Auto-Trail Expedition camper van makes a serious bike touring hut
British camper van manufacturer Auto-Trail hit last week's Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show with what it classifies its first dedicated sports camper. Throw a pair or two of bikes in the all-new Expedition 68, drive it to a trailhead or road touring launch point, and it becomes the perfect after-ride shelter, whether it's a base camp for day riding, a multi-day support vehicle, or a crash pad for when the extended bike touring loop is complete. And it could also work for climbing, skiing, hiking or the adventure of your choice.
The Expedition 68 features a floor plan quite similar to ones we've seen multiple times in Germany, the UK and other parts of Europe, albeit with a couple of convenient tweaks. Many of the other garage camper vans we've looked at over the years focus on lifting or rolling bicycles and motorbikes in and out of the rear garage, but Auto-Trail puts the emphasis on sliding bicycles in and out on gear trays. The available pair of slide-out trays adds a little extra convenience when loading and unloading. We're guessing getting four bikes tucked away as neatly as shown in the photo at the top will require a little extra jiggering, and won't be possible with all bike styles, but the dual-tray garage certainly looks like a great way of carrying a neatly packed duo or quartet of bikes along for the adventure.
Up above the garage, the Expedition 68's 187 x 140-cm (74 x 55-in) double bed lets campers stretch across the width of the van to rest their screaming leg muscles. A lower bed height, as compared to some other rear-garage camper van layouts, provides more headroom and bedroom space. The downside is in having to take a wheel off each bike rather than just loading them in fully assembled.
At the back of the bedroom, Auto-Trail splits the difference between a hard wall and an open-bed layout by installing a zippered mesh rear panel to make available a breezy, starlit night of sleep. On inclement nights, campers can shut out the weather by simply closing the dual van doors. Also included in the bedroom space are overhead cabinets and a wardrobe.
Those looking to make it a four sleeper can add on the optional pop-up roof with 200 x 130-cm (79 x 51-in) double bed.
Back down on the van floor, the Expedition 68 features a straightforward layout that puts a passenger-side kitchen opposite a wet bathroom. The kitchen includes the usual British layout that adds an oven/grill combo to the more universal mix of dual-burner stove, sink and 12-V fridge/freezer. The bathroom houses an electric flush toilet, shower and sink basin.
The front driver's side of the van has a dining lounge with dual-seat passenger bench, front cab swivel seats and collapsible dining table. More overhead cabinets and an over-cab storage area add plenty of extra storage space.
Camping power comes from a 75-Ah leisure battery and standard solar panel. A Whale combo furnace/water heater conserves interior space via under-body chassis mounting. Seventy-liter tanks hold fresh and waste water.
The new 68 floor plan comes atop a 636-cm (250-in) Fiat Ducato with 3,500-kg (7,716-lb) gross vehicle weight rating. Auto-Trail skips the 120-hp engine and offers the £46,085 (approx. US$61,000) base van standard with a 140-hp MultiJet four-cylinder. Optional 160- and 180-hp upgrades are also available. The pop-up roof tacks £5,789 ($7,650) onto that base price, and each slide-out rear tray adds another £310 ($410). Other options include a second leisure battery and a media pack with 22-in smart TV, 8-in infotainment touchscreen with satellite navigation, and selectable rear-camera view.
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2) Fiat appears to have finally figured out how to “un-ugly” the front end of its vans. Hopefully that will make its way to the US sisters at RAM.