Our Safari Condo XL Flex Review – Unicorn Alert!!!


When we go to RV shows here in the US, we usually have pretty good success finding models from the mainstream manufacturers.  But our ability to find smaller, niche players at the bigger RV shows is hit or miss.  Over the years, we’ve been able to get reviews, mini reviews and walk-throughs of rigs for some of these other makers.  Sometimes, people bring rigs to us, and sometimes we’ve had to travel to factories.  We’ve been able to bag Advanced-RV, SVO Group, National Traveler, and others.  But there’s always been one Class B out there that looked very interesting, but we were never able to review:  the Safari Condo.  So finally, like Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler, we traveled to its native habitat… Canada… and were able to capture one.  Behold!

 

Safari Condo makes lots of different models, on several different chassis.  They’re quite customizable with what they allow you to include in each of their models – but we saw the one that was the most interesting to us:  the XL Flex, based on the Ram ProMaster chassis.  I won’t go into detail here about the things that you’ll see in the review, but I’ll give you a few key take-aways.

1. The Purchase Process

François goes over this in the beginning of the video.  Basically, Safari Condo does not have dealers for motorhomes here in the USA.  In order to get one, you’ll need to get your own US-Spec van, and bring it to them.  Then they’ll outfit the van, and you come and pick it up.  It’s do-able, but certainly not as easy as just wandering down to your local dealer.  You’ll need to do more of your own legwork to get one.

2. Focus on Reducing Complexity

There are a number of things in the Safari Condo that operate *manually* that on other rigs might operate electrically.  Take the running board step.  It’s manual.  That might seem like a little extra chore the first time you exit the rig, but the benefit there is that those steps will basically never fail to work.  Nor will they ever blow a fuse, or use electricity. There’s something to be said for that peace of mind.

3. Don’t want the awning or entertainment system?  Fine.

François said it best: “Safari Condo does not wish to force their customers to buy things they don’t like.”  When I look at a mainstream RV, I can instantly pick out several things I would delete if it were an option.  Usually, it’s not.  TV and antenna?  Gone.  Awning?  Bye-bye.  Safari Condo makes these kinds of options a reality.  You gotta like that.

There are some other interesting choices, (gasoline heater, anyone?) that I’ll let you discover in the video.  Sure there are some things we would change (large lithium batteries, eliminate propane, etc.).  But most of those things, we could say about almost any Class B out there.

So – we finally bagged this unicorn… I mean, camper van.  What do you think of it?  Sound off in the comments below!

Correction!

The inverter is actually 1500 watts.  I had to laugh when someone pointed out the error.  On the Safari Condo XL Flex specifications page, they list it as 1 500 watt inverter.  I forgot they’re French speakers, and interpreted that as “One Five Hundred Watt Inverter”.  Lol.

 

 



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    61 thoughts on “Our Safari Condo XL Flex Review – Unicorn Alert!!!

    1. Gemma Ferm

      Thanks James for a your thorough review. The ability to select options is definately appealing. Following up on John’s recent question, there a 4 season option? Insulation? Heat trace?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I’m not sure what options they offer exactly. You’d have to contact them directly to find out.
        I do know that it gets pretty cold in Quebec – so their insulation is probably pretty good!

        Reply
    2. Paul Hamelin

      James after purchasing the Condo 22 XL Series van and using it for one trip down to Cannon Beach Oregon The Van is super excellent with all of its innovative floor plan. But at my age of 78 and other health issues I found the
      Van to be for people who are more active and mobile. It has only 1370 KM on it
      and is virtually brand new. I was wondering with all of your contacts. You may know of someone who is looking for one with no wait time. The US dollar is worth almost 30% more than the Canadian dollar and would be of good value if someone is looking for one my contact is XXXXXXX Thank You and look forward to hearing from you

      Reply
    3. Cathy & Ed

      Hi Stef and James, We are from Massachusetts and bought an XL Flex because of the design, especially the bed that raises giving all that storage space. The process was fairly straight forward and we took vacations around our 7 hour travels to Quebec. We picked it up in Sept 2017. We love it! The only issue we have is with the white screen door being difficult to open and close and falling off the track. It sounds like the one you had replaced in your Travato. We noticed in the recent Fit RV review of the XL Flex that the screen door was black. Is that a new screen door model? Do you have any comments on how this black screen door performed ? Thanks for your educational and entertaining website and videos!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We didn’t check out the screen door that closely. What you see in the video is all we really remember.
        But if you want *the ultimate* van screen door, and oddly enough don’t mind another trip to Quebec… CHECK OUT THIS VAN SCREEN DOOR.

        Reply
      2. Shawn

        Cathy and Ed, I modified the bottom screen attachment ever so slightly and now it never comes off the track. Email me at [email protected] and I can give you the details. We picked up our Flex in Oct 2016.
        Shawn

        Reply
    4. Paul Desjardins - Post author

      To Perin, on my 2018 Safari Condo ProMaster XL Flex the passenger seats are mounted onto a heavy steel frame that is bolted to the chassis. There are some sturdy anchors behind the seats. The seats have a 3 point seat belts and if you look closely there is an arch that is positioned on top of the two seats, these act as a head restraint to prevent whiplash injuries. Seats on conversions made in Canada have to be approved by Transport Canada.

      Same note about approval for the windows where James mentioned: “I’d love to see them go with the dual pane acrylic windows…” these are not approved by Transport Canada therefore Safari Condo installed the CR Lawrence safety glass windows, the shades do provided some insulation. I got the 13,000 BTU optional gas heater that replaced the standard 7950 BTU does keep the area quietly warm.

      Finally to answer another question by Ian Ferguson, to build a conversion on a Ford Transit requires the same process of approval by Transport Canada that requires the converter to build a prototype and get it approved.

      Browse the Facebook pages of Safari Condo, 90 % is in French, but there are a few American clients that are posting messages. Safari Condo is a family owned company that is situated outside major cities. You may discover, like I did, that they treat their employees and customers in a very humane fair way, and that unlike a huge multi national company they are not “only” driven by profit.

      Reply
      1. Alain Roy

        They changed the widow type a couple of years ago. Many people like the new widows but I prefer the ones on our 2016 that can open completely and gives better ventilation. I don’t know if the old style is still available. I had also asked the company owner about the acrylic ones like on the Alto, but got the same answer about certification. He also told me the sizes were not compatible nor available so I couldn’t cheat and swap they myself after the fact.

        I noticed in the review there is now a window over the stove and one in the bathroom. Nice touch, ours does not have those.

        Reply
      2. Perin

        Thanks, Paul.

        I emailed Safari Condo about it and got the following reply today:

        Hi the seat is bolted [through] the floor

        Yes they have a child attach[ment]

        Reply
    5. Pete

      Thank you for such a thorough walk-thru of the Safari Condo XL Flex. We had noticed pictures of it before as it seemed to be the only factory produced camper van that could accommodate inside bike storage and full sized sleeping arrangements at the same time. Looks to be exactly what we need!

      Unfortunately the requirement of buying a van locally, driving it more than 2000 miles to Safari Condo, flying home, then repeating the process would be a giant hurdle for those of us living in the Western US and working regular 8-5 job responsibilities.

      Any chance you could convince your Winnebago friends to produce a similar van for US buyers?

      Reply
    6. Steve H

      There is a privacy curtain that snaps in for the front and side windows so you can use those seats – the curtain shown here is just a faster way to get privacy if you aren’t going to use the front seats.

      Also they do have some options for automatic awning, automatic step and also a TV\DVD\antenna\booster not shown here.

      I’ve owned my Flex since 2018 fall.

      Reply
    7. Alain Roy

      One option that goes against their philosophy is a generator. None are offered. Not a problem for us, but may be important for others.

      Reply
    8. Perin

      Do you know how the passenger seats are attached to the chassis?

      One criterion we have in our RV search is the potential for grandkids’ car seats. Do you know if the passenger seats have ISOFIX anchors?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Didn’t check. I’d recommend calling Safari Condo if you are interested in the engineering details of their seat-to-chassis attachment.

        Reply
        1. Craig

          Yes, would not expect detail on the whole van…just the NPSE differences. AC, floor mats, screen etc… not sue it’s cold enough to have used the enhanced capacity to warm the Volta batteries….

      1. Stefany

        Hi Craig! Good idea! We should do a shout out about the things we like and how it’s performing; we’ll put it on the radar, thanks!!!

        Reply
    9. Luc Comtois

      I don’t know what are the importation regulation in US but I was looking to have a Canadian-Spec van converted in the US and bring it back to Quebec. Crossing the border back can be tricky and you might not even be allowed to drive the modified vehicle until it is inspected locally. But you are right, Safari Condo are really flexible, I just wish the end product would be more like Advanced RV.
      I guess the snow is always whiter on the other side.

      Reply
    10. Benjamin Vernick

      A Webasto Gasoline heater! First time hearing of one of those. I didn’t see the vents, did I miss that in the video? You could then make a ProMaster camper van without propane, theoretically. Although not sure how hot water would work, but have to think an electric version exists, isn’t the Truma Combi capable of using electricity to heat hot water?

      Reply
      1. Alain Roy

        The Promaster has an auxiliary port on the fuel tank ready for this type of use, so hookup would be a lot easier than connecting to the vehicle fuel line.

        Reply
    11. Scott D Bennett

      This might be my favorite class B. They think like I do. The table is silly but fixed easily enough.

      Reply
        1. Peter Lee

          Agree we are not big fans of the table – big and heavy and not much knee room, but can be worked around. This one can be used as a temporary solution (Walmart # 555597796). We are working on a Lagun table option and will post details about it when we get it done. Some other versions are out there already as well.

    12. Gino Dumaresq

      FINALLY a full video review of the Safari Condo XL Flex !! 🙂

      We ordered ours back in april 2018 and should receive it early july this year (15 months…). It’s a long wait, but well worth it !!

      Thanks for the thorough review guys.

      Reply
    13. Shawn

      Their rarity, unique features, superb quality, and the fact that most Americans can’t stand to wait for anything will likely preserve their resale value considerably.

      Reply
      1. Carl Rice

        Those are the nicest looking rear seats I have ever seen in a front lounge class b. Usually they look like they are primarily dinette seating with completely vertical backs and minimal padding, with a lap belt begrudgingly tacked on to call it a family coach.

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          I know. The angle and the contouring of the seats were really comfortable.

        2. Shawn

          It’s like sitting in an airplane exit row with all the legroom. Plus it’s a great surround view and an easy reach to the front frig. My wife usually sits back there while I drive so she can use the table and the 110v power while working.

    14. Paul Desjardins

      Finally you done a review of the XL Flex, I have a 2018, waited almost a year for delivery.,got it in August 2018.
      The batteries are AGM on all of them.
      You missed the isolation that was visible under the bed on the passenger side between the inverter and the Aquago you could of seen the isolation of the wheel well. I have used my XL Flex this winter the gas heater is fabulous.
      I love the sturdy construction, no rattles.
      Yes the table is not fun to use inside, so I added a Lagun mount and ordered a table top from Safari Condo to match the counters,. They sent me one within a week. They have excellent service , used Safari Condo vans sell fast.

      Reply
    15. Shawn

      Awesome review y’all. The first true walk through on the web. Love our Safari Condo Promaster XL Flex. Haven’t had one issue whatsoever after 39K miles and 2.5 years. The furnace puts out some major heat (think Canadian winters) and uses very little gasoline. Our first propane fill wasn’t needed til 30K miles. Our AquaGo has a recirculator that provides instant and steady temperature hot water. We upgraded to the 2000w pure sine wave inverter so we’re able to run our air fryer, Vitamix, coffee pot, microwave, and toaster (not at the same time obviously). We crafted our own fold up (permanent) table so the little closet behind the rear seats now houses 6 wine bottles, canned food, and shoes. We can take it outside for dining though. Love the manual awning and slide out step. Fewer things to break/fix. It’s nice having a full size spare, no generator, and inside batteries. We personally find the bathroom quite roomy. This is no doubt a great floor plan for cyclists. Four hidden bikes below the bed and a water/beer fridge accessible from the outside. Even a shower in the back to rinse off your bikes post-ride. And the total price was less than $80K when we bought ours in 2015. Hard to beat.

      Reply
      1. Peter Lee

        Agree with all Shawn said! 🙂 We got our XL Flex in October 2018. The biggest requirement is PATIENCE, since the waiting list is at least 14 month still, I believe. Safari Condo provides the “requirements” for ordering your van in the U.S. You can have it delivered to Vermont or someplace closer to Quebec, as an option. We are in Maryland, so the drive from here was not too bad. We also rented the XL Flex up in Quebec two years before we purchased. Great place to vacation in the early fall along the St. Lawrence River (alot of boondocking) and in the Quebec Provincial Park system.

        Reply
    16. Dave Staublin

      I’m very impressed with all of the Safari Condo products. I love their trailers, too. Super light weight and very modern looking, inside and out.

      Thanks for the review!

      Reply
    17. Alain Roy

      Part 2.

      I had bought a composting toilet before we received our van but have not yet installed it. I don’t yet know how or where to pass the vent, since the solar panels are right above the toilet. Also, since the black and grey tanks are quite big, we haven’t yet seen the need for longer autonomy. Time will tell.

      With the bikes in place, we sleep with the bed frame at the height of the kitchen counter and with the step in place it’s easy to get in and out of bed. With the bed at that hight, we have plastic bins on the “seat” Stef was sitting on, and our two inflatables paddle boards on the other side. You have to fold the step to access the rear fridge. Safety tip, don’t lower the bed with your fingers over the counter. I know from experience it’s a pinch point. In a couple day’s we will be adding a puppy hunting dog to our RV adventures, so the dog crate will be right under our bed. I’ll need to modify the step to allow Laïka to access her crate.

      Have fun with Parky this summer. Lance must be jealous.Alain

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        Awww a new adventure puppy! Congrats Alain! And thanks so much for sharing this thoughtful owner perspective. Happy travels!

        Reply
    18. Alain Roy

      So our unicorn finally made it’s debut on the Fit RV. Too bad it’s a hassle for US customers. Also, the wait list is very long, so you need to be patient. We reserved ours 11 months before getting it. Since we have had it for 2 seasons so far, I can add a few real life comments about our Promaster Flex version.

      To start by priority number 1. You totally missed the vocation of the front fridge. It’s the BEER fridge, near the door, so you can just lean in and no need to track in sand to get your next libation.

      The 1500 watt inverter is the “standard” model, but we have the 2000 watt inverter and I believe most people chose that option.

      The gas heater is offered in two sizes. We have the biggest, and it really pumps out a lot of heat. Not too loud and does not drain the batteries.

      I don’t think you showed the water tank, but its inside the main cabin, under the bed behind the shower. There’s no below the van plumbing, but the water lines pass under a molding under the rear door, so you would still need to winterize the water system. Also, the Trauma is great, but more delicate if it freezes because there is no hot water mass. Trauma sells an optional heater element that you can insert and prolong the season.

      Installed the table mount permanently on the floor and can leave the table folded in place (turned 90 deg for the driver seat. Much more stable. The original table concept was so people could put the table outside and avoid having to bring a separate table for outside use, but that base is not stable on any uneven surface. I installed a sliding pantry rack where the table was stored.

      End of part 1 …LOL

      Reply
    19. Nancy Dahl

      Thanks for reviewing the XL. After many years lurking on the Travato site I ended up buying a promaster XL from safari condo. I love the travato facebook page and I was about to pull the trigger on a k, but then I had the opportunity to see the flex xl and fell in love with the floor plan.

      Reply
    20. Dmitriy

      Safari Condo needs to open dealerships in US if they want to be taken seriously at all by US buyers. The process of buy your own van, bring your own van, leave your own van, pick up your RV, drive it back to US, bring it again to Canada for warranty service is too convoluted to be considered. Whatever money you may save with going with base models will be spent back with dividend on all the hassle.
      I like their designs though, especially the XL Plus model with disappearing restroom/shower.

      Reply
    21. David Huff

      What did y’all think of general build quality ? (separate from the styling – I happen to like the modern styling they use) Things seems tight, not rattle-y, and well put together ?

      Like Ian above, this hits a lot of my check boxes, tho’ I hope they move to lithium batteries soon…

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Build quality seemed good – but not super creative. Notice inside the cabinets you’ll see lots of plain angle brackets holding things together. Probably works very well from a manufacturing perspective, and would certainly invite DIY sorts of mods as things look easy to remove and replace. But certainly no dovetails here!

        Reply
        1. BobB

          Dovetails are great for drawers, but I think all that 80/20 framing for the cabinets makes for a more “solid” construction and will hold up better in an RV over the long run. As to the “utilitarian” look, I like it. Good balance between wood grain and monochromatic surfaces. Overall a very clean look, which you want to add mods, decorative surfaces, etc, is a nice blank slate.

          Awning windows – like the MB ones – on a Promaster! Big plus, IMO, for those rainy days.

    22. Ian Furqueron

      Oh wow… this is as close as any manufacturer has gotten to what I want in an RV. However, I’m not a big fan of Sprinters and the Promaster doesn’t have enough towing capacity. I wonder if they can fit the XL Flex into a Transit.

      Great review! Thanks!

      Reply
      1. Alain Roy

        Back in 2015 when I first started checking out the Promaster Flex, I contacted the company to inquire about towing capacity. I was told it was 3500 lbs with a vehicle “normally” loaded. This was more than I was seeing on Roadtrek or Winnebago Promaster towing capacity at the time. I think their materials selection is lighter in general, so it allows for a higher towing capacity. The Alto review highlighted their take on weight.

        Reply
      2. Scott D Bennett

        ProMaster towing capacity increased to 6,800 lbs for 2019. Not sure how much of that increase is useable vs the weight of the conversion.

        Reply
        1. BobB

          That 3500 number (for the Travato for instance) pops up in a number of discussions, and often gets interpreted as “towing capacity”. NO. On the Travato it is the “hitch rating” and really has not a lot to do with how much you can tow. GVWR and GCWR are the numbers to pay attention to.

          Have no idea where that 6800 number comes from. RAM makes a lot of different trucks, including ones with duallies. A 2019 RAM Promaster 3500 cargo van lists towing capacity at 5100#. Of course, that’s an empty van with only a driver in it. Upfit to a Class B RV like the Travato, and things change.

          OCCC, from some posts on Travato FB page and ads, indicate about 1800#, somewhat less for the L series. By the time you fill the tanks, load passengers, provisions, bikes, toys, clothes, the tongue weight, etc.you will are not going to have much left of that GVWR of 9350, so let’s assume you max out to the GVWR. GCWR is 11,500#. GCWR minus GVWR is only 2,150#. Lighter build materials will help, but overall, not that much, IMO; That GCWR for everything has not changed for the last few years.

      1. Stefany

        Ah gosh thank you so much for catching it!!! I’ll let James know so he can make edits; 1500 makes WAY more sense lol.

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          Misread the specs in the heat of the moment. I’ll throw a correction in the YouTube description, but I can’t change the audio without deleting and re-uploading the video!

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