By Tony Barthel
If you’re a regular reader of this column I bet you look at some RVs and wonder just what the companies were thinking. So many times you see something and think of it as a big head-scratcher. But then every once in a while someone absolutely nails it on a new RV design. That’s the Pleasure-Way RECON.
Pleasure-Way’s new RECON is touted as an adventure van and, as such, is based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter four-wheel-drive chassis. We Americans may think that Jeep is the king of four-wheel-drive, but much of the world loves Mercedes-Benz four-wheel-drive vehicles and this off-road credibility continues to their vans.
If adventure is your game and off-grid van life is a part of that, you would be doing yourself a disservice to not consider this vehicle. In fact, if you’ve been eyeing a Winnebago EKKO, perhaps you might want to look the RECON over first. They’re very different, but I suspect they appeal to the same buyer.
One of the constant problems of camping in a van is water storage. Vans are notoriously devoid of water storage, but Pleasure-Way has solved this problem in the RECON. It makes the entire rear floor of the van into water storage such that they have 40 gallons of fresh water aboard.
Furthermore, the tank itself is entirely within the cabin of the van, which is kept comfy by a Truma VarioHeat system. That also means that water isn’t going to freeze. Furthermore, by not having the tanks on the outside, it’s one less thing to knock on a rock when you’re going off-roading in this rig. It solves a lot of problems.
So what about gray water?
Well, I think Pleasure-Way’s solution to this is absolutely brilliant. Instead of a permanent gray water tank, they provide two five-gallon Jerry cans inside the van. You simply hook one of them up when you’ve reached your destination and you’re set.
This makes huge amount of sense for a vehicle like this because many adventure-seekers are already used to dealing with gray water and minimizing their impact on the places they’re exploring. While 10 gallons of total gray water storage might not seem like much, consider that you can easily dump five gallons of gray water down any sink or drain you find and that changes the picture.
If you’re using more natural soaps and such, you could also just allow the gray water to run off onto the ground in the right circumstances. Again, I’m hoping that if you’re more into seeing the natural side of things, you’re also more aware of how to protect those places. I hope.
The toilet in the Pleasure-Way RECON is a five-gallon cassette toilet. While on the subject of the bathroom, it’s good to know that the heated wet bath in this van also has shelves. So you could use it for storage or to dry clothing such as wet suits or ski outfits. Or just use the wet bath as a bathroom. That leads to the thinking of everything in this van.
Make your own bed
In every place I looked in the Pleasure-Way RECON you can see that the company thought of more than one way to use the space. The bathroom we just looked into is just one example.
The back of the van features two bed platforms that fold up against the walls. When you’re not lying down on them, the bottoms incorporate some of the many, many racks that can hold adventure gear.
By having the beds fold up against the side you now can bring along bikes or surf boards or skis or whatever adventure gear will fit. There will be a way to tie that down. And the 1,650-pound cargo carrying capacity of this van is probably more than you’ll need to bring it along.
Furthermore, you can take out one of the beds if you choose. That way you can have larger cargo space and still have sleeping space.
Below the beds are cabinets in which you can store whatever. But along the ceiling of the van is simply a long series of netted storage spaces to accommodate your clothes or whatnot.
Food for thought in the Pleasure-Way RECON
The kitchen in the RECON is very minimalist and consists of a single small square sink and a single portable induction burner. The refrigeration comes from a 2.1-cubic-foot Truma chest-style refrigerator/freezer. This is also removable and runs on 12-volt power or 120vac power. In a van, I really like the idea of these cooler-style refrigerators because they’re so very efficient with power. And they just work. Plus, it’s portable so you can take it outside.
If you put one of the cushions aside and just use one of the bed platforms as prep space, you’ll find more kitchen counter space than in some houses.
Your dining room table is the two seats in the cockpit of this vehicle, which spin around to face the main cabin. Pop on the included Lagun table and you’ve got a place to eat or work. There’s also a drop-down surface behind the driver seat that can serve as a desk or table, as well.
Power to the people
On the subject of power, this vehicle is equipped with 400 amp-hours of lithium power which feeds the vehicle through a 2,000-watt Xantrex inverter. Up top are 400 watts of solar panels. All of the system is managed through two touch screens.
One of the two touch screen panels is above the small kitchen sink. The other is below the fridge and is accessible when standing outside the sliding side door. These control panels offer information on what’s happening with the electrical system. That includes giving you an estimate, based on current consumption and power production, of how long things will last.
Typically with this much power on the roof and this much power in reserve you should be good for off-gridding for some time.
The Pleasure-Way RECON is exciting
I know there are a lot of buyers who are not going to like this rig – and that means Pleasure-Way has done its job well. Does that sound crazy? It’s not.
Pleasure-Way has made a rig that is different enough from most other RVs that I think they’re going to have a monster hit with this vehicle. The whole water management system is really unusual, but I can see it absolutely working in the places where likely buyers are going to use this vehicle.
Everything is configurable in the RECON
There’s a lot of space and tie-downs and everything is very configurable. That means each owner will get out of this what they need.
If I’ve never mentioned this before, I absolutely love spaces in RVs that can serve multiple purposes. This van is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen in this regard. Combine a sense of adventure with a vehicle designed to facilitate that adventure and you have an absolute winner.
So, what’s not to like about the Pleasure-Way RECON? I can see a few things about this rig that might cause some pushback, but all of those are very easily overcome.
First, the interior is very, very stark. These vans are generally used in delivery service and that’s about the level of warmth of this one. But, you could also call this a blank canvas and some time spent on the Spoonflower website for their stick-on wallpapers and surfaces and you’ve completely altered the interior. Plus, those wallpapers are removable so you can change your mind.
More like a European vehicle
The kitchen in this is definitely small, so your focus is on the adventure more than anything. There’s no microwave (gawd, what will Americans do?) – so this is more like a European vehicle in that sense.
But I am so impressed with how Pleasure-Way has just completely rethought so much of what has gone into this. As many RVs as I see all the time where companies brag about their new finishes and call them innovative (they’re not), when I see a rig that truly does break the mold and hits the market so well I get very excited.
And I like this rig quite a bit.
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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