Kicking back around the campfire, it wasn’t all that hard to let our minds wander and think about staying here the night. We’d done all the hard work. We’d set the Titan Ranger up and been all over it with a fine-toothed comb. We’d stretched its legs on a few offroad tracks and put its dirt credentials to the test. We’d even checked out the inside and given it a thorough going over as well.
With that all done, all we wanted to do was enjoy the rest of the afternoon around the fire, cook up a feed in the well-appointed kitchen, then snuggle up for good night’s sleep in the shadows of the Glasshouse Mountains.
But alas, we could not. Talk about poor planning!
HITTIN’ THE ROAD
Earlier in the day, we’d made the trek to the northern Brisbane suburb of Burpengary, to the relatively new home and HQ of Titan Caravans (the team moved in March 2020). Late last year, I’d visited Titan’s old premises at Eagle Farm. Let’s just say that the new facility is considerably larger than the old, and further expansion is already happening to service its ever-growing client base.
Up for review today is the Ranger Camper, and I had the owner, James Creswick, give me a quick rundown of the unit before hitching it up behind the dual cab Amarok that the team from Titan were also kind enough to lend me for the day.
In our sights today were the tracks and trails of the Glasshouse Mountains. The Glassies, as they are known to the locals, are one of my favourite testing grounds for campers on the north side of Brisbane.
Apart from soft sand, the Glassies have got pretty much all you can ask for. First of all, there’s 110km/h highway driving just to get there, then secondary bitumen roads before you turn off into the pine forests for the fun stuff of fast gravel and rutted tracks.
Or, as it was the case on this review, to stop and work out just how the heck you get a brand-new Amarok into 4WD! I thought a phone call was going to be in order back to the office, but thankfully we found the owner’s manual in the glovebox and we worked it out.
TIME TO GET DIRTY
With that all sorted out, it was time to point the Amarok with the Ranger in tow down some dirt tracks to see if it handled the brown and red stuff as well as it handled the black.
One of the first things that caught my eye with the Ranger was the wheel and tyre size. These days, 15in rims just look so small, and when matched with a 235/75R15 tyre (which is basically a 29in tyre in the old language), the Ranger looks under-tyred. This would be the first thing I would change if a Ranger ever found its way into my garage.
The smaller tyre diameter immediately affects the ramp-over angles and ground clearance of the Ranger camper, which in turn required some careful wheel placement during our testing.
Add to that the low-slung jerry can holders and spare wheel off the rear bumper, and there was more than one occasion when scraping of terra firma occurred.
After chatting to James about this, he has informed me that all 2021 builds will be fitted standard with 265/75R16 MT’s on 16in alloys. That’s great news!
Apart from a couple of scrapes and bruises, the Ranger performed well through the ruts, mud, water and over a few rocks as well for good measure.
The independent trailing arm suspension appears to have the spring rate and shock absorber valving well suited to its tare of 1999kg. The upgraded DO35 V3 hitch doesn’t hurt either when the going gets a little rough.
FINDING THE PERFECT CAMPSITE
After the offroad testing, our focus changed to locating a nice little spot to pull up and see just how intuitive it was to set up the Ranger. Remember, we had only been given a quick rundown by James at the factory, and that was packing it down.
After a quick drive through the forestry roads, and a couple more photos, we found a great spot on top of a slight rise in the shadow of Mt Tibrogargan and views to Mts Beerwah and Conowrin. A cracking spot indeed.
After working out the best angles for more photos and spinning the camper 180 degrees because I don’t know my left from my right, it was time to get to work.
After quickly unhitching and levelling the trailer, I was pushed aside by Mez as she rushed to the front storage box located in the nose-cone of the trailer. She quickly reached inside and grabbed the remote control to raise the roof of the camper.
Four telescopic stainless steel posts, located in each corner slowly extend to raise the one-piece fibreglass roof. Powered by a 12000lb winch, it really is as simple as the press of a button. Just remember to undo the four latches that hold the roof down first.
After a short while, the roof automatically stops at the correct height thanks to in-built limiting switches which prevent any overrun and damage to the camper or mechanism. The same applies when lowering the roof.
With the roof raised, the two queen-sized beds can be extracted and pulled into place thanks to heavy duty slides. Support bars which conveniently live underneath the mattress during transit are locked into place beneath the extended bed base.
All that is really left to do now is head inside and use the spreader bar (also hidden beneath the mattress during transit) to pop up the support hoop, canvas sides and PVC roof. Locking the spreader bar in place keeps everything nice and tight, making sure there are no bellies to hold water in the event of an unexpected downpour.
On what was a pretty warm Brisbane day, as soon as we rolled down all the storm clears on the windows, a beautiful breeze was able to flow through the camper and keep things relatively cool. The 60mm thick insulated fibreglass roof no doubt helps there too.
Back outside, all that remained was to grab the handle for the awning and wind that out for a bit of shade and somewhere to put a couple of chairs and a table.
Once again, I forgot to check my watch before we started setting the Ranger up, but thanks to modern technology, my camera told me that Mez first started raising the roof at 1:52pm and finished winding out the awning at 2:13pm.
A setup time of 21 minutes for a couple of first-timers taking a lot of photos didn’t seem too bad at all. With a bit of practice, I’m thinking somewhere down near 10 minutes wouldn’t be too far out of the question.
Now that the Ranger was all set up, it was time to check it out properly.
Up front, the six-inch galvanised chassis and A-frame supports a full-width, shade cloth style stone protector. There’s probably a reason for the big hole cut in the front of the stoneguard, but it wasn’t obvious to me, apart from being somewhere that flicked up stones could make their way through to the 9kg gas bottle or the fibreglass nose cone.
The nose cone also provides the only external storage on the Ranger and is big enough for a couple of camp chairs and a cricket set for a game on the beach. Forward of the wheel on the driver’s side and mounted to the chassis, is a double battery box. From standard, the Ranger comes equipped with a single 120Ah AGM battery. Upgrades to a second battery or a lithium system are available.
Keeping your battery topped up is a DC/DC charger and battery management system, as well as a single 170W solar panel mounted to the roof of the camper.
An external shower plumbed with both hot and cold water takes care of keeping the clan clean from the two 95L fresh water tanks located underneath the chassis. A single grey water tank at the rear allows for camping trips to your favourite national parks.
Underneath the camper, it was good to see how and where all the wiring, plumbing and gas lines had been run. Where possible, they were run through the chassis rails and, if not, they were run high and out of harm’s way. John Guest fittings have been used on the water lines, making repairs a simple task if required.
Along the passenger side, a fold-down picnic table is perfect for cheese and nibbles of an afternoon or to sit the TV if you choose.
There’s no external kitchen on the Ranger, but it does come already plumbed with an external gas bayonet fitting, making it super easy to hook up the barbie.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Ranger from Titan Caravans is definitely a solid performer and I can see this type of camper appealing to a large section of the market out there.
It does everything well without being outstanding, and I think that is what makes it a pretty darn good all-rounder. That includes weekends away with a couple of mates, to longer trips with the family.
The interior space and style of this camper, with its full internal kitchen, almost makes me want to call the Ranger a pop-top caravan.
However you want to try and pigeon-hole it, I’m sure you’ll have a great time doing it.
Ball weight 160kg
Suspension Independent suspension with coils and twin shocks
Brakes 12in electric drum brakes
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35 V3
Chassis 6in hot-dipped galvanised
Body 35mm heat-laminated composite walls / 50mm carbon composite floor / one-piece fibreglass roof
Wheels 15 x 7 alloy rims
Tyres 235/75R15 mud-terrains
Style Wind-up camper
Body size 4140mm
Towed length (hitch to spare wheel) 6200mm
Awning size 2950mm
Gas cylinders 1 x 9kg
Water 190L fresh water (2 x 95L) and 65L grey water tank
Hot water service 12/240V HWS
Cooktop Thetford 3 + 1 (gas/electric cooktop) with grill and microwave
Kitchen Internal kitchen with stainless steel sink, cooktop, microwave and food prep bench
Fridge 90L Dometic upright fridge
Battery 1 x 120Ah AGM
Inverter Optional upgrade
Solar 1 x 170W panel
Options fitted DO35 hitch, stoneguard, HWS and bag fly x 3
PRICE AS TESTED
Address 252 Bruce Highway, Eastern Service Rd, Burpengary East, Qld 4505
Phone (07) 3216 4555