I recently went to an all-Japanese car show and was reminded of how differently the Japanese think of cars when they’re on their home turf. While they’ve done a great job of making cars that we Americans like, they also have a taste for the peculiar at home.
And Honda, in particular, has a focus on camping that would be of interest to readers here.
Camping in a Honda
In addition to race cars and Civics, Honda makes a vehicle called the N-Van Compo in Japan. This little boxy vehicle is popular with folks who need to make deliveries on Japan’s crowded streets because the seats fold flat to make a rather large space, given the tiny exterior of the van.
Furthermore, the sliding rear door and swinging front door on what is the passenger side in Japan (remember, they drive on the “wrong” side of the road over there) open to form one huge unobstructed opening. It’s pretty slick.
Because the N-Van falls under Japan’s kei car rules (the Japanese vehicle category for the smallest highway-legal passenger cars), horsepower is limited to 63, which Honda makes from a turbo three-cylinder mated to either a six-speed manual or CVT. Kei cars are also limited in exterior dimensions to a prescribed footprint – under 134 inches long, 58 inches wide, 79 inches tall – which has forced Japanese automakers to come up with increasingly clever packaging solutions like this N-Van.
A surprising camping vehicle in a small space
Honda and a company called White House Camper vans have teamed up to take full advantage of this small space to produce a rather surprising camping vehicle. White House already has several campers and seems really good at making the most of a tiny space.
Indeed, this Honda N-Van has things like a sink, shelves and a bed.
In all configurations, sleeping is accomplished by folding the seats flat and then inflating a somewhat thin mattress.
It takes advantage of the N-Van’s lack of passenger-side structural pillar, figuring that campers sliding out of bed can use the large passenger side opening without having to rely on the tailgate. It then moves the camper equipment away from the sides, where it would usually be, and to the rear of the van, maintaining most of the side-to-side width of the mattress.
White House integrates components like the faucet and small storage cabinets neatly into the rear sidewalls and/or compact corner console. It installs a foldable shelf with collapsible sink basin over the top the foot of the bed. White House offers models with overhead cabinetry complete with a microwave or stacked L-shaped shelving for versatile storage.
Cooking is done outdoors
For cooking you’re going to have to bring your own outdoor stove. But the company also offers a second collapsible sink basin with an extended faucet for placement next to the outdoor worktop. One package even includes a slim fridge box that stores below a flip-up mattress cushion for easy access.
The collaboration between Honda and White House was done specifically to show off at the “Feeld Good” (sic) festival, where there are other campers being shown off. This particular model was outfitted with an awning. But remember, vehicles are no more than 79 inches in total height.
White House N-Van Compo base pricing ranges roughly between ¥2.23 million and 2.8 million, depending upon package. Those prices might look intimidating at first, but they convert over to a very affordable $20,125 to $25,275. White House offers vans in both fixed and pop-up sleeper roof styles.
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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