By Claire Smith
For many new motorhomers, particularly those who wish to tour on their own, one of the biggest obstacles to getting behind the wheel is the thought of manoeuvring and managing a large vehicle. It can be a daunting prospect to step up from a family car into a vehicle that may be twice as long and demands a whole new set of driving skills. The Sunliner Chase is marketed as the perfect solo explorer vehicle. And it’s quickly apparent why. Built on a Ford Ranger XL ute – New Zealand’s top-selling vehicle for the fifth year in a row – the overall length is just 5900mm. Driving the Chase is comparable to driving a fully laden ute. It’s a relatively easy adjustment for those who’ve never driven a motorhome, and because you can easily park at the supermarket or in your standard driveway, those ‘big vehicle nerves’ quickly dissipate. The Ford Ranger has all the mod cons you’d expect, including a reverse camera, climate control, ABS, traction control, stability control, and a five-year unlimited km warranty. And for those who want to venture down gravel roads or go off the beaten track completely, there’s the added benefit of four-wheel drive.
Inside, the layout is compact but well thought out, with a double bed over the cab, central kitchen and bathroom, a rear U-shaped lounge and plenty of storage. The decor is light and modern, and the large windows enhance the bright, relaxing atmosphere.
The main sleeping area is above the cab in the form of an east-west double bed, which you reach via a removable aluminum ladder. Spacious and comfy, the area around the bed is upholstered with soft carpeting. Windows at each end provide light and ventilation. All the windows include fly screens, night blinds, and are double glazed. The windows are top-hinged too, so you can have them fully open for fresh air and not worry about rain getting inside on drizzly days. For extra lighting, there’s an LED light at the head end, and for keeping your phone charged there are two USB ports handy. The lounge seating also converts into a bed, which is ideal if you don’t want to share the Luton with your travel companion.
As you’d expect, the bathroom is a compact arrangement – a one-piece fiberglass shower liner, Thetford toilet, handbasin and a detachable slide-shower. It does the job, and for one or two travellers, it’s perfectly adequate.
Sunliner like to build with ease of use and practicality at the forefront of their design, and the kitchen ticks those boxes nicely. The benchtop houses the sink and a three-burner gas hob, both of which have a glass cover to keep them clean and provide a little more prep space when needed. A handy addition is the drop-down bench extension – pop it up when you need it, fold it down and out of the way when you don’t.To ventilate cooking steam and smells, a Finch extractor sits directly above the hob, or you can just open up the window behind the bench. Beneath the bench top is the gas standard oven (which can be exchanged for a microwave if preferred). There are three drawers and a cupboard in the kitchen bench unit for cutlery, pots and pans, and cleaning up gear. Opposite the kitchen is a bench-height three-way fridge with additional bench space above, and full-sized hanging wardrobe. There’s more storage on offer too, with six generouslysized overhead lockers (two on each side, and two at the rear above the dinette). All of the internal woodwork used in Sunliner motorhomes is plywood based. It’s good to know you won’t find any Customwood or cheap MDF hiding out of sight.
At the rear is the dining and relaxing zone. The layout is tried and true: U-shaped lounge seating with an adjustable, removable table. The cushions are comfy and there’s plenty of room around the table for four people, so there’s more than enough for two. As noted, the lounge seats convert to an alternative sleeping option – just pop the table away, put the bed slat and extra cushion in the open space, and voilà, it’s ready to go. Surrounding the dinette are those lovely big windows – perfect for relaxing on the sofa with a good book and a glass of wine, and your choice of incredible New Zealand landscape to look out on.
For keeping warm during your winter travels, the Chase includes a diesel Webasto heater. This will take the living area from a cool 8-10 degrees to a snug 20-25 degrees in 20 minutes.
The chassis is a Ford XL Ranger, 4WD. Sunliner have added a couple of big extendable mirrors to the cab which, combined with the rear vision camera, provide good all-round visibility. The exterior is very handsome. The eye-catching blend of grey, black and white is a refreshing point of difference over the usual white-on-white of many motorhomes. Kerbside is a Thule wind-out awning, and a storage locker to hold all the outdoor bits and pieces. The covered spare wheel is stored externally at the rear, with the option of a towbar or bike rack fitment if desired.
For singletons and couples, the Chase is ideal. It’s practical, good-looking, fully self-contained, comfortable and easy to drive. And thanks to its smart design and 4WD chassis, travellers have a wide scope of travel options – from short weekends in suburbia, to longer stays off the beaten path.