resale time is the big unknown. That said, MDC is committed to local R&D, with a dedicated two vehicle test fleet, last seen torturing their trailers up some of the country’s worst tracks. This is definitely one to watch!
To discover the Market Direct Campers Crusader Expedition’s final score be sure to check out Camper Trailer Australia magazine #72. Why not subscribe today!
MARKET DIRECT CAMPERS CRUSADER EXPEDITION RATING
DAVID COOK: The two-pack paint-on primer is good, and it can be matched to the tow vehicle. For offroad, the dual shock independent suspension appears very good,
as does the departure angle. The approach and ramp-over angle is average. The wheels and tyres are good, but having two spares is overkill and adds weight unnecessarily. The fridge and Aqua Cube are poorly secured and would be knocked around on severe tracks.
The canvas looks okay but is an unknown commodity. It was also a little noisy and sloppy in the wind, but I liked the gussets at the window ends. There were lots of spreader bars and poles, meaning set-up is a bit complicated, but luckily the awning can stay attached.
The basic electrical setup is suitable, but it needs a DC-DC charger. The roll-up wall into the awning helps create a feeling of space in the tent.
MIKE PAVEY: The forward-pivoting bed is a relatively new approach to hardfloor design. The camper provides decent self-sufficiency, but the 10amp 240V charger is a tad small for the total battery capacity. Good water capacity.
The quality of finish is pretty good, and the camper has a substantial chassis and quality additions, including the marine barbecue and swing-away dual wheel carrier. The canvas and tropical roof flapped excessively in the wind, unfortunately.
As for comforts, the queen size bed is foam, not innerspring, but the camper has hot water and a good electrics package, although it’s missing a pure sine wave inverter and AGM batteries. The cushions need higher density padding for comfort.
Being a new model constructed from many imported components, resale value may be impacted, but there are plenty of features at this price point.
PHIL LORD: The Crusader has enormous appeal based on its wide range of standard features and ample living space. This would suit a family well for bush camping. The use of the trailer floor as a lounge area provides unique interior accommodation.
There is ample water and power provision for the bush, although without recharge facility via solar there is a limit. The overall finish is generally good, but there are a few rough edges.
The Crusader appears generally well built, but the unknown is whether it will withstand the test of time — and hard offroad work. It’s a large camper that won’t deal with narrow, winding tracks well. The handbrake cables routed underneath are also potential snag points. The winch-operated folding tent makes set-up easy and the general design is very good. The swing-away spare wheel carrier adds a layer of inconvenience when setting up, however.
As for value, let’s face it: this camper is imported from China where costs are much lower than for Australian-made campers, meaning more bang for your buck. Indeed, there is bling aplenty here.
Call to enquire: 07 3171 1795
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