Jucy camper van

Jucy camper van

Editor’s Note: The following article appeared in the Dallas Morning News chronicling correspondent Elaine Glusac’s recent trip through the Northern California wine country in a rental camper van from New Zealand-based Jucy. To read the full story click here.

If RVs are the clan-friendly leviathans of the open road, the Jucy camper vans — equipped with fridge, gas stove, sink and two double beds — are the nimble, next-generation option for DIY road-trippers, intended to be maneuverable, fuel-efficient and affordable (from $40 per day), a combination of rental car and condo.

Brothers Tim and Dan Alpe founded Jucy in 2001 in New Zealand, offering drivers handy accommodations in wilderness locales. In 2012, they exported 50 vehicles to the U.S., stationing them in road-trip-ready Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now, with about 200 Jucy vans in the U.S., the brothers aim to expand to the East Coast and Florida.

Jucy’s compact size, the company claims, allows it to easily navigate high-traffic areas, such as national parks. We resolved to test that assertion in Sonoma County wine country in California’s busy harvest season. Picking up a Jucy near San Francisco, we planned to drive an hour north for a weekend, overnighting at the Alexander Valley RV Park & Campground on the Russian River, where we could drink high-quality chards and zins in low-rent style (campsites cost $40).

Before bestowing the keys to the lime-green-and-purple vehicle, the Jucy agent demonstrated how to crank up the penthouse, the pop-up apartment atop the roof — a.k.a. the top bunk — that conceals a foam mattress and removable metal ladder within.

The middle interior bench folds flat into a double bed. The rear hatch opens to reveal a kitchen less than 2 feet deep, with a sink plumbed to a 5-gallon water tank, a pull-out gas burner, a refrigerator drawer and compartments for pans and utensils.

To read the full story click here.