EarthCruiser's terrain-leveling expedition campers grow a little larger
Last time we looked at EarthCruiser, it was shrinking its off-road expedition vehicle hardware markedly with the new GZL pickup camper. This time around, it's growing its rigs, albeit only slightly. At Overland Expo West, the company showcased the new GZL 400 and 500 models that fit larger trucks than the original GZL, which has been modified and numbered the 300. It also advertised a slightly upsized version of its hulking, Fuso 4x4-based FX expedition vehicle.
Since expanding operations from Australia to the US about five years ago, EarthCruiser has been growing its US line of expedition vehicles and camper modules. The FX fixed-roof expedition truck joined the EXP pop-top a few years ago, and EarthCruiser turned its attention to those looking for something smaller with last year's GZL introduction.
The original GZL model, now named the GZL 300, was designed for midsize pickups like the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. To extend GZL availability to other pickup owners, EarthCruiser has developed the larger GZL 400 and 500 models. It didn't have the flatbed-mount 500 on display at Overland Expo, but we did get to look over the slide-in 400.
The honeycomb composite-bodied GZL 400 is designed for a list of half-ton pickups that includes American top-sellers like the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500. The 400 model is roughly the same length as the 300, about 139.5 in (3,543 mm), but stretches wider, measuring 75.9 in (1,928 mm) from sidewall to sidewall (compared to 68.3 in/1,735 mm on the 300). Weight is in the 800-lb (363-kg) range but will depend upon specific options and equipment.
Based on the info and specs EarthCruiser was giving at the show, the 300 and 400 models share the same standard equipment package, but that package has changed since we looked at the original GZL last October. Solar power was originally optional, but the 300 and 400 now come standard with dual 100W Zamp solar panels, a 1000W inverter and a 90Ah AGM battery. They also pack a heater, Elgena 10L water heater, Bose Bluetooth speaker, and 6.5-foot (2-m) awning outside.
The kitchen layout has also changed from last year, sliding over to the passenger-side corner, where an L-shaped unit houses a dual-burner propane stove, sink and 1.5-cu ft (42L) Isotherm fridge-freezer. This design lines the sink up with the shower drain, allowing the faucet to pull out and serve as a shower head, a smoother design than the separate hose/hookup EarthCruiser was showing last year. EarthCruiser shows this floor plan for the 300, as well as the 400 featured in our photos.
The GZL models sleep three to four people on a combination of cabover bed and convertible dinette below. The dinette seats four people and has storage compartments below the seats. The support platform for the upper bed folds out of the way during the day, opening up headroom in the dinette area.
The GZL carries fresh water in a 25-gal (94.6L) tank and propane in a 2.6-gal (10L) tank. A 9-gal (34L) gray water tank collects drainage, and a portable toilet is available optionally, as are a few other upgrades, including a skylight and water purifier. The exterior and interior feature LED lighting for efficiency.
Though it has a fuller standard equipment package, the GZL 300's base price remains about the same as we reported last year, US$36,178. The 400 model starts at $43,000. The GZL 400 pictured from Overland Expo is about 90 percent complete, according to the rep we spoke to, and EarthCruiser hopes to finish up and prepare for production within the next few weeks. It makes clear that specifications are subject to change, which we definitely believe seeing how much they've changed over the past seven months.
In addition to the new GZL, we spotted another updated EarthCruiser at Overland Expo West, but unfortunately only on a flyer, not before our eyes, in the fiberglass, metal and rubber. The FXX adds a touch of extra backside to the FX model, surrounding the rear-mounted spare tire with added storage space. Instead of a bolt-on solution, this storage area is seamlessly integrated into the FXX body. Because it's flush with the spare tire, the added body doesn't affect the truck's listed 257-in (653-cm) overall length or its ability to fit in a shipping container on its way to overlanding destinations around the world. You can see the difference between the FXX above and the standard FX, which was at the show, below.
EarthCruiser hasn't listed an FXX price, but given that it listed the standard FX at between $190,000 and $245,000 in a January 2016 pricing update, it's safe to say "expensive."