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BUYERS GUIDE - MOTORHOMES

EARTHCRUISER's TOYOTA-BASED EXTREME
Smaller, more nimble Earthcruiser models with the expected features.

In the second half of 2018, Earthcruiser added the Mercedes-Benz G-Pro to its motorhome vehicle range. The Extreme XTR250 version is being built on the LandCruiser 79 Series cab/chassis.

The original Earthcruiser ute-based motorhome model was based on the Mercedes-Benz G-wagon Pro cab-chassis, but the 2021 model is built on the ubiquitous LandCruiser 79 Series.

The Extreme can be supplied with the standard manual five-speed transmission, with upgraded clutch and part-time-4WD transfer case, or with a Toyota six-speed automatic box, driving through a full-time-4WD transfer case.

Earthcruiser engineers have upgraded many 79 Series components, including the notorious narrow-track rear axle. The Extreme features a JMACX track-corrected rear axle, with chrome-moly half-shafts and ventilated rear disc brakes. 

Bilstein shock absorbers are fitted all-around.

The all-disc braking system is upgraded by fitment of a larger brake booster that is part of the Extreme’s engineer-approved 4.5-tonnes GVM upgrade. 

 

Bodywork

Unlike most bodied ute conversions the Earthcruiser Extreme offers access to the camper section from the driver’s and passenger’s seats. There’s no need to open the cabin doors to enter by the rear door.

The Earthcruiser Extreme pop-top bodywork is fully moulded, featuring high-density thermal foam walls, floor and roof. It has an integrated, powered awning, three exterior LED spotlights, two opening windows fitted with fly-screen and black-out blinds, and an entry assist handle. 

Inside the camper there’s a double bed, with high-density mattress and memory foam topper; a single-bed-convertible dinette; interior lights, a fridge with freezer, a diesel heater, hot water system, freshwater drinking fountain with purifier, and a fire extinguisher. 

The kitchen houses a two-burner induction cook-top and stainless-steel sink with mixer tap.

Home comforts include an external and internal shower and a toilet. There’s also a fold-down swivel table with legs, for outdoor use.

 

Electrical system

Earthcruisers are noted for their state-of-the-art electrical systems and the Extreme is no exception. Standard are 450Ah lithium batteries, 25-50-amp battery charger and 270-watt solar roof panels. There is also a 3000-watt inverter.

All electrical and electronic systems are operated from Finscan displays in the cab and in the camper that have more than 120 functions.

The electrical have built-in override, allowing alternative power sources for critical functions.

 

Options

The options list is extensive and includes an upgraded Bluetooth infotainment system with touchscreen control over cruise control, Hema mapping, phone connectivity, reversing camera, modem and other functions.

Bar work and front and rear Runva winches are also optional.

Other options include driving lights, rear-mounted air conditioning unit; roof-mounted fans; on-board compressed air; second spare wheel and carrier; 250-litre fuel tank capacity and 250 litres of water.

 

First drive

Our first drive of the 2021 Earthcruiser Extreme was a brief jaunt on secondary roads. This initial model had the full options kit, including an auto box and full-time-4WD. 

The auto transmission made driving the LandCruiser a much easier job for people who don’t like manual boxes. Also, the additional ratio allowed lower revs at cruising speeds.

Because the 75 Series didn’t run to niceties like traction control the constant 4WD driveline and wider rear axle track gave much better loose-surface traction than the standard part-time-4WD system.

Despite its loaded weight being close to its upgraded GVM the Extreme felt well-balanced, thanks to its well-sorted rear end. 

The combination of suspension, axle and powertrain changes made by Earthcruiser have modernised the 75 Series just like Toyota should have done. That improved base makes a fitting mount for the high-quality and well-equipped Earthcruiser camper module on its back.  

 

Previous models

The Earthcruiser Mercedes-Benz G-Pro Escape had a 4.5t Gross Vehicle Mass rating and therefore could be driven by the holder of any standard passenger car driver’s licence.

The Earthcruiser Mercedes-Benz G-Pro Escape allowed owners to explore without the constraints of normal all-terrain vehicles. Standard equipment included an automatic transmission, front and rear differential locks and all-coil-spring suspension.

Should the unforeseen occur and traction was lost, Earthcruiser  fitted 13.500lb power winches front and rear.

A three-litre V6 Mercedes-Benz diesel V6 engine squeezed under the G-Pro’s stubby bonnet delivered maximum power of 135kW, with peak torque rated at 400Nm.

Earthcruiser fitted uprated shock absorbers, an onboard air compressor and 250-litre tanks for both fuel and water.

The latest lithium battery technology powered the electrical system and is recharged through solar panels when stationary, or via the 120-amp vehicle alternator when on the move.

A rear mounted, independent
air conditioning unit kept the luxury accommodation cool, while the G-Pro cabin had its own integral air conditioning unit on the move.

Home comforts included an upright 122-litre capacity fridge/freezer; internal shower and toilet, plus a supplementary external shower module. A standard double bed was complemented by a sky bed option that slept three.

Catering was made easy and safe, by the fitment of a diesel-fuelled cooker.

In addition to the standard inclusion of telematics with satellite tracking and monitoring, vision from five externally mounted cameras provided 45 days recording in real time, with global systems control via an IPAD touch screen.

Communications options included an 80-channel UHF radio, with a DVR/GPS/4G solid state cellular hot spot via a 6-dB(A) gain antenna.

Charting your progress was also made easy, with the onboard navigation system pre-loaded with Hema mapping, Bluetooth and iPhone connectivity.

World travellers should note that the compact external overall dimensions enabled you to slot your adventure traveller into a standard ISO container for shipment.

We inspected the Escape model
several times during its development at Earthcruiser’s Wollongong (NSW) factory and were most impressed with the behind-the-facade work that was necessary to convert what is a military vehicle into a recreational one.

For example, the cab rear wall was replaced by one that allowed more seat travel, in addition to a walk-through doorway.

The Earthcruiser range is available in a variety of formats and sizes to suit specific requirements, together with a choice of host cab/chassis from manufacturers that include Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Iveco and Fuso.

 

 

 

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