Chinese Explorer Overlander Truck Camper Is the Most Feature-Filled for Around $60K

Explorer Star 23 photos
Photo: SAIC-Maxus
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What if I told you that you can get your hands on an overlanding truck camper for around $60K? Oh, and that includes the truck itself. The only catch is that it's 100% Chinese. Let's dive into the Explorer Star RV.
Folks, it's not often that China comes out with a product that actually leaves a mark upon its beholders, but that's precisely the effect the SAIC-Maxus Explorer had on me when I first saw it; you might be next, and it's time to read on to find out why.

First, what's important about this machine is that it comes from China's Maxus, a division of SAIC, or Shanghai Automobile and Industrial Corporation, China's largest producer of four-wheeling anything and one of their most-revered manufacturers. They even craft travel trailers and are so big that they've collaborated with VW and General Motors.

Part two of the story is the base vehicle used to bring the Explorer to life. Here, one of SAIC's better-known products shows its teeth: the Interstellar pickup truck, a vehicle said to include "warframe aesthetics." It comes with a 2.0-liter diesel engine that can crank out a peak of 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) of torque, according to the manufacturer. There is an optional gasoline engine, too, that can spit out 410 Nm (320 lb-ft) of torque and produce up to 257 hp (192 kW).

Explorer Star
Photo: SAIC-Maxus
An armored chassis is also part of the deal here. It's rocking a double wishbone suspension at the front with a five-link setup at the rear and leaf springs. According to SAIC-Maxus, it can tow up to 2.5 tons of extra weight. Four-wheel drive is also part of the magic here.

An NCAP-approved body design is then thrown on top of it all and ta-da, you have your base vehicle for this on-road dream. Sure, there's plenty more that goes into the Interstellar, but we'd be here until the cows come home if that was the case.

Once the base vehicle is in place, SAIC-Maxus comes in with a shell that's mounted directly onto the Interstellar's chassis. Oh, and as we can see, two options are available: a hard top and a pop-top with soft-shell walls. Be sure to weigh your options, as small differences do appear on the producer's website.

One aspect of this habitat that SAIC-Maxus doesn't mention is how the shell is brought to life. However, experience has taught me that what we're looking at is nothing other than fiberglass and lots of it. It's also one reason why I found these complete on-road solutions going for as little as $60K! Some distributors found on "Made in China" offer even lower rates.

Explorer Star
Photo: SAIC-Maxus
Sure, there are going to be countless shipping and import fees you have to cover if this thing is even road-legal for the US, but you'll still fall short of the $100K mark and actually get a machine that promises quite a bit. I mean, the features and options list is more like a booklet formed out of several pages of information as to what SAIC-Maxus has thrown into the Explorer Star to ensure they get ahold of your cash.

Now, I'll admit, I was rather blown away by the number of features at our disposal. To kick us off, I'll begin with the off-grid features this manufacturer has in store. Everything begins with a 48 V system with 7.2 kWh of battery power, 600 W of sun-processing solar panels, and a 3 kW charger/inverter attached to the Star's motor. Why such a beefy electrical system? As I said, it's one way that this crew ensures that they entice.

Regarding the living space itself, SAIC-Maxus shows off a modern and elevated home filled with the features needed to accommodate up to four people. This is made possible by a modular dinette found at the foot of the cab-over bedding.

Explorer Star
Photo: SAIC-Maxus
Inside, future owners can find features like AC and heating, a complete galley with, albeit some more budget gear, but there nonetheless, and an interior bathroom. The exterior has some attention, too, including an outdoor cooking setup. LED lighting, power sockets, and a movable projector are also part of the mix.

The catch to all this is that this thing is made in China, and I don't mean that as a negative thing in terms of what it can offer; I'm talking about getting one to wherever you are. As we know, you'll have to cover shipping and import fees, and then you have to deal with whether or not it's adapted to systems in your nation.

Nonetheless, for the $60K (€61K at current exchange rates) or so price tag, there aren't a lot of people who would pass up the opportunity to get their hands on something like this, especially if it's road-legal everywhere. But where to find one and see it for yourself? You may just need to head to China for that, so bust out those checkbooks, people, because this one needs a double-take.
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Editor's note: Images in the gallery also showcase the SAIC-Maxus Interstellar truck.

About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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