Swift Escape 685 Motorhome Review

Swift Escape 685 Motorhome Review and Tour

We bought a new motorhome! We are now the proud owners of a Swift Escape 685. We’ve spent a week motorhoming in France in it so far, using a mix of campsites and wild camping spots (if you want to learn where we’ve been, there’s more info in the yellow box below).

Here’s our review and reasons why this is the motorhome we chose.

Why did we buy a Swift Escape motorhome?

We didn’t set out to buy another Swift motorhome. After hiring a motorhome under 6m, we realised we wanted a smaller camper than our current one- a Swift 496 Esprit.

We wanted to find a motorhome with the following things:

  • Under 7m
  • Under 3.5 tonnes, so we can both drive it. (Read the pros and cons of a motorhome over 3.5 tonnes)
  • Decent payload, so we can carry our gear
  • Under 3m in height (better for tolls)
  • Able to tow a trailer for our motorbikes
  • At least two seating areas, so we can both work from the van without killing each other
  • At least 4 seatbelts
  • Space for the dog crate
  • Decent sized bathroom, ideally with a separate shower (this was our compromise)

Swift Motorhome Problems

We already had a Swift Motorhome, and had no real problems with it, although of course there were things we didn’t like.

The biggest problem we had was the electric drop-down bed- it just didn’t work properly once there was bedding on it and stuff in the cupboards. This is a common problem with the Swift Motorhomes- which is perhaps why the drop-down beds are now all manual. Anyway, we were looking for a motorhome without a drop-down bed (spoiler- the Swift 685  has one!)

We also didn’t like the cramped feel of the bathroom on the Esprit, although we knew this was a compromise when we bought it. I also hated the cupboards in the kitchen area- they were utterly impractical.

New to Motorhomes? You might be interested in these related posts:

Swift Motorhome reviews

We visited a couple of motorhome dealers with an open mind. We weren’t sure if we wanted a campervan or a motorhome, so we were prepared to look at all options. We didn’t mind make or model, but we wanted something built within the last 4 years and ideally without too many miles- as we’re about to add a LOT of miles on!

After trying hard to find a motorhome under or very close to 6m, (and there are some fantastic options out there), we soon realised two things:

  • We spend a lot of time living in our motorhome, so we carry more kit than most people
  • We are both taller than average… and therefore take up more room. We need a bed at least 6ft long- and some more compact motorhomes compromise on this

We realised that by going TOO small, we were actually going to get the worst of all worlds and we didn’t want our time in the motorhome to be cramped and unpleasant. So, we decided to go up a little in size, pushing up to 7m, but we both agreed not to go above this. Enter, the Swift Escape 685.

Swift Escape 685 Motorhome review

I walked into this motorhome and was immediately blown away. Immediately. The layout was exactly like the one we had and loved- end lounge, middle kitchen and bathroom, front seating area with 5 seatbelts and the two driving seats swivelled.

Containing my excitement, I checked the stats- 6.8m long, 2.9m high and MRO* (see below) was only 2.9t, giving us a 600kg payload on its 3.5 tonnes rating.

It was literally our perfect motorhome. It has a drop down bed, but it also has two other bed configurations which can be made up at night- so there are lots of sleeping options.

See inside our Swift Escape 685 Motorhome

After a few days, we filmed our thoughts on our new motorhome, what we’ve changed, what we like and what we don’t. Watch the video below.

Buying a motorhome? Read this first:  How to buy a motorhome

What does MRO mean for motorhomes?

*MRO (Mass in Running Order) means the weight of the motorhome if it was on the road. They take the weight of the motorhome once it’s fitted out, add 75kg for the driver and 6kg for a gas cylinder. They also add 90% of fuel tank capacity, which also covers coolant and other fluid weight (NOT water tank- this is not included)

You need to know the MRO AND what the vehicle is plated up to- not all motorhomes are plated to 3.5 tonnes. The difference between the 2 is the motorhome payload– the amount of weight you have to put gear, passengers, food, pets and everything else onboard. It’s always worth going to a weigh station once you’re fully laden, so you know what you weigh. Do NOT go over your rated weight limit.

Facts about the Swift Escape 685 Motorhome

2.88m / 9'5"
Length6.9m / 22'8"
Width (cab with mirrors folded)2.31m / 7'7"
Gas locker capacity2 x 6kg bottles
LayoutEnd Lounge
Fresh/Waste Water Capacity95L / 93.5L
EngineFiat Ducato 6 speed 130bhp / 2.3 ltr
Fuel TypeDiesel
Max Braked trailer weight2000kg
Thermal Grade InsulationThree
Extras we've addedSolar Panel, Rearview camera, Inverter
Batteries fitted: Engine and 1 x leisure

Layout options of the Swift Escape 685 Motorhome

Day layout

Day layout of Swift Escape 685 Motorhome Review and Tour
Day layout of Swift Escape 685 Motorhome

Night layout

Night layout of Swift Escape 685 Motorhome Review and Tour
Night layout of Swift Escape 685 Motorhome Review and Tour

Swift Escape Review after a week of living in the motorhome

LOVE this van. Sure, there are some niggles (we’ll get to them!), but overall we are really pleased with our choice. It’s easier to park, costs less on ferries or the Tunnel and still gives us the space we are used to.

It tows really well- we’ve been up and down the Alps all week and we’re amazed at how well it tows our heavy motorbikes. It seems to be fairly economic as well, which is impressive. We’ll do more research and report back with some facts.

Things we love about our new Swift 685 Motorhome

  • Mr WB LOVES his swivel seat at the front (he’s always wanted one!)
  • The storage- there’s loads of space left we haven’t filled… yet!
  • Useable space for things, instead of weird cubby holes
  • Everything is manual- no more electric beds!
  • Space in the bathroom- even if it doesn’t have a walk-in shower!
  • The seats can be configured to give us lots of space for the dog crate- so easy to fit in
  • Size, weight and ease of use

Things we don’t love about our new Swift Escape Motorhome

  • The waste/ freshwater dumping buttons – too easy to get it wrong!
  • Lack of power sockets at rear- we had to fit more
  • There’s no table set up permanently- takes some getting used to
  • No access to storage from outside- which isn’t the end of the world as we have an external storage box, but could be really annoying!
  • The wardrobe is weird. But at least there is one I suppose!
  • The drop-down bed doesn’t drop down low enough for us to sit up in bed, but we’ve chosen not to use the bed anyway, so it doesn’t bother us.

All in all, it’s been a good trade. We thought losing nearly an eighth of our living area was going to be really challenging, but in all honesty, we’ve barely noticed the difference.

We’ve called our motorhome Stevie. It was Steve, as in ‘The Great Escape’, but we struggled having a boy motorhome. She’s definitely a girl. So she’s Stevie.

Have you named your motorhome? Let us know what in the comments below!

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  1. Mr Ian Davidson says:

    I have bought one of the Swift 685 but don’t receive it till 1st of April.
    I so love your comments on the MH so helpful.
    We are so excited about this whole new adventure that we are going on.
    I bought it as a business venture too.
    Part of Mintlaw Motorhomes.
    Age 54

    1. Wandering Bird says:

      Hi Ian- fantastic! I wish you all the luck with it. 🙂

  2. Hi Kat
    Like your new van ! Hope it Gives you lots of new adventures !
    We had a similar experience last year. We were very happy with ‘Tootie’ our Elddis Sunseeker which had taken us all over Europe down as far south as Greece. The only thing we didn’t have was air-con and cruise control but we were really comfortable with ‘Tootie’ so really had no plans to change.
    However, out of the blue last May, we saw a Bailey Autograph 625 which had all the attributes of ‘Tootie’ but with air-con, cruise control and a bigger shower cubicle so before we knew it the deal was done and we said goodbye to’Tootie’ and hello to ‘Tootie 2’. The Bailey was still under 7metres long, under 3 metres high and under 3500kgs fully loaded including our Vespa on the rack on the back. The scooter by the way is black and white two tone like the van and is called ‘Scootie’
    We took delivery of the new van at the end of May 2019 and 10 days later, having fitted a new cassette awning, bigger solar panel and our refillable gas system, we set off on a 7,000 mile 3 month tour of Norway, Finland and Sweden which was an awesome trip and was a real shakedown for the new van. Fortunately, other than an issue with a loose wiper blade on the M3 (!) when we were heading for Dover, the Bailey performed brilliantly and is definitely more comfortable and easier to live with than the Elddis.
    Sadly, our planned adventures for 2020 are all currently on hold due to Coronavirus but as soon as the restrictions are lifted, we’ll be on the road again !
    Best wishes

  3. David Dennis says:

    Hi Kat,

    Like you we had a boat before our Motorhome and as I am sure you will agree the layout and spec. are all a compromise. What you want and what you can buy is never right.

    I must admit we never looked at Swift, the reason being that they don’t build on Mercedes. The reason we want Mercedes is the automatic gearbox, they were the only company that made a proper automatic gearbox, now Fiat have brought out a true Automatic, but as we have only just bought our van It’s to early to change again..

    Our first was an A class Rapido I thought it was fantastic, but it was very old. So we thought as we both really enjoyed it we would buy a new van. We bought an Auto Sleepers Burford Duo. We had that for just over a year and had a wonderful time going every where in it.
    Unfortunately I reached the age of 70 and discovered that I could not drive anything over 3.5 ton without taking a medical. This I passed but did not fancy doing the treadmill test again, it is a killer.
    So we ordered an Auto Sleepers Bourton, again Mercedes Auto. but under 3.5 ton.

    We went everywhere in this, up to Scotland the NC 500 what a fantastic trip that is. Down to Devon and places in between this was a beautiful van, the only drawback was making the beds up every night and we did not like hanging our electric bikes on the back.

    Yes you have guessed it. We have changed it again. What we would like now is Mercedes Automatic, garage (so the bikes are inside). Permanent made up beds and under 3.5 ton. This narrowed it down quite a bit.

    We started our search, we also decided we would like an end lounge.
    Would you believe we found just what we wanted apart from one thing.
    It is a Frankia, garage, end lounge two single pull down beds at the front, all on a Mercedes Automatic.
    TOTAL WEIGHT 5 ton.
    Cost £170,000

    We now have a Hymer 570 – 60th edition. Garage, fixed beds at the back,
    A class, 3.5 ton and Mercedes Automatic. Still not perfect, the bathroom is quite small.
    It is all a compromise.
    But now Fiat are in the equation, you never know.
    I expect by the time we will all be set free to roam, I will be to old to do it, but I can look at it on the drive and dream.


    How do you put pictures on this forum.

  4. Andrea Beesley says:

    Hi Kat and lots of others.
    Like you we’ve had a caravan (very briefly!) Bessacarr motorhome.. did a lot of the U.K. went to the top of Scotland chasing the Northern lights but the weather was truly awful!!
    It was promptly sold .. sadly but still loved the ‘chuck wagon‘
    After living on a narrowboat for 12 years it most certainly is in my blood… not my husbands but reluctantly he agreed to a little narrowboat.
    Long story short and only 6 months of ownership many £100’s later it was also sold.
    We are now thinking again of a motorhome but to have a different experience instead of rainy U.K. we want to go abroad and chase the sun??
    We’ve found another Bessacarr with only 15.000 miles but now we’ve got to contend with the Covid 19 lockdown.. ahhhh .. everything is in limbo!! Even got a storage place lined up!!

  5. John Herbert says:

    Hi Kat
    Thank you very much for your blog and the review. We are just getting into the buying and planning phase so we are very much newbies and we find your tips and info very valuable indeed. Expecting to buy a Auto-Sleeper Warwick Duo in the very near future (like next week!)
    I come from a boating background having fitted out a 50ft narrowboat, so I am very interested in how to fit things in and the mechanics and electronic aspects!!.
    By the way I am also very impressed with the bikes. Triumph forever! (I live about half a mile from the Triumph factory)

  6. Hi Kat
    We are sick as we just brought our 2nd A class two weeks befor lockdown a cathargo 149 C tourer only 4000 on the clock loved our Burstner viso but this one has a better layout for me at 6,3 tall

  7. russell kayser says:

    Hi Kat
    We have a 12 year old Hymer Van 522, I bought it last year just to
    have something to get away in. For the last 30 years I,ve been doing France, mostly Provence and Languedoc, cant get enough to satisfy the urge. I,m trying to get into Germany this August, the virus has me worried, they change the rules all the time, Sweden is rather a hot spot now, but Ill hope for the best….


  8. Hi there

    After watching your video and blog I have purchased the same one. Just driving from UK to Turkey and wondering what gas we need to buy if you can advise please ?


    1. Hi Suzan! That sounds like an amazing adventure (and excellent choice in motorhomes 😉 ) I would definitely recommend fitting a refillable gas system. We chose Gaslow, but there are several options and they are all pretty similar. Go for bottles, not a fitted tank or you won’t be able to use the tunnel or certain ferries around Europe.

  9. PHILIP Austin says:

    Great reading about and watching your travels in the 685 Kat. Its the exact same one that we want, when the virus goes, the market eases up a bit and a few more become available. Like others, when I renewed my licence at 70 I didn’t realize I was losing the over 3500kg class. Not good, but at least the 685 fits the bill. Would like to take my Dyna Super Glide (sorry Triumph, you were too expensive) but she’s a bit heavy. Would be nice to put a lightweight scoot on the back though. I know we have to watch the all-up-weight and axle loads.

  10. Hi Kat
    Hubby and I have been watching your videos from day one though only subscribed more recently. In my teens and early 20s have a VW but it had to go as family got bigger.
    So December now in my 50s we brought a new to us elddis autoquest 100 2011 small but perfect for us at the moment and have been lucky enough to of used it a lot considering this year.
    Just want to say love your videos and the fact that you do pros and cons with not just yourselves in mind.
    Thank you for that. Your present van is what we are hoping to get when we can use it more xx happy travels

    Suzy mac

  11. Paul Watson says:

    Another brilliant article, Kat. Can’t get enough of your website and YouTube!
    We’re looking to semi-retire and work from the road, like you do, probably in 2022.
    We’d looked at various models, but having now seen this and your videos on it, the 685 is pretty much first choice.

    Sod’s Law, of course, I’ve just found a 2018, Automatic (ex-hire, I suspect), with 20,000 on the clock and looks in very good condition – but can’t get to see it!!! How frustrating.

    Love the bikes too, btw. I ride a Tiger XRx, so would look to put a trailer on myself, ultimately.

    Questions – is it possible to alter the seats to enable to drop down to drop lower?
    Also – how easy is it to retrofit the rearview camera system? (or do Swift do that?)

    (I have the Boatshed franchise up here in Yorkshire and HQ is right by you guys!)

    Keep up the ace work!
    All best,

    1. Awww- thanks Paul. Pleased to hear you’re enjoying it. Not sure about dropping the seats lower- that’s probably a question for Swift. And the rearview system was easy enough for my husband who is good at this stuff, but I think I’d have to pay someone if I tried it myself!! 🙂 Like fitting anything with wires and cables- if you know, you know. If you don’t, get someone who does! 😉

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