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We’re researching caravans before making the decision to buy. I have no idea which makes are regarded as “high end” and which are the “value end”.   It would be easy to assume more expensive means better quality BUT the numerous models is causing a headache. We would probably look to buy one no older than 5 years. Any advice/opinions would be appreciated

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The last truly "High end" manufacturer,  Vanroyce went to the wall quite a few years ago, and the two big manufacturers Bailey and Swift Group, each make vans in several flavours separated by price.

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All manufacturers produce a range, from “low” to “high”. Don’t get to hung up on that. Look at various makes and models, and try to imagine how you will use it, and work out if the layout will work for you. 
finally, check weights on car and van, and what your driving licence permits you to tow

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Also see what extras you get for the additional money between a manufacturers value and high-end models. Then ask yourself how much of that you need.

 

We all want something different but we went from mid-range Swift Challengers to Swifts budget Sprite range. We saved money on the purchase price AND weight but so far we don't really miss anything.

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Manufacturers often refer to their value end as "entry level models" and the upper ranges as "Luxury," as you say this is reflected in the price range and the specification e.g. higher end van tend to have ALDI Wet Central Heating systems. If you look at the Bailey website its reasonably clear which way the the ladder climbs. As regards quality studying this forum and the CMC Forum (you don`t need to a member to read it) you can get an idea of how open ended the answer can be.  

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Headaches appear occasionally across the whole available range.  Choose the ‘van which appeals to you and you feel happy to spend time with on your travels .  Prices are usually a guide to perceived quality but are no guarantee against problems.

    John.

 

Edited by Leedslad
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We went to the NEC yesterday and one thing we noticed was in terms of quality all the vans across all the manufacturers seemed much the same.  There was no new innovations in any of them. Most had the same equipment dometic fridges etc. The difference between entry and luxury was largely just trim, different decals on the exterior etc.  As others have mentioned go off layout which suites your needs first. This will narrow it down to just a few.

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5 hours ago, Stevan said:

The last truly "High end" manufacturer,  Vanroyce went to the wall quite a few years ago, and the two big manufacturers Bailey and Swift Group, each make vans in several flavours separated by price.

 

Although Vanmaster are still in business, and if I had £65K+ I would order one tomorrow.

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9 hours ago, sbsmith said:

.......I have no idea which makes are regarded as “high end”.......

 

'Highest end' has to be Vanmaster and as OWOMW says if I came into money and was still into touring, that's where I would like to be.

 

Other claimed high end high end models as with your Bessacarr and Buccaneer twin axles are plain second best but at circa half of the price.

 

 

 

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If you ignore Vanmaster and oddities like 5th wheel/Airstream then each of the major manufacturers have a range of 3 or 4 vans named differently-eg Coachman have the Acadia-cheapest, Vip next and LAzer XLtop.  So Elddis is Bucanneer, Lunar Alaria, Bailey Alicanto and Swift Elegance.

 

All bar Swift and Bailey come with self levelling but the Bailey is cheaper, not sure how Swift justify the high prices tbh. Buc did it for us being the only one of these to have self levelling AND underfloor heating which is simply superb. Lunar aren't manufacturing at the mo.

 

Do the research-we looked in all of these-the only brand we didn't consider is Adria=no dealer near enough. Look at prices too if that bothers you and see what deals are there but most importantly buy what your heart says. We love ours!

Check out the back pages of Practical Caravan mag for  a full list by 'classification' ie budget mid, upper  and top end.

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As a means of comparison I bought a new Bailey Phoenix (dealer special) at the 2018 NEC show. My pal having bought a Bailey Cabrera about 18 months earlier which I thought was the perfect layout for us so that’s what I was looking at buying.

 

However when I compared the two ( Phoenix and Cabrera) I very quickly changed my mind. 

 

I paid a whopping six THOUSAND pounds less for mine than he did for his (remember there is also an 18 month gap between the two purchases)  They use basically the same body (Cabrera is however a whole 1 inch wider) The interior layout is identical, the fittings and upholstery  are all pretty much the same with a few slight variations in finish etc (Cabrera has Alde the Phoenix Truma heating) but, to my view, the differences no-where near justify more than, at most and being generous, a price differential of £1000

 

So my advice would be to look at a manufacturer’s entire range and compare what the actual differences are and then decide if the additional costs are worth it to you.

 

My reasoning was that six grand would buy me a lot of ferry crossings/nights on a campsite/meals out.

 

In the end it’s your money to spend exactly as you wish.

 

Nearly all makes have individual caravans that have “issues” of one sort or another, but they ALL come with warranties so any rectification necessary is not at your expense. Yes the should all be totally fault free, but in the real world that’s not realistically possible.

 

To my mind THE most important thing is you get the right layout for you.

 

Andy

Edited by Mr Plodd
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8 hours ago, Paul Bailey said:

We went to the NEC yesterday and one thing we noticed was in terms of quality all the vans across all the manufacturers seemed much the same.  There was no new innovations in any of them. Most had the same equipment dometic fridges etc. The difference between entry and luxury was largely just trim, different decals on the exterior etc.  As others have mentioned go off layout which suites your needs first. This will narrow it down to just a few.

Not quite true- you find top end from Coachman has EP levelling -not on any other in its range, Bucanneer has EPlevelling and underfloor heating, Bailey alicanto has lovely wrap round seating/head restraints. Many upper range vans have more lighting/tracker/alarms fitted as standard and also have like our Buc a better oven with cast iron hob plate pan rests etc. Devil is in the detail and you either want it or don't.

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I note that no-one has mentioned non-British vans? Hymer - who now use the Eriba name for caravans - are heavy and pricey but they are built like brick privies with good quality fixings and materials. They also seem to have been well thought out - e.g. put the wardrobe in the bathroom but put the water/room heating unit in the bottom of it to stop dampness in the clothes. We had one next to us last year that looked like new and was actually 14 years old! Only catch is that there are maybe five dealers for them in the UK two of which are Lowdhams who told us last year that they would not be importing any this year because of price.

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The fact that you are thinking of a five year old van suggests that you do not have an unlimited budget.

This leaves a question, would you prefer a more recent but basic van, or an older more up-market van?

Personally I would look for a newer van with some warranty left, but that is your choice.

To me the three critical things to look for, in no particular order as they are all showstoppers, are:-

1. Condition, must be dry.

2. Number of berths. Must be enough, but extra are no harm.

3. Weight to suit your licence and towcar.

After that comes layout and finally brand.

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1 hour ago, Woodentop said:

I note that no-one has mentioned non-British vans? Hymer - who now use the Eriba name for caravans - are heavy and pricey but they are built like brick privies with good quality fixings and materials. They also seem to have been well thought out - e.g. put the wardrobe in the bathroom but put the water/room heating unit in the bottom of it to stop dampness in the clothes. We had one next to us last year that looked like new and was actually 14 years old! Only catch is that there are maybe five dealers for them in the UK two of which are Lowdhams who told us last year that they would not be importing any this year because of price.

 

Hymer are built to last, ours is coming on for 7 and still looks almost as good as new, all going according to plan we'll have it for at least another 7. 

In 2013 it was in the same price range as the Coachman VIP but new prices have gotten a bit silly now. Not many used ones about though.

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We recently bought an Elddis crusader Zephyr which has a 10 year warranty on water Ingress. Bailey have 6. If they are not confident in their product why should I be?

 

We looked at Adria whilst at the NEC and quality does appear to be better.

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3 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

So my advice would be to look at a manufacturer’s entire range and compare what the actual differences are and then decide if the additional costs are worth it to you.

That has to be the best piece of advice I have read for a long time if buying a new caravan. Once you look past the badges, decals and perceived quality items ,and look at the structure and essential equipment then you can more easily compare manufacturers and their models. Then, and only then, can you "compare apples with apples".

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4 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

As a means of comparison I bought a new Bailey Phoenix (dealer special) at the 2018 NEC show. My pal having bought a Bailey Cabrera about 18 months earlier which I thought was the perfect layout for us so that’s what I was looking at buying.

 

However when I compared the two ( Phoenix and Cabrera) I very quickly changed my mind. 

 

I paid a whopping six THOUSAND pounds less for mine than he did for his (remember there is also an 18 month gap between the two purchases)  They use basically the same body (Cabrera is however a whole 1 inch wider) The interior layout is identical, the fittings and upholstery  are all pretty much the same with a few slight variations in finish etc (Cabrera has Alde the Phoenix Truma heating) but, to my view, the differences no-where near justify more than, at most and being generous, a price differential of £1000

 

So my advice would be to look at a manufacturer’s entire range and compare what the actual differences are and then decide if the additional costs are worth it to you.

 

My reasoning was that six grand would buy me a lot of ferry crossings/nights on a campsite/meals out.

 

In the end it’s your money to spend exactly as you wish.

 

Nearly all makes have individual caravans that have “issues” of one sort or another, but they ALL come with warranties so any rectification necessary is not at your expense. Yes the should all be totally fault free, but in the real world that’s not realistically possible.

 

To my mind THE most important thing is you get the right layout for you.

 

Andy

 

21 minutes ago, Gordon said:

That has to be the best piece of advice I have read for a long time if buying a new caravan. Once you look past the badges, decals and perceived quality items ,and look at the structure and essential equipment then you can more easily compare manufacturers and their models. Then, and only then, can you "compare apples with apples".

What they both say...for my money both appear to give very informative posts and are sane of mind :-)

p.s. you TWO need to send my cheques in the post please lol

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I didn't mention Hymer Hobby Knaus etc simply because of the Adria argument-we didn't consider them due to the sparsity of dealers. But as above, 1, decide on layout, 2 must have features, 3 buy what floats your boat and you can tow and afford!

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Possibly the first things needed when trying to look at this subject is to establish what your tow car and licence allowance is.

The towcar will limit the weight of caravan you can tow and so may your licence.

If your licence does not have BE allowance, you will be limited to a total plated weight of 3,600 kg. This is the maximum loaded weight of the car, plus that of the caravan (known as the MTPLM), irrespective of whether it is loaded to that level or not. If you only have the B figure you do have to take a further test to add the E. Oddly enough you cannot use a caravan to obtain that. This assumes that the gross train weight for the car exceeds 3,500 kg.

As the others say, most makes build a range of models in sizes from low to high end. If you are looking at quality European manufacturers have a good reputation for quality, but in the surveys by PC magazine and the Caravanning and Camping Club the numbers except for Adria were not high enough for a meaningful answer.

In the last one Adria came first and Coachman second, Swift third and Elddis and Lunar fourth and fifth. Having said that any problem models should have been sorted by five years old.

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I don’t think that Hymer are importing any larger Hymer’s into the U.K. this year because of the price.   Eriba Touring are still being imported afaik.  We have had 3 Hymer’s in the last 15 years, we have never had a problem with parts availability, they have all had Alko chassis and Thetford toilets so can be serviced by pretty much anyone.   The spares tend to be the heavy duty version.  Though the Alde heating in ours is different and Alde had to get a pump in from Germany to do it.    Regarding the is it a Hymer or Eriba controversy. Ours says Hymer on the front and side but Eriba on the back. 

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4 hours ago, Wildwood said:

 

The towcar will limit the weight of caravan you can tow and so may your licence.

If your licence does not have BE allowance, you will be limited to a total plated weight of 3,600 kg.

 

Hopefully that’s an unintentional typo because the combined maximum plated weights of tow car AND trailer, for B only licence holders,  is most definitely 3500 and not 3600kg. 

 

Andy

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The OP has said they are considering a caravan up to 5year old. In a separate thread on New Member Introductions , a 2 berth, small caravan. 

 

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Having bought 2 new  caravans over the last five years one considered a budget and the other a quality foreign make I consider what makes for a trouble free ownership experience is the quality of the dealer and his PDI. My budget van was largely trouble free while the other (which has picked loads of awards) was a problem with a list on niggles (some gas related) which should have been rectified before it left the dealer.

My advice is once you've chosen your caravan then research carefully the dealer you buy from.

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Before buying any major item (beit caravan, car or white goods etc) I usually go to a great deal of effort to 'collect' other people's experience & notable faults.  As far as 'vans are concerned my 2 year 'survey' on sites such as this one, & fellow camper's recommendations,  provided me with a clear leader as far as 'acceptable' faults & customer service were concerned : Swift. No caravan is without fault, it's just a case of 'are you willing to live with it?'

 

Despite this I've ended up with a grand lemon, it's all very much of a game of chance as to whether you get a good one or not.  So my advice is do your homework but be even more careful when choosing a dealer. It's the after service that really counts in the end.

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