The 2018 Tribute 720 Hi-line with two lounges is sure to be popular, and not only with families: anyone who spends a lot of time on the road will delight in the luxury of space offered by this thoughtfully designed motorhome. It will also tick the boxes for anyone looking for a new motorhome with an excellent price point and kerbside habitation door.
The all-new Tribute is designed with a family in mind; it has plenty of well-considered features like easy-access storage for the toys and a clear line of view through the cab so parents can keep an eye on their offspring at play.
This attention to safety is underscored by the rear-view windows and the colour reversing camera.
First impression – the 2018 Tribute motorhomes now sport the blue cab together with Auto-Trail badges on the back, loudly and proudly proclaiming the inclusion of the range into the Auto-Trail family. Sharp-eyed readers may already have noticed the new branding, ‘Tribute by Auto-Trail’, in the company’s PR. A subtle bonus for local buyers is that Tribute owners can join the New Zealand Auto-Trail Club. The active club – with more than 397 members (19 of them Tribute owners) – has its own website where Auto-Trail owners can learn more about each other and the brand, as well as participate in rallies and events.
Nationwide RV is the only company authorised by Auto-Trail to sell Tribute Motorhomes in New Zealand. The group has branches in Taranaki (formerly Taranaki RV), Silverdale (previously Silverdale RV) and Ashburton (formerly Ashburton RV). We spoke to Kane Innes, Sales Manager for Nationwide RV’s flagship branch in Taranaki, about this year’s departure models.
Kane says he is really impressed by the 2018 Tribute: “The fit and finish of the 2018 Tribute motorhomes is fantastic.”
He points out the numerous safety and practical features like low-level running lights along the sides, high-impact scratch-resistant GRP sidewalls, and acrylic-capped ABS side skirts and rear bumper. “All of these are designed for ease of repair in the future.”
The group also offers a five-year/300,000 kilometre Fiat New Zealand mechanical warranty, two-year habitation warranty, and a six-year water ingress warranty. They specialise in brand-focused innovations, designed and developed to augment the Auto-Trail owner’s experience. “For example we have designed and manufactured polished aluminium cab entry steps and polished aluminium nudge bars for the Tribute motorhomes,” Kane explains.
Nationwide RV is mindful of the fact that most Kiwis prefer to freedom camp, “So we work with the customers to tailor an energy package that suits their requirements. By having the solar panels and controllers fitted here in New Zealand we can offer more-extensive warranty packages on these products. External shower and gas BBQ points are all additional options.”
The vehicle is sold with NZMCA self-containment certification. It has 135 litres of fresh water and 85 litres of grey.
Nationwide RV will have a constant supply of Tribute motorhomes arriving throughout the year. “All three locations have the 2018 Tribute range available now, along with a full parts, service and accessory service centre.”
While the Tribute is designed to have an attractive price point, it does not in any way sacrifice comfort or good design principles to achieve that, says Kane. “Auto-Trail has chosen materials that are light yet durable. Each year improvements are made, and for the 2018 Tribute range there is attractive new upholstery called Tia, which – along with a change from wood grain to a more natural colour for the kitchen cabinetry and the locker cupboards – complements the interior design.”
Other subtle differences, which enhance the price point between the Tribute and the more expensive Auto-Trail models, include flat locker doors instead of curved front cabinets, an oven–grill combination (instead of a separate grill and oven), separate gas heater and hot-water heater (instead of the Combi unit), and locker catches instead of chrome handles.
“As you can see, all of these are more cosmetic – or practical – differences rather than lower-quality fixtures and fittings.”
Kane says, “If you look at the majority of motorhomes sold in New Zealand each year there will be three main things buyers want: they want an automatic; they want to be able to drive it on a car licence, and it must be on a Warrant of Fitness. To achieve this, the total weight including passengers and their payload, must come under 3500 kilograms. That’s where the company’s expertise comes in: to ensure that the Auto-Trail vehicles are both light and extremely durable.”
The review vehicle is a four-berth with rear lounge conversion bed. As mentioned in the opening paragraphs, a four-berth motorhome is often as popular with couples as it is with those who travel with children – whether that be full time or simply when the grandchildren hop on board for the holidays. Couples appreciate the extra space that a four-berth provides, as much as they value the versatility of options when guests of all ages are on board.
And for me, this is the most appealing feature of the Tribute 720. It’s not every home that can boast two lounges, and it is rare to find an on-road vehicle that can make such a claim. Focusing for a moment on the rear lounge, note the windows on both the side and rear that open out to provide ventilation. This is a big-tick item from my perspective. I also love that this area can be a second table for crafts or games or whatever, if required. Not only does the seating convert to a large bed measuring 2.17 x 1.35m, which can be left permanently made up as desired, there is also storage under to augment the masses of overhead locker space and the corner shelving. There is also a good-sized wardrobe amidships and external lockers aplenty for the bulkier items.
Going forward – the dinette table expands and, with the swivelling captain’s chairs in day use, can seat up to five people. This main table and banquette converts to a good-sized bed (2.177 x 1.22m) for night use. Overhead – I really like the way the luton base slides back to allow good open headroom between the cab and the dining; although the wood wall creates a division, it has an almost minimalist approach in the curved design. Another great design feature (used throughout) is the blinds, which pull up from the bottom (in contrast to the normal drop-down blinds). In this way the occupants can have privacy but also plenty of natural light.
In between – the zones are separated by the kitchen, bathroom and afore-mentioned wardrobe. I like the bathroom which has a large window, swivel potty, and half-round hand basin as well as a good-sized shower.
The galley comprises a three-way 96-litre fridge with freezer, and three-burner gas cooktop with oven and grill, as well as adequate bench space for preparation. Being amidships it also allows the chef du jour to be at the heart of things, with good views to each end of the vehicle, and able to participate in conversation while cooking.
In summary, this is a robust, entry-level family vehicle with good backup from a respected nationwide dealership. The Tribute is designed to have optional extras added over time, but as is, the 2018 Auto-Trail Tribute is road-ready and waiting for you to make it your home on the road.
Photoshoot location: Fitzroy Beach Holiday Park
2018 Auto-Trail Tribute 720 Four-berth Hi-line from $127,900
FIAT 2.3L – 130bhp and 150bhp – Euro 6 Multijet Intercooled Turbo Diesel
Six-speed manual (option to upgrade to auto)
Length: 7 metres, Height: 3.10m, Width: 2.35m
Max. GVM weight: 3500kg Tare 3045kg 1500kg braked tow rating
Fully optioned to include Drivers Pack with removable fitted carpets, central locking on all doors, including motorhome entry door. Cab air con, cruise control, steering controls for radio and Bluetooth, spare wheel, colour reversing camera.
Three-way manual 96-litre fridge with freezer compartment
Water: 135 litres fresh; 85 litres grey
Gas – three-burner cooktop with oven and grill
Gas/electric water and separate heater system
Cassette toilet system 17-litre cassette
Battery 100 amp hour.
Fully fitted microwave
Remis pleated cab blinds
12-volt roof-mounted ventilator
Electric entry step
Four-metre Thule rollout awning