Straying from the hard-sided pop-out expansion modules we've seen on the likes of the Westfalia James Cook, RP Rebel Slide and Pinnacle Finetza, a new Toyota camper van from Australia's Bus 4x4 relies on a simpler solution: a drop-down expansion tent. The tent hangs off the tailgate, providing a breezier camping experience and pulling the bed farther back to open up the living area. A powerful 4x4 system borrowed from the Land Cruiser Prado completes a camper van that can travel to remote, rugged lands and live large once there.
Bus 4x4 specializes in building and supplying rugged vans, trucks and buses for both business and personal use. Its vehicles find use in some of Australia's toughest conditions, from driving to distant mine sites to overlanding the Outback.
Unlike Bus 4x4's factory-equipped 4WD vehicles, including the Iveco Daily 4x4 and soon to include the Torsus Praetorian 4x4, a Toyota Hiace rugged enough for extended off-road travel involves adding an aftermarket 4WD. Rather than reinvent its own, Bus 4x4 borrows components from one of the world's most respected 4x4 platforms: the Toyota Land Cruiser. For the 212-inch-long (538-cm) 2013 Hiace Commuter SLWB-based camper van featured here, Bus 4x4 pulls an electronic transfer case with high/low-range from a Prado, allowing the 134-hp turbo diesel engine to route torque through a limited-slip front differential and locking rear differential.
The stout 4WD system gives the Hiace the grip it needs to venture through variable off-road conditions, and Bus 4x4 lifts the van by 4.3 in (110 mm) to ensure it doesn't get snagged. A series of components like the bull bar, snorkel and passenger-side awning complete the exterior work.
Inside, Bus 4x4 strives to give the van more space than any Hiace Commuter camper van really should have, using the rear tent expansion as the foundation. Pop the lift-gate, and the fold-down floor panel easily drops down and out. The tent roof secures to the gate via several adjustable straps that can be pulled tight to tauten the canvas. Inside the tent, a double bed sleeps the van's two occupants.
Some conversion shops might use this type of expansion to shoehorn in an extra bed or wet bathroom, but Bus 4x4 uses it here to create a roomier, more well-equipped living area between the bed and driver cab. Instead of a compact single-side kitchen block, the kitchen spans both sides, offering plenty of counter space to go along with the dual-burner stove on the passenger side and sink and 110-L fridge on the driver side. The campsite chef is guaranteed to appreciate the extra space.
Up ahead of the central kitchen, the dining area pairs a swiveling table with a sofa bench. The table swings away 90 degrees when not in use, and with no need to convert over to a bed or find use as a drive seat bench, the front area stands as a full-time lounge.
Bus 4x4 skips the bathroom, but it equips this particular camper with a portable toilet and exterior shower hookup. Also included, the electrical system packages house batteries, solar panels and a battery management display, while the plumbing system has a 59-L fresh water tank and pump.
Bus 4x4 focuses on building camper vans to order, so there's no price tag for this specific Hiace camper build from earlier this year. The starting price for one of its 4x4-equipped Toyota Hiace vans lists in at AU$115,000 (US$77,000), which includes the 4x4 conversion and exterior components like the bull bar and awning but not the interior camper conversion.
If you think that van is unconventional, here's a Toyota Coaster minibus conversion Bus 4x4 did that combines a large fold-out tent, ATV-ready flatbed, 4x4 conversion and 12-seat bus cabin. The company says it can also build the motorhome with a seven-seat cabin and shower room. More photos of this outside-the-box pickup camper van are available in the gallery, along with additional photos of the Hiace.
The video below provides a complete look at the Hiace Commuter camper van, including highlighting the rear fold-down in action.
Source: Bus 4x4
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