Published and distributed by JR Consumer Resources Inc.

Published and distributed by JR Consumer Resources Inc.
Published and distributed by J R Consumer Resources Inc.
3660 Nicklaus Drive, Clarkston, WA 99403
Phone: (509) 243-5306 Fax: (866) 401-1084
www.jrconsumer.com Email: [email protected]
J R Consumer Resources Inc. is a consumer based company that offers rating guides for
recreation vehicles in North America. We remain committed to our readers by offering
unbiased information about the RV industry. We have NO hidden agendas. We receive NO
commissions or advertising kickbacks. We have not accepted any payments to promote one
company over another. We can assure you that all of the information contained in this
guide is based on independent research and countless interviews and is from an objective
point of view.
Copyright © 2011 by J R Consumer Resources Inc
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without
written permission from J R Consumer Resources Inc. Although every precaution has been
taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for
errors and omissions. The author and publisher disclaim any liability, loss or risk, personal
or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and
application of any of the contents of this book.
Cover design: Greg Ryan
2
2009 - 2012
RV Comparison
Guide
Plus...Important Buying Tips!
By Randall Eaton
Featuring: Class A Motorhomes, Class C Motorhomes,
Fifth Wheels &Travel Trailers
A Comprehensive Rating Guide
Comparing Over 98% of RV Manufacturers
in North America
Get the facts before you buy – save time & money!
3
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
6
Preface
7
Introduction
8
Chapter 1
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Camper or Weekender
Vacationer
RV Trekking or Boondocking
Working Solos
Snowbirds
Full-timer
9
Chapter 2
Construction Techniques & Methods
What matters most?
What components of a motorhome constitute the chassis?
Travel trailer frames - What to look for
Gas or Diesel - Which is better?
Exterior wall construction - What to look for
Types of fiberglass siding
Which is better - fiberglass or aluminum siding for travel trailers?
Interior finish
Insulation materials - Which is best?
What to look for in quality windows
What to look for in a quality roof
12
Chapter 3
Customer Satisfaction
Interviews with existing RV owners
RV discussion forums
Additional RV Online Resources
24
Chapter 4
Dealer Ratings
Interviews with RV dealers (new and used)
26
Chapter 5
Resale Values
Depreciation chart
RV appraisal service
27
Chapter 6
Rating Charts & Parameters
RV manufacturer rating chart (sample chart)
Rating definitions
29
Chapter 7
Class A Motor Homes (Diesel & Gas)
RV Manufacturer Rating Charts Class A Diesel Motor Homes
2012
2011
2010
2009
4
32
RV Manufacturer Rating Charts Class A Gas Motor Homes
2012
2011
2010
2009
Chapter 8
Class C Motor Homes (Diesel & Gas)
RV Manufacturer Rating Charts Class C Motor Homes
2012
2011
2010
2009
39
Chapter 9
Fifth Wheels & Toy Haulers
RV Manufacturer Rating Charts Fifth Wheels
2012
2011
2010
2009
43
Chapter 10 Travel Trailers
RV Manufacturer Rating Charts Travel Trailers
2012
2011
2010
2009
48
Chapter 11 RV Manufacturer Articles
2009-2012 List of RV manufacturers featured in book
Company background and history
Principle target customer
List of popular model(s)
Average MSRP of popular models
Editorial staff comments
RV manufacturer articles listed in alphabetical order
53
Chapter 12
Important Buying Tips
Additional RV online resources
10 tips for selling your RV
Sell your RV online
RV appraisal service
Popular RV magazines
Industry related RV websites
177
Chapter 13 Conclusion
181
Chapter 14 Bonus Offers - Supplemental Resources
182
How To Purchase A RV and Save Thousands
RV Extended Warranties
5
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank Linda Dahl and Greg Ryan who have assisted me in researching the RV
industry. Their dedication and hard work is truly appreciated. I would like to thank my
lovely wife who has supported me throughout the years. Her encouraging words, patience
and belief in me, has made it possible to write these resource guides.
Senior Editor and President
Randall Eaton
6
Preface
Buying an RV can be one of the most rewarding purchases you’ll ever make. Imagine having
the freedom to travel whenever and wherever you want in a luxurious home on wheels.
Unlike the unfamiliar setting of a hotel room, your RV allows you to bring along the comforts
and joys of your everyday life such as your own pillow, favorite board games, golf clubs and
other familiar comforts. There is no need to make hotel reservations or try to decide where
to eat.
Vacationing in an RV provides an excellent opportunity for families to have fun together. It
is estimated that owning an RV reduces vacation costs by 60% to 75%, which means you
can afford to get away more often. Take a weekend trip to your favorite get-a-way or visit
America’s amazing national parks and landmarks. Your RV is home away from home and
can be ready to take your family on a fun-filled adventure within hours.
This guide was written in order to have information build upon information. We suggest you
start with Chapter 1 and read through the entire book. Then, as time permits and need
requires, you may want to reread certain sections in whatever order you desire. We also
recommend highlighting areas of interest and taking this book with you as you shop
different RV dealers. “The contents of this guide may reflect certain opinions based on
research, study and experience; it is a work of advice and opinion. J R Consumer Resources
Inc. is not engaged in rendering or giving any legal or professional services. As such the
author and research team are not responsible for actions taken based upon the content of
this guide.”
7
Introduction
There are a number of buying guides for RV buyers today but none combined buying tips
with a fair rating system, until now! To fulfill this need we at J R Consumer Resources Inc.
have published an RV comparison guide. We remain committed to our readers by offering
unbiased information about the RV industry. We have NO hidden agendas. We receive
NO commissions or advertising kickbacks. We have not accepted any payments to
promote one company over another. We can assure you that all of the information
contained in this guide is based on independent research and countless interviews and is
from an objective point of view. Our company is a consumer based organization and we
have not been hired by the RV industry to promote their products or lifestyle.
About the Author – Hello my name is Randall Eaton, President and senior editor of J R
Consumer Resources Inc. I am a research analyst and a best-selling author. My specialty is
uncovering the truth about a particular industry and publishing the results. I have published
two best-selling books regarding manufactured and modular homes. Both books were the
first of their kind and have helped tens of thousands of home buyers. Both books did the
impossible by rating individual housing manufacturers throughout the United States.
It’s ironic that many of our readers who purchased my housing publications suggested I
write a comparison guide on RVs. This confirmed my initial thoughts about such a task, so
with the help of my research team, I decided to start researching the RV industry. Our goal
was to rate popular RV manufacturers in the United States and Canada. What started out as
an idea has turned into a reality. Our first publication was released in October 2006.
There are more than 2,500 RV dealers in the United States, selling a variety of products
from folding camping trailers to full size million-dollar deluxe diesel coaches. This guide
focuses on 98% of the RV industry in North America. This guide will give you an
overview of the industry and rate popular manufacturers with insightful tips and
suggestions. My hope is that after reading our RV Comparison Guide you will be able to
determine which RV manufacturer is right for you. This guide is intended to save you
valuable time by outlining where particular companies fall regarding quality construction,
dealer and customer satisfaction and resale value. If you have any questions or comments
regarding this guide please email us at [email protected] We will try to respond to
your questions or comments in a timely manner.
8
Chapter 1
What Type of Buyer Are You?
When we interviewed the manufacturers for this guide we asked the question, “How would
you best describe your customers?” They were able to choose from three selected
answers below:
•
•
•
Entry-level
Mid-range
Upper-end
Price being the biggest factor
Quality and price both playing a big role
Quality and style being the most important
Below are some terms you may or may not be familiar with. The way you intend to use your
RV will help define what type of buyer you are. When visiting an RV dealership your
salesperson will probably ask you, “How do you plan to use your RV?” Some common
terms used today are:
•
•
•
•
•
•
Camper or Weekender
Vacationer
RV Trekking or Boondocking
Working Solos
Snowbirds
Full-timer
How you will use your RV will determine the quality of construction, floorplan and options or
upgrades you’ll want to consider. It will also have an impact on the frame or chassis,
suspension system, size of appliances, holding tanks and other operating systems. The
definitions listed above are not intended to cover every type of RVing but are common
terms used today that reflect certain types of people and how they use their RV. You will
probably be able to relate to one or more of the definitions listed below. This will help you
understand what type of buyer you are and type of products you should focus on in this
guide.
•
Camper or Weekender: Those who take very short trips in their RV, typically for a
weekend or up to one week. This type of person would be considered a camper or
weekender. Nearly half of RVers are between the ages of 35 and 54 according to a
University of Michigan study. Many are working long hours and are seeking to get
away on the weekends. Whether near or far, weekend trips in a RV are getaways
from the daily routine. The growing trend is not just for families anymore, but for
anybody looking to recharge their batteries by visiting a familiar campground, friends
or a new destination each weekend. People that fall into this category typically spend
less than 45 days combined in their RV per year. If this describes you and your
traveling habits or desires then focus on companies that fall into the, Economy
category in this guide. This type of buyer would be considered an entry-level buyer.
•
Vacationer: Many purchasing an RV dream about taking the family to popular
destinations for a few days or a couple of weeks at a time. Vacationing typically
involves taking week long trips during the summer months. It's easier on the kids
because there is no settling into a hotel and they have a greater sense of home and
familiarity with the family RV. Over time, an RV is well worth the investment instead
of hotel rooms, airline tickets and rental cars. People that fall into this category
9
typically spend less than 65 days combined in their RV per year. If this describes
your traveling habits or desires, focus on companies that fall into the, Economy or
Above Average category in this guide. This type of buyer would be considered an
entry-level to mid-range buyer.
•
RV Trekking or Boondocking: This describes a person who wants to get off the
beaten path, spend time away from the crowds and enjoy the outdoors. Trekking or
boondocking will require a heavy duty chassis or frame and a good suspension
system. The operating system needs to be made of high quality materials, which can
support two or more people for a week. RV trekkers or boondockers will typically
spend one to three months in their RV throughout the year. If this describes your
traveling habits or desires, focus on companies that fall into the, Premium or Above
Average category. This type of customer would be considered a mid-range to upperend buyer.
•
Working Solos: This would describe entrepreneurs or salespeople who love the road
and the lifestyle it offers. Working Solos consider their RVs as their mobile office for
visiting clients, selling products and visiting multiple company locations. Many feel it
beats high priced hotels and with all the high-tech gadgets available today, like
“Automatic roof-mounted satellite systems”, Internet access is always just a
click away. On the weekends they can head back home or visit family and friends.
Working solos will typically use their RV for three to six months combined throughout
the year. If this describes you and you’re considering using an RV for this purpose
then you want a quality product and should focus on RV manufacturers in this guide
that fall in the, Premium or Above Average category. This type of customer would
be considered a mid-range or upper-end buyer.
•
Snowbirds: Snowbirds like to head south during the winter months. They typically
leave during late fall or early winter and head for the sunshine. To live in both
climates they take their RV for an entire season and return home in spring or early
summer. During the summer months the RV generally sits unused until the cold
weather returns again. Snowbirds live in the RV for months at a time and
consideration should be given during the RV selection process to each person's
hygiene routine to ensure that the selected model will meet the needs. People
considering snowbirding must select a durable unit that can withstand up to six
months of constant use per year. Strong consideration must be given to the
floorplan, quality and feel of floor coverings, durable furniture and one-piece shower
units with good ventilation. Kitchen appliances need to be high-end to keep up with
constant use. If this describes your traveling habits or desires then focus on
companies that fall into the, Premium or Above Average category. This type of
buyer would be considered mid-range to upper-end.
•
Full-timer: Many define full-timing to mean no house, condo or any other physical
roost to return to. Others allow that if someone is living and traveling in their RV up
to nine months out of the year they are considered a full-timer. They may stay in
one place for extended periods or roam from one destination to another. When
selecting a model the kitchen appliances must support the demands of year round
living. Bathrooms and plumbing fixtures must be of highest quality. One piece
tub/showers are recommended and ventilation in these areas must be good. It may
become cumbersome if the RV does not offer all required facilities, forcing the fulltimer to use RV park showers or other facilities, which can become inconvenient at
times. The heating system needs to be of high quality with proper amounts of
insulation to keep the unit nice and toasty during cold nights. Solid wood for the
10
interior cabinets should be considered. The roof should be made of fiberglass or a
quality EPDM rubber roof with a 10 year warranty or longer. Laundry is a weekly task
and needs to be considered when selecting a particular model. Full-timing requires a
well-built RV with attention to detail from the chassis or frame to the roof and
everything in between. If this describes your traveling habits or desires then focus on
companies that fall into the Premium category. This type of buyer would be
considered an upper-end buyer.
11
Chapter 2
Construction Methods & Techniques
In this chapter we focus on things like, what to look for in a chassis or frame. Different
types of roofing materials and the pros and cons with each. You will also learn about
common construction methods for exterior walls and types of insulation being used, and
other important construction methods. We have spoken with many plant managers from
various RV companies, which has been helpful in putting this chapter together.
This chapter is in no way intended to include every aspect of the construction process. In
our housing publications we incorporated construction guidelines to follow, which have
proven to be very popular with our readers. Having the ability to compare brands and
models to a set of construction standards that properly reflect a structurally sound
product is very helpful and eliminates any confusion when trying to determine
overall construction quality of a particular product.
I personally have toured many manufactured home factories and I am familiar with how
factory-built homes are constructed and the various methods used. There are many
similarities between the two industries. This gives me and my research team an advantage
when comparing different RV manufacturers and rating them based on construction
techniques. We at J R Consumer Resources have tried to look at the big picture for each
manufacturer when determining common building methods used throughout their product
line-up.
(If you are looking at a manufacturer not featured in this book the information below will be helpful in
determining the quality of product.)
As we conducted our research we discovered that most RV salespeople did not know much
about the overall construction methods of the product they were selling. This bothered us
and it made our staff look deeper into the industry to see how much those at the top knew
about construction techniques. Surprisingly, most in upper management were also
somewhat hesitant in explaining which construction techniques were best, and what to look
for in a quality built RV. We were beginning to think we would never finish this section until
we decided to contact individual plant managers to see if they could shed some light on the
subject. To our surprise, many plant managers were delighted to speak with us and they
had the technical knowledge we were looking for.
What matters most?
A common misconception with most new RV buyers is they rate the floorplan as the most
important aspect in their RV purchase. It is estimated that over 90% of new RV buyers
focus more on floorplans then anything else. With experienced or educated RV buyers
it is estimated that over 90% focus on the chassis or frame, drive train, engine, suspension
and exterior construction when selecting a particular brand. Bottom line, what’s underneath
your motorhome, trailer or fifth wheel is the most important aspect and should take top
priority in your decision process. Focusing on these important features will ultimately
determine how satisfied you are with your purchase.
12
What components of a motorhome constitute the chassis?
A motorhome can be divided into two main
components the body and the chassis. The
chassis basically includes the frame, engine,
transmission, axles, wheels, brakes, cooling
system, electrical system, steering system,
suspension and instrumentation. Looking at a
motorhome chassis is like looking at a home
that has not been constructed yet.
We wish there was some type of comparison chart or consumer guide for motorhome
chassis’ but there is not. Each chassis design is extremely difficult to evaluate because there
are so many variables. It’s also subjective depending on who you talk to, thus the reason
for no comparison guide. We will attempt in this chapter to provide some needed
information that will hopefully shed some light on the subject so buyers can make informed
decisions when trying to select the right chassis.
Frame Rail and Semi-Monocoque: The chassis under all Class A motorhomes today
starts out as a basic Frame Rail, as the picture above shows. 99% of all RV manufacturers
will take the basic frame rail chassis and incorporate cross braces and bridge-like
construction in the bottom half of the chassis, so the strength lies not in the narrow center
of the frame, but throughout its weight distribution. By doing this, the steel structure
absorbs and resists the twist and turns of the road ahead without relying on non loadbearing components to do the work. This advanced engineering is challenging and time
consuming but results in a safe, reliable and high-performance motorhome. This type of
chassis is referred to as, “Semi-Monocoque”.
Semi-monocoque construction technique is like
that of a steel bridge with support elements
diagonally placed between vertical and horizontal
elements. Today most manufacturers use a
semi-monocoque type chassis as the picture to
the left shows. Many consider a full or semimonocoque design superior to a standard frame
rail design. This type of design has become
common place in the industry and is considered
to be main stream.
Chassis manufacturers like Spartan, Freightliner, Workhorse and Ford to name a few, supply
frame rails to a number of different manufacturers. Winnebago, for example, works closely
with Freightliner to produce their own semi-custom version chassis called the, “Evolution
Chassis” for Winnebago’s Vectra® series. Evolution represents, in Winnebago’s mind, the
next generation of diesel pusher technology with one-piece formed steel chassis rails that
are 25% thicker than traditional raised rails for added strength and performance without the
restrictive bulk and weight of stacked rails. Formed rails also provide increased mid-section
storage, better weight distribution and improved suspension with an impressive 56° wheel
cut, for even more luxury performance.
Custom chassis: Any chassis that is custom made for a particular model has to be
considered superior. Manufacturers that own a chassis company and build their own chassis
13
on-site are serious about providing the best possible chassis available. While some may
disagree on which design is best, custom chassis’ are, in our opinion a step above the rest.
Below is list of some RV manufacturers that provide a custom chassis:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Country Coach (Dynomax)
Monaco/Holiday Rambler (Roadmaster)
Foretravel (Foretravel Chassis)
Coachmen RV (Workhorse)
Winnebago (Freightliner)
To expand on this subject we have taken text from Country Coach’s website that explains
their custom chassis in more detail. “DynoMax® chassis are engineered to the specific
sizing, load and performance needs of Country Coach motorcoaches, with no other
applications. Country Coach Engineers with decades of design experience are supported by
the latest in computer aided and three-dimensional drafting technology. Not believing in
"bolt-on" solutions, Country Coach engineers partner with companies like HWH® and
Caterpillar® to provide unique and improved (and often patented) applications of developed
technologies.
Not a length of steel is cut for a DynoMax® chassis until the motorcoach it is intended for
has been ordered. As each chassis is intended for a specific coach, Country Coach avoids
the rust, wear and obsolescence often created by needing to maintain a chassis "yard".
DynoMax® chassis are designed per floorplan or customer, never simply per length. This
flexibility leads to ease of maintenance, better floorplans and a superior motorcoach”.
We included the text above because we wanted our readers to understand, that when a
manufacturer builds a custom chassis to fit under a particular model it’s a cut above the
rest. Newmar’s website shows a video explaining the process of how a standard frame rail
chassis is modified to include a semi-monocoque type design. To view their website go to,
www.newmarcorp.com/. Click on, “Why Newmar” and then click on the construction
link.
Another quality chassis manufacturer is Roadmaster, which is a division of Monaco Coach
Corporation. Roadmaster is one of the leading high-end diesel chassis manufactured in the
United States. In fact, they have more motorhome chassis experience than any other
manufacturer — because that’s all they specialize in.
According to Roadmaster’s website, “We have a 100% commitment to producing only
chassis for luxury diesel motorhomes. No delivery vans, garbage trucks or cement mixers.
And that’s something no other chassis manufacturer can say. It all starts with the desire to
build a chassis that meets the exacting specifications of our top-of-the-line Monaco and
Holiday Rambler coaches. At Roadmaster, every chassis is custom engineered for a specific
model and floorplan, to ensure that everything works together seamlessly. In addition, by
investing in state-of-the-art production facilities, we can count on greater efficiency and a
higher level of quality. By completely integrating the design and assembly process from
start to finish, we have superior accountability and total control”. We really like
Roadmaster’s website. It is loaded with valuable information and if you have time, you owe
it to yourself to visit www.roadmasterchassis.com/.
Semi-custom chassis: This type of chassis is a step down from a custom design chassis
but still a very good chassis none the less. Some manufacturers will purchase a stock or
14
standard chassis from a company like Ford, Workhorse, Freightliner or Spartan and modify
the design to improve the overall strength and performance.
Stock-chassis: No real modifications have taken place with this type of chassis system.
Usually found in entry-level Class A motorhomes.
Another good article about RV chassis systems can be found online at: http://www.rvinfo.net/rvchassis.html
Travel trailer frames - What to look for
There are many different types or designs when it comes to travel trailer frames but the
most common are:
•
•
•
•
Tubular frames, (aluminum or steel)
Stamped frames (steel, see picture below)
C-channel frames, (steel)
I-beams, (steel)
The size and design of the frame will vary depending on the size of the unit and its
classification. For example, a lightweight travel trailer will probably have a 4” or 6”
aluminum tubular frame. The benefits in using
aluminum is, it’s lighter and won’t rust.
Another popular frame being used today in
lightweight trailers is called an, Ultra Frame or
Ultra-lite. The picture below shows an Ultra-lite
frame, it is a stamped frame with oval holes
cut-out running along the sides. We have
heard of some complaints with this type of
frame and would caution people to do their
research before purchasing a travel trailer with this design. We are not suggesting this is a
bad design or it won’t hold up over time but we would prefer a tubular frame for a
lightweight travel trailer compared to a stamped frame.
When it comes to premium travel trailers or fifth wheels most manufacturers will use steel
I-beams or tubular steel frames. In addition to the frame most companies will incorporate
cross-members for additional structural integrity and outriggers supporting the exterior
weight of the walls. The next step down from steel I-beams or tubular steel frames, in our
opinion, is the C-channel frame. C-channel is a good frame but it does have less steel
compared to an I-beam or tubular frame and is probably the most common frame with midsize trailers and light-weight fifth wheels. Below is how we rate the different frames being
used in the travel trailers and fifth wheel categories:
1. Superior – (Steel I-beams or steel tubular frames with cross-members and
outriggers for additional support).
2. Good – (C-channel steel frames with cross-members and outriggers for additional
support).
3. Average – (Tubular aluminum frames and outriggers for additional support for lightweight TT only).
15
4. Poor - (Stamped steel or aluminum frames with no support for light-weight travel
trailers).
Remember, overloading a travel trailer or fifth wheel is easy to do. We recommend
going with a stronger frame, which can support additional weight if the need arises. You
have heard of the old saying, “Plan for the worst and hope for the best”.
Diesel or gas - Which is better?
So you’re considering buying a motor home, Class A or C. Let us
explore the age old question and one I get asked a lot, should I buy a
gas or diesel motorhome? This question has fueled many lively
debates and to be honest, it comes down to personal preference. I will
try to list the pros and cons for each engine and leave it to my
readers to decide which is best for them.
Pros to owning a diesel motorhome:
•
For those planning on traveling a lot, a diesel engine may be a
good choice. One reason is that a diesel engine will last longer
in comparison to a gas engine. This is a fact. It is why large
commercial trucks all have diesel engines in them.
•
Another advantage to consider in a diesel engine is torque.
With a diesel engine the horsepower peaks at a lower RPM, and there is more torque
at a lower RPM compared to a gasoline engine. This results in a diesel engine having
much more power at a lower RPM. This higher torque and higher horsepower at a
lower RPM equates to a longer lasting engine. And, for all those considering pulling a
heavy travel trailer or fifth wheel a diesel engine in your truck is probably a better
choice as well.
•
In addition to having more torque, diesel engines can be more fuel efficient than gas
engines. (Gas engines are making some headway in fuel efficiency but diesel still has
an advantage in my opinion). You can expect more miles per gallon, but don't expect
a dramatic difference.
•
Diesel Motorhomes have a wider selection of floor plans to choose from compared to
gas motorhomes.
•
The chassis of most diesel motorhomes are better constructed than the chassis of
gas motorhomes. The towing capacity is greater and that is this why many fulltime
RVs prefer diesel over gas.
•
Diesel powered motorhomes tend to have a smoother ride than gas motorhomes,
this is due to the availability of air ride suspensions and the heavier chassis in my
opinion.
•
According to the NADA Guides diesel motorhomes retain their value better compared
to gas motorhomes.
16
Cons to owning a diesel motorhome
•
Diesel motorhomes cost more than gas and this can be a drawback, especially if
you’re on a tight budget.
•
In addition to the higher cost factor, the maintenance cost for diesel engines is
higher than for gas engines.
•
Diesel engines are more difficult to work on and it is typically not a good idea to work
on them yourself. Yes, you can probably replace the oil filter or air filter but diesel in
general is more difficult.
•
It used to be that diesel fuel was cheaper compared to regular gas but times have
changed and now diesel is more expensive. But on the flip side, there are bio-fuels
being introduced that could be used in place of regular diesel that may help lower
overall fuel costs for diesel owners. It has not happened yet but could be a potential
in the future.
Pros to owing a gas motorhome:
•
A gas powered motorhome typically costs less compared to a diesel motorhome. A
gas engine is cheaper to maintain and a bit easier to work on.
•
A number of RV manufacturers are introducing innovative ways to increase the
horsepower and torque in gas engines which is starting to turn some heads.
•
Motorhomes that use gas are quieter and don’t smell as much and for some this is a
big factor.
Cons to owing a gas motorhome:
•
A gas engine has a lower life-span than a diesel engine. So, when considering a
motorhome look at how long you plan on owing it. Most gas motorhomes are not as
fuel efficient as diesel; on average they have a lower MPG rating.
•
A gas motor home does not retain its value as well as a diesel motorhome, Gas
engines produce more CO2 emissions (CO2 is considered to be the catalyst to global
warming.
•
Gas engines lose power with altitude (going over that mountain pass can be a
problem and don’t expect to pass anyone).
•
A Gas motorhome chassis is generally not as hefty and has less carrying capacity
than a diesel motorhome. Gas motorhomes have fewer floor plan choices than diesel
motorhomes.
•
Remember it really comes down to personal preference. Try to look at the big picture
when considering diesel verses gas. When shopping for a motorhome, test-drive
both gas and diesel engines to get a feel for how they handle. Spend some time
looking at the chassis and basement storage capacity.
17
Exterior wall construction - What to look for
Aluminum versus wood exterior construction: Both framing materials have their good
points and bad points. Wood has traditionally been the material of choice for lower-costing
RVs because it's cheap and easy to work with using inexpensive tools and non-skilled labor.
Yet, wood framing can also be found in upper-end units, because it's also a good choice for
RV construction. Wood framing can last as long as aluminum framing assuming it does not
get wet.
Generally, wood framing is less expensive, it’s flexible, it's not a
good conductor of temperature variations and it’s fairly easy to
repair. The biggest disadvantage is that wood can rot when it
repeatedly gets wet and that's a consideration for long-term RV
ownership in moist climates. Another consideration is bug
infestation, which could lead to problems as well. The picture to
the right shows standard aluminum siding, fiberglass insulation
and wood framing.
Aluminum framing has long been associated with more
expensive RVs, at least partly because it generally costs more to
work with aluminum and requires some specialized equipment
and skilled labor. Most aluminum walls are welded using a single
or double weld, (double welded being the strongest). Many
manufacturers use a vacuum press where each wall is bonded under extreme pressure
usually between 800 to 1,200 lbs. of pressure per square inch creating a solid one-piece
composite structure. Aluminum frames leave no room for water to collect and are not
susceptible to rot which destroys many wood-framed structures from the inside out.
Vacuum-bonded composite walls set the highest standard
for durability in the RV industry. The framing and vacuumbonding process requires higher degrees of precision and
attention to detail than traditional wood-framing
processes. Aluminum provides a rigid and durable base
around which to build the unit while also making it lighter
(compared to wood-frames). We are not opposed to using wood in RVs and we give a
number of manufacturers a high rating that use wood framing. Some manufacturers that
use wood frame construction tell us that wood frames won't crack at joints and handles the
stresses placed on their coaches better than aluminum framed walls. You need to do your
homework and come to your own conclusions regarding type of framing material. We have
my own opinions on the subject but here again it’s subjective at best.
If you decide on aluminum framing be sure to ask your
salesperson if all sides, roof and floor are aluminum.
Many companies will say their units have aluminum
construction but that could mean two sides. The
construction of the front and back walls for example
could be wood. Or, it could be all four walls are
aluminum but the roof and floor is wood. So, be sure
to ask the question and be specific. The picture above
shows a 6-sided aluminum construction.
18
Types of fiberglass siding
1. (Best) Filon siding with Gelcoat or Clearcoat- smoothest surface, highest gloss, "wet
look luster" and most expensive.
2. (Good) Filon siding with gelcoating-smooth, no glass fibered texture, higher gloss.
3. (Average) Filon siding-smooth but with glass fiber texture and lowest gloss.
When selecting any siding, look beyond what the salesman says and read the actual specs
from the manufacturer so you know what you’re actually getting and paying for! Generally
speaking, fiberglass is the material of choice in the above average and premium categories.
However, even some premium units have aluminum siding. It comes down to personal
choice and function.
Which is better - fiberglass or aluminum
siding for travel trailers?
Trying to select the right siding material can cause some frustration for many RV buyers. If
you take the logical approach to the subject, most will be able to select the right siding
based on the features or benefits of either material. Below is a list of pros and cons with
both materials:
•
Fiberglass is much more resilient to hail and other sorts of airborne damage. Most
fiberglass or filon sidewalls are bonded to a wood backing material, (up to a quarter
of an inch thick). This backing or support along with the protective layer of gelcoat
helps prevent denting with fiberglass.
•
Weight is one factor. Aluminum skins are generally lighter. In a 25 foot trailer the
difference can be several hundred pounds. If you’re concerned about gas mileage,
then aluminum will be the better choice.
•
Fiberglass has less condensation. Aluminum has the property of drawing moisture
from the air, like a soda can sitting on a counter top. In a trailer, the warm, moist
air is inside your trailer, so the condensation will tend to occur on the inside of your
aluminum sidewall. This could lead to worse problems in the long run.
•
Fiberglass offers better insulation. Aluminum is a conductor of temperature and
wood is a far superior insulator. The transfer of heat (in or out) will tend to be far
less in a wood/fiberglass exterior than an aluminum exterior. As a side note, some
aluminum trailers have had improvements made in the areas of condensation and
heat transfer. This is achieved by the use of a waterproof vapor barrier commonly
called foam board. This foam board resides between the aluminum and the innerwall, thus creating a barrier that prevents condensation or heat transfer.
•
Aluminum costs less than fiberglass.
•
When aluminum is damaged, it requires the removal and replacement of large
segments of aluminum siding which can be expensive. With fiberglass, the repair can
be localized to the site of the damage, easily patched and filled, much like the repair
19
you might make to a fiberglass boat. Naturally, the repair we are describing here is a
minor repair such as a small puncture or scrape. Major body work is a pain on either
type of material.
•
Some feel that fiberglass has a tendency to fade or crack in hot climates when
exposed to the sun year round. Others believe with proper care and maintenance
this is not a problem.
•
Many feel smooth, fiberglass sidewalls are easier to clean and care for than the wavy
aluminum sidewalls.
•
The perception is that fiberglass is more stylish compared to aluminum. If style is
important, then choose fiberglass.
Interior finish
At the beginning of this chapter we mentioned that most first time buyers typically focus on
floorplans when selecting an RV. In this section we will try to point out what to look for
when considering RV interiors. When people enter an RV they are typically drawn to the
wood cabinetry. Quality cabinets are beautiful to look at and even better to use and enjoy.
Most buyers want quality cabinets in their RV but as the old saying goes, “You get what you
pay for”. This is true in most cases but there are some economy products out there that do
offer average to above average cabinets.
Cabinets: All-wood cabinets and frames are rare in most RVs because of the weight issue
and cost factor. The best type of cabinet will be constructed of solid hardwood doors and
fronts that are predrilled, screwed and glued and will have a quality stain and furniture
grade finish that provides long lasting beauty and durability. The next step down is
laminated fronts which can peel or tear over time. The cheapest cabinets will use a paper
wrap. Try wiping that clean with Windex and it will melt.
Most cabinet frames are made from particle board or plywood with a laminated, wrapped
imprint which looks like wood. This type of cabinet frame, properly installed by a skilled
craftsman, is almost indistinguishable from solid wood. Here is a tip; open a cabinet door
and feel behind the stiles for the edges of the paper or laminate wrap. Feel the diagonal
holes. If ragged, the tools used to bore the holes were not sharp. Look to see if the cabinets
were screwed or stapled together. Quality cabinets will be screwed and glued together. Look
for thin, plastic bead used to cover flawed joints in cabinets and joints. Look for rub stick
applied to staple and nail holes and rubbed into gaps to cover poor workmanship and fool
the eye. Consider the hinges and drawer glides. Doors and drawers that open and close
smoothly and without banging, probably have better quality fittings. Look at the number of
hinges on the doors of taller cabinets. Better manufacturers use three hinges on tall doors.
Also, compare warranties. How long the cabinet manufacturer guarantees finish, hardware
and hinges speaks of the product's quality.
Plumbing fixtures: When looking at plumbing fixtures, take some time to look under the
kitchen sink to see if there is a shutoff value. Quality RVs will usually place shutoff valves at
each fixture. Another big clue when looking at plumbing fixtures is to see if the fittings are
made of brass or plastic, brass is far superior to plastic in my opinion and will hold up much
better than plastic. Is the shower a full size unit? Is it a one-piece shower? We hear a lot of
complaints when it comes to showers in RVs. If the shower is too small you’re not going to
be a happy camper. So, take time and step into the shower area to see if the size is
20
adequate for you and your family. Is the toilet raised? Is it made of porcelain or plastic? A
close examination of the plumbing fixtures will give you some idea of the overall quality of
the product. A good rule of thumb, if the plumbing fixtures being offered are cheap you can
be sure the other materials being used are of average to poor quality.
Carpet and Upholstery: A standard carpet will typically have around 25 ounces of yarn per
square yard. A quality carpet will have 35 to 50 ounces of yarn per square yard. Ask your
salesperson about this to determine the quality of carpets being used. Some companies
treat the carpets and upholstery with a fabric protector, which is always a good idea. Most
RV manufacturers offer options or upgrades when it comes to carpets and upholstery. We
recommend this upgrade to those of you that will be spending six months or longer in your
RV per year. Check the warranty to see how long the carpets and upholstery are covered.
This will give you some idea of the overall quality of the products being used.
Insulation materials - Which is best?
R-value is the measurement of how effectively a material resists the transfer of heat via
conduction. The higher the R-value, the less heat transfer can take place. Some materials
are more resistant to heat transfer than others, giving them higher R-values.
RV insulation comes in two primary types: glass fibers, and synthetic foams. Most of us are
familiar with the R-value placed on these types of insulations. Thickness does contribute to
reduction of heat loss through the material. Glass fiber, also referred to as fiberglass tends
to have better R-values than synthetic foams due to its heat penetration ratio relative to
thickness. However, the R-value to weight ratio favors synthetic foams. Another type of
insulation is fluffy granular or blown in glass fibers which can settle over time and is not
recommended.
Most synthetic foam panels are precision cut and fitted into the aluminum or wood
framework. This adds additional structural security. Another important advantage of the
synthetic foam panels is that they will not shift or settle. This keeps the insulation in place
during the life of the unit. Ask your salesperson, which type of insulation material they use
and how it is installed. We are not opposed to using glass fiber insulation and in many
entry-level units it’s common place. But if you’re considering an above average or premium
RV, then we recommend high-density synthetic foam versus glass fiber insulation.
What to look for in quality windows
The thickness of the glass panes and the space between the panes are all contributing
factors to well insulated windows. Dual pane windows will reduce outside noise and provide
better insulation in cold or hot climates. Some dual pane windows may have gas between
the panes, which increases the R-value but from my experience gas tends to escape in a
few years, which may lead to condensation problems developing between the two panes.
One of the best ways to enhance the product's R-value is to increase the amount of air
inside the panes. For instance, the glass of a single-pane window has virtually no R-value,
but the thin film of air that normally exists on either side of the glass gives the window an
R-value of about 0.83. Adding a second pane of glass and sealing the space between the
panes will increase the thickness of one of the insulating gas layers, thereby more than
doubling the window's R-value. So, be sure to check the thickness of the glass, the airspace between panes and ease of operation, this could help you decide which model is
better constructed and equipped for four season RVing.
21
What to look for in a quality roof
When shopping for an RV, one must start with the chassis or frame as discussed in the
beginning of this chapter, but, don’t stop there. One must understand the different types
and materials being used in today’s roofs, along with various construction methods and
techniques. The sky won’t be the limit to your newfound travels if you experience problems
associated with leaks, as they’ll become the greatest of threats to the sanctity of your
recreational vehicle. Of the four types of roofing available, aluminum, vinyl, rubber, and
fiberglass- whichever one you choose (or which chooses you), always understand how vital
proper repair and maintenance is, not only to the life of your investment, but to the quality
of your travels. Annoying leaks can be impossible to track causing hundreds of repairs and
hours of frustration.
Once upon a time, aluminum roofs were king. For some people they still are. Aluminum is
tough and lightweight, and, for the most part, low maintenance. You’ll spend little time
washing and removing stains, which isn’t true of rubber. You’d have to do something
horrendous to tear an aluminum roof, and denting is possible but fixable. A quality-made
aluminum roof can last and last. Just install it and forget it. On the other hand, of course,
some believe it’s more prone to damage from the elements of Mother Nature--wind, sand,
hail, and various road debris. Others dislike the sound of every raindrop tinkering overhead.
The one-piece “thin” aluminum roof sounds good and is used by salespeople as a selling
feature to get you to buy. Many in the industry that we talked to are not impressed
with aluminum roofs because of the tendency for expansion and contraction from
heat and cold which in turn causes leaks around the vents and seams.
Aluminum roofs were king until EPDM rubber (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) came
along in 1983. EPDM has become the norm since 1990. Manufacturers say rubber roofing
offers low maintenance, ease of repair, clean appearance, noise insulation, and better
insulation from temperature. It’s not only popular with new construction, but with roof
replacement also. It’s capable of withstanding temperature variations from -62 degrees F to
300 degrees F without cracking or deteriorating. EPDM is not only easy to work with, but is
compatible with other materials used in most roofing applications. It’s essentially one of the
best water resistant products known. Even in an uncured state it’s not water-soluble. The
same rubber has been used with superior results in hoses, tires, and other molded products.
At the center of the battle between aluminum and rubber is the fact that rubber can tear. A
low hanging tree branch, for example, can rip or mar a rubber roof. Stains from a variety of
sources can be tough to remove, and oxidation caused by the sun is a problem. Chalking,
flaking, and streaking can also be a factor over time. A number of RV dealers we spoke with
told us rubber roofs don’t last a long as the rubber manufacturers claim and RVs with
rubber roofs take a hit on resale value when it’s time to sell or trade in. Most agree that
with the proper care, rubber roofs can last upwards of 10 to 15 years.
Another type of roofing material being used today is vinyl or T.P.O. What is T.P.O. anyway?
It stands for, “Thermalplastic Polyolefin.” T.P.O. or vinyl roofs are relatively new in the
industry but those we spoke with seem to think vinyl offers more advantages compared to
rubber. Vinyl manufacturers claim that vinyl roofs are lighter compared to rubber roofs and
they do not chalk like some rubber roofs. Most vinyl roofs are installed as one solid piece
and should not streak or stain the sidewalls of your RV according to vinyl manufacturers. It
seems vinyl is gaining in popularity with RV buyers and dealers across the country.
The rarest of the bunch is fiberglass, which definitely has some benefits over the others
22
already mentioned. Fiberglass roofs are heavier and more expensive, but make up for it by
managing to hold their good looks over time. Where rubber is susceptible to dingy
streaking, an occasional wash and wax is usually all it takes to keep a fiberglass roof looking
great. There are a couple of options with fiberglass roofs. One is Filon, which is used in the
exterior sidewalls of newer RVs. The second is a molded fiberglass “shell” of sorts.
It’s tough but quite heavy and is usually offered in the upper-end Class A and C
motorhomes. If we had to rate each type of roofing material and the longevity of product, it
would go something like this:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Fiberglass molded shell
Fiberglass Filon
Vinyl/T.P.O
EPDM rubber roof
Aluminum
Excellent
Great
Good
Average
Poor to Average
When evaluating each manufacturer concerning, “Quality Construction” the information
above and in this chapter is useful in the overall rating and placement of a particular RV
manufacturer. With each RV manufacturer we tried to look at the big picture and determine
who they are appealing to and common building methods used throughout their products.
For more research check out these popular websites regarding RV construction:
•
•
RV Buyers Guide: http://www.rvbg.com/Articles/?id=2007793
Money Saving RV Repair: http://www.money-saving-rv-repair.com/types-of-rvroofs.html
23
Chapter 3
Customer Satisfaction
While interviewing many RV manufacturers my research team and I asked the question,
“How would you rate your company regarding customer satisfaction?” With 10
being the best, inevitably each manufacturer said 8 or 9 and some even said 10. Some were
honest and said it is impossible to be perfect, which I agree with. We live in an imperfect
world and to expect perfection regarding customer service is unrealistic. But, in every
industry there are those that strive to make the best product possible with customer
satisfaction being a high priority.
Many RV manufacturers conduct their own surveys regarding customer satisfaction. This
information is closely guarded and usually will not be shared with others outside the
company. But, after talking with each manufacturer and asking direct questions pertaining
to customer satisfaction we were able to come away with some valuable information.
The problem is; trying to determine which manufacturer has a high degree of satisfied
customers is difficult. As a salesperson for almost 20 years, I will tell you that when a
customer was happy and satisfied with their purchase I rarely heard from them again. Some
sent thank you notes but for the most part, people that are satisfied typically don’t take the
time to fill out surveys. Now, on the other hand a customer not satisfied with their purchase
will usually go out of their way to make some noise and most will take the time to fill out
surveys, mainly negative. I say this to make the point that customer satisfaction is
objective depending on who you talk to and it’s tough to nail down. My research
team and I have included customer satisfaction as a rating parameter in this comparison
guide. We have tried to be as fair as possible rating certain manufacturers and we hope this
information will be useful to you when trying to select a particular RV company.
Interviews with existing RV owners
My research team and I have also conducted many interviews with existing RV owners from
around the country. We have spoken to many owners at RV shows we have attended. RV
owners are typically very easy to talk to and want to share their experiences with anyone
that will listen. Talking with RV owners has played an important role in our research.
RV discussion forums
Another good source of information regarding customer satisfaction is the many, “RV
Discussion Forums”, online. A person can ask questions and read what others have to say
about a particular product or concerns one may have about a company or manufacturer. We
have spent the past couple of years following these forums and it has proved to be time well
spent. Reading what RV owners have to say about their particular product is insightful and
accurate for the most part.
24
Additional RV Online Resources
There are a number of excellent RV related websites from; blogs to chat rooms, survey polls
to online review sites. The following are just a sample of websites that offer insightful
reviews, ratings and industry news:
Roaming Times: http://www.roamingtimes.com/consumer/
RV-Coach Online: http://www.rv-coach.com/
RV USA: http://www.rvusa.com/forum/mbbs22/category-view.asp
Trailer Life: http://www.trailerlife.com/
RV Network: http://www.escapees.com/index2.asp
RV Forum Community: http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php
RV.Net: http://www.rv.net/forum/
RV Motoring.com: http://rv.theautochannel.com/index.php
Motorhome Magazine: http://www.motorhomemagazine.com/
Travlizmo.com: http://www.travelizmo.com/
rv.Search.com: http://www.rvsearch.com/
RV Business: http://www.rvbusiness.com/
Changing Gears: http://changingears.com/
25
Chapter 4
Dealer Ratings
Would you like to know what RV dealers on a national scale think of certain manufacturers?
Anybody serious about purchasing an RV would probably answer, YES! Well you’re in luck,
the RVDA (Recreational Vehicle Dealer Association), asked dealers from around the country
to express their level of satisfaction with their manufacturers. The program is called, Dealer
Satisfaction Index, (DSI).
The DSI is a tool to help improve dealer/manufacturer relations by identifying how dealers
perceive the strength and weaknesses of their manufacturers. RVDA is quick to point out
this is not a scientific study. Its purpose is to measure dealer attitudes toward their
manufacturers, products, policies and procedures. The DSI survey asks the dealers to list
the manufacturers of the products they sell and rate them in four main categories; sales,
product, management and service-warranty support. This survey by RVDA is very helpful
and plays an important role in determining our top picks. When looking at our rating
charts you will see a category called, DR, (Dealer Ratings). This category counts for 1/4 of
the total score and should be part of your decision process when selecting a particular
manufacturer.
Interviews with RV dealers (new and used)
While the RVDA’s results were helpful to our research we decided to conduct our own
research by contacting dealers across the United States. One of the questions we asked RV
dealers was, “Which manufacturers perform best regarding warranty issues?” Our
results were somewhat similar to RVDA’s:
1. Tiffin
2. Airstream
3. American Coach
4. Foretravel
5. Newmar
6. Lazy Daze
7. Winnebago
8. Born Free
9. Monaco
10. Holiday Rambler
11. New Horizon
12. Triple E
13. KZ RV
14. Casita
15. Coach House
16. Peterson Ind
17. Nu-WA
18. Bigfoot
19. DRV – Double Tree
20. EverGreen
21. Jayco
22. Carriage
23. Komfort
24. Gulf Stream
25. Keystone
26. Dynamax
27. Heartland
28. Fleetwood
29. Forest River
30. Skyline
31. Coachman
32. Four Winds
Please note: Not all RV manufacturers are represented in above list. Ultimately,
dealers need to take responsibility for servicing your RV and treating you right. This is why
selecting a quality RV dealer with a good reputation and professional service department is
so important. This being said, a dealer who is selling products from manufacturers that have
a high customer satisfaction rating will have a positive effect on customers, resulting in
fewer complaints.
26
Chapter 5
Resale Values
When rating each RV manufacturer and their most popular models, we use the N.A.D.A.
guide and other resources to determine the overall resale value of a particular unit over a
period of five years. A vehicle that has only depreciated 35% to 40% from its original MSRP
in five years is considered to have EXCELLENT resale value. A vehicle that has depreciated
41% to 45% from its original MSRP in five years is considered to have GOOD resale value.
And finally, a vehicle that has depreciated 46% to 55% from its original MSRP in five years
is considered to have POOR resale value. Using these calculations allows us to determine
how well a vehicle performs regarding resale value.
Many considering purchasing a new RV are concerned with the resale value. Buying a new
RV has many advantages like better financing options with longer terms and lower interest
rates. Another advantage is the ability to pick and choose your colors and options. Based on
our research and statistics from the N.A.D.A. guides and other resources, we have produced
a depreciation chart (below) that should be helpful when trying to determine the
depreciation value of an RV. Please keep in mind this is a general overview and percentages
may vary depending on location, equipment, options and overall condition of an RV unit.
Starting with MSRP the normal depreciation is usually 20% to 35% percent in the first year
of ownership. Now, to be fair, most RV buyers are not going to pay full retail for their RV,
therefore 35% depreciation, for example, is not likely. Most RV buyers will receive a
discount of 10% to 30% off MSRP. In the example below we are showing the MSRP to be
$75,000, for a deluxe fifth wheel. The MSRP does not include sales tax, options or dealer
fees. Assuming you successfully negotiate a 20% discount, the sale price would be
$60,000; a $15,000 savings. The diagram below shows what your average depreciation
would be in 10 years.
MSRP:
$75,000
Avg. Depreciation
Model Year
Fair Retail Value
in Average
Condition
2012
$60,000.00
20.00%
2011
$56,250.00
25.00%
2010
$50,250.00
33.00%
2009
$46,500.00
38.00%
2008
$41,250.00
45.00%
2007
$37,500.00
50.00%
2006
$31,500.00
58.00%
2005
$27,750.00
63.00%
2004
$26,250.00
65.00%
2003
$24,000.00
68.00%
2002
$22,500.00
70.00%
27
from Retail
The information contained in the diagram on the previous page is based on our research
and is in no way 100 percent accurate all the time. Resale values can change and are based
on a number of factors, supply and demand being the most important factors in the preowned RV market. If a particular pre-owned model is in high demand the chances of
negotiating a huge discount is highly unlikely. This being said you should be able to use this
chart as a good reference point.
Most all of us have heard of the Kelly Blue Book and N.A.D.A. appraisal guides. Although the
Kelly Blue Book is a widely recognized appraisal guide, we recommend the N.A.D.A. to
evaluate the resale value of any type of RV. The N.A.D.A. only provides low and high retail
values on their website, but it is a good indicator. Most lenders base their RV loan value on
N.A.D.A to evaluate their equity position. When shopping for a used RV my research team
and I have found eBay motors to be an excellent source of information. Another good
source is Craigslist and online RV classified sites. The internet has definitely made it easier
to determine a retail price for a pre-owned RV as well as shop for one. For example, you can
go to any search engine like Google or Yahoo and type in, “Used RV” and a multitude of
websites will be displayed for your viewing pleasure.
RV Rating Reports (Model Specific)
This is a valuable service in which we provide an 8page report (sent to your email address as a Word
Document) for a specific RV model. If you have
narrowed your search down to a particular model or
two, but are still having a difficult time in choosing one
over the other, our RV Ratings Report will help you
decide.
Each report is model specific and focuses on the main
areas of concern, which are: Overall Quality,
Performance, Payload Capabilities, Reliability,
Customer Satisfaction & Resale Value? We have an
extensive data base which allows us to provide specific
reports on RV models starting from 2011 and going
back to 1995. To learn more please visit: http://www.jrconsumer.com/Individual-RVRatingsReport.asp
28
Chapter 6
Rating Charts & Parameters
Many considering an RV are overwhelmed with all the choices and models being offered
today. Our guide will help you learn who’s who in the industry and how RV manufacturers
stack up to one another. By understanding how RV manufacturers compare to each other is
the first step in deciding which models to consider. This guide focuses on:
•
•
•
•
Class A Motorhomes
Class C Motorhomes
Fifth Wheels, (Including Toy Haulers)
Travel Trailers
This guide does not rate folding campers, tent trailers, truck campers or class B,
(conversion vans). It’s also important to note that we do not rate every RV manufacturer
or specific models. As we update this guide we will try to include as many RV companies as
possible.
RV Manufacturer Rating Chart
(R) = Ranking: The first category at top of the chart is, (R). Each manufacturer will be
placed according to total points received within each classification.
Class: The second category called, “Class” is broken up into three separate parts:
•
•
•
(P)
(AA)
(E)
Premium
Above Average
Economy
29
Most buyers have a budget or set amount they are willing to pay for a particular product
based on perceived value. An RV buyer will typically fall into one of the three categories
listed above. Whether you’re an upper-end buyer, above average buyer or an entry-level
buyer this guide will help you focus on companies that meet your expectations and comfort
level.
In the example above Company A is #1 in the premium category. Company B and C are
also in the #1 position based on their classification. It would not be fair to compare
Company A to Company C because both are appealing to different types of buyers with
construction differences and prices.
(P) = Premium: Denotes that the product is well-appointed, offers excellent performance
and utilizes quality materials. This type of product is priced accordingly and is considered
top of the line or the best of the best. Manufacturers that fall into the premium category are
appealing to upper-end buyers with quality and style being the most important.
(AA) = Above Average: Denotes that the product offers many popular features, performs
well and uses quality materials at a price below the top of the line products. Companies that
fall into the above average category are appealing to mid-range buyers, price and quality
both playing an important role.
(E) = Economy: Denotes that the product offers satisfactory performance with basic
features only, at an affordable price for those on a tight budget. Companies that fall into the
economy category are appealing to entry-level buyers, price being the biggest factor.
Type: The third category called, Type, refers to a specific type of RV being featured:
•
•
•
•
•
(AD)
(AG)
(C)
(FW)
(TT)
Class A diesel motor home
Class A gas motor home
Class C motor home
Fifth wheel trailer
Travel trailer
Manufacturer: The forth category is the name of the particular RV manufacturer being
rated.
Categories 6, 7, 8 and 9 comprise the ratings for each manufacturer. While there are many
different approaches or criteria we could use to rate each company, we decided to focus on:
•
•
•
•
(C)
(CS)
(DR)
(RV)
Construction
Customer satisfaction
Dealer rating
Resale value
Within each category a manufacturer receives a rating based on our research and data
collected. Each category C, CS, DR and RV has a possible 25 points, a 100 being a perfect
score.
(C) = Construction: Most, if not all, RV buyers are concerned with the construction of the
unit being considered. Category 6, “Construction” is an important factor in the overall rating
of each manufacturer. To learn more about how we arrived at our conclusions regarding
construction, please see Chapter 2, (Construction Methods & Techniques).
30
(CS) = Customer Satisfaction: We spoke with many RV owners and listened to what they
had to say. Their experience and insight was especially helpful regarding the area of
customer satisfaction. We have spent hundreds of hours speaking with different individuals
both in and outside of the industry. We have also read a number of studies that have been
conducted by universities and other non-profit organizations, which have been helpful.
Chapter 3 goes into more detail about how we arrived at our conclusions regarding
customer satisfaction.
(DR) = Dealer Rating: In category 8 many different RV dealers and salespeople were
interviewed to arrive at our conclusions. Both perspectives are important and help paint a
broad overview of the industry and how RV dealers view the different manufacturers. We
did not stop there; we spoke with other important groups and organizations like RVDA,
(Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association) or RVIA, (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association)
who work in conjunction with the industry. Their thoughts and comments also helped bring
into focus the way we were going to approach this topic. Please refer to Chapter 4, (Dealer
Ratings), which goes into more detail about this subject.
(RV) = Resale Value: Many we spoke with were concerned about resale value which is
category 9. Chapter 5 takes a more in-depth look at this topic and how we arrived at our
conclusions.
Total Points: All four categories, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are totaled to determine overall ranking and
position within each classification.
Rating: My staff and I decided to use a point system for rating individual RV
manufacturers.
9.5 - 10 points
Superior Product (Best of the Best)
8.5 - 9 points
Excellent
7.5 - 8 points
Above Average (Good Value)
6.5 - 7 points
Good
5.5 - 6 point
Fair
5.5 or below
Poor
31
Chapter 7
Class A Motor Homes
(Diesel & Gas)
Price Range: $85,000 to 1.5 million
Length Range: 23 to 45 feet
Class A motorhomes are at the top
of the list when it comes to luxury,
style, and performance in the RV
world. Units range in weight from
15,000 to 38,000 pounds and
stretch from 26 to 45 feet in length.
Describing them as "motorhomes or
motorcoaches" is no exaggeration.
Class A units come with almost
every comfort one would expect in a
home. At the very top of this list is
an almost separate category of luxury, Class A diesel motorcoaches or diesel pushers,
costing $155,000 to 1.5 million or more.
Both gas and diesel motorhomes are usually constructed on semi-custom or custom chassis.
Many Class A motorhomes feature automatic slide outs or full slide-outs. The basements are
becoming more efficient with increased storage space and better sliding mechanisms. The
kitchens are becoming more elaborate with full size appliances and better use of space. The
plumbing fixtures are residential size in most units including full size showers and
washer/dryer units. Most Class A motorhomes can sleep up to six people, depending on the
model, and floorplan. The driver's seat in a Class A usually sits high and slightly outboard of
the conventional driver position in a car, with the windshield stretching the full width of the
motorhome for better visibility.
In chapter 11 we feature all the RV manufacturers we have researched. Most have been
interviewed by us and each company is listed in alphabetical order. Please remember that
we have not researched every manufacturer and it is our hope to include more
manufacturers in future publications. To learn more about how we arrived at our conclusions
regarding construction and rating parameters, please review chapters 2 and 6 of this book.
It is our hope the information contained in this chapter will help you make informed
decisions regarding Class A motorhomes with fair and balanced information that has been
complied over a number of years.
September Shipments for Motorhomes Down. (October 26th, 2011). Wholesale
shipments of all RVs were reported at 17,000 units in the September survey of
manufacturers, representing a 1.8% increase compared with September 2010 and a 19%
decline from August 2011. On a seasonally adjusted basis, shipments in September were at
an annualized rate of 224,000 units. A total of 200,000 units have been shipped to RV
retailers so far this year, an improvement of nearly 3.1% compared to this same period last
year. Both towable RVs and motorhomes reported small improvements compared to the
first nine months of 2010.
32
RV Manufacturer Rating Charts
Our staff rates each RV manufacturer, every year, based on: Construction (C), Customer
satisfaction (CS), Dealer rating, (DR) and Resale value (RV). We arrive at our conclusions
by speaking with previous owners, attending various RV shows and conducting detailed
research. Within each category, a manufacturer receives a rating based the research and
data collected. Each category has a possible 25 points, a 100 being a perfect score.
Chapter 6 explains rating parameters in more detail. The charts below are separated
first by RV type; then by year. You will notice that some manufacturers’ ratings change from
year to year; this is typically due to changes within the industry.
Class A Diesel Motor Homes 2012
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
AD
Tiffin
2
P
AD
3
P
4
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Popular with consumers, high quality
25
25
25
24
99
10
Foretravel
High quality & loyal customers
25
25
24
24
98
10
AD
Newmar
High ratings across the board
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
P
AD
American Coach
High customer ratings
25
24
22
22
93
9
5
P
AD
Entegra (Jayco)
Family owned, strong dealer support
24
23
22
21
90
8.5
6
P
AD
Monaco (Navistar)
Mixed reviews but making a comeback
23
21
21
21
86
8
7
P
AD
Country Coach
Still recovering from bankruptcy
24
17
18
18
77
7
1
AA
AD
Winnebago- Itasca
Good quality & loyal customers
23
23
24
22
92
9
2
AA
AD
Holiday Rambler
Quality improving, problems with CS
23
21
23
22
89
8.5
3
AA
AD
Fleetwood
Improved quality & popular with dealers
21
21
24
20
86
8
4
AA
AD
Forest River
CS mixed, above average ratings
21
20
21
20
82
7.5
5
AA
AD
Rexhall
High price, mixed ratings
22
20
19
19
80
7.5
6
AA
AD
Gulf Stream
Good selection & fair pricing
22
19
18
19
78
7
1
E
AD
Coachmen
Family owned & strong dealer support
18
18
22
17
75
6.5
2
E
AD
Four Winds (Thor)
Avg. quality, improved dealer ratings
18
17
20
17
72
6
3
E
AD
Damon (Thor)
Customer loyalty is mixed
16
18
19
16
69
5.5
4
E
AD
Mandalay (Thor)
Looks like Thor will be dropping line
16
17
15
15
63
4.5
33
Class A Diesel Motor Homes 2011
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
AD
Foretravel
2
P
AD
3
P
4
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
High quality & good CS
25
24
24
25
98
10
Tiffin
High quality & CS. Great value
24
25
24
24
97
10
AD
Newmar
Good quality, avg. dealer ratings
22
23
21
23
89
8.5
P
AD
American Coach
Recovering from BR, high quality
23
22
20
21
86
8
5
P
AD
Monaco
Recovering from BR, good value
21
22
22
20
85
8
6
P
AD
Rexhall
Strong customer following
20
22
19
19
80
7.5
1
AA
AD
Holiday Rambler
High quality, recovering from BR
24
22
23
22
91
9
2
AA
AD
Winnebago- Itasca
High quality & CS, mixed reviews
22
23
23
21
89
8.5
3
AA
AD
Fleetwood
High dealer ratings despite BR
21
21
22
20
84
8
4
AA
AD
Forest River
Good quality & selection
21
20
21
19
81
7.5
5
AA
AD
Gulf Stream
Mixed dealer reviews, avg. quality
20
19
20
18
77
7
1
E
AD
Sportscoach
Good quality & good CS
22
22
23
22
89
8.5
2
E
AD
Damon
Good value, mixed dealer reviews
21
20
21
20
82
7.5
3
E
AD
Mandalay
Good value, avg. dealer ratings
18
19
20
19
76
7
34
Class A Diesel Motor Homes 2010
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
AD
Tiffin
2
P
AD
3
P
4
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Best Quality for price
25
24
25
24
98
10
Newmar
Good
24
23
25
23
95
9.5
AD
Foretravel
High quality - small company
25
23
22
24
94
9.5
P
AD
Triple E
Canadian Company
23
23
24
23
93
9
5
P
AD
Country Coach
Recovering from Bankruptcy
24
22
21
22
89
8.5
6
P
AD
American Coach
Recovering from Bankruptcy
23
21
20
20
84
8
7
P
AD
Monaco
Recovering from Bankruptcy
22
20
20
20
82
7.5
8
P
AD
Beaver
Out of Business
22
17
17
18
74
6.5
1
AA
AD
Winnebago-Itasca
High dealer rating & quality
24
24
25
24
97
10
2
AA
AD
Gulf Stream
Good
23
23
23
22
91
9
3
AA
AD
Mandalay
Good
21
22
21
22
86
8
4
AA
AD
Forest River
Large producer
21
22
22
19
84
8
5
AA
AD
Holiday Rambler
Recovering from Bankruptcy
20
20
19
20
79
7.5
6
AA
AD
Fleetwood
Recovering from Bankruptcy
18
20
19
19
76
7
7
AA
AD
Rexhall
Recovering from Bankruptcy
18
19
19
18
74
6.5
1
E
AD
Damon
Best value for price
23
23
23
22
91
9
2
E
AD
Jayco
Getting in the Diesel Market
22
22
22
21
87
8.5
3
E
AD
Sportscoach
Good
21
22
22
20
85
8
4
E
AD
Safari
Recovering from Bankruptcy
19
19
18
17
73
6.5
35
Class A Diesel Motor Homes 2009
R
Class
Type
1
P
AD
2
P
3
Manufacturer
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Country Coach
25
24
25
24
98
10
AD
Tiffin
24
24
25
24
97
10
P
AD
Foretravel
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
4
P
AD
Beaver (Monaco)
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
5
P
AD
Newmar
24
23
25
23
95
9
6
P
AD
American Coach
24
23
25
23
95
9
7
P
AD
Monaco
23
21
22
21
87
8.5
1
AA
AD
Holiday Rambler
23
25
25
23
96
9.5
2
AA
AD
Safari (Monaco)
23
24
24
23
94
9
3
AA
AD
Winnebago-Itasca
23
23
22
23
91
9
4
AA
AD
Triple E
22
23
22
22
89
8.5
5
AA
AD
Fleetwood
21
21
20
20
82
8
6
7
AA
AA
AD
AD
Rexhall
Mandalay (Thor)
22
21
19
19
19
19
19
18
79
77
7.5
7
1
E
AD
Georgie Boy
21
20
20
20
81
7.5
2
E
AD
Damon (Thor)
20
19
19
19
77
7
3
E
AD
Gulf Stream
19
19
18
18
74
6.5
4
E
AD
Sportscoach
18
18
18
17
71
6
5
E
AD
Forest River
16
16
16
15
63
5
36
Class A Gas Motor Homes 2012
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
AG
Tiffin
2
P
AG
3
P
4
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
High quality & good value
25
24
24
25
98
10
Newmar
Good quality & strong dealer support
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
AG
Monaco
Making a comeback after bankruptcy
23
24
23
23
93
9
P
AG
Winnebago-Itasca
Strong sales & good ratings
21
23
24
22
90
8.5
1
AA
AG
Holiday Rambler
Quality improving & CS ratings mixed
23
22
24
23
92
9
2
AA
AG
Fleetwood
Huge selection & popular with dealers
22
22
24
22
90
8.5
3
AA
AG
Forest River
Popular with dealers & CS mixed
20
19
21
18
78
7
4
AA
AG
Gulf Stream
Average CS & dealer ratings
20
19
18
18
75
6.5
1
E
AG
Damon
Good value & improved ratings
20
21
21
19
81
7.5
2
E
AG
Coachmen RV
Older company & strong dealer support
19
20
22
18
79
7
3
E
AG
Four Winds (Thor)
Improved dealer ratings, average quality
18
19
22
18
77
7
Class A Gas Motor Homes 2011
R
Class
Type
1
P
AG
2
P
3
Manufacturer
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Tiffin
High quality - Good value
25
24
24
25
98
10
AG
Newmar
High quality, average dealer ratings
24
24
23
23
93
9
P
AG
Monaco
Good quality, average CS
22
22
22
23
89
8.5
4
P
AG
Holliday Rambler
Good quality, recovering from BR
22
21
21
21
85
8
1
AA
AG
Winnebago-Itasca
Good quality & high CS
23
23
23
22
91
9
2
AA
AG
Fleetwood
Good quality, high dealer reviews
22
22
21
23
88
8.5
3
AA
AG
Forest River
Good quality & selection
21
22
20
21
84
8
4
AA
AG
Four Winds
Average dealer ratings, good quality
20
20
20
20
80
7.5
5
AA
AG
Gulf Stream
Mixed dealer reviews, average quality
18
19
19
20
76
7
1
E
AG
Damon
Good value for price
20
22
22
20
84
8
2
E
AG
Coachmen RV
Mixed reviews, average quality
19
20
20
18
77
7
37
Class A Gas Motor Homes 2010
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
AG
Newmar
2
P
AG
3
P
4
P
5
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Top quality
25
24
25
24
98
10
Tiffin
Good
25
24
24
24
97
10
AG
Winnebago-Itasca
Quality & affordable
24
24
25
23
96
9.5
AG
Monaco
Recovering from Bankruptcy
23
20
22
22
87
8.5
P
AG
Holliday Rambler
Recovering from Bankruptcy
21
18
18
18
75
7
1
AA
AG
Triple E
High quality
24
25
25
24
98
10
2
3
AA
AA
AG
AG
Gulf Stream
Four Winds
Good
Good
23
22
23
23
23
22
23
22
92
89
9
8.5
4
AA
AG
Forest River
Large producer
22
22
22
20
86
8
5
AA
AG
Safari (Monaco)
Out of business
19
19
18
18
74
6.5
6
AA
AG
Fleetwood
Recovering from Bankruptcy
18
18
19
18
73
6.5
1
E
AG
Damon (Thor)
Quality & affordable
23
23
22
20
88
8.5
2
E
AG
Georgie Boy
Good
20
19
20
19
78
7
3
E
AG
Coachmen RV
Good
20
19
20
18
77
7
Class A Gas Motor Homes 2009
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
1
P
AG
Newmar
25
24
25
24
98
10
2
P
AG
Tiffin
24
24
24
23
95
9.5
3
P
AG
Monaco
23
23
24
23
93
9
4
P
AG
Itasca
22
22
22
22
88
8.5
5
P
AG
Holliday Rambler
22
22
22
21
87
8
1
AA
AG
Triple E
24
25
25
24
98
10
2
AA
AG
Winnebago
25
24
25
24
98
10
3
AA
AG
Safari (Monaco)
23
23
23
23
92
9
4
AA
AG
R-Vision (Monaco)
23
22
21
22
88
8.5
5
AA
AG
Fleetwood
22
20
20
20
82
8
1
E
AG
Coachmen RV
21
21
23
21
86
8.5
2
E
AG
Damon (Thor)
21
19
20
20
80
8
3
E
AG
Georgie Boy
19
19
18
19
75
7
4
E
AG
Forest River
18
17
16
16
67
5.5
5
E
AG
Gulf Stream
17
16
16
15
64
5
6
E
AG
Four Winds (Thor)
15
15
16
13
59
4.5
38
Chapter 8
Class C Motor Homes
(Diesel & Gas)
Price Range: $65,000 to $450,000
Length Range: 20 to 40 feet
Class C motorhomes are sometimes
referred to as mini-motorhomes, which
are scaled-down versions of Class A
motorhomes. They range in weight
from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds and
stretch from 20 feet to 40 feet in
length. Class C motorhomes are
generally constructed on a van chassis.
The driver compartment is similar to a
van, with a large box in the back. Class
C motorhomes are usually equipped
will a sleeping bunk above the cab, in
addition to a bedroom in the rear of
the unit. Like Class A motorhomes, many Class C units feature a slideout to quickly extend
the motorhomes living space. Class C units usually provide cooking facilities, a refrigerator,
heating, air conditioning, a self-contained toilet, water tanks (fresh water, grey water, black
water), faucets, sinks, a LP (propane) gas supply, a separate 100-125 volt electrical system,
and a full array of appliances and entertainment features.
Class C motorhomes can sleep up to ten people depending on the model and in our opinion
is best suited for large families as compared to a class A. Class C motorhomes are built on
cutaway chassis with a manufactured cab that has driver and passenger doors. Those that
have driven a Class C motorhome comment on how it feels more like a car compared to
driving a Class A motorhome.
Many Class C manufacturers have updated their exteriors to be more efficient and lighter to
increase gas mileage. With unique aerodynamic V-Cap fronts (less wind resistance), tire
pres systems, six sided aluminum framing and fiberglass exteriors. These important
features have a dramatic affect on gas mileage and consumers are taking notice.
Please remember that we have not researched every manufacturer and it is our hope to
include more manufacturers in future publications. To learn more about how we arrived at
our conclusions regarding construction and rating parameters, please review chapters 2 and
6 of this book. It is our hope the information contained in this chapter will help you make
informed decisions regarding Class C motorhomes with fair and balanced information that
has been complied over a number of years.
39
RV Manufacturer Rating Charts
Our staff rates each RV manufacturer, every year, based on: Construction (C), Customer
satisfaction (CS), Dealer rating, (DR) and Resale value (RV). We arrive at our conclusions
by speaking with previous owners, attending various RV shows and conducting detailed
research. Within each category, a manufacturer receives a rating based the research and
data collected. Each category has a possible 25 points, a 100 being a perfect score.
Chapter 6 explains rating parameters in more detail. The charts below are separated
first by RV type; then by year. You will notice that some manufacturers’ ratings change from
year to year; this is typically due to changes within the industry.
Class C Motor Homes 2012
R
Class
Type
1
P
C
2
P
Manufacturer
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Lazy Daze
Factory direct & high quality
25
25
25
24
99
10
C
Coach House
Small company. & high quality
25
24
24
24
97
10
3
P
C
Born Free
High quality & strong CS
24
24
25
23
96
9.5
4
P
C
Triple E
Strong ratings & high CS
23
24
22
22
91
9
5
P
C
Dynamax
Unique design, mixed ratings
22
23
22
22
89
8.5
1
AA
C
Winnebago-Itasca
Good quality & loyal customers
23
23
24
22
92
9
2
AA
C
Holiday Rambler
Quality improving, problems with CS
23
22
22
22
89
8.5
3
AA
C
Fleetwood
Popular with dealers & quality improving
22
22
22
20
86
8
4
AA
C
Jayco
Good quality & loyal following
22
21
21
20
84
8
5
AA
C
Gulf Stream
Good pricing & average CS
21
19
20
20
80
7.5
1
E
C
Forest River
Rating are mixed, but improving
20
20
20
19
79
7
2
E
C
Coachmen RV
Avg. quality, mixed reviews from dealers
18
17
21
17
73
6.5
3
E
C
Four Winds (Thor)
Average ratings
18
17
20
17
72
6
40
Class C Motor Homes 2011
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
C
Lazy Daze
2
P
C
3
P
4
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Factory direct, high quality & CS
24
25
24
24
97
10
Coach House
High quality small company with good CS
24
24
24
23
95
9.5
C
Dynamax
Expensive & high quality, mixed dealer ratings
25
23
22
22
92
9
P
C
Triple E
Stop producing Class A's, focus on Class C''s
23
23
22
21
89
8.5
5
P
C
Born Free
Good quality, high CS & good dealer ratings
23
22
21
20
86
8
1
AA
C
Winnebago-Itasca
Good quality & high CS, mixed dealer ratings
23
23
23
22
91
9
2
AA
C
Holiday Rambler
Recovering from Bankruptcy, but still popular
22
22
22
22
88
8.5
3
AA
C
Jayco
Nice floor plans, good quality & loyal following
21
21
22
20
84
8
4
AA
C
Fleetwood
Recovering from bankruptcy, high dealer ratings
20
21
22
19
82
7.5
5
AA
C
Forest River
Large producer - good selection, mixed reviews
20
20
20
19
79
7.5
1
E
C
Four Winds (Thor)
Average quality & ratings
23
22
22
22
89
8.5
2
E
C
Gulf Stream
No response from company, mixed reviews
20
21
22
20
83
8
3
E
C
Coachmen RV
Average quality, mixed reviews from dealers
19
18
20
19
76
6.5
Class C Motor Homes 2010
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
C
Dynamax
2
P
C
Coach House
3
P
C
4
P
C
5
P
6
P
1
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Best of the best
25
25
24
24
98
10
Good
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
Winnebago
Good
23
23
25
22
93
9
Itasca
Good
23
23
25
22
93
9
C
Born Free
Good
23
22
22
22
89
8.5
C
Lazy Daze
Factory Direct - CA Location
22
22
21
21
86
8
AA
C
Jayco
Good
24
23
23
22
92
9
2
AA
C
Gulf Stream
Good
23
23
22
21
89
8.5
3
AA
C
Forest River
Large producer
22
22
22
21
87
8.5
4
5
AA
C
Triple E
Canadian Company
22
22
21
21
86
8
AA
C
Four Winds
Good
20
21
21
20
82
7.5
6
AA
C
Holiday Rambler
Recovering from Bankruptcy
20
19
18
18
75
7
7
AA
C
Fleetwood
Recovering from Bankruptcy
20
18
17
17
72
6.5
1
E
C
Georgie Boy
Good & affordable
20
20
20
20
80
7.5
2
E
C
Coachmen RV
Good
20
18
20
19
77
7
3
E
C
Safari (Monaco)
Recovering from Bankruptcy
18
17
17
17
69
6
41
Rating
Class C Motor Homes 2009
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
1
P
C
Dynamax
25
25
24
24
98
10
2
P
C
Coach House
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
3
P
C
Born Free
24
24
24
23
95
9.5
4
P
C
Bigfoot (Out of Bus)
23
24
23
23
93
9
5
P
C
Triple E
23
22
22
22
89
8.5
6
P
C
Holiday Rambler
22
23
21
21
87
8.5
1
AA
C
Winnebago
24
25
24
24
97
10
2
AA
C
Jayco
24
23
23
22
92
9
3
AA
C
Itasca
22
25
22
23
92
9
4
AA
C
Lazy Daze
22
21
21
19
83
8
5
AA
C
Safari (Monaco)
21
21
21
20
83
8
6
AA
C
Fleetwood
21
21
20
19
81
7.5
1
E
C
Gulf Stream
21
21
21
21
84
8
2
E
C
Georgie Boy
20
20
20
20
80
7.5
3
E
C
Coachmen RV
19
18
20
19
76
7
4
E
C
Four Winds (Thor)
19
18
17
19
73
6.5
5
E
C
Forest River
19
18
18
18
73
6.5
6
E
C
R-Vision
17
16
17
17
67
5.5
42
Chapter 9
Fifth Wheels & Toy Haulers
Price Range: $18,000 to $250,000
Length Range: 19 to 40 feet
Fifth wheel towable trailers are similar to larger
travel trailers, but they have an extension on the
front of the unit that extends over the tow vehicle
and a horizontal plate that looks like a wheel (hence
the name "fifth wheel") that rests on the tow vehicle
for support. This hitch arrangement requires special
equipment on the tow vehicle. Typically, full-size
pickup trucks serve as tow vehicles for fifth wheels
and are outfitted with a fifth-wheel receiver. The
hitch arrangement makes towing easier by placing the trailer load in the center of the tow
vehicle distributing the weight to all of the truck tires instead of behind it.
The extension on the front serves as a bedroom in most fifth wheels with more living space
provided by slide-outs- a common feature. Fifth wheel trailers usually provide cooking
facilities, a refrigerator, heating, air conditioning and a self-contained toilet with water tanks
(fresh water, grey water, black water). Also included is; LP (propane) gas supply, separate
100-125 volt electrical system, and a full array of appliances and entertainment features.
Fifth wheel trailers range from about 7,500 pounds to more than 22,000 pounds. Headroom
varies considerably with smaller fifth wheels and many will require stooping while using the
front section. Most of these models provide adequate living accommodations with little
wasted space.
Larger fifth wheels are for those seeking maximum living space and are considered the RV
of choice for fulltime living. Most include up to three large slideouts or full-wall slideouts and
adequate standing room in the front bedroom. Larger models are available with a wide
range of appliances, including built-in washer/ dryer, dishwasher and entertainment center
with surround sound. The larger fifth wheel units require dual-rear-wheel pickup trucks as
the tow vehicles, or specialized conversions of medium-duty trucks. It is important to match
the size and weight of a new fifth wheel to the tow vehicle, or select the fifth wheel first and
then order a truck of adequate towing capacity.
RV Manufacturer Rating Charts
Our staff rates each RV manufacturer, every year, based on: Construction (C), Customer
satisfaction (CS), Dealer rating, (DR) and Resale value (RV). We arrive at our conclusions
by speaking with previous owners, attending various RV shows and conducting detailed
research. Within each category, a manufacturer receives a rating based the research and
data collected. Each category has a possible 25 points, a 100 being a perfect score.
Chapter 6 explains rating parameters in more detail. The charts below are separated
first by RV type; then by year. You will notice that some manufacturers’ ratings change from
year to year; this is typically due to changes within the industry.
43
Fifth Wheels 2012
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
FW
New Horizons RV
2
P
FW
3
P
4
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Great Co. & High quality
25
25
25
24
99
10
NU WA
High quality & solid Co.
25
24
25
24
98
10
FW
Newmar
Top-notch Co. & good ratings
25
24
24
24
97
10
P
FW
SunnyBrook
Good value for price, high quality
23
23
23
23
92
9
5
P
FW
DVR - DoubleTree
Small company but good overall
23
23
22
22
90
8.5
6
P
FW
Peterson (Excel)
Good quality & improved ratings
23
22
22
22
89
8.5
7
P
FW
Dynamax
Luxury lines, dropped in overall quality
23
21
22
20
86
8
8
P
FW
Redwood RV (Thor)
Newer Co. Experienced management
22
21
21
21
85
8
9
P
FW
Space Craft MFG
Factory direct, high quality & small co.
23
21
20
19
83
8
1
AA
FW
Heartland
Good Co. CS has slipped a bit
24
23
23
23
93
9
2
AA
FW
Northwood
High dealer ratings, strong sales in NW.
24
22
24
22
92
9
3
AA
FW
Open Range
Newer Co. & good dealer ratings
23
22
24
21
90
8.5
4
AA
FW
Holiday Rambler
Popular with dealers
22
22
22
22
88
8.5
5
AA
FW
K-Z
Sound Co. Improved ratings
22
22
22
21
87
8.5
6
AA
FW
EverGreen RV
Newer Co. Going green & Good ratings
21
21
24
20
86
8
7
AA
FW
Starcraft (Jayco)
Purchased by Jayco, good ratings
22
21
22
20
85
8
8
AA
FW
Keystone
Highest sales volume. Mixed ratings
21
22
20
19
82
7.5
9
AA
FW
Skyline
Solid Co. Dealer ratings mixed
19
19
22
19
79
7
10
AA
FW
Jayco
Solid brand recognition. Rating mixed
19
19
21
18
77
7
11
AA
FW
Komfort (Thor)
Popular with dealers & good quality
18
19
20
18
75
6.5
12
AA
FW
Pacific Coachworks
CA company, few reviews
19
19
18
18
74
6.5
1
E
FW
Forest River
Larger volume producer, mixed ratings
21
21
20
20
82
7.5
2
E
FW
Coachmen RV
Mixed reviews, popular with dealers
20
21
21
19
81
7.5
3
E
FW
Dutchmen (Thor)
Average ratings. Mixed reviews,
20
18
20
19
77
7
4
E
FW
Gulf Stream
Good pricing & average CS
19
19
18
19
75
6.5
5
E
FW
CrossRoads (Thor)
Good pricing & average CS
18
19
18
18
73
6.5
6
E
FW
Palomino
High dealer ratings, good company
17
17
19
18
71
6
7
E
FW
Extreme Warrior
Low volume producer & few reviews
18
17
18
17
70
6
8
E
FW
R-Vision
Mixed ratings
18
18
18
18
72
6
9
E
FW
Eclipse RV
New company & going green
17
17
17
17
68
5.5
10
E
FW
Cikira
Filling for chapter 7
17
16
16
16
65
4.5
44
Fifth Wheels 2011
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
FW
Carriage
2
P
FW
3
P
4
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Good Co. Out of bus. as of Dec 2011
25
25
25
24
99
10
New Horizons RV
Quality company, high ratings
25
25
24
24
98
10
FW
Heartland
High quality, good dealer ratings & CS
23
24
23
23
93
9
P
FW
Dynamax
High Quality, but expensive
23
23
22
21
89
8.5
5
P
FW
Newmar
Quality product, mixed dealer reviews
22
22
22
21
87
8.5
6
P
FW
SunnyBrook
Good value for price
21
21
22
21
85
8
7
P
FW
Peterson-Excel
High quality but average ratings
20
20
21
20
81
7.5
8
P
FW
NU WA
Closed in 08 but re-opened in 09
22
19
18
20
79
7.5
9
P
FW
DVR - DoubleTree
Few reviews, small company & good CS
21
20
17
19
77
7
1
AA
FW
Keystone
Highest sales volume, mixed reviews
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
2
AA
FW
Jayco
Solid brand recognition & loyal following
24
24
23
22
93
9
3
AA
FW
Open Range
New Co & high reviews
23
23
23
22
91
9
4
AA
FW
Northwood
High dealer ratings, strong sales in NW
23
22
23
21
89
8.5
5
AA
FW
K-Z
High quality & good dealer ratings
22
22
23
21
88
8.5
6
AA
FW
EverGreen RV
New Co., quality products & high ratings
22
21
21
21
85
8
7
AA
FW
Starcraft RV
Purchased by Jayco, good ratings
20
20
20
20
80
7.5
8
AA
FW
Forest River (Thor)
Larger volume producer
20
20
20
19
79
7.5
9
AA
FW
Komfort (Thor)
Good value - small company
20
20
19
18
77
7
10
AA
FW
Holiday Rambler
Recovering from bankruptcy
20
20
18
19
77
7
11
AA
FW
Pacific Coach Works
New company in California, few ratings
19
20
18
18
75
6.5
1
E
FW
Skyline
Solid co., good ratings & CS
22
23
23
21
89
8.5
2
E
FW
CrossRoads (Thor)
Good company, average dealer ratings
22
21
21
20
84
8
3
E
FW
Coachmen RV
Mixed reviews, popular with dealers
21
21
20
21
83
7.5
4
E
FW
Eclipse RV
New company, few ratings or reviews
20
20
19
20
79
7.5
5
E
FW
Dutchmen (Thor)
Average ratings, popular with dealers
20
18
20
19
77
7
6
E
FW
Extreme RV
Low volume producer
18
18
19
18
73
6.5
7
E
FW
Palomino
Mixed reviews, good CS
17
17
19
18
71
6
8
E
FW
Cikira
Mixed reviews, average ratings
17
17
18
18
70
6
9
E
FW
Gulf Stream
Popular among RV dealers
16
17
18
17
68
5.5
45
Fifth Wheels 2010
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
FW
Carriage
2
P
FW
3
P
4
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Quality Company
25
25
25
24
99
10
New Horizons RV
Good
25
25
24
24
98
10
FW
DoubleTree-DRV
Good
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
P
FW
Peterson - Excel
Small company - High Quality
24
24
23
23
94
9.5
5
P
FW
Glendale RV
Canadian Co - High quality
23
23
24
23
93
9
6
P
FW
Heartland
Top quality
22
24
23
23
92
9
7
P
FW
Newmar
Good
22
23
23
22
90
8.5
8
P
FW
NU WA
Closed in 08 but re-opened
23
23
22
21
89
8.5
9
P
FW
Dynamax
Good but small selection
23
23
22
20
88
8.5
10
P
FW
General Coach
Good - High Dealer Ratings
22
21
22
21
86
8
11
P
FW
SunnyBrook
Good value for price
22
21
22
21
86
8
1
AA
FW
Keystone
Montana best-selling FW
24
24
24
22
94
9.5
2
AA
FW
Jayco
Solid brand recognition
23
23
23
22
91
9
3
AA
FW
K-Z
Good- High dealer ratings
22
22
23
21
88
8.5
4
AA
FW
Gulf Stream
Good selection
22
23
22
21
88
8.5
5
AA
FW
Forest River
Larger volume producer
21
22
22
20
85
8
6
AA
FW
CrossRoads
Good value
22
21
21
20
84
8
7
AA
FW
Northwood
Small company good quality
22
20
21
20
83
8
8
AA
FW
Triple E
Stop producing trailers late 2010
20
20
21
20
81
7.5
9
AA
FW
Pacific Coachworks
New company in California
20
20
20
20
80
7.5
10
AA
FW
Holiday Rambler
Recovering from Bankruptcy
19
19
18
18
74
6.5
1
E
FW
Skyline
Solid co. good selection
22
23
23
21
89
8.5
2
E
FW
Komfort (Thor)
Good value - small company
20
21
20
22
83
8
3
E
FW
Coachmen RV
Good
20
20
20
21
81
7.5
4
E
FW
Dutchmen (Thor)
Good
20
21
18
20
79
7.5
5
E
FW
Extreme RV
Low volume producer
20
20
19
19
78
7
6
E
FW
Palomino
Good
19
20
19
19
77
7
7
E
FW
North Shore
Good
18
19
18
18
73
6.5
8
E
FW
Starcraft RV
Purchased by Jayco
17
19
17
17
70
6
46
Fifth Wheels 2009
R
Class
Type
1
P
FW
2
P
3
Manufacturer
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Teton Homes
25
25
24
24
98
10
FW
Carriage
25
24
24
24
97
10
P
FW
New Horizons RV
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
4
P
FW
Peterson Industries
23
24
24
23
94
9
5
P
FW
General Coach BC
22
23
21
21
87
8.5
6
P
FW
DoubleTree
21
22
22
20
85
8.5
1
AA
FW
Heartland
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
2
AA
FW
Jayco
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
3
AA
FW
K-Z
24
23
23
23
93
9
4
AA
FW
Keystone
23
23
22
23
91
9
5
AA
FW
Ameri-Camp
23
23
22
22
90
9
6
AA
FW
R-Vision (Monaco)
22
22
22
22
88
8.5
7
AA
FW
Holiday Rambler
22
22
20
21
85
8.5
8
AA
FW
Glendale RV
21
21
22
20
84
8
9
AA
FW
McKenzie (Monaco)
21
20
20
19
80
7.5
10
AA
FW
Northwood
20
19
19
19
77
7
1
E
FW
Extreme RV
23
23
23
23
92
9
2
E
FW
Fleetwood
22
22
23
23
90
9
3
E
FW
Triple E
22
21
21
21
85
8.5
4
E
FW
Coachmen RV
21
20
21
20
82
8
5
E
FW
Dutchmen (Thor)
20
20
19
19
78
7.5
6
E
FW
Gulf Stream
19
18
19
19
75
7
7
E
FW
Forest River
20
18
18
19
75
7
8
E
FW
Komfort
18
18
19
18
73
6.5
9
E
FW
Starcraft RV
18
17
17
17
69
6
10
E
FW
SunnyBrook
17
17
16
16
66
5.5
11
E
FW
CrossRoads (Thor)
17
17
16
16
66
5.5
12
E
FW
Skyline
16
16
17
15
64
5
47
Chapter 10
Travel Trailers
Price Range: $7,500 to $125,000
Length Range: 12 to 38 feet
This is the most common recreational vehicle sold in
North America. A travel trailer is towed by a car, a
van, SUV or pick-up and the sizes, features and
prices are seemingly endless. Trailers now come with
garages, roof top patios, bay windows, fireplaces and
slideouts. If you can visualize it, chances are
someone has already designed it.
Travel trailers come in a variety of sizes, ranging from a small bedroom on wheels to the
equivalent of a Class A motorhome without the engine and transmission. Many units feature
a slideout to quickly extend the unit's living space. Small trailers may weigh less than 1,500
pounds and can be pulled with a wide selection of compact vehicles. The ease of towing,
combined with their relatively low purchase price, makes them an excellent first choice
among RV buyers. Facilities are compact but completely suitable for short-term use and in
some cases fulltime use with deluxe models.
Travel trailers usually provide cooking facilities, a refrigerator, heating, air conditioning, a
self-contained toilet, a shower, water tanks, faucets, sinks, a LP (propane) gas supply, and
a separate 100-125 volt electrical system. They can sleep up to eight people depending on
the model and floor plan.
Many models are suitable for towing with properly equipped full-size cars. Most models offer
a high degree of self-containment, with full bath, galley and dining facilities. Depending on
the floor plan, these units can be suitable for large families, or for extended use by two
people.
RV Manufacturer Rating Charts
Our staff rates each RV manufacturer, every year, based on: Construction (C), Customer
satisfaction (CS), Dealer rating, (DR) and Resale value (RV). We arrive at our conclusions
by speaking with previous owners, attending various RV shows and conducting detailed
research. Within each category, a manufacturer receives a rating based the research and
data collected. Each category has a possible 25 points, a 100 being a perfect score.
Chapter 6 explains rating parameters in more detail. The charts below are separated
first by RV type; then by year. You will notice that some manufacturers’ ratings change from
year to year; this is typically due to changes within the industry. It is our hope the
information contained in this chapter will help you make informed decisions regarding travel
trailers with fair and balanced information that has been complied over a number of years.
48
Travel Trailers 2012
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
TT
Airstream (Thor)
2
P
TT
3
P
4
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Very unique. Top-line producer
25
25
25
25
100
10
Nu-Wa
Top-notch Co. & good ratings
24
24
25
24
97
10
TT
SunnyBrook
Good value for price, high quality
24
23
23
23
93
9
P
TT
Earthbound RV
Going green, light weight trailers, Good quality
23
24
23
22
92
9
5
P
TT
Peterson - Excel
High quality but average ratings from dealers
24
22
22
21
89
8.5
6
P
TT
Heartland RV
Small Co. - Top quality, good ratings
22
22
22
21
87
8.5
7
P
TT
Holiday Rambler
Recovering from bankruptcy, popular with dealers
21
22
23
20
86
8
1
AA
TT
Northwood
High dealer ratings, strong sales in NW
24
23
24
23
94
9
2
AA
TT
Open Range
New company, high reviews & good dealer ratings
23
22
22
22
89
8.5
3
AA
TT
K-Z
High quality & good dealer ratings. Solid company
22
22
22
21
87
8.5
4
AA
TT
EverGreen RV
New Company, quality products & high ratings
21
22
23
20
86
8
5
AA
TT
Keystone
Highest sales volume, good quality & reviews
21
21
22
20
84
8
6
AA
TT
Jayco
Solid brand recognition, loyal following
20
22
21
20
83
8
7
AA
TT
Starcraft RV
Purchased by Jayco, good ratings from dealers
20
20
20
20
80
7.5
8
AA
TT
Skyline
Good ratings & high CS
19
20
19
20
78
7
9
AA
TT
Komfort
Good value - small company. Popular in NW
19
19
20
19
77
7
10
AA
TT
Forest River
Larger volume producer, many floorplans
19
18
18
19
74
6.5
1
E
TT
Casita
Excellent ratings & good value
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
2
E
TT
Coachmen RV
Mixed reviews, popular with dealers
22
21
22
21
86
8
3
E
TT
Dutchman (Thor)
Average ratings, popular with dealers
22
20
20
20
82
7.5
4
E
TT
Escape Trailer RV
Newer Co. bright future
21
20
20
20
81
7.5
5
E
TT
Gulf Stream
Popular among RV dealers
20
19
19
20
78
7
6
E
TT
CrossRoads (Thor)
Good quality, average dealer ratings
20
19
18
18
75
6.5
7
E
TT
Pacific Coachworks
CA company, few reviews
20
19
18
18
75
6.5
8
E
TT
Extreme RV
Low volume producer
19
18
18
18
73
6.5
9
E
TT
Palomino
Mixed reviews, good CS
18
18
17
17
70
6
10
E
TT
R-Vision (Monaco)
Mixed ratings, popular with dealers
18
16
17
17
68
5.5
11
E
TT
Eclipse RV
New Co. few ratings & going green
17
17
17
17
68
5.5
12
E
TT
Bigfoot
Recovering from bankruptcy, limited selection
17
16
17
17
67
5
13
E
TT
Cikira
Filing chapter 7
16
16
16
16
64
4.5
49
Travel Trailers 2011
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
TT
Airstream (Thor)
2
P
TT
3
P
TT
4
P
T
5
P
6
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Best of the best - Very unique
25
25
25
24
99
10
Carriage
Out of business as of Dec 2011
25
25
24
24
98
10
Heartland RV
Small Co. - Top quality, good ratings
24
24
23
23
94
9
Earthbound RV
Going green, light weight trailers, Good quality
23
24
23
22
92
9
TT
SunnyBrook
Good value - small company, high ratings
23
22
22
21
88
8.5
P
TT
Peterson - Excel
High quality but average ratings from dealers
24
21
20
21
86
8
7
P
TT
Nu-Wa
Closed in 08 but re-opened.
22
20
20
19
81
7.5
1
AA
TT
Keystone
Highest sales volume, good quality & reviews
24
24
24
23
95
9.5
2
AA
TT
Jayco
Solid brand recognition & good CS
23
23
24
23
93
9
3
AA
TT
K-Z
High quality & good dealer ratings. Solid Co.
23
23
23
22
91
9
4
AA
TT
Open Range
New company, good ratings & reviews
23
22
22
22
89
8.5
5
AA
TT
EverGreen RV
New Company, quality products & high ratings
22
22
22
21
87
8.5
6
AA
TT
Northwood
High dealer ratings, strong sales in NW
22
22
22
20
86
8
7
AA
TT
Starcraft RV
Purchased by Jayco, good ratings
21
20
21
19
81
7.5
8
AA
TT
Komfort
Good value - small company. Popular in NW
19
19
20
19
77
7
9
AA
TT
Forest River
Larger volume producer, many floorplans
19
20
19
18
76
7
10
AA
TT
Holiday Rambler
Recovering from BK, popular with dealers
19
17
19
19
74
6.5
1
E
TT
Casita
Excellent ratings & reviews. Good value
24
24
23
22
93
9
2
E
TT
Skyline
Good ratings & high CS
23
23
23
22
91
9
3
E
TT
CrossRoads (Thor)
Good quality, average dealer ratings
23
22
22
21
88
8.5
4
E
TT
Coachmen RV
Mixed reviews, popular with dealers
22
21
21
20
84
8
5
E
TT
Eclipse RV
New Co. Few ratings or reviews, going green
19
20
21
19
79
7.5
6
E
TT
Dutchman (Thor)
Average ratings, popular with dealers
18
20
21
18
77
7
7
E
TT
Extreme RV
Low volume producer
19
18
18
18
73
6.5
8
E
TT
Palomino
Mixed reviews, good CS
18
18
17
18
71
6
9
E
TT
Cikira
Mixed reviews, average ratings
18
17
18
18
71
6
10
E
TT
Gulf Stream
Popular with RV dealers
17
18
18
17
70
6
11
E
TT
Pacific Coachworks
Struggling to get on their feet, good CS
18
17
17
16
68
5.5
12
E
TT
R-Vision (Monaco)
Recovering from Bankruptcy, poor ratings
17
16
16
17
66
5
13
E
TT
Bigfoot
Recovering from bankruptcy, mixed ratings
17
16
13
16
62
4.5
50
Travel Trailers 2010
R
Class
Type
Manufacturer
1
P
TT
Airstream (Thor)
2
P
TT
3
P
4
Status/Info
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Best of the best - Unique
25
24
25
24
98
10
Carriage
Top quality
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
TT
Keystone
Top producer
23
23
24
23
93
9
P
TT
K-Z
Good quality & affordable
23
23
23
22
91
9
5
P
TT
Heartland RV
Small Co. - Top quality
22
22
23
22
89
8.5
6
P
TT
Jayco
Large producer - Great Co.
21
22
22
21
86
8
7
P
TT
SunnyBrook
Good value - small company
21
22
22
20
85
8
8
P
TT
General Coach
Canadian company - Good
20
21
21
20
82
7.5
9
P
TT
Holiday Rambler
Recovering from Bankruptcy
19
17
19
19
74
6.5
1
AA
TT
Forest River
Large producer - Solid future
22
23
23
21
89
8.5
2
AA
TT
Gulf Stream
Good selection
21
23
22
20
86
8
3
AA
TT
Triple E
Quality Canadian Company
21
23
22
19
85
8
4
AA
TT
Northwood
Small co. but good quality
22
22
21
19
84
8
5
AA
TT
CrossRoads
Small but high-end products
22
22
20
18
82
7.5
6
AA
TT
Komfort
Good value - small company
20
20
23
18
81
7.5
7
AA
TT
Palomino
Light-weight - Affordable
20
20
21
19
80
7.5
8
AA
TT
North Shore
Good
19
20
20
19
78
7
1
E
TT
Skyline
Solid Company
22
22
22
20
86
8
2
E
TT
Casita
Low price - factory direct
22
22
21
20
85
8
3
E
TT
Coachmen RV
Good selection
22
21
21
20
84
8
4
E
TT
Dutchman (Thor)
Good
21
21
20
19
81
7.5
5
E
TT
Starcraft RV
Good
19
18
19
18
74
6.5
6
E
TT
Extreme RV
Low volume producer
19
18
18
18
73
6.5
7
E
TT
R-Vision
Recovering from Bankruptcy
18
18
18
17
71
6
51
Travel Trailers 2009
R
Class
Type
1
P
TT
2
P
3
Manufacturer
C
CS
DR
RV
Points
Rating
Airstream (Thor)
25
25
25
24
99
10
TT
Bigfoot
25
24
24
24
97
10
P
TT
Keystone
24
24
24
23
95
9.5
4
P
TT
Glendale RV
23
23
24
24
94
9
5
P
TT
K-Z
23
22
22
22
89
8.5
6
P
TT
Heartland RV
21
21
21
21
84
8
7
P
TT
Carriage
20
21
20
19
80
7.5
8
P
TT
General Coach BC
20
20
20
19
79
7.5
1
AA
TT
SunnyBrook
24
24
24
24
96
9.5
2
AA
TT
Jayco
24
24
23
24
95
9
3
AA
TT
Komfort
22
21
23
23
89
8.5
4
AA
TT
Holiday Rambler
21
21
20
20
82
8
5
AA
TT
Northwood
20
20
20
18
78
7.5
6
AA
TT
Ameri-Camp
19
19
19
19
76
7
7
AA
TT
CrossRoads (Thor)
19
18
18
18
73
6.5
8
AA
TT
McKenzie (Monaco)
18
18
17
18
71
6
9
AA
TT
Fleetwood
17
18
17
16
68
5.5
10
AA
TT
Triple E
17
17
17
16
67
5.5
1
E
TT
Extreme RV
23
23
23
23
92
9
2
E
TT
Coachmen RV
22
22
23
23
90
9
3
E
TT
Skyline
21
21
20
20
82
8
4
E
TT
Gulf Stream
20
20
19
19
78
7.5
5
E
TT
Thor California
19
19
18
18
74
7
6
E
TT
Forest River
18
20
17
16
71
6
7
E
TT
R-Vision (Monaco)
17
17
17
16
67
5.5
8
E
TT
Dutchman (Thor)
16
16
16
16
64
5
9
E
TT
Starcraft RV
15
15
16
15
61
4.5
10
E
TT
Casita
15
15
15
15
60
4.5
52
Chapter 11
RV Manufacturer Articles
Within this chapter there are over 54 different RV manufacturers featured. Each article
provides important information with helpful facts and insight about each company. All
articles are listed in alphabetical order. Overall the RV industry has been open to
speaking with me and my research team. As expected, a few companies declined to speak
with us but most welcomed the chance to get their information out. Please remember that
we have not researched every manufacturer and it is our hope to include more
manufacturers in future publications. Each article has information in these key areas:
•
•
•
•
•
Company background and history
Principle target customer
List of best-selling models
Average MSRP of best selling models
Comments from editorial staff
2009 – 2012 RV Manufacturers Featured in Book
RV Manufacturer
Airstream
American Coach
Bigfoot
Born Free
Carriage
Casita
Coach House
Coachmen RV
Country Coach Corporation
CrossRoads
Cruiser RV
Damon
DRV
Dutchmen
Dynamax
Earthbound
Eclipse
Escape Trailer RV
Evergreen RV
RV Manufacturer2
Extreme Warrior
Fleetwood
Forest River
Foretravel Motor Coach
Four Winds
Gulf Stream
Heartland
Holiday Rambler (Navistar)
Itasca
Jayco
Keystone
Komfort RV
K-Z
Lazy Daze
Mandalay
Monaco (Navistar)
New Horizons RV
Newmar
Northwood (Arctic Fox/Nash)
53
RV Manufacturer3
NU WA
Open Range
Outdoors (Creekside) RV
Pacific Coach Works
Palomino
Peterson Ind. (Excel)
Redwood RV
Rexhall
R-Vision (/Navistar)
Shasta RV
Skyline
Space Craft Mfg
Starcraft RV
SunnyBrook
Thor MotorCoach
Tiffin
Trailmanor Elkmont
Triple E
Winnebago
Company Background and History: Our goal was to give you a brief description or,
“Snap Shot” of each company based on interviews and research. This is in no way intended
to be an in-depth analysis but simply to put forth some basic facts about each company.
This gives you some insight into how the company got its start and the main focus or
direction the company is heading.
Principle Target Customer: This is an important piece of information. Whether you’re an
upper-end, mid-range or an entry-level buyer, this guide will help you focus on companies
that meet your expectations and comfort level. By listing the types of customers that RV
manufacturers are marketing to, you will be able to concentrate on products that are within
your budget. Chapter 1, “What Type of Buyer Are You?” goes into more detail about this
topic.
List of Popular Model(s): With each RV manufacturer we try to list the company’s most,
popular model(s) based on sales volume in each classification. If a manufacturer does not
have any popular models listed it may be due to the fact that they are a new company with
no track record to show which models have done well. While a manufacturer may list a
certain model as their most popular that does not mean it is the only model available.
Average MSRP of Popular or Best Selling Models: In each article we try to list the
average MSRP of popular model(s) based on interviews and research. Please be aware that
within a model or series there are usually many different sizes, floorplans and options to
consider with a wide range of pricing. (Please don’t assume when we list an average MSRP
for a popular model that it is the only model being offered by that manufacturer.)
Editorial Staffs Comments: During our time researching the RV industry we have learned
a great deal about each RV manufacturer featured in this guide. Sometimes, we say what
we like and don’t like about a particular company. Many of our comments will reveal what
previous owners have said about a particular company or product. Other times we will offer
some suggestions or constructive criticism. Our comments are opinions and only serve to
add additional insight. In the end - each buyer must make his or her own buying decision
based on research and due diligence.
54
Airstream Inc.
419 West Pike Street
P.O. Box 629
Jackson Center, OH 45334-0629
Phone: 877-596-6111
www.airstream.com
Airstream recently celebrated over 80 years of “Airstreaming” history. Starting in Los
Angeles, California in the early 1930’s, the founder, Wallace Byam, created the first
Airstream for his wife who loved camping but did not want to sleep on the ground. During
the 1930’s Wallace experimented with aircraft type construction methods to lessen wind
resistance and improve the trailer’s strength-to-weight ratio. His designs began taking on a
more aerodynamic and contemporary look. On January 17, 1936, the Airstream Trailer Co.
introduced the Clipper, and an American legend was born.
Airstream was the first to utilize riveted aluminum for their exteriors producing an
extremely durable product and creating a unique look which has an almost cult-like
following throughout the United States. Testing in some of the harshest environments
known to man, it is not surprising that almost 70% of all Airstreams are still on the road
today, an amazing feat. Thus Airstream proudly states “Silver is Green”, as they keep their
products on the road and out of landfills. According to the manufacturer, Airstream travel
trailer’s aerodynamics gives you approximately 20% better fuel economy than towing a
conventional box trailer.
Airstream manufactures motorhomes, travel trailers, and avenue and interstate traveling
coaches. In the 1970’s, Airstream introduced the Classic - its first motorhome. The Classic
featured riveted aluminum construction and a monocoque body like the travel trailer, and
brought a new level of aerodynamic superiority unavailable in any other motorhome. In the
1980's, Airstream rolled out the Argosy fifth wheel trailer, Airstream triple axel trailer, and
the Land Yacht Motorhome. The Land Yacht motorhome featured laminated fiberglass
construction and had front and rear end caps so innovative that a patent was granted for
them. In 2009 Airstream introduced the Airstream Interstate 3500. The Interstate is the
perfect solution when you don't want to tow a trailer and don't need a full-sized motor
home.
Model Year 2012:
Celebrating 8 decades of
Airstream products, early in 2011 Airstream teamed
up with another well-known industry, Eddie Bauer, a
company that has a successful history with Ford
Motor Company. The result? A combination of two
icons with over 160 years of innovation and
production and the all new 2012 Airstream Eddie
Bauer. The Eddie Bauer continues the classic look of
Airstream’s bright aluminum finish and includes all the innovations and standard features
that make Airstream one of the most popular RV’s in the industry. The 25’ Eddie Bauer
sleeps up to 4 comfortably and includes foldable dinettes, seats and lounge, has an interior
height of 6’5”, a 39 gallon water capacity, and includes a rear sport hatch for storing
oversize equipment such as bicycles, kayaks and canoes, fishing gear, etc. Premium
oversized Michelin tires make easy ground clearance for the off-road enthusiast. The Eddie
Bauer has a MSRP ranging from $73,700 to $81,000.
55
Airstream continues it popular models of the Flying Cloud, the International, the Classic
Limited, and their lightweight, smaller model, The Sport, which is now available in floor
plans ranging from 16’4” to 21’8”. Airstream’s top-of-the line is still the Classic Limited.
With a long admired décor of hickory cabinets, Corian counter tops, and cedar lined closets,
and luxurious living style gallery, it is full of the extras that give it a traditional, yet classy
look. Generous with its exterior and interior storage space, the Classic model ranges from
27’ to 31’, with floor plan options of a queen bed or twins. A MSRP for the 27’ model is just
over $89,000.
Model Years 2009-2011: VP of Marketing, Sue Dooley, announced a new Airstream
touring coach, “The Avenue” which came out in July of this year. It has a brand new Chevy
Chassis, and is loaded with luxury. Multi-use, multi-passenger floorplans, leather chairs,
pedestal mounted removable table, flush laminated cabinetry, fiberglass wet bath, marine
toilet, awning and tinted glass are just some of the basics for this coach which is loaded
with lots of standard features that would be considered extras in other coach lines. MSRP is
$96,429. Also newly updated is the ever popular “Interstate” touring coach which is built,
for the first time, with a Mercedes Chassis. The Interstate has 4 swivel captain’s chairs,
belted seating for 8 and comfortable sleeping for 2. MSRP is $123,000.
And don’t miss checking out Airstream’s new 2011 Airstream Classic 25th limited
Anniversary edition. As the name states, a limited number of these classics have been
built to commemorate the first Classic built 25 years ago. S.P. Solar Grey Front Panoramic
Windows, Galley & Bath Skylights w/Blackout Shades. Premium Audio/Video Package, 54
Gallon Fresh Water Tank w/Drain Valve; the Classic is just full of luxuries too numerous to
name here. MSRP is $100,100 with many of them selling before they reached the
dealerships. The company has recently introduced “The Sport” stating, “The Sport is an
exciting addition to the popular Airstream family, available in a 16’, 17’ and a 22’ model.”
The Sport offers a truly lightweight and premium compact travel trailer – the perfect first
Airstream for those new to “Airstreaming”, and an excellent choice for those new to the RV
lifestyle altogether”. Spacious and airy with its own lights, water, shower and fuel for
cooking – plus more features than some trailers twice their size. Average MSRP range is
$31,000 to $41,000.
Comments: A recent European marketing tour by an American medical company consisted
of high profile clients and several thousand miles of travel. The choice for their mobile
exhibition unit was an Airstream travel trailer. “Due to the high profile of the client and the
demands of the program, we really couldn’t settle for anything less than the very best,” said
Martin Cranshaw, who heads up the company which was touring throughout Europe. This is
consistent with the continued popularity of the Airstream. It is used in movies, magazines,
commercials, and music videos. There continues to be several top-name celebrities and
icons who are leaving their buses behind, living and traveling in Airstreams. Airstream
owners continue to offer high praise and satisfaction of their Airstream products. The only
place ratings drop is in “cost of maintenance” and “overall value compared to price”. Price
verses value continues to be a debate, even among satisfied owners. Yet owners are loyal
and as one satisfied owner stated “…you get what you pay for. I love the quality and most
people who complain about the price are complaining because they cannot afford one.” The
resale value for an Airstream is excellent based on our research, one reason being the allaluminum structure that is very resistant to corrosion. Airstreams’ website is full of
information, galleries and details that answer any possible question you could have
concerning their products and service. Airstream rates high in all areas: quality,
performance, and customer service. Owners and dealers love them.
56
American Coach (Fleetwood)
1031 US 224 East (Fleetwood’s Corp Address)
Fleetwood Owner Relations - American Coach Group
1420 Patterson Street
Decatur, IN 46733
Toll Free: 1-800-322-8216
www.americancoach.com
American Coach is the luxury division of Fleetwood RV, Inc. and a leading manufacturer of
recreational vehicles. In 1987 a new Fleetwood plant was opened to build high end gas and
diesel coaches. Origins of American Coach began with The Limited, an upscale coach,
Fleetwood’s first move into high end coaches. By 1991 American Coach was established as a
manufacturing division and was launched to produce more diesel coaches. The American
Eagle was the first coach produced by American Coach and featured a new diesel chassis
from partner Spartan motors. It is still thriving today with the Liberty Chassis, considered
one of the best in the industry, and is featured on all current American Coach models. In
1997 American Coach enhanced their popular lines with its first ever slide out floorplans.
The popularity of American Coach led to a Fleetwood and American Coach affiliation with
NASCAR, as American Coach products were used for On-Track Hospitality Suites.
After Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 2009, it was sold to a private
company, American Industrial Partners (AIP). Out of that purchase is a brand new name,
“Fleetwood RV, Inc.” American Coach continues as one of the Fleetwood lines.
Since 1991, American Coach has been one of the most respected luxury motor home brands
in the industry,” says John Draheim, President and CEO of Fleetwood RV, Inc. As part of the
Fleetwood line, American Coach is here to stay and according to Fleetwood, “We are back...
and stronger than ever.” Monaco and Tiffin are considered by American Coach to be their
closest competitors.
Model Year 2012: American Coach has
four motorhome coaches, all with new
floorplans and designs for 2012. No
longer manufacturing the Allegiance, the
newest member to its luxury coach line is
The Revolution. It joins the Tradition,
the Heritage, and the Eagle. The
Revolution has three new floorplans
available, and provides a 30% increase in
pass-through storage, yet still retaining
American Coach’s tradition of providing
comfort and a smooth ride. It is powered by a variable turbo 450 HP Cummins 8.9 L engine.
Ultra-leather seats, a curved ergonomic dashboard, and dual-dash monitors can handle
everything from GPS, to radios and camera. The 42W has a flat screen TV, 2 in the cabin
and a second 40” LCD screen into the china cabinetry next to the galley. A Blu-ray DVD and
surround sound are included, and an exterior side wall entertainment center is also
available. MSRP begins at $363,900. American Coach also reported record high sales with
the American Eagle Coach.
The 2012 American Eagle has 4 unique floorplan designs, and offers a king bed
w/memory foam mattress, remote control, 2 full bays, satellite dish, 40” flat screen TV,
power shade package and many, many more luxurious “perks” such as a heated tile floor. It
boasts three full-wall slideout models with 30-inch deep sliderooms. Updates to the Eagle
57
also include Xite-G2 dash radio with navigation, side mounted Girard patio awning with wind
retraction and frameless flush-mount windows. VIP Delivery plans are available and washer
dryer hookups are extra option features. MSRP were found starting at $533,000. The 2012
American Heritage presents one of the industry’s largest floorplans, with a 45-foot full-wallslideout and 30-inch deep slide boxes. The new 45T floor plan provides 450 square feet of
interior living space with three interior decors to choose from, and three new exterior colors.
Other features include Xite-G2 dash radio with truck and bus navigation routing, upgraded
window valances, 46-inch mid-coach TV, LED ceiling lights with dimming capabilities, and
redesigned backsplashes.
Model Years 2010-2011: Marketing Director Amy Coleman is excited about the new
direction Fleetwood RV, Inc. is taking. We are now a smaller company, more agile, spending
our money more efficiently and able to focus more on marketing, dealers and our
customers. While American Coach has not yet launched any new products for 2011, Amy
tells us to keep an eye out on their website as they have exciting things coming. Amy also
told us that what makes American Coach unique is their VIP delivery service. Customers can
come to the plant and learn how to use their American Coach first hand. With all the “bells
and whistles” American Coach motorhomes have to offer this is a valuable service. In the
meantime, Allegiance, Tradition, Heritage, and Eagle, the four American Coach products,
continue to be manufactured, all in the same luxury tradition and style. The 2011 American
Coach “American Eagle” features Girard Awning "Auto Valance", Electric Cook Top
W/Dishwasher, Freight, Power Shade Package, Exterior 32" TV-Sidewall, Satellite Dish
upgrade, King Air mattress, Heated Tile Floor, a 1st Full Bay with a 90" slide-out tray, and a
2nd Full Bay with a 36"/54" slide-out tray. 44 feet in length, we found it priced at $621,000.
Model Years 2009-2010: 2009 was not a good year for Fleetwood, as with most RV
manufacturers during this time period. Despite the Fleetwood bankruptcy, Fleetwood
continues to manufacturer motorhomes and still enjoys very high customer service ratings.
Dealers are very supportive, especially because Fleetwood honored all previous warranties.
As with Country Coach, American Coach is struggling to regain their position in the
motorhome industry. Both companies had to lay-off hundreds of people, and now are in the
beginning stages of re-building their workforce.
Fleetwood introduced the American Allegiance for its 2009 line. With an MSRP starting at
just over $300,000, it is sheer luxury combined with great livability. Debuting with two
innovative floor plans a triple-slide full-wall slide floor plan (42G) and a triple-slide mid-ship
TV floor plan (40X) American Allegiance features opposing 30-inch deep flush floor slide
boxes, which create an open living space unmatched in the industry.
Comments: All 2009 and newer American Coach products come standard with one year of
Coach-Net Service, available 24/7, 365 days a year. The new changes in the company have
been very good for American Coach. They have an impressive website, very detailed, with
excellent information, videos, and access links to dealers, service and support. This really is
one of the better RV websites, answering all your questions and providing in-depth
information. American Coach owners continue to be impressed with their coaches, rating
them at the top in everything from performance, safety, and reliability, to support from the
manufacturer and overall quality. The ratings drop, though not a large amount, in the area
of cost of maintenance and overall value compared to cost. However, owners were
significantly less satisfied in regards to dealership support. Regardless, reviews found were
filled with satisfied owners, enjoying top of the line comforts, the best of luxurious travel ~
via American Coach. A VERY powerful engine with a chassis that is considered one of the
best in the industry.
58
Bigfoot Industries RV, Inc.
4114 Crozier Road
Armstrong, B.C. Canada V0E 1B6
Phone: 250-546-2155
www.bigfootrv.com/
Bigfoot Industries, Inc., once known as Bigfoot RV, has been under new active ownership,
since 2010 and has been producing new Bigfoot Truck Camper and Travel trailers to the RV
market from their manufacturing facility in Armstrong, BC, Canada. President and new
owner Grant Bilodeau brings over 23 years of experience to Bigfoot RV, having started on
the Bigfoot shop floor and working up to several years as Productions Manager for the
company. The Bigfoot Staff also comes with numerous combined years of experience, all to
provide Bigfoot loyal owners with continued service and products.
Bigfoot continues to manufacture Truck Campers and Travel Trailers. The Bigfoot Truck
campers are produced in a 1500 and a 2500 series. Both campers are available in long and
short-box floorplans. Bigfoot is no longer manufacturing the once popular Bigfoot 4000
Series Motorhome and currently the company is only producing one travel trailer model.
Model Year 2012: Only Bigfoot’s 21’ 2500
Series Travel Trailer is being manufactured
for 2012. Available in five unique floorplans, all
models feature large, radius corner windows,
which provide a warm appealing feel to the
interior and an unobstructed view outside.
Distinctive two piece fiberglass construction and
exceptional aerodynamics make the 2500 travel
trailer tow with ease which is one fact that has
made the Bigfoot models so popular with
owners. The well-liked “BigFoot” 3000 travel trailer models are no longer being made,
however they are generally very popular in the used market field due to high ratings.
Bigfoot is continuing production on their two camper models, the 1500 and the 2500 series
of truck campers. Both come with gelcoat fiberglass shells, which are insulated with high
density polystyrene foam.
Model Years 2010-2011: For 2010-2011 Bigfoot RV is beginning production on their line
of truck campers and travel trailers. The first new production for Bigfoot RV since their
bankruptcy is a 2500 Series 9.4 Shortbox Camper, which was completed and shipped to
their factory outlet in August of this year. In their travel trailer line, the Bigfoot 2500 Series
Travel Trailer continues to be manufactured and updated models are available in five
comfortable floorplans. Bigfoot tells us, “Traveling with your Bigfoot 2500 Series Travel
Trailer is not leaving home, just experiencing home wherever your journey finds you. All
models feature large, radius corner windows, which give the warm inviting interiors a bright,
airy feeling and you, an unobstructed view of the scenic outdoors you have traveled to
enjoy. Bigfoot’s unique two-piece fiberglass construction and the excellent aerodynamics of
the 2500 Series Travel Trailers will allow you to tow them with ease.”
Model Year 2009: Bigfoot was out of business for this model year. Their most popular
Class C Motorhome was the 30MH29SL in the 3000 Series due to its layout which was
practical and functional. MSRP for this series started at around $101,440. Constructed with
the Patented Fibercore Wallsystem®, built on the Ford E-450 chassis, with seven interior
floor plans to choose from, Bigfoot’s most popular selling travel trailer before closing was
59
the 25B21FB in the 2500 Series. It is well-designed, well laid out and offers a lot of interior
and exterior storage. MSRP for this series is $34,000.
Comments:
Bigfoot is still continuing to strive for success after recovering from
bankruptcy, the company tells us. Bigfoot also told us they are focusing on just 3 products,
their 2 camper models and one travel trailer, with no future plans for new manufacturing.
While the bank shutdown of Bigfoot RV forced new ownership, the company has held
together and appears to be merging from the new ownership with successful reviews from
buyers. It has such a small staff, everyone is doing a bit of everything, and that is reflected
in the poor ratings when it comes to manufacturer and dealer support. These have
signification drops when it comes to customer satisfaction, plus cost of maintenance and
overall value ratings are not very much higher. Nonetheless, Bigfoot is doing something
right because ratings continue to hold at the top for performance, reliability, and safety for
Bigfoot models. Interior and exterior design, as well as overall quality is at the top of the
ratings with Bigfoot owners and they continue to express loyalty in recommending Bigfoot
to potential RV buyers. We also found many owners, though satisfied, found the overall
value to be “average” compared to price.
For the 2011-2012 model years customer satisfaction is a little hard to measure at this
time, with no new models out or tested just yet. Previous owners have a mixed response to
the Bigfoot line. Most are very loyal and feel that the quality is higher because Bigfoot is
manufactured in Canada and is a “four seasons” unit. Only time will tell as Bigfoot
Industries brings back an experienced team, but with minimal production planned for the
near future. Bigfoot wanted us to assure consumers they have and will continue to offer
parts and services for all Bigfoot products.
Bigfoot’s website is somewhat simple. Some links still pending (“coming soon”) and not all
have complete details loaded, yet it is easy to navigate, with some nice videos and good
photos.
Born Free Motorcoach
Dodgen Industries Inc.
1505 13th Street N.
Humboldt, IA 50548
Phone: 800-247-1835 Fax: 515-332-3756
www.bornfreemotorcoach.com
When you see a Born Free Motor coach cruising down the road you cannot help but notice it.
Born Free’s unique design makes it stand out among the other Class C’s on the market. The
company builds only 250 coaches a year, six different models, going after the belief
customers want something unique that performs well and is of high quality inside and out.
Born Free Motorcoach is a completely owned subsidiary of Dodgen Industries, Inc. and is
one of the older companies in the RV business today. Coaches are sold factory-direct, in the
U.S. and Canada, and Born Free has been manufacturing Class C motor coaches for over 38
years, gaining a reputation as one of the best in the business. “We are known for three
things – quality, safety and drivability,” says a representative for the company. “We have
two inch steel roll bars throughout all our coaches, the insides are built with real wood, not
pressed woods and we have an all fiberglass body with a lifetime warranty on the fiberglass.
60
Our shape is different and we have won awards for drivability. Our design is unique and our
company is unique.” Born Free also manufactures mobility-modified RVs for those who need
to use mobility aids, such as wheel chairs or scooters.
Born Free tells us there has never been a fatality in a Born Free. They also have one of the
best resale values in the RV industry. These are the factors that set Born Free apart from its
competitors Coach House, Dynamax, Winnebago and Lazy Daze. What's more, Born Free
has a unique customer base, with popularity due, in part, to the size and the fact that it’s a
step up from a Class B, and it’s more convenient. In fact, it handles much like a van.
“Added to that is the floor plan which is ready to go, and you don’t have to move things to
make a room here and there like in a Class B, yet it’s still a small coach,” says Born Free.
Model Year 2012: Born Free has five different
motorcoaches, ranging from 20’ to 27’. Born
Free Motorcoach introduced a new floor plan for
the most popular models, their rear-bath
models. The 2012 25’ Rear Bath Born Free
unit comes with a slide-out sofa bed in the
lounge area which makes into a 60” x 76”
Queen bed with a baffled air mattress. In
addition to the sofa / bed slide, the new floor
plan features residential quality cabinets and 4
different furniture options, resulting in a warm
and homey feeling. It features a kitchen that
works very well, giving you more space than
you would expect in a Class C model. The unit
also features a very spacious rear bath which Born Free is well known for. In addition the
rear bath layout in the 25’ unit has also been updated to make it even more spacious and
useable. A double wardrobe includes hang-up shelves and more drawers allowing for
efficient and accessible organization of your personal items.
Model Years 2010-2011: Born Free says that
their Mini is "…a Class C motorhome priced lower
than most Class B units. The comfort of the drive,
park ability, and fuel economy of this coach are
unparalleled. It handles much like an SUV or
Minivan." The 20’ Mini is the smallest model of the
Born Free Motorcoach fleet, but the Mini is
available up to a 27’ with a rear slide bed. Born
Free tells us, “It has it all...a made-up bed, a fullsize front living room with a Flexsteel sofa bed,
extremely comfortable chairs and a pull-up table
with laptop computer storage below. This 27'
model is not only elegant, but the additional storage spaces and extended kitchen
area makes it a palace for two, or adequate for a family of six if desired.” The MSRP for the
20’ Mini starts at $75,595.00 and the 27’ foot Mini begins at $110,595.00.
Model Years 2009-2010: Although they are not announcing their 2010 line-up yet, Born
Free has announced the opening of a new direct sales lot in CA. This is certainly good news
for Born Free in the face of difficult economic times. In 2009 the company revamped their
fiberglass molds to provide for a stronger unit. The company’s two most popular models are
the 24 ft and the 26 ft rear bath (which is actually 27 ft set-up) rear side bed. The average
MSRP for these models is $78,000 to $146,000. Since its introduction, the Born Free 24'
61
Rear Bath “has stolen the hearts and imagination of America's most discriminating
motorcoach enthusiasts.” Born Free has also introduced a larger unit, a 32-foot Class c
motorhome for those looking for more space.
Comments: When buying a class C or C+, one of the most important features you need to
look for is chassis capacity and wheelbase. This is something Born Free pays close attention
to. Furthermore, Born Free tells us they are pleased with the feedback they have gathered
from their new customers; it has been very positive. President John Dodgen says, “Over
97% of our customers indicated they would recommend a Born Free Motorcoach to others.”
And the ratings continue to agree with that statement. Born Free has consistently achieved
the highest ratings also in independent RV ratings and reviews. Their RV ratings and reviews
include use, temperature range, wheelbase to length ratio, payload, value, reliability, and
highway control. Customer satisfaction and manufacture support are also rating right at the
top. Their website continues this dedication to quality with a great website, including
pertinent information, customer testimonials and detailed warranty and service information.
It appears that Born Free has a loyal following and they intend to keep it that way.
Carriage Inc. (Out of Business as of December 2011)
P.O. Box 246
Millerburg, IN 46543
Phone: 574-642-3622
www.carriageinc.com/
Carriage Manufacturing, facing the closure
of its factory, approached EverGreen with a
business
opportunity
that
fit
the
EverGreen’s strategic plans. According to
EverGreen
CEO
Michael
Schoeffler,
“Basically they made a presentation that
really fits the mold of what we’re trying to
do with EverGreen, with the quality, with
the green (segment) and the integrity, and
had some good product design activities,
and they were in the high-end fifth wheel,
and it matched our strategic plan.” By
teaming up with personnel from the former
Carriage RV, the EverGreen RV is able to move ahead the production plan of a luxury fifth
wheel by as much as a year, year and a half. Lifestyle Luxury RV will be a separate division,
operated by mostly former Carriage employees under Evergreen RV.
Carriage Inc. was founded in 1968 by three partners who soon began building in
Millersburg, Indiana, where Carriage has manufactured high-end fifth wheels for over 42
year. 1998 Carriage was purchased by Glenn Cushman, who continued the company’s goal,
“To build as much as possible ourselves.” He also continued the company’s philosophy, “To
build a quality fifth wheel unit, not quantity mass-produced units.” Beyond All Expectations
is the company’s tag line.
Carriage’s first products were two lines of travel trailers, the Carriage and the Rolls
62
International. Fifth wheels had not been invented yet, but even so, it was obvious that early
on any RV that had Carriage's name on it was considered well-built and reliable. “We built
our last travel trailer in the 2005 model year and have focused strictly on our 4 lines of
high-end fifth wheels ever.”
Model Year 2012: The Cabo, Cameo, Carri-Lite, and the Royals International are
Carriage’s 4 models and the Cameo continues to be one of the more popular in sales. Ed
Kinney, VP of Sales and Marketing tells us, “Carriage is excited about this new model year.
Customers visiting our tour plant have been saying, ‘Carriage has done it again’, and we
have”. The new redesigned 2012 Cameo is the most advanced fifth wheel when it comes to
design, function, comfort and innovation. Amenities are numerous and its interior and
exterior storage has been enhanced which will continue the high ratings Carriage has in
customer reviews when it comes to interior and exterior design, and comfort. It is offered in
ten different floor plans with lengths ranging from 32’ to 37’10”, and one-three slide-out
designs. With more than two dozen upgrades, from an aerodynamic front end cap and
windows to bed and bath improvements, Carriage has also upgraded the Cameo with décor,
carpet and furnishings, and details such as cabinetry hardware and accent panels. Reviews
are filled with extremely satisfied Cameo owners and would-be buyers, including comments
such as, “We are full-timing and have fallen head over heels for the Cameo. The only
problem we have is deciding on which one???” We found MSRP beginning at $95,480 for the
37’.
We did find some customers who felt Carriage downsized some of their models, eliminating
bedroom slides and narrowing some bedroom plans. However, the answer to that looks to
be the Royals International, in particular the new Royals International. With some of the
largest features, including one of the largest bathrooms of any coach, the 2012 Royals
International 37SLS1 has 5 all new floorplans. It does not skimp on luxury and entails all
the comforts and elegance you would want in your own home. Basic packages begin with
fully automated controls, hydraulic leveling jacks, a 5-amp electrical system, 112 gallon
water capacity, and a high-gel fiberglass coat. A comfort sleep queen, multi-floor vacuum
and power controls systems are just a
few of a large number of features that
make the Royals a favorite choice of fulltimers who are loyal to Carriage, Inc. The
Royal is available in three packages; the
Royals International Best-Built Package,
Royals International Luxury Package, and
the Royals International Performance
Package, each offering a high quality
level of amenities, styling and value. We
found one dealership offering the model
37’ for under MSRP, at $151,700.
Model Year 2011: Carriage Inc. introduced a new “…entry-level luxury” Solstice fifthwheel line. “We went after it, with all the features that the other industry products in the
price point carry, but we were able to put the Carriage value in it, the quality,” says Director
of Engineering Greg Kitson. “We also created a brand-new Carriage ‘hybrid’ frame for the
unit — which we’re building in-house along with a lot of other components — so we’re able
to control a lot of those key components that make the product better.” Kitson also noted,
“One of the things we’re pretty excited about is the weight of these units. We’re about
10,800 and 11,300 pounds, respectively, which is pretty aggressive, coming in at weight
points that are very competitive with some of the lesser-quality construction methods that
exist. We feel good about that.” The Solstice will initially be available in one 34-foot and
63
one 36-foot floorplan, both with triple slideouts. The new fifth-wheel is expected to have a
base MSRP in the mid-$50,000 range. Beyond the Solstice introduction, Carriage noted a
number of refinements throughout the rest of its lines. Kitson said Carriage added four new
floorplans in the past six months to the company’s popular Cameo series, including a frontbath master suite model, which has a half-bath in the mid-section and a full bath up front,
plus a center kitchen model with a split-level slideout. The 35’ 11” Cameo has a MSRP
beginning at $74,200. Carriage has also introduced one new floorplan — a 37-foot front
bathroom suite in the Carri-Lite fifth-wheel — one of nine Carri-Lite floorplans with MSRP
starting at $95,000.
Model Years 2009-2010: For the past two years the Cameo fifth wheel is once again
Carriage’s most popular model, costing on average about $68,000. From Company’s
website, “Carriage is thrilled to announce the 2009 Cameo models! Along with fresh,
updated interiors, a new exterior graphics scheme and new standards & options, we are also
now offering 2 additional longer Cameo floor plans. In response to customer demand for
units with more square footage, bigger baths and more living space, we give you the 36FWS
and 37KS3, 2 floor plans that will continue to add to our reputation as an industry leader in
RV innovations and industry-firsts. The 37KS3 has not only the largest bath vanity in our
market but the most floor space, true square footage where you, the RVer, can change
clothes, do laundry, get ready, or even dance with your partner. The bedroom TV placement
is perfect for viewing and bedroom storage is maximized to the ceiling. A homerun of a floor
plan, this 37KS3 is now at dealerships all across North America.”
Comments: While performance and safety reviews maintain ratings at or near the top of
the charts, support from the manufacturer and dealer continue to be a very big problem for
Carriage, as these areas continue to drop in the ratings. Currently there is a larger than
acceptable ratio of owners dissatisfied with the company in regards to dealer and
manufacturer support. Most specifically, in the area of bad workmanship and quality issues.
The complaints include buyers who have gone “right to the top” and found little or no help
with their RV issues and problems. Overall value, reliability and cost of maintenance have
also dropped this past year, yet overall quality continues to rate near the top with loyal
owners. Reviews are divided by two groups; a loyal group of owners, who are very strongly
opinionated in the favorable recommendation of Carriage, and Carriage owners who have
had such difficulties with their product that they have moved on to a different manufacturer.
It is obvious the main discontentment comes from a need for Carriage to upgrade their
manufacturer and dealer support.
This same dissatisfaction comes with its warranty. Carriage RV may have the one of the
better warranties we have seen thus far, but getting Carriage to honor it seems to be a
continuing issue with owners. Many owners state problems regarding where and how
services and repairs are made, and if they are authorized and approved by Carriage at all.
With a full two year Hitch-to-Bumper warranty, a five year structural warranty, their
warranties cover full-times users, something thing many companies do not. Appliances and
amenities are also warranted, however not by Carriage, Inc. and this has caused occasional
problems with service. Financial problems may be looming for company regarding bank loan
being recalled. Company has a loyal following and we have always given them high marks
across the board. Will keep our eye on company to see how thing progress.
64
Casita RV
3030 S. McKinney
Rice, TX 75155
Phone: 800-442-9986
www.casitatraveltrailers.com/
Casita is a family owned business founded in 1983. Casita
sells direct to the consumer - no middle man, therefore all
savings are passed directly to their customers. Casita states
they believe their product quality and customer service
differentiate them from other RV companies. Casita feels the
excellent relationship between the sales coordinators and
the customers makes a huge difference, as Casita listens
closely to customer input. That statement is obviously true
by how well Casita does in regards to customer service.
Casita is known as “America’s Favorite Lightweight Travel Trailer”. They are simple to tow
and maneuver, with three different models produced in lengths from 13’ to 17’ models.
Practically any size vehicle can tow a Casita Travel Trailer as they are compact and easy to
handle. Another plus, Casita trailers take only minutes to set up. Casita sells directly to the
public. Casita Travel Trailers products are priced from $13,500 to $16,200 with several
options available to add. The company is appealing to entry-level and mid-range buyers
with price and quality construction both playing an important role.
Casita is proud of their space-age two-piece fiberglass shell construction, which is strong,
yet lightweight, with no roof seams, eliminating rusting and other deterioration. Other top
features are its aerodynamic design for gas efficiently and the insulated interior which
eliminates interior condensation, reduces noise and keeps the trailer cool in the summer,
warm in the winter.
Model Year 2012: While Casita has no new
products
for
2012,
Casita
continues
to
manufacture four popular models, the Patriot,
Spirit Deluxe, Freedom Deluxe, and the Liberty
Deluxe, ranging in 13’ to 17’. All feature 15” Tires
Wheels C-range, electric brakes and stabilizer
jacks, and a Torsion Rubber ride Suspension. The
exteriors are molded gel-coated Marine grade 2pice fiberglass shells and outside storage
compartment on all but the 13’ model. The
Liberty Deluxe easily converts from a travel
trailer to living space in minutes. It sleeps 2-6,
and offers a choice of a king, queen bed or two twin beds, and has a spacious shower/bath
area. We found the top of the line 2011 Liberty Deluxe, with extra features and options,
starting at a MSRP just under $20,000.
Casita also told us that their accessory package, with all the extra features, trims, add-ons,
etc., is now standard on all models.
Model Years 2010-2011: Two of the best-selling brands for Casita are the Spirit Deluxe
and the Freedom Deluxe brands. Both brands are available in two lengths, the 16’ and 17’
models and a dry weight (standard) under 2,000 lbs. They can sleep up to six, (the
65
Freedom has a King bed), and though they are perfect for a couple, both models have easy
sleep/dine conversions to provide more living/sleeping room. Both the Spirit and the
Freedom have spacious (for its size) bath and shower room. These trailers are a great value
for the price and the company has a solid reputation in the industry. Both have MSRPs
starting at just under $13,000.
Model Years 2009-2010: The best-selling brands for Casita are the Spirit Deluxe and the
Freedom Deluxe brands. Average MSRP for both brands is begins at $15,000. This is a
great value for the price and the company has a solid reputation in the industry. One owner
shared, “I bought a 17 ft. Spirit Deluxe 2 years ago. I have tried (for whatever reason) to
find a trailer that appears better than the Casita for size, weight, quality, style, comfort and
I can’t! This trailer is fantastic.”
Comments: For an inexpensive travel trailer it is hard to beat Casita. You can buy factory
direct and save thousands compared to their competitors. Everyone we talked with who
owns or deals Casita products are impressed with the quality inside and out. Casita is at the
top when it comes to overall ratings; everything from overall customer satisfaction and
quality to performance, safety and reliability. Casita also has a new website as of 2011, and
their website maintains a top presentation. Not too flashy, easy to navigate, all the
information you need is easy to access, including contact information. This is very helpful
when you consider that you do not buy a Casita from dealerships, but factory direct.
In this economy Casita RV is a manufacturer to consider. Lightweight, it offers low gas
mileage. Easy to tow, reliable manufacturer support, perfect for weekends or cross country
travel, the Casita offers quality products at a great price. Also owners were pleased with the
way everything “worked the first time.” Top rated company with very affordable products, it
is no wonder why the consistently rank at the top year after year.
Cikira RV, LLC
26767 US 12 Sturgis, MI 49091
PH: 877.424.5472
Fax: 269.659.4958
www.cikirarv.com
Cikira RV is filing Chapter 7 as of 2011
Cikira RV, LLC manufactures travel trailers. The company name offers lightweight RV travel
trailers, hybrid trailers, lightweight toy haulers, and lightweight fifth wheels. On January 26,
2011, an involuntary petition for liquidation under Chapter 7 was filed against Cikira RV, LLC
in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan, Grand Rapids.
Introducing themselves as the world’s finest RV manufacturer for providing Lightweight
Travel Trailers, Lightweight Toy haulers, and Lightweight Fifth Wheels, the Cikira website
tells us, “Team Cikira goes the distance to give our customers the best camping experience
best camping experience with the highest quality and best looking RV in the industry”.
Cikira RV, LLC was born on March 1st 2005. A few months earlier, several individuals had
met to determine what type of RV product they could produce, utilizing the best of the skills
they had to offer. These skills included manufacturing efficiencies, engineering/design,
66
inventory control, sales and marketing. They knew there was a demand for a lightweight,
extremely high quality travel trailer that was efficient to build and simple to design. The
manufacturing concept behind these travel trailers had to also utilize the most modern
manufacturing processes available today. The building and its location was the next critical
element that was needed to turn this concept into a reality. A 16,000 square foot facility
located in the heart of Elkhart Indiana (the RV capital of the world) was their choice. The
name “Cikira” is derived from the first names of the company’s founding employees.
The future goals of this company are to understand the demographics of Cikira’s dual
customer base. The first of these goals is driven by the dealer base which requires delivery
of product ready to be sold, ease of repair and availability of parts. However, the drive to
satisfy the retail customer is the ultimate goal. Through these motivations, direct customer
input via the internet, mail or any other form of communication will create a continuous
product improvement attitude in every part of Cikira RV. Their mission statement reflects
that desire: “Our #1 consideration at Cikira RV is our customer”.
2010-2011: The Lux-Lite is Cikira’s only fifth wheel
product. It comes with standard features including slide
out trim, tinted windows and doors, awnings and
ducted furnace. Exterior lengths range from 21’9” to
25’10”. MSRP begin at $25,000, but we found them on
sale for as little as $17,500.
Cikira RV recently redesigned the year-old Retro-Lite
travel trailer, importing aluminum sidewalls, rather
than fiberglass, mounted on a wraparound composite
substrate. The company also dropped many of the
unit’s European features. “The product that we introduced as the original Retro-Lite was
very high end,” said Cikira President Alan Carter. ”It was a weight leader. But the dealers
were asking for similar function in a unit with a lower cost.” Glass has replaced
polycarbonate in the windows on the 2010 Retro-Lite which no longer is equipped standard
with appliances nor air conditioning. We reduced the base price from $18,000 to $12,000”,
Carter said. ”It is very spartan. When you go back and look at the old camper - that was the
style.” Available in two 16-foot floorplans, Retro-Lite features a dry weight of 1,800 pounds,
which is towable by most SUVs and crossovers. The European package still is available as
an option.
Cikira comes back in 2011 with updates for their Cikira Escape, including a 20’ and 23’
model. Loaded with what you would ask for in a hybrid trailer, features include; Mini
Window Blinds & Valances; Privacy Curtain; Power Vent in Coach; Automatic Demand Water
Pump; Felt-Backed Rubber Roof (12 yr. ltd. warranty); Tinted Windows & Doors w/Safety
Glass; 2500# Spring Axle w/Easy Lube Bearings; Rear Stabilizer Jacks and a 8’ 7-way
Trailer Cable w/Break Away Switch. The 20’ Escape sleeps eight, has air conditioning and
awnings, and comes in at a MSRP of $22,900.
2009-2010: We did not rate this company before the 2010-2011 model year.
Comments: As a new company, Cikira RV is a little difficult to fairly rate product and
consumer satisfaction due to a lack of reviews. The company did not return our many calls
and thus the information provided in this article has come from their website, customers
and dealers. We found that Cikira owners love the “retro” look of the Cikira Retro-Lite small
travel trailer. However, we also found many owners complaining about weak, “soft” flooring
and problems with leakage and/or moisture in the Classic Cruiser. Dealers we spoke to told
67
us that the Cikira is not “moving very much right now” and thus they did not feel they could
give us much of a review on the product or customer satisfaction. Actually we found it very
hard to find dealerships, as those whose websites were named as Cikira dealers seemed to
be unaware of the company all together. The website contains images, specifications and
charts. However, it takes “more than necessary steps” to get to these and there is no
information on warranties, customer service or the company, as these links on their website
are not yet (as of this printing) uploaded. With a limited number of products to choose from,
and weak reviews, we are not sure how/where they lay claim to “World’s finest RV
Manufacturer”. So that said, it will take some work to win us over.
Coach House, Inc
3480 Technology Drive
Nokomis, FL 34275
Phone: 800-235-0984
www.coachhouserv.com
Last year Coach House celebrated their
25th anniversary, recalling their humble
start out of a converted warehouse. The
Gerzeny Family has been designing,
engineering and building motor homes in
the Venice, Florida area since 1985, when
the first Coach House van conversion
rolled out of that converted warehouse.
Now located in a 30,000 sq ft state of the
art production facility, their decades of
manufacturing experience, attention to
the smallest details, and “build-it-right,
build-it-to last” philosophy, converge in
the design and construction of every Coach House Platinum.
Coach House Inc. has carved out a niche in the RV marketplace. Its patented, one-piece
solid fiberglass body was the first in the industry and it means no leaks, fewer repairs and a
more peaceful driving experience. Steve Gerzeny, Coach House VP tells us, “As far as the
integrity of the motor home, it will last a very long time. There are no seams that can fail.”
Gerzeny adds, “We use the best of everything inside our motor homes – the best
appliances, the best cabinet materials. We choose the best vendors and shave no expense
at all. We always try to find the unique and special.” Coach House also makes their own
cabinetry and has an upholstery shop where experienced upholsterers make throw pillows,
upholstered valances, drapes and bedspreads for their motorhomes.
The average Coach House customer is high end, with quality and style being the most
important aspect of the decision-making process. “Often our customers are downsizing who
are coming out of a larger motor home and want something smaller, but don’t want to
forego luxury. We also deal with the entry-level buyer who has the resources and
wherewithal and has done his homework,” says Gerzeny. Coach House sales are strongest
in the southeast and while the product is unique, the main competitors for the company are
Dynamax and Born Free.
68
Model Year 2012: Coach House states they have been working very hard this past year
and it is obvious in the many upgrades the 2012 Class C Platinum models offer. A few of
the many changes include; a 15,000 BTU ducted roof A/C with Heat Pump providing better
cooling and heating capacity, a heavier duty side entrance door that is wider, more secure,
quiet and durable, and a redesigned entrance step maximizing entrance width, providing
easier access to the HWH Hydraulic pump and making it more resistant to weather
conditions. Added to those upgrades, Coach House tells us the interior is improved with new
Ford dashboards that are ergonomically designed for better visibility to all storage
compartments, radio controls and climate settings. Additionally, they have cleaned up the
interior by adding a central control station that houses most of the controls for the holding
tank monitor system, HWH Slide-out and Jacks, water pump and generator switch. Storage
has been increased on all models by maximizing space under all bunks, in the galleys, and
throughout the interior. Hinges are also upgraded for 2012. The new hinges allow you to
open the cabinet doors to any position, and they will stay in that position until you close
them.
Examples of these upgrades are found in the 2012 Coach House Platinum 261XL,
available in four floorplans all with room for additional sleeping areas for family or friends.
Coach House describes it as including “…features that have never been used before in a
Platinum motorhome. For starters, for the first time, we are using a manually operated
queen-size hide-a-bed for the main sleeping area. This allows the sheets to be kept on the
bed when it is closed. The hide-a-bed is contained in a slide-out that extends a full 32
inches, farther than any previous model.
The trucks of the Platinum coaches are built on a Ford Super-Duty chassis, with a 6.8 liter
Triton V-10 engine and automatic 5-speed TorqShift transmission. Power steering, power
windows door locks, and mirrors, keyless remote, cruise control, 55-gallon gas tank, air
conditioning and a AM/FM CD stereo system round out just some of the features.
Coach House continues to manufacture the Platinum in 5 models and Platinum II in two
models, all with several different exterior paint options. Coach House also has the ability to
customize the Platinum to fit your personal taste or circumstances.
Model Years 2009-2011: The Platinum series is the Coach House product model, and
one of the best-looking motorhomes in its class. They are a bit smaller compared to other
Class C’s but spacious enough to contain all the amenities of home, and include slide-out
models. A luxurious queen bed, expansive overhead cabinetry, wardrobe closet and standup
shower are just some of the standard features. The Platinum is built on a Ford E-450 Super
Duty Chassis with 6.8-liter Triton V-10 engine, the Platinum II series is built on a MercedesBenz Sprinter 3500 Chassis. Coach House placed the sleeping area and bathroom in the rear
of the Platinum II, producing a wide-open living/entertaining area in the front of the unit.
The unit features 6-foot, 4-inch ceilings throughout. Both products are offered in 3 choices
of paint design and a variety of floorplans, depending upon which model and length. The
Platinum series models range in size from 23’ to 26’ with a starting MSRP of under
$130,000.
Comments: "Not too big, not too small” - that is the company’s philosophy when it comes
to their motorhomes. Based on our research the company is successful in that approach
because it continues to receive high marks in many categories; safety, construction,
customer satisfaction, manufacturer support and resale value. Performance and Reliability
dropped to 4 out of 5 points, nonetheless overall value remains high, and Coach House
receives some of the highest ratings in the RV motorhome industry category.
Coach House is a smaller company, compared to major motorhome manufacturers, focusing
69
on a few products and doing a great job with those products. The company has also
instituted “Coach House Today”, a new publication designed to keep their customers
informed about Coach House, Inc. In the newsletter Coach House shared, “Our corporate
structure is different. Coach House is a family-owned company. And we like to think of our
customers and employees as part of an extended family.” One area in which they pass on
the “extended-family” goal is their “Passport to Savings” program that will reimburse you
for your travel expense should you decide to buy a new Coach House Platinum. We are
confident you will not be disappointed with Coach House.
Coachmen RV
P.O. Box 30
423 North Main
Middlebury, IN 46540
Phone: (800) 353-7383
www.coachmenrv.com/
In 1964 Coachmen RV Industries was founded by
three brothers: Tom, Keith and Claude Corson. Now
Coachmen RV is a Division of Forest River Inc.
having been purchased by the Warren Buffet
Company in December of 2008. The company is
headquartered in Middlebury, Indiana the primary
manufacturing facilities on nearly 120 acres, with
approximately 11 acres under roof serving as a
dedicated manufacturing facility for Coachmen
branded Class A Motorhomes, Class C Motorhomes, Fifth Wheels, Travel Trailers, and Toy
Haulers. Coachmen’s Camping Trailers are manufactured in their Centerville, MI
manufacturing facilities. After being purchased by Forest River, Coachmen RV was
restructured as a “systems-built” housing company, with a specialty vehicle business.
The company’s housing division, called the “Housing and Building Systems Group”, is one of
America's leading producers of modular homes. Recreation vehicles were manufactured
under the Coachmen Recreation Vehicles, LLC, Sportscoach RV, Georgie Boy Manufacturing,
LLC and Viking Recreation Vehicles, LLC brand names. Coachmen RV, produces Class A
motorhomes, Class C "mini" motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheel trailers, toy haulers
and folding camping trailers.
Coachmen’s website tells us, “The integration of Coachmen RV into Forest River Inc. has
provided countless value propositions to Coachmen RV owners, dealers, suppliers and
employees. The Coachmen RV brand has been reborn. Our product advantages are
significant, our quality is leading, our value is unparalleled and the Coachmen Brand
remains one of the most recognized brands throughout the RV Industry!” In a press release
Coachmen states, “There are six divisions within the new Coachmen, each headed by a
general manager with a dedicated plant, sales team, and each operates under its own profit
and loss. There are no vice presidents in our divisions. No layers, only doers.”
Model Year 2012: Coachmen has no brand new products for 2012, their models are
updated and re-designed. The popular Prism Class C Motorhome is luxurious, with
European styling, built on a Mercedes diesel chassis. It has four different floorplans, each
70
with a GVWR of 11,030 lbs., 26 Gallon fuel capacity, and 25 foot lengths. The 2012 Diesel
Prism 2100 CB includes a single slide, rear corner full bath, rear corner double bed, Ushaped dinette, full kitchen, lounge seat with a pull-out extension, and lots of storage. We
found a MSRP of just over $93,000, but it was available for $70,000. Coachmen RV tells us
their fifth wheel Brookstone will provide you with the most livable amenities and ample
amount of storage in the industry. This makes the Brookstone every bit as comfortable as it
is convenient and the 2012 Brookstone 360 RL is just that. It features a rear living area,
swivel rocker recliners, desk area, and a 42” TV with the overhead cab. A full kitchen, with a
kitchen island, and a full bed and bathroom, the Brookstone is also available with a
fireplace. With a length of 38’6”, the Brookstone sleeps 4 and has three slideouts. We found
the Brookstone 360RL available for $89,760.
Model Years 2010-2011: Mike Bear, General Manager, tells us that Coachmen RV,
through standardization, is now able to offer midline products, lowering prices and yet
keeping quality high. “We are very conscious of the economy and want to offer respectable
products at a lower price point.” This is seen in their Class C motorhomes. The Freelander
is adding lots of floorplans for 2010-2011, with slideouts and a front kitchen floor plan. It
went from mid-line to entry level, but with a much nicer look. Standard equipment includes
a powerful Triton V-10 Ford engine, patio awning, 1-piece windshield, side bath and large
pass through storage area. The MSRP ranges from $72,493 to $97,792.
For 2011 Coachmen says, "Coachmen RV has resurrected a familiar name: The Catalina.
Bearing the popular Coachmen RV branding from some years back, the Catalina covers the
world of travel trailers with a starting line-up of versatile models! With these choices
designed to fit almost any budget, we feel the new Coachmen Catalina is the most
aggressively priced travel trailer on the market.” It is loaded with standard features
including, cambered structural steel I-Beam frame, 81” living room ceiling height, R-7
fiberglass insulation in sidewall, roof & floor, single piece countertops, and deluxe window
treatments. The Catalina offers 12 different floorplans ranging from a 20’ to a 38’ floorplan.
MSRP begin under $18,000. For Coachmen’s fifth wheel line, the Chaparral has been
“totally re-vamped” and introduced as both the Chaparral and the Chaparral Lite. The Lite
fifth wheels are designed to be the lightest fifth wheel on the market and are towable by
many of today's 1/2 ton pickup trucks. Standard features include raised panel cabinet
doors, designer window treatments, seamless countertops, swivel lounge chairs, queen bed,
designer bedspread, double door refrigerator and lots of storage.
Model Years 2009-2010: Coachmen released their 2010 line up, but from our research
there is little change from their 2009 line-up. The company does have high expectations for
their all new fuel efficient Prism Class C motorhome with an MSRP of $106,000. Its
curvaceous design and upscale appointments speak to its avant-garde styling. Built on the
Sprinter chassis, Prism gives you a combination of nimbleness, freedom and elegant
simplicity you won’t find in conventional coaches. Another popular product in the travel
trailer category is the Freedom Express, with an average MSRP of $26,000. When it
comes to the Freedom Express Coachmen tells us, “There’s no place like home, so why not
take it with you into the great outdoors. From the tastefully decorated interior using easyto-clean fabrics to the hardwood cabinets and no-slip floors, durable enough to withstand
the rigors of family camping, the Freedom Express is designed for maximum livability
without breaking the bank.”
Comments: Earlier reviews for Coachmen were mixed. As with any company in business
for over 43 years, and with several lines of products offered, there is bound to be some
dissatisfaction among customers. These range from warranty issues to workmanship
malfunctions. Overall ratings remain close to the same as the previous year. Performance
71
and Safety are above average, yet Reliability and Overall Quality are just barely above
average. It is worth noting that in the area of “Comfort” Coachmen only rates “just barely”
average. As this does not specify whether it is the living area or cab, you will want to do
some investigating. Motorhome Magazine also lists a mix of reviews from “loyal” to “stay
away” reviews. More recently, we have found owners love their Coachmen products. The
dealers we spoke to stated they feel the quality is good, if not a little better after the Forest
River purchase, and that they have found a significant improvement in the area of
warranties and service. One dealer tells us, “Their floorplans, the fit and finish, structural
integrity and prices; for what is out there, Coachmen products are hard to beat”. Another
said, “We are a family owned business and have sold Coachmen since we first opened. That
shows what pride and faith we have in Coachmen products.
Country Coach Corporation
P.O. Box 575
135 East First Ave.
Junction City, Oregon 97448
Phone: 541-234-2167
www.countrycoach.com/
In 1973 Country Coach was founded by RV pioneer Bob Lee. Beginning with two employees
in a small garage, Lee built the company from its beginnings to its present day facilities
spanning nearly 500,000 square feet over several city blocks in Junction City, Oregon.
Lee retired from Country Coach in 1995. Lee returned when a gloomy economy affected the
RV industry and also impacted Country Coach, causing bankruptcy, followed by the
company going out of business. “I was here in the beginning when we were called Country
Camper, and I just have this, I guess it’s a passion for this company,” states Lee, who
purchased the company in 2010 and started operations January 3rd, 2011. Lee declares his
aim for the company is to assure owners that Country Coach will be there for them long
after he is gone.
With plans for new goals and a new purpose, Lee came back as the new owner of Country
Coach to rescue the company. Now Country Coach is building coaches on an “order basis”.
Lee tells us, “We now can build any part of a Country Coach, including doing it totally, but
we still have excess space. I have re-hired 16 of the original employees, giving Country
Coach a combined total of over 400 years of RV experience. Country Coach tells us they
now have 22 employees and are continuing to “bounce-back” strongly, including in the
areas of parts manufacturing, parts shipping, and sales which has picked up dramatically.
Lee adds, “If you have some sort of faith in mankind and especially this American spirit, you
have to know that it’s (Country Coach) going to come back. By means of innovation,
ingenuity and a lot of perseverance, Country Coach is shaking off the effect of the
recessions and re-building.”
Lee hopes for Country Coach to start building coaches by early next year, 2012. His
business plan calls for a modest start with 25 coaches manufactured in the first year and an
increase of 80 employees. Keeping Country Coach strong and keeping jobs are their main
objectives.
72
Lee has been instrumental in creating some of the RV specifications we take for granted
today such as a motorcoach systems monitor with speech processor, air leveling for the
motorcoach, Infotronics HVAC control technology, and hydronic heating coach systems. He
also introduced the first code-compliant custom bus conversion built on a production line.
Lee was inducted into the RV/MH Heritage Foundation, Inc. Hall of Fame in 2000.
Model Years 2011-2012: Still recovering from bankruptcy and trying to get its feet on
the ground as a “new” company, Country Coach has yet to manufacture many new models.
Despite the foreclosure, we did find the 2012 Country Coach Magna 630 offering new
floorplans. A diesel pusher, with a length of 40’, tow capacity of 10,000 lbs, four slides, the
magna sleeps four comfortably. While the MSRP is $768,995, we found it for under
$599,000.
Country Coach President and CEO Bob Lee says the company is currently in the design
phase for an electric-diesel hybrid RV, which should double or triple the mileage compared
to a traditional coach. Lee also tells us Country Coach now has a full coach service center,
their Dyno center, capable of complete chassis and mechanical services. In addition,
Country Coach has begun a newsletter, Country Coach Destinations, in order to keep you up
with the latest happenings at Country Coach.
Country Coaches media tells us that the Country Coach Lexa was used “…in a move that will
placate both Democrats and Republicans,” as Sarah Palin chose to travel across the nation
in a uniquely American recreational vehicle product. The Lexa coach is offered with six floor
plans, with a double or triple slide out configuration (galley, bedroom and living room). The
diesel pusher motorhome was produced by Country Coach in both a 42′ and 45′ version.
When it first debuted, the Lexa’s “futuristic” design, full-height windshield, awning styled
windows and a sleek European look both inside and out, was enthusiastically received by
motorhome owners.
Model Years 2009-2010: On March 19, 2009 Country Coach announced the re-opening of
its manufacturing and sales operations in Junction City, Oregon. Though there is no word
yet on any NEW lines for 2010, Country Coach is very optimistic about the quality of coach
they will be able to sell now that they are a factory-direct manufacturer. As the economy
improves we expect to see some exciting products from this company. We speculate at this
time the company will not introduce any new lines for 2010 as they are trying to reestablish themselves and hire back the workers they lost eight months ago.
Comments: Early 2000-2004 reviews for Country Coach provide satisfied feedback from
owners. By the mid-2000s customer satisfaction drops sharply, specifically in the areas of
repairs, paint, and mechanical problems. Yet many reviews praise the way the coaches
handled on the road, comparing it to a luxury automobile. Nonetheless, the latest
combination of reviews from both “then and now” put Country Coach back up high on the
charts for overall quality and owners who would recommend the product to others. Comfort,
design, interior and exterior appearance, performance and safety all rate at the top of the
charts. Reviews drop in satisfaction when it comes to reliability, cost of maintenance and
manufacturer support. Though we do not see this as a huge red flag, (the drops are
significant but not extreme), it is something important to consider when purchasing a preowned Country Coach.
73
With a new, easy to navigate website the company also offers a Country Coach
Consignment service with both information and the service available through their website.
The service specializes in bus and pusher diesel RV sales, presenting an opportunity to sell
or buy highline Country Coaches and other high-quality brand RVs. The website, while
offering much information on the company and the factory, is very weak on models and
products, floorplans and specifics.
CrossRoads RV (Thor)
1115 W Lake Street
Topeka, Indiana 46571
Phone: 888-226-7496
www.crossroadsrv.com
CrossRoads RV, a division of Thor, has
manufactured fifth wheels and travel
trailers since 1996. The company was
privately owned until Thor purchased it a
few years ago. By maintaining a philosophy
of keeping frills to a minimum, but quality
of product, service and value high, they
have continued to grow in the market and
earn a reputation for customer satisfaction.
Located in Topeka, Indiana the company
manufactures four distinct products, fifth
wheels, travel trailers, an ultra-lite trailer
and destination trailers. They have five
plant locations and employ over 400 people who team together to manufacture their highquality product lines. CrossRoads products are distributed through dealers throughout the
United States, Canada, France, Japan, China and Australia. A hallmark of the company’s
construction is the all-aluminum (Gorilla Cage) lighter weight half-ton towables. They also
feature Hung walls, a seamless, one-piece roof, Filon-fiberglass exterior, plywood decking,
and additional construction features normally found in higher-end products. These are all
standard in CrossRoads RVs, which prides itself on offering more standards than add-ons at
affordable price.
Company President Mark Lucas says that CrossRoads top two competitors are Keystone and
Dutchmen, but he says that CrossRoads’ focus on the customer sets them apart. “We offer
just around 200 floor plans for our retail customer to choose from. We focus on
construction, warranty and fit and finish. Our quality is a strong point.” Another strong point
is the low, low weight of CrossRoad’s RVs making them easy to tow. “Our construction,
although lightweight, is meant to last. We have a two-year all inclusive and five-year
structural warranty on our all aluminum framed units,” Lucas says.
Park Model business is another sector CrossRoads RV has taken by storm, offering Hampton
destination trailers, Tranquility park models and Pinewood rental cabins. “We are ranked in
the top five of Park model manufacturers in a short time span. CrossRoads RV brings the
same approach of listening to the campground owners, dealers and retail customers and
build the product with their input,” says Lucas.
74
Model Year 2012: This year delivers updated floorplans and amenities for most CrossRoad
products. They continue to feature many standard features that are offered only as options
or on some other brands. CrossRoad’s 2012 Cruiser Sahara is their newest fifth wheel.
With sturdy, lightweight aluminum construction, the Sahara, like most Cruiser fifth wheels,
can be towed with a half-ton pick-up truck. With seven floorplans, each consisting of
aluminum tube 16" OC for sidewalls, end-walls, and slide rooms, the Sahara has a fully
enclosed, insulated underbelly.
CrossRoads RV launched a newly designed luxury Fifth Wheel with the introduction of the
Rushmore in 2011 and 2012. The newly designed product line offers five floorplans, a full
body colored gel glass exterior, a cross wind aerodynamic front cap, hardwood cherry
cabinetry, with spacious sleeping areas which include queen and king bed floorplans. The
Rushmore is covered by CrossRoad’s 2+5 year warranty protecting it from defects in
materials and/or workmanship and a five-year structural guarantee against floor, walls, and
roof defects. The new 2012 Rushmore 36SB is an example of the high-end features of this
product. Offered with a triple slide floorplan, lounge chairs, sofa, table & chairs slide, it also
has a full kitchen consisting of a refrigerator, 3-burner range slide, double kitchen sink,
Island, and a Pantry. Further standard features are a queen bed slide, LCD TV,
washer/dryer closet and wardrobe, with lots of storage and overhead cabinets. The 2012
Rushmore models have a base MSRP price of $49,999.
In their travel trailer line the CrossRosds Z-1 is making news for 2012. CrossRoads tells
us, they have has redefined the market with the brand new Z-1 travel trailer. “We have
packed the Z-1 with many new innovative features. The models range in length from 19 to
32 feet, have full depth slide-outs and they start around 4000 lbs. These entry level units
are equipped with many standard features that other RV manufacturers offer only as
options, such as Industry first Safety Step in bunkhouse models, Stabilizer Jacks (4),
Aerodynamic front end with diamond plate stone guard, and Tinted Safety Glass
Windows.” Darin Elswick, Product Manager, states “We are excited to offer a product most
families are able to afford and tow with the half ton truck or SUV they drive on a daily
basis. The Z-1 starting MSRP is around $13,000.”
Model Years 2010-2011: CrossRoads RV offers a full
line of travel trailers including the lightest fully enclosed
trailer in the industry, The 2011 Slingshot RV Travel
Trailer. The SlingShot can be towed by crossover SUV’s
and some floor plans can be towed by mini vans. It
comes with all aluminum construction, and a one-piece
fiberglass crowned roof. The slingshot offers seven
floorplans to choose from with MSRP ranging from
$19,521 for a 21’ bunk trailer to a MSRP of $25,191 for a
29'11" bunk house trailer less than 4,100 pounds.
The Single Slide Zinger Travel Trailer is introduced with a 2011 model featuring a rear
kitchen, overhead cabinets, sofa slide out w/storage, booth dinette w/TV & overhead
storage, wardrobe and front queen bed. The Zinger is especially modeled to be familyfriendly, with lots of space and storage. With a large variety of these family-friendly floor
plans, the Zinger includes nine bunk house models. MSRPs range from $16,400 to $27,800.
Zinger is also available in four fifth wheels floorplans. They range from a 27’ with a MSRP of
$22,500 to a 31’ with a MSRP of $25,250.
75
Crossroads introduced an all-new Cruiser, one of their most popular fifth wheels lines,
available in 13 new floorplans. Its interior, known for its spacious comfort and easy-living
features, is what has made the Cruiser a continual favorite. The Provincial Edition includes
50 Amp service with bedroom A/C prep, Trail-Aire Rota-flex pin box, Rear power leveling
jacks, Polar Tech upgrade insulation, Corian counter tops and upgraded exterior graphics. A
sturdy lightweight aluminum frame allows most Cruisers to be towed by half-ton pickups.
MSRP is $32,490.
Model Years 2009-2010: Their best sellers are the Cruiser and Zinger brands. Both are
built with a lightweight, all-aluminum construction that gives you more towing options. This,
along with the solid construction of their hung walls, fiberglass exterior and one-piece
rubber roof are just some standard features you typically won’t find in other comparable
products. “The materials aren’t cheap to make lightweight,” says Lucas. “We spend a little
more on construction, focusing on the weight so our RVs are really towable. This means that
consumers can tow these vehicles with the trucks they have. We think people will make the
investment when they see the warranty and see that it is a good investment. It is a useable
vehicle. They will get their money’s worth.
Comments: CrossRoads RV does very well in the RV ratings. Performance, Safety, Design,
Overall Quality and Value, these areas all rate very high, including the all-important
“Support from the Manufacturer”. There is a very loyal following of owners and they
overwhelming state they would recommend a CrossRoads product to potential buyers.
CrossRoads unveiled a new look to their website last year and it is an impressive website. In
addition to full product descriptions, photo galleries, owner’s forum, the site offers floor plan
specific product tours. CrossRoads also offers a “Build Your Own” option for potential
owners. From their website you can select your option features, including décor, and you
will receive a full summary of your selection with the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price
(MSRP). You can also send your selection to the dealer of your choice for a dealer quote.
The company also has a “Family Friendly Forum” which has daily blogs, information, and
conversations regarding a variety of topics pertaining to CrossRoad products and models.
Probably one of the best attributes to the CrossRoad’s website is their Real-Time Inventory
Search. An industry first, the Inventory Search will allow customers to find the exact floor
plan, décor and options at a CrossRoads RV dealer located closest to their location.
Customers can search over 380 dealer inventories and over 200 different floor plans in a
matter of just a couple of minutes.
Damon Corporation (Thor)
701 Country Road
Elkhart, Indiana 46516
Phone: 800-860-5658
www.thormotorcoach.com
Damon Corporation is now a product of Thor Motor Coach, the result of the 2010 merger
and purchase by Thor, Industries of Four Winds International, Damon Motor Coach, and
Mandalay RV. All information and products once manufactured by Damon Corp. are now
directed to the Thor Motor Coach manufacturing company. This includes the website and
contact information. Though Thor Motor Coach is a relatively new name to the industry, its
parent company, Thor Industries has been around for decades.
76
Jerimiah Borkowski, Director of Thor Communications, tells us the merger went especially
smoothly because the facilities were right next to each other, and it resulted in a strong
Class B product (Four Winds International), with a strong diesel and Class A product
(Damon). Jerimiah points out; with these mergers Thor is connecting the dots to become a
better product line and offer more services. Thor Motor Coach manufactures both gas and
diesel Class A and C, and Class B+ motorhomes, in several different product lines and
floorplans. You can even work with Thor Motor Coach and design your own motor coach.
Last year Thor Industries had announced their “Concierge Connection”…which is a personal
service advocate for Thor owners. Concierge Connection offers new retail owners of any
Damon motorhome a personal service advocate who is responsible for facilitating any
service needs. Within days of your purchase the Concierge Connection is made, offering
assistance for warranty and retail registrations, assistance with the motorhome operation,
follow-up phone calls… all welcoming you to the “Thor Motorhome Family”.
Model Year 2012: Thor Motor Coach also
introduced a new 2012 34SS Thor Damon
Daybreak floor plan with an innovative exterior
kitchen. Built on a Ford Chassis, with a 6.8-Liter
Triton V-10 engine, the Daybreak has a 5-Speed
TorqShift Automatic transmission with overdrive.
Automatic leveling jacks with touchpad controls,
side-mounted power patio awning, side cameras,
ergonomic dash, and back-up monitor system
(includes
touch
screen
in-dash
radioAM/FM/CD/AUX/iPod/MP3/USB) are standard. The Daybreak features a spacious living area
with media center, and well-equipped galley. We found MSRPs beginning at just over
$128,000. For further information and 2012 products see Thor Motor Coach article.
Model Years 2010-2011: Damon features six Class A motorhome products. Brands
include the Astoria, Tuscany and Avanti diesel pushers and the gas-powered DayBreak,
Challenger and Outlaw models. Among those six products is the 2011 Outlaw, Damon’s
Toy-hauler, which features a loft for sleeping two over a garage. Lengths range from 37' 4"
to 38' 11" and MSRP begin at $131,600.
The 2011 Avanti is declared to be the most
fuel-efficient Class A motorhome in the
industry, boasting a performance of 14.5
miles per gallon. The Avanti was the first
motor home to be built on the Workhorse
W16D front-engine diesel platform. The
W16D also marks the first appearance of the
MaxxForce™ 5 V6 diesel engine in a motor
home. The MaxxForce 5 is mated to an
Allison 1000 Series transmission and
produces 200 horsepower and 440 ft.-lbs. of
torque. Leading edge technology makes the MaxxForce 5 a “clean diesel” engine that
improves both emission levels and fuel efficiency. That, along with the relatively light weight
of the Workhorse chassis contributes to Avanti’s fuel economy and payload capacity. The
Avanti features a Freightliner Chassis, one-touch fully automatic 4 point leveling jacks,
Cummins Turbo Diesel, GPS Navigation, U dinette, roman-style day/night shades for privacy
and sleeps four easily. It also has full body paint and dual pane windows. The Avanti comes
77
with a single slide and two floorplan lengths ranging from 28’ 9” to 31’ 10”. MSRP begins at
$143,500.
Comments: Despite the “Class A” rating of Damon products, Damon owners are mixed. We
found some very loyal owners and others who would not recommend the product at all.
Reviews put the Damon products at only an average of 3.5 – 4 points out of 5 for overall
ratings, with “Cost of Maintenance” being one of the poorer ratings. Support from the
manufacturer was a little higher than last year and perhaps the introduction by Thor of the
Concierge Connection, which we feel is a great asset to any purchase, has helped improve
that rating. Because many owners are adamant they love the products and others are
adamant they would not recommend Damon products, we at J R Consumer Resources
suggest you check reviews for the specific Damon product you are considering purchasing,
as there are products that seem to rate very well overall.
For more information on reviews and ratings for Damon products, see the Thor Motor
Coach article.
DRV (Formerly DoubleTree RV)
0160W 750N
P.O. Box 235
Howe, IN 46746
Phone: 260-562-1075
www.drvsuites.com/
Once known as Double Tree RV, the manufacturer
decided to change its name to avoid a conflict of
interest regarding trademark laws. To steer clear of
any possibility of future conflict and to make its
brands entirely distinct and easy to recognize,
decided to change their name to DRV. However that
is all that has changed. DRV remains committed to
the same simple philosophy they have since they
first began, “Find out what the consumer wants, and
then exceed their expectations.”
With construction of their fifth wheel line, attention to detail starts from the ground up as
DRV produces luxury models for those wanting a high-end, top notch product.
Manufacturing three products, the Elite Suites, Mobile Suites and the Select Suites, DRV has
a large selection of floorplans, slide-outs and options. The company’s closest competitors
are K-Z, Peterson Industries and New Horizons RV, according to Dan Tauer, Vice President
of Sales and Marketing. We asked Dan what makes his company unique compared to their
competitors and he said, “DRV is the only fifth wheel manufacturer that builds a 3 ½”
sidewall with two moisture barriers, with an total R value of 16, total roof R value is 25 and
the basement is rated at an R value of 27.” Note: R-ratings are not just about keeping heat
in the unit, but also about keeping it out in summer. DRV also states, “Each coach features
a state of the art hydraulic system with individually controlled slide outs and independent
front landing jacks installed at a 5 degree angle for optimal stability”. Dan mentioned this
makes leveling much easier. The company is strongest in the Midwest region of the United
States and is seeing new dealerships in the west and east coast as well.
78
DRV is big on factory tours and encourages buyers to schedule an appointment. Just a side
note; when a company really encourages factory tours it’s a good sign they build a quality
product.
Model
Year
2012:
DRV
continues
to
manufacture a high quality fifth wheel product,
and the Elite Suite, Mobile Suite and the Select
Suite, have all come out with updated models for
2012. Each model features Hardwood Oak
cabinetry, with Maple or Cherry Optional, vinyl
flooring, hardwood trim, power awnings, and a l0
or 12 gal. gas/electric water heater. From there
the construction raises with the Suites. For
instance, the basic Suite has a 55 amp converter,
and 301b. LPG tank, the Elite has an 80 amp
converter and a 40lb. LPG tank. A great
reference on the DRV website is their “Compare” page link which lets you look at all three
Suites and compare specifications and amenities all on one page.
We’d like to focus on the DRV Elite Suite, which comes in eleven different floorplan options
and several décor choices. It features a residential heating system with 6" ducting, a 40,000
BTU furnace, cable TV, is HD satellite ready, has a 80 amp 12 VDC converter, 12 VDC
battery on pull out tray, and a 110 volt outlet at outside hook-up center. The Elite Suite is
truly a home away from home. With a surround sound home theater center, ultra leather
upholstery, built-in fireplace and a full kitchen, this is the top of the line in comfort and
travel. We found the Elite Suite 38RESB3, 39 foot model, with a MSRP of $154,100, yet
available for $119,532.
Model Years 2010-2011: Each fifth wheel product, the Elite Suite, Mobile Suite and the
Select Suite, have all come out with new, updated models for 2011. Floorplans range from
31' up to 43' and can be semi-custom built to fit your needs. Features for the 2011 Mobile
Suite include: king and queen beds, high-quality maple or cherry wood and hardwood suite
oak custom cabinets, leather sofa and recliners, fireplace, LCD HDTV home theatre system
with power lift, hardwood table with four under seat storage dinette chairs, a ''full
extension'' drawer guide system, tub/shower combo, one piece rubber roof, 78” Gelcoat
fiberglass exterior door, power A & E awning, 1/4" foam-core vapor barrier wrapped
sidewalls, a hand held remote level for front to back and side to side leveling with "LevelUp", and so much more that we can only say you need to see this luxurious suite to believe
it. Standard features are what you would see as “optional extras” in other fifth wheel lines.
Added note: few builders go to the trouble of adding a manifold system that maintains even
water flow throughout the unit when, for instance, the shower and washer are going at the
same time. DRV does this for their units. We found the Mobile Suite 38RESB3 (with four
slide-outs) beginning at a MSRP of $124,444, on sale for $85,900.
Model Year 2009: During the 2009 model year many companies did not have new
information that we could use in our publication and that is the case with DRV.
Comments: It is evident from the company’s website, reading their brochures and
examining their specifications that each unit is constructed using top of the line materials
and products. DRV may not be “cheap”, but that is because nothing about DRV is, referring
to quality and construction. Reviews and forums imply you will get a worry-free travel
experience with DRV. We were impressed by the opulence found in the Suites, the Elite
79
Suite in particular, which includes thicker walls than any other fifth wheel that we have ever
seen. Based on our research the company received good ratings in the areas of
construction, customer service, and resale value, highest in performance and safety. DRV
has a very good website. It does have some non-active links, such as news, and little
information about the company, but overall the website is very detailed should you need
model and product information. Under each product link there is a “Construction Features”
link that has very specific information and photos of the actual construction of the product,
from the frame to the smallest details, such as the drawer slides.
Dutchmen (Thor)
2164 Caragana Court
Goshen, IN 46527
Phone: 574-537-0600
www.dutchmen.com
Dutchmen has been manufacturing products since
1988, and since Thor acquired Dutchmen in 1991,
it has become one of the largest brands of
conventional and fifth wheel travel trailers in the
world. They remain focused on providing
innovative products that are loaded with standard
equipment and unique features. Dutchmen states
they offer more value for your dollar compared to
other recreational vehicle companies and they
believe it is Dutchmen's attention to detail in design and construction for the reason their
customers return when it is time for their next RV. Dutchmen told us, “Time after time,
Dutchmen RV has been voted the best value and most innovative recreational vehicle in our
industry.”
Dutchmen manufactures several brands of RV products consisting of travel trailers, fifth
wheels, toy-haulers, ultra-lites and destination travel trailers. The products are sold
throughout the United States and Canada and include the Dutchmen RV brands of Denali,
Komfort, Infinity, Aspen Trail, Kodiak, Voltage, Rubicon, Aerolite, Coleman and Dutchmen.
Each one can be individually explored through their excellent website. For this article we will
be discussing specific Dutchmen RV products; however we encourage you to look at all the
Dutchmen manufacturing brands available. For instance the “Aeorlite” is worth noting as it
was the industry’s first ultra-lite travel trailer, introduced over 15 years ago.
Model Year 2012: Dutchmen RV has four styles of travel trailers with some of the most
popular floorplan layouts in the industry. Their standard features tend to consist of some
amenities that are only optional in other trailers in the same price range.
For 2012 the Dutchmen Lite has three floorplans ranging in length from 26’ to 31’ 8”. Sofa
Bed and kitchen slideouts create a spacious living/sleeping area. Floorplans include bunk
beds and or queen beds styles. The Dutchmen Lite includes a fiberglass construction and
under belly package, heavy-duty steel beam frame chassis, rear fold-down storage, 26”
radial tires, and a walk-on roof with fiberglass insulation. Premium furniture, tub and
surround shower, oversized dinette and flat screen TV are some of the standard features.
80
The Dutchmen Lite models have the Galley-slide which adds extra living space without extra
weight. We found the 2012 Dutchmen Lite 257RBGS with a MSRP of $26,100.
Dutchmen Manufacturing is unveiling the industry’s only “front kitchen” fifth-wheel, the
2012 Dutchmen 3870FK Infinity. The Infinity is one of the newer fifth wheels for
Dutchmen brands and is manufactured in five different floorplans. “At home, most people
tend to entertain in the kitchen. Why not in a luxury fifth-wheel?” said Rob Groover, General
Manager for Infinity and Komfort. “Through advanced engineering and design, we have
produced the ultimate front kitchen floorplan that makes all that possible.” The Infinity
3870FK offers five slide-rooms, seats six, includes a 12-cubic-foot refrigerator, 6 foot 8
inch crowned ceiling, spacious bath, king-sized bed, a 32-inch HD TV.
The Dutchmen Denali is a popular product with dealers. They especially are excited about
the new R-40 insulation in the floor and ceilings. Dealers also told us they think a great new
addition is the Beau-floor, which is a free floating floor that is “damage proof” from drops of
heavy objects and indentations, keeping heat both in and out. It also has a protective shield
keeping it from sun damage that causes fading in other floors.
Model Years 2010-2011: Dutchmen has their 2011 “Dutchmen Classic”, available in 6
floor plans with a smooth exterior design that avoids wind drag and saves on fuel. Slam
latch doors, usually only seen on high-end motorhomes and power awnings are just a
couple of features that give this travel trailer the high quality element that continues with
the interior as well. The Dutchmen Classic is not stripped down like so many others priced in
the same range. It is worth taking a look at. This is true with Dutchmen’s “Destination”
travel trailer as well. Aerodynamic and easy to tow, the Dutchmen “Lite” product line
features three small slide-out floor plans ranging from 26' to 31.’ The smallest has an
unloaded weight of just 5,000 pounds! Unlike the competitions stripped-down models,
Dutchmen Lite is loaded with all the standard features and equipment you will find in the
rest of the Dutchmen product line. All of these Dutchmen products are out with new 2011
floorplans and updated models. The all new “2011 Grand Junction” is a fifth wheel with a
truly luxurious exterior AND interior style. Its “quick-set” LED wireless remote control allows
you runs everything from the awning, stabilizing jacks and slide-outs, to the porch light!
Features include; 6 Sided Welded Aluminum cage construction, Gel Coat fiberglass exterior,
a front cap with enhanced turning radius For short trucks, 32" Or 42" LCD HD Flat Screen
TV, great storage, including extra-large kitchen pantry and wardrobe, dual swivel Rocker
recliners, comfort air hide-A-bed Sofa with storage drawer and so much more. The Grand
Junction also features four season insulation with R-values of Roof R38, Floor R21, Walls R9
and Underbelly R14. MSRPs start at $49,000
Model Years 2009-2010: New for 2010 the Dutchmen, “Sport Lite” travel trailer. The
Sport Lite trailers are designed to be towed by a car, van or pickup by means of a bumper
or frame hitch, the travel trailer provides all the comforts of home and is perfectly adaptable
for weekend getaways, family vacations, and full timing. Average MSRP $13,000.
Comments: Dutchmen appeals the most to the entry-level buyer, price being the main
deciding factor. Dutchmen, despite their marketing of improved quality for its products,
continues to rate only average across the charts. Performance (handling, acceleration,
braking, etc.), reliability (mechanical, interior, exterior, etc.), and overall quality rated the
lowest, just barely average. Other ratings such cost of maintenance and support from the
dealer and manufacturer rated average. Reviews and forums continue to be mixed, as we
still find some very satisfied owners, yet others who were adamant they would not purchase
another product from Dutchmen. Because the opinions seem to be product specific, if you
81
like what you see in a Dutchmen product, we at J R Consumer Resources recommend
checking it out with other owners and dealers for specifics on a particular model. There are
some very popular brands. For instance, the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA),
recognizes (by dealers) products that have gone above and beyond in the areas of vehicle
design and reliability, competitive advantage, communications, sales and service support.
RV Dealer Satisfaction Index awards went to these Dutchmen products this year;
Dutchmen’s Kodiak, Coleman, Voltage, Rubicon and Aspen Trail brands. Furthermore,
dealers we spoke to had high praise for certain Dutchmen products, in particular the Denali.
They feel the wide variety of floorplans offered by Dutchmen is a strong sales point. The
company does include a lot more standard features not normally found with other
companies. Once again making them more appealing to entry-level buyers and that is
perhaps why they rank a little higher in total sales volume each year.
Dynamax Corporation (Forest River)
2745 Northland Dr.
Elkhart, IN 46515
Phone: 888-295-7859
www.dynamaxcorp.com
Dynamax Corporation was recently
acquired by the well-known Forest
River RV manufacturing company. The
Dynamax
Corporation
is
a
manufacturer
of
motor
homes,
including Super C style models used by
SWAT teams and law enforcement, as
well as upscale travel trailers and fifth
wheels. Dynamax Corporation was
founded in 1997 and that same year
the curvaceous, Class A Motorhome Isata Touring Sedan rolled off the line with
revolutionary radius curved sidewalls, something not seen in the RV industry. In 1999, the
Isata Sport Class C Motorhome entered the marketplace to favorable reviews. The ensuing
years produced more trademarks, products and new upgrades for the fast-growing
company.
By joining forces with Forest River, Inc, Dynamax feels it can maintain a solid reputation,
with a strong recreational vehicle product line up and a series of custom Specialty Vehicles
and RV's designed for a variety of lifestyle needs and desires for individual customers. The
Dynamax Corporation manufacturers Class C motorhomes on two different Ford
chassis; E450 and F550 from 23' to 31', and three different Freightliner chassis from 26'
single axle thru 45' tandem rear axle. Dynamax recently introduced the new 36' - 40'
DynaAire fifth wheel trailer on two different chassis platforms.
Model Year 2012: Dynamax was featured on the cover of MotorHome Magazine (January
2011) calling the Dynamax Grand Sport a “Driver’s Dream Machine”. You can chose from
six unique Grand Sport GT Class C Motorcoach models, each with a premium OEM chassis
with up to twenty tons of towing capacity. Dynamax designed it for those wanting to bring
the comforts of indoors to an outdoor camping lifestyle. Dynamax tells us, “This touring
coach motorhome boasts a very roomy living area, which can offer a variety of furnishings
82
such as a Flexteel® EZ Bed, or a hide-a-bed with air mattress. The carpeted or hardwood
flooring found on many Grand Sport GTs adds to the home-like feel of the space. You can
relax indoors with entertainment features such as the cable-ready/satellite-ready flat screen
TV, and a Bose DVD/Surround-sound System, offered on some models.
The Grand Sport GT kitchen is well equipped and many models feature a spacious work
area. You and your campers can dine in comfort in a booth dinette with Corian table often
found on the Grand Sports, and the wood or ceramic tile kitchen floor makes for easy
maintenance. Expansive cabinets on most Dynamax Grand Sport Motorhomes also provide
plentiful storage. MotorHome Magazine adds, “Owning a coach that turns heads is just part
of the fun; sitting behind the wheel and rolling up the miles is the real payoff. The cab is
obviously designed for truckers who spend a lot of time behind the wheel.” The Isata, a
popular product from the first year it rolled off the production lines, is back for 2012 in both
the E and F Series. The 2012 Isata F Series is built with a Ford® F550 6.8L Triton V-10
engine, has a 19,500 lb. GVWR and a 7,500-lb. towing capacity. It also has a fully
automatic leveling system. The Isata F Series is a smaller, more maneuverable motorhome
than even the most comparable Class C Motorhomes, but offers bigger, more comfortable
full-time sleeping options and has larger storage areas for longer trips.
Model Years 2010-2011: Larry Martin also told us about their brand new 2011
DynaQuest XV (Extreme Value) which they feel will enhance their current line of
DynaQuest units. Built on a 2011 Freightliner M-2, GVWR – 33,000 lb chassis, it features a
Cummins ISC – 8.3L Diesel engine. A few highlights include; flat side wall construction with
a 7 foot interior ceiling, 20,000 lb. optional hitch, four point semi-automatic leveling jacks,
and a “three color” full body paint. Interior highlights include a Lexington comfort leather
lounge with an optional hide-a-bed feature, three burner cook top stove, fantastic vent fans
system, wooden dinette with Lexington cushions, hardwood wardrobes and Lexington driver
and passenger captain chairs in faux leather. MSRP on the 34' DynaQuest XV (Extreme
value) is $239,960.
As we mentioned, the DynaAire fifth wheel trailer is a new innovative design for Dynamax.
This year DynaAire features four well-thought out floorplans and three luxurious interior
décor packages. Martin also told us of the unique “product advantages” of their popular
Grand Sport. Here are just a few:
o
o
o
o
o
o
Engine up front – creates a “crush zone” in case of front end collision
Front end is engineered by automotive engineers at Freightliner
Grand Sport is built on a Freightliner platform chassis that regularly reach a million
miles in commercial use pulling trailers across the nation’s highways
Suspension/Tires –Freightliner chassis is set-up to provide a very “tight” ride.
The Aerodynamics of the Grand Sport has a more aerodynamic front than the typical
“pushers” do and all of our walls have “sculptured” sidewalls. Better aerodynamics
also improves fuel mileage
The entire Dynamax product lineup has air rear suspension as standard
Model Years 2009-2010: Regarding their Class C motorhomes the Dynaquest is their
most popular seller. It is available from 26’ to 35’, and ranges in price from $212,000 to
$317,000. The sleeping quarters are spacious and comfortable. The galley is well-equipped
and convenient. The living quarters are incredibly styled and exquisitely appointed. Let’s
just say, there are some five star hotels that don’t have the luxurious amenities you’ll find
in the DynaQuest ST Class C Motorhomes.
83
Comments: Dynamax motor homes are eye catching. With the distinctively contoured cab
design, the wind is channeled up and away from the cockpit, which make for a much
smoother and easier drive. While most motor homes are of a traditional style, Dynamax
continues to think outside the box, blending the unparalleled durability of the best over-theroad truck chassis with bold styling and imaginative engineering. The company received
high marks from the RV dealers we spoke with and rated very high performance, safety,
and design. However Dynamax has dropped significantly in customer satisfaction ratings,
especially when it when it comes to “Cost of Maintenance” and “Overall Quality”, and
“Overall Value”. Dynamax also dropped, though just slightly, in reviews by owners who
stated whether or not they would recommend Dynamax to potential buyers. The company
does offer floorplans for those wanting to bring their ATVs, motorcycles or other toys along.
Another great website! Dynamax gives full specs and pictures of all of their models with
detailed options outlined.
Earthbound RV
1001 D East 38th St. (Suite D)
Marion, IN 46953
Phone: 765-677-9090
www.earthboundrv.com
Earthbound RV can be summed up by their
mission statement: “To provide recreational
vehicles of the highest quality, that are
technologically
advanced,
environmentally
friendly, and enhance the lifestyles of our family
of owners.” And they have done just that! By
utilizing state of the art equipment, space-age
materials, full pre-delivery inspections and a
production management team that features a
vested ownership of the company, a new
standard of quality is evolving at Earthbound RV.
They tell us, "The Earthbound travel trailer will
revolutionize the towable RV industry with innovations never before seen in RVs.
Earthbound RV will utilize lighter, recyclable, low volatile organic compound construction
materials in an easily towed, family friendly RV, with an original, aerodynamic, automotive
inspired design."
Named 2010 Green RV of the Year, Earthbound continues that honor with 100% wood-free
construction. David B. Hoefer, Earthbound's VP of Sales and Marketing said, "We're at the
cutting edge. Instead of traditional RV-building methods, we've turned to experts in other
fields, such as automotive and plastics...” The V-2 Earthbound being produced has already
eliminated all wood and wood by-products. Hoefer added, "“We don’t want to be the largest,
we want to be the best. Earthbound has leaped ahead with the use of composites,
thermoplastics, and lightweight hybrid structural materials. We've been partnering with
major international composite suppliers for over 9 years." Earthbound does seem to be
doing that right, as it is one of the newer Eco-Friendly manufacturers who have emerged
from the recession and been quite successful.
This innovative new company chose Marion, Indiana for their new manufacturing facility and
will bring 300 new jobs by 2013. The Earthbound line of recreational vehicles is eco-friendly
84
and lightweight and Earthbound tells us each
model weighs between 1,500 and 2,500
pounds less than most conventional RVs,
which should help users save roughly 12% in
fuel. Many of their family-friendly units are
towable with standard crossovers and small
SUVs. Earthbound products utilize hi-tech
composites,
lightweight
metals,
and
technologies from the marine and automotive
industries that eliminate the need for wood or
wood by-products, which can deteriorate and
release off-gassing of harmful VOC’s. Many of
the new composite materials used in the Earthbound product will not rot and are
formaldehyde free. These products also benefit the drive for a lightweight recreational
vehicle. Because of advancements in technology and materials incorporated for the first
time in the RV industry, the company offers an unprecedented 3-year “bumper-to hitch”
warranty. Most RV warranties are for one year.
Model Year 2012: David B. Hoefer, VP of Sales and Marketing, tells us, “We are currently
in the process of transitioning to our latest product offering which brings with it many
exciting enhancements to the product and ordering process. During the extensive reengineering process most markets will experience staggered product availability. Please be
sure to sign up for our EB News (see Earthbound Website) to stay up-to-date with our latest
product announcements, offerings, and availability in your market area. We will be
introducing new European capable units in the spring of 2012.”
Hoefer adds, “Earthbound has evolved into a very boutique, highly customizable coach
with an estimated 200 total units being produced in 2012 and 100 of those being allocated
for North America. The standard build and structure has been drastically enhanced; higher
R-values, new features such as Samsung™ solid surface counters, power entry steps,
fully customizable paint/cabinet colors, a new proprietary vibration dampening system,
Earth Pure™ environmental coatings, etc. Because of the complexity and customization
options of the new line up, we will soon be offering an easier way to work directly with
Earthbound, or in conjunction with a local dealer during the customization process.”
Earthbound RV now has seven models with floorplans of 23’ – 30’ lengths. One of the most
outstanding features of some Earthbound models is a panoramic front window. They have a
curved front, aerodynamic, but with a huge glass window. From inside you can look out and
you can also look up and see the sky or stars.
The 2012 Earthbound Dakota sleeps seven and features a front queen bed, U-dinette,
loveseat, and 2 rear bunk beds. With a molded fiberglass front & rear caps, laminated
composite roof & floor, and laminated aluminum sidewalls, the Dakota has a GVWR of 6,500
lbs. There are high-gloss, aircraft style cabinets made of composite “cherry” (no wood)
through-out, and Eco-Leather furniture.
The 2012 Golden Ridge is another trailer featuring Earthbound’s popular aerodynamic
curved front window. Popular enough to be back-logged for orders, this 2012 model looks
like it may be another hit for Earthbound. Standard features include: metallic clear-coat
finish, thermal pane windows, power tongue jack, four power stabilizer jacks, 15K-BTU
ducted A/C, power awning, Eco-leather furniture, stainless steel fender skirting, and much
more, including a 3-year hitch to bumper warranty. We found it listed for $89,750.
Earthbound has also updated the standard features and options on their 2012 products.
85
Model Years 2010-2011: Earthbound RV offers seven products all with several floorplans
and lengths. Features include a one-piece, seamless, structural composite roof, aluminum
frames, Eco-Leather furniture, high gloss composite cabinets (no wood), 36 gallon fresh
water capacity, composite LP system with three fully enclosed 20# LP tanks and a one-piece
fiberglass tub/shower surround. The 2011 Dillon and the 2011 Golden Ridge have new
interiors. The Dillon 25RB includes Power Rear stabilizing jacks, four ceiling speakers, the
*Earthbound Exclusive* wide-stance X-Trac axle stabilizing system, 10 gallon hot water
heater, brushed aluminum wall treatments throughout, extra-large dinette and dinette
window, elegant one piece fiberglass shower, one piece seamless composite roof, power
awning and a sunset interior décor. The estimated base dry weight is 42,000 lbs. and the
MSRP begins at $47,000.
Roaming Times features the Morrison and tells us it has one of the best thought-out
floorplans with innovative features. Dealers we spoke to agree. The Morrison is constructed
of a lighter, recyclable, low volatile organic compound. Easily towed, family friendly, and as
one dealer told us, “We love this product and we believe you will too!” The 29’ Morrison has
Earthbound’s seamless sidewalls, with aluminum clear coat finish, durable-lightweight
thermal pane windows, one piece seamless composite roof, power awning, aluminum
framed, eco-leather furniture, marine styled u-shaped dinette with a large slide-out storage
drawer, high gloss composite cabinets (no wood) and many more eco-friendly features.
MSRP can be found just under $42,000.
Comments: We at J R Consumer Resources predicted that we thought Earthbound would
have no trouble at all joining the ranks of quality RV manufacturers and it appears we were
right. Reviews rate everything from the quality to the value including comments such as, “I
like the idea of an RV that's looked at environmental factors.” Or, “Look out Airstream, the
competition is here.” Their website has a lot of information on the construction and products
used, including a downloadable construction booklet. RV Examiner, Motor Trend Truck Trend
Magazine, Men’s Journal and National RVing Examiner are just a few periodicals that
featured Earthbound as “top picks” this past year. As Earthbound is a fairly new company,
we cannot offer customer and quality satisfaction ratings for a significant enough period to
solidify the ratings. We can tell you the forums are filled with very satisfied owners. With so
much experience behind the Earthbound RV team, we believe that the future for Earthbound
RV could go all the way to the top.
Eclipse RV, Inc.
3016 Kansas Ave. #14
Riverside, CA. 92507
Phone: (951) 684-6868
www.eclipservmfg.com
Dallan Trealoff and a group of RV managers decided the companies they were managing at
the time were not listening to consumers. These men decided to pool their years of RV
experience (35 years for Eclipse owner Trealoff) and thus their knowledge and know-how
became Eclipse RV, Inc. Once manufacturing only toy-haulers, the company has taken that
experience in building the sturdy, high quality frames needed for toy-haulers and put it into
their fifth wheels and travel trailers.
86
Eclipse RV asks, “What happens when a company with over 50 years of RV experience
listens to their customers?” Their answer; “We develop a new ‘Attitude’. Here at Eclipse RV,
Inc., we are focused on bringing you the very best value. We’ve taken a stance in the
industry to create an innovative line of toy haulers, allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors
like no other recreation vehicle in the industry.”
Tim Cassaro, Eclipse RV Sales Manager, tells us Eclipse RV is focusing on what customers
want. Eclipse products are built with ultra-light weight aluminum and composite frames; no
wood or aluminum exterior sides. Tim also tells us Eclipse is very proud to announce they
are going green. “Eclipse is now ‘building green’. We are compliant with all the codes and
we are now a green manufacturer, something we feel is very important to the industry”.
Eclipse's line of travel trailers, fifth wheels and toy haulers all offer lightweight towables,
perfect for the traveling family or the adventurous to take to the country roads. Each is
manufactured in several models and floorplans.
Model Year 2012: The Eclipse Milan continues to be a
popular model, and this year Earthbound joined as a
supporter of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County
by raffling off their 2012 Eclipse Milan travel trailer.
The Milan trailer is an Eclipse 22-foot Milan22CKBG
built on an ultra-light chassis and features composite
building techniques. Considered a luxury model, the
trailer scales in at a light weight of 3,900 pounds for
easy towing. The Milan exterior has an ultra-light
chassis, duel propane tanks, exterior shower, stabilizer
jacks, and is composite built. Floorplans offer a front queen walk around with a rear bath,
dinette/sleeper that sleeps 3-4, AM/FM/CD with an interior/ exterior sound system, and a
full kitchen. With an MSRP of $18,995, we found it on sale for just $12,995.
Eclipse RV tells us their newest series of travel trailers is the Ultra-Light Evolution X,
designed to meet the needs of lighter weight towing vehicles. They also tell us it is “at the
very top of the ultra-lights.” The Evolution X exteriors are built with strong aluminum
frames and laminated fiberglass walls, lightweight floors built with aluminum framed and
vacuum bonded, allowing durability and weight savings. Some highly evolved features are:
the wide track axle balance system, zero clearance and larger water tank capacity, unique
floor plans, designer interiors. Other standard features include; 6 gallon DSI water heater,
large pass through storage, EPS foam R-11 insulation walls, floor and roof, tinted windows,
awning, outside shower, exterior BBQ hook up, Full radius roof and side wall edge, stereo
with AM/FM/DVD, Deluxe wood trim slide out trim, Deluxe mattress W/bedspread IPO foam
pad, U-shaped booth dinette, and a Water purification system for galley sink. Trailer
Magaizine feature the Ultra-Light Evolution X and told readers, “Despite its relatively light
weight, the Evolution X series has a very usable floorplan that’s excellent for couples and
small families, displays good workmanship and features thoughtful design elements and
amenities. And Eclipse rolls all of this into an attractive, easily towable trailer that’s not too
hard on your budget.” Eclipse added, “We are focusing on a full spectrum of products; toy
haulers, Lite-weights, fifth wheels, and making things ultra-lite, easy to tow, family
friendly… meeting all the family needs.
The Eclipse Attitude and the Milan continue to be two of their very popular models, high in
sales again this year. The Attitude is their leading best seller of the toy haulers.
87
Model Years 2010-2011: Speaking of a new “Attitude”, Eclipse does just that with the
introduction of their new 2011 Eclipse Attitude. Standard features include; 3-Burner
Stove with Oven, Aluminum Frame Construction, Aluminum Wheels, Booth Dinette, BunkBeds, Dual L.P. Tanks, Ducted Air Conditioning, Electric Awning, Entry Grab Bar - Flush
Mount, Fiberglass Exterior, Jacks, L.P. Gas Leak Detector, Queen-Size Bed, Ready for
Television in Bedroom, Refrigerator-Freezer, Sleep Sofa, Slide Out Pantry, Sliding Door to
Bedroom, Television, Toy Hauler, Tub/shower Combination. The Attitude is available as a
fifth wheel, toy hauler or the Z-Gravity Attitude travel trailer.
Tim Cassaro states that Eclipse’s Milan “…is doing fantastic. It is currently 50% of our
sales.” Tim adds, “We are building the Milan with the same quality and sturdy structure of
the Attitude”. Each is built with a smooth fiberglass exterior and has durable side walls,
ending with a hard wall for more comfortable living space. The Milan travel trailer comes
with seven new and/or updated floor plans. Standard features are generous and include
slide-outs on most models. The Milan fifth wheel comes in three models, all with slide-outs.
Dealers we spoke to admit that while the Milan is fairly new and it is hard to rate customer
satisfaction, “…they are very popular. The Milan products are number one in sales right now
for us, especially the ‘bunkhouse’ models which are popular with families. We feel Milan
products are very sturdy and well-built, and very well priced.” The 2011 Milan 28 RLSSG
MSRP prices at $27,995. The 2011 Eclipse Milan is available in several floor plans, the 24
LSBHG travel trailer can be found at a MSRP of $14,495 and the 18 foot Milan for just
$12,975.
Comments: As this is still a fairly new company for fifth wheel and travel trailers, we can
offer little in the way of customer and quality satisfaction ratings at this time. We can tell
you dealers we spoke to are very satisfied. Dealers feel Eclipse RV products are sturdy,
well-built, and very well priced. They feel the company is loyal to their dealers, which in
turn is passed on to the customer. If you are considering Eclipse RV, thoroughly explore the
model you are considering. Speak to dealers and find current owners to interview. Eclipse’s
website is a little weak, few photos, no virtual tours, and little information about the
company, but give them a call, they are helpful and knowledgeable.
Entegra Motorhomes (Please see Jayco article)
Escape Trailer Industries
43851 Industrial Way, Building B
Chilliwack, BC, V2R-4L2
Phone: 604-703-1650
www.escapetrailer.com
Escape Trailer Industries, located in Chilliwack, BC is in
its ninth season building Escape trailers. Starting with a
young energetic couple who had a vision, in 2011 Escape
rented a chicken barn which had been previously leased
to a local camper manufacturing company. They hired
their first staff member and were officially in the
88
fiberglass trailer industry. It wasn’t long before they moved and brought their fiberglass and
welding shops on site in order to have more control in the quality of the Escape product.
Owners Reace and Tammy Harmatiuk tell us, “We began manufacturing in 2003 and at that
time produced only one model of a molded fiberglass trailer which was the 17’ Escape travel
trailer. This trailer was available in two floorplans; one with a bathroom and one without.
We were very fortunate to have the support of the local RV industry as many professionals
provided us with contacts and feedback as we laid the groundwork for selling factory direct
rather than through a dealer network.”
“As our reputation for producing a quality built, light weight, molded fiberglass trailer grew
so did the demand for our product. In 2007 we introduced the Escape 5.0, fifth wheel which
is designed for mid-sized trucks. We followed up with both the 13’ and 19’ Escape in 2009
along with an updated 17’ Escape. In 2010 we completed our product line and introduced
the 15’ Escape. Our standard features list includes quite an extensive list of items that can
be found on each of the attached brochures however, they vary slightly depending on the
floor-plan and model of the Escape.”
Escape trailers are only sold direct from the factory in Chilliwack, BC Canada.
Escape Industries works on a referral program with their existing customer base which
allows new customers to view an Escape in their area. Escape is one of the highest rated
and hottest selling lightweight RV trailers in North America. Reace and Tammy added, “With
our recent move into a larger facility we are able to offer services to other fiberglass trailer
owners. We are a small customer oriented company who believes in service. Many molded
fiberglass trailer owners contact us for information regarding parts, axles, and help repairing
and rebuilding their trailers. We do not turn them away but offer our knowledge to help
them find the parts they need.”
Escape also told us, “All Escape trailers have a 100% molded fiberglass body. We build the
body from a top and bottom shell, which are fiberglassed together at the center prior to demolding to create a seamless body construction. This eliminates any chance of water
penetration while maintaining a strong, long-lasting, lightweight RV. The frames are
constructed with 3" box steel and a rubber ride torsion axle suspension, creating a solid
foundation with a smooth ride. The interior is professionally finished with natural oak
cabinetry, large windows, high-grade linoleum flooring, and a unique insulated vinyl
headliner/wall covering. The Escape includes a large list of standard equipment and a
complete options list is available for customizing. A full two-year warranty is included on
the complete Escape trailer.”
“We differ from other manufacturers because we do not mass produce our trailers. Every
trailer we build is custom manufactured for its owner. Every owner participates in the
manufacturing process by selecting the options they would like us to add to their trailer. The
customers select the color of graphics they would like us to use for the exterior graphics.
They can change the Formica on the counter tops and the upholstery used for the cushions.
We realized early on that customers in the southern US have different needs and wants
than a customer in Whitehorse, YK.”
Model Years 2011-2012: Escape Trailers manufacture four products, three tow trailers
ranging from 15’-19’, and a fifth wheel. Escape stated that a US consumer group has placed
the Escape 5.0 fifth wheel at the top of the list based on its coach, frame construction, tow
ability and resale value. It has a 100% molded fiberglass body in a hand-laid, two piece
mold. The Escape 5.0 weighs approximately 2620 lbs (dry weight) and its aerodynamic
design includes a low center of gravity for better road stability, and decreased wind
89
resistance when in tow. Escape Trailers tells us, “Don’t
be fooled by its size, the Escape 5.0 comes standard with
a comfortable galley, a large 5.0 cubic foot fridge, a full
interior shower, queen upper bunk, independent power
landing gear and endless storage. The interior is finished
with natural oak cabinetry, large windows, high-grade
linoleum flooring, and a unique insulated vinyl
headliner/wall covering.” At 19’6”, the Escape 5.0 MSRP
is $27,500.
Escapes trailers include their middle length trailer, the Escape 17 foot, available in A and B
plans. Escape, tell us “There are many key features about the Escape which make it
lightweight and aerodynamic, keeping travel costs to a minimum. With a dry weight of only
1900 lbs (Plan A) or 2100 lbs (Plan B), the Escape 17’ has been designed specifically for
mid-sized vehicles such as mini-vans, SUVs and mid-sized trucks with a V6 engine or a
minimum towing capacity of 3500lbs. The aerodynamic design of the Escape 17’ includes a
low center of gravity for better road stability and low wind resistance or drag when in tow.
This combined with the rubber torsion suspension axle not only reduces vibration while
traveling but also provides independent suspension and is maintenance free. All of our
Goodyear Tires (including the full size spare) are balanced before you pick up your trailer.
Escape 17’ comes standard not only with an easy and comfortable galley, quality appliances
but also sleeping for up to four people and endless storage. The interior is professionally
finished with natural oak cabinetry, large windows, high-grade linoleum flooring and a
unique insulated vinyl headliner/wall covering. With two different floor plans for the Escape
17’ you can decide which design best meets your needs.” The 17’ Escape Plan A has a
MSRP of $20,600 while the 17’ Escape Plan B has a MSRP of $21,600.
Reace and Tammy tell us their 2012 models will be expanding the standard features list to
include; Exterior LED lights, mud flaps, valences, and a 12V outlet, changing the obscure
window in the door to a clear window in the door with a day shade and valence, the exterior
stabilizers jacks will be 2” longer, and the interior day shades will be darker to block out the
light. In addition, Escape’s options list has also expanded for 2012 to include; 2 – 12V heat
pads with spray foam insulation, LED interior light package, 2 Way hot water tank.
Comments: As a rather new company to the industry, Escape does not have a stockpile of
reviews. What we did find was very positive. Escape owners are very pleased and loyal. This
review sums up what many Escape owners had to say, “I just got a new Escape 17 trailer
this spring, and I love it. Have been camping every weekend since, and also one longer trip.
The Escape is of very high quality, and it has everything you might need! No formaldehyde
smell coming from this one, unlike what you get from many of the “stickie-built” RVs.
Furthermore, it is very economical to tow with a midsize SUV or truck.”
The only complaint we found repeated was a desire for more products. If Escape continues
with forums and reviews such as these, we at JR Consumer Resources believe this little
company will do very well among the “big boys”. When interviewing this company, Escape
told us, “We have always listened to our customers and tried to meet their needs by
improving upon the trailers we manufacture. Every year we add to or change the standard
features list and add new options to the options list.” With the success and loyal following of
this company, it is obvious they are holding faithful to those statements. Escape has a nice,
easy to navigate website. Not flashy nor with many details or links, but enough information
and photos to give you the product information you need.
90
EverGreen RV, LLC
10758 County Road 2
Middlebury, IN 46540
Phone: 574-825-4298
www.goevergreenrv.com
EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC was founded in December of 2008 with the principle
that the recreational vehicle industry needed a new generation of innovative, sustainable,
eco-friendly, green travel trailers and fifth wheels. The vision of EverGreen RV is to use
sustainable eco-friendly, recyclable, composite materials to replace wood and produce
higher quality, longer-lasting products that are fully equipped, yet lightweight.
EverGreen RV tells us they build the world's first, 100 percent composite, sustainable,
environmentally friendly, green travel trailers and fifth wheels. Their Ever-LiteTM eco-friendly
camper trailers are built with recyclable composite materials. Lightweight composite
materials replace non-sustainable wood products, making EverGreen’s products more
durable, longer lasting and 20 percent lighter than competing brands for easier towing and
improved fuel economy. Although other manufacturers are following the demand for Ecofriendly products, EverGreen RV is one of the companies that had led the way. EverGreen
adds, “Our new ComposiTek Construction process produces a trailer that’s built with the
latest in lightweight, composite materials taking the place of wood and wood substrates
used in conventional RV construction. It replaces 50 sheets of lauan plywood in the
construction of an Ever-Lite™ RV. The chassis of an Ever-Lite™ RV is electrocoated for
better protection against corrosion. Electrocoating is an eco-friendly way to paint. Another
benefit is your RV will be more durable and last longer because it will resist water, rot,
mold, mildew and deterioration—thus extending the life and resale value far beyond the life
cycle of conventionally built RVs of today.”
EverGreen also tells us about their Eco-friendly tires. “A big part of being green is making
things last longer. Extending tire life on RVs is a green choice and one more way EverGreen
works to make eco-friendly the norm in its product line. The latest technology of selfbalancing tires, combined with using nitrogen instead of air to fill the tires, is an eco-friendly
choice that results in significant improvement in tire performance for the Ever-Lite brand.
Nitrogen filled, self-balancing tires are standard on Ever-Lite RVs. In July of 2010 Terry
Bradshaw, owner of an EverGreen Fifth Wheel himself, became the national spokesman for
EverGreen.
Model Year 2012: Less than a year old, the
2012 Evergreen Element was featured on the
cover of the November issue of Trailer Life
magazine, toting the Element’s environmentally
friendly attributes, easy towing ability, and
EverGreen's ComposiTekTM construction, built to
last a lifetime. Eco-Friendly, yet stylish is what the
dealers call the Element, which is a blend of styles
between classic, American design and the latest in
aerodynamic European-inspired camping trailers.
It was EverGreen’s second model to roll off the line
when the company opened and EverGreen tells us,
“The Element is one of the few travel trailers on the market to meet the 60 square feet
"frontal area towing requirements" of the OEM automotive manufacturers. Defined as the
total area of the trailer that is exposed to air resistance, the Element does not exceed 60
91
square feet-thus far exceeding the aerodynamic performance of conventional RVs.” The
Element has four floorplans, including a Solar Power package. Construction includes,
interlocked HSLA Unitized Chassis, independent trailing arm suspension, automotive grade
Electro Coating, AFT (Advanced Fulcrum Tracking) axle configuration, and nitrogen filled
balanced tires. The MSRP averages $57,770 for the 26SRL (28’) Element.
For 2012 EverGreen i-Go was introduced this year and will be popular with families at an
affordable rate. The i-Go is narrower with less wind resistance and more fuel efficiency, yet
features a deeper slide out for more interior room. Currently available in six different
floorplans (more may be on the way), i-Go plans include a single slide i-Go, rear bunk beds,
bath/tub/toilet, refrigerator, microwave, range and sink, swivel entertainment center, queen
bed w/storage Dbl. wardrobes, dinette slide, pantry, overhead cabinets and more. The i-Go
camper is built with the same aluminum-framed, vacuum-laminated processes and quality
control systems as all EverGreen products. It has a fiberglass reinforced exterior,
lightweight composite inner shell to reduce rot, mold and mildew and lower out-gassing of
VOC's for a healthier camping experience. MSRP for the 2012 Evergreen iGo 220RB
begins at $22,500. EverGreen’s fifth wheel line is the Ever-Lite, and for 2012 it is available
in three floorplans, each with slide-outs and a Club Lounge option, available on all deepslide models. EverGreen states the new Ever-Lite™ fifth wheel does not reduce weight by
cutting appliances and “skimping” on amenities. Loaded with standard features, the new
fifth wheel promises to be 500 to 1,000 pounds lighter than the competition.
We found the Ever-Lite EL32RL-5, the rear-living room 5th wheel model, with a MSRP of
$53,590, priced at $39,999.
Model Years 2010-2011: EverGreen RV
manufactures two products, the Ever-Lite
travel trailer and the Ever-Lite Fifth wheel.
The Ever-Lite travel trailer has 16 floor plans,
3 of them new for 2011. One of those is the
Ever-Lite is the 2011 EverGreen 34BHK-DS
Travel Trailer with bunks and the outside
camp kitchen. A 31' trailer featuring a big
living room slide, front queen island bed, rear bunks, power awning, a/c, alum wheels, 59
Gallon water tank, and a LCD TV w/ CD/DVD/Stereo. It is finished with an Automotive
Bronze high gloss Gel Coat exterior, dark tinted safety glass windows, door side patio and
security lights, rain gutters and extended down spouts, all which are some of the standard
features that give this model a high quality finish. The 2011 EverGreen 34BHK-DS Travel
Trailer has a MSRP of just over $39,000. Ever-Lite Fifth Wheels come in three floor plans,
with an overall length ranging from 30’11” to 32’4”. It features many of the same amenities
and standard features as the Ever-Lite travel trailer.
Comments: Although a fairly new company, Evergreen's experienced management team,
has over 100 years of combined knowledge and has the passion to change the RV industry
by developing new materials and technologies for the first all composite, eco-friendly
recreational vehicles. As a newer company, EverGreen has not yet made the RV rating
charts; however we found positive feedback from many owners of EverGreen products.
Warranties include a 3 year limited structural warranty, a 2 year limited bumper to bumper
warranty and a 12 year limited roof warranty. An interesting “eco bonus”; when Ever-Lite
receives your warranty registration, a tree is planted in your name! The EverGreen RV
website is updated, very informative, with lots of photos and specifics that will help you
become informed and familiar with the company and their products.
92
Extreme Warrior
710 W. Simplot Blvd.
Caldwell, ID 83606
Phone: 208-806-0243
www.extremewarrior.com
Extreme Warrior is the original Weekend Warrior factory founded in 1988 by Mark Warmoth,
now General and Product Consultant for Extreme Warrior. Now manufacturing out of
Nampa/Caldwell, Idaho, the company, once known as Extreme RV, manufactured travel
trailers, lite-trailers, toy haulers and fifth wheel products. Appealing to entry-level buyers
and sportsmen, Extreme Warrior RV is still producing the travel trailers and toy haulers, and
is planning on an all-new design in superlite fifth wheels.
Extreme Warrior is a rather new company to the RV
industry, created from an employee purchase of KIT
Manufacturing Company’s RV Division in 2003.
Extreme RVs retained the former company's product
lines: Companion, Road Ranger, Extreme SUTs,
Sportsmaster, and Monterey. The former company,
KIT Manufacturing, was in business since 1945, was
started as a co-partnership in October 1945 at Long
Beach, California. Its purpose was to manufacture
and market a pre-fabricated, camper-type, teardrop trailer which could be shipped in a "kit"
or package complete with component parts. The sportsman could then assemble the unit
himself.
Over the years, the company developed a reputation for a quality built unit. KIT units
maintain one of the highest resale values on the market. KIT became well known for its
Companion and Road Ranger product lines; and prior to the sale of the company began
growing its Extreme Sport Utility Trailer line.
Mark Warmoth tells us, “We want Warrior owners and others to be the first to know we are
building trailers again. The newest generation of Warrior trailers is very impressive. We
have designed every nut and bolt in the new models. Every year Warrior was in business we
improved from the last, and this generation is no different. We are committed to refinement
and constant improvement. We are a cargo company first and then a RV company.”
Extreme Warrior adds, “We have, from the ground up and with pain staking scrutiny,
chosen each and every item that makes up the new generation of trailers—every
component, and every feature.”
Mark adds, “My heart and soul is in this new generation of trailers, with a team of very
experienced RV builders, Extreme RV, now Extreme Warrior. We want to hear from you. We
encourage Warrior owners to please contact us, extremewarrior.com. Sign up for monthly
updates and be the first to know what we are working on next!”
Model Year 2012: The 2013 Extreme Warrior line includes the Wide Body FS2600/12 and
FS3000/16 and the SuperLite FS2300/12 and FS2600/15 pull trailers available for 2012.
Currently the travel trailer is being manufactured with four floorplans. The 2013 Extreme
Warrior FS3000 is a Wide Body 30’ travel trailer with a gross weight rating of 12,000 lbs.
and cargo weight of 4,500 lbs. It is 34’8”, 8’6” in width and has a height of 11”. The Warrior
has a rear ramp door to 16' 2" cargo toy parking space, queen beds in cargo, 2 fold-away
sofa beds, pedestal tables (reversible), pantry, 3 burner range, Dbl. kitchen sink,
93
refrigerator, lots of overhead storage, TV cabinet, wardrobe, bath/sink, private toilet &
tub/shower combo, front queen bed w/shirt closets, a full pass-thru storage and more. We
found the Wide Body FS2600/12 with a MSRP of $51,307 offered for $47,100.
February 2012 will introduce the Warrior SuperLite fifth wheel models SL2800/12,
SL3100/15 & SL3400/18. Launched the same month will be the Extra Lite Warrior models
NS1800/10, NS2100/13 & NS2400/16.
September 2012 will introduce Extreme Warrior’s first Luxury fifth wheel. These fifth
wheels, the CR4000/16 and the CR4500/21, are full throttle models with and without divider
walls. The Warrior fifth wheel units will be in the 40 to 45 foot range and will be over
$45,000 on average.
The Warrior SuperLite is available in two floorplans, and built tough with an I-beam
chassis - main rails w/ full dept. cross members, and an all steel grid floor support. The
units have 5,550-6,400 overall weight, lengths of 23’ and 26’ - plus hitch/tongue length,
5200 lb tandem spring drop axles w/ heavy duty brakes, stabilizing jacks, and internal axle
brake wires-protected. The interior has a private bath/shower/toilet, designer fabrics and
decor, removable carpet flooring, galley with extra storage, and a convertible dinette
cushions & beds w/ table storage.
The 2013 Weekend Warrior Toy Hauler offers many standard features found in a toy
hauler; double electric bed, power jack, 110 gal. fresh water capacity, 1-piece rubber roof
(12-year warranty), 15.0 BTU AC, awning, 2 sofa/beds with table, tinted windows and a
large radius entry door (with window). The Extreme Warrior 26ft. Toy Hauler sleeps six and
has a MSRP of $29,900. Extreme Warrior tells us, “Expect a lot from Extreme Warrior. We
are committed to customer satisfaction, dependability, and resale value - - through testing,
refinement and constant improvement. We welcome your input.”
Comments: There seems to be little in the way of feedback in the RV forums and ratings
for Extreme Warrior RV. A response from calls and e-mails for product information were
long coming, but once the company responded, we were given a lot of information and it
became obvious Extreme Warrior is very passionate about their company. It seems to be a
case of a small company trying to cover a lot of positions, including receptionist, marketing
and sales. With only a message machine available, it may take a few tries for you to get a
response, but Extreme Warrior asks you sign up for notifications and they promise to
reciprocate. The company has weathered the industry’s recession and is still producing what
appears to be a quality product. The website, while weak in some areas, does provide
downloadable brochures with detailed information. There is also a video link available, right
next to the brochures. The company is asking for Warrior owners to please contact them, as
they are featuring an “owners” page, complete with photos. We at JR Consumer Resources
will continue to turn out any information and reviews on this manufacturer and keep you
updated.
94
Fleetwood RV Inc.
1031 US 224 East
PO Box 31
Decatur, IN 46733
Toll Free: 1-800-322-8216
www.fleetwoodrv.com
Fleetwood RV is here to stay and in 2010 Fleetwood RV
announced, “We are back... and stronger than ever.”
After Fleetwood Enterprises, Inc. filed for bankruptcy in
2009, it was sold to a private company, American
Industrial Partners (AIP). Out of that purchase is a
brand new name, “Fleetwood RV, Inc.” As John
Draheim, President and CEO stated, “The company has
new ownership, new leadership and a new direction.
We are definitely a new company. We have a
completely different direction now. We’re no longer
focused on being the biggest in the industry; we’re
focused on being the best. And we believe we now
have the operational expertise and the organizational expertise to do that.” For over 60
years Fleetwood has led the way in the RV industry with its products, innovations, warranty,
and customer service. One of the most well-known names in the RV industry, Fleetwood has
been manufacturing recreation vehicles since 1950. Though no longer producing fifth
wheelers and travel trailers, Fleetwood’s line is still designed to offer something for
everyone. They specialize in Diesel and Gas Class A and C motorhomes, and look at
Winnebago, Monaco and Thor as their biggest competitors. The Fleetwood Bounder and
Discovery are one of the most recognized and iconic brand names in the industry.
Model Year 2012: Still manufacturing its popular lines, Fleetwood is introducing several
new designs and floorplans for 2012. In 2011 Fleetwood introduced a brand new model of
“The Storm”. This family friendly motorhome, a cross over between Class A and Class C
motorhomes, continues to be popular and is rolling out the 2012 Storm with five available
floor plans, a 28 foot single slide, LCD wide-screen TV and DVD player, bunk bed options,
and a hide-a-loft feature. This includes a queen sized, electric drop down bed. The Storm
has a one-piece windshield and a height interior of 82”. MSRP begins at $82,000. The Terra
has become Fleetwood’s fastest growing brand and the result is new floorplans and designs
which Fleetwood tells us they believe will appeal to the Terra buyer and potential new
buyers. The 2012 Terra offers a 31’ dual slide, mid-ship TV floorplan with a rear bedroom
or a 34’ dual slide with a side aisle floor plan and a mid-ship TV plan. The Terra has a onepiece windshield, hardwood cabinet doors, and full basement storage space. It includes a
queen sized, electric drop down bed, located above the driver/passenger captain’s chairs.
“This year we focused on separating our diesel brands and adding more high-end, highvalue features,” said John Draheim, President and CEO of Fleetwood RV, Inc. “Providence is
at the higher-end of the price spectrum, so we added features like polished porcelain floors,
a molded fiberglass roof and enhanced interior design with wall art and countertop edge
detail upgrades.” The result is all new features for Fleetwood’s high end products, the 2012
Discovery and the 2012 Providence. The 2012 Providence has four floor plans with a
fiberglass roof, ranging from a 40’-42’ foot plan and a 450 HP Cummins engine. It includes
a LCD mid-ship TV, bath and a half models, luxurious master suites, and large L-shared
galleys. With too many lavish and comfortable features to name, you need to look at the
details through Fleetwood’s website. MSRP starts at $268,380.
95
The 2012 Discovery has six floor plans and many of the same luxurious features as the
Providence. Plans can include a quad-slide, triple or full wall slides and master suite
floorplan. Upgrades include floor and wall décor, as well as accent trims. The Discovery
features a 380 HP Cummins engine, full body paint and an 84” interior height. The
Discovery MSRP begins at $256,200. For 2012 Fleetwood also rolled out the Jamboree
Searcher and the Tioga Montara, products introduced last year and updated for 2012.
They have a variety of floorplans and all models feature a spacious dinette, full bath with
shower, and a cab-over bed. These are produced to be available for entry-level buyers and
each has a MSRP beginning at $64,000. They add to Fleetwood’s Class C Gas models which
include the Tioga, Tioga Ranger, Jamboree, and Jamboree Sport.
Model Years 2010-2011: Marketing Director Amy Coleman is excited about the new
direction Fleetwood RV, Inc. is taking. We are now a smaller company, more agile, spending
our money more efficiently, and able to focus more on marketing, dealers and our
customers. Amy tells us that Fleetwood RV, Inc. is celebrating their 60 years of business
and will be introducing a brand new model of “The Storm”, with all new floor plans and
designs, perfect for families. This model will include, new on all 2011 Fleetwood RVs, a one
year, 24/7 full roadside assistance warranty. Dealers tell us “The Bounder” continues to
be the most popular of the Fleetwood Gas motorhomes, as it has been since it first debuted
in 1985. “The Classic” inherits many of its predecessor’s innovative features and livability
while shedding some added-cost décor to provide a feature-rich coach at a more affordable
price.”
Model Years 2009-2010: Fleetwood RV Inc. has gone back to basics with the introduction
of the gas-powered Bounder Classic in three 30 to 34 foot dual-slideout floorplans with
MSRP of about $100,000. Fleetwood President John Draheim told RVBusiness, “We did a
little analysis of the marketplace and felt we needed to get our most powerful gas brand
name back into the heart of the market. Bounder Classic is a great example of our founder’s
original vision.” Built on a 22,000-pound GVWR Ford F-53 SuperDuty chassis powered by a
362-hp Triton V10 engine, the 2010 Bounder Classic features high-gloss fiberglass
sidewalls, reflective vinyl graphics, molded fiberglass rear caps, innovative storage that
includes adjustable cabinet shelves, raised-panel cabinets, dual-pane windows and passthrough exterior storage with side-swinging insulated luggage doors.
Comments: Fleetwood continues to be one of the leading producers of Class A and Class C
recreational vehicles. Quality and value for Fleetwood has increased since last year, from
average to above average, and we like the fact the company works closely with their
dealers to resolve any warranty issues. Fleetwood does rate well with the dealers we
interviewed regarding customer service. Though ratings are a just a little lower for overall
quality and value, the ratings in the areas of performance, safety and comfort, and
customer satisfaction were well above average. Everywhere we looked we found positive
reviews for Fleetwood motorhomes, and the Forums are filled with loyal customers. There
are so many products from Fleetwood that ratings can be deceiving, so we at JR Consumers
suggest you check specific models you are considering, in detail. We found many products
ratings right at the top with customer satisfaction.
Fleetwood unveiled a brand new website in 2011 and the site reflects the solid ground
Fleetwood is on after filing for bankruptcy, and then new ownership in 2009. Fleetwood’s
website is one of the best we have seen, with drop down buttons for their products, allowing
you to see specifications at a glance. Fleetwood’s new website not only has a whole new
look and feel, but it also provides clearer product information, larger product images, and is
very easily to navigate despite a vast amount of information.
96
Forest River, Inc.
PO Box 3030
55470 CR 1
Elkhart, IN 46515
Phone: 574-389-4616
www.forestriverinc.com
Forest River was founded in 1996 by Peter Liegl and is headquartered in Elkhart, Indiana.
They grew considerably in the last few years to include production facilities throughout the
mid-west and west coast. In addition to manufacturing recreation vehicles, Forest River
Incorporated also has a marine and boat division, a bus, a commercial truck and trailer, a
manufactured housing division, including park homes, and a cargo trailer division. Forest
River’s motorhome division produces Class A diesel and gas motorhomes, as well as Class C
motorhomes, and their Class B+ luxury line. Their towables include lite-travel trailers, fifth
wheelers, as well as hybrid and popup towable campers, and toy haulers. The travel trailer
and fifth wheels have a total of twelve different lines. The lite-weight travel trailer and fifth
wheels have a total of fourteen products to choose from.
The Forest River website states, “Our large production capacity enables us to fill our
customers' orders promptly without cutting corners or rushing through production
procedures. This ensures that each Forest River product is conscientiously built and
undergoes thorough, detailed inspection before it's shipped to the customer. This ensures
that every family who desires quality recreation will find a Forest River product that serves
their needs, interests, budget, and lifestyle. It is our mission to help all our customers enjoy
their outdoor activities to the fullest.”
Northwest RV dealerships say they like Forest River because of the quality of the products
for the specific needs of the Northwest. “Forest River continues to give us products that sell
well here in the northwest. Specifically, in part, due to the insulation packages rating an R15 and a ground clearance that matches the needs for ‘off the highway’ use”.
Coachmen, Palomino, Shasta, Primetime, and Viking are all divisions of Forest River
Incorporated. Forest River’s competitors are Fleetwood, Jayco, Gulf Stream and Keystone.
Model Year 2012: The Surveyor travel trailer is all luxury, and comes out celebrating its
10th anniversary. With nine floorplans, it is filled with residential style cabinetry, a large
entertainment area, and a spacious kitchen and pantry. The 2012 Surveyor is built with
aluminum framing around all openings, 2” thick sidewalls, independent torsion axles, a full
water filtration system, and a full walk around roof. It has four different models offering a
total of twenty-four floorplans. The Surveyor SV303 has one of the most popular rear
floorplans in the RV industry. It is 36’ in length, has two slideouts, sleeps 4, and has a dry
weight of 6,899 lbs. Queen beds, a fiberglass tub/shower, kitchen and pantry with
residential style cabinet doors, full no wax flooring, concealed hinges, and an interior height
of 78” are some of the finishes for the interior. It has a MSRP of $33, 530.
Trailer Life magazine chose the Forest River Cedar Creek Silverback 29RL as one of
their favorite fifth wheel trailers. With an all-aluminum super-structure, making it
lightweight and easy to tow, it has an exterior length of 34’7”, weight 9,790 lbs, LPG 14
gallons, freshwater 64 gallons, and the Cedar Creek is currently Forest River’s best-selling
Silverback model. With three slideouts, it features recliners, Corian countertops, a rear
entertainment center with a 32-inch LCD HDTV, electric fireplace, booth dinette and a king
bed. Its MSRP is $51,090.
97
Model Years 2010-2011: The Forest River
V-Cross St is the newest of the V-Cross
family lite-weight towable for 2011. With six
floor plans available, the exterior length
ranges from 25’2” to 33’8” and an exterior
width of 8 feet. Space saving, aerodynamic
benefits, and affordable, lite-weight towables
are becoming increasingly popular. We found
MSRP ranging from $30,000 to $38,000. Also
new for 2011 is the Forest River XLR toy
hauler fifth wheel, a luxurious 5th wheel with multiple living areas and a home away from
home, or available as a light weight aerodynamic unit with innovative features and enough
space to get away for a short weekend. The exterior length ranges from 25’ to 36’, exterior
width of 8 feet, and five available floor plans. We found the Forest River XLR priced at a
MSRP of $44,000 for a 32’.
According to the company a popular brand in the toy hauler category is the “Wolf Pack”.
Forest River says, “The Wolf Pack is the #1 Toy Hauler brand” and our other products
include large fully featured 5th wheels with slide outs, regular 5th wheels and Half Ton
Towables.” Speaking with dealers across the country the Wolf pack continues to be popular.
Right along-side that popular line is the “Cedar Creek” which, for some dealers, is selling at
a record number this year.
For 2011 Forest River has upgraded their ever popular Class A motorhome,
The Georgetown. One-piece laminated fiberglass roof, high-gloss Gelcoat fiberglass
sidewalls, side-hinge baggage doors, Rotocast one-piece storage compartments, cable, onepiece windshield, slide-out room awning(s), power main awning and a 30” entrance door are
just a few things that make the Georgetown a well thought out motorhome with many
innovative features.
Model Years 2009-2010: Forest River's Wildwood travel trailers and fifth-wheels are some
of the most popular recreational vehicles on the market today. In the travel trailer line, the
Wildwood sells for around $25,000 and just $33,000 for the fifth wheel line. Because
Wildwood delivers a wide variety of expertly designed floorplans for every type of RV they
make, you can be sure to find one that suites your family's needs the best.
According to the company’s website, “In the Wildwood LE travel trailer and 5th wheels you
can choose a model that has a rear garage that comes standard with a side-mount
refrigerator. This allows you to easily get refreshments and snacks without having to go
inside when you are having so much fun outside. Another great feature in some models of
the Wildwood LE travel trailer is the Kid Suite. Here you'll find a great set of bunk beds with
a personal desk workspace just for the children.” These are just a couple of the choices you
will find in the Wildwood LE.
Motor Homes: Forest River’s most popular Class A
diesel motorhome is the Berkshire priced at around
$193,000, MSRP. Forest River says: "Finally, a
diesel motor home where luxury is truly within
reach! Berkshire offers all the amenities of a high
end luxury diesel motor coach at about the same
price you would find a gas motor home.” Built on a
Freightliner Raised Rail XC chassis with complete
98
pass through storage, Berkshire's standard features include: fiberglass roof, full body paint,
automatic generator slide out, automatic door and patio awnings, 32" LCD front TV, and
much, much more.
In the Class A gas motorhome category the Georgetown is considered the company’s bestseller with an average MSRP of $115,000. According to company’s website, “Long-lasting
durability and performance, plus innovation and imagination, make Georgetown a truly
impressive value. Thoroughly examine our exceptional building methods and sound
construction, and you will discover extraordinary quality for a higher level of satisfaction and
greater return on your investment”. Forest River builds five Class C brands, the Ridgeview,
Forester, Sunseeker, Solera and Lexington (class B+). The Ridgeview is their top of the line
Super C built exclusively on the Chevy Duramax chassis. Electric patio awnings, a
residential vessel sink, and a nine cubic foot refrigerator are just a few of the extra
amenities that set it apart from the competition. This luxurious Class C has a base MSRP of
$160,000.
Comments: Customer service and satisfaction are very mixed whether referring to Forest
River’s motorhomes, fifth wheels, or travel trailers. Many customers expressed
disappointment in the quality of workmanship by the manufacturer, yet were overall pleased
with the product. Many owners stated they love their model, while other owners were firm
in stating they would never buy another Forest River product. Some of the reviews were
very specific in regards to models having consistent problems. Other owners found a
product to be very good when it came to quality and satisfaction, while another owner of
the same product, but of a different year, did not rate it so very well. It was, however, the
dealerships that the customers seem to have the biggest grievance for, expressing trouble
getting warranties honored and services rendered. Our advice; check out your dealership
before purchasing, and check the specific model closely. As there are many satisfied
customers, one can only say that mixed reviews are common when there is such a large
amount of models and products being manufactured. Dealers speak highly of Forest River as
a company. As one stated, “Forest River is a good, strong company to work with. When
services are needed, it is done immediately. It is nice to work with a company that is not
going to be laying people off. We know they (Forest River) are here to stay and they are
backed by good money.” Excellent website, and specifically notable is the Gallery link for
each model. It gives details and descriptions of interiors, exteriors, features and options.
Everything from awnings and axles, to slide drawers and shades are very detailed, including
great photos.
99
Foretravel Inc.
1221 N.W. Stallings Drive
Nacogdoches, TX 75964
Phone: 800-955-6226
www.foretravel.com
The business of building motorhomes came about
not due to planning by the Fores, yet by the
traveling they did in their self-built motorhome.
From that modest beginning in 1967 with the 29’
“Speedy Marie” motorhome - produced in the
backyard of C.M. & Marie Fore, Foretravel
continued to set the standard. Weathering the oil
embargos of the early 1970’s, Foretravel
introduced the first diesel-powered motorhome in
1974.
In addition to the numerous conveniences of a Foretravel, i.e.; flat screen TV’s, central
vacuum cleaners, icemakers, trash compactors, Foretravel was among the first to use
fiberglass instead of aluminum, real hardwood, and a full air bag suspension. With the
aerodynamic structure, the Fores wanted even more for their customers, so they developed
the first unibodied chassis in 1986, and the Unihome was introduced. The new Unihome
offered incomparable drivability and handling, along with a sleek new design. In 1995 the
Unicoach was born. It resembled a bus with a front entry, all the comfort amenities, a big
engine, and the Allison World 6 Transmission. Foretravel’s innovation is evident in its
exclusive TravelRide chassis. The newly designed chassis provides maximum storage and
superior ride and handling which is one of the many characteristics that sets Foretravel
apart. The Unihome chassis stood the test of time for twenty years, and it was not until late
2006 that it was re-engineered and the TravelRide chassis was born. For the 2012 IH we
have taken the TravelRide chassis a step forward. The IH rides on the new TravelRide II
chassis, the best handling, most stable chassis we have ever produced. Foretravel coaches
have vacuum-bonded and insulated steel frames in all sidewalls, floors, sub-floors and
storage bay walls. The roof has a vacuum-bonded and insulated aluminum structure, and is
made of one fiberglass piece for greater strength and lower weight. Foretravel coaches
house custom-crafted all wood cabinetry made of the finest materials available, high-quality
designer furniture using the choicest of fine leathers and fabrics, topped with luxurious
countertops and filled with the latest appliances and audio-visual technology.
Foretravel puts their focus on deluxe diesel coaches with quality being the main goal of the
company. Foretravel is definitely worth checking out if you’re in the market for an upperend deluxe diesel coach. Our research determines they do very well in all categories and
they are now available through their Foretravel Texas sales operation, adjacent to the
production plant in Nacogdoes Texas. The company has authorized centers around the
country as well as at a select number of independent dealers. Foretravel considers Monaco,
Country Coach, and entry level bus conversions to be among their closest competitors.
Foretravel’s customers are upper-end with quality being the most important aspect of the
decision process.
Model Year 2012: Foretravel has several new coaches already available for 2012. They all
come from their Foretravel lines; the IH, the Phenix and the Nimbus, and many are selling
before they come off the production line. The 2012 Foretravel IH-45 Quad Slide is the
peak of luxury. Built on a Cummins ISX 650 hp, engine and a Allison 4000MHR
100
transmission, it has a length of 45’, and four slideouts consisting of a living room and
bedroom. The roof is a one piece Fiberglass roof with a sub floor, and a full body paint with
a clear coat finish. With custom floorplans and luxurious amenities too numerous to name
here, check the Foretravel website for all the details. The MSRP is $1,200,250.
2012 Foretravel Nimbus 4044 has four slideouts, with bedrooms and living area. Built 40
feet in length, on a Cummins ISL 425hp, engine and a Allison 3000HR transmission, the
Nimbus also features the Foretravel easy view one-piece windshield, one piece Fiberglass
roof with a sub floor, and a full body paint with a clear coat finish. Backup cameras, antilock air brakes, (with automatic slack adjuster), electric patio awning, 5/80R22.5 Michelin
Tires, and a computerized leveling system are standard. Once again the lavish interior
amenities are too numerous for this small space, so visit the Foretravel website for great
photos and details of this high-quality coach.
Foretravel tells us that Foretravel of Texas and Oregon Motorcoach Center, Eugene, OR.
have formed a service alliance. Oregon Motorcoach Center, a premier service and
remodeling center in the Pacific Northwest, and Foretravel's highly regarded factory service
center in East Texas, have entered into a service agreement involving Foretravel
Motorcoaches. Oregon Motorcoach Center will offer Foretravel Motorcade Club Members the
same 10% parts and labor discount for service work as Foretravel does. Oregon Motorcoach
Center will also be a factory authorized warranty service center for Foretravel. This makes
servicing easier for Foretravel owners living outside of the Texas service area.
Model Years 2010-2011: While no new models are currently available for 2011,
Foretravel produced, for 2010, new updated models of their Nimbus Bus 45 Triple Slide and
Nimbus Quad Slide, as well as their Phenix 45 Quad and Phenix 454S. The Nimbus begins at
a MRSP of $804,360 and the Phenix starts at $1,051,000.
New for this year Foretravel has chosen the MCD American Duo Shade System as original
equipment in their models. “A quality-built motorcoach must be equipped with quality-built
components and MCD shades are the only shades which Foretravel motorcoaches are
equipped. This high-tech total privacy window shade solution, their dependability, styling,
and ease of use makes for an easy choice in window shades, along with”, Curtis Fancher,
sales manager for Foretravel of Texas Inc., stated in a news release.
Model Years 2009-2010: For 2009 the Nimbus is available in double, triple or four-slide
powered by either Cummins 425-hp ISL or 500-hp ISM diesel engines. Nimbus’ Foretravel
Straight Forward Pricing ranges from $499,000 to $800,000. Their top of the line coach is
the 2009 Phenix which is a complete custom coach and with the 45’ Phenix challenges the
likes of Newell Coach and entry level bus conversions for the ability to build to the
customer’s needs and desires. The 2009 Phenix ranges from the $800-900K on Foretravel’s
Straight Forward Pricing list.
Comments: Overall the Foretravel Company receives very high marks, and quality of
construction is superb, with resale value being exceptional. With a rating scale of 1-5, and 5
being the top, Foretravel rates 4.5 – 5 in areas such as Performance, Safety, Design,
Comfort, Manufacturer Support and Overall Value. Only rating lower in Dealer Support and
Cost of Maintenance, Foretravel owners were happy with their purchase and would
overwhelming recommend the company to others. Not one of the better websites we have
viewed, Foretravel’s website is a bit tricky to navigate, and product information is not easily
available, however there are a lot of details once you find the right links. Foretravel does
offer factory tours and they do provide pictures on their website showing the various stages
of construction.
101
Four Winds (Thor Motor Coach)
701 Country Road
Elkhart, Indiana 46516
Phone: 800-860-5658
www.thormotorcoach.com/
Four Winds is now a product of Thor
Motor Coach, the result of the 2010
merger and purchase by Thor,
Industries
of
Four
Winds
International, Damon Motor Coach,
and Mandalay RV. All information and
products once manufactured by Four
Winds are now directed to the Thor
Motor
Coach
manufacturing
company. This includes the website
and contact information. Though Thor
Motor Coach is a relatively new name to the industry, its parent company, Thor Industries
has been around for decades.
Thor Industries, which traces its history back 70 years and is listed on the NY Stock
Exchange, is the parent company of Four Winds. Today Thor is the largest manufacturing
brand of motorhomes in North America, with Four Winds being part of that production. This
includes Class A, B and C motorhomes, as well as manufacturing both gas and diesel
motorhomes. Known for its innovative products, Four Winds was first to introduce the
Funmover and the garage motorhome. The company takes pride in knowing that they are
on the market edge when it comes to new products, new floor plans and new and bigger
chassis for more power and strength. “We have an edge over our closest competitors;
Fleetwood and Winnebago because we have some unique products that fill a niche, which
they don’t concentrate on,” says John Krider, Director of Marketing. “Our manufacturing
structure and lower overhead makes a lot of difference.”
Thor has announced their “Concierge Connection”…A personal service advocate for Thor
owners. Concierge Connection offers new retail owners of any Four Winds motorhome a
personal service advocate who is responsible for facilitating any service needs. Within days
of your purchase the Concierge Connection is made, offering assistance for warranty and
retail registrations, assistance with the motorhome operation, follow-up phone calls… all
welcoming you to the “Thor Motorhome Family”.
Model Year 2012: Four Winds products include trailers from 18' to 40', destination
trailers, Class A motorhomes, contemporary Class C motorhomes, and the all-in-one Fun
Mover Sport Recreation Vehicle.
The new 2012 Four Winds Siesta Touring Motorhome is luxury all through. Available in
lengths from 22’8” to 31’10” on a Ford or Chevy chassis, the Siesta line is also available
with a Sprinter diesel chassis. The four floorplans options include full body paint, slideout
room, leather cab seats, back up camera, heated power mirrors, 3500 lb hitch, night
shades, leather booth dinette, heated tanks, fiberglass running boards, ducted roof A/C,
onan generator, and patio awning. The Four Winds Siesta 24SA sleeps six, and has a
Mercedes diesel engine offering 17 MPG. It has a MSRP of $117,876. For further information
and 2012 products see Thor Motor Coach article.
102
Model Years 2010-2011: The 2011 Four Winds Windsport Class A motorhome is
available in basement and semi-basement floorplans. The new Windsport 31D has a width
of 8’3”, a height of 11’ 7” and an interior height of 6’8”. With a Ford Chassis engine and two
slideouts, this model includes a rear queen bed, walk through bath/shower, booth dinette
with a hide-a-bed sofa, 12 cubic foot side-by-side refrigerator, slideout pantry and lots and
lots of storage. We found this particular model with a base MSRP of $103,160 and yet
offered by dealers for under $70,000.
Four Winds popular Class A Hurricane comes with many of the amenities the Windsport
offers, as well as models with or without slideouts and the popular bunk-house feature. The
34B - W/3 Slides New Bunk House RV has a Brazil wood full body paint on a Ford 22-Series
Chassis with a Triton V-10 gas engine. The interior includes a Chestnut & glazed Maple
interior, full kitchen amenities, private shower and toilet area, surround sound
entertainment center, booth dinette, and captain swivel chairs in the cockpit. MSRP is
$137,138; however we found this particular model offered for just under $104,000.
Model Years 2009-2010: For 2010 their most popular gas motorhome is the Hurricane
with an average MSRP of $110,000. In the Class C category the Chateau is the company’s
most popular seller, gas or diesel with an average MSRP of $75,000. The company is also
excited about their new Sprinter series which is a fuel-efficient Class C motorhome. With
European inspired interior and elegant full body paint exteriors, it is easy to see why RV
buyers are taking notice of this new design. Four Winds is competing with the View by
Winnebago and the Prism by Coachmen, hoping to capitalize on high gas prices and
consumer demand for more fuel-efficient and aerodynamic products.
For 2009 the most popular selling Class A gas motorhome for the company was the
Windsport, which had an entry level price of around $105,000. The Windsport offers a
variety of floor plans and a broad spectrum of choices from a 33-foot to a 37-foot triple
slide. Four Winds most popular Class C during this year was their toy hauler, named the
Funmover. Average MSRP is around $90,000.
Comments: Four Winds RV could do better when it comes to the RV ratings. With only
average ratings, Four Winds did especially poor in the area of “Performance” (handling,
acceleration, braking, etc.). Yet ratings for “Support from the dealer and manufacturer”
have risen, perhaps due to the introduction of the Concierge Connection, which we feel is a
great asset to any purchase. Because many owners are adamant they love their motorhome
and others gave Four Winds a “would never buy another” rating, we at JR Consumers
suggest you check reviews for the specific Four Winds product you are considering
purchasing, speak with dealers who have sold previous models, and visit with owners.
For more information on reviews and ratings for Four Winds products, see the Thor Motor
Coach article.
103
General Coach (Thor Industries)
73 Mill Street
Hensall, Ontario
N0M 1X0
Phone: 519-262-2600
www.generalcoach.on.ca/
Western Facility
9316-348th Ave
Oliver, British Co
V0H 1T0
Phone: 250-498-3471
General Coach is no longer producing travel trailers. Although we cover Thor
Industries later in this chapter we wanted to include some information about General Coach.
Owned by the largest manufacturer in the world, Thor Industries Inc., General Coach
Canada is one of the pioneers with 59 years of experience in the RV Industry. They build a
complete selection of Recreational Vehicles including Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels, Park
Trailers, Park Models, Mobile Homes, Truck Campers, and custom built units. Built with the
finest materials not mass produced but hand crafted by small town Canadian craftsmen who
take pride in every unit they build The features and style you want One of the best
Warranties in the business Parts and service with a personal touch.
Georgie Boy Manufacturing (Coachmen)
(2010) Coachmen RV was purchased by Forest River who chose to drop the manufacturing
of Georgie Boy products. The Georgie Boy website now directs you to Coachmen RV.
Coachmen Industries Inc. announced that it finalized the sale of nearly all of the assets from
its RV business to Forest River in December 2008. The company has restructured as a
systems-built housing company with a specialty vehicle business. Forest River has agreed to
retain the majority of Coachmen’s RV work force.
Berkshire Hathaway Cuts Include Forest River. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. recorded its worst financial results ever in 2008, and will cut
manufacturing jobs and close facilities as the recession deepens. Forest River Inc. was one
of numerous Berkshire companies facing cutbacks. Berkshire’s operating companies have
taken and will continue to take cost reduction actions in response to the current economic
situation, including curtailing production, reducing capital expenditures, closing facilities and
reducing employment to partially compensate for the declines in demand.
Georgie Boy looked at Winnebago, Thor and Damon as its biggest competitors according to
our research. The company appealed to the entry-level and mid-range buyers with price and
quality both playing an important role. If you’re looking for a bit more luxury you may want
to consider the “Cruise Master”. Taken from company’s website, “The Cruise Master name
has a lot of history as a touring coach, and we thought a motorhome built on the UFO
chassis was perfect for rekindling this great brand," said Mike Scheetz, vice president of
motorized product for Coachmen RV Group. Georgie Boy takes advantage of the Workhorse
platform that many are praising for its ride, handling and quietness."One of the things we
like most about the UFO platform is all that it does to improve driver and passenger
104
comfort. With the engine in the rear, there is much less cabin noise and less cabin heat.
Also, because we don't have a drive shaft running the length of the coach, there is less
vibration; and we can build in more pass through storage."
2009-2010: No new product line has been released for 2010. For 2009 the “Cruise
Master” is equipped with the Workhorse UFO chassis and powered by GM's Vortec 8.1L V8
rear gasoline engine. Average MSRP is around $180,742.
Comments: Georgie Boy was a small company focused on providing quality entry-level
motorhomes at affordable prices. They didn’t manufacture hundreds of different models
spanning every classification. They only built two Class A gas motorhomes and one Class C
motorhome. Their resale value is above average to average.
Glendale Recreation Vehicles (Out of Business)
We were not able to interview this company but we wanted to include them in this rating
guide. According to the company’s website, “Glendale RV began producing recreation
vehicles in 1950. They quickly became known as some of the finest RVs built in North
America. Our innovation and attention to detail has made Glendale Recreation Vehicles into
what we are today, the largest Canadian RV manufacturer in the business.” Glendale
manufactured primarily Fifth Wheels. They do have a line of Park Trailers and are identified
throughout parks and highways across North America. They represented a great reputation
in craftsmanship, and quality built recreation vehicles. It is estimated that over 120,000
Glendale RV's are registered and in use today.
The Glendale Plant was very unique as compared to many other RV production facilities.
What set Glendale apart from many other RV manufacturers was their complete production
facility. They didn’t just assemble RVs, they manufactured a great many of the items you
will find in every Glendale unit. The manufacturing facility encompassed over 200,000
square feet with dedicated skilled craftsmen heading up each unit. Glendale RV had always
been an industry leader in the recreational vehicle market and their dedication and
commitment to quality shows in every RV unit they built.
2009-2010: The revamped 2010 Titanium model lineup includes new floor plans, decors
and new construction material. Floors are now made of the advanced COSMOLITE material
which reduces weight significantly. The 2010 models also feature redesigned front and rear
molded fiberglass caps with LED lighting. The Titanium Tour Edition is Glendale’s best-seller
and has been for the last several years, MSRP $77,750. Titanium's Patented Aerodynamic
"Cab Over" front cap design allows the air too flow over the cap, and is swept away from
the pin box area of the fifth wheel, which truly makes this a unique design. According to
Glendale, “The streamlined stylish design and lightweight engineered structure of the
Titanium fifth wheel are a timely solution to offset tow vehicle fuel costs. Comparing
Titanium Aerodynamics front cap design to a traditional fifth wheel, not only contributes to
significant fuel savings, but also can reduce wind drag and provides exceptional road
handling, and stability. Titanium's fifth wheel design has a Unique Advantage over all other
fifth wheel manufacturers.”
Comments: Based on our research this is an above average company with quality products
at affordable prices. Glendale RV is appealing to mid-range and upper-end buyers.
105
Gulf Stream Coach
503 South Oakland Ave.
Nappanee, IN 46550
Phone: 1-800-289-8787
www.gulfstreamcoach.com
Gulf Stream Coach has been manufacturing
recreation vehicles for over 20 years. The
company was founded by James F. Shea, Sr. who
was looking to branch out after starting a
manufactured housing company in an old
sauerkraut factory. Shea at first thought about
acquiring an existing RV company but then
decided to start from scratch so he could build
RVs the way he thought best. Gulf Stream was
born and the first motorhome was the 1983 Sun
Stream. Today Gulf Stream is one of the top manufacturers in the country selling in all
regions. Gulf Stream states, “We are privately owned and financially stable, remaining one
of the largest privately owned RV manufacturers in the country. “
Because they are a full-line RV manufacturer, Gulf Stream considers all other manufacturers
their closest competition. A company representative said, “We offer such a broad spectrum
that we take the entry-level customer and keep them all the way to the high end diesel
level. We carry everything from Class A diesel motorhome to luxury fifth wheels, to entrylevel vehicles and everything in-between. We have something for everyone. We are all
about quality, innovation, and value. Those are our three key focuses.”
Gulf Stream continues to manufacture Class A and C motorhomes, towables, and lite-weight
line of fifth wheels and travel trailers, including toy halers. This includes the Gulf Stream
Yellowstone products, a subsidiary of Gulf Stream which produces the Gulf Stream
Yellowstone motorhomes, Canyon and Ridgeline fifth wheels, and Canyon travel trailer.
Model Year 2012: Gulf Stream boasts their 2012 Endura Max is a bit of everything.
Travel trailer, fifth wheel, toy hauler, “…and whatever you need it to be.” As a crossover
multi-purpose fifth wheel this product is loaded. We found the 40'10" floorplan offering 3
slides, a fireplace, garage package, high gloss fiberglass sides, rear cargo screen door,
electric awning, 32″ TV,
solid surface counter tops, glass shower, ceiling fan,
AM/FM/CD/DVD player, washer/dryer prep, jack- knife couch, euro chair with ottoman, 2
power bunk beds, and a L shaped couch in garage. Other specifics include; GVW: 18,000
lbs., UVW: 14,515 lbs., freshwater tank: 98 gallons, a 13,500 BTU ducted roof AC system,
and a 5500 ONAN generator. MSRP is 70,500.
The all-new 2012 Gulf Stream Super Nova is a Class
C motorhome built with the new MAXX Force DT466
engine which can tow up to 18,000 lbs! The Super Nova
offers an air ride, air brakes and an air driver side seat
which makes driving this Super Nova like driving any
Class A motorhome. The 2012 Gulf Stream Super Nova
6400 diesel sleeps up to 12, has 2 slides, 2 bunk beds,
power windows, power mirrors, power pilot seats, and
an AM/FM/CD player. Living area features include: U
shaped dinette, leather pull out couch bed, stove, side
106
by side refrigerator, solid surface counter tops, day/night shades, surround sound, fire
place, 3 HD TV’s, 2 DVD/TV’s in bunks, power king bed, washer/dryer, glass shower, French
doors, 2 15,000 BTU ducted A/C’s, ducted heat, skycap, weather pro power awning,
fiberglass fuel tank covers, slide top awnings, solar charging system, back up camera,
thermo-pane windows, and so much more.
Model Years 2010-2011: Gulf Stream currently has no new models for the year 2011.
The Conquest travel trailer is upgraded this year and is currently the most popular of their
travel trailers, having been around longer and well–built. Dealers say they believe we will
see Gulf Streams’ ultra-light trailers become more popular this year as sales are increasing
in that area and customers are going for the light-weight towables over the motor vehicles.
Among those lightweights, The Gulf Breeze and Streamlight are becoming some of the most
popular models, as this year workmanship has been upgraded and prices lowered to reflect
customer needs in the current economy.
Model Years 2009-2010: Gulf Stream’s Montaj continues to be their newest motorhome.
Dealers we spoke with said the Montaj is catching on fast as the economy recovers. The
Montaj is more economical than your standard Class A with 94" width compared to 102" and
a height of 10' 4" compared to 12'. The Montaj has a 30% lower center of gravity than a
standard Class A and even a standard mini home. This low center of gravity assures the
driver a stable and a smooth ride.
Among the smaller Gulf Stream models the BT Cruiser, which won the Consumer Digest
Best Buy for 2005, continues to be a popular choice among RV customers desiring a
smaller, affordable motorhome. This camping vehicle is actually intended for not only family
travel, but also everyday use fulfilling the same purpose as an SUV, mini-van or a family
station wagon. The BT Touring Cruiser is excellent for the weekend trip, golf outing, soccer
game, field trips as even a cross-country family vacation.
Gulf Stream also introduced the Visa Ultra Lightweight Travel Trailer this past year and
dealers are reporting tremendous retail activity. Visa utilizes state-of-the-art eco-friendly
materials inside and outside, producing a 22’ 11” travel trailer with a total dry weight close
to 2700 lbs. that can be towed by minivans and crossover vehicles.
Comments: A recent discussion among Gulf Stream customers at RV Forum led to reports
of some positive customer satisfaction among Gulf Stream owners, but for the most part
there is a lot of dissatisfaction, especially in the areas of support from the dealer and/or
manufacturer. Frustration with the lack of customer support from dealers and the
manufacturers was very prevalent. This poor performance also carried over to the RV
ratings where Gulf Stream has some of the lowest ratings in the industry when it comes to
Dealer and Manufacturer Support and Overall Quality. Gulf Stream feels they are strongest
in the category of travel trailers and fifth wheels and it shows in the reviews from earlier
years where Gulf Stream does much better in workmanship and customer satisfaction
ratings. With the shift in the economy dealers say the market has an emphasis of customers
desiring light-weight towables and the dealers stated they had positive responses regarding
these products from Gulf Stream. Thus we can only report a very mixed response of
customer satisfaction from across the board. Our advice, do your homework when looking
for the individual Gulf Stream Product. They have an excellent website and you will find a lot
of your questions regarding specifics on the products and models available through photo
galleries, videos and charts. There is also a towing guide in which you can choose your
vehicle manufacturer to match specific towing needs.
107
Heartland RV
1001 All-Pro Drive
Elkhart, IN. 46514
Phone: 574-262-5992
www.heartlandrvs.com/
The founders of Heartland RV had worked together in the
RV industry for other manufacturers for a number of years.
According to Heartland, “During those years we developed
camaraderie and discovered each of us had a different, yet
complimentary, area of expertise. Amongst ourselves we
had the head of engineering, head of sales and a head of
marketing and advertising. After more than a decade of
working together we discovered a shared confidence that
we could build, market and sell recreational vehicles as
well or better than many of the companies that we had
first-hand experience with. In the fall of 2003 we began to get serious about forming a RV
manufacturing company, and after partnering with Brian Brady, former President and
partner at Damon Corporation, we started Heartland Recreational Vehicles.” In 2006
Heartland broke ground on a new 110,000 square foot production facility with a new
corporate office structure attached. As early as spring of 2006 Heartland, had moved into
the Top Ten of all 5th wheel manufacturers. Now in just four years Heartland is now #3 in
fifth wheels and closing in fast on being among the top 5 towable manufacturers of fifth
wheels and travel trailers combined.
Heartland’s Sales Director tells us their main competitors are varied due to the wide range
of products they offer. The company is marketing to the mid-range and upper-end buyers
with price and quality being the most important factors. Their products include luxury fifth
wheels, ultra lightweights, toy haulers, travel trailers and extended-stay travel trailers.
NOW PATENTED!! 88º TURN!
After a nearly three year process, Heartland received the Patent for their Improved Turning
Radius. Heartland advises, “Be sure to check where the actual hitch pin is located in
relationship to the front of the cap and the box of hitch - because some manufacturers have
resorted to designing a "look-a-like" front cap design that appears similar to Heartland - but
does NOT offer the same benefits!” Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC announced in June
2010 plans to aggressively revive the iconic Prowler brand, launching production of the
former legendary Fleetwood towable line late this summer in a dedicated production facility.
Heartland acquired the Prowler brand among a portfolio of 15 brands from Fleetwood
Enterprises Inc. which filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2009.
Model Year 2012: At a recent show Patti Gryzbowski from Sunridge RV told the media,
“People are spending more time in their RVs so they’re looking for more functional features.
Again, because they spend more time in their RVs, people want more and more comforts
and conveniences of home.” Gryzbowski points to one particular model – the 34'10"
Heartland Prowler Shadow 29 PS RKS. “We’re really excited about this model,” she
says. “It has a really good floor plan and two slides and one slide is half in the bathroom
and half in the bedroom, giving more storage space in an area where RVers really want
storage.” In addition to storage space, Heartland also engineers RVs to maximize headroom
wherever possible. They feature a full seven-foot ceiling height making for taller showers,
wardrobes and more overhead storage possibilities. In addition, the Prowlers include
108
portable satellite dishes and camp kitchens – where a cook stove, fridge and sink are all
handily located on outside of vehicle.
Trailer Life magazine chose the Heartland Elkridge 27 RLSS as one of their favorite fifth
wheel trailers. Heartland states that ElkRidge trailers come equipped with more standard
features than any other “fiver” on the market. Although that is not verified, the list of
amenities found inside and out is. These include large storage areas, stainless-steel
hardware, laminated fiberglass side walls, a rear ladder and a Trail-Air Equa-Flex
suspension. It also features a sofa bed with inflatable mattress and deep-drawer storage
beneath for bedding and other items. ElkRidge trailers also offer “wireless convenience,”
which enables users to remotely operate the front landing gear, rear stabilizers, awning,
slideouts and exterior lights at the push of a button. An extended hitch pin makes ElkRidge
trailers a great choice for short-bed, extended-cab pickup owners. Weight: 8,617 lb, Gvwr:
13,665 lbs. Elkridge models have a base MSRP of $22,000 to $23,000.
In addition Heartland announced its decision to partner with Winegard to prewire for
TRAV’LER antennas with Winegard for 2012 on two of its 2012 models; the Bighorn and
Landmark. Winegard has earned a solid reputation in the RV industry for reliability and
unmatched antenna performance,” said Kary Katzenberger, Heartland RV Bighorn/Landmark
General Manager. “And Heartland RV prides itself in designing and building some of the
most innovative, luxurious, fifth-wheel recreational vehicles in the market to meet the ‘no
compromise’ type of customers that choose Heartland. This is no different with antennas.”
Model Years 2010-2011: Heartland RV has again brought out its entry-level Trail
Runner travel trailer in a new 2011 model. The Trail Runner offers nine floorplans, 24’-34’,
each with new interior concepts offering loads of cabinet storage, plush furnishings,
abundant counter top space, and many windows to provide a great view of your
surroundings. MSRP begins at $26,000. The 2011 Heartland Cyclone 3950 Toy Hauler
Fifth Wheel, HD Edition comes with a w/12” rear garage, large bedroom/bathroom suites
and real hardwood cabinetry, doors & drawers. It features a 12" I-Beam Frame for
Maximum Strength (10" Model 3010). Storage space is at a premium in toy haulers and the
CYCLONE with its 2,500 lb. rating in the garage does not disappoint. The MSRP for the
Cyclone is $59,000. In the Mid-Profile range, the 2011 Greystone Fifth Wheel is
Heartland’s “beauty”. With a clean, fresh look of metallic high gloss platinum you can
“watch light dance off the exterior”. The exterior also comes with a 2" thick aluminum frame
and is insulated. Solid surface countertops with a rounded bull nose two-tone edge,
laminated sidewalls, large bedroom areas and five unique floorplans to choose from, it has a
MSRP of $39,000.
For 2011 the Heartland Focus FX18 lite-weight travel trailer offers a mix of a travel trailer
and a hybrid tent trailer. Brad Whitehead, National Director of travel trailer sales for
Heartland says, “With the Focus, we’re catering to smaller families or couples looking for a
trailer that is lightweight and cost-conscious, that still gives them the strength and finish of
laminated fiberglass construction.” Initially, the Focus lineup will offer five 7.5-foot wide
floorplans and three units with tented ends, ranging in lengths from 13 to 22 feet. Several
units will be equipped with single slide-outs and most can be towed by crossovers and
smaller SUVs. We found the MSRP beginning at $27,000. And we cannot miss introducing
the all-new “Going Green” Heartland MPG. Heartland RVtold us, “If you are like us; you
live an active lifestyle. You’re environmentally conscious, you appreciate creative design,
and you demand the highest quality. There are four unique floorplans to choose from,
available in four different exterior graphics colors and themes to suit your passion. All this
with a MSRP of $16,000 that can be towed by many of today’s popular crossover vehicles
and smaller SUVs.”
109
Model Years 2009-2010: Heartland RV has unveiled its all-new entry-level Trail Runner
travel trailer at the Pennsylvania RV show, (September 16, 2009). The Trail Runner is
offered in nine 24 to 34 foot floorplans with standard features including dual ducted-air
condition, screwed cabinets, full extension steel-ball bearing drawer hardware, insulated
baggage compartment doors and a radius corner fiberglass entry doors. MSRPs range from
under $12,500 to approximately $19,000. Heartland is currently the fastest growing RV
manufacturer in the nation, boasting June retail sales reflecting a 207% increase in year-todate travel-trailer market share, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.
Comments: Heartland is a small company with quality construction and superior insulation.
The company receives high marks for in the ratings for Performance, Safety, Design, and
resale value. Heartland RV customer satisfaction has dropped some among owners, whether
referring to a travel trailer or fifth wheel, yet it still rates slightly above average. The only
complaints we found were a few relating to the quality of interior features, such as the
quality of the couch or cushions. Dealer Support and Cost of Maintenance are rating “just
average”. Heartland RV website has extensive information of their products, perhaps the
most detailed of many RV manufacturer’s website. It can seem complicated and it takes a
bit of maneuvering, yet once you find your way around, it has much to offer.
Holiday Rambler (Navistar)
91320 Coburg Industrial Way
Coburg, OR 97408
Phone: (541) 686-8011
Toll Free: (800) 634-0855
www.holidayrambler.com
Holiday Rambler, a product of Monaco RV and Navistar, introduced its first travel trailer in
1953. In 1996 the company was purchased by Monaco Coach Corporation. Monaco is a
manufacturer of motorized and towable recreational vehicles and has grown over the years
to become one of the world’s leading RV brands. Holiday Rambler is a manufacturer of both
Class A and Class C motorhomes as well as towable recreation vehicles.
“The No. 1 message that we want to get out to our dealer body and our consumers is that
though Monaco RV is a fairly new company, it is backed by Navistar,” Ryan Lee, director of
marketing for Monaco RV. “And with the Navistar influence behind us, we are going to be
able to do many different things that this industry has never seen before.
Now, coming out of bankruptcy last year, Monaco was purchased by Navistar. Their $47
million deal completed the transaction of acquiring existing inventory, intellectual property,
and production facilities located at Monaco’s headquarters in Coburg, Ore., as well as
Harrisburg, Ore., Wakarusa, Ind. and Milford, Ind. However, Navistar just recently
announced plans to significantly scale back operations at its Monaco headquarters and
motor coach manufacturing plant in Coburg, Oregon. All motor coach production will be
consolidated at Monaco’s Wakarusa, Ind., manufacturing facility and certain Monaco
headquarters functions will be consolidated at Navistar’s new corporate campus in Lisle, Ill.
The company plans to continue producing towables and retain certain finance and
information systems operations in Oregon, as well as maintain a RV service center there.
110
Monaco RV consists of three brands; Monaco, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision. (For specifics
see the Monaco and R-Vision articles in this guide.) Furthermore, Monaco plans to focus on
those products as Navistar plans to close its truck manufacturing operation in Chatham,
Ontario, concentrating on integrating its RV and chassis businesses. Tiffin Motorhomes is
Holiday Rambler’s stiffest competition, followed by Fleetwood, Winnebago, Newmar, and
then Thor.
Model Year 2012: Laura Fry, Sales and
Marketing Specialist for Monaco RV, tells us
of updates and features for Holiday Rambler
in 2012. In the motorized line they include
the Class A lines equipped with a second
slideout, a full walk-around bedroom and
increased seating. The 2012 Aluma-Lite A
features two new 32 foot floorplans at 18,000
lb GVWR. There is also a redesigned front
and rear caps for the Ambassador and the
Endeavor. Holiday Rambler (Monaco) now
manufacturers vertically integrated motorhomes with the chassis, engine and house built by
one parent company; Navistar. Monaco pointed to the “successful integration” of Navistar’s
MaxxForce engines with Monaco RV’s Roadmaster chassis, representing the “first fully
designed and integrated motorhome platform in the industry” in which engine, body and
chassis are all manufactured by the same OEM. This includes models Ambassador, Trip, and
Endeavor.
In addition, Laura told us the 2012 Vacationer has a new design with more functional
features and family friendly amenities like bunk bed options. One of Holiday Rambler’s most
popular products, the Vacationer, has four floorplans in lengths from 30 to 36 feet, including
two double-slides, a triple slide and a full-wall slide, along with multiple furniture options
and configurations. With a six way power pilot seat, the 2012 Vacationer 34SBD includes all
the luxuries of home, from a full bath and bedroom/wardrobe, to a living room with
amenities that include a home theatre system. We found the 34SBD for $138,450.
For their towable lines, Laura tells us they are taking a 58 year old brand and redesigning it
for today’s needs. She gives these examples;
2012
2012
2012
2012
Aluma-Lite Fifth Wheel – a Half-ton towable fifth wheel with residential styling
Aluma-Lite Travel Trailer – it’s lightweight, with a family friendly design
Aluma-Lite Ultra – Ultra-lite engineered for today’s smaller tow vehicles
Traveler – Affordable, conventional build and packed with amenities
The 2012 Holiday Rambler Traveler is all-new and packed with residential features and
family friendly amenities. It offers eleven floorplans from 19 to 33 feet with standards such
as Fulton cherry cabinetry, USA construction, 6 cu ft 2-door refrigerator, oven with 3-burner
range, microwave, jackknife sofa that will sleep extra guests or the kids, booth dinette,
safety glass, and a patio awning. There is also extra counter space in the bathroom.
Wardrobe closets are also standard on both sides of the queen bed for your clothes. The
26BHS Traveler includes a super slide-out, with 2 rear bunks and a front queen walk around
bed. An open floorplan makes family living spacious and easy.
Model Years 2010-2011: According to Adam Gudger, Regional Sales Manager for Monaco,
the company has not yet introduced any new models this year, instead focusing on lots of
111
improvements and making sure their products are well-built, yet competitive. Holiday
Rambler is currently focusing on “The Neptune”, packing a lot of value into the coach; all
new floor plans, ceramic tile standard throughout the living area, kitchen and bath, and
upgrading the horsepower to 360 horsepower engine with 1,050 lbs.-feet of torque. The
cabinetry has been improved considerably; all with solid hard-wood, European style hinges,
and glazed cabinetry (for an antique look) that is popular with home owners and RVers. The
Neptune, once priced at entry levels, is now a refined product, raising the standard for
2011. It has a MRSP range of $220,000 for the 36’ to $260,000 for the 40’.
Holiday Rambler continues to be popular among RV customers, especially in the Class C
motorhomes. The 2011 Alumni Lite is coming out with a new design, a sign that the
company is indeed concentrating on quality, not quantity. Developed for today’s new price
points, the easy-to-maneuver RV is family-friendly as well as mileage-friendly. Though
smaller in stature, the Aluma-Lite is built with large size features and improved fuel
economy due to the Aluma-Lite front cap which is aerodynamically designed to reduce wind
turbulence and drag. The towables will be all-new designs. Adam also told us, “Our Chassis
system has been upgraded. The Roadmaster Chassis system has a special suspension
system – Air ride Suspension Systems. With 8 outboard mounted airbags, (the industry
standard is usually 4), our Roadmaster Chassis does not have the body roll that our
competitors do. We feel these upgrades give us the best chassis in the industry, in that
motor home price range”.
Model Years 2009-2010: Following the purchase of Monaco’s RV lines, Navistar has yet to
announce the production of any new product. Holiday Rambler was a good seller for Monaco
and we expect to see some new product lines in 2010. For 2009 the Savoy was the most
popular brand in the fifth wheel and travel trailer categories because of their comfort and
competitive pricing. The Savoy LE travel trailer starts at $25,000 and the LX starts at
$27,000 while the LX fifth wheel starts at $32,000 and the LE at $28,000. The company’s
most popular motor coach during this same time period was the Endeavor, starting at
$243,174 MSRP.
Comments: With the buyout of Holiday Rambler from Navistar, some previous owners of
Holiday Rambler have found their previous warranties not covered by Navistar. However,
dealers are stepping up. Many we spoke with feel very confident in the Holiday Rambler line
and are stepping up with warranties they themselves offer to cover previous lines of Holiday
Rambler’s manufactured before the Navistar takeover. Holiday Rambler products come with
mixed reviews. There were some dissatisfied customers weighing in, but many owners are
extremely pleased with their Holiday Rambler. Even the earlier models rate very well among
owners and the ratings have come up some this past year. Safety and Performance
(handling, acceleration, braking, etc.) rate right at the top and Reliability ratings are not far
behind. Support from the Dealer and Manufacturer continue to rate just above average,
however, and owners rate Overall Quality and Value above average. And these same
owners they sate they are very pleased with the comfort and design of their Holiday
Rambler model. Forums are filled with more owners loyal to Holiday Rambler manufacturing
and products than those who are dissatisfied. We at JR Consumer Resources suggest you
use the Holiday Rambler’s parent company, Monaco, website for any information you cannot
find at the Holiday Rambler site.
112
Itasca (Winnebago)
P.O. Box 152
605 West Crystal Lake Road
Forest City, IA 50436
Phone: 641-585-3535
www.goitasca.com/
A division of Winnebago Industries, Itasca
manufactures Class A and Class C motor homes.
The Itasca lineup includes 11 distinct models
designed for the way you live. Each Itasca
motorhome offers a variety of Key Features and a
style all its own. Itasca was created with a
combination of style and comfort with Winnebago
Industries’ over 50-year history of performance
and innovation. To learn more about the company,
its manufacturing and production, please read
Winnebago article.
Model Year 2012: Kelli Harms, Public relations
and Marketing Specialist for Winnebago, tells us,
“For the 2012 model year, Winnebago Industries
offers 73 floorplans across three brands of Class A,
B and C motor homes: Winnebago®, Itasca® and Era®. Of the 73 floorplans, 40 percent
are new to the lineup.”
Notable new floorplans include:
•
Top-of-the-line Class A Winnebago Tour/Itasca Ellipse 42JD that features three
slideout rooms, a luxurious master bath (with a half-bath mid-coach), king bed,
extendible dining table and chairs and Corian® countertops. The Tour and Ellipse
feature the impressive Maxum® Freightliner chassis.
•
The Itasca Ellipse offers two additional floorplans in its 2012 lineup:
•
The industry’s hottest selling diesel floorplan in 2011, the triple slide 42QD features
Winnebago Industries’ own extendible sectional sofa with a 40-inch LCD just
opposite. This bath-and-a-half floorplan features a spacious bedroom, with a king
bed, well-appointed kitchen with pull-out island and plenty of interior and exterior
storage.
•
The 42AD features four slideouts, especially in the mid-coach lounge area with an
extendible sectional sofa and Rest Easy Multi-Position Lounge both featured. The
fully equipped kitchen is in the front of the coach, with a bedroom in the rear that
features both a wardrobe and chest of drawers.
Popular Class A Winnebago Journey/Itasca Meridian 36M and 42E – with the 36M
offering spaciousness you would not think possible in a 36-foot coach thanks to a full-wall
slideout, a large galley and an available extendible sectional dinette that expands to seat
guests. The 42E also features a full-wall slideout, bath-and-a-half design, Rest Easy
Extendible Sectional Sofa and optional fireplace.
113
Class A Winnebago Sightseer/Itasca Sunova 30A feature the new and innovative
extendable U-shaped dinette – a hybrid couch/dinette that offers convenience, comfort and
style with seating for six and a 42-inch LCD TV that slides out for optimal viewing
even when the slideout is not extended.
Class A Winnebago Vista/Itasca Sunstar 30T features an available extendable table
with a graceful buffet and a 42-inch LCD TV in its triple slideout configuration.
Class C Winnebago Aspect/Itasca Cambria 28T features a functional U-shaped dinette,
in-line galley and walk around queen bed.
Class C Winnebago View/Itasca Navion 24M is incredibly spacious with a full-wall slide
and rear bathroom. The View/Navion is built on the fuel efficient Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
chassis.
Class C Winnebago Access/Itasca Impulse 31R features a spacious bedroom with a
wardrobe slideout, dual access to the bathroom and BenchMark Full Comfort Dinette.
The Era 70X is a nimble, fuel-efficient, easy-to-drive Class B motor home built on the
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 chassis. Quad seating is found up front, with a removable
storage/wardrobe cabinet optional.
Base MSRP on the 2012 lineup ranges from $68,741 to $355,971.
Model Years 2010-2011: Winnebago Industries product lineup sets the bar for both value
and features. Leading the way is the introduction of the all-new Winnebago Via and Itasca
Reyo, the first and only Class A diesel motor homes built on the Dodge®/MercedesBenz®Sprinter Chassis that features a 3.0L, 154 hp Mercedes-Benz diesel engine. According
to Winnebago, “More fuel efficiency. More features. More fun.” The Winnebago Via and
Itasca Reyo also lead the way as the only Class A motor homes to achieve up to 15+ mpg.
These motorhomes are rated high for superior handling and maneuverability and are quickly
becoming popular because of their innovative design, the fuel economy and the MercedesBenz Sprinter chassis. Other features for the Itasca Reyo (and Via) include: New drop down
Studio Loft that’s integrated into the ceiling of the cab area and has a low point of entry for
easy access. Twin beds that easily turn into a larger bed. European-inspired interior with
lightweight curved cabinetry, and innovative galley backsplash. Cab seats that swivel and
rise to become an integral part of the living area and 90 cubic feet of exterior storage. For
2011, the Reyo adds a third model to take advantage of the fuel-economy and power of the
Mercedes-Benz turbo-diesel engine. The Reyo is a perfect coach for downsizers, first time
buyers or weekend travelers.
Kelli Harms also tells us, “The 2011 Winnebago Tour and Itasca Ellipse are our
Company’s top-of-the-line motor homes, and we are proud to introduce another Winnebago
industry exclusive in these luxurious coaches - the Rest Easy Sectional Sofa. The sectional
easily expands to create additional seating space that’s perfect for entertaining. Plus, with
Rest Easy the couch converts into a comfortable recliner or cozy lounger with pull-out
ottoman with the flick of an electric switch. Press the switch again, and the lounger turns
into a bed. With features such as Ultra-leather seating, hardwood cabinets with a new
Coffee Glazed finish, central vacuum system and a fully equipped galley. Full-timers or
those looking to live the “high life” are the projected buyers of the 2010-2011 Itasca Ellipse.
With its powerful 400 horsepower diesel performance and all-new exterior styling, the
Ellipse is considered Itasca’s flagship coach. Two 40-foot and two 42-foot tag-axle models,
including the all new 42QD are available. MSRPs range from $303,800 to $331,800.
114
Itasca’s Class C Gas Motorhome, the 2011 Impulse and Impulse Silver are available with
several new features, including five new models with a range of options to choose from.
Floor plans range from 25’ to 32’, each with an 18 gallon LP capacity and a 55 gallon fuel
tank. A comfort sofa that easily turns into an extra bed, solar/blackout roller shades, Sirius
satellite radio, a steel cab structure and aluminum framework are just some of the features
of these models for Itasca. MSRP for the Impulse and Impulse Silver range from $68,849 $92,600.
Model Years 2009-2010: Please read Winnebago’s article, which contains information
about Itasca’s 2010 lineup. For 2009 the Navion iQ was a best seller for the company,
which offers good fuel economy and provides two great floor plans; the 24CL and 24DL,
with a base MSRP of $99,422. The 2009 Suncruiser is all new, but still has the same great
name! The Suncruiser starts at $136,615. The Itasca flagship, the Horizon, also offers a
new floor plan in 2009 – the 40WD. The 40WD retails for $304,395.
Comments: Though a product of Winnebago manufacturing, Itasca owners give their RVs a
little higher ratings than did those owning a direct Winnebago product. Performance
(handling, acceleration, braking, etc.), comfort and safety rated the highest. Customer
satisfaction for support from the dealer is lower, but support from the manufacturer has
risen significantly. That shows us the company is listening to their customers. After
discussing Itasca with owners and following several of the reviews, unfortunately Itasca, like
Winnebago falls a little short when it comes to Overall Value. Quality has risen slightly since
last year. Like Winnebago however, this is a quandary, because despite some low customer
satisfaction reviews, recommending the Itasca manufacturer was rated high. Our advice at
JR Consumer Resources; check the product carefully before purchasing. Many Itasca
model/products had the same issues, such as problems with the slide-outs, while others had
only minor issues and kept their loyal following of owners.
Jayco, Inc.
903 S. Main Street
Middlebury, IN 46540
Phone: 574-825-5861
www.jayco.com
Jayco, Inc. is one of the largest manufacturers
of travel trailers, fifth wheels and Class A and
C motorhomes. Located in Middlebury,
Indiana, Jayco was founded in 1968 by Lloyd
J. Bontrager who felt he could build a better
RV and a better company. He started Jayco on
the family farm – in two chicken houses and a
barn – by developing a prototype camping
trailer and an original lifter system for folddown campers. This design was patented and is still in use today. By the end of the first
year Bontrager had 15 employees and the company had sold 132 camping trailers. Today
the company is still owned and operated by the Bontrager family and almost 1,600
employees are part of the “Jayco family.”
115
Jayco, Inc. is the largest privately-held manufacturer of recreational vehicles in North
America. The company makes and markets, Jayco RVs under the Jay Series, Baja, Select,
Jay Flight, Jay Feather, Eagle, Octane ZX, Designer, Greyhawk, Precept, Melbourne, Seneca,
Embark, and Insignia nameplates. In addition, the company markets Starcraft, R/T,
Centennial, Travel Star, Rock Star, Homestead and Lexion RVs through its Starcraft RV
division.
Jayco also manufacturers luxury motorhomes through the Entegra Coach division
In the spring of 2008, Entegra Coach became a
member of the Jayco family. Jayco is proud to
take our place as the builder of the company's
flagship products, according to company’s
website. The hallmark of Entegra’s motorcoach
is their structural integrity, exceptional quality,
old-world craftsmanship and excellent aftermarket service. The company builds each coach
one at a time, and they back their products
with a commitment to customer service that is
unmatched in the RV industry. Taken from
company’s website, “We are owned and
operated by people who know and understand RVs. You can be rest assured that when you
invest in a product from Entegra Coach, you will join a family that has an abiding
commitment to quality and service”.
Based on our research Entegra is a quality coach, which is family-owned that includes an
outstanding 2-year warranty with strong dealer support. The chassis supporting the
motorcoach is considered a custom chassis with their exclusive X-Bridge design, which helps
prevent flexing throughout the motorcoach, averting cracks in tile and grout and reducing
windshield movement and noise.
About Starcraft: This year Jayco, Inc., parent company of Starcraft, announced a longterm Sustainability Initiative. Designed to help the planet, the company set five aggressive
goals to be met in the next five years. One is to eliminate waste, a pledge to be landfill free
by the Year 2015. Another is to reduce overall energy use by 40%. Wilbur Bontrager,
Jayco’s CEO, tells us, “We build products that allow our customers to enjoy the outdoors
and the environment. Therefore it makes sense that we should strive to be a good corporate
citizen and a good steward of the environment. Last year Jayco was the first major RV
manufacturer to be 100% green certified and fully-recognized for building products with
green manufacturing processes and materials by TRA Certification Inc., an internationally
accredited certification organization. To learn more please read Starcraft Article.
Model Year 2012: Jayco has lots to say about their all
new 2012 Jayco Pinnacle stating it is “…more than just
another fifth wheel: it’s the culmination of over 40 years
of innovation and experience in the RV industry. From
our culinary dream kitchen with expansive floor-toceiling dining area windows, to the Gel-360 exterior
shell to the tranquility bedroom suite, everything about
the Pinnacle has been redesigned from the ground up,
for a revolutionary new level of affordable livability and
comfort.” 5 floorplans are available ranging from an
116
exterior length of 34'9" to 40'5", an exterior width of 8’, and exterior height of 12'11".
GVWR is 14,950 - 15,950 lbs. and the 36’ was found with a MSRP of $77,000.
Continuing with Jayco’s fifth wheel line, Trailer Life magazine chose the Jayco Eagle Super
Lite Half-Ton FW 26.5RLS as one of their favorite fifth wheel trailers. Stating these facts
and amenities are the reason for the choice by Trailer Life; “Its lower aerodynamic profile
leads to smoother towing, the new full-body gray fiberglass exterior, standard construction
which includes a gelcoat front cap; TuffShell vacuum-bonded laminated floor, side walls and
slide rooms; a structural I-beam frame; and reflective-foil insulation in the slideout room(s)
and floor. The interior boasts Concord Cherry cabinetry, residential-style furniture, an
optional wardrobe slide in the bedroom and a side-aisle bath configuration. Outside there’s
plenty of basement storage and the exterior kitchen for the ultimate outdoor cooking
experience via a fifth wheel.” Exterior length is 29’9” with a MSRP of $30,550.
Jayco’s 2012 Melbourne 28F Class C motorhome was created to give you the comfort and
convenience of a full-size motorhome in a smaller, more practical and manageable unit.
Designed for people who love to travel, the Melbourne motorhome is available in several
floorplans ranging from under 26 feet to just over 31 feet in length, sleeps 4 and comes
with 2 slideouts. Features available include a touch-screen in-dash sound system back-up
camera monitor, deluxe remote-control heated side-view mirrors, and a portable outside
gas grill. The Jayco Co-Pilot Warranty offers the original purchaser a two-year warranty
against defects in materials and workmanship. Base MSRP for the Melbourne 28F is
$92,270.
Jayco’s 2012 White Hawk is their newest product, entering into the ultra-lite travel trailer
market. The White Hawk offers everything you expect in a traditional travel trailer, but it is
able to be towed by most half-tons and mid-size SUVs. Each deep 36” slideout is twice the
amount of expandable space in traditional ultra-lites. Dark tinted windows, halogen lighting,
a fully walkable roof, hardwood cabinetry and a high efficiency heating and cooling system,
the White Hawk can be found in floorplans ranging from 26’ to just over 31’.
Model Years 2010-2011: The 2011 Jayco Skylark travel trailer is 30 percent lighter in
weight than a conventionally-built travel trailer of the same length. Designed to be towed by
more than 75 percent of today's cars, SUVs and light trucks, the 22-foot Skylark weighs
only 2,950 pounds. In addition, the 2011 Skylark boasts TorFlex® independent torsion-axle
system among other features aimed at improving towability, including a V-nose front profile
and moving the air conditioner from the roofline to the floorline. The Skylark also features
innovative components including Euro double-paned acrylic tinted windows, Euro-style
curved cabinetry and a Euro-style stainless steel sink. Finally, the Skylark features “Green”
technology such as LED lighting throughout that consumes one-fourth the electricity than
conventional lighting and AZDEL SuperLite® eco-friendly wall, roof and floor assembly. The
Skylark MSRP starts at $23,143.
The 2011 Jayco Jay Flight 25BHS is considered by Jayco as “…our most affordable Jay
Flight model, great for first-time and long-time RVers alike.” The Jay Flight has a long list of
standard features that other makers only offer as expensive options. It is offered in eight
family-friendly floorplans, and towable by most half-ton trucks and SUVs. MSRP can start at
$24,750.00 for the 28’. Jayco is once again offering the Jayco Greyhawk 31FK Class C
Motorhome for 2011. Greyhawk features more high-end features and amenities than
anything else in its price range. A 5-speed automatic Torqueshift® series transmission with
overdrive, navigation system and 5,000-lb. hitch with 7-pin plug are some of the standard
features. We found dealers offering the 2011 Greyhawk beginning at $92,000.
117
Model Years 2009-2010: Jayco is entering into the Class A market by introducing their
new Insignia diesel pusher. Designed as a five-star luxury suite on wheels, the 2010
Insignia offers everything you expect to find in a high-end diesel pusher. Built on a
Freightliner® chassis, with six-speed automatic transmission and a 360 HP Cummins® ISC
turbocharged engine, you have the power and maneuverability you need to handle
whatever obstacles the road may throw your way, with a base MSRP of $221,000.
According to the company, “The Jay Flight travel trailer
continues to be the No. 1 selling travel trailer in North
America for the fourth year in a row.” With its large
selection of floorplans and a variety of options and prices,
Jay Flight is the most liveable choice in travel trailers for
families of different needs, sizes and budgets. Jay Flight
travel trailers sleep from 4 to 10 people and range in length
from just over 22 feet to almost 34 feet. Base MSRP at around $15,000.
Another new product for Jayco for 2010, the all new Precept Class C motorhome, base
MSRP $102,000. According to the company, “This particular model is raising the bar for
Class C motorhomes everywhere, combining excellent fuel efficiency (16-18 miles per gallon
rating) with full-featured luxury.
Comments: We like the fact that Jayco is family-owned and many in the family are still
actively involved in the day-to-day operations. Dealers are pleased with the company and
tell us the Lite-Weight towables are currently the most popular selling product. As one
dealer told us, “They (Jayco) make a great product and their lite-weights allow easy towing,
allowing anyone to get out and enjoy camping.” Another stated, “We love them. They are
independently owned so everything is done through them (Jayco). They are fantastic to
work with”. From last years ratings Jayco dropped slightly in some areas most significantly
in the area of Performance on the Road (handling, acceleration, braking). Safety and
Reliability could be a little better as well and Overall Quality and Value ratings. Nonetheless,
despite ratings that only are average or just a little above average and with issues of
support from the manufacturer and dealers, Jayco still continues to have a very loyal
following. Reviews are filled with a large number of owners stating they are pleased with
their Jayco product. Because of these conflicting ratings and the fact that Jayco makes
many different products, we at JR Consumer Resources suggest you thoroughly explore
reviews and ratings for the particular model you are considering. Jayco obviously is doing
something right to have so many loyal owners.
Resale value is average to above average based on our research. We give Jayco high ratings
because of this and for those of you that are entry-level or mid-range buyers Jayco, is worth
checking out. Jayco, Inc. has a great website with such features as “Compare Models”,
“Build & Price” and detailed warranty information.
118
Keystone RV (Thor Industries)
PO Box 2000
2642 Hackberry Drive
Goshen, IN. 46526
Phone: 574-535-2100
www.keystonerv.com
Keystone RV began with one goal in mind – to
create travel trailers and fifth wheels while
keeping the customer top of mind. This philosophy
has enabled the company to become the number
one manufacturer of fifth wheels and travel
trailers in North America.
Keystone “lives, eats and breathes” the customer on a daily basis and to this end, each of
its product teams works independently and maintains input into the design and
manufacturing of each RV all along the process. “We heavily involve our retail customer in
our design process,” says Jim Mac, communications manager of Keystone RV. “We clearly
believe it is the backbone of our company. The customer is our boss.” Another key to
Keystone’s success is they are solely focused on fifth wheels, travel trailers, and toy
haulers, nothing else. “Many companies build everything from pop-ups to diesels but we
focus on fifth wheels and trailers only,” says Mac. “We allow our product managers
autonomy to design what the customer wants. That has allowed us to grow from a start-up
in 1996 to the largest producer of travel trailers and fifth wheels in the world.” That was
proven when Keystone opened a new production facility, adjacent to its current one, in
2011. In addition, Keystone recently rolled off its 500,000th unit and it was the Sprinter
travel trailer which seems iconic, as that was the company’s original brand.
With a 25% share of the North American towable RV market, it is no surprise that Keystone
brands lead the field. For example, Keystone’s Montana fifth wheel is the best-selling fifth
wheel trailer going on 10 consecutive years, according to Statistical Surveys, Inc.
Keystone’s Raptor fifth wheel is the most popular selling towable toy hauler (SURV) on the
market for 4 consecutive years. Some of the other most popular models are Keystone’s
Cougar, Outback, Montana, Mountaineer, Raptor, Fuzion, Cougar Xlite, and Passport.
Products begin at entry-level prices to luxury models.
Model Year 2012: The Keystone Vantage travel
trailer is a new product for Keystone. Keystone
President Bob Martin playfully told the RV world, “It was
designed and built in a separate facility described as
‘Area 51’— because only about 20 people from our
operations group had access to it until it was revealed
to dealers.” Martin continued to describe the Vantage
as “….a new product that actually was the brainchild of
our senior operations group. They wanted to do
something that’s a different construction process that
looks different, is timeless, sleek and sexy.” The
Vantage incorporates vacuum-bonded radius walls
(inside and outside), laminated construction, unique front and back molded caps and
surprisingly for its size, a light towing weight. “It’s not intentionally an ultra-lightweight,”
Martin said, “but due to some of our construction techniques it comes in fairly light. This is a
larger unit — we wanted to build a larger one first just to see what the weight would end up
being — and at 33 feet it weighs in at about 6,500 pounds.” The Vantage 33-foot floorplan
119
will probably be the largest model built, yet will ultimately be offered in an entire range of
sizes, down into the smaller 20-foot lengths. As of this printing Keystone tells us they have
yet to set a MSRP, even so, they expect the Vantage to appeal to a broad market, from
baby-boomers to young families. The Vantage will be available by November of 2011.
Keystone considers their Alpine their “next generation” fifth wheel. Designed for customers
who want luxury with convenience, the Alpine includes top quality in everything from the
hardwood cherry woodwork and cabinetry to the Whisperer Air HVAC system. This heating
and cooling system is quiet, clean, no unit sticking out and it 25% more efficient than the
old systems. The 2012 Keystone Alpine 3500RE features a quad slide with a full rear wall
entertainment center. Lots of storage and overhead cabinets, the Alpine includes a sofa
sleeper hide-a-bed slide, 2 lounge chairs, dinette slide, a full kitchen with two counters (one
is a counter peninsular with bar stools) and a full bedroom and bathroom. The king bed
slide includes a walk in closet. At 39’ 2” the Alpine has a MSRP is $79,640.
Keystone also has many updates on other popular Keystone products. The Montana is built
with new leather furniture and a 6-point leveling system option available for all models. The
Passport has a floorplan featuring a rear kitchen and models with updated exterior graphics.
The Cougar has several new 2012 floorplans, including one with a rear kitchen. Trailer Life
magazine chose the Keystone High Country Cougar 291 RLS as one of their favorite fifth
wheel trailers. Trailer Life tell us just a few of the reasons Keystone receives the vote,
“Keystone has utilized advanced materials and manufacturing technology in a process the
company has dubbed Helium Technology to reduce the weight of the laminated HC Cougar.
Outside, the Max Turn Technology front cap features tapered edges on the bottom of both
sides to help create a tight turning radius. A Hitch Vision system makes hitching and
unhitching easy, while the EZ Camp LCD wireless remote control allows owners to control
the slideouts, landing and stabilizer jacks, patio awning and outside light with push-button
ease.” With an exterior length of 30’9”, the Keystone Cougar 291 has a MSRP of $34,000.
Model
Years
2010-2011:
The
2011
Keystone 266 Springdale is Keystone’s
newest Springdale SSR Travel Trailer and one
of their best-selling brands. With a rear living
area, it includes 2 lounge chairs, overhead
cabinets, sofa bed, a supersize U-dinette
Slideout, LCD TV, full kitchen amenities,
tub/shower, vanity, sink toilet, front area full
queen bed with nightstand and closets, private
bedroom entrance, front pass-thru storage,
and more. Jim Mac tells us, “This travel trailer was designed with one main goal - incredible
value for your dollar. With Springdale, you will find that you don’t have to spend a fortune
to have all the conveniences and features that you want, average MSRP $23,000.
Springdale is one of the fastest growing brands in the recreational vehicle industry. In fact,
an independent rating company named Springdale as the best value in the U.S. in travel
trailers and fifth wheels."
With customer demand for lightweight, fuel-efficient travel trailers at an all-time high. The
Passport, an ultra-light, finds favor with families who want to maximize fuel efficiency yet
maintain all of the conveniences of a feature-packed RV. The newest additions to Keystone’s
ultra-lite towables are The Bullet and Bullet Premier. These new ultra-lites are sleek and
modern looking while offering full featured comforts. For example, some of the highlights of
the new Bullet Premier include dual-radius fiberglass front cap as well as optional full body
paint. Something the competitors do not offer. The Cougar continues to be a top selling
120
product for Keystone, as they tell us, "For eight consecutive years RV buyers have made
Cougar #1 in its class. The reason, Cougar offers you more innovative features, floorplans
and higher quality, all at a popular price." Dealers also love this product.
Model Years 2009-2010: The best-selling fifth wheel in American according to Keystone’s
website is the Cougar. Keystone says, “North America's #1 Selling Fifth Wheel for Eight
Consecutive Years. The right inspiration leads you to achieve greatness whether you are
vacationing, adventuring or just relaxing. Another popular seller is the Montana fifth wheel.
Montana designs fifth wheels to provide enduring pleasure over the long haul and in every
aspect of the ownership experience. Montana builds RVs that inspire.”
Keystone manufactures a variety of travel trailers and one of their best-selling brands is the
Springdale series. This travel trailer was designed with one main goal - incredible value for
your dollar, according to their website. Average MSRP is $23,000. Springdale is one of the
fastest growing brands in the recreational vehicle industry.
Comments: While the company rates right at the top in performance and design, safety
and reliability have dropped slightly in the ratings. Though not a significant amount, there
are enough average reviews and ratings to put Keystone owners in a group where only 3
out of 5 would recommend a Keystone product to potential buyers. Only average ratings in
overall value and dealer and manufacturer support are something else we think you should
consider. Customer reviews are also mixed. While a number of Keystone owners seemed
pleased with their purchase, many more posted complaints about workmanship, parts
replacement issues. Yet with so many products and continuing to be at the top in sales, one
cannot discount the company. Dealers across the country tell us Keystone products are
selling at record numbers and all the dealers we spoke to are very happy regarding their
partnership with Keystone, Inc. It is also worth noting that the company has been named
one of the top RV manufacturers (towable brands) to receive the Quality Circle Award by
the RVDA. Be sure to visit Keystone’s excellent website, one of the best we have seen and
worth checking out. Keystone provides very detailed galleries, “virtual” viewing, and the site
is loaded with information. You can even take a virtual tour through a Keystone owner’s
evaluation of the product.
Kodiak (See Dutchmen Article)
2164 Caragana Court
Goshen, IN 46528
Phone: 574-534-1224
www.kodiak-rv.com/
121
Komfort Corp. (Thor Industries)
12628 SE Jennifer
Clackamas, OR 97015
Phone: 503-722-5199
www.komfort-rv.com/
Komfort, a towable RV manufacturer based in
Clackamas, Ore., began in 1966 and was
purchased by Thor Industries in 1993. In 2010
Thor merged Komfort with their most dynamic
and fastest growing company, Dutchmen RV.
Information and products once manufactured by
Komfort are now directed to the Thor Industries
and the Dutchmen manufacturing company.
Komfort tells us, “We believe being aligned with
Dutchmen, the Komfort brand name now
benefits from the synergies and efficiencies that
larger manufacturers enjoy. The high quality that Komfort is known for continues and is now
available across North America. We are proud to preserve and grow the highly respected
name Komfort.” For over 40 years Komfort has been manufacturing Travel Trailers and Fifth
Wheels designed to meet the demanding conditions of the Northwest and beyond. Built with
the finest materials and extensive attention to detail Komfort tell us, “We are built in the
West, for the West. And we will remain a standard for Quality in the RV market.”
Closest competitors for the company are NuWa, Keystone and Jayco and appeals to midrange and upper-end buyers.
Model Year 2012: Currently Komfort is
producing three lines; their travel
trailers,
the
Komfort
and
the
Trailblazer, and Pacific Ridge, a fifth
wheel
and
travel
trailer
product.
Measuring just 32 feet from tip to tail,
Dutchmen’s 2012 Komfort 2820FRL is
the smallest true high profile fifth-wheel
on the market, according to a press
release. “The 2820FRL offers all the
advantages of a true high profile fifth-wheel in a shorter package allowing easy access to
more destinations,” said Rob Groover, Komfort General Manager. “Our customers have been
asking for all of the upscale amenities Komfort offers in a smaller package. We believe we
have exceeded our customer’s request.” Despite the smaller platform, the new Komfort
floorplan offers a 6-foot 8 inch crowned ceiling throughout the bedroom along with a kingsized bed and walk-in cedar closet. The bathroom features a 60” by 30” ultra-shower with a
glass enclosure.
Considered their flagship, the Komfort Pacific Ridge, includes four travel trailer and four
fifth wheel floorplans. Komfort tell us all models feature a five-way “Aluma-Kage” weldedaluminum laminated superstructure, an aerodynamic high-gloss gel coat fiberglass front
cap, “Thermal-max” all-weather insulation package, Equa-flex suspension, as well as a 6inch radius ceiling. Interior features include solid surface countertops, BTU AC, halogen
lighting, 8-cubic-foot refrigerator, 80-inch island queen bed, Fantastic Fan and an oversized
122
skylight with shade. With all new designs the Pacific Ridge fifth wheel comes with 3
floorplans and the Pacific Ridge travel trailer has four.
Model Years 2010-2011: The Komfort RV line produces a line of travel trailers and fifth
wheels, all with slideouts. Their “Komfort” model offers four different travel trailers and two
fifth wheel floorplans. The Trailblazer offers four travel trailer floorplans, eight for the
Trailblazer LE, and three for the Trailblazer fifth wheel model.
For 2010 Komfort decided on a change of pace — a line of travel trailers with more interior
space than their lengths would suggest, and exterior designs with colors different than the
traditional off-white. The outcome is eight models in the new, very popular Resort line,
ranging in length from 23 to 34 feet. All models sport aerodynamic front contours, power
awnings, bold black accents around the doors, windows and lower body and 2 gel coat highgloss fiberglass exteriors in medium tan. Inside, the emphasis is on maximum living area
and openness. Full walk-around queen bed has large under-bed storage and 2 rear bunks
for sleeping or storage. The dinette and galley occupy opposite sides in the center of the
trailer, with the dinette comfortably seating four — or even five by means of a separate end
section of the sofa that functions as a moveable chair. The sofa flips to make a bed, which is
a bit narrow for taller sleepers, but reasonable given the compact size of this trailer. MSRP
range from $25,000 - $29,000.
Model Years 2009-2010: According
to the company, “Our redesigned
Trailblazer
‘Residence
Edition’
product has been a huge hit with
prospective dealers from Southern
California and Arizona to Western
Canada,” said Jerry Sell, sales
manager. The Residence Edition travel
trailer features color-coordinated fabrics and strategically placed colored wall panels to
reflect the current two-tone wall themes popular in homes, he said. All Trailblazer products
feature aluminum-framed sidewalls and gelcoat fiberglass exteriors, aluminum alloy wheels,
power awnings, living room skylights and many other amenities. ”The look is definitely high
end and is dramatically different from the traditional look of a travel trailer,” said John
Attila, Komfort president and originator of the Residence Edition interior. “We have also
expanded this unique look into an entry-level fiberglass product called the Trailblazer LE.
The dealer response has been overwhelming,” he said. MSRP on the regular Trailblazer is
$21,000 and $17,800 for the LE.
Comments: Komfort trailers are manufactured in the northwest and like most northwest
manufacturers their trailers are designed to withstand cold temperatures and the rough
terrain of the northwest. Many Komfort trailers come with a Thermal Max-Pack All-Weather
Package, which consists of enclosed and heated holding tanks and manufacturer-specified
R21 insulation in the floor, R14 in the roof, and R7 in the walls. The company ranks high (an
average 4-4.5 out of 5) in all areas, including Quality Construction, Resale Value,
Performance and Reliability. The only drops in the ratings came when rating support from
the manufacturer and dealer. However, dealers we spoke with like the company and told us
the company is quick to service their customers when issues arise. Komfort is a profitable
company and builds fifth wheels and travel trailers at affordable prices.
For more information on reviews and ratings for Komfort products, and more information on
the manufacturer, see the Dutchmen article.
123
KZ RV
0985 N 900 W.
Shipshewana, IN 46565
Phone: 800-315-7427
www.kz-rv.com
For 40 years KZ RV has earned a
reputation for being an outstanding
recreational vehicle manufacturer. The
reason for this is their commitment to
quality and attention to meeting the
unique needs of their customers. KZ RV
manufactures solid sided fifth wheels,
travel trailers and hybrid travel trailers,
and toy hauler that are lightweight
enough to be towed by smaller vehicles. They manufacture a wide variety of models and
floor plans. Marlene Snyder, Product Manager for KZ RV, believes KZ RV appeals to broad
range of buyers with quality and price both playing a big role. “We have everything from an
entry-level unit called Sportsmen to the newly redesigned high-end StoneRidge. Our weight
conscious line-up includes Spree, Spree Escape, and Coyote. These products are driven by
our consumers wanting a light-weight unit but not willing to compromise quality and
integrity of a travel trailer. KZ has earned its reputation by striving to build the best product
for the best value.”
Marlene is quick to point out that the company has won the Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI)
award seven years in a row, (eleven out of the last twelve) and has rated very highly in all
21 categories. One thing that distinguishes KZ from others is how quickly the company
reacts to changing market trends. They listen to feedback from their dealers about colors,
designs, floor plans, etc, and incorporate this information into the product quickly. They can
get a fast turnaround on changes, making them very nimble in the marketplace. KZ RV has
strong sales in all regions.
Model Year 2012: The 2012 model year brings big changes to the Durango and
StoneRidge lines. The Durango features solid surface counter tops as a standard amenity.
Along with other up-scale features the Durango will be a product unparalleled to any other
mid-priced fifth wheel on the market today. The StoneRidge has high-end residential feel
that puts it in a class of its own; featuring a beautiful fireplace, solid wood fascia and trim,
and plush fabrics. Innovative floor plans feature an industry first “tri-level living”. With
motorhome style storage compartments that allow you to bring it all with you. This product
is a must see! MSRP average for the Durango is between $34,000 – 45,000, and for the
StoneRidge the average is $58,000.
The Sportsmen product has many new floor
plans and updated features. This product line is
for the price conscious buyer that wants a great
looking product at a great price. Sportsmen
continues to lead the market in the entry level
segment and is KZ’s value oriented product line.
Spree, KZ’s flagship product line, has many new
features including a new arched roof design in
select models. Many new innovative floor plans
and unique features makes this brand KZ’s top selling product line.
124
Model Years 2010-2011: We will see a lighter updated version of KZ’s top-of-the-line
Escalade fifth-wheel. ”We are continuing to refocus our product line,” said Andy Baer, KZ
Sales Manager. ”One thing that we are really trying to focus on is weight as we try to
ascertain up front what consumers are going to use to tow our products. Through
production methods, we’ve reduced the weight of the Escalade considerably.” The 2011
Escalade initially will be available in two new 37-foot triple-slide floorplans with dry weights
of 12,300 pounds — about 1,000 pounds lighter than the 2010 Escalade. One layout will
feature a side-aisle bath, the other an L-shaped kitchen with more counter space. Some
features include; rear living w/TV w/lift fireplace below, hide-a-bed slideout, slide w/2
recliners & dinette, including a full wall wardrobe w/sliding doors and additional storage.
MSRP prices start close to $85,000.
The StoneRidge fifth wheel is all new in 2011 for KZ RV. StoneRidge was introduced at
Louisville last year and appeals to a buyer that is looking for all the amenities of a high-end
fifth wheel but affordably priced. With a 2 year warranty, three-quarter ton pickup towing
capacity, this jewel comes with limited options because all the amenities are put in as
standard features. True 6 Sides Aluminum Frame with a gel-coat fiberglass, slideouts, 2tone cabinetry, central air, power awning and one floorplan with back-to-back fireplaces
that divide the living room and the kitchen make this model the cream of the crop. MSRP
begins around $55,000.
In addition for 2011 KZ’s product reshuffling includes turning the mid-priced Durango line
into fifth-wheel-only lineup and re-orienting the KZ Spree as a travel-trailer brand. KZ will
offer two versions and several floorplans of the Durango in 26-to-36-foot lengths; the
Durango 1500, towable with half-ton pickups, and the Durango 2500 built on a bi-level
drop-frame for more storage designed for three-quarter ton pickups. “The Durango has
been revamped from head-to-toe with new cabinetry, new valances with wrought iron and
new graphics,” Baer said. MSRPs for the Durango range from $28,000 to $35,000.
The 2011 Spree Travel Trailer offers several floorplans including ramp door options and
outside cook centers. Large dinette with up-to-date features, master bedroom has queen
bed with headboard, mirrored wardrobes and the roomy bath has shower w/door, cabinet,
ceiling fan. The Spree continues to be KZ’s main line, their most popular selling model. The
Coyote and Coyote Lite Lightweight Travel Trailers have all been upgraded with new 2011
floorplans.
Model Years 2009-2010: The Coyote Lite is the
company’s best-selling travel trailer with an average MSRP
of $23,000. According to KZ the Coyote is a lightweight unit
that offers great floorplans with four different interior decors
to fit your taste and lifestyle. The Coyote standards include:
stabilizer jacks, furnace, 6 gallon gas water heater, maple
cabinet doors, 6 cubic foot refrigerator, awning, gas range, tinted windows, mini blinds and
skylight in bathroom. The floorplans are really well thought-out and the overall construction
which uses lightweight materials, incorporated with an aerodynamic design helps reduce
drag which save you gas. The Coyote Lite is an economical choice without compromising on
quality in our opinion.
For the past couple of years the company’s most popular fifth wheel continues to be the
Sportsmen, with an average MSRP of $35,000. “Step into the comfort of the Sportsmen by
KZ, for a change of pace and change of scenery. Slow down, relax, go exploring. You'll be
getting away from it all, while taking it with you. The Sportsmen kitchen features microwave
125
with turntable and a convertible dinette/bed. Bedrooms come standard equipped with night
shades, lots of storage, and tasteful décor. Raised panel oak cabinetry adds a custom look
at a standard price.”
Comments: KZ Owners give the company a solid 8-9 out of 10 regarding quality of product
and overall customer satisfaction. Performance and Safety are two areas that rate right at
the top of the ratings by owners. This company has a very loyal following despite some
reviews regarding bumper trouble with the Spree travel trailer. This was significant enough
that we at JR Consumer Recourses would suggest carefully checking into the product should
you be considering a K-Z Spree. The K-Z Spree was also recently featured on the cover of
Trailer Life magazine, indicating the manufacturer perhaps has addressed those problems
and it is now a solid enough model that Trailer Life Magazine would feature it. Otherwise,
with most products, the quality of construction is very good, customer satisfaction is 4 out
of 5 in most areas, and the resale value of KZ products is average to above average based
on our research. KZ RV has a very good website with lots of details, such as floorplans
listing specifics on all interior amenities and an interactive décor link that allows you to pick
décor packages and other options which allows you to visualize how your unit would look.
Lazy Daze Inc.
4303 E. Mission Blvd.
Montclair, CA 91763
Phone: 909-627-1103
www.lazydaze.com
Lazy Daze began designing and manufacturing recreational vehicles in 1956. In 1966 the
company built and commercially marketed the first Class C motor home in America. From
the start Lazy Daze set itself outside the pack by selling their vehicles directly from their
factory. No dealer involvement, meaning very competitive prices and a one-on-one
relationship with their customers. “Just about everyone who purchases a new Lazy Daze
comes to their Southern California factory. We want customers to visit our factory
showroom to inspect our quality first hand as well as take a test drive in our latest coaches.
This allows customers shopping for a new coach to see what a quiet, great handling
motorhome is all about and then compare our coaches to the competition,” says Steve
Newton owner of Lazy Daze.
“You can’t be the biggest and still be the best,” he says. “We are a small company which
allows us to hand build quality coaches. We sell direct from the factory so we have no dealer
markup, no sales commission, flooring cost and we don’t play games with prices.” Lazy
Daze tells us, “Our primary objective is to build the best possible RV, not the greatest
number. Utilize quality components, not the cheapest. This, in combination with our
excellent manufacturing staff, has created a Lazy Daze Motorhome with outstanding
durability.” Their true factory direct sales are one item that makes Laze-Daze very unique in
the industry. It allows them to offer an exceptional value in Premium class C coaches by
eliminating the retail mark up. “We don't manufacture ‘me too’ coaches. Our unique design
and engineering separates us from the industry. We have designed our latest coaches to
handle well by making them more aerodynamic, low, distributing weight between the axles
and maintaining a good wheelbase to length ratio.” says Newton. “Combine this with
excellent occupant and cargo carrying capacities, standard features such as full body paint,
126
thermal pane windows and very high build quality and frankly there is no competition in our
price range!”
Lazy Daze is strictly a Class C manufacturer only, producing a relatively small annual
volume each year. “We produce less than we used to, but they are more complex,” Newton
adds. “This allows us to maintain higher quality standards.” Lazy Daze offers three different
model lengths and numerous floor plans, which can be viewed on their website.
Their average customer could be classified as a mid-range buyer. Newton says, “Many of
our owners spend months extensively shopping and comparing units. We invite this
challenge because we know that customers who do thorough research end up buying a new
Lazy Daze. They know they're buying the best class C in the market!” Laze Daze states, “We
provide a comprehensive 125 page owners' manual at the time you order your new Lazy
Daze. At delivery, a Lazy Daze factory trained technician spends up to one half-day
demonstrating and checking out your motorhome with you. After reading our manual and
going through our delivery orientation, you should leave our factory with a thorough
understanding as to the operation and care of your brand new Lazy Daze.”
Newton also told us, “Because of our high quality and generous standard features, we are
rarely compared to coaches that sell in our price range.” Newton says that Lazy Daze
service record stands on its own. “We send out surveys after every sale and almost always
the comments come back, ‘Exceptional’. In an industry where almost everything is mass
produced, we stand out because we don’t mass produce and we continue to offer quality
products.” Lazy Daze customers tend to be mid-range buyers, price and quality both playing
an important role.
Model Year 2012: Lazy Daze continues to offer three
different model lengths each with different floorplans.
Lengths for 2012 range from the 24’ with twin king
beds or a front lounge model, to a 27’ with rear bath
and rear kitchen models. The 31’ models feature a
floorplan with an island bed or twin beds. The LazeDaze motorhome is built with a Ford E-450 cab on a
Super Duty chassis system. The Lazy Daze exterior
coach walls are covered with smooth, sectional
replaceable aircraft aluminum panels, not unpainted
fiberglass that is commonly used in the RV industry. These durable laminated panels can be
individually replaced at a later date, if substantial body damage occurs. Aluminum is
lightweight and non-flammable, as compared with fiberglass. Our motorhomes are painted
with aircraft type two-part polyurethane enamel, providing an attractive, easy maintenance
exterior finish. As you might expect, the roof covering on our coach is rugged, sun and tear
resistant, one-piece painted aluminum - not rubber. MSRP base prices range from $78,250
for the 2011 models on the 24’ to $93,500 for all 31’ models.
Model Years 2010-2011: This year Lazy Daze
has added upgraded features as well as
redesigning the exterior body. Premium quality,
maintenance free AGM (absorbed glass mat)
heavy duty six volt batteries are now standard
equipment. Redesigned taillight body panels now
include bright, maintenance free LED taillights
and back up lights. The rear wheel body panels
have been redesigned for smoother aerodynamics
127
and a bold cleaner look. The one piece front nose cap has been radically redesigned for
improved aerodynamics which in turn reduces wind noise and helps increase fuel economy.
A new paint scheme has been introduced that gives the coach a modern look while
maintaining the Lazy Daze look and heritage.
Comments: What is unique about Lazy Daze is that they are one of the few factory-direct
companies left. The main consumer benefits are price and quality. There are no
transportation or dealer costs. This means they can sell a less-expensive, higher quality
Class C product because they can eliminate dealer costs. "People who buy our motor homes
have researched rather extensively, whether they have talked to owners or compared our
units to others out in the field,” Newton said. "We have some local people who will come in
here four or five times before they make a purchase. The more they look at someone else,
the better we look, because there is no comparison on quality and price when it comes to
purchasing an RV." Most RV buyers are probably not familiar with Lazy Daze because they
are small and don’t spend a lot on advertising. Most advertising, according to Newton, is
word of mouth. Ratings charts, MotorHome Magazine and other RV reviews gave Lazy Daze
high marks in every area, only falling just very slightly in the cost of maintenance category.
The company receives high marks from owners in all categories, including the all-important,
Performance, Safety, and Reliability categories. Overall, a great company if you’re
interested in the best of the best without paying a premium retail price.
Mandalay Luxury Division (Thor)
701 Country Road
Elkhart, Indiana 46516
Phone: 800-860-5658
www.thormotorcoach.com/
Mandalay Motorhomes is a subsidiary of Four Winds International, now a product of Thor
Motor Coach, the result of the 2010 merger and purchase by Thor, Industries of Four Winds
International, Damon Motor Coach, and Mandalay RV. All information and products once
manufactured by Mandalay RV are now directed to the Thor Motor Coach manufacturing
company. This includes the website and contact information. Though Thor Motor Coach is a
relatively new name to the industry, its parent company, Thor Industries has been around
for decades.
Thor traces its history back 70 years with the founding of Airstream, an icon in the RV
industry. Mandalay produces Class A Diesel motorhome products. The Mandalay
motorcoaches come with luxury cockpits, easy to reach controls and added safety features.
A steel cage construction and floor, one piece windshield, and all aluminum framed sidewalls
and roof offer safety and fuel-friendly features.
Jerimiah Borkowski, Director of Thor Communications, tells us the merger went especially
smoothly because the facilities were right next to each other, and it resulted in a strong
Class B product (Four Winds International), with a strong diesel and Class A product
(Damon). Jerimiah points out; with these mergers Thor is connecting the dots to become a
better product line and offer more services. Thor Motor Coach manufactures both gas and
diesel Class A and C, and Class B+ motorhomes, in several different product lines and
floorplans. You can even work with Thor Motor Coach and design your own motor coach.
128
Last year Thor Industries had announced their “Concierge Connection”…A personal service
advocate for Thor owners. Concierge Connection offers new retail owners of any Damon
motorhome a personal service advocate who is responsible for facilitating any service
needs. Within days of your purchase the Concierge Connection is made, offering assistance
for warranty and retail registrations, assistance with the motorhome operation, follow-up
phone calls… all welcoming you to the “Thor Motorhome Family”.
Model Year 2012: Thor has no plans for new Four Winds Mandalay products. For further
information and 2012 products see Thor Motor Coach article.
Model Year 2010-2011: Mandalay has no new floorplans for models this year, however
their products, the Mandalay, the Valencio and the Presidio are available, and can be found
on sale where dealers carry Mandalay or Four winds. MSRPs begin just under $150,000.
Comments: A nice looking motorcoach, luxurious, and full of classy features. However,
specific reviews are not available for the Mandalay products and little information is
available. Four Winds, the manufacturer, and Thor Industries rate rather poorly in many
areas of the ratings, however reviews find some very satisfied owners. Dealers we spoke to
stated that although they have sold Mandalay to satisfied customers, the previous year
seemed to bring in more complaints and less customer satisfaction, in regards to the
Mandalay line-up, specifically issues with the slide-outs. Another dealer told us they
dropped Mandalay all-together due to poor quality and sales. We at JR Consumers can only
offer this advice, if you are considering a pre-owned Mandalay, do your homework on the
specific model. Check with dealers and ask other owners.
For more information on reviews and ratings for Mandalay products, see the Thor Motor
Coach article.
Monaco Coach (Navistar)
91320 Coburg Industrial Way
Coburg, OR 97408
Phone: (541) 686-8011
Toll Free: (800) 634-0855
www.monacocoach.com
Monaco is a manufacturer of motorized and
towable recreational vehicles and the
Monaco Coach line is the luxury recreational
vehicle manufacturer of that line, which has
grown over the years to become one of the
world’s leading RV brands. “The No. 1
message that we want to get out to our
dealer body and our consumers is that
though Monaco RV is a fairly new company,
it is backed by Navistar,” Ryan Lee, director of marketing for Monaco RV. “And with the
Navistar influence behind us, we are going to be able to do many different things that this
industry has never seen before.
129
The roots of Monaco Coach Corporation run back to 1968 with the formation of Caribou
Coach Corporation. They soon evolved into Monaco Motorhomes, Inc., and out of that
organization Monaco Coach Corporation was born in 1987. Now, coming out of bankruptcy
last year, Monaco was purchased by Navistar. Their $47 million deal completed the
transaction of acquiring existing inventory, intellectual property, and production facilities
located at Monaco’s headquarters in Coburg, Ore., as well as Harrisburg, Ore., Wakarusa,
Ind. and Milford, Ind. However, Navistar just recently announced plans to significantly scale
back operations at its Monaco headquarters and motor coach manufacturing plant in
Coburg, Oregon. All motor coach production will be consolidated at Monaco’s Wakarusa,
Ind., manufacturing facility and certain Monaco headquarters functions will be consolidated
at Navistar’s new corporate campus in Lisle, Ill. The company plans to continue producing
towables and retain certain finance and information systems operations in Oregon, as well
as maintain a RV service center there.
Now Monaco RV consists of three brands; Monaco, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision. (For
specifics see the Holiday Rambler and R-Vision articles in this guide.) Furthermore, Monaco
plans to focus on those products as Navistar plans to close its truck manufacturing
operation in Chatham, Ontario, concentrating on integrating its RV and chassis businesses.
While no longer being manufactured by Monaco, the company continues to offers services
and support for the loyal owners of its previous products of Beaver, Safari and McKenize
models. Tiffin Motorcoaches is Monaco’s competition, followed by Fleetwood, Winnebago,
Newmar, and then Thor.
Model Year 2012: Monaco Coach manufactures ten different Monaco motorhomes. For
2012 Monaco states they will be unveiling “The Next Generation of RVs”. Included will be a
new Platinum interior of the Knight Diesel motorhome and the redesigned Camelot
motorhome. In addition, Monaco redesigned front and rear caps for the Knight and the
Diplomat. Laura Fry, Sales and Marketing Specialist for Monaco, tells us of other updates
and features for 2012. They include, upgraded interior packages featuring Italian Sienna
cabinetry, Corian countertops, Porcelain tile and Villa Ultra-leather furniture. Monaco is now
manufacturing vertically integrated motorhomes with the chassis, engine and house built by
one parent company; Navistar. Monaco pointed to the “successful integration” of Navistar’s
MaxxForce engines with Monaco RV’s Roadmaster chassis, representing the “first fully
designed and integrated motorhome platform in the industry” in which engine, body and
chassis are all manufactured by the same OEM. Models include the Vesta, the Knight and
the Diplomat. To learn more about Roadmaster you can visit their website at:
www.roadmasterchassis.com.
Speaking of the, the Knight, Monaco adds that along with the Roadmaster RR8R chassis, the
Knight has the power of a MaxxForce® 10 engine with 350 horsepower, 1,150 lbs./ft.
torque and 3-stage engine brake. Built from the ground up, total luxury in mind, the all
newly designed 2012 Knight 36PFT has a full wall slide-out and features an automotive style
dash. Full and fully equipped bed, bath and living areas, the Knight includes a washer,
dryer, rear bed, and a sofa bed/daveno. The smooth air ride suspension, overdrive
transmission, transmission cooler, aluminum wheels, and diesel generator are backed by a
5 year/100,000 mile limited warranty. MSRP starts at $259,450, but we found it for
$249,000.
Laura pointed out the 2012 Dynasty Palace, nicknamed the 45 foot Palace, and named
accordingly as this coach exudes the royalties in which you have dreamed. Laura tells us it
has new floorplan features, four slides, a bath and a half floorplan, and is built on a semimonocoque Roadmaster chassis. It is equipped with an optional extendable Ultra-leather
130
sofa and a central kitchen with curbside dinette. The Dynasty offers a mid-ship half-bath
that leads to a spacious bedroom and a full rear bath with a superb residential shower.
Constructed with a nine layer roof, five individual layers of insulation and fully insulated
laminated sidewalls and flooring, the Dynasty Palace will stay cool in the heat and remain
cozy and warm in the cold temperatures. Dynasty comes standard with an Aqua-Hot heating
system and three low-profile and ducted 15 BTU roof AC and heat pump. Radiant floor
heating is also available. So new is the Dynasty model, it is not even featured on their
website at this printing.
Model Years 2010-2011: Brand new for Monaco this year is the 2011 Vesta. Built on
Navistar’s Chassis system, with a Maxxforce 7 EPA10 6.4L V-8 Engine, Vesta’s suspension
system includes air-leveling and air brakes and 161 cubic feet of outside and rear-end
storage. The 2011 32’ PBS Vesta rolls off the line in October and more floorplans are
expected to follow. The MSRP for the Vesta is $195,000.
According to Adam Gudger, Regional Sale Manager for Monaco, the company is focusing on
lots of improvements and making sure their products are well-built, yet competitive. Adam
stated, “Building less expensive models, yet not sacrificing quality, we are manufacturing
vehicles that allow consumers to purchase something without requiring large financial loans
at a time when the banking industry is still weak. We are currently focusing on the Cayman
and the Neptune, packing a lot of value into the coaches, all new floor plans, and upgrading
the horsepower with a 360 horsepower engine and 1,050 lbs.-feet of torque.
Neptune and Cayman, once priced at entry levels, are now a refined product line-up, raising
the standard for 2011. The cabinetry has been improved considerably; all with solid hardwood, European style hinges, and glazed (for an antique look) cabinetry that is popular with
home owners and RV’ers.” This attention to quality is evident in that the most popular
model thus far for 2010 is the 2011 Cayman 40’ PBQ – a 40 foot Quad slide with a 40” mid
ship TV. The Cayman and Neptune have a MRSP range of $220,000 for the 36’ to $260,000
for the 40’. Roaming Times gives Monaco’s 2011 “The Diplomat” high marks and dealers
agree it is very popular.
Comments: With the buy-out of Monaco from Navistar some previous owners of Monaco
have found their warranties not covered by Navistar. However, dealers are stepping up.
Many we spoke with feel very confident in the Monaco line and are stepping up with
warranties they themselves offer to cover previous lines of Monacos manufactured before
the Navistar takeover. Monaco motorcoach products come with mixed reviews. Many owners
are extremely pleased with their motorhomes, others adamant they will not purchase in the
Monaco line again. The ratings have come up some this past year however. Safety rates
right at the top and reliability and performance (handling, acceleration, braking, etc.) are
not far behind. Support from the Dealer and Manufacturer continue to rate just above
average and owners rate Overall Quality simply average. Forums are filled with more
owners pleased with the Monaco products than those who are dissatisfied.
131
New Horizons RV
2401 Lacy Drive
Junction City, KS 66441
Phone: 800-235-3140
www.horizonsrv.com
New Horizons RV is a manufacturer building
something truly unique in the industry and New
Horizons adds, “….we do business like no one else
given we function as a small family-owned
business and we sell factory direct only. Our
smaller size speaks volumes to our ability to
personalize our service and delivery process.”
New Horizons custom builds to the customer’s
needs and wants with the highest available
construction quality on the market. Building
everything with a full time RV'er in mind, only the highest quality materials are used. Owner
Phil Brokenicky says, “If a customer ever has any kind of customer service issue, it only
takes one call to resolve.” New Horizons feels because they are smaller, with no dealerships,
they can give extra attention to manufacturing and customers.
Cole Brokenicky of New Horizons RV tells us, “New Horizons is still a factory direct only sales
model, to insure the highest quality experience while working with this family owned and
operated business. Building 5 lines of RV's, the Summit (96'' wide), the Motomover (102''
wide Toy Hauler), the Majestic LM, the Majestic (both 102"), and a Majestic class Travel
Trailer. Each line is built with the same construction materials and quality. The price
differences are the amount of creature comforts and aesthetic upgrades that each line
possesses.” New Horizons can build a trailer to accommodate wheelchairs, lifts, and other
assistive technologies. They have a one level floor plan that does well for people with
disabilities. They will work with customers to custom-design the RV just for them. “Typically
a customer will spend a couple of days with us, taking a tour and designing floor plans for
their RV,” Phil said. There are four décor packages from which to choose. The quality of the
workmanship is superior. “The typical RV has just 170 man-hours in production. Ours have
2,000 man hours,” Phil told us. The craftsmanship shows, for example, in the fine
residential quality cabinetry. Even the countertops are designed with accessibility and luxury
in mind. The company does not build as many travel trailers as fifth wheels, but will build to
suit. For this reason we did not rate them in the travel trailer category. Attention to detail
even goes to exactly how much the RV weighs when the customer picks it up. A list of what
personal cargo weighs can be found in the FAQs section on the New Horizons’ website. Phil
says most RVs on the road are overloaded, a safety issue he doesn’t want his customers to
have to worry about.
New Horizons is the ONLY Five Star rated tow-able by RV Consumer Group. New Horizons’
closest competitors are Carriage, specifically the Royals International line of fifth wheels.
Excel and DRV are also close competitors.
The company’s mission statement states, “To bring happiness and satisfaction to owners of
New Horizons RVs by:
•
•
•
Building the best towable RV on the market.
Giving the customer a unit they are proud of that is built for their needs.
Providing excellent value for the customer's hard-earned money.
132
•
Honoring God in everything we do and say in our interaction with customers
and employees.”
Model Year 2012: Marty Wellington, Business Development Coordinator for New Horizons,
tells us of the new standard features and options (designated as optional) available on all of
the New Horizon models (Majestic, Summit, Motomover, Travel Trailers):
•
Exterior: Full body, 4-color paint with five color combinations available (optional)
Painting is now done at Carrerra Designs (CDI) in Forest City, IA.
Color Combinations are Champagne, Sandalwood, Onyx, Kahlua & Silver Mist.
Exterior satellite connection with utility box (2 lines for HD)
Exterior entertainment center w/ 40” TV & soundbar & subwoofer (optional)
•
Chassis: Full-coach automatic leveling system (Bigfoot by Quadra) and heavy duty
skid rollers
•
Electrical: 12-volt multiplex light switch control system with dimmers. Data
Communications Center which includes WIFI Ranger 4-port cellular router
w/roof mounted WIFI boost radio and antenna. Additional roof mount “3G” antenna
for Internet, “air card” (Verizon, ATT, Sprint only) located in closet above monitor
panel, includes Ethernet cable to entertainment center. Enables enhanced WIFI
signal capture from up to 1 mile away as well as cellular data with automatic
“failover” between Internet sources. (optional)
•
Interior: Increased slide room heights to 6’8”, Rounded front shower w/ sliding door,
Increased bedroom height to 6’10” (optional),
Hand scraped hickory wood flooring (optional)
Marty also tells us of the new features for New Horizons travel trailers, some of which
include: Implementation of Majestic chassis (102” wide body) and Majestic-style interiors,
thus making the travel trailer a more luxurious, first class unit with built-in storage
basement, and curved front end and rear caps.
Since introduced in 2009 the Majestic fifth
wheel has proven to be New Horizons’ most
popular model with new and returning
customers. From its ultra-luxurious interiors to
its heavy duty 102” wide chassis (custom
designed and built on-site), the Majestic is jampacked with standard features that have
propelled it past all competitors. Just some of
its
most
sought-after
features
include:
Automatic,
full-coach
leveling
system,
handcrafted, hardwood cabinetry, Mor/Ryde IS
axles, remote keyless entry, enclosed and heated holding tanks, 50 AMP service, lighting
accents and dimmers, electric patio awning, 40” LCD Samsung HDTV in living room and
Samsung 5.1 surround sound system with DVD player, dual pane windows, Corian
countertops and much more.
Of the model’s 11 standard plans the Majestic 102-F39RLTSS is the most popular floor
plan, communicating to customers a true residential feel. With its two opposing living room
slides, it creates a spacious look to the living, dining, and kitchen areas. The configuration
of the bedroom & bathroom areas is also convenient. Many customers choose to stretch
133
this floor plan to accommodate either a king bed (making it then a 42’ unit) or simply
additional space on both sides of the bed for nightstands. The opposing slide in the
bedroom (vanity slide) also creates floor space and a spacious feel. The 39’ unit, as
modeled in the attached floor plan, has been quite popular primarily due to its size,
convenience, and interior space.
Additionally, any of the standard floor plans can be customized to incorporate a customer’s
dream list. Pricing begins in the low hundred thousands, the popular 39 foot coming in at
$166,625 MSRP.
Model Years 2010-2011: Over seven years of research and consumer sampling have gone
into the design of the “all new” Majestic. The New Horizons Majestic has become the
flagship for engineering and elegance in the towable industry. With many amenities and
luxuries found traditionally in high end motorhomes, the New Horizons Majestic looks to
break the mold of what a fifth wheel can be. The Majestic is available in 11 standard
floorplans that can be customized or you can start with a clean sheet of paper with your
own ideas. King beds are also available and may add two feet to the length. Pricing begins
in the low hundred thousands, the popular 39 foot coming in at $135,000 MSRP.
New Horizons also builds handicap accessible RVs with wheel chair lifts and hoists.
New for 2011, is the Majestic LM. Built on the same chassis as the Majestic, which is a
102'' wide body, the LM scales back on the luxuries, and brings the MSRP down $15,000. It
is built with the same construction materials, but the options and paint scheme are scaled
back to make it easier on the pocketbook.
New Horizons has also re-introduced their high-end toy hauler. The New Horizons
MotoMover is built on the 102'' chassis, and all of the same amenities and decorating is
available while being able to tote around your toys in the back. The company tells us, “With
a number of different garage configurations, there is something to fit everyone's needs. If
not, we can custom build a toy hauler just the way our customer wants it.”
Comments: In our opinion New Horizons builds one of the best fifth wheels in the United
States and takes pride in what they do. For this reason they received a high rating. Their
40,000 sq. foot factory is a modern facility staffed with dedicated craftspeople who take
pride in every unit they build. That pride is complimented by a level of experience that is
unmatched in the RV industry. In fact, ten of their staff have 155 combined years of
experience at New Horizons. All New Horizons coaches are built to order for each customer.
You may visit their manufacturing facility located in Junction City, KS. They generally have
eight to twelve models in various stages of production. Customer satisfaction is also very
high for New Horizons. New Horizons also backs up the skill and quality that is put into each
RV with a 2 year "Hitch to Bumper" warranty plus a 5 year warranty on their frame. The
delivery time changes with the number of orders they have, but they suggest that you place
your order a minimum of 3 months before you plan to take delivery. Most retail buyers are
probably not aware of this company but if you live in their markets and you’re a full-timer or
planning on becoming a full-timer then check this company out. Cole Brokenicky tells us,
“We have a few things in the works, but they are under wraps right now, as we are working
hard to offer the towable industry something the likes of which have never been seen (to
my knowledge anyway!).” This should make New Horizons a company to keep your eye on.
134
Newmar Corp
355 N. Delaware Street
PO Box 30
Nappanee, IN 46550-0030
Phone: 1-800-731-8300
www.newmarcorp.com
Newmar was founded in 1968 when Marvin
Newcomer and Marvin Miller left their jobs in
upper level management at a different RV
manufacturing company to start their own
company. The name Newmar is a combination of
their names. The first location was an old fire
station in rural Five Points and the Kountry Aire
travel trailer was their first product.
By the early ‘70s Newmar was at the forefront of
the fifth wheel revolution and the Kountry Aire led Newmar to become one of the leading
manufacturers of a fifth wheel trailer. By the early 1990’s several products had been
introduced and Mahlon Miller became the sole owner of Newmar Corporation. Over the years
Newmar has continued to add to its product line, expanding and improving as the market
and the industry grow. Newmar was founded by and is owned by Mennonites and its mission
statement states, “Newmar applies Christian principles of honesty, courtesy, morality,
fairness, reasonableness, reliability, and integrity in dealing with its customers, employees,
suppliers and financial institutions.”
Newmar's excellence in quality was recognized nationally in 1996 when the Recreational
Vehicle Dealer's Association gave Newmar their first Quality Circle Award. Newmar has
continued to win this award many times since. Two Newmar executives, Mahlon Miller and
the late Virgil Miller, have been inducted into the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Hall of Fame.
Newmar’s closest competitors are Monaco, Tiffin, Fleetwood, Gulf Stream and Travel
Supreme. Newmar’s customer service ranks among the best in the RV industry overall. In
spite of this Newmar continues to strive to improve in the area of service and parts support
for its customer and dealers. Presenting a customer service national award to one of their
dealers recently, Matt Utley said, “Service is even more important today than it was five
years ago — the way the market has been — customers have become savvier on the
serviceability of a dealership. They’re not buying just based on price, they want to know if
the dealership can take care of them after the sale.”
Model Year 2012: Newmar RV industry news tells us their corporation has introduced a
new wheelchair accessible floorplan, designed exclusively for the 2012 Canyon Star gas
motorhome. According to Newmar they have engineered the new Canyon Star 3911
floorplan based on “numerous conversations with retail customers about their desire to
purchase a wheelchair accessible motorhome.” The 2012 Canyon Star 3911 features
include: 48-inch wide power wheelchair lift with a wired remote control, a 30-inch wide path
from the front of the coach to the bed while the unit is in travel mode, sliderooms in for
wheelchair access, and a large open floor area on the front side of the bed for easy access.
In addition the Canyon Star offers a wheelchair accessible bathroom with a large 48 x 37
roll-in shower with seat, a lavatory that is open under the bowl for use with a wheelchair
and a medicine cabinet with mirrors that are placed lower, and grab assist bars have been
placed in the shower and around the stool. In the kitchen Newmar incorporated a new
135
cooktop and microwave combination that places the convection microwave below the
cooktop for easy access by a wheelchair occupant. The Canyon Star 3911 also has a
standard “L” dinette that allows seating on the side or back bench as well as plenty of space
to accommodate a wheelchair.
Other features include moving all the switches, monitor panel, and EMS panel from the top
of the entrance door cabinet to a cabinet just behind the passenger seat for access while
sitting in a wheelchair. Retail base price starts at $156,492 before options.
Model Years 2010-2011: Newmar has three fifth
wheel models; The Cypress, X-Aire and Torrey
Pine. The Torrey pine is considered Newmar’s most
comfortable and affordable towable. The Torrey Pine
offers a choice of eleven floorplans, with three new
choices for 2010. The redesigned front cap, which
allows for easy towing with both standard- and shortbed trucks, allows for a remarkable 60-degree turning
radius. For luxury motorhomes Newmar offers 3 diesel
Class A products; Mountain Aire, King Aire, and Essex. The 2011 Mountain Aire is one of
Newmar’s most powerful and luxurious models with a MSRP beginning at $406,000. Fully
re-designed, The Mountain Aire offers six floorplans, including a three quad-side plan and
new dual full-wall slides with a rear bath. Additional standard features include a dominating
Cummins® 425 Hp Engine, Hydraulic Leveling Jacks with single-touch control and a
fiberglass roof with walkable decking. Newmar’s complete line of Class A gas and diesel
motorhomes offers Bay Star, Canyon Star, Ventana and the well-known Dutch Star, all
redesigned for 2011. The all new Dutch Star Diesel Pusher has also been updated for 2011
and shows off new exterior colors and sleek new graphics as well as new interiors. Featuring
eight distinct floorplans, the 2011 Dutch Star includes a new 37’ quad slide floorplan and
two new bath-and-a-half designs. An example of such Dutch Star’s luxury is shown when
you tour the 40' Diesel pusher with its four slideouts, sofa-dinette-refrigerator slideout with
hide a bed sofa and air mattress, built in dinette, and residential refrigerator, sofa-galley
slideout with jackknife sofa, mid-ship TV, walk through bath with radius corner shower with
seat, enclosed stool, two bedroom slideout with king bed, rear wardrobe and window
awnings. The Dutch Star has a MSRP beginning at $270,845.
In June of this year Newmar Corp. began production of its all-new 2011 Ventana Class A
diesel-pusher motorhome. This is the first generational change for Newmar’s entry-level
diesel product since the brand was introduced in the 2006 model year, according to a news
release. The 2011 Ventana features newly designed front and rear caps and dash and
instrument panel, providing the operator with an ergonomically designed cockpit. Interior
design changes include newly styled furniture, slideout fascias and window treatments. Built
on the Freightliner XC-R chassis, the 34- and 39-foot models are powered by 350-hp
Cummins ISB engines while a 43-foot tag axle layout features a 360-hp Cummins ISC
power plant. As with all Newmar diesel motor homes, the 2011 Ventana will be equipped
standard with the Comfort Drive steering system. MSRPs start at $218,858.
“Newmar entered into the partnership with FCCC (Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.)
because of the reliability of FCCC chassis, excellent overall customer service and support
and outstanding product value,” said John Sammut, vice president of sales and marketing
for Newmar. FCCC replied, “We are very pleased to be working with Newmar, a company
known for its exemplary craftsmanship, quality products and exceptional customer support,”
said Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for FCCC.
136
Model Years 2009-2010: Introducing the 2010 Dutch Star Diesel Pusher. While the name
may sound familiar, the coach itself is sensationally different, and its price is surprisingly
low. In fact with more than 120 new standard features with an MSRP of only $237,000.
The 2010 Bay Star still remains the top selling gas motorhome for Newmar. The Bay Star
puts quality construction within reach, with an MSRP of only $102,000. Its stylishly
appointed interior is matched by its handsomely designed exterior. You'll find that the Bay
Star's durable construction is translated into even the smallest details - such as the
redesigned sofas and window treatments. The Bay Star gives you the choice of six
floorplans, including Bay Star 2702 which is a new model that's only 27' in length. The new
full-wall slide 3205 is also an outstanding choice.
The company’s most popular fifth wheel is called Cypress. It has an average MSRP of
$52,000. The 2010 Cypress Fifth Wheel is the perfect combination of quality and
affordability. Its generous list of standards makes it an outstanding value for its low starting
price. And with 12 comfortable floorplans to choose from, the Cypress is flexible enough to
meet everyone's needs. Check out the Cypress' wide body construction and completely
redesigned front cap, which provides for easy towing with both short and standard-bed
trucks, allowing for a remarkable 60-degree turning radius
Comments: Based on our research we can assure you Newmar is a top-notch company
with quality craftsmanship and innovative designs which gives them very high ratings.
Recent customer reviews put Newmar near the top in all area, including Performance and
Reliability, to Overall Quality and Value. Cost of Maintenance, Support from Dealers and the
Manufacturer have improved in customer satisfaction ratings. Not at the top, but improved
from last year’s poorer ratings to now coming in above average. Previous customer
satisfaction reviews were “average”, but it appears owners are becoming more and more
satisfied with Newmar products and overwhelmingly state they would recommend a
Newmar product to potential buyers.
What sets Newmar apart is they will accommodate special requests at almost every price
point. “Our manufacturing process allows us to do that. We build in volumes of one,” says
Sammut, meaning that the production line will have a high end diesel followed by a fifth
wheel and so on. “We are not a mass production shop; we are basically a custom shop.”
Newmar has a nice website, easy to navigate with very detailed specifics on all its products.
Model product pages are filled with information, bright colored photo galleries, and links for
everything from warranties to “paint finishing” information.
North Shore (See Dutchmen Manufacturing Article)
2164 Caragana Court
Goshen, IN 46526
Parent Company: Thor Industries, Inc.
Phone: 574-537-0600
www.dutchmen-rv.com
Notes: North Shore website now directs you to the Dutchmen RV website, which is now a
link from the new Dutchmen website. http://www.dutchmen.com/. Nothing new for North
Shore, but reviews rate at the top, unlike its manufacturer Dutchmen, so it may be worth
making note of that.
137
Northwood Manufacturing (Arctic Fox & Nash)
59948 Downs Rd.
PO Box 3359
La Grande, OR 97850
Phone: 541-962-6274
www.northwoodmfg.com
Ron Nash and his wife Sherry started building RV travel trailers in 1994. Their goal was to
build quality trailers with the hopes of having enough time to spend traveling. What started
out as a small business adventure has turned into a thriving business with two
manufacturing facilities. The first factory is located in La Grande, Oregon and the second
factory was opened in 2001 and located in Winchester, Virginia. Northwood manufactures
travel trailers, campers, toy haulers and outdoor support vehicles. In 2009 Nash purchased
the Fleetwood Travel Trailer plant in La Grande and formed Outdoors RV Manufacturing
which produces four popular travel trailer models. Northwood employs close to four hundred
people, making them one of the largest private-sector employers in the area.
An article about the company tells us Ron started out as a general manager in the RV
industry and then moved into the roll as production manager. This gave Ron the experience
and knowledge to start his own company. During this time many RV manufacturers were
striving to cut RV prices and costs by resorting to cheaper and sometimes flimsier materials.
Ron went in the opposite direction, figuring there would be a market for sturdy, durable and
well-insulated RVs, particularly in Canada and in the NW. His intuition paid off and now,
Arctic Fox is known around the world as a quality product with a high degree of
craftsmanship at affordable prices.
Today, Northwood builds Arctic Fox truck campers, Desert Fox sport utility trailers, Nash
and Arctic Fox towables, fifth wheels, and toy haulers, as well an Ulta-Lite line. The Arctic
Fox brand has numerous floorplans/models to choose from, everything from a compact
trailer to an off road recreational vehicle. Nash has several plans to choose from and offers
everything from a compact travel trailer to a spacious 5th wheel. The company takes pride
in the fact they provide enough insulation for owners to enjoy all four seasons comfortably
in many of their models. You can also upgrade the insulation or “R Factor” in their entrylevel product. Additionally, the company boasts that they have heavier tires and stronger
axles which allow their vehicles can go off-road with style and ease.
The fall of 2011 has Northwood introducing dealers to its new lineups for 2012 and told the
media, “Northwood’s objective is to provide both dealers and the end user with the bestbuilt towable products in the market,” said Ward King, Northwood COO, in a release.
“Northwood has built its reputation by providing dependable, high-value recreation vehicles
by insisting upon quality components and demanding quality craftsmanship from our
dedicated production line associates. Ron Nash’s stamp is on everything that we do — it is
our company culture. We could not abandon that influence; it is the solid foundation on
which we build. That commitment will never change.”
Model Year 2012: This past year and for 2012, Northwood unveiled four major product redesigns including the Arctic Fox - Silver Fox Edition; the Aluminum Superstructure Arctic
Fox; the Nash; and the Desert Fox toy hauler. For 2012 all Arctic Fox models now feature
laminated construction complete with welded aluminum frames. In addition, Arctic Fox now
sports a bold new look with an aerodynamic front fiberglass cap with integrated LPG tank
cover, as well as an updated logo and graphics package. All exterior compartments have
138
been equipped with “slam latch” catches. This prevents the “old keys” being used to break
into your RV, as the slam latch has a key system specific only to your RV.
At a recent unveiling of new products, Northwood
shared their excitement for their new lines; “The
Silver Fox Edition was on the receiving end of a
host of new features including a new stylish
aerodynamic grey fiberglass cap with integrated
LPG tank cover. Interior enhancements include
solid-surface galley countertops, antique-glazed
deep maple cabinet doors and a large bedroom
skylight with blackout shade, and Northwood’s
Tru-Rest memory foam mattress. Like all Arctic
Fox models it also enjoys the convenience of an
Interior Command Center — a centralized location
for switches and the monitoring station.
Other major changes to the Northwood lineup included:
• Silver Fox Edition fifth wheels. Redesigned from the ground up with a wide-body design,
they feature a grey aerodynamic cap complete with docking lights and “Tight Turn” radius
design. The stack-rail chassis design allows for cavernous below deck storage; other
exterior enhancements include keyless entry and an exterior convenience center complete
with 12V disconnect. Interior upgrades include solid-surface counter tops and antiquedglazed, deep maple cabinets throughout, new furniture styling, new window-treatment
applications and designer Iron décor items. Livability was greatly enhanced as a result of
the 6-foot, 6-inch tall main floor slideouts in conjunction with the wide body design.
• Returning to its original position in the market, Nash has been repositioned and rebranded
as Nash LT and Nash DLX, both featuring the certified Northwood off-road chassis with 15”
radial tires, an enclosed, insulated and heated fresh water tank and a durable, easy to clean
fiberglass exterior siding. The Nash DLX also includes a 10-gallon water heater, a generatorready compartment and a 2000-pound receiver.
• A new look to the Desert Fox. Sporting bold body-wrap Desert Fox icon graphics, this toy
hauler also features 16-inch aluminum wheels, solar reflective windows, motion detector
patio lighting, and electric awning. Interior highlights include a stainless-steel appliance
group, Kicker Premium Sound System w/Amp, CD/DVD player, designer interior with logo
accents.
• Two new Snow River fifth-wheel models — Northwood’s “step-up” product — were
showcased. The 2665RKSS features a rear u-shaped kitchen as well as a super slide; the
2765RLSS features a center galley and super slide with a pair of recliners in the rear. Both
of these models are less than 30 feet, and are mid-profile, half-ton-towable units that
provide full stand-up head room on the upper deck.
• Fox Mountain, Northwood’s aluminum-framed, laminated mid-profile fifth-wheel brand,
was displaying two new models as well. The new 245RKS is a rear kitchen model and the
265RLSS is a rear-lounge model with a center galley and super-slide that features a pair of
139
recliners in the rear. Both models have a GVWR of 9,500 pounds making them towable by
new half-ton trucks.”
This certification proves that Northwood is committed to building better products and further
distinguishes Northwood products from others in the market,” said Lance Rinker,
Northwood’s Director of Materials and Marketing.
Model Years 2010-2011: One of Northwood’s popular products is Arctic Fox. For 2011 the
Northwood Arctic Fox travel trailer is showing to be a hit with dealers. With new interiors
and exteriors, the Northwood Arctic Fox is available in 12 plans. With or without slides,
depending upon length, the travel trailers all have upgraded floorplans. Also popular with
dealers are the Arctic Fox fifth wheel products. The 2011 Northwood Arctic Fox 32-5S
fifth wheel travel trailer also promises to be popular. This Silver Fox Edition has all kinds of
the bells and whistles. Full aluminum frame with full insulation on this 4 seasons trailer,
heated tanks, covered subfloor, gel coated fiberglass, heavy duty aluminum wheels. Add to
that an electric awning, HDTV LCD, DVD player, surround sound system, fireplace, double
slide, central vacuum system, central ducted AC and heat, dual pane thermal windows and
more, coming in with a dry weight of 10,575 lbs. MSRP is $59,875.
Model Years 2009-2010: Their top selling 5th wheel is the Arctic Fox which has an MSRP
of around $50,000. Their top selling travel trailer is also labeled Arctic Fox and sells for
around $24,000. They have several floor plans and sizes to choose from.
Comments: We like Northwood and when we spoke with Arctic Fox owners they couldn’t
say enough about the company or their RVs. It is no surprise Northwood rates high in
customer satisfaction especially in the area of Quality Construction. Both Arctic Fox and
Nash products do especially well in the most all the RV ratings. In fact everything from
Performance and Safety to Reliability rate right at the top. Once again “Dealer Support” fell
significantly with Nash products however, barely rating “average”, and we felt this is worth
noting, as Dealer Support is something important to consider when looking at a product.
Dealers are big fans of the Arctic Fox and Nash products, telling us “It is all about the
floorplans”, and Arctic Fox offers a lot of them”. The resale value is above average to
excellent based on our research. This was obvious with the honor of the 2011 Quality Circle
Award to Northwood. Northwood also introduced a re-designed website this past year. It
has a beautiful format with easy to follow links and navigation and includes several product
videos with 360° virtual tours. If you live in the NW and want a quality fifth wheel or travel
trailer and you are a mid-range to upper-end buyer, Northwood Manufacturing may be
worth checking out.
140
NuWa Industries
3701 Johnson Road
Chanute, KS 66720
Phone: 1-800-835-0676
www.nuwa.com
NuWa is the oldest existing manufacturer
of fifth wheel products, dating back to
1969 and has been part of new innovative
ideas
including
one
of
the
first
manufacturers in the industry to develop a
(then) “new” hitch to make towing a fifth
wheel easier. Taking a “hiatus” in late 2008
due to the recession in the RV industry did
not last long as popularity for the product
brought NuWa back to manufacturing by
June of 2009. Thus NuWa has returned with the same high quality and loyal customers. For
more than 30 years Nu-Wa has been improving on this concept, concentrating on making
some of the best fifth wheels in the industry. “We concentrate on one thing. We wanted to
be the best at one thing and fifth wheels is what we chose,” says Nu-Wa Director of
Marketing Derrick Bruenger. “We have one product line rather than five or six. We focus on
quality rather than quantity.” The company pioneered the first slide system in 1976, which
speaks well for the company.
Bruenger says that NuWa’s closest competitors are Peterson Industries, New Horizons and
Carriage. NuWa sells strongest in the Midwest and appeals to RV buyers looking for an
upper-end product with quality and price being the most important. NuWa’s signature fifth
wheel is called the Hitchhiker. Hitchhiker lines are the Hitchhiker LS, the Hitchhiker
Discover America and the “Flagship” of NuWa, their Hitchhiker Champagne.
NuWa has chosen not to use “All-Aluminum framing” as some manufacturers because they
feel wood construction provides a superior product. NuWa feels they have proven that wood
construction need be no heavier or less strong than aluminum construction if it is built
properly. NuWa uses an aluminum substructure in the sidewalls and ends of the coach only.
Regarding construction of products, the company welds additional supports into their frames
to add additional strength. They also powder coated the frames which is unique. No
aluminum in the floors or attics, where metal promotes conduction of cold and moisture
resulting in condensation. NuWa also told us they manufacture their product with 90% of
the walls using Blue Dow Structural Foam, rather than wood or aluminum. This creates a
superior insulation and the only product with a guaranteed sidewall R-Factor.
Model Year 2012: NuWa tells us, “The more you know, the better we look. Manufacturing
a true High End 5th Wheel that meets the needs of the extended user is neither inexpensive
nor light in weight. Here at NuWa we know there isn’t a better built, better designed, more
reliable 5th wheel than a HitchHiker. Our experience is that as customers become aware of
the various differences in brands, and as they learn more about the various NuWa products,
they become willing to invest a little more to get more! More to us means more reliable
design, more reliable component function, additional features, and even more service
provided after the purchase!” This commitment is found in the popular Hitchhiker Discover
America. NuWa states, “The eight wide Discover America does provide an important balance
of reasonable weight and cost with exceptional quality construction and reliability.
141
The exciting makeover of the Discover America
models has been a huge success. There are even
more exciting changes in the new 2012 Discover
America. Now all you have to do is find the floor
plan that best suits your lifestyle and comfort!”
Accessories include:26” LCD TV/DVD in bedroom,
15000 BTU bedroom A/C with wall thermostat,
heat pump for the bedroom AC and in the living
area, radius shower, cherry finish cabinets with
glazed hardwood doors, 10 cubic ft wall fridge,
microwave, wood grain laminate in the kitchen,
cherry end table, mini coffee table, vacuum
sweeper and luxurious decors throughout. The Discover America is built with upgraded
heavy duty breaks, an upgrade to G-range tires, mud flaps, receiver hitch, electric awning
with remote, glide topper awnings, 60W solar panels with charge controller, upgrade antilock braking system skirts and bumper and a RVIA seal. MSRP is $71,370.
The Hitchhiker LS is being manufactured as demand for the fifth wheel Hitchhiker line
continues to increase. The 2012 Hitchhiker LS 32.5 UKTG features Corian countertops,
winter-grated sink, heat pump for A/C with digital control, 4 dining chairs, great storage, a
heavy duty brake upgrade, aluminum wheels, electric awning, and RVIA seal. Just over 33
feet in length, with 3 slideouts, the Hitchhiker LS 32.5 UKTG has a MSRP of $79,200, but we
found it for just over $60,000. Additionally, the popular Bigfoot Automatic Leveling Jacks
now include wireless remote control. If you have an older model Bigfoot on your coach, you
can upgrade it to remote control by adding the control panel to your existing system.
Model Years 2010-2011: Despite NuWa’s return and its popularity, dealers tell us NuWa
is no longer sending their products out to dealerships. The company is manufacturing and
offering direct sales to provide its popular Hitchhiker product. NuWa is now offering a “full
body paint” option on the 2011 Champagne and Discover America models. NuWa tells us,
“There isn't a better built, better designed, more reliable fifth wheel than a HitchHiker. Our
experience is that as customers become aware of the various differences in brands, and as
they learn more about the various NuWa products, they become willing to invest a little
more to get more! "More" to us means more reliable design, more reliable component
function, more features, and even more service provided after the purchase!” The 2011
Champagne and Discover America models attest to that statement. Excellent quality, a true
“make-over”, both models offer elegant decors, the finest residential cabinetry and homestyle furniture, including king bed options. The Discover America has sixteen 2011
floorplans with triple and quadruple slide room models, and is the perfect choice for
extended and full time users. Some of the features include a hide-a-bed sofa, free standing
dinette slideout, desk, a 32” LCD TV/entertainment center, L-shaped counter with a double
sink kitchen, a shower with a separate toilet area, front queen bed slideout and a full wall
closet with sliding doors. MSRP begins at $60,000.
Model Years 2009-2010: NuWA is in the process of introducing a 2010 product to their
dealers as of September 2009. The company’s most popular selling fifth wheel brand is the
Hitchhiker.
Comments: NuWa offers factory direct purchases and according to the company is sending
out to dealerships, “If they (the dealers) order one.” Last year there was a concern among
dealers that the company was closing, yet NuWa continues to manufacture and introduce
2012 products and floorplan updates. NuWa rates very high in customer service and
customer satisfaction and high in dealer satisfaction as well. Everything from Performance
142
on the Road, to Safety and Overall Quality rate at the top with NuWa owners. In fact,
compared to other RV fifth wheel manufacturers, NuWa has one of the highest customer
satisfaction ratings in both forums and ratings charts. NuWa is a very good company with a
solid reputation in the industry; this is one to consider when looking into fifth wheel
products. Their website has some informative links and we particularly like the FAQs links,
which feature lots of facts and answers to questions, making your RV research easy to
navigate. An interesting note: NuWa was honored to participate with the popular TV show
Extreme Makeover Home Edition to improve the quality of life for an injured war veteran
and his family. “When asked if we would provide temporary onsite housing for production
staff, we quickly readied seven HitchHikers and moved them to the project site. We at Nuwa
are excited for this deserving Kansas family and we very happy to be chosen to be a part of
this project!”
Open Range
3195 N. S.R. 5
Shipshewana, IN 46565
Phone: (206) 768-7771
www.openrangerv.com
Open Range RV Co. is one of the industry’s
newest manufacturers and it specializes in a
“whole new range” of fifth wheelers and travel
trailers. Randy Graber of Elkhart, Indiana, a 25year veteran of the Northern Indiana RV industry,
founded
Open
Range
RV
Company
in
Shipshewana, Indiana and the new company
began operations following incorporation in
August of 2007.
All Open Range models come with a 42-inch-deep slideout. They contain a large flat-screen
TV, entertainment center and a 2-year limited warranty. “It's intended for the extendedstay person who is going to spend a few months in the south in the winter,'' said Open
Range President Randy Graber. Introducing five 2009 models as part of the new mid-priced
Open Range fifth-wheel series, the startup company's first product came off the line in early
November featuring lightweight, silver metallic fiberglass exterior panels imported from
Europe on a welded-aluminum superstructure. Standard features include Corian
countertops, rear power stabilizer jacks and glass french doors separating the front
bedroom from the rest of the coach. In an unusual twist, Open Range is marketing the fifthwheel series according to the line's square footage, rather than length. "Length doesn't
mean much today with all the slideouts that RVs have," said Graber.
Open Range also cuts overall weight by using five-sided aluminum superstructures that are
welded. This puts aluminum in the walls and floors, along with a cable slide out system that
rids the use of heavy and messy hydraulics. This makes Open Range one of the lighter
weight fifth wheelers in the industry, even with 4 slide outs. Very specific and detailed
attention is given to the exterior of all Open Range products. From the windows, graphics,
skirting and covered I-Beam (for a finished look and to prevent rust), Open Range has a
fine exterior look to its fifth wheels and travel trailers.
143
According to Gary Stanley, National Sales Manager, “Our customers are most excited about
our recreational vehicles inherent lighter weights. Naturally they are excited about the
opportunity to save fuel and have a better traveling experience. We set the standard for
higher insulation- which allows for more comfort. We have 100’’ exterior and our main
slides are 42’’ deep- this allows for more interior space, by the way our models numbers tell
how many square feet are in a coach. While we have more room inside we’ve been able to
deliver a lighter, easier to tow Recreational Vehicle.”
Open Range RV states, “We stand alone with lighter, better insulated, and more innovative
products. When talking about price however, we compete with Montana (Keystone), Cedar
Creek and BigHorn (Heartland). The January 2011 report by Statistical Surveys Inc. tells us
we are now the fourth-largest manufacturer of fifth-wheels.”
Model Year 2012:
Open Range’s Andrew
Holland tells us Open Range is very excited
with their brand new line, the Open Range
Light. This new ultra-light is offered in three
fifth wheel models and two travel trailer
models. Each Light offers these exterior
features; 90 degree Patent Pending turning
radius (even in 5.5' short box truck!),
automotive style laminated metal exterior
w/baked on (Metallic) enamel paint, laminated
deck, full-width pass-thru storage area, EquaFlex™ suspension, power awning, TPO under hitch area for maximum protection, and all
floorplans are half-ton towable. Interior features are also standard on each model; 3 burner
range, ball-bearing drawers, 60" X 80" residential firm foam pillowtop mattress, 86"
residential size sofa sleeper, 32" LCD HD TV, skylight in entry way, kitchen, & over shower
for enhanced natural lighting, and massive windows - 72"x 34" main & rear living windows.
The 2012 Open range Light 297RLS is 31’3”’ in length with a MSRP of $43,362. The Open
Range website has excellent links to specifics, decors, and virtual 360 degree video tours of
these models.
Open Range also introduced Knotty Alderwood Cabinets and (on select models) new
extended patios. Open Range continues to produce a simple one-piece stainless-steel Cook
Center equipped with a sink and a two-burner stove that slides out in a drawer from
beneath the galley. This is standard on most of Open Range’s Roma and Mesa Ridge travel
trailers, though Open Range tells us, “We will be coming out with a couple of models with
full-blown kitchens with a fridge and microwave,” said Open Range President Randy Graber.
“The market is demanding it.”
Model Years 2010-2011: Gary Stanley, National Sales Manager, tells us, “We are excited
to be introducing our new “Roamer” Fifth Wheel line! This Fifth Wheel will enter the MidProfile fifth wheel price arena, but will feature a true stand-up bedroom. And with our
innovation the weights will are comparable. So now our customers will not have to sacrifice
livability. The Roamer is offered in eleven different length and floorplans. A 96” interior
width (minus the 2 slideout widths), sofa sleepers, 2 tone cabinetry, Armstrong flooring,
one piece surround shower, swivel rocking chairs, awnings, power stabilizer jacks and a
contoured front cap for a tighter turning radius are just some of the standard features.
The Journeyer travel trailers rate high in popularity and are considered by dealers a
“maverick in their category”. The 2010 Journeyer JT287RLS is built to last for years while
remaining completely affordable at a mid-price point category.
144
According to dealers, “The 2010 Residential” (R398 RSS) and the 2010 “Open
(345RLS) in the fifth wheel line are selling very well. Among travel trailers the 2010
Travel Trailer (303BHS and 296BHS) are almost selling themselves; both are very
with a hybrid floor plan that is room enough for 8 RV’ers to sleep, is equipped with
fiberglass construction type, and has 2 spacious slides.
Range”
Roamer
popular
a tough
Comments: Open Range RV is a new company and thus a little difficult to fairly rate
product and consumer satisfaction due to a lack of reviews. However what we do find is
very positive. And dealers “absolutely love them, great company” as one dealer expressed
when speaking of Open Range. “They sell themselves because Open Range pays attention
to quality and detail. And the little details are the things our customers love.” Open Range
does have an excellent, easy to navigate website, one of the best we have seen. Their
virtual tours offer a wealth of information, and their galleries have large, clear visuals. Very
detailed charts, including Comparison, Standard Feature, and Option charts, leave nothing
to question.
Pacific Coachworks Inc.
549 Rivera Street
Riverside, CA 92501
951-686-7294
www.pacificcoachworks.com
In July of 2006, two RV industry veterans, Tom
Powell and Dane Found, began Pacific
Coachworks aiming to produce travel trailers
and fifth wheels focused on excellence in
construction and design. Their original looks
combine classic and new floorplans for the
Tango and Twist line up of fifth wheels and
travel trailers. Pacific Coachworks is a privately
owned and operated company that prides itself
on creating new and exciting units that reflect
what their consumers want. Tango travel
trailers offer value at a competitive price. Combining consumers’ comments and suggestions
helps them offer classic designs and floorplans, luxury styling, and experienced
craftsmanship.
We had not rated this company previously due to the fact that their own financial hardships
had caused them to drastically halt production in 2008. Then in July of 2009 the company
announced the return to full production of its Tango and Tango Twist brands of travel
trailers and fifth-wheels. The surge in manufacturing activity has also buoyed development
on several projects. Dane Found, president of the Riverside, Calif.-based builder stated that
early in 2010, “We were planning on introducing a couple of new models shortly,” said
Found, “as well as a model in another product segment.” Currently Pacific Coachworks
manufactures fifth wheels, travel trailers, toy haulers and ultra-lites.
Model Year 2012: Pacific Coachworks Inc. has begun shipping the all-new Panther
Xltralite, Widelite and Elite series trailers to dealers. Pacific Coachworks Panther Xtralite
145
18LX is built with smooth fiberglass walls, one piece seamless roof, and comes in at 22’3”
in length, and has an interior height of 81 and GVWR is 7000. The Panther Ultralite sleeps
8, has A/C, an awning, microwave, mini blinds and upgraded window treatments, including
tinted windows. We found it for $17,995.
The Tango line is also out for 2012 with the Towlite, Ultra-Lite and the Elite. Tango Towlite
Travel Trailer 25FBS has a rear kitchen which includes a refrigerator, 3 burner range, Dbl.
kitchen sink, overhead cabinet, booth dinette, overhead cabinet, slideout sofa bed, private
toilet & tub/shower, wardrobe, front queen bed w/overhead storage, wardrobes on both
sides of bed and a private bedroom entry. It is 29 feet in length and has an interior height
of 6’9”. In addition, the Tango Towlite has Fiberglass exterior with solid high density foam
insulation, Aluminum frame construction, and a finished with a "Seal-Tech" Process,
something you will find on every Pacific Coachworks RV.
Model Years 2010-2011: At the 2009 National RV Show in Louisville Kentucky, Pacific
Coachworks unveiled the industry's first and only electric Outdoor Kitchen Slide. The Kitchen
Slide Outdoor (KSO) features a fully functional outdoor galley, a 6’ – push button slideout,
hot and cold water, LPG 2-burner cooktop, microwave, fully functional drain, and even an
available 26" LCD TV. There are ten available floorplans ranging in length from 24’ to 30’
models. The new 2010 Pacific coachworks Tango 299BHS (KSO) is just one of the new
models. It is a bunkhouse trailers, sleeps 7-8, has a powder-coated steel I-beam chassis,
aluminum sidewall framework, and indestructible Centrex front cap. No particle board
anywhere! Staron-capped countertops don't allow dirt and water to seep into cracks and
ruin the wood and the Astro-Foil underbelly completely encloses all tanks and valves. This is
a great new innovation which allows you to get back to the roots of outdoor living – by
being outdoors, while having the comforts of home. MSRP is $24,495.
Below: Pacific Coachworks' Tango KSO features the industry's first electric outdoor kitchen
slide.
Comments: Pacific Coachworks has produced a line of quality, attractive fifth wheels and
travel trailers to accommodate a variety of buyers and their price range puts them in the
“average” category. They are a relatively new company, yet there seems to be a wealth of
experience among their team. As a new company there are not a lot of ratings and reviews
to measure this company, but what is out there is positive. Owners feel they “… got a lot
more quality for a better price”. And as one owner stated, “We give it (their Tango model) a
5 star rating, and highly recommend this brand to anyone who wants a great RV!” The
Panther and Tango continue to be popular lines and we will keep our eye out on the
popularity and ratings of these lines.
146
Palomino RV (Forest River)
1047 E M86
Colon, MI 49040
Phone: 1-269-432-3271
www.palominorv.com/
Palomino’s website tells us, “Palomino Camping
Trailer construction started in 1968 with the dream
of Mr. Vern Landey. Mr. Landey had been a tent
trailer distributor for several years when he felt he
could design and produce better quality units than
were currently being offered to the public. He would
design units which were lightweight and offered
convenient floorplans at affordable prices. Landey
began designing and producing Palomino pop-up
tent trailers in a small building in Savage, Minnesota.
As demand for the Palomino grew, Mr. Landey felt it would benefit his company, Vanguard
Industries, to relocate. With most manufacturers and suppliers located in the Elkhart,
Indiana area the move eastward seemed logical. Vanguard Industries settled in the
community of Colon, Michigan in 1972.
Once in Colon Michigan, Landey began to put
his plans in motion. By 1973 he had built the
main production facility and within days
Palomino tent trailers were rolling out the
doors. By 1975 Vanguard had introduced the
"Fold-a-Wall" series of tent trailers. This series
incorporates the strength and security of the
hard-wall construction, yet folds down like a
camping trailer. Its acceptance in the industry
has had a marked influence on Vanguard. The Fold-a-Wall series has been so successful
that it is still in production today. As demand for the Palomino grew, so did Vanguard
Industries. In 1976, Vanguard added its own Needle Division and in 1978 its own Metal
Fabrication Plant. After fire destroyed the primary production buildings and offices, Palomino
persevered and the first 1993 model Palomino rolled off the line in the new 52,300 sq. ft.
facility, which was built on the same site as the previous building had been.
By 1998 Palomino continued to see expansion with the addition of a new 75,000 sq. ft.
production facility and another storage facility. Thus begin production of their new ultralight weight line of travel trailers. In 2002 Vanguard was purchased by Forest River, Inc.
and two new towable lines of travel trailers and fifth wheels, the Puma and the Sabre, were
being manufactured for the production of these two new lines. In the fall of 2005, Forest
River, Inc. and its divisions were acquired by Berkshire Hathaway. Palomino RV now
operates as a separate division of Forest River Inc.
Model Year 2012: The Puma Travel trailer is a big seller dealers tell us. One reason for the
popularity of the Puma is the wide variety of floorplans which include the largest selections
of bunk models in the RV industry. The majority of the Pumas trailers are ½ ton towable
and are built and designed to be family friendly. The 2012 25BH Palomino Puma has a
length of 26’4”, is 8 feet in width, and has a dry weight of 7,450 lbs. The Puma travel trailer
features rear corner bunk beds, rear corner bath with tub/shower, refrigerator, 3 burner
range, skylight, booth dinette, entertainment center, front queen bed w/nightstands & shirt
147
closets, overhead cabinets, and lots of exterior storage. MSRP is $18,899, but we found it
just under $13,000 at some dealerships.
Palomino Elite Fifth Wheels are built with an
emphasis in light weight and are easily towed by
today’s half ton trucks. According to dealers the
Elite continues to be a good sales product due to
their towability and the same amenities offered
in the larger Palomino models. The Elite fifth
wheels are designed using aluminum framed
super-structures and vacuum bonded laminated
construction, thus they are exceptionally light
and durable. The Elite is offered in four different floorplans, with several decor options. The
2012 ELITE 829RKSB has a one slide-out rear kitchen floorplan and is very lightweight at
only #7,200lbs. It sports a full coach water filtration system, Serta mattress leather air
mattress hide-a-bed, table and 4 chairs, 6 gallon DSI hot water heater, night shades, 32
LCD TV, leather swivel rockers, and 12V heat pads on the holding tanks. Exterior features
include; power awning, aluminum super-structure, aluminum wheels, torsion axle,
independent suspension, outside RVQ grill, power stabilizer jacks, heated underbelly and an
outside shower. MSRP is $33,937, but we found it available for $27,990.
Model Years 2010-2011: Palomino offers five lines of fifth wheels and travel trailers,
along with folding campers and three truck campers. The triple slide 2011 Sabre 32BHTS-6
(36’) is loaded with luxury; Rear fold down bunk over an air bed sofa sleeper, reclining
swivel lazy boy chairs, front bedroom with privacy doors and a queen bed, a complete
entertainment center, duct A/C., power awning, tinted safety glass, aluminum trussed roof
and aluminum framed front, rear and side walls. MSRP comes in at $44,000, but we found it
on sale for under $30,000.
According to dealers, the Stampede, Palomino’s Ulta-Lite Hybrid trailer is selling very well.
They tell us, “Folks like the over-all look of it, as well as the lite-weight towing. They like the
new flat screen TV, outdoor grill, heated mattresses, and the steel roller drawer guides. The
S-238 is one of the more popular models”. The Stampede offers nine different floorplans,
including slide-outs. MSRPs begin at under $20,000 but can be listed on sale for as low as
$13,000 for the 17’ model.
Model Years 2009-2010: According to the company their Gazelle travel trailer is the
answer to today’s high fuel prices. “These light-weight travel trailers are easy to tow and
built with a sturdy aluminum frame superstructure for long-lasting durability.” Manufactured
in lengths from 17'4" and 24'4", the Gazelle also comes with two slide-out models and one
with a double bunk feature. From queen size beds to full size bathrooms and well-equipped
kitchens, Gazelle offers everything you need in a super light, ready-to-go package.
Standard construction features include; exterior fiberglass surface, vacuum bonded
laminated construction and tinted safety glass windows. With a base MSRP of $17,000 this
is an affordable travel trailer.
Comments: This Company is appealing to the entry-level or mid-range buyers. Based on
our research and survey sites Palomino has a loyal following. Though ratings for Palomino
continue to do well in the area of Performance and Safety, as a whole Palomino has not
stayed at the higher end of the review ratings submitted by owners. Comfort has fallen
slightly, rating “just barely average”. Nonetheless, dealers rate the company very high
stating, “We really like Palomino. They have some of the better reps we have worked with.”
148
Another dealer stated, “We sell a lot of Palomino, especially the Puma brand. The company
is easy to work with if there are issues. The construction and prices make it a popular
manufacturer.” This is backed up as Palomino brings in above average ratings for Dealer
and Manufacturer Support. In addition, Palomino has earned the Quality Circle Award from
the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) for the second time in three years.
Peterson Industries, Inc. (Excel)
616 E. Hwy 36
Smith Center, KS 66967-9592
Phone: 800-368-3759
www.excelrvs.com
Excel
has
been
designing
and
manufacturing luxury fifth wheels since
1966, under Peterson Industries. The
original purpose of the corporation was for
the construction, sale and distribution of
pickup campers manufactured under the
Excel brand name. Peterson Industries saw
their first major expansion in 1974 with
the construction of a 12,000 square foot
facility for the purpose of manufacturing
travel trailer frames. This expansion also opened the door for them to begin manufacturing
class C motor homes, which the company continued to market until 1980. Peterson
Industries built their first fifth wheel unit in 1980 and began to be known by the name
Excel.
Excel tells us, “When the RV industry market had definitely slowed, we decided to begin
prototyping a moderately priced full-time unit, and called it “Winslow”. Until the slowdown
of the RV industry, our Limited Edition models had accounted for over 2/3 of our total
sales. Since the high end segment of the RV market was hit the hardest, the timing of the
Winslow was ideal. We introduced the Winslow at our 2009 Excel Family Reunion in June
and it became an instant hit, currently accounting for half out sales. Moving into model year
2011, we made hundreds of changes to our product line. Among the most significant were
the exterior profile and front cap. Hickory interiors are dominating around 95% of our
sales. We have addressed warranty issues and are currently producing the highest quality
product to ever come out of our facility”. Peterson Industries is currently producing an
average of 4 units per week, with a goal to produce one more trailer per week, moving up
to five.
Model Year 2012: Winslow continues to be a popular model for Excel. The Winslow fifth
wheels are available in 28', 31' and 34' models, and new this year is the 33 foot Winslow
Travel 33RLE Trailer. Determining that storage was a significant factor of why more fulltimers do not choose travel trailers over fifth wheels, Excel designed their exclusive 17-inch
high storage compartment beneath the entire front third of the trailer, providing more than
100 cubic feet of basement storage space! Two floorplans are available with features such
as a French door w/night shade in hall, 26" LCD TV in bedroom, thermo pane windows, a
central vacuum system w/powerhead & VacPan, electric fireplace, whole house water filter,
A & E power awning, pivot-EZ sewer hose compartment, electric jacks and a swing arm for
149
TV in bedroom. MSRP is 75,326, and dealers are telling us they are selling as fast as they
reach them.
The Excel 2012 Wild Cargo Fifth Wheel has a spacious cargo area, accommodating a 4wheeler, golf cart, snowmobile, motorcycles or other equipment. It features an inviting
interior, with a hinged 32” HD-LCD television that can be viewed in either the living area or
garage! Four floorplans (40’5” – 45’) are available, each with 3 slideouts, including a “sleep
and sit” area. It is being considered one of the most luxurious toy haulers in the industry. A
long list of standard features and amenities is best viewed from their website, as the
company has loaded these models!
Model Years 2010-2011: Peterson Industries has introduced new and upgraded models
for 2011 including the Excel “Limited” luxury fifth Wheel. The Excel Limited offers models
available with lengths of from 31’11” to 37’8” and exterior heights of 12 feet, exterior
widths of 8’6” and 13 different floorplans. Excel says: "The Limited line combines our most
advanced features and amenities into a 5-star hotel on wheels. Our 40M BTU furnace comes
with in-floor ducting. Our solid wood cabinetry features ball bearing drawer glides. Our 16
Gallon Output Gas/Electric DSI Water Heater comes with a water heater bypass system.”
Standard features include many extras like a new generation hydraulic extension system for
slide-outs and jacks, 42" HD LCD television, a china toilet, LED taillights and dozens of other
luxury touches. The Limited even has a pillowtop mattress with box springs – a first for the
RV industry. Elegant comfort comes standard, with solid wood cabinetry, berber style
carpeting, and recessed halogen lighting. All Excel products have gel-coated access doors
that are a full 1-3/8" thick, offering longer life, increased durability, better insulation, and a
tighter seal for protection from extreme weather conditions, insects and moisture.
The 2011 Winslow 33RLE is new for Excel’s
Winslow travel trailer line. Peterson Industries
invented the groundbreaking “Drop-Z” fifth wheel
frame, and tells us, “That same design is every bit
as effective in our new Winslow Travel Trailer. Our
exclusive 17-inch high storage compartment
beneath the entire front third of our trailer provides
more than 100 cubic feet of basement storage
space!” The Winslow has the same gel-coated
access doors, also a full 1-3/8" thick, offering longer
life, increased durability, better insulation, and a
tighter seal for protection from weather extremes, insects and moisture. A 35M BTU furnace
comes with in-floor ducting and solid wood cabinetry feature ball bearing drawer glides. The
Winslow has a 64 gallon fresh water system that comes with Tuff-Pex water lines. The 32"
LCD flat panel television comes standard in your living room. Other Winslow Fifth Wheels
are available in 28', 31' and 34' models.
Model Years 2009-2010: We did not have any new information for the 2010 line-up. For
2009 the 33TKE is hanging on as their most popular seller. The LE 33TKE offers a stylish
wrap around sofa that you just won’t find in any other fifth-wheel RV. Two large slide-out
rooms create a spacious living room and kitchen. The enclosed bathroom is another popular
feature of the Limited TKE, which is also offered in 35 and 36-feet lengths. A feature of all
of Excel’s Limited line is solid wood cabinets, including the standard oak or the optional
cherry. Excel offers an Minus 10 Degree Guarantee on all of is 2008 and later models (RT,
Classic and Limited) – the company guarantees that your holding tanks, water tank, interior
water lines and other essential plumbing wont’ freeze – all the way down to minus 10
degrees (optional Thermo-pane windows must be installed).
150
Comments: Previously Peterson product owners we spoke to were very pleased with their
purchase except when it came to support from the manufacturer. This year that category is
now rating right near the top, along with Safety and Performance. A significant increase that
tells us Peterson listens to their customers. Although Excel tells us they are the top rated
fifth wheel in the country, we at JR Consumer feel they will have to do some improvement
in the area of Overall Quality, as this continues to rate only “average” among owners. Yet
with many satisfied customers we cannot discredit Peterson Industries completely, and four
out of five owners state they would recommend their Peterson product to potential buyers.
Peterson’s website is the first we have seen which shows décor that feels more like home
instead of a luxury hotel. Luxury is nice but sometimes you just want to feel at home. Their
website also has a great “construction” link with very specific graphics and details regarding
construction.
R-Vision RV (Navistar)
91320 Coburg Industrial Way
Coburg, OR 97408
Phone: 800-282-4654
www.rvisiontowables.com/
R-Vision began in 1997 and is a product of Monaco. Monaco is a manufacturer of motorized
and towable recreational vehicles and has grown over the years to become one of the
world’s leading RV brands. “The No. 1 message that we want to get out to our dealer body
and our consumers is that though Monaco RV is a fairly new company, it is backed by
Navistar,” Ryan Lee, director of marketing for Monaco RV. “And with the Navistar influence
behind us, we are going to be able to do many different things that this industry has never
seen before.
The roots of Monaco Coach Corporation run back to 1968 with the formation of Caribou
Coach Corporation. They soon evolved into Monaco Motorhomes, Inc., and out of that
organization Monaco Coach Corporation was born in 1987. Now, coming out of bankruptcy
last year, Monaco was purchased by Navistar. Their $47 million deal completed the
transaction of acquiring existing inventory, intellectual property, and production facilities
located at Monaco’s headquarters in Coburg, Ore., as well as Harrisburg, Ore., Wakarusa,
Ind. and Milford, Ind. However, Navistar just recently announced plans to significantly scale
back operations at its Monaco headquarters and motor coach manufacturing plant in
Coburg, Oregon. All motor coach production will be consolidated at Monaco’s Wakarusa,
Ind., manufacturing facility and certain Monaco headquarters functions will be consolidated
at Navistar’s new corporate campus in Lisle, Ill. The company plans to continue producing
towables and retain certain finance and information systems operations in Oregon, as well
as maintain a RV service center there.
Now Monaco RV consists of three brands; Monaco, Holiday Rambler and R-Vision. (For
specifics see the Monaco and Holiday Rambler articles in this guide.) Furthermore, Monaco
plans to focus on those products as Navistar plans to close its truck manufacturing
operation in Chatham, Ontario, concentrating on integrating its RV and chassis businesses.
A representative for the company tells us that R-Vision continues to strive to live by the
credo that “excellence isn't an option, its standard”. The company is appealing to entry-level
151
to mid-range buyers with price and quality both being important. R-Vision also continues to
concentrate on light weight towables, something customers are demanding as higher gas
prices seem here to stay. R-Vision was also the first to develop the Hybrid tent end models.
Model Year 2012: For 2012 Monaco states they will be unveiling “The Next Generation of
RVs”. Laura Fry, Sales and Marketing Specialist for Monaco, tells us of some of these
updates and features for 2012.
They include;
• 2012 Trail-Lite Fifth Wheel – a Half-ton towable fifth wheel with classic residential
styling
•
2012 Trail-Lite Travel Trailer – a lightweight, with new family friendly designs
•
2012 Trail Sport Travel Trailer – the 8’ wide Ultra-Lite with Quicksilver a radiant gray
exterior option and 13 floorplan options
•
2012 Crossover Travel Trailer – the 7’6” Ultra-Lite. Most of the Crossover trailers
have floorplans rated for 3500lb tow vehicle
•
2012 Silver Creek Travel Trailer – Conventionally built, value packed, and three nonslid price leaders floorplans
R-Vision’s Trail Lite also introduces two newly designed fifth-wheels and a travel trailer – all
capable of being towed with half-ton trucks. The R-Vision 2012 Silver Creek offered at
entry-levels includes non-slide floorplans. With a rear bunk slide, a rear corner bath,
dinette/sofa slide, and a front queen bed, the 34'8" Silver Creek 31BHDS travel trailer
features A/C, awning, range/microwave, home theater w/DVD player, spare tire, stabilizer
jacks, and an outside shower. MSRP is $27,186.
The all-new, totally redesigned 2012 Trail Lite Fifth Wheel is their ever popular
lightweight fifth wheel. It is packed with residential amenities and is half-ton truck towable.
The contemporary designed fifth wheel features radius overhead cabinets, recessed lighting
and raised panel doors throughout. Also included is a heated enclosed underbelly, newly
designed residential furniture, Beauflor® Wood Grain Flooring, queen beds, ranging in
length from 28’11” to 31’10”.
Model Years 2010-2011: Using the ISO9001 (International Organization for Standards),
Navistar uses much different systems and protocols regarding quality and assurances in
manufacturing. They feel their expertise to manufacture has led to much improvement and
will be evident in what is coming off the manufacturing line. R-Visions production is up so
much that this year led to the opening of another plant to manufacture the Super Sport,
which is currently R-Vision’s most popular brand. The company is focusing on the superslide models for the upcoming year. Dealers say the Trail-Lite and the Trail Cruiser continue
to be well-liked. The Trail Cruiser is popular for safe, stable towing with today’s downsized
tow vehicles. The Trail Sport is available in either a travel trailer or fifth wheel design, which
offers conventional travel trailer slide-outs as well as rear slide-outs with unique floor plans.
Comments: Customer satisfaction has only improved slightly when it comes to customer
ratings. Performance and Safety hold steady at above average, but in many areas R-Vison
does not rate much more than average. With 5 being the highest rating given by an RVision owner, Overall Quality, Value and Cost of Maintenance only rate 3.5 out of 5,
152
something we feel is important to consider when buying a recreational vehicle. There are
satisfied owners in the forums, but many others reviews discuss maintenance or
workmanship issues. The company’s website continues to be weak in design, with very little
information about their products. What is available is difficult to read or access. We found it
hard to locate contact information, including sales or representative e-mails and customer
service numbers or information. We at JR Consumer Resources suggest you use the RVision’s parent company, Monaco, website for any information you cannot find at the RVision site.
Redwood RV, Thor Industries
72440 St. Rd. 13
Syracuse, Indiana 46567
Phone: 574-457-7800
www.redwood-rv.com/
Redwood RV is a new manufacturer, and with its
parent company Thor, Industries, it distributes
throughout the US and Canada. Launched in June
of 2010, Redwood states it was “Created to
service the baby-boomer market with high
quality, full-time, residential fifth wheel at an
affordable price.” Former Carriage RV President
Don Emahiser was hired to take the lead, and he
did not let his feet hit the ground as he immediately hired 3 key managers, acquired a
105,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Syracuse, Ind., and staffed the manufacturing
operation to roughly 50 employees. Most impressive was the fact that less than three
months later Redwood RV had three models ready to show dealers in November at the 2010
National RV Trade Show.
“Previously Thor never had anything to offer loyal customers in the way of a model of a high
quality upgrade fifth wheel. And that’s what Redwood RV is designed to do – to finally give
these customers a chance to stay in the Thor family that they’ve been with their whole
lives.” Redwood has a clever marketing statement for its fifth wheels, its Baby Boomer Code
6-4-2 which deciphers to 6 for entertaining, 4 for dinner, 2 to sleep. Each is built with
Clima-Comfort insulation, keeping you cool in summers and warm during winters, and
includes a 40,000 BTU furnace with auto ignition and available with a 30,000 BTU air
conditioning system.Redwoods biggest competitors are DRV and Carriage RV.
Model Years 2011-2012: In the spring of 2011 Redwood had four floorplans and has
already doubled that, from the 31SL (exterior length 34’ 4”) to the 39HH (exterior length 42'
4"). All floorplans have an option to add a sliding glass door in certain luxury fifth wheel
floor plans, something which doesn’t exist right now in any other RV. One floorplan has a 4foot bonus room in the back of it – great for bikes, grills, a shed, an extra room for mom’s
sewing room or an office/den. Some potential buyers feel it would be a great area for pets.
These are truly luxury fifth wheels, and many of the standard features are usually what you
find in option packages. Too many to name them all, be sure to check their website and see
these features which include the Diamond Furniture collection (leather), hardwood cherry
cabinetry, insulated windows, central vacuum and king sized bed. These are premium fifth
wheels and the interiors are immaculate.
153
In August of 2011 Redwood introduced its new, beautiful 36FL Redwood Fifth Wheel
floorplan. The 36FL kitchen was expanded by moving the slide-out to the off door side,
allowing the addition of the industry’s largest moveable dinette table, which can
accommodate up to six adults. The entertainment center was also moved directly across
from the living room chairs for more comfortable TV viewing. Additionally, the entry way is
larger and enhanced with a grand staircase and two hand rails. Other improvements include
an 80-inch sofa, pull-out desk, and fireplace. Redwood has also optioned a sliding patio door
for customers who stay in one area for extended periods of time. We found the 2012 36RL
foot Redwood ranging in price from $93,000 to $113,000, depending upon option
packages.
Comments: Redwood RV is a new manufacturer to the industry and thus is it difficult to
rate, especially compared to traditional companies. Owner reviews and customer
satisfaction are also near impossible to declare, with only months of production behind
them. However, with Thor Industries as their parent company, you can get an idea of their
overall quality and/or value. Unfortunately Thor has not done so well in those areas
according to the latest customer ratings and reviews. (See the Thor Industries page for
more information.) Nonetheless, Thor’s ratings should not the sole determining factor, as
there are some Thor affiliate manufacturers that do rate well. If you are interested in
Redwood fifth wheels, thoroughly explore the model you are considering. Speak to dealers
and find current owners to interview. Dealers are reporting strong retails sales. As a result
Redwood RV announced their company increased production by 50% on October 1st of
2011 and added 20% more employees to its labor force. With such good news and the fact
that Redwood RV has a lot of enthusiasm, and we can only hope this will produce ratings as
premium as their products. The company unveiled a new website in the fall of 2011. It is
informative and includes excellent photos with easy to access lists of options and floorplan
details.
Rexhall Industries, Inc.
46147 7th St W
Lancaster, CA 93534
Phone: 1-800-765-7500
www.rexhall.com
In 2009 Rexhall filed Chapter 11 and William Rex,
president and CEO of Rexhall Industries Inc.,
assured consumers it “Won't Disrupt Business.” It
appears Rex was correct as Rexhall RV continues
to have a strong place in the RV industry.
Rexhall has been producing Class "A" motor homes
since 1986 with Founder, William J. Rex. Their
commitment as a company has always been to
provide a product that emphasizes value. Rexhall
RV tells us they have a superior safety record,
which they credit to their 100% welded uni-body construction. They weld the entire floor to
the chassis, making for an extra solid foundation. Rexhall products also have welded front
and rear-end cap, and sidewalls, which means no screws or bolts loosening. In addition
154
Rexhall is proud to state, “In 2002, Rexhall patented our T-Rex Full Body Slide Rooms. We
are the first and only manufacturer to put two full body slide rooms on RVs, and our slides
are stronger than the industry standard. And our Class A motorhomes are the only gas or
diesel’s on the market which feature our patented dual TREX, full body slide rooms.
Rexhall declares, “Rexhall Industries, Inc. was founded on a belief that safety comes first
when building a motorhome, and service after the sale comes second. That is why we have
our own service center, and that is why we allow you, the customer, to use any independent
service center. If your local dealer is too backed up, or if you didn’t purchase from them, or
you don’t feel you are getting the service you deserve, then find one yourself and call us for
approval. Or we will direct you to an independent service center. Rexhall Industries, Inc. is
changing how motorhomes are serviced. At Rexhall, we recognize that our reputation is only
as good as the motorhomes we build. That is why we ask you to come and take a plant tour
and see for yourself why we say Rexhall’s are the safest motorhome built!”
Model Year 2012: As of this publication, Rexhall Industries has no new products or models
for 2012. 2011 Aerobus and 2011 Rex Air are the two products still available from Rexhall.
Model Years 2010-2011: While Rexhall, as of this printing, has no new products out for
2011, their 2010 models are selling well, according to dealers. With six slide rooms per
motorhome to choose from and two full body slide rooms, (Rexhall is the first and only
manufacturer offering this) there is a lot of quality in Rexhall products. An example of that
luxury and quality can be found in the 2010 Rexhall Aerbus GT 29RB, with its one piece
gel-cap fiberglass roof cap and side walls is built on a Ford FORD V-10 engine. It is 32 feet
in length with an 87” interior height. It sleeps 4 with 2 slide-outs, awnings, and air
conditioning. The Aerbus features a large kitchen area, with dinette cushion seating, leather
comfort couches and swivel cockpit captain chairs. Choice of cabinet colors and interior
décor, the Aerbus is fitted for a 37” LCD TV in the living area and 32” in the spacious
bedroom. MSRP is $155,792.
Rexhall's Aerbus, RexAir, and RoseAir are the only gas or diesel motorhomes featuring dual
TREX, full body slide rooms and are considered the largest and safest slide rooms in the
industry. They also have a built-in flush mount electric patio awning which is another
Rexhall exclusive. The one-piece, radius panoramic windshield and large radius at the roof
line, gives the motorhomes some of the best aerodynamics of any motorhome in its class.
Not to mention better gas mileage and better handling, featuring Workhorse's W series, UFO
and Rear Diesel, Freightliner's XC and FRED as well as Ford's F-53 chassis'.
Comments: Unfortunately, despite their strong manufacturing methods and their customer
service/maintenance claims (see above), Rexhall RV does not rate as high as one would
expect and desire. While their product models rate average to just above average in ratings,
performance, safety, and reliability could be better. Cost of maintenance and reliability
ratings also need to be raised to be worth the cost for their products. This past year there
were workmanship/manufacturing issues being presented to the company, however there
were also forums filled with loyal owners. Thus, the reviews are filled with a mix; dedicated
owners who state they would absolutely recommend Rexhall, others stating they had
nothing but problems, or found the quality not equal to the higher price. Furthermore,
Rexhall also did not respond to repeated requests for contact, thus it is hard to give their
input as to the customer satisfaction issues. Rexhall is a smaller company with emphasis on
building Class A diesel and gas motor homes. Their website has a lot of great full-page
photos that give you a clear view of their products. A valuable link is the “Explore the
Difference” side-by-side comparison list, which allows you to see what Rexhall RV offers
compared to other manufacturers.
155
Space Craft Mfg.
28115 West Hwy. 40
PO Box 946
Concordia, MO 64020
Phone: 1-660-463-7520
www.spacecraftmfg.com/
Manufacturing factory direct in Concordia, Missouri,
Space Craft Manufacturing builds travel trailer, fifth
wheels, bunk houses, show trailers and semi trailers.
In a letter to potential buyers, President Marsha
Trautman states, “Space Craft is the only RV
manufacturer who will completely custom build your
5th Wheel, Travel Trailer or Semi-Trailer from the
floor plan up at no additional cost to you. We also
sell our units direct from our factory in Concordia,
Missouri. This cuts out the "middle man" and we are
able to pass those savings directly on to our
customers! We have built units that may be used in remote areas. These "self-contained"
units have solar panels, True Sine-Wave inverters, generators, larger fresh water, "gray"
water and "black" water holding tanks. Customer satisfaction is our goal whether a 5th
Wheel, Travel Trailer, Semi-Trailer or Lighthouse Sleeping Quarters. We have no
reservations in standing behind our product 100%!”
The Space Craft production process allows customers to choose the entire decor of the
trailer: floor covering, wall covering, cabinetry color, window treatment, upholstered fabric,
counter top, appliances, even the cabinet hardware! Our entertainment centers may be
custom built to fit your specific components (TV, receivers, DVD, BluRay and/or game
consoles, etc.).
Space Craft has an extensive offering of fifth wheel floorplans featuring one and two
bedroom plans, rear kitchen, living room and dining models, and a variety of hitch to
bumper lengths which include slideouts. The Space Craft travel trailer line features six
floorplans in lengths ranging from 26’ to 38’ and include slideout floorplans.
Comments: Space Craft reached out to us and wanted to be included in our new edition.
But, after repeated call-backs and emails the company has not responded to our request for
an interview. The company looks to build high-end products with the option to build a
custom model, which is rare in the industry. Could not find much in the way of ratings on
consumer survey sites or forums. If you live near Missouri and you want a high-end fifth
wheel you may want to contact them. Hope to include more information in the future on this
company.
156
Skyline Corporation
2520 By-Pass Road
P.O. Box 743
Elkhart IN 46514
Phone: 800-348-7469
www.skylinerv.com/
Skyline was started over 55 years ago by Skyline’s grandfather and great-grandfather in a
garage. Beginning by manufacturing housing units Skyline has been run by generations of
his family ever since. By 1960 they opened their first travel trailer plant. Today Skyline is
synonymous with quality and customer service. “There is no one else out there that goes as
far as we do for service,” says a Skyline representative. “We take care of the back-end. We
are a long-term company and people come to us for service and quality,” he says. So much
so that Skyline not only sends surveys to its customers to find out how they think Skyline is
doing, but also uses Underwriter’s Laboratories and holds a Dealer Council a few times a
year to get feedback from its dealers. “Every dealer and every customer is important to our
company.” For this reason, Skyline's production facilities are strategically placed to better
service dealers and retail customer’s needs.
Skyline’s believes that their main competitors are Forest River, Keystone and Jayco. “We
are a small company and we like it that way,” Skyline tells us. “We want to be the best
‘boutique’ company in the industry.” Skyline's strength continues to be in the western
portion of the United States; market penetration in Oregon and Washington lead the pack.
Skyline is unique in many ways. They are smaller than most companies that they compete
with, and are accessible at all levels.
Skyline Corp. posted an increase in recreational vehicle sales for its fiscal 2011 first quarter
despite reporting a net loss for the period, as the manufactured housing market remained
soft. RV sales were up 39%, growing from $15.2 million a year ago to $21.1 million. Unit
shipments for travel trailers and fifth-wheels increased approximately 44% from the year
prior. To keep in line with demand, on May 31 Skyline ceased housing production at its
Bristol, Ind., facility order to produce RVs. The conversion is scheduled to be completed Oct.
31, 2011, by the time of this publication. The company also closed a housing facility in Fair
Haven, Vt.
Model Year 2012: The Skyline Koala is
Skyline’s 2012 Super-Lite travel trailer with TowLite technology. Featuring seven floorplans, the
Koala has exterior lengths ranging from 21’9” to
32’4”. Unloaded weights are between 2875 lbs.
and 5675 lbs. The exterior includes; Cambered
steel chassis w/steel outriggers, electric brakes,
Goodyear radial tires w/aluminum wheels,
laminated floor construction, block foam insulation
& plywood decking, sealed woven polyethylene
underbelly, welded aluminum frame sidewalls &
end-walls, metallic high gloss finish, aluminum frame, fully laminated roof, and a seamless
one-piece roof w/12 year manufacturer's warranty. Interiors include; hardwood cabinet
doors, solid lightweight cabinets, no wax vinyl floors, night shades, double door fridge and 3
burner range, HD TV, ABS Shower w/Full ABS wall surround, and a bed with headboard and
157
storage. Regarding the Koala, Skyline tells us, "Built and equipped with everything you need
- a quality product with the very best service available in our industry - solid construction no-nonsense warranty."
Skyline’s The Texan is as rugged as it sounds. The interiors have all the amenities of
comfort, but the exterior fits its name; strong with superior structure. Eight floorplans for
six different models, The Texan features some standard amenities that are only options with
some of the other manufactured products. Sleeping 4, 6 or 8, the lengths range from 24’9”
to 30’8”. The Skyline Texan 237 has a length of 29’, power jacks and leveling system,
electric brakes, awning, and a dry weight of 4130. A beautiful autumn décor with oak
cabinets and vinyl flooring, this model has a full bath, kitchen, lots of storage, and offers
bunk beds. We found it under the MSRP at a price of $11,997. Though stated as “An RV
built by Texans, for Texans”, it is obvious this unit will be popular with everyone.
Model Years 2010-2011: Skyline offers a variety of
fifth wheel products, travel trailers, and ultra-light
towables. For 2011 Skyline offers the updated Skyline
Layton Joey, their latest light-weight innovation with
the affordability that makes traveling easier. The Joey
has a color-coordinated designed interior, a seamless
one-piece
roof
and
exterior
lengths
ranging from 22’10” to 36’7”. The Joey is built with
steel strap reinforcement on walls for superior
durability, R-7 settle-resistant insulation and a tightly
sealed woven polyethylene underbelly. Some of its features include; hardwood frame
cabinet doors, full extension ball bearing drawer guides, laminate counter tops, maple
cabinets, mini blinds at all windows (except bunks), double door refrigerator, Wedgewood 3
Burner Range w/Oven and a 25,000 Btu ducted furnace. MSRP begin under $17,000.
Another popular product for the company is the Nomad Ultra-Lite fifth wheel. The Ultra Lite
214 (24’2”) is 7’ 6” wide and is built on an aluminum framed super structure. It features a
sofa slide out, front queen island bed, central bath, maple cabinets, a bench dinette, central
bath and a patio with awning. MSRP is $18,995. For 2011 Skyline continues the “Ultra-Lite”
products with new floorplans.
Model Years 2009-2010: The Skyline Nomad travel trailer has been a popular seller for
the company in recent years. The new 2010 Nomad, model 181 LTD is a nice intermediate
sized trailer with sleeping capacity for 7 people. The most popular floorplan in this series,
with new color fabrics for 2010, average MSRP $15,000. This unit comes with A/C, Awning,
Large Refrigerator, Oven with Three Burner Stove Top, and Stereo CD. Another popular
seller for the company is the Layton brand, available in either a travel trailer or fifth wheel.
With dozen of floor plans available the Layton has been a good selling brand for Skyline.
With an average MSRP of $22,000 and aluminum framed construction with R-7 settleresistant insulation with steel-strap reinforcement makes this brand a good choice for entrylevel to mid-range buyers. The roof is seamless one-piece with a 12 year limited warranty.
The floor is 5/8" tongue and groove decking.
For 2010 Skyline has introduced a new brand called, “Ultra-Lite”. To produce a "tow
friendly" travel trailer without sacrificing quality or integrity the company combined
aerodynamics and light weight construction. Because of high gas prices in 2008 and the
expectation that high gas prices are here to stay, most if not all RV manufacturers are
building lighter and more aerodynamic products to help consumers save gas. In addition to
158
saving gas many of these new-designed trailers can be towed by SUV’s or ½ ton trucks.
This allows consumers to keep their existing vehicle without having to upgrade to a more
expensive truck or SUV.
Comments: Skyline continues to receive very high ratings for everything from Reliability,
Safety, and Performance on the road, to Overall Value and Quality. That is quite an
accomplishment for a manufacturer that makes as many products as Skyline does. Despite
Skyline’s statements for this article regarding customer service, dealer support and support
from the manufacturer rates very low among Skyline owners. Customer reviews reflect this
as we find many owners are satisfied with the overall product, but disappointed in the
service or response they “did not” receive from the dealer and/or the manufacturer. Support
from the dealer has risen some this past year and Skyline tell us they feel Skyline is good to
them, “…one of the best warranties in the industry, and they follow through with it too.”
We can only hope that Skyline takes note of these reviews and will improve their services,
as everything else about Skyline rates near or at the top for a quality product. The Skyline
and Joey are especially popular models among Skyline owners with lots of information in the
forums regarding what great units these are.
Starcraft RV Inc. (Jayco)
P.O. Box 460
903 Main Street
Middlebury, IN 46540
Phone: 1-800-945-4787
www.starcraftrv.com/
Starcarft’s website tells us, “Starcraft has a
long history of innovation and market
leadership dating all the way back to 1903.
We were founded in the heart of Northern
Indiana's Amish country, and still call this
area our home. Starcraft originally produced
livestock tanks and other metal farm
equipment, and in the 1920's, added a variety
of boats to our lineup. In 1964, Starcraft
entered the RV industry with a line of folding
camping trailers. Today, Starcraft RV offers soft-sided truck campers, folding camping
trailers, both lightweight and full-size travel trailers and fifth wheels. The Starcraft Marine
and Automotive Groups are produced under separate ownership, thus giving Starcraft
strong name recognition in the recreational vehicle industry.
In 2010, Starcraft RV became a division of Jayco, Inc., and declared that it reopened its
Topeka, Indiana manufacturing facilities specifically for Starcraft. Starcraft’s website tells
us, “In 2011 Jayco/Starcraft was the first major RV manufacturer to be 100 percent green
certified and fully-recognized for building products with green manufacturing processes and
materials by TRA Certification, Inc., an internationally accredited certification organization.”
Model Year 2012: For 2012 Starcraft has been busy! Several products are now available in
2012 models, all in their four product lines; folding campers, light-weight towables and
travel trailers and fifth wheels. This includes the popular lines of Autumn Ridge and Travel
159
Star Expandable, which is newly re-designed. The 2012 Travel Star Travel Trailer,
Starcraft tells us, is one of the “lowest priced, fiberglass travel trailers on the market.” The
new 2012 lineup is available in three floorplans, available now, with three more layouts to
follow. Lengths run 28 feet to 30 feet offering seven-foot interior height and a 30-inch by
72-inch entry doors – four inches taller than comparable models, according to Starcraft. The
Travel Star also is equipped with a Fastway Flip automatic jack foot, a Starcraft exclusive,
and a front pass-through storage area with light and tool hooks. The kitchens have been
updated with a residential style faucet with a pullout sprayer and a deep, covered oversized
kitchen sink, and many more new amenities. The bedrooms were upgraded with two-tone
wallboard and a pull-out laundry basket located under the bed. Exterior security light
switches were added to the bedroom and living area and an amber light was also added at
the entry step. We found the 207RB model, featuring two queen sleeping areas, a
convertible dinette and J-Steel sofa, (it can sleep up to seven adults) with a MSRP of
$20,900.
Another brand new Starcraft product is the 2012 Launch, a lightweight fiberglass travel
trailer that is towable by most minivans and crossover vehicles. It has three floorplans,
including a 15-footer with expandable bed, 17-foot model with rear dinette and 18-footer
with bunks, all with dry weights under 3,000 pounds. The Launch has a 78” interior height,
fully decked roof with 3/8-inch decking, TuffShell vacuum-bonded fiberglass sidewalls, front
diamond plate, patio awning, 14-inch radial tires, spare tire with carrier, and a four-cubic-ft.
refrigerator and freezer.
Starcraft informs us that their fifth wheels
offer more high-end features than anything
in its price range and adds, “With two
different series and 9 different floorplans,
each with a variety of options and upgrades,
Starcraft is a practical, stylish and
affordable retreat.” We found the 2012
Lexion lives up to that declaration. The
Lexion features roomy slide-outs, hardwood
cabinetry, a 40” LCD HDTV, and an 8 cubic ft. flush-mount double door refrigerator. Walls
combine gelled, high-gloss fiberglass and a vacuum bonded lamination with a welded,
tubular aluminum floor. Platforms for dinette, bed and bunks are constructed of 1/2"
plywood. We found a price of $57,325 offered, though the MSRP is above $60,000. Lexion
also is available in a Lexion S-Lite model.
Model Years 2010-2011: Starcraft says, "For nearly 50
years, Starcraft has ranked as one of the industry’s most
popular folding camping trailers. Now you can find the
floorplan that fits your needs. Whether it’s for a cozy
getaway or a family vacation, you’ll be prepared with a
generous sleeping capacity. With Starcraft, you get sound
construction and the most-asked-for amenities at a great
value." 8 models are available – with exterior (closed)
lengths ranging from 17'3" to 21'3". Exterior width
(closed) is 7'5" and exterior width (open) ranges 24'5" to 28'10". Kitchen and a 2 burner
stove, dinette and options of a front bed layout all make for lots of family living space.
Three floorplans come with toilet/showers, all with tinted side windows -screens. Steel tube
& channel frame w/E-coat finishing system, laminated sidewalls with an aluminum exterior,
160
straight steel bumper, and seamless radius fiberglass roof finish out the construction of the
folding campers.
One of Starcraft’s popular models is the Autumn Ridge The durable Autumn Ridge models
have aluminum exteriors, trussed roof rafters and all-weather rubber roofing. The 2011
Starcraft Autumn Ridge 329BHU is 32’ in length, measuring 316 sq. feet. This model
sleeps 8, has 2 slideouts and all the amenities to make it a family friendly living area. With
a polyflex underfloor covering and full R-7 Insulation this ready product is ready for all
seasons. MRSP $29,806
Comments: Overall ratings for Starcraft are very good. It is at the top in ratings in regards
to performance and safety on the road, and interior and exterior design. Ratings in other
areas, such as cost of maintenance, manufacturer support, and overall quality rate just
above average. Though these areas are not at the very top, 4 out of 5 stars is a good
rating, and the Forums are filled with extremely satisfied owners. As Jayco ratings have
dropped significantly this past year, this is a good sign that Starcraft is holding its own
regardless of the merge with Jayco. Starcraft has improved their website; it is easy to
navigate, with videos and details, more photos and information. Floorplans links are large
and clear, with particulars for each model length.
SunnyBrook Manufacturing (Winnebago)
201 14th St.
Middlebury, IN 46540
Phone: 574-825-5250
www.sunnybrookrv.com/
Sunnybrook Manufacturing is a division of Winnebago Industries and is located in
Middlebury, Indiana, manufacturing travel trailers and fifth wheel products. SunnyBrook
tells us, “It’s no secret that our workers at SunnyBrook RV are of the best trained in the
country that believe in and practice our tradition of quality, honest work. If you recall
memories of “barn raisings”, road-side fruit and produce stands, genuinely friendly folks and
a work ethic more reminiscent of the ‘good old days’, then you can picture SunnyBrook RV.
Doing it right starts with fresh ideas, practical designs, a workplace that’s enjoyable, and
people who care.”
The owners are very involved in the day-to-day business and involved in the community.
“We are small enough to be personally involved in the process and still large enough to
provide what the customer needs.” That is why SunnyBrook RVs are popular in all regions of
the country. The Brookside is their medium priced line and geared towards the recreational
camper – those who will use the vehicle 2-6 weeks a year. “It’s for those that want
something nice and high quality but they will use it less,” says Frey. The Titan and West
Pointe series are for the more serious user who will use it for months at a time. “Each series
is geared towards its own unique user,” says Frey. While SunnyBrook is known for its
customer service, Frey says that there is always room for improvement. “We are pretty darn
good at what we do,” he says. “No one is perfect. We are close, but we can always
improve.” By the growth of sales for SunnyBrook products it is clear Frey is correct, they are
good at what they do, and always striving to improve.
The company’s biggest competitors are Forest River, Jayco and Gulfstream. To learn more
about the company, its manufacturing and production, please read Winnebago article.
161
Model Year 2012: Sunnybrook is manufacturing 4 products in the form of travel trailers,
fifth wheels and ultra-lites models. The past year had Winnebago focusing on (among other
things) updating the SunnyBrook product, due to growth in sales and manufacturing of their
towable lines. Winnebago Industries CEO and President Randy Potts stated, “Since reentering the towable market earlier this year, we have made great progress. We have
reinvigorated the SunnyBrook Sunset Creek travel trailer products, introduced the new
SunnyBrook Raven travel trailer and fifth-wheel products, and also designing a brand new
line of Winnebago travel trailer products that are distinctly different than anything on the
market today.”
The SunnyBrook Raven was introduced this past year and will initially be available in five
fifth-wheel and three travel trailer floorplans. The newly designed RAVEN includes a highend, gel coat fiberglass exterior, increased turning radius front cap, slam-latch baggage
doors, storm door, glazed cherry cabinetry, designer furniture, 30-inch deep bedroom
slideouts for increased floor space and flat “no step” floors in the bedroom. In addition, the
RAVEN has been designed with a maximum height of 11-feet, 11-inches with standard
wheels. At a recent dealer show Fred Hershberger, Sales Manager for Winnebago Industries
Towables told us, “Dealer response to RAVEN has been outstanding. Every dealer has been
impressed with the look that has been achieved and the price point that we’ve hit. Within
the mid-profile fifth-wheel market, there will not be a more competitive brand.”
The 2012 SunnyBrook Harmony 25CKS, is an ultra-lite trailer with a Gel-coat fiberglass
exterior, one slide and sleeps 6. Some options included are; Harmony Value pkg, Harmony
Camping Time Pkg, Autumn Maple cabinets with wood look flooring, TV jack in bedroom, 26
LCD TV in living area on swivel mount, 14 Radial tires on Standard Aluminum wheels and a
power awning. Other features; 1 ducted 13.5M BTU AC unit, a 6 gallon gas/electric water
heater with water heater by-pass, 43 gallon fresh water capacity, stainless steel appliances,
3 Burner stove, oven, microwave, upper/lower fridge & freezer, U-shaped dinette booth,
sofa bed and a Queen Island bed. MSRP is $28,573.
Model Years 2010-2011: SunnyBrook’s most popular
fifth wheels are the Titan SURV and Brookside brands. For
2011 the 32 foot Brookside 276FWSC is considered to
have one of the best floorplans and is currently the bestselling flooplan of the SunnyBrook lineup. With a rear
kitchen, 2 slideouts, a gel-coated exterior, aluminum power
structure, outside shower, power awning, heated and
enclosed under belly and more, this is a stand-out model.
With wood cabinetry, stain resistant fabrics, spacious
queen size bedrooms and an extra tall interior slideout
height, the Brookside is loaded with luxury. Considered a great value with a MSRP just
under $32,000.
In their travel trailer line-up the 2011 SunnyBrook Sunset Creek 298BH is a popular
model. One slide out, sleeps 9, with air conditioning, this unit has the new Maple interior
and the fiberglass option exterior. It is complete with power awning LCD TV, 6-Gallon DSI
Gas/Electric Water Heater and shower tub surround. The quality construction is highlighted
by AX5 aluminum framing, heated and enclosed tanks, Fome Cor® insulation and more.
MSRP is just over $31,000.
162
Model Years 2009-2010: SunnyBrook’s most
popular fifth wheels are the Titan SURV and
Brookside brands. The Titan SURV represents a
physical presence that shouts luxury, style and
elegance. The units sell for around $55,000. From
company’s website, “If you have an adventurous
spirit and are always on the go, then the TITAN SURV
may be the right choice. SURVs offer a highly refined,
luxurious home with a practical side. The TITAN SURV
features a garage configuration ideal for carrying golf carts, mopeds, bicycles, ATVs or any
kind of bulky cargo you may wish to haul. Now, all of the luxuries and conveniences of
home are yours with TITAN SURV. Solid construction means years of hassle-free use.
SunnyBrook RVs reputation for quality and luxury is evident with each floorplan as well.
Simply choose your destination and the SURV will take you there”.
Comments: SunnyBrook products appeal mainly to mid-range and upper-end buyers. The
Sunset Creek line is the entry-level. Based on our research SunnyBrook customers were
very pleased with their purchase and most expressed how impressed they were with the fit
and finish of interiors. SunnyBrook has some of the highest RV ratings of all manufacturers.
Everything from Performance, Safety and Overall Quality and Value has once again rated
right at the top by consumers, only Reliability fell slightly. SunnyBrook also received high
marks from RV dealers we interviewed and owners rated dealer support high. Owners also
overwhelming say they would recommend a Sunnybrook product. The only area in which
SunnyBrook continues to drop in the ratings is in the area of Support from the
Manufacturer. This may be a small company, but they have a good handle on quality control
with excellent craftsmanship inside and out.
Thor Industries
419 West Pike Street
P.O. Box 629
Jackson Center, Ohio 45334-0629
Phone: 937-596-6849
www.thorindustries.com/home/
While Thor Industries is covered
extensively in this guide, and each
affiliate is rated and reviewed
individually, we felt it important to
give you a little background of the
company
and
some
updated
information
on
this
megamanufacturer
of
recreational
vehicles.
Thor Industries was founded in
August 1980 when Wade F. B.
Thompson and Peter B. Orthwein
acquired
Airstream,
the
most
recognized name in the industry. The name "Thor" combined the first two letters of each
entrepreneur's name. In 1982 Thor purchased the Canadian company, General Coach,
163
which manufactures travel trailers and motorhomes. Also part of this acquisition was Thor
America, which manufactures Citation and Chateau travel trailers and fifth wheels. In 1984
Thor became a public company and in 1986 was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
That same year Forbes magazine ranked Thor sixth out of the "200 best small companies in
America."
In 1991 Thor acquired Dutchmen, now one of the largest brands of conventional and fifth
wheel travel trailers in the world. Four Winds International, a manufacturer of Class A and C
motorhomes was acquired in 1992. Komfort, a maker of fifth-wheel and conventional travel
trailers, and Skamper, a builder of folding camping trailers, became members of the Thor
family in 1995. 1996 saw the startup of Thor California and the introduction of the Tahoe
and Wanderer brands of trailers and fifth wheels. Keystone RV was acquired in 2001,
Damon RV in 2003, CrossRoads RV in 2004, and Goshen Coach in 2005. 2010 was a big
year for Thor as it acquired SJC Industries, (second largest ambulance manufacturer in the
U.S.), purchased Heartland (world's largest producer of towable RVs), and created Redwood
RV (for premium fifth wheels). Thus it is not surprising that today Thor Industries is the
largest RV manufacturer in the world.
Jerimiah Borkowski, Director of Thor Communications informed us of the recent 2010
merger of Four Winds International, Damon Motor Coach, and Mandalay to form Thor
Motor Coach. We review this company in the guide, but wanted to point it out as another
statement from Thor that they intend to continue as the mammoth manufacturer that they
are today. Jerimiah tells us the merger went especially smoothly because the facilities were
right next to each other, and it resulted in a strong Class B product (Four Winds), with a
strong diesel and Class A product (Damon). Jerimiah points out with these mergers Thor is
connecting the dots to become a better product line and offer more services.
Comments: It is difficult to rate a large company such as Thor Industries with all their
subsidiaries. Based on our previous research we felt Thor had one of the best management
teams in place, appealing to the masses, and not making the same mistakes as other large
corporations. However, perhaps because the company has grown so much that ratings are
difficult to measure accurately, this conclusion may no longer be as accurate.
Rating charts have Thor falling significantly in the area of Overall Quality, and reviews
barely reach average when owners are asked if they would recommend a Thor product to
potential buyers. Yet if one explores individual affiliates of Thor, such as Starcraft and
Airstream, they rate at the top and are extremely popular. When considering Thor products,
it is best to explore the model and product manufactures individually. Reviews and ratings
vary significantly and while one Thor product cannot make an average grade when it comes
to customer satisfaction and quality, another product could put you in one the best RVs
available. For information on all the products and manufacturers available through Thor
Industries visit their website. It is an excellent, easy resource to all the manufacturers with
one click, no need for searching.
164
Thor Motor Coach
701 Country Road
Elkhart, Indiana 46516
Phone: 800-860-5658
www.thormotorcoach.com/
Thor Motor Coach is the result of the 2010
merger and purchase by Thor, Industries of
Four Winds International, Damon Motor
Coach, and Mandalay RV. Jerimiah Borkowski,
Director of Thor Communications, tells us the
merger went especially smoothly because the
facilities were right next to each other, and it
resulted in a strong Class B product (Four
Winds International), with a strong diesel and
Class A product (Damon). Jerimiah points
out; with these mergers Thor is connecting
the dots to become a better product line and offer more services. Thor Motor Coach
manufactures both gas and diesel Class A and C, and Class B+ motorhomes, in several
different product lines and floorplans. You can even work with Thor Motor Coach and design
your own motor coach.
Thor Motor Coach is obviously doing something right because they tell us, “Thor continues
as the #1 retailing brand of motorhomes in North America with 22.93% share through June
2011. The results also show Thor Motor Coach as the fastest growing motorhome brand
among the top 8 major manufacturers with a 27.9% increase over last year. Class C sales
captured the #1 market position with an impressive market share growth of 31.50%
compared to the previous year.”
Thor Motor Coach brands include; A.C.E., Hurricane, Daybreak, Windsport, Challenger,
Outlaw, Serrano, Avanti, Astoria, Tuscany, Four Winds, Four Winds Citation, Four Winds
Citation Sprinter, Chateau, Chateau Citation, Chateau Citation/Sprinter.
Model Years 2011-2012: Thor Motor Coach
released their latest Gas Class A model, and
rankings from Statistical Surveys named the
2012 EVO29.1 A.C.E as the 3rd best-selling
motorhome for April 2011. This follows the
“Best of Show” award it earned at its debut
earlier, at the Louisville RV show. Built with a
Ford engine and chassis, it is constructed of
tough fiberglass materials, built with fully
welded tubular floors, roof and walls, and is
roomy enough to sleep 7 comfortably.
Generous in the area of storage and huge on
towing capacity, this motorhome is already rating well with owners. It is very sharp–looking,
premium features and décor such as leather seats and state of the art media center, and
has a full-body exterior paint. It features 84 inches of headroom, yet is kid friendly, and pet
friendly too. It has a floor height viewing window, an outside integrated tie-down for dogs,
and includes a kibble-station for feeding pets inside. We found the 2012 EVO29.1 A.C.E.
Motorhome with a MSRP of $101,600 sale priced at $79,995. Following that popular model
165
is the EVO29.2 A.C.E. Motorhome, slightly upgraded with a different floorplan, just now
available for 2012.
Thor Motor Coach also introduced a new 2012 34SS Daybreak floor plan with an
innovative exterior kitchen. Built on a Ford Chassis, with a 6.8-Liter Triton V-10 engine, the
Daybreak has a 5-Speed TorqShift Automatic Transmission with Overdrive. Automatic
leveling jacks with touchpad controls, Side-mounted power patio awning, side cameras, and
Back-up monitor system (includes touch screen AM/FM/CD/AUX/iPod/MP3/USB in-dash
radio) are standard. The Daybreak features a spacious living area with media center, and
well-equipped galley. We found MSRPs beginning at just over $128,000.
Comments: Thor Motor Coach is a new manufacturer to the industry and thus is it a bit
difficult to rate in terms of long-standing customer reviews and satisfaction. Nonetheless,
the company itself is the bi-product of icon manufacturers such as Damon and Fours Winds,
as well as an affiliate of Thor Industries, all of which have decades of experience in the
industry. The 2011 Daybreak and Windsport had very favorable reviews, including
performance, quality, and overall value. However the 2011 Thor Motor Coach Serrano
barely met “average” in the same rating categories. Best advice; thoroughly explore the
individual model you are considering. Speak with owners, visit dealerships.
Thor Motor Coach offers personal factory tours, no appointment necessary, along with their
scheduled tours Monday – Thursday. Thor Motor Coach also has hundreds of authorized
Service Centers, enabling service and maintenance to be accessible from all around the
country. In November of 2010, Thor Motor Coach launched a new website, and it is nothing
less than fantastic. Take the time to view all the extensive details and information. In
particular, the Questions and Answers link which directs you to what specific models from
each manufacture was produced before the merger and is now a part of Thor Motor Coach.
You can then check individual ratings and reviews from those models and get a more
accurate idea of how the product would rate with previous owners.
166
Tiffin Motorhomes, Inc.
105 2nd Street NW
Red Bay, AL 35582
Phone: 256-356-8661
www.tiffinmotorhomes.com
Tiffin Motorhomes is truly a family run
business. Started by Bob Tiffin in Red Bay,
Alabama, Tiffin runs the company with his
three sons, Tim, Van and Lex. In a
converted cotton warehouse in 1972, Bob
Tiffin set a modest production goal of two
motorhomes a day focusing on quality and
customer service.
Thirty-three years later the 50,000th coach rolled off the Tiffin production line. Those early
coaches, about the length of a minivan, bear faint resemblance to a present-day Zephyr, 45
feet of state-of-the-art electronics including the huge LCD TVs (living room, bedroom and
outside), global positioning and satellite dish. The four slides almost double the on-road
width. Three A/C units, a king-size bed, exquisite cabinetry and other crafted woodwork,
plus tile and carpeted floors. Tiffin’s products, the Phaeton and Allegros, also boast many of
the Zephyr's features.
"Twenty years ago a delayed shipment of windows caused the plant to close down and Tiffin
decided right then and there that wouldn't happen again, so he bought a local glass plant
and turned it into his own window and windshield manufacturing factory." He did the same
for fiberglass and for all the woodwork. Almost everything in a Tiffin Motorhome is made by
the company. That is why even if you have one of the oldest models ever made, you can
still find parts you need.
While Tiffin counts Fleetwood, Winnebago and Monaco as its main competitors, Director of
Sales Jerry Williamson says the attention paid to the customer really sets Tiffin apart from
the rest. Along with listening to customers comes innovation, the Tiffin sons not only work
for the company, they are RVers themselves. When they take their own Tiffin motorhomes
out on the road, they come back with new ideas and ways to make the units as “usercomfortable” as possible. One of Tiffin’s taglines is ‘Just ask someone who owns one’ and
Tiffin adds, “Service is something we don’t just talk about, we do it. We just treat people
like they want to be treated”. In fact, a high standard of morals and values are what
motivates Bob Tiffin and his crew. His reputation is such that folks who have met or
purchased from him will tell you Bob is one of the nicest, most fair, of all the businessmen
they have ever met. Keeping with that desire to provide the very best customer service
possible, Tiffin provides the “Allegro Campground”, located in Red Bay, AL. where the
Service Center is located. The campground is just a few steps away from the service center,
allowing owners to have their Tiffin taken for services during the day and returned to them
in the evening, enabling them to stay in the comforts of their own “home”, whether the
service takes one day or one week.
167
Model Year 2012: For 2012 Tiffin’s
Jerry
Williamson
tells
us,
“We
continually implement improvements to
our production processes. This past year
we
added
more
computerized
machinery which improves our fit and
finish. And we have added and
improved many floor plans since 2011
model year.” Of the 2012 Allegro RED, Tiffin says, "The advantage of the Allegro RED is
right there in the name: the Rear Engine Diesel (RED). The RED shares the same quality,
value, and affordability as the Allegro, and then adds some important benefits: Quieter ride,
increased torque and horsepower, and better fuel efficiency. And with the engine located in
the back, it allows for a more spacious cab. The 2012 model pays special attention to the
kitchen, with newly redesigned elements, the cooking area now functions better than ever.”
The Allegro RED features a Cummins ISB 6.7-liter electronic diesel, turbocharged engine,
340 HP @ 2,600 RPM. With four available floorplans, exterior lengths range from 34'10" to
38'9". The one-piece, moisture resistant molded fiberglass roof cap provides insulation and
strength, as well as preventing water leakage. With 5½" of formed insulation, the sidewalls
are approximately 2” thick. With a full kitchen, skylight shower with optional bathtub, booth
dinette, sofa with sleeper, and king and bunk bed options this Allegro RED has many more
“feel at home” features. The Allegro RED’s MSRP starts at $198,660. Williamson adds, “We
added a new floor plan to our Allegro RED brand, 38 QRA. This floor plan is a nice bath and
a half model.”
Once again Tiffin has improved their Phaeton, the nation's top-selling diesel pusher for the
past three years. Tiffin adds, “Since 2011, we have added two floor plans to Phaeton line
up, a 40 QBH bath and a half floor plan and a 40 QKH, a bunk model.” The 2012 Phaeton,
like the Allegros, has side cameras integrated into the VelVac rearview mirrors; a
redesigned driver’s console for added convenience; a distinctive wood and wrought iron
ceiling trim ring; Rustic Canyon, a new exterior color scheme; and two new interiors, the
Capri and Palmetto. While Phaetons come in 36, 40 and 42-foot lengths, the longest of the
trio now boasts an ISL 400hp engine. The 40-foot, 380-hp diesel pusher comes with bunk
beds in addition to a bedroom with either king- or queen-size bed. The bunk beds are on
one of the four slides, providing plenty of space to move around and are on the driver’s
side, opposite the bed in the master bedroom, providing a unique front-to-rear open coach
view. A more functional bath layout adds to the appeal. The Phaeton 40QKH is available on
either a Freightliner or Tiffin’s own PowerGlide chassis. The MSRP, depending on chassis,
runs from $248,200 to $254,100.
In addition for 2012 Tiffin states;
• Considering Allegro Bus, we added a 40 QBP, bath and a half floor plan.
•
The Allegro gas models 30 GA and 32 CA replaced the old 30 and 32 models. The
new models include improved larger fresh water tanks, holding tanks, and pass
through basement storage.
•
For our newest brand, the Allegro Breeze, we have added a 32 BR model which
includes 2 slideouts, a full bedroom, bathroom, and galley area. Allegro Breeze is our
fuel efficient rear engine diesel brand designed for ease of handling and driving,
while still delivering a luxury coach.
•
We have yet to introduce our 2012 Zephyr model. We will see an all new product
here when it hits the streets sometime around the first of the year. (2012)
168
Model Years 2010-2011: The Phaeton series is still the best-selling diesel motorhome in
the United States according to Tiffin. In addition to the Cummins ISC engine used in the
Phaeton, a one-piece, moisture resistant molded fiberglass roof cap provides insulation and
strength and prevents water intrusion. Tiffin also offers the Allegro (front engine gas
motorhome), the Allegro Red (rear engine diesel), and the Allegro Bus. The Allegro still
remains Tiffin’s most popular gas motorhome.
All new for Tiffin is the 2011 Allegro Breeze. The 28foot Allegro Breeze was as “Best of Show” by the
RVBusiness staff during the recent 47th Annual
National RV Trade Show. The Breeze is just now being
shipped out to dealers, all together brand new, with
one floorplan; a very unique product as it features air
ride and air brakes. The Breeze is built on a 21,500pound GVWR chassis equipped with a 215-hp Navistar
MaxxForce 7 V-8 engine. Interior features are so
numerous we can only sum them up as “luxurious”.
MSRP begins at $158,000.
Model Years 2009-2010: According to Tiffin their Phaeton series is the best-selling diesel
motorhome in the United States. With high-end features usually reserved for much pricier
motorhomes, this legendary diesel pusher combines high luxury with a low price tag. The
Cummins ISC engine delivers the power one would expect from a high-end coach and the
plush roomy interior delivers the comfort. The Allegro still remains their most popular gas
motorhome with an MSRP of only $97,000. The company lowered their price for 2010 and
you don’t have to worry about fewer options because the company kept most of the
standard features that existed in the 2009 model.
Comments: According to Statistical Survey (retail registration) Tiffin rated #1 for Class A
motorhome manufacturing in the US through the second quarter of 2011. However, as Jerry
Williamson tells us, “While we at Tiffin are proud of that rating, ratings are not what
motivate us. We prefer being number one with our customers. We do not measure
ourselves against other manufacturers; we measure ourselves against our customer’s
expectations.” The industry seems to agree as Tiffin excels in customer service and
satisfaction in the area of manufacturer support. Tiffin consistently rates at the top in
surveys sent out by the RVDA (Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association) and independent
reviews. Though the latest ratings put Reliability (mechanical, Interior, exterior, etc), Cost,
and Dealer Support a little lower (4 out of 5 points) in customer satisfaction, owners
overwhelmingly vote it high for overall quality and value, and state they would recommend
a Tiffin. One dealer told us, “They (Tiffin) actually care about people.” We like the fact that
the company is small enough to be concerned with details, yet large enough to provide
excellent service. Factory tours are available and Jerry noted, “We offer two tours a day and
we have a tremendous amount of folks take these tours as they want to meet us and see
what they are investing in.” Tiffin has one of the better websites in the industry. The
specifics include very detailed, clear photos and charts, including construction diagrams and
photos, virtual tours and owner’s information. It is also worth noting that for the 13th time
the company was named one of the few motorized RV manufacturers to receive the Quality
Circle Award by the RVDA.
169
Triple E Recreational Vehicles
301 Robin Blvd.
Winkler, Manitoba, Canada
R6W 4C4
Phone 1-877-992-9906
www.tripleerv.com
Triple E Recreational Vehicles began more than 45 years ago with a small 13-foot travel
trailer. Today, the company is located in Winkler, Manitoba Canada. The plant in Winkler is
highly integrated, meaning that most of the parts and fit and finish are made on site to
Triple E’s exact specifications. In addition to the production line, the factory includes a
welding shop, paint shop, fiberglass and mold shop, sewing and cabinet manufacturing
departments.
In 2008, Triple E RV acquired long time Class B van manufacture Leisure Travel Vans and
has since consolidated production into the Winkler facility. Next Triple E followed through
with a plan to exit the towable RV. Today Triple E RV’s focus has shifted from the large class
“A” coaches to the Class B/B+/C markets, producing smaller motor homes which , as Triple
E tells us, “….We view as becoming more popular as energy costs continue to rise. Our
trailer production was winterized which comes at considerable cost and the volumes in this
better quality product dwindled to a point of not being viable.”
Ryan Elias, Assistant Manager for Triple E, says that it is the quality of the vehicles that
makes Triple E RV’s stand out. “We promote our quality and craftsmanship which is second
to none,” he says. “Our commitment to quality and customer service is also second to
none.” For this reason, the Triple E customer tends to be a mid-to-high range customer –
one who is looking for quality and a value-added price. This customer also tends to become
a loyal Triple E customer once they buy their first RV. “We see a lot of repeat buyers, three,
four and five time buyers,” says Elias. “We have top quality customer service and we think
we are the best in terms of quality and customer satisfaction. And it shows with our repeat
business.” Triple E also tells us, “With the extreme temperatures the Canadian climate
brings, you can be sure your RV is built with all types of climates in mind. Triple E RV prides
itself in going the extra mile to ensure your RVing experience is the best it can be,
regardless of the weather.”
Model Year 2012:
The Triple E 2012
Regency GT24 is truly a luxurious motorhome,
with more updates and exclusives than there
is room to write here about. Built on a 6.8L
V10 Ford E-450 Series with one slideout, the
Regency’s
speed
transmission
features
overdrive and tow-haul modes, ideal for
pulling a small vehicle behind it. Five fully
body coats of paint on an all fiberglass body no decals, and a full walk around roof, sealed
seams, and a 30,000 BTU furnace for all
climates. Features like dual pane windows,
rear auxiliary heater, sidewalls with thermal
break, and vacuum bonded walls, are unique
to Triple E, preventing cold transfer from the aluminum into the coach. Go to the Triple E
website and take a video tour and you will see why this is full of great features and an
incredible amount of insulated storage. Triple E tells us their “Unity” continues to be Triple
170
E’s most popular product in their Leisure RV van line. The Murphy Bed model floorplan
bring in the highest sales. At the push of a button, the U-Lounge folds down, forming a
residential-style queen size bed. It also has one of the largest bathrooms in its class, 27.5
sq. feet. The corner bed model follows close behind. However, Triple E tells us their new and
recently introduced Island Bed model is becoming a close contender for most popular. T
Built on a Mercedes Benz chassis, the Unity is quality built into every unit and gets great
gas mileage.
Model Years 2010-2011: In 2010 Triple E RV introduced a new product into the Leisure
Travel Van brand name known as the “Unity”. The Unity is a 24’ B+ RV built on a Mercedes
Benz Sprinter cab chassis. One of the unique floorplan features an innovative queen size
Murphy bed that folds into the slideout wall. The floorplan offers an extremely large
bathroom. It’s a must see. Base MSRP is $119,470 USD. Triple E RV tells us their top
selling product is the “Regency GT”, available in Class B+ and Class C models. With the
Regency, Triple E has put all of the amenities of a Class A motorhome in a smaller unit,
easier to handle and better fuel economy. Here are just a few reasons this is a popular
model for Triple E; the triple slide all-season fiberglass coach, full body paint with a
fiberglass roof, and a back-up monitor. Solid Cherry wood cabinets, rear queen bed with
sofa bed and dinette, the Regency sleeps six and has lots of extra storage. This Triple E
Regency GT29T has a MSRP of $117,460. Triple E has no new models for their towable
Topaz line of RV’s, however they are an excellent product and worth looking at the previous
models.
Model Years 2009-2010: As of this publication the
Regal is the only 2010 product being introduced. Because
of the slow economy we expect to see new lines coming
out in the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2010.
Triple E makes one line of towables called the Topaz with
20 different floor plan options. In the fifth wheel line-up
the Topaz sells with an average MSRP of $33,000. In the
travel Trailer line up the average price is $29,000. The company’s most popular diesel
motorhome is the flagship Empress-Elite with an MSRP of $340,000. Regarding Class A gas
the Embassy with an MSRP of $120,000.
Comments: Triple E RV customers are located in Western Canada and all across North
America, with a dealer network throughout the United States. On the Triple E website you
can download brochures about each product, which include floor plan options and
specifications. There is a dealer locater as well as a rental locater, in case you want to try
out a Triple E on a trip before buying one. Triple E earns the one of the highest ratings when
it comes to customer satisfaction and also has some of the highest RV ratings when
compared to other manufacturers. Everything from safety, reliability and performance, to
overall quality rate well above average to excellent. Only Cost of Maintenance, Dealer
Support dropped slightly in the ratings. Triple E owners overwhelming recommend this
manufacture and its products. As one owner told us, “It’s quiet, solid and very well built.
Would we recommend it? You bet we would, and we would buy another one ourselves!”
Triple E also received high marks for the RV dealers we spoke with. Based on our research,
resale value is above average. Triple E is a quality company with a bright future and well
worth considering whether your interest is in a motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer.
171
Winnebago Industries
605 W. Crystal Lake Road
PO Box 152
Forest City, IA 50436
Phone: 641-585-3535
www.winnebagoind.com
Winnebago Industries is one of the oldest and
most well-known names in the recreational
vehicle industry. The company, headquartered in
Forest City, Iowa manufactures motorhomes and
self-contained RVs for leisure and outdoor
recreational use. The company was started in
1958 when John K. Hanson and other local
businessmen convinced a California company to
open a travel trailer factory in the then
economically depressed rural area of Forest City.
Soon after the factory was purchased by five
Forest City residents and John Hanson became its president. The name Winnebago
Industries came into use in 1960.
At that time, the company was primarily manufacturing travel trailers and furniture and
accessories for these trailers. By constantly updating, Winnebago developed innovative
products such as a wall construction process called Thermo-Panel® that provides a strong,
lightweight, insulated sidewall. This is still a Winnebago Industries exclusive.
In 1966, Winnebago Industries built its first motorhome. It was a 19-foot model that had
everything a family needed for cross-country adventure. Yet Winnebago did not stop there.
The company’s growth continued through the 1970s and 1980s. In 1986 it was the first RV
manufacturer to celebrate 20 years of production and to reach the “200,000 motorhomes
produced” mark. Today Winnebago Industries operates the largest RV production facility in
the world, manufacturing (exclusively) motorhomes, and makes the majority of its parts
and accessories itself, increasing their availability. As stated on their website, “Dies and
molds are kept on hand. So, if you need a holding tank 10 years from now, you can get
one. The tank was made by us, not by someone else who has long since gone out of
business or shifted production.”
Public Relations and Marketing Specialist Kelli Harms, tells us, Winnebago is popular right
now, a best seller and this is why. “Our fuel efficient Class A Winnebago Via/Itasca Reyo,
Class C Winnebago View and View Profile/Itasca Navion/Navion iQ and Class B Era and
Itasca Reyo are popular because of their innovative design, fuel economy and MercedesBenz Sprinter chassis. The interior is European-inspired and full of remarkable features.
The exterior features eye-catching graphics, with full-body paint also available in some
models.
Our diesel offerings – the Winnebago Tour/Itasca Ellipse 42QD is the hottest diesel floorplan
in the industry! Built on the 450-hp Maxum® chassis, this spectacular three-slideout
floorplan takes zoned living to a whole new level. Up front, our exclusive extendable
sectional sofa anchors the lounge area and provides perfect seating for the home theater,
conversation with friends or contemplation by the optional fireplace. Mid-coach, the
spacious, fully equipped galley makes creating memorable meals a joy, while just past the
172
half bath you’ll find the master suite, luxuriously appointed with king bed, large wardrobes,
retractable 32-inch LCD TV and its own private master bath.”
Winnebago Industries products sell strongest in the warm weather regions of the United
States, the southwest and the southeast. Thor Industries, Forest River, Coachmen, Tiffin,
Fleetwood Enterprises, Jayco and Monaco Coach are its closest competitors. According to
Public Relations/Marketing Specialist Kelli Harms, “Winnebago Industries manufacturers
Class A, B and C motor homes under the Winnebago, Itasca and ERA brand names. Not
only are our products top-notch and quality built, we also have the most recognized name in
the industry – all of these things set us apart from our competitors,” she says. “Winnebago
Industries is also the only manufacturer to receive the Recreation Vehicle Dealers
Association’s (RVDA) Quality Circle Award every year since its inception.”
Model Year 2012: Kelli Harms, Public relations and Marketing Specialist for Winnebago,
tells us, “For the 2012 model year, Winnebago Industries offers 73 floorplans across three
brands of Class A, B and C motor homes: Winnebago®, Itasca® and Era®. Of the 73
floorplans, 40 percent are new to the lineup.”
Notable new floorplans include:
•
Top-of-the-line Class A Winnebago Tour/Itasca Ellipse 42JD that features three
slideout rooms, a luxurious master bath (with a half-bath mid-coach), king bed,
extendible dining table and chairs and Corian® countertops. The Tour and Ellipse
feature the impressive Maxum® Freightliner chassis.
The Itasca Ellipse offers two additional floorplans in its 2012 lineup:
•
The industry’s hottest selling diesel floorplan in 2011, the triple slide 42QD features
Winnebago Industries’ own extendible sectional sofa with a 40-inch LCD just
opposite. This bath-and-a-half floorplan features a spacious bedroom, with a king
bed, well-appointed kitchen with pull-out island and plenty of interior and exterior
storage.
•
The 42AD features four slideouts, especially in the mid-coach lounge area with an
extendible sectional sofa and Rest Easy Multi-Position Lounge both featured. The
fully equipped kitchen is in the front of the coach, with a bedroom in the rear that
features both a wardrobe and chest of drawers.
Popular Class A Winnebago Journey/Itasca Meridian 36M and 42E – with the 36M
offering spaciousness you would not think possible in a 36-foot coach thanks to a full-wall
slideout, a large galley and an available extendible sectional dinette that expands to seat
guests. The 42E also features a full-wall slideout, bath-and-a-half design, Rest Easy
Extendible Sectional Sofa and optional fireplace.
Class A Winnebago Sightseer/Itasca Sunova 30A feature the new and innovative
extendable U-shaped dinette – a hybrid couch/dinette that offers convenience, comfort and
style with seating for six and a 42-inch LCD TV that slides out for optimal viewing even
when the slideout is not extended.
Class A Winnebago Vista/Itasca Sunstar 30T features an available extendable table
with a graceful buffet and a 42-inch LCD TV in its triple slideout configuration.
173
Class C Winnebago Aspect/Itasca Cambria 28T features a functional U-shaped dinette,
in-line galley and walk around queen bed.
Class C Winnebago View/Itasca Navion 24M is incredibly spacious with a full-wall slide
and rear bathroom. The View/Navion is built on the fuel efficient Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
chassis.
Class C Winnebago Access/Itasca Impulse 31R features a spacious bedroom with a
wardrobe slideout, dual access to the bathroom and BenchMark Full Comfort Dinette.
The Era 70X is a nimble, fuel-efficient, easy-to-drive Class B motor home built on the
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 chassis. Quad seating is found up front, with a removable
storage/wardrobe cabinet optional.
Base MSRP on the 2012 lineup ranges from $68,741 to $355,971.
Winnebago also announced, “Forest City,
Iowa-based
Winnebago
Industries
Inc.
announced the launch of the company’s first
Winnebago brand travel trailer since 1983.
We feel that branding the first travel trailer
line as Winnebago ONE is quite fitting for
many reasons”, states Fred Hershberger,
national Sales Manager for Winnebago
Industries Towables. “As the name implies,
Winnebago ONE represents the first in a series of products that will be launched under the
Winnebago brand name. ONE also represents the fact that the affordable, light weight, allaluminum framed travel trailer line is full of features that are industry firsts for a towable
product.” Features on the Winnebago ONE include standard laminated high-gloss gel coated
fiberglass exteriors, a residential-style sectional sofa, a hide-away computer table, interior
and exterior convenience centers, industry-best kitchen countertop space, private
bathrooms, radius interior ceilings and memory foam mattresses. Initially, Winnebago ONE
is available in four floorplans ranging from 26- to 34-feet in length.
Winnebago continues manufacturing their
popular Winnebago Via, a Class A diesel
motorhome. Built on a Mercedes-Benz F50
chassis, 188-hp Mercedes-Benz 3.0L 6 cylinder
turbo-diesel engine, the 2012 Via has three
flooprplans to choose from. While models have
specifics different from each other, such as the
Sofa Loft or conversions into twin beds, the
main features for the Via include; Full stereo
radio/CD/DVD systems, 26”-32” LCD TV, dual
pane windows with built in screens and shades,
and
ultra-leather
furnishings.
For
2012
Winnebago introduces new productions, like their new retractable screen door and LED
lighting. THE LED lighting does not get as hot as standard lighting and can cut your energy
use up to 70%, saving battery life for time such as dry camping. The exterior length is 25’5”
and comes with a base MSRP ranging from $121,900 - $123,400.
174
Model Years 2010-2011: Leading the way for 2010 is the introduction of the all-new
Winnebago Via and Itasca Reyo, the first and only Class A diesel motor homes built on the
Dodge®/Mercedes-Benz®Sprinter Chassis that features a 3.0L, 154 hp Mercedes-Benz
diesel engine. According to Winnebago, “More fuel efficiency. More features. More fun.” The
Winnebago Via and Itasca Reyo also lead the way as the only Class A motor homes to
achieve up to 15+ mpg. These motorhomes are rated high for superior handling and
maneuverability and are quickly becoming popular because of their innovative design, the
fuel economy and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. Other features for the Via and Reyo
include: A new drop down Studio Loft that is integrated into the ceiling of the cab area and
has a low point of entry for easy access. Twin beds that easily turn into a larger bed.
European-inspired interior with lightweight curved cabinetry, and innovative galley
backsplash. Cab seats that swivel and rise to become an integral part of the living area and
90 cubic feet of exterior storage. The Via and Reyo are perfect coaches for down-sizers, first
time buyers or weekend travelers.
Kelli Harms also tells us, “The 2011 Winnebago Tour and Itasca Ellipse are our
Company’s top-of-the-line motor homes, and we are proud to introduce another Winnebago
industry exclusive in these luxurious coaches - the Rest Easy Sectional Sofa.” The sectional
easily expands to create additional seating space that’s perfect for entertaining. Plus, with
Rest Easy the couch converts into a comfortable recliner or cozy lounger with pull-out
ottoman with the flick of an electric switch. Press the switch again, and the lounger turns
into a bed. With features such as Ultra-leather seating, hardwood cabinets with a new
Coffee Glazed finish, central vacuum system and a fully equipped galley. The new 2011 Tour
42QD is joined by another tag axle model, the 42AD, and two floorplans with full-wall
slideouts that are spacious beyond comparison. Full-timers or those looking to live the “high
life” are the projected buyers of the 2010-2011 Tour and Ellipse. Winnebago has eleven
products all new for 2011, including Class A and C Gas and Diesel motorhomes. Check their
website for details on each model. For more on Winnebago’s Itasca products see our review
on the Itasca page.
Model Years 2009-2010: Winnebago is offering front-engine diesel chassis from
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. and Workhorse Custom Chassis LLC as options on all of
its 2010 gas-powered motorhomes. “We really haven’t done much with front-engine diesel
until this year,” said President Bob Olson. “Coming off a year when fuel prices were so
volatile, we can give potential customers an option.” The Ford F-53 chassis will continue to
be standard on most of Winnebago’s gas Class A lineup.
Taking an aggressive stance toward research and development, Winnebago introduced its
first-ever tag axle on a 2010 42-foot floorplan — plus a bath-and-a-half floorplan — in the
Winnebago Tour/Itasca Ellipse diesel pusher. Built on the company’s 44,320 lb. GVWR
Freightliner Maxum chassis, the base MSRP ranges from $311,630 - 317,278. The company
also debuted two 34 and 39 foot floorplans for their all-new “value-priced” Winnebago
Journey Express/Itasca Meridian V Class A diesel pusher motorhome. Built on a 27,910pound GVWR Freightliner XCS straight-rail chassis and equipped with a Cummins ISB 340hp diesel engine, the base MSRP ranges from $205,419 to $210,837/
For 2009 their most popular Class A motorhome was the Adventurer with a based MSRP of
$124,828. The Adventurer was totally redesigned in 2009 to include four floor plans ranging
from 32- to 38-feet. Featuring an abundance amazing features like Rest Easy theater
seating - which includes a center storage compartment, flip out cup holders, seat backs that
recline separately at the touch of a button, it even converts to dual twin beds! The always
popular Winnebago Outlook, which starts at $82,025, has some new features for 2009 as
well. The Winnebago View 24P which features a front sofa slide and bunk beds in the rear,
175
with two optional DVD players with 8.5-inch LCD players available for added bunk fun. Built
on a Dodge Sprinter chassis, the fuel efficient View also boasts a powerful Mercedes Benz
diesel engine. The 2009 Winnebago Journey unveils the new 34Y floor plan that offers big
coach livability in a smaller size; with a full wall slide on the driver’s side, a sofa/Euro chair
with ottoman and king bed slideout on the passenger side of the coach.
Comments: Winnebago has long been a respected name in the industry. After interviewing
a number of Winnebago owners and following Winnebago reviews, it became clear there are
many happy owners, and yet just as many dissatisfied ones. Nonetheless, RV ratings for
Winnegbago have improved slightly from last year. With ratings of 1-5, 5 being the highest,
Winnebago owners rate the company on an average of 4 for everything from performance
(mechanical, interior, exterior, etc.) and comfort, to safety and overall quality.
Reliability dropped however, rating only 3 out of 5 points by owners. These reviews were
not directed to a specific product/model of Winnebago, so we at J R Consumer Resources
suggest you do your homework when considering a Winnebago purchase. There are many
good Winnebago products out there and Winnebago has been in business for many years
with a loyal following. Winnebago has one of the very best websites of the industry. Not
only does it have the usual overviews, photos galleries, and floorplans, it has quick and easy
links to Winnebago specifics, comparison charts, and key features. Extremely detailed and
yet easy to navigate, each product and model also features pricing something not all the
manufactures provide on their websites.
176
Chapter 12
Important Buying Tips
Buying Tip #1 (High Pressure): Don’t rush into making a decision even if you’re being
presented with an unbelievable offer- or at least what you think is an unbelievable offer. My
research has revealed that many RV buyers spend six months on average researching their
options before they purchase. I have also found that those who do their research before
buying an RV make informed decisions and are more likely to be satisfied with their
purchase.
A quality RV dealer will always make the buying process enjoyable without using highpressure sales tactics. If your salesperson resorts to high pressure tactics to get you sign,
beware. This usually means something is wrong and it’s time to step back and re-examine
the situation. High pressure sale tactics are usually implemented when the product
being sold is of low quality, coupled with the fact customer service is probably
marginal at best.
Buying Tip #2 (Renting): For those of you that are having a difficult time deciding on a
particular type of RV maybe you should consider renting. Renting an RV has become a big
business and thousands are taking advantage of this option each year. The RV rental
business is a $350 million industry and growing every year, according to figures compiled by
the U.S. Census of Retail Trade and the RV Rental Association (RVRA). There are more than
450 RV rental outlets located across the country.
My wife and I along with another couple rented a Class C motor home a number of years
ago. We decided to take two weeks and visit Lake Powell and some national parks along the
way. At the time we were into water sports and decided to tow our 19 foot boat behind the
RV. We had no problems with the motor home and we were able to travel at our own pace
and enjoy the countryside and stop at interesting places along the way. At the time we were
investigating the possibility of owning an RV, trying to decide between a travel trailer and a
Class C motor home. We had a great time and many wonderful memories. If you have
doubts or you’re not sure if a particular RV is right for you then consider renting.
Buying Tip #3 (Motor Home Chassis): When looking at a particular RV, ask the
salesperson if the chassis is a custom chassis, semi-custom or stock chassis. This will give
you some insight into the overall quality of unit. Another question to ask your salesperson,
“Is the chassis a raise rail chassis?” A raised rail chassis increases the overall height,
allowing for more room in the basement areas of the coach. More storage space is always a
good thing. Another buying tip is to ask about the turning radius of the unit. A turning
radius of 50 feet is considered excellent.
Buying Tip #4 (Underbelly): Many RV manufacturers offer an enclosed underbelly, which
protects tanks and floor from the hazards of the road. The best choice for underbelly
material in my opinion is galvanized steel underbelly. Galvanized steel won’t tear or rust
and will prevent most anything from penetrating your tanks or floor system. The next step
down is ABS, (a type of plastic), which is widely used in the industry. This is a good product
and will provide years of protection. The worst material being offered is a fabric type
177
material which is useless in my opinion. If you see this type of material being offered you
know you’re looking at a poorly built unit.
Buying Tip #5 (Aluminum Framing): If you decide on
aluminum framing be sure to ask your salesperson if
all 6-sides are aluminum. Many companies will say
their unit has aluminum construction but that may
mean only the two side walls. The construction of the
front and back walls for example could be wood. Or, it
could be all four walls are aluminum and the roof and
floor is constructed with wood. So, be sure to ask the
question and be specific. The picture above shows 6sided aluminum construction.
Additional RV online resources
How to select the right RV: Choosing the right RV the first time will save you thousands
of dollars. Many RV buyers select the wrong type of RV. Don’t let this happen to you. Read
the articles below to help you determine the right RV for you and your family:
Choose the right RV
http://www.myrvguide.com/current_category.1853/News.71/news_detail.html
RV lifestyle
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/36746/the_rv_lifestyle_traeling_with_and.html
Seven Commandments for Buying the Right RV
http://rvforsaleguide.com/rv-for-sale.htm
178
10 tips for selling your used RV
Below are some helpful selling tips that could bring you TOP DOLLAR for your RV:
1. Clean it up! Most buyers will quickly assume the worst if your RV is not clean. The
unit should be empty and clean and everything should appear to be in good working
order.
2. Have current registration and inspection. Nobody likes to go all over town to get that
done after they just dropped a bunch of money on your rig.
3. Get a private inspection to show your good faith. Make necessary repairs, and have
the report ready for the buyer. Big ticket items are negotiable, but most everyone
can handle a few scratches in the front bumper when the rest of it proves out.
4. Have books, manuals and receipts ready for the buyer to look through and suggest
that they do so.
5. Talk with some banks and lending sources. Have a good idea what type of financing
options the buyer will have based on the age and value of your rig. For example,
motorhomes over a certain age will not get lowest rate of financing and terms differ.
This is especially helpful on rigs that are more than five years old.
6. Know what your bottom dollar is. If the buyer has to wait for your decision, he's
probably "cooled" off some.
7. Talk about how much fun you had in it, but KNOW WHEN TO STOP.
8. If you have the opportunity, have everything running and ready for showing when
the prospect gets there.
9. Change all fluids and filters.
10. Accessorize a little and make it look up-to-date.
Sell your RV online
Many find the local newspaper a fine source to sell their RV. For those of you interested in
advertising on the Internet here are a few places to start. (The advertisement costs vary
from FREE to VERY expensive):
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
www.rvsearch.com/
www.rvtrader.com
www.rvtraderonline.com
www.rvclassified.com/
www.rvonline.com/
www.monkeyads.com
www.sellrv.com
www.motors.ebay.com
www.greatvehicles.com/rvs/
179
Popular RV magazines
•
•
•
www.motorhomemagazine.com/
www.trailerlife.com/
www.rvtradedigest.com/
Industry related RV websites
•
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA)
http://www.rvia.org
•
Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA)
http://www.rvda.org
•
Recreational Vehicle Rental Association (RVRA)
www.rvra.org
•
National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC)
www.arvc.org
•
RVersOnline
www.rversonline.org/RV6.html
•
Website to all RV clubs
http://camping.about.com/od/rvownersclubs/
180
Chapter 13
Conclusion
The RV industry is slowly recovering and many predict 2012 to be good year compared to
the last three years. Larger companies like Thor Industries and Forest River have been on a
buying spree, gobbling up smaller RV companies. We predict some RV manufacturers will
have financial problems in 2012 but it is becoming apparent that most of the damage has
been done and those still standing will be around for many years. While it has been difficult
to see many companies close their doors in the end it will prove to be a healthy
improvement with less competition and improved quality control. More affordable RVs are
becoming a trend within the industry as manufacturers try to figure out ways to reduce their
overhead and bring down the price of their units to make them more attractive to RV
buyers. Many factories are including more standard features, better designs and using light
weight composite materials to reduce the overall weight of their units.
Going “Green” is another popular trend within the RV industry. Being environmentally
conscious and living in an environmentally responsible way is of interest to more people
than ever. The RV industry is not one that you would normally think of as being “green”, but
TRA-Certification, Inc. is working to change that mindset. TRA-Certification, Inc. is an
independent, internationally accredited, third-party green certifier that has been in the
housing manufacturing industry since 1967, and is a leader in the field of systems-built
engineering, certification and inspection services. They are a company that lets home and
RV buyers know whether their purchase is truly green and not just “green washing”, or
advertising as green without actually living up to green standards.
TRA has provided Green Certification to an number of manufacturers of recreational vehicles
in categories such as resource efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor
environmental quality, and operations and maintenance. Their green certifications are
awarded in four levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Emerald.
EverGreen Recreational Vehicles was the first manufacturer to receive TRA’s highest
Emerald certification rating for its eco-friendly Ever-Lite Travel Trailers and fifth wheels. The
certification was based on the eco-friendly, all composite, wood free outside wall
construction with which EverGreen trailers are built, and the fact that all these materials are
completely recyclable. Additional RV manufacturers that received TRA’s Gold certification
rating are Jayco for its Jay Flight model, Starcraft for Autumn Ridge, and Forest River for
its Surveyer and R-Pod models.
Our goal at J R Consumer Resources is to continue to provide updated ratings for our
comparison guide. If you would like to contact me or my staff about a particular RV
company in this guide please email us at [email protected], or if you have a question
or suggestion we would like to hear from you. I hope this guide has assisted you in your
search for the right RV manufacturer and I want to wish you all the best in your search, God
bless.
Senior Editor and President
Randall Eaton
181
Chapter 14
Bonus Offers - Supplemental Resources
How to Purchase a RV and Save Thousands
This chapter contains two important RV resource publications written by Randall Eaton and
published by J R Consumer Resources. These bonus offers have proven to be vital to our
customers over the years. Each one offers priceless information and advice that will be
certain to save you time and money throughout the RV buying process. While each guide is
available for individual purchase, we have decided to include them in the RV Comparison
Guide in order to optimize your buying potential.
Published and distributed by J R Consumer Resources Inc.
3660 Nicklaus Drive, Clarkston, WA 99403
Phone: (509) 243-5306 Fax: (866) 401-1084
Website: www.jrconsumer.com
Email: [email protected]
Copyright © 2007 - 2012 by J R Consumer Resources Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without
written permission from J R Consumer Resources Inc. Although every precaution has been
taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for
errors and omissions. The author and publisher disclaim any liability, loss or risk, personal
or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and
application of any of the contents of this book.
182
What is a Fair Profit Margin?
Everybody wants to get the best deal possible right? Most RV buyers think they really got a
good deal when negotiating with their RV dealer and then brag to their friends how much
they saved. The problem is most statistics show that 80% of RV buyers pay too much and
only 20% successfully negotiate a great deal.
This means that 8 out of 10 RV buyers are paying more than they should for their RV. On
average the MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) has a 30% to 33% profit margin
built it. In addition to the MSRP most dealers will add other fees called, “Dealer Prep”. RV
dealers in general will have a 33% to 40% profit margin built into the asking price (MSRP +
dealer prep). Now to be totally honest nobody is going to pay the sticker price and some
type of discount will be negotiated between the RV dealer and buyer.
So what is considered a fair discount? And what is a FPM (fair profit margin) for an RV
dealer? These are good questions and to help show you this I have created a chart showing
the discounts one can expect to receive based on the overall retail price of a particular RV
unit. This chart applies to both new and used RV units and is intended to assist you during
the negotiating process. There are many variables to consider when negotiating a price and
this chart may not be applicable in every situation but should be close enough to give you a
good idea based on my experience and research.
Chart Showing Discounts Based On Retail Pricing
183
10 Biggest Buying Mistakes
Before I go into detail about how to negotiate your best deal, I first want to list TEN
MISTAKES to avoid when shopping for an RV.
1. Buying before doing proper research.
2. Buying the wrong RV for your needs.
3. Paying too much. Remember 80% typically pay too much.
4. Buying at an RV show because you believe the prices are at their lowest. Wrong!
5. Buying an RV without ever having traveled in one.
6. Buying before doing a "mock live in."
7. Buying a used RV with hidden damage.
8. Buying an RV from a supermarket parking lot or campground.
9. Buying an RV with no money down and stretching the payments out too long.
10. Buying an RV without securing a WRITTEN RV APPRAISAL first.
Probably the biggest mistake most people make is they get the bug to buy an RV because
their neighbor or someone from work just bought one. You visit a couple of RV dealers and
settle on a particular floor plan and before you know it - you’re the proud owner of an RV.
The problem is you really don’t know if this RV unit will accommodate your lifestyle and
meet your needs. You did not do proper research and now you’re stuck with an RV that you
probably owe more for than what it’s worth.
We all have purchased something on a whim or rushed into something without giving it
much thought. To illustrate this point I use to work for a spa and pool company a long, long
time ago. I sold many hot tubs to folks that walked into our store and fell in love with a
particular hot tub.
We sold chemicals at our store and most of my customers would come in to purchase
chemicals and I would ask them how things were going. If I had to guess I would say about
80% of my customers stopped using their hot tubs within a few months of their purchase.
But they still had to buy chemicals and maintain their hot tubs. Bottom line is this - don’t
rush into buying an RV, give it some serious thought and do your research.
184
8 Steps to Follow When Shopping for an RV
Here is a simple list that anyone can follow to help them decide which RV type and floor
plan is right for them.
1. Once you have narrowed down your choices for RV manufacturers visit up to three
different dealers that offer their products.
2. After selecting a particular model be sure to check out our
Individual RV Rating Reports. Each report focuses on things
like; quality, reliability, drivability, handling and customer
satisfaction. Each report also lists the wholesale and fair market
values for the model you’re interested in. To learn more please
visit www.jrconsumer.com/Individual-RV-RatingsReport.asp
3. If you have never traveled in an RV you may want to consider
renting an RV first. I recommend this to my friends and those
considering an RV for the first time.
4. EBay Motors is an excellent web site for you to consider, especially if you’re looking
to purchase a pre-owned unit. Be sure to do your homework and check out the seller
thoroughly before you buy.
5. Craigslist.org is another place to look for pre-owned recreational vehicles.
6. Visit some RV forums where you can ask questions about a particular model and
learn what others have to say.
7. Subscribe to an RV magazine or two.
8. Attend RV shows in your area. Most are held in the spring and fall.
185
How to Determine my RV Dealers Invoice?
So now you’re ready to buy your dream RV. As I’ve mentioned before, RVs can have a
mark-up of up to 40% so forget the sticker price. RV dealers typically don’t sell in volume
like the car industry. This means RV dealers need to make a little more on each transaction
and most RV dealers will accept an 8% to 15% profit margin.
I know there are some RV books that say you can buy an RV at 6% over invoice and yes, I
am sure some can manage this feat, but if RV dealers sold their products for only 6% over
invoice on a regular basis they all would be out of business in no time. So, this notion that
anyone can buy an RV for only a few thousand dollars over invoice is just not true or
unrealistic at best.
As I mentioned in this report the MSRP's contain roughly a 30% to 33% markup for the RV
dealer. Now, most dealers will add dealer prep or other additional fees to the MSRP to
increase the profit margin to around 33% to 40%. 40% being on the high side and most
dealers don’t price products with this much profit margin but some do.
Referring to the chart at the beginning of this chapter let's say you feel comfortable with a
20% discount on a fifth wheel with an MSRP price of $72,000. You have done your research
and based on this information a 20% discount is reasonable. Assuming you’re working from
the MSRP, multiply it by 20%, which is $14,400 and now subtract this number from the
MSRP and you end up with $57,600. This is your goal and your offer could be this or a little
less, that is up to you.
To determine the dealers invoice, take MSRP of $72,000 and multiply by 33%, which is
$23,760 and subtract this number from MSRP and the dealers invoice is $48,240. Assuming
the dealer accepts your offer of $57,600 the dealers profit margin is around $9,360. In
this scenario you held the RV dealer to only a 13% profit margin, not bad!
Now let us assume you’re purchasing a diesel motorhome with an MSRP of $350,000.
According to my chart on page at the beginning of this chapter the discount range should be
around 20% to 32%. In this example let’s say you’re satisfied with a 25% discount based
on your research for this particular RV unit. You take the MSRP of $350,000 multiplied by
25% which is $87,500, subtract this number from the MSRP and your offer should be
$262,500.
To figure the dealers invoice take the MSRP of $350,000 multiply it by 33% and you have
$115,500. Subtract this number from MSRP and the dealers invoice is going to be around
$234,500. Assuming the dealer accepts your offer of $262,500 the dealers profit is around
$28,000. Here again this is a great deal all around and in this scenario you held the RV
dealer to only 8% profit margin.
In the scenario above the dealer is profiting $28,000 on a motorhome sale but after the
dealer pays a sales commission and other business related expenses the net profit is much
less. A typical mid-sized RV dealer will have a monthly overhead of $50,000 to $150,000…
or more per MONTH! Believe me, it’s not an easy game. A dealer has to lay out millions of
dollars to allow you to browse a decent selection of RVs in their inventory. So please… don’t
think of the RV dealer as the bad guy.
186
15-Year Wholesale & Retail Chart
Below are two charts showing MSRP amounts for a Dutchmen, Voltage fifth wheel and a
Fleetwood, Discovery motorhome. The examples below are to give you an idea of wholesale
and fair retail values over the course of 15-years. Please use these charts as a guide when
determining RV values.
187
Tips for Securing the Best RV Loan
It may be said that there is no greater mystery when buying an RV from a dealership than
financing. Some of the most important questions you should be asking as you prepare to
finance an RV are:
•
How much can I finance?
•
How long should my term be?
•
Am I getting the best rate?
•
Should I get pre-approved before I visit an RV dealer?
As a general rule, you should be able to finance up to 90% of the purchase price (including
any extras that you are adding at the time of purchase) of an RV. If you are looking to
refinance your existing RV loan, your current RV loan balance plus 80% of the cost of any
upgrades should not exceed 80% of the current market value of your RV.
When it comes to terms, most RV loans over $100,000 can be financed for as long as 20
years while RV loans between $25,000 and $99,999 typically have a maximum term of 15
years. The general opinion is that a shorter term has the best advantages. A shorter-term
RV loan will allow you to build up equity in your RV more quickly which will translate into
more money into your pocket when it's time to sell. However, individual issues such as the
amount of down payment and ability to make monthly payments should be considered.
Part of the confusion that, no doubt, comes into play when financing an RV is the lending
rate. The rate that you obtain for an RV loan is based on a number of factors; the term of
your RV loan, your credit quality, credit score, credit history, repayment history, down
payment and loan-to-value. The basic rule is: The higher the risk, the higher the rate; the
lower the risk, the lower the rate. The best way to improve your rate is with a larger down
payment, shorter terms and a strong credit history. Whether you intend to buy a new or
used RV, having your financing pre-approved first gives you a number of advantages:
•
If you are purchasing a new RV, a pre-approval will give you flexibility akin to
shopping with cash.
•
You have the ability to negotiate and get the best price at any dealership you might
choose.
•
Also, your interest rate will be locked in and won’t be affected by dealer markup.
•
If you are purchasing a used RV, whether from a dealer or a private individual, preapproval gives you a negotiating advantage.
•
It lets the seller know that you are a serious buyer because your financing is already
in place. This way your offer can be made without any concern that your financing
may fall through so you have the ability to close quickly.
•
Pre-approval also helps you determine your credit and loan limits, allows you to
address and resolve any credit issues before they become an issue, and helps
188
eliminate any financing anxiety that might arise once you have entered into a
purchase.
•
A final question that might be weighing on your mind is how the financial institutions
that provide RV financing have weathered the current economic status in the
country. Those that have not taken on too many high risk loans will certainly be able
to provide a better financing package in a downturn economy than the ones that
have.
10 Important Tips to Secure the Best RV Insurance
There are a number of important factors that will determine what you pay for RV insurance.
Most RV buyers are in the dark when it comes to making decisions about how to choose the
right RV insurance company.
1. Where will you store your RV? - If you store your RV in the gulf coast states during
hurricane season, there is a good chance for wind and flood damage. Now compare
this to storing your RV in Oregon or Wyoming. Where you store your RV will affect
your overall insurance rate. This is an important question to ask your RV insurance
agent, one which could save you hundreds of dollars annually.
2. How will you use your RV? - Be honest with your RV insurance agent when you're
signing up for your policy. Don’t lie to save some money which could cost you
thousands if your claims adjuster learns you’re a full timer when on your policy it
says recreation use only. If you plan to live in your RV full-time, you need an
insurance policy that works like a home-owners policy that follows you everywhere
you go. If you're a weekend warrior, you can get different coverage that won't cost
you as much.
3. Do you belong to an RV association or club? - Be sure to mention any memberships
or clubs you belong to when talking with your RV insurance agent. In addition to a
number of perks such as reduced rates at RV parks, your membership could earn
you a discount on your insurance rates.
4. Do I get a discount if I have multiple policies with a company? - Mention your current
insurance companies when talking with your insurance agent, as you may be eligible
for a multiple-policy discount.
5. Previous RV ownership - Do you have any previous RV driving experience? Your
insurance agent will likely ask you about your past RV driving history. If you don’t
have any be sure to let your agent know how long you have been driving as you may
be eligible for discounts.
6. Age - Check with your agent to see if there are any discounts you've earned through
the sheer virtue of the duration of your life's experience. There are some perks that
come with growing older - one of them is lower insurance rates.
7. Insurance claims history - Your insurance history is likely to be a strong factor in
your final insurance rate. Be sure to minimize the number of claims you're making insurance companies pay an independent agency that tracks an individual's claims
189
and protects them much the way credit ratings protect credit companies. If your
history shows problems in this area you will pay more for your policy.
8. Owning a home helps - If you’re a home owner it will probably lower your RV
insurance costs. Most policies provide some type of discount for home owners. If
you're curious about your savings on this, just ask your agent while you're on the
phone.
9. Marital status - Insurance companies believe your marital status affects how safely
you drive, and the likelihood that you'll make a claim. Married couples do enjoy lower
insurance rates. Either way, your status does affect your insurance rates. So, if
you’re not married get married, (just kidding).
10. What is your credit score? - If your credit score is above 650 you're likely to see a
small decrease in your insurance rates. If you're curious about the size of the
decrease, be sure to check with your insurance agent. RV insurance companies
believe that the manner in which you treat your credit could be a strong indicator of
how you're going to treat your RV.
Best Regards,
Randall Eaton
190
J R Consumer Resources Inc.
3660 Nicklaus Drive
Clarkston, WA 99403
Phone: (509) 243-5306
Fax: (866) 401-1084
Website: www.jrconsumer.com/
Copyright © 2009-2012 by J R Consumer Resources Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from J R Consumer
Resources Inc. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this guide,
the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors and omissions. The author and
publisher disclaim any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a
consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this
guide.
191
The Truth about Extended RV Warranties
For some, an RV is a major investment; costing
as much as a home or even more! Extended RV
Service Contracts - or "Warranties" as they are
commonly referred to - can be an excellent way
to protect your investment.
If you buy an RV extended warranty on your
motorhome, travel trailer or fifth wheel, chances
are you'll be glad you did. Your extended
warranty will pay for repairs on your
recreational vehicle after the manufacturer's
coverage has expired. Most RV manufacturers
have a 3-year, 36,000 mile coverage on the chassis or frame and 1-year coverage on the
RV coach components. When your factory warranty expires, you're financially responsible
for all repairs.
From the day you buy your new motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer, things like
electrical systems, transmissions or appliances can break - it is a fact of life. And sometimes
those necessary repairs can be expensive, very expensive. Even if you purchase a new RV
from a reputable dealer the factory warranty will only cover certain parts and labor. Yes it’s
true a factory warranty does provide some peace of mind but as with all factory warranties
they only cover so much.
The main advantage to any extended warranty is that
you can, in effect, place a cap on repair costs within a
certain time frame. So if the warranty costs you $2,500
for a period of 3 years, you should not have more than
$2,500 in major repair bills during that time if all goes
well. If you choose not to purchase an extended
warranty, you are pretty much on your own. If you have
plenty of money saved up for just such emergencies,
then you may be just fine, but if you have to budget your
monthly expenses, an extended warranty service
contract may be a viable consideration.
There are, however, many things you should know about RV extended
warranties in general. You should also be aware of the various
companies that provide and administer them. Deductibles normally
range from zero to $500.00 per occurrence. However, that's a far cry
from the typical $1,000 to $2,500 replacement cost for an air
conditioner. Engine and transmission repairs can be very expensive too
and even a simple water heater or furnace replacement can exceed
$1,500.00. Be sure that you know exactly what is covered under the
warranty and for how long. It is a very good practice to read these
contracts through completely and become thoroughly familiar with them to avoid surprises
later on.
192
Points to Consider
You need to be aware of how claims are paid out. Many warranty companies require you to
pay the repair bill first and then send in a copy of the repair order to the warranty company.
Some companies will pay for the repairs directly, but only if the repair facility will agree to
file the claim.
In today’s economy more and more RV dealerships and service departments are unwilling to
wait for the payment to arrive from your warranty company. They would rather you pay for
the repairs upfront and request that you file your claim directly with your coverage provider.
In either case be sure you understand the terms of your policy before you make any
payments up-front.
Many RV warranties have additional benefits such as towing reimbursement, rental car
allowances, towing and road service, and lost key and lock-out service. Some plans will
even pay for your meals and lodging while your RV is being repaired.
Your warranty coverage should be transferable if you
sell your RV. It should have a pro-rated refund policy if
you decide to terminate the coverage at any time during
the warranty period. It should also be renewable. This
means that you can keep your RV covered for an
indefinite amount of time.
You should also check the fine print regarding which
repair facilities are acceptable or authorized to perform
any service or repairs. Some policies do have
restrictions which must be followed if you expect to be reimbursed.
Additional Options and Surcharges
Most extended warranty coverage is good anywhere in the United States or Canada. Most
policies will not cover you in Mexico, so keep that in mind if you decide to take a vacation
south of the border. Below is a list of common options you may want to add to your
extended warranty policy:
Slide-Out Rooms: If your RV is equipped with slide-outs, be sure to add this option to your
policy. Even though slide-out rooms have become more and more reliable, they still require
adjustment, or repair from time to time. These adjustments and repairs can be costly. Some
companies charge by the number of slide outs, so be sure that your warranty covers all of
the slides.
Full Replacement Cost Coverage: Ensure you are always protected if your RV is totaled or
stolen. There is a time frame on this provision, usually within five years. This option will pay
the original purchase price – not a depreciated amount.
Emergency Expense Allowance: If you need money to cover motel or transportation costs
when your rig in disabled. For those that plan long trips this is a good option to have. Make
sure your policy has this option or you will be sorry.
193
Roadside Assistance: This service typically will cover flat tire problems, towing, jump start,
lock-out service and delivery of gas or other fluids. Cost of gas, other fluids, or key
replacement not included. There may be a charge per occurrence so check your policy.
Ask for References
Ask fellow RV owners for recommendations regarding extended service contracts, and be
careful to listen for how each was treated when a claim arose. If there are several
complaints about a particular company, it is wise to avoid them altogether. How long has a
certain RV extended warranty company been in business? If they are new to the industry
you may want to let them establish a reputation at someone else's expense, not yours.
Shopping for the Best Deal
When considering an extended RV warranty, the key is to find the best coverage possible for
the least amount. I know, this is an obvious statement but did you know that RV buyers pay
on average 60% more for an extended warranty when purchased from an RV dealer? 60% that is a lot of money down the drain, which could have been used for a well deserved
vacation, fuel costs or additional RV options.
BUYING TIP: Most RV buyers are so focused on getting the best
deal possible they tend to forget about extended warranties,
financing options and other costs associated with purchasing an
RV. What most RV buyers don’t know is that while they may have
been successful in negotiating an AMAZING DEAL, their RV dealer
and salesperson are getting ready for round two.
In this round your dealer is preparing a clever maneuver in which
they will be offering you some options regarding extended
warranties, financing and other miscellaneous dealer add-ons. If
you’re not prepared, you will end up paying thousands of dollars in
dealer profits. What you may have saved during the negotiation
phase will all be for naught when the dealer successfully sells you
an over-priced warranty policy you could have gotten for 50% to 60% less somewhere else.
Many RV dealers commonly mark-up their warranties by 70% to 200%.
New law: Based on my research I have found that most states have passed a law that
prohibits an RV dealer from charging over 100% for an extended warranty or other dealerprep items. If the dealer’s cost for example is $500 they can only charge $1,000 for the
policy. Not all states have passed this legislation so check with your local representative or
state officials to confirm.
194
My Top Picks
http://www.mbadirect.com/
http://www.bestrate-loans.com/rv-warranties.htm
http://www.goodsamesp.com/default.aspx
http://www.accws.com/
http://www.motorhomewarranties.com/warranty-quote.asp
I hope you have enjoyed this short but informative section explaining your options about RV
Extended Warranties.
Happy RVing
Randall Eaton
195
Individual RV Ratings Report
If you have narrowed your search down to a couple of RV models you may want to check
out our new service, “Individual RV Model Report”. Each report goes into detail about
how a particular model performs in the areas of:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Quality
Reliability
Drivability & Handling (Motorhomes only)
Payload
Customer Satisfaction
Style & Design
Pricing (Wholesale & Retail)
The manner in which a particular RV model performs in the areas mentioned above will
ultimately determine the overall satisfaction level of the unit. To learn more please visit our
website at, http://www.jrconsumer.com/Individual-RV-RatingsReport.asp.
196
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF

advertisement