How to get the best from caravan reviews
How to get all the information you need from caravan reviews, both online or in magazines...
It's easy to forget that, when it comes to reviewing new caravans for sale, the writers are just like you! The only difference is, we're tasked to scribble down our thoughts. We're all caravanners, and we're all after the same things on our holidays – useful layouts, innovative additions, comfort and everything we need at the right price for our budget.
With so many variables in the mix when it comes to caravans for sale, we all need as much advice as possible from reviews and caravan buying guides.
Every van is different and every buyer wants different things from their van. Here's how to use everything in a review to make sure you make the right choice.
Fascinating in any review, first impressions can be wildly different from the resulting opinion of a full-on test. First looks can sway heavily either way, only to find that the practicalities of a layout, for example, work better than expected or aren't very practical after all.
And yet, a lot of buying decisions will be based on the overall feel of a caravan, as minor practicality issues can be overcome, but if you don't like the atmosphere of one particular tourer for some reason, you won't want to spend time in it, let alone money on it.
Caravan shows like at the NEC are perfect for getting to see hundreds of tourers all in one place, and your oversized shortlist of buying potentials can be greatly reduced just by having a wander in each van and crossing off the ones that don't feel like home. It's this kind of decision that the first impressions in reviews hope to replicate.
Often the first point of call for many review viewers, the score can be deceptive. Always remember that pretty much everything about caravanning is subjective. Some of us want a massive shower space to soak for as long as possible, while others could do without these features altogether because they prefer using the on-site facilities.
While one caravanner – the reviewer – may not like something, you might love it. It is, of course, a reviewer's job to remain unbiased and open to the prospect of many different people using a product for different reasons, but one review will always be one person's opinion, purely by the nature of it.
The other issue with out and out marks is that rarely are scores altered in relation to the previous years' reviews. So, the best product in the world is released and, of course, it gets a nine or even a 10 out of 10. But the following year, innovation and tech advances mean that something is likely to be better, so where can that 10 score be improved?
Always take marks out of 10 or percentages with a pinch of salt and dig a little deeper before making your judgement.
The pros and cons
This is where the truly useful info starts to come into play with any review. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, the pros and cons list in any review can allow anyone to show objective opinions on what people will like or loathe, or what works and what doesn't. Rarely, if ever, is a product so perfect that there is no downside to it in any given situation.
A good review will always say why something is good for some reasons and not particularly great for others. This is particularly true with caravans and the juggling act that manufacturers have to undertake when allocating limited space for the best interior features. Going back to the shower analogy: the pro is that a tourer might have a massive shower room, but the con would be that this could eat into living space, for example.
Here's the meaty bit! So the pros outweight the cons, the score's good and you like the look of a tourer overall? This next lot of information is where you can really get into the nitty gritty of your caravan of choice.
It's in the details, or the main article text, that you can find out exactly what's behind the first impressions and why they're justified, or not. If, for example, the headlines of a caravan review all say how innovative it is and how the new construction system is the best in the world, the main article text will explain exactly why.
Depending on the reviewer, you may be told more details about the caravan itself as a straightforward product, or the review might delve into how the manufacturer's history has led to the decisions made in today's processes and why that's important to you as a buyer.
Everything contained within the main article body is there to add depth and colour to the knowledge you've already gleaned from the highlights. It should go into specifics on sleeping arrangements, shower and washroom facilities, storage options, towing stability, along with what the tourer offers in terms of kitchen, dining and lounging features.
This bit's here to answer the majority of your questions about what it's like to really own a particular model when it comes to these caravans for sale.
Look out for videos
Many reviews now feature a multitude of mediums to give you the most information possible. Even if you're reading a printed caravan magazine, there's a high chance there will be a video review online somewhere to accompany the article. So online reviews are almost always going to have a link to an informative video.
The best thing about a video review is that, while words and text can go into much more detail, video allows you to see exactly what you've read in descriptions. It's a more immediate way of exploring a tourer, and it makes it much easier to visualise how you'll feel while you're in there.
Depending on whether you're reading Caravan magazine, looking at online reviews, using caravan forums or finding your information anywhere else, you're best bet is to gather information from as many sources as possible. Buying a caravan can be a daunting process, not to mention an expensive one if you get it wrong.
If you have any questions after doing all your research and reading caravan reviews, don't forget that you can always get in touch with someone from the magazine or website and ask a specific question. Chances are, someone else will be thinking the same thing and you'll be helping other readers out when you see the answer online or in print.