Thanks to COVID and the sky-high cost of living in many U.S. cities, Americans have gone a bit RV and vanlife crazy in the last year. But, we’re well past the days of no-frills campers with only the most basic living amenities. It’s no longer enough to have running water and a refrigerator and a smart TV — which is why many RV makers are designing much, much bigger. Chinese RV-maker SAIC Maxus is seriously rethinking what small-space living can mean with a new high-tech recreational van.
In its standard form, SAIC Maxus’ Life Home V90 is a rather ordinary, $70,000 Class C RV, albeit with a few more windows. The model’s flagship Villa Edition trim, however, is something else entirely. What sets this all-new model apart is the two-story living space courtesy of a vertical slide-out — er, slide-up. The glass-enclosed second floor adds 133 square feet to the living quarters. It’s smaller than the main floor but spacious enough to serve as a yoga studio, Zen space, or tea room. Once expanded, there’s even a tiny Juliet balcony above the driver’s cab.
The main living space measures a roomy 215 square feet, divided neatly into a lounge area/living space which presumably doubles as the “bedroom” and a kitchen with a bar counter. With the slide-outs fully expanded, the interior resembles a modern, upscale urban apartment. Buyers will find all the comforts of home, including a fully outfitted kitchen with an electric cooktop, an oven, a sink, and a refrigerator. Behind the kitchen is a compact, single-person elevator to whisk guests up to the airy second floor without the need for a traditional staircase.
The living room centers around an L-shaped sofa that makes great use of the space. Opposite the couch is a media center with a large flat-screen TV and an entertainment hub. The state-of-the-art system includes a touchscreen interface and voice-activated controls. Everything from music and video to navigation and lighting is controllable by app, gesture, or voice. Additional amenities include full climate control, a washing machine, and a JBL sound system. With the right disposable income, almost every convenience feature and tech amenity is customizable.
When most RV makers look to enlarge one of their models, the solution is typically to make it longer. Another alternative is to add slide-outs — a clever, decades-old solution that can substantially increase almost any recreational vehicle’s footprint. But SAIC Maxus is the first company we’ve heard of to add an expandable second floor with a working elevator.
Sadly, SAIC Maxus RVs are currently only available in China. At current exchange rates, the Villa Edition’s CN¥2.68 million price tag tops $400,000 even before you start optioning it out. Of course, if you can afford a nearly half-million-dollar RV, you’re probably resourceful enough to transport it stateside.
If a tricked-out van is more you speed, check out Ready Set Van’s all-electric campervans.
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