Maxus RG20 is how China does a California-style pop-up camper van

RV sales and rentals have been booming in the US and Europe throughout the pandemic, and now we're seeing signs of the RV love spreading eastward. The RV market is still quite young in China, but there are a couple of pop-top vans mixed in this year with the crazy-weird concepts, electrified vehicles and flying cars of Auto China 2020, something we haven't noticed at past shows. The new RG20 from SAIC Maxus is similar to midsize European pop-tops but with a few distinctive features purpose-built for Chinese #vanlife.

The RG20 follows last year's debut of the G20 MPV, which serves as its base vehicle. It isn't Maxus' first RV rodeo, as the brand already offers a family of hard-roofed camper vans and Class B+ motorhomes, like the RV90 B just below.

One theme that always shines through during any major Chinese auto show is that China likes its vehicles to be all about the rear passengers. The 520-cm (205-in) RG20 doesn't have a dramatic VIP seat like the Volvo S90 Ambiance concept, nor does it come standard with the individual recliners available on the base Maxus G20 MPV, but it strays from the typical folding two-/three-seat single rear bench common on midsize European and American camper vans in favor of a business van-style vis-a-vis four-seat layout. This design fits more people in the van (six total) while eliminating the need for swivel driver area seats. A fold-up dining table splits the two rear rows to create the lounge area.

Maxus RG20 is how China does a California-style pop-up camper van

Interestingly, the four rear seats don't eliminate the possibility of a folding bench bed, as the available 220 x 110-cm (86 x 43-in) lower bed demonstrates clearly. That makes us wonder why more Western companies don't use a similar six-seat layout in place of four- or five-seat layouts. It's better set up for camp and doubles as a capable six-seat MPV without any conversion — win/win, so long as two passengers don't mind facing rearward.

The folding bed teams with the upper 220 x 110-cm (83 x 43-cm) bed in the pop-up roof to sleep a full family. The RG20 is also available as a two-sleeper with only the roof bed.

The RG20 looks deceptively like a sleeper van the first time you look around the cabin, but that's because the kitchen equipment is split up and tucked away inconspicuously. The refrigerator and sink are hidden below the lids of the sidewall console, while an outdoor slide-out pulls out through the rear driver-side door to accommodate a portable single-burner stove while providing work and storage space.

We're more accustomed to seeing slide-out kitchens at the rear of the van, but Maxus saves this space for the bathroom equipment. The 60-L fresh water tank is hooked up to a shower sprayer for outdoor showering and cleaning, and a portable toilet provides about as fancy a bathroom solution as you can expect in this size van.A tailgate tent offers privacy.

The RG20 also includes a 200-Ah battery, 2,000-W inverter, interior hydroelectric heating, LED lighting, mains charging and a water hookup. Along with a massive grille, the base G20 van brings a 2.0-liter direct-injected gas turbo engine and ZF eight-speed automatic that send up to 221 hp and 258 lb-ft to the rear wheels. Preorder prices start just under CN¥270,000 (approx. $US40,000), according to a listing on Chinese-market auto market site Autohome.

Source: SAIC Maxus (Chinese)