Review: SLRV Commander 4x4 Adventure Truck

John Ford — 21 May 2024
John Ford recently got to check out the SLRV Commander 4x4 Adventure Truck and was impressed by this innovative, adventure-ready RV giant.

To find out what made a rusted-on caravan couple switch to a motorhome, we visited new owners Dee and Steve Caunt on the NSW South Coast on their first trip in their new rig. The images here tell the story—this isn't your run-of-the-mill motorhome. Instead, it's an adventuring behemoth of a camper based on a $260,000 MAN truck cab and chassis from Germany with a nearly $700,000 makeover from Queensland's SLRV Expedition Vehicles 

The journey for the pair to the Commander started many years ago when Steve saw an SLR caravan on a trip to Cape York. He was impressed with the build quality and dust-free interior compared to his then-current van. He visited the SLR factory to order a van only to be told they were no longer in production. The crew offered to build a motorhome, but Steve and Dee weren’t yet ready for the adventure truck concept. Instead, they commissioned a compact Spinifex, which followed them around the country, and a second 26ft Spinifex that we showcased a couple of years back, which they towed with a RAM 3500.

Behind the decision to switch to the MAN was the perennial problem that big American tow vehicles can be a pain when exploring away from the van or finding a place to park when shopping. To solve the problem and satisfy Steve's yearning for big rigs, the SLRV tows a trailer with a Suzuki Jimny and a jet ski for trips to the shops, drives down restricted access tracks and a way onto the water.

Once the decision was made to swap to the SLRV Commander, there was a two-year wait for the MAN 13.290 in cab chassis form and nearly a year on the SLRV factory floor for the fitout. The extended build time shows in the composite body's meticulous finish and astounding engineering.

The MAN model name represents a 13-tonne gross vehicle mass and the 290hp (213kW) from the six-cylinder, twin-turbocharged 6.9L engine. An impressive 1150Nm of torque is on hand from 1200 RPM. The all-wheel-drive system runs through an automated manual 12-speed ZF gearbox with diff locks front, rear and central for tough going. A transfer case offers an additional 12 low-range gears. Standard features include air valve disc brakes at all wheels and cruise control, but a CTIS Air system for changing tyre pressures on the move is a $12,000 option.

The accommodation cabin is made from a marine quality composite panel using a Swedish foam core inside vacuum infused fibreglass sheets, offering the best insulation. The body is independently mounted on a three-point subframe, which keeps it rigid as the truck chassis twists under it when travelling over uneven ground.

Ready for adventure

You can have any colour of MAN truck you like as long as it's white, so the custom Royal Blue exterior is unique in Dee and Steve's favourite colour. It looked fantastic in the dawn light when I arrived for the review. At 8.3m (27ft 2in) long and standing some 3.8m (12ft 5in) tall on 385x65x 22.5in all-terrain tyres, the bulk of the Commander is hard to ignore. The truck cabin sits high enough to need a fold-down step for access, and there's a ladder to climb to the storage bins over the cabin. An integrated awning covers a custom slide-out kitchen along the passenger side with an induction barbecue and a moulded sink. At the same time, a second hatch houses the entertainment module with TV and power outlets. More storage bins and hatches run along the other side, and they are all custom-made with sturdy lids and efficient dust seals.

Down the back is a full-height storage garage where the spare tyre and any camping gear or toys can be safely stored. It's an ideal spot for Dee and Steve's electric bikes, which mount into a custom cradle that lowers to the ground on a crane with an electric winch. The spare wheel also deploys on the crane. For some different bike carrying inspiration, head here

Stepping inside

Electric steps lead up to the central doorway and into the 6m living space. Interior style colours are a contemporary mix of greys and chrome against white walls with black trim and tapware, and they have a happy vibe that should last the miles. The quality of the CNC joinery is a cut above most interiors I have seen, and the hardware is of all quality. Windows are top-shelf German-made KCT double-glazed safety glass with an argon enclosure. To the left is a large club lounge clad in Italian leather with room for six and seatbelts for two when travelling. A decent-sized table sits on a sturdy hydraulic leg, and the lounge is long enough to settle in lengthways for relaxing or watching TV. Starlink and Vast Satellite keep you in contact with sport and all your favourite shows.

A king-size bed hides unobtrusively over the lounge and drops on a LINAK actuator when you're ready for bed. This neat way of separating the bed from view when not in use is a great way to create extra space by using the same 2.5m (8ft 2in) of cabin length for different outcomes.

You see the benefits of getting that extra room in the remarkable amount of kitchen room in the central section of the cabin. Long benches on each side give ample room for meal preparation, and there’s plenty of refrigeration with a 180L Isotherm fridge/freezer in the kitchen area and a 60L drawer version under the lounge at the entryway. Cook outside if you like or take advantage of the Miele combination microwave/air fryer/steamer or the Safari induction cooktop. 

High-end cabinetry includes multiple cupboards, a slide-out pantry and deep, soft-close drawers. A Miele washer dryer adds a touch of class, and there's a dedicated tank and pump to draw water from a stream, so you don't have to stress about saving water when in remote locations. (For making the water safe for drinking as well as washing, check out this gear review of the Guzzle H2O Stream.) Separate tanks are spread under the cabin to stop them from freezing and to optimise weight distribution, and all up, there's around 600L, including a dedicated 100L freshwater tank. 

The full width ensuite runs across the back and includes an opulent vanity, separate shower, and a Separett composting toilet.

Powering the off-grid lifestyle

It wouldn't be a proper expedition vehicle without capable battery power supply to run all the comforts of home, and the big SLRV delivers the goods with a beautifully installed Mastervolt setup. This is a system often seen in high-end yachts, so it has an enviable reputation for reliability and output. Eight 200W roof panels send 1600W of solar power to three 400Ah batteries through two Mass Combi Pro inverters/chargers. Each inverter has 3500W connected to different appliances for efficient operation. As a backup for poor weather, the MAN engine has a second alternator capable of a 200Ah charge. You shouldn’t run out of power.

How did it drive? 

Because the gross weight is over 13T, you will need a medium rigid licence to drive the Commander. I saw a variety of road conditions with Steve at the wheel, and the view from the cab was wide and clear over the accompanying traffic. We dropped tyre pressures to 60psi for some rougher tracks, and the combination of the softer rubber and air seats gave a comfortable, steady ride. Out on the highway, it was easy to maintain 100kph with hardly a sound from the big six sitting under us. Steve has calculated 36L/100km on the road and 39L/100km when towing his 3500kg trailer. This should give a safe range of around 2000km for the twin 400L tanks, but a refill in some remote service stations will hurt the wallet.

The bottom line

By now, you have worked out that the big blue battlewagon isn't going to be cheap, and you're right. It's around $960,000 by the time you get it on the road, and that's before you add in a substantial trailer and the toys. Not all of us have that sort of change, but I'm thinking house prices have skyrocketed and it might be tempting for downsizers to kick in the saving on a Commander. The big SLRV would be a comfortable way to see the country in style over a year or so of laid-back travel.



Overall length 8.3m (27ft 2in)
Body length6m (19ft 7in)
Width2.4m (7ft 9in)
Height3.8m (12ft 5in)
Tare 11,430kg
ATM 13,000kg
Payload 1570kg (calculated)


Frame Composite
Cladding Fibreglass
Chassis Three-point body mounted to 220mm x 70mm x 7mm ladder chassis
Suspension Air bag
Fuel 2 x 400L
BrakesAir over disc
Wheels 385x65 x 22.5in
Water 500L plus 100L dedicated freshwater
Battery 3 x 200Ah lithium
Solar 8 x 200W
Air-conditioner Dometic
Gas Gasless


Cooking Miele Combi and induction cooktop
Fridge 180L Isotherm and 60L Isotherm drawer fridge/ freezer
Bathroom Full width
Hot water Webasto diesel

SLRV Commander price as shown $960,000


To enquire about this RV, head to the SLRV Expedition Vehicles website. 


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