2 adults, 3 kids, Pajero - Which caravan?

Oct 28, 2016
Hello all,

We are half way committed to buying a caravan, now that we bought a 2012 Pajero Diesel with some after market suspention, electronic brakes, air bags in suspension etc.

Next thing to research is which caravan to buy.

One of our friends has Jayco Expanda Pop-top 16.49-3 Outback and another a Jayco Swift.

We were pretty interested in a Jayco Starcraft 17.58-3 Outback and have had quite a good look at it at the dealer.

We believe we will be using it for semi-off road use as we want to try exploring Australia a bit with the kids and in this case a toilet/shower is useful. A separate toilet/shower is ideal but open to both options.

Kids are 1, 3 and 6.

I am interested in what bunk caravan options there are out there and have come across the following so far. Also will consider second hand.

Jayco StarCraft 17.58-3 Outback
-Only 2 bunks (have to set table every night for 1 child)
-Good suspension

New Age Manta Ray (MR19BC SE) 3 bunks, special edition
-Quite a bit more expensive than the Starcraft, but much nicer inside
-Does not have as good suspension as the Starcraft OB
-3 bunks
-Combined toilet/shower

Tare: 2210kg
ATM: 2610kg
GVM: 2480kg
Ball: 130kg

Franklin Core GX-220X-W
-Quite a bit more expensive than the Starcraft
-This van is beautiful inside!!!
-3 bunks
-Separate toilet and shows
-Does not have as good suspension as the Starcraft OB

Tare: 2231kg
ATM: 2731kg
GTM: 2550kg
Ball: 181kg

Ball weight is 181. Dealer advised we can probably order one with water tanks shifted around a bit to get it under, but when I load it, it will be more that 180kg limiting me to only be able to tow 2500kgs and not having much payload.

My favourite so far is the Fanklin, but it may be too heavy, otherwise the New Age is great (only downside is combined toilet shower, but that's not too bad).

Any comments and or other vans we should consider?

I need to discuss with the wife further about paying as much as $60k otherwise that might be off the table.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Forum Moderator
Staff member
Nov 9, 2010
Wollondilly Shire NSW
Out of those 3 your best option weight wise is probably going to be the Starcraft or the Manta Ray or maybe an Expanda 17-56-2, it has bunks and twin beds so no need to set up table every night,

the one thing you have to watch with the Pajero is that maximum ball weight is 180 if you breach 2500kg mark on the ATM, trust me its not hard to go over.

In saying that I'm going to confuse you and throw another into the mix, "Golden Eagle" (built by Paramount) check out my thread here Bushie's Shak it is available with 3 bunks, while it does have combine shower/toilet it is quite large, they are available from Canterbury Caravans in Melbourne (got ours there have a chat to Ian) and The Caravan Company Newcastle.

Canterbury also have other brands such as the Paramount Duet (same as the Expanda)

They can be built to suit the ATM issues though ours ended up with ATM of 2700kg it was meant to be 2500kg just need to tell them your towing with a Pajero. there's only 3 of us we do travel as light as possible and last trip over the scales the van went out at 2580kg

Oh! and one thing with any bunk van, check the length of the bunks, some are a little short, remember little kids turn into big kids.
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Oct 28, 2016
I had a look at the Geko's too when I was at New age. Quite good layouts etc.

Were similar price to the Manta Ray.

Wife said 60k is too much. Browsing the market to see what is around with 3 bunks.

Thanks for the feedback so far.


Well-Known Member
Nov 22, 2012
Swan Valley Perth
a couple of things to consider

a 17'/18' expanda with bunks and shower would probably be the max for the Paj
- weight wise, by the time you load everything in for 5 people

thats a heck of a lot of money to be sitting around if your not using it a LOT
- think carefully and truthfully on how much WILL you use it

storage, out the back at home, on the front verge (less secure) off site storage
- where to park the thing when not in use
(I know of a couple in a block of units (with big back yard), without thinking, they brought a full sized Van, and then realised they could not get it up their driveway (narrow and 90* bend at unit) nore under the carport to get it out the back - its now stored off site at massive expense)

does it have to be a full sized Van (popups included)
maybe a Swan or a Flamingo - Outback
more work to setup and put away, but smaller, lighter, easier to store
Oct 28, 2016
I came across the Snowy River SR-20F

http://www.caravancampingsales.com....s])&SaleStatus=[For Sale])))&pso=30&pss=Price

Looks like a pretty good package.

I contacted the seller and the ball weight is incorrect. It is actually 187kg. Have asked to see if it is possible to build one with less that 180kg.

Trying to research the model though and cannot find any posts on here or Google from people who own one.

Not familar with Snowy River either but believe they may be built by regent.


Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2016
Gladstone Central Qld
Pretty hard to go past the Starcraft 17.58-3 if you want a internal shower toilet, for the price you wont find better and dropping the table isnt a biggy or even feet to feet on one bunk for the two littlies.

There is also a new model 19ft Starcraft full van that has separate shower toilet and bunks but no sure on the weights?


Well-Known Member
Oct 29, 2013
Viewbank, Victoria
As said have a look at the 19" Starcraft a little bigger then then 17.58. You can get triple bunks and washing machine seperate shower/toilet although east/west bed.

The Golden Eagle is good. Also Kokoda do a few vans. 3 kids makes it easier :) we have 4 so have to use dinette :(
The Mantra Ray just getting to much $ now they where early $50's only a few years back. We looked although got a touring 22.68 for a lot less and has more spec then the Mantra Ray. Washing Machine, 3 tanks, entertainment unit etc

You have to watch weight with the Paj over 2500 you drop the tow ball weight down.
Best bet is have a look at a few and see what you think will work for you


Well-Known Member
Jun 8, 2014
Bacchus Marsh
I had a look at the Geko's too when I was at New age. Quite good layouts etc.

Were similar price to the Manta Ray.

Wife said 60k is too much. Browsing the market to see what is around with 3 bunks.

Thanks for the feedback so far.
What about the smaller Gecko? The 16ft Gecko is within weights and I'd be surprised if it wasn't <$60k. Plenty of options and quite compact, not to mention build quality.

We love our Gecko and the layout we chose for our three has been perfect. I've looked at a lot of triple bunk vans over the time, and without wanting to sound uppity., this is the best layout we've seen.

Oct 28, 2016
We put a deposit on a runout starcraft poptop 17.58-3 today.

Will pick it up in 3 weeks, but hopefully sooner.

Believe got a good price.

Had the following extras on it

Wind up antenna
Upgraded fridge (164l)
Truma roof air con
Fusion stereo
Picnic table
External shower
Coast to Coast control panel (would have liked the drifter though)

This shall suit our family for several years or more at which time we can look at getting something different if required.
Looking forward to upgrading from the tent!