With sleeping room for four and entertaining space for eight, this customisable ’van has plenty of appeal – read our Autocruise Select 184 Travel review

Overview

Swift re-jigged its Autocruise panel van conversions this year to bring customisation to the fore.

It’s a neat way of appealing to a wider range of buyers. If you’re looking for a fairly compact motorhome with a basic but functional kit level, then the low price of the base model will appeal.

At the same time, those looking for a little more luxury can add the options they want. Select therefore has more than a hint of the custom-camper market about it.

The Autocruise Select range straddles everything from basic, entry-level ’vans to high-spec comfort by making ordering one a personalised process. You can build up your ideal spec level by choosing from four packs of additions to the basic van, in various combinations.

To test the concept out, we borrowed the 184 Travel with the engine upgrade, additional travel seats, and the Drivers and Living packs.

So, what else and what other options could you go for?

The new Autocruise Select range offers seven floorplans. It’s based on the Fiat Ducato with the new 2.0-litre 115bhp Euro 6 engine and six-speed manual gearbox (a 2.3-litre, 130bhp turbodiesel with Comfort Matic can also be specified).

The 122 and 144 can also have a chassis upgrade to take the MTPLM up to 3500kg.

The Drivers Pack (£1995) adds cab air-con, cruise control, two airbags, captain’s chairs with armrests, cab seat covers, height adjustment on the passenger seat, a body-coloured bumper, black cab trims, a battery shut-off switch and more graphics.

The Living Pack (£1695) adds a rear window, stylish woodgrain locker doors, additional furniture trim details, interior panels on the sliding and rear doors, fresh and waste water tanks with a tank fill socket, a Winter Pack that includes tank heaters and pipe insulation, dual-fuel Truma Combi 4 heating and a Truma Crash Sensor Mono regulator.

The Vogue Pack (£1995), which must be paired with the Drivers Pack, includes a soft-furnishing upgrade, metallic silver paint and body-coloured front bumper, electric, heated door mirrors, 16in alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, DAB radio and Bluetooth, steering wheel controls, a silver dash kit, reversing sensors and more graphics.

Finally there’s the Luxury Pack (£1795), in addition to the Living Pack. This includes a TV aerial, a 40W solar panel, an electric entrance step, a Midi-Heki skylight upgrade in the rear lounge, loose-fit carpets, pleated cab blinds, LED cab reading lights, a fly screen on the side door, an additional free-standing table, a sink flap with hinge, a bin, a mini-grill in the sink unit, and rear-lounge branded speakers.

Design

The bold black moulding around the wheel surrounds, side door panels, rear skirts and service flaps of the ’van make the sparkling white paint seem somewhat stark, and it can be difficult to keep clean.

However, combined with the matching decals they help to make this an eye-catching vehicle. It’s nothing flashy, sticking to Autocruise’s refined style and subtle branding, but it is a smart and attractive look.

The motorhome’s interior is similarly classy, with dark countertops complemented by the trim above the door and the strip of ‘Smoked Oak’ woodgrain accents on the locker doors. The fabrics are in neutral colours and the floor is practical lino, so it will be easy to keep clean.

The lighting is well distributed around the kitchen and rear lounge, but the front of the ’van can get a tad dark, with just one light – reading lights can be added with the Luxury Pack.

The Autocruise even has stylish blue floor lighting and some of the lights have an ambient dimming function, which is a thoughtful and welcome touch.

On the road

The upgraded engine in our test ’van made all the difference when it came to tackling the steep climbs as we toured around North Yorkshire.

The Autocruise Select 184 Travel handled country roads well, and didn’t really feel as though it was 6.36m long.

The steering and pedals are easy on the hands and feet, but those with weak wrists may struggle to release the stiff parking brake lever – it beeps if you haven’t quite released it all the way, though.

The driver’s position in the Fiat Ducato is high up, with good visibility. You even get a glimpse out of the rear of the ’van, thanks to the additional windows that come with the Living Pack, which makes reversing considerably easier.

There’s no rear-view camera in any of the pack options, although the Vogue Pack adds rear parking sensors.

The cab is unusually well supplied with cup holders and places to stash the essentials, plus both 12V and USB connections so you can charge your phone and run a sat-nav unit at the same time.

The radio has Bluetooth as well as USB and auxiliary functions, although without the Vogue Pack there are no steering wheel controls.

One important addition is the battery off switch on the ignition.

Lounging & dining

It is great having both a front and rear lounge in this ’van. The central washroom and kitchen work well so that both lounges can be used at the same time, and whoever is cooking doesn’t have to be left out of the conversation.

The front lounge benefits from a solid table. The rear lounge has nowhere for resting drinks, however, apart from the end of the kitchen counter, where there is a glass partition, on which it would be easy to catch the bottom of a cup and spill the drink.

The seating in the rear lounge of this Autocruise Select 184 comfortably takes four, and the travel seats combine with the swivelling cab and passenger seats which form another four, so this motorhome is ideal for entertaining.

The front lounge table has a folding leg and can be stored above the cab, although we found it very difficult to get it to fit within the safety catch, and a little on the heavy side for lifting above your head.

As previously mentioned, the front of the lounge could do with more light and it can get quite cold with just one heater vent, but as a dining area it works well.

It’s great to be able to open the side door and enjoy the view while eating in the front lounge. And the same could be said for the rear lounge: open the rear doors and you can let the outdoors in.

There’s a mini-Heki skylight in the rear lounge, which ensures it’s nice and bright during daylight hours. The blank switch/socket casings in each lounge are there to be used as TV and aerial sockets if you opt for the Luxury Pack.

Kitchen

The midships kitchen is great for sociable cooks, because one can easily converse with people in the front and rear lounges.

However, it is a little narrow, what with the washroom being in the centre of the ’van. It is far easier to pass things from end to end of the ’van rather than trying to walk through while someone is cooking.

As a kitchen, though, it is well thought-out. The sink and two-ring gas hob are covered by safety glass, giving a generous food-preparation area.

Add to that the space at the counter’s end with the plug sockets above, which is ideal for keeping things to hand while you cook. There’s also a strip of LEDs above the working area, which provide a good level of task lighting.

It’s pleasing to have a window in the kitchen to gaze out of while you are washing the dishes, or simply for extra ventilation in the kitchen while you cook.

The lack of an oven/grill could be an issue for some, in which case an upgrade to the Luxury Pack adds a mini-grill to the spec.

The Waeco compressor fridge is also on the small side, at just 50 litres, however the controls are far easier to use than the buttons on some other makes of fridge.

Sleeping

Both lounges in the Autocruise Select 184 make up into good-sized double beds and are unusually straightforward to set up.

In the rear lounge you simply pull the bases of the seats to meet in the middle, rearrange the cushions and voila – a comfortable bed with a generous 1.86m (6ft 1in) length awaits you.

The front lounge is only slightly more complicated. Stored by the door at the end of the kitchen unit are several board-backed cushions. Simply unlatch the hinged counter and slide them out. At the back of this space there is also a sturdy pull-out bed leg.

We found that the easiest way to set the bed up is to start with the front seats swivelled to face inwards. There are additional cushions stored in the overcab area.

Take out the back cushion of the travel seats and you can slot the smallest of these in around the seatbelt mechanism (this cushion would then need to be stored elsewhere). The base of the travel seats then pulls out towards the cab.

Making up the front bed effectively means you are blocking the door off, but it does create a spacious double with one of the least complicated ‘seat cushion jigsaws’ around.

If you have to get up in the night, logistics could get tricky with both beds blocking doorways, but this is unavoidable in a compact panel van.

For those sleeping in the front double bed, there are very handy cubbyholes in the door. Those in the rear bed, however, will find there are no sockets for charging phones overnight.

Washroom

The Autocruise Select 184 has a fully fitted washroom, with a fixed sink, a Thetford cassette toilet with electric flush, a mirrored vanity unit and a mixer tap that doubles as the shower.

These facilities are more than enough for the majority of people who will be staying on full-facility sites – who can fall back on well-equipped washblocks – and those who prefer a spot of wild camping won’t be too pushed. The on-board waste-and fresh-water tanks that come with the Living Pack will take care of that.

It isn’t the largest washroom you’ll find, but this isn’t surprising when you take into account the two fair-sized lounge areas that had to be squeezed into the 6.36m body length.

The washroom’s blown-air vent means that it is often the warmest spot in the motorhome, making it a suitable area for dressing and for drying damp towels.

Storage

The 184 Travel has plenty of lockers everywhere you look, which provide ample storage for four.

The overcab area is taken up by the table and spare cushions, but there are still two overhead lockers in the front lounge, plus four in the rear lounge, and oodles of cupboard space in the kitchen.

There’s also storage space beneath the travel seats, which have gas strut supports, as do the two sofas in the rear lounge, which are ideal for storing electrical leads and bulkier items. However, there’s no external access to this area.

Beneath the fridge is the only hanging space in the ’van: a fair-sized half wardrobe, which is slightly awkward because you have to bend down to pick out your clothes.

One aspect that our test team found particularly good about the storage in the 184 Travel is the number of small shelves and cubby holes, in particular the shelf above the door by the control panel, which is ideal for keeping the keys safe.

There are also two small shelves in the corner of the front lounge.

Equipment

To be expected, given that this model’s price starts just under £40,000, the basic package doesn’t include a huge array of equipment.

It does, however, offer the new Swift Command control system, which includes a proactive tracker device and an easy-to-use LCD control panel that can be connected to a smartphone app, thus allowing users to control certain services remotely.

The blown-air Truma heating is effective, although initially it can take a while to warm up and the front of the ’van could do with another vent. Once it’s heated, though, the ’van’s insulation keeps it warm and toasty.

If you want extras, the Vogue Pack includes a DAB radio and Bluetooth stereo, and the Luxury Pack gives you an electric entrance step and speakers in the rear lounge as well as a 40W solar panel with regulator, TV aerial and bracket.

Technical specs

Sleeps4
Travel seats4
MTPLM3500kg
Payload693kg
Length6.36m20′10″
Width2.26m7′5″
Height2.72m8′11″
Engine (power)130
Fresh/waste water59L / 41L
Leisure battery100 Ah
Gas tank size4.5kg
Number of gas tank compartments1
Gas bottle size7kg
Number of gas bottles1

Verdict

Knocking a big chunk off last year’s Autocruise prices was good marketing, and Select’s options packs are cleverly specified to tempt buyers into taking as many as they can afford.

That said, taking a bare-bones model and tailoring it to individual needs does empower the customer and makes them think about what kind of ’van they need to realise their touring adventures – not everyone wants a ‘one-size-fits-all’ standard factory spec, or the price tag to match.

The 184 Travel is the Select version of the Forte, a former favourite on our long-term test fleet – and for good reason.

With four travel seats and a double bed in each lounge, this model is a comfortable couple’s ’van with added flexibility for taking friends and family away on tour.

And to see other Autocruise motorhomes for sale, click here.

Conclusion

Pros

  • This ’van has a practical front bed layout
  • There's a good amount of storage
  • You get plenty of lounging space

Cons

  • The kitchen area is rather narrow
  • The washroom is small
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