This year at the 2017 Melbourne Leisurefest, we took a peek at the latest semi off-road package from Paramount Caravans – the Commander XT…
The Paramount Commander XT range of semi off-road caravans has been around for a few years and has quickly become a key part of the ever increasing Paramount lineup. We decided to see what the craze is about and check out the new special package Paramount has created.
To give us a proper rundown of the Commander XT, we spoke to Ian Sadler, Sales Manager at Canterbury Caravans, who was showcasing the model at this years Melbourne Leisurefest.
Who’s it for: A couple wanting to stay off-the-grid in national parks, but don’t plan on tackling any severe off-road tracks.
What we like: Huge list of features in an affordable package that doesn’t weigh too much.
What we don’t: Gas bottles and jerrycans are extremely exposed without a stone guard.
Height: 2950mm (2.95m)
Length: 8400mm (8.4m) including the frame
Tare Weight: 2466kg
ATM: 3066kg with a 600kg payload
Ball Weight: 120kg
We reckon the latest package for the Commander XT is great value for money.
The Commander XT is definitely one of the better looking vans we have seen. The version we viewed featured a simple black and white gloss exterior with matching interior. The outside finish looks great and the checker-plate adds to the ‘semi off-road’ appeal of the ‘van.
The interior decor matches the exterior colour scheme well.
The interior is fairly roomy for a 19 foot caravan and Paramount has packed a lot of goodies into it. The Thetford and Sphere appliances found in the caravan look great in black and match the decor nicely. The three-way fridge is reasonably large for a caravan of this size. There is room for an optional oven where the mini grill is, but you will have to sacrifice some storage under it to make room. A TV can be found in the bedroom area, but it looks to be on the small side which is one aspect we would consider upgrading.
A modern sink for a modern caravan...
The stovetop hides under the bench when not in use.
The Thetford Mini Grill features a four-burner stove top on it underneath the black cover.
You can find the microwave above the fridge in the Commander XT.
We reckon the TV needs an upsize.
The added soft closing hinges and drawers mean no more jammed fingers and slammed doors, while the locking mechanisms feel strong and able to handle some fairly decent corrugations.
The kitchen is extremely well-equipped – it even has a spice rack...
Space is managed well with a myriad of storage cupboards and drawers everywhere you look. The leather, cafe-style lounge is comfortable and the table can be extended by adding partitions to it.
Just as comfy as your couch at home!
The bathroom is very spacious and features a decently-sized shower behind a mirror glass screen. A small, top-loading washing machine can also be found underneath a modest laundry bench.
The bathroom is very spacious for a 19 foot caravan.
You get a sizable washing machine in your Commander XT.
Although we didn’t get to try it, the top-mounted air-conditioner is a must have for any caravanner looking to travel in the warmer months or in northern states for extended periods of time. However, no heater is to be found on this model so you’ll have to bring your own on your travels.
The checker plating looks like a natural part of the bodywork.
The 600mm high checker plating on the side looks the business and should offer decent protection against debris. External storage is plentiful with lots of compartments on the front and rear of the caravan.
The annex is easy to set up by simply just pulling it out and locking the arms in place. There are power outlets for connecting to mains electricity on both sides of the caravan and the external audio speakers produce decent quality sound.
These all terrain tyres from MPC look up to the job!
235/17/R15 all-terrain tyres come as standard, which is an appropriate addition to this semi off-road model. The 3.2 tonne ‘Twin Country Road Suspension’ looks sturdy and the Dexter braking system looks magnificent on paper, but would require a tow test to see how it really performs. A two inch raiser has also been added to the suspension for added ride height.
Both the 150mm by 50mm draw bar, and 100mm by 50mm main rails are thick and galvanised. From what we could see, the underside of the chassis was well protected with adequate waterproofing measures used.
The rear vision camera is a great safety addition to the Commander XT.
On the rear of the caravan you’ll find a spare tyre, basic steel bumper and a nifty reversing camera that will hookup to your tug.
Without a stone guard, you risk your gas cylinders and jerry cans being damaged from debris...
On the other end, dual jerrycan and gas cylinder holders can be found. However, it is weird for a off-road orientated caravan to not feature a stone guard or other protective measures to safeguard these items. Ultimately if you were going to take this off-road you would need one installed or risk damage to these systems.
Main features of the Paramount XT Commander
“Coil suspension for that semi off road ability, the solar system with two 150W panels and everything else people need to free camp with is included in the standard package,” says Sadler.
What’s new in this package?
Although the standard package gives you pretty much all the basics you need for free camping, this special package will further enhance your experience in the Commander XT and extend the amount of time you can camp remotely for.
Extended A Frame
Dexter Braking System
Soft Drawer Closing
Webber BBQ and Slider
Grey Water Tank
Acrylic Kitchen Splash Back
Omni Step Manual
We are a big fan of the bright gloss finish.
“Primarily, this package is just this 19'6 layout. We do offer other layouts in the Commander range, with a couple of new ones coming out next year. The only real difference in layouts we can offer in this package is the door position, either rear or forward.”
Unfortunately at this stage, this will be bad news for families as the current layout only features one queen-size bed. That being said, if you are travelling solo or in a couple, the interior is a great compromise between being spacious and full of great features.
As Henry Ford would say, you can have any size you want, as long as it’s 19’6...
“We know that these colours won’t appeal to everyone, so you are able to select your preferred colour scheme from the full range available, which can be seen on our website or at a dealership.
We saw a few of the other colour options on display on the ‘normal’ Commander range at the Leisurefest. In particular, the blue and red options looked fairly striking but the simple black and white was still our favourite.
“Ovens, slide out kitchens, aftermarket annexes, a satellite dish and a gas or diesel heater are the most popular additions. Other than that, everything else that you need comes standard,” says Sadler.
*With a ATM of around three tonnes, you’ll need something a bit beefier than the Prado to tow this...
How does it sit within Paramount’s current range?
“I would say this is around the middle. Our bigger stuff is more luxury appointed with slide outs and other premium accessories. This has a luxury feel, with a bit of 'wow factor' that you need when you see a caravan like this. We try to put this luxury product in that middle-on the road price range to make it affordable to more people,” says Sadler.
The Commander XT sits between the Micro Max, a 15’6 small off-road caravan and the Enforcer, a 19’6 group-orientated off-road caravan kitted out with bunk beds.
The Paramount Commander XT starts at $69,500 for the base package. However, if you are looking to add the optional extras in the upgraded package, the price increases to $74,490. Are all these extras worth the extra five grand? Between the Dexter Braking System, AU-Cladding, grey water tank and all those other little niceties, we believe spending the extra money will further improve your experience in the Commander XT.
The price-point and feature lists make the XT comparable to JB Caravan’s Dirt Road and Dirt Road Xtreme, Concept Caravan’s Innovation 590/600 and Retreat Caravan’s Fraser models.
The exterior control box features a number of ports for a resource monitor and other accessories.
Where can I view it?
If you weren't able to make it down to the Melbourne Leisurefest this year or are just doing some research into the Commander XT, it can be viewed at your local Paramount Caravans dealership.
What’s in store for the Paramount Commander range in the future?
“We are currently building a slightly bigger model that is able to hold a larger TV mounted in the bedroom, around 20'6, at the 2018 Victorian Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow in February,” says Sadler.
So if you are looking for a new ‘around 20 foot caravan’ that offers great value for money, it may be worth waiting until the next model is released early next year.
Coming in just under 20 foot with a tare weight around 2500kg, the Commander XT offers a great value for money package that can be pulled by most medium to large 4WDs. The standard outfit equips customers with all the basics they need for off-the-grid living, while the added extras in this show-only package further enhance its abilities.
We reckon the Commander XT is a great caravan and definitely worth considering if your budget is around $70,000. That being said, there is a few things we would change such as a larger TV and added stone guard. We look forward to seeing some more family-orientated models of the XT in the future as we believe it has great potential!
Keep in mind this is just a first-impressions review of the Paramount Commander XT. We weren’t able to give it a full test on the road but we look forward to one day putting it through its paces on a roadtrip.
We would like to thank Ian Sadler from Canterbury Caravans, the Paramount Caravans dealership in Victoria, for his time talking to us about the Paramount Commander XT.
For a full specs list and any questions, contact Canterbury Caravans for more information.
Got your own thoughts about the Paramount Commander XT? Leave your comments below to join the discussion!