Which is the best make of caravan?

Sep 27, 2010
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I know that it is a difficult question but what is the best make of UK caravan. Obviously there are lots of different manufaturers and all produce a range of caravans to capture the cheaper and more expensive areas of the market. But which company is known for making the best quality caravans?
 
Aug 12, 2007
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I would say that's quite subjective, you may get different answers depending upon the personal preferences or experiences of owners. Why do you want to know, may I ask?
 
Sep 27, 2010
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I am new to caravanning and I have no idea which makes of caravans are the best. I am looking to buy one over the next few weeks and I thought I'd start doing some research!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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lutzschelisch.wix.com
It all depends on the criteria one uses to determine which is best. Is it the most reliable, the one with the least warranty issues, the most luxurious, the most sophisticated, the most solid construction, the one that has is least susceptible to damp even after many years? Some makes may feature strongly in one or two areas, but you'd be lucky to find an overall winner that comes top in all criteria.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Lutz
If I was a gambling man I'd have bet £20 you would have said Burstner, Hymer, Dethleffs
 
Sep 27, 2010
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I guess the best build quality overall. When looking at cars, everyone knows that Mercedes make excellent cars and that they go on for years, they don't scrimp on the detail/finish etc and tellingly, they hold their value. This probably cannot be said for a Renault. What is the equivalent caravan to the Mercedes?
 
Sep 27, 2010
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I want a caravan that is long lasting and well made. I don't want one where the handle of the cupboard comes off on the 2nd week of using it. I want a caravan that is simple but sturdy. There must be a brand where if you see it in a field that you know it will be very well made, even as the years go by. I borrowed a campervan this summer and I thought the build quality was awful.

If one brand cannot be selected then what would you ssay are the best 5 caravans in the market for the following criteria:
4 berth, fixed double bed, lots of storage, good fridge and cooker with decent work surfaces for food preparation. Not too heavy a caravan either

Adam
 
Mar 10, 2006
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Lutz has already outlined the problems.
Generally good solid build means heavy expensive caravan, do you really need a caravan built that well?
Many of the good quality caravans i have seen have very compact shower rooms, do you require a good size shower room?

Everything comes down to a compromise.

I have a bailey senator because the weight is not excessive, the build is acceptable, and the price is reasonable, you get the idea?
 
May 2, 2006
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Hi Adam,

As Ray says "everything comes down to a compromise".

You have already said that you want it to be "Not too heavy..." which straight away steers you away from one sector of the marketplace. We went to a show a few years ago with a plan of buying a continental van such as Knaus or Hymer and couldn't find a single one we could tow safely at the time.

In days gone by you could have looked across the field to a new Carlite or Van Royce and known that you were looking at quality, but it would have had a very big price tag and and it would have weighed in the heavyweight division. But those makes are gone anyway for new purchasers.

You said you were interested in the "best make of UK caravan". Well after the recent downturn there are not so many mainstream UK manufacturers left. Off the top of my head I can think of only Bailey, Swift (inc. the Sterling and Sprite brands), Elddis and Lunar as the big production line players; with smaller manufacturers such as Coachman, Bessacar, Vanmaster and Freedom offering their more hand-built offerings. (Have I missed somebody important anybody?) You will find that all of the major manufacturers have lots of very satisfied customers and all of them will have a small group of customers who will say "never again". The smaller manufacturers probably have a higher percentage of satisfied customers for their vans, but you will pay for that and they are by no means immune from critics.

My strong suggestion is that you take a day to have a look around the stands at the NEC Show in October and it will give you a very good opportunity to compare the feel of almost everything on the UK market. We went there last year to buy a Bailey.... spent most of the afternoon agonising over a Lunar... and bought a dealer special version of a Swift.

The other thing I would suggest to you is that much more than buying a car, say, the dealer you purchase from can make a huge difference to your eventual satisfaction. A good dealer will make the whole process of buying an enjoyable and rewarding experience; they will pick up on some faults from the factory that you will never know about; they will respond to your aftercare problems in a positive and helpful way. Bad dealers regularly fall down on these things. If you browse around these pages you will pick up on some of these dealers that have good reputations.

Happy buying, I envy you the excitement that we will not have again for another few years.
Cheers

Mike A
 
Sep 27, 2010
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Thankyou all for your excellent advice. I shall visit the NEC show and see what I like

Many thanks again

Adam
 
Jul 28, 2008
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The other issue is that in the main it's not the caravans themselves that fail but components such as fridges etc. Even our Contintental cousins are not imune to that as generally they fit the same parts. They may also be heavier and possibly more solid, but the build quality leaves just as much to be desired as UK manufacturers. There are good and bad in all. The previous advice regarding the NEC is your best bet as you can compare most makes under one (several?) roof(s).
 
Mar 10, 2006
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Adam
I doubt you will find a more balanced reply than what you have be given in the last two posts.

May i also add. don't get carried away at the NEC, iD which caravan you want, then sort out the best price AFTER the show, and ideally price match at a dealer with a GOOD reputation.

I can recommend ROBERTSONS caravans if they are close to you.
 
Mar 10, 2006
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Adam
I doubt you will find a more balanced reply than what you have be given in the last two posts.

May i also add. don't get carried away at the NEC, iD which caravan you want, then sort out the best price AFTER the show, and ideally price match at a dealer with a GOOD reputation.

I can recommend ROBERTSONS caravans if they are close to you.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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AdamClark said:
I guess the best build quality overall. When looking at cars, everyone knows that Mercedes make excellent cars and that they go on for years, they don't scrimp on the detail/finish etc and tellingly, they hold their value. This probably cannot be said for a Renault. What is the equivalent caravan to the Mercedes?
Might have been the case a few years back but they hold middle rank in this years JD Power survey July 2018. Admittedly just above Renault but below Ford, Vauxhall and many other mainline brands.

https://www.motortrader.com/motor-trader-news/automotive-news/volume-brands-excel-premium-brands-crash-jd-power-survey-11-07-2018
 

Mel

Mar 17, 2007
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Hi Oggie. welcome to the forum. You are piggy backing a really old thread and may not get many responses. Why not introduce yourself in the new members section and then tell us a bit more about what you are looking for
Mel
 
May 7, 2012
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oggie1952 said:
What are ACE caravans built like does anyone know
Ace caravans are a brand bought in 2001 by Swift and unless you are looking at an earlier one then they are basically badge engineered Swifts middle range.
Ace caravans were a good make and there is no reason I know of to avoid them, but in view of the age check carefully for damp and make sure everything works before buying.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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PCV magazine has a reader survey each year which may give you some assistance but so much will depend on random factors such as the reliability o the individual components, the individual installation and so on.
As with cars there is no certainty that paying more will buy 'better' e.g at the moment BMW do not score highly mainly due to electrical and electronic faults
When you go to the exhibition try to look inside the bed boxes, lockersetc and see how the interiors are finished, look for missing screws, sealant where it shouldn't be and small details like this. One new caravan of my acquaintance had 45 out of 57 screws in bed boxes and other furniture over tightened to the point they had stripped out the wood and were virtually useless - poor setting of torque on the screwdrivers and poor quality inspection.. Given the crowds getting down on the knees and peering under the beds may not be too easy at the Show but perhaps easier at a dealers.
May I also suggest another good engineering principle: What isn't there can't go wrong so -particularly for a first caravan I would stick to essential rather than nice to have.
I've been hooked on caravanning for more than 50 years as have many other correspondents and the last thing we want to do is to discourage you, but there is a bit of a learning curve. Good luck, and don't hesitate to continue to ask here.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Good response Ray, At one Caravan show, I asked the dealer to show me how to get the underbed table out, what a mess he made of it much to the amusement of the other couple watching. Ok not a dealers problem but manufacturers. But little things, position of Microwave cooker. On our present one the power plug used to vibrate out until I had the Road wheels and tyres balanced.
 
May 7, 2012
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In practice I am not sure you need the best make, none of them are brilliant but a good dealer. If you have problems your contact is the dealer and their attitude and action can make all the difference.
 
Aug 9, 2019
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In the Caravan Awards 2019 judges voted for the best caravan:
https://docsbay.net/caravan-awards-2019-the-best-of-the-best
 
Jan 31, 2018
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I think Raywood hit it on the head; all caravans get shaken around like mad-things will move and go wrong. It is how the dealer deals with it that is the issue; Similary look at what's in the van-nearly all caravans have a Thetord oven, whale or Truma heating , Thetford Fridge and loo etc-all on the same chassis-in most cases now Alko, So the only parts the maker has any quality control over are the body shell and the cabinetry. So choose the layout you like an' d the features/ price/ weight that suits you.
Google reliability and every van make has disgruntled horror stories-just like cars-and there is a lot of 'perceived quality' guff around-just like cars. For eg Renault make the engines for a lot of Mercedes cars-they won't let on that is the case but it's true! Our Dacia Duster bought from new 1.6 4wd petrol had Nissan 4x4 system, Renault engine and never had a single fault in 5 years and 39000 miles of caravan towing. Clutch still fine!
That said Coachman do seem to do well in the magazine surveys, followed by Bailey and Swift together -though everyone we know who caravans has had a Swift and all of them have had issues followed by Eldis and Lunar-so buy what you love!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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JezzerB said:
I think Raywood hit it on the head; all caravans get shaken around like mad-things will move and go wrong. It is how the dealer deals with it that is the issue; Similary look at what's in the van-nearly all caravans have a Thetord oven, whale or Truma heating , Thetford Fridge and loo etc-all on the same chassis-in most cases now Alko, So the only parts the maker has any quality control over are the body shell and the cabinetry. So choose the layout you like an' d the features/ price/ weight that suits you.
Google reliability and every van make has disgruntled horror stories-just like cars-and there is a lot of 'perceived quality' guff around-just like cars. For eg Renault make the engines for a lot of Mercedes cars-they won't let on that is the case but it's true! Our Dacia Duster bought from new 1.6 4wd petrol had Nissan 4x4 system, Renault engine and never had a single fault in 5 years and 39000 miles of caravan towing. Clutch still fine!
That said Coachman do seem to do well in the magazine surveys, followed by Bailey and Swift together -though everyone we know who caravans has had a Swift and all of them have had issues followed by Eldis and Lunar-so buy what you love!
Your bang on about the Duster. We saw lots of them in Sikkim and Bhutan as they were used as touring cars for tourists. They were very well equipped and many had leather seating and all were 4wd. They were badged Nissan Terrano. I spoke to one of the driver guides and he reckoned they were brilliant.

http://nissanbhutan.com/terrano-2/
 
Jan 31, 2018
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Sorry, that's it re Dusters-I will shut up now, but yes they love em in Europe and they have as you say a much bigger range and audience-badged as Renaults in Africa apparently but we were ready for more towing power!
 

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