Sunday, January 29, 2023


RV concept preview: Nissan Caravan concepts show woodie dreams

We’re starting to see more and more vehicle manufacturers showing off camper concepts for their multipurpose vehicle. Nissan has jumped into the fray with two such examples based on their Japanese-market Caravan. Called the Caravan Mountain Base, the Nissan concept vehicle is designed to show off how much solar you can put on a smaller van. 

We Yanks have seen a couple of Nissan vans in our market including the NV series. There was the smaller Nissan NV200 and then the full-sized Nissan NV van. I actually really liked that quite a bit. It was based on the company’s full-size vans. 

But Nissan also makes a bunch of different models in other markets including the Nissan NV350. That’s what the company based these two ideas on. For 2022 that model has been refreshed and thus has shown up at the glitzy Tokyo Motor Show. 

Nissan Caravan Mountain Base

The company’s vision is to take the new van and extend the idea of a “base camp” to a new level. 

The van comes equipped with a roof-mounted foldout solar panel, with more solar panels along the side, replacing the standard glass. Inside, creature comforts include a slim work station, utility-driven walls and a digital fireplace. 

But the real conversation starter is the fake woodgrain on the sides which puts to shame even the most extravagant such applications used by Detroit in days of fins and chrome. The gigantic wagons that used to roam the Earth courtesy of GM, Ford and Chrysler had woodgrain accents that made them look like a small fake forest had been chopped down to adorn these shiny beasts. But Nissan went with the philosophy that more is much more, and applied the wood look to almost the entire exterior of the Caravan. 

Not quite an RV

While not quite an RV if you consider a kitchen or bathroom essential, it is an interesting look at a space designed for getting away. 

Inside there’s a sort of origami frame structure. On the left side (which would be the passenger side since these are Japanese-market vehicles, they drive on the wrong side of the road just like those folks in England!) is a single long bench. The origami frame supports this wooden, or wood-look, wall structure. 

Opposite that is the same idea on the road side that also features a protruding desk-like structure. 

The idea is to provide a refuge to someone who might be running or spending time outdoors and want to come back to a nice, warm, comfortable place. Well, comfortable if you like sitting on wooden benches. 

What makes this van worth looking at here is the use of solar panels. Nissan has completely replaced what would be the side windows at the back of the van with solar panels. Further, there’s a huge solar array on the roof which can be turned and twisted so the amount of power available to the user of this is quite impressive. 

What made me sit up and take notice is the thought of a huge roof-mounted solar array being able to serve as the awning as well. But there’s more. 

Nissan Caravan Myroom

For those who want zero fake wood in their commute, Nissan has a second concept based on the new van called the Nissan Caravan Myroom concept. This is also not really a traditional RV but does offer a bed in the back and some interesting slide-in shelving on a slat wall of sorts on the driver’s side which, as mentioned above, is on the wrong side for us ‘Mericans. 

This is designed to be a relaxing place to share with family and friends, according to Nissan. The entire back of the van has been made over, as with the Mountain Base. 

This model has a built-in couch at the front. These vans have sliding doors on both sides—as most modern smaller vans have. 

Here’s the funny thing mentioned in Nissan’s press release: “Occupants can enjoy the built-in couch with a view when sliding doors are open, and with bookshelves and cupboards, time will fly by as you relax in this modern lounge space. A stowable bed can also be set up after a long day of adventuring.”

In summary

While I know that some folks who turn to this space aren’t happy when I write about anything other than the latest production models, I think seeing how some companies process ideas outside the norm are worth looking at. A lot of folks in the RV industry look here, and seeing ideas that might be new I think has value to all of us. 


I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

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Donald N Wright
1 year ago

Hey, how about a Borg Cube with wheels ?

martin a
1 year ago

Reminds me of an 85 toyota mini van we had with front seats over the tires, rough ride not much crush zone for a head on wreck. Not comfortable legroom either.

Maurizio Taglianini
1 year ago

Tony, THANK YOU, a world with a population of 7 billion is always full of new ideas for a better quality of life. Talking about quality I also suspect Thor bought Hymer for their European premium quality with Mercedes Benz chassis instead of Lippert. Keep writing, nobody can please 7 billion people but you certainly please me and I like nothing less than premium quality, thank you again 🙂

RV Staff
1 year ago

Hi, Maurizio. How much did Tony pay you for your rave review? 😆 Just kidding! Tony is a super terrific guy and always tells it like it is! Take care. 😀 –Diane

1 year ago

Thank you, Tony, I appreciate all the effort you put in every day to present what’s out there. Your audience is wide so the variation is perfect.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

I beat these guys to the punch. I bought a brand new 1976 Dodge Tradesman van with no windows. I had two modest slider windows installed in the rearward section. I used lightweight plywood for flooring and a platform at the rear. Cheap paneling for the walls. I used a backpacking pad for my ‘mattress’ (I was younger then – 🙂 ) I had NO electricity in it – because I didn’t need any. I tossed my camping stuff on the floor for the trip – to wherever. It worked fine and I loved it. I was tent camping sans the tent.
I like Tony’s comment “While not quite an RV if you consider a kitchen or bathroom essential”. Not quite is right!

1 year ago

Tony, the Xponent Power Xpanse solar awning is theoretically already available for RVs. At a cost of $10,000 for a 1.2 KW solar panel array, I have yet to hear of any RV manufacturer actually considering making one an option on any of their models. Even on their $250,000+ Class B 4wd, “go anywhere”, overlander RVs!

But it is an interesting concept, especially a system that could replace the windows with transparent solar panels.

1 year ago

Thanks for giving us a peek into these concept vehicles. Even though something like this won’t work for us, it both gives us interesting storage ideas and gives us something to show our young adult children who may actually enjoy these types of RVs.

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