(update 12/4/16 – Here is a link to our factory tour)
I’ve been doing some research within the 19,000 pound class of fifth wheels to see what’s available compared to the 16,000 pound class. We are planning to pull our rig with a one ton dually pickup. It seems like staying below 20,000 pounds is recommended for these trucks. Others say the “better built” trailers are going to be the heavier ones. I’d been watching Augusta RV for some time now and first noticed the company with the introduction of their Luxe fifth wheel. They advertise their trailers as fulltime rigs. The Ambition caught my eye and someday I hope to tour it. For now, I’ve just been looking at what is published on the web along with photos. For our purposes I rated the Ambition high on my sheet.
Karen is in Michigan visiting her family. The next time I’m able to go with her I’d like to take a slight detour and visit the Augusta RV factory. They only sell factory direct and there are no used units in our area. I’d appreciate knowing what you think about buying from a company with no dealerships? To include your opinion concerning if it would be harder to find someone to repair it other than the factory?
I found a great two-part video with details about the 2017 Ambition 38RL construction and amenities. After spending months studying construction methods I’m feeling more confident about what I’m looking at when comparing rigs. Four pages of notes later I came up with a few of the Ambitions features that were impressive, especially compared to trailers in the 16,000 pound class:
- Basement is fully finished with no exposed pipes and wires.
- 40 pound propane tanks compared to the usual 30.
- The Equalizer six point auto leveling jacks which are found in motor homes.
- Outside stereo controls with Bluetooth connectivity so you don’t have to go inside to change the channel.
- 8,000 pound axles.
- Standard Dexter disc brakes (although the Kodiak brand is higher rated by some).
- Standard 17.5” wheels with Goodyear H rated tires.
- MORryde SRE 4000 suspension. (Their Luxe trailer comes standard with the MORryde independent suspension.) As of 2016 many of the trusted sources in the forums say they would not own a trailer without the MORryde independent suspension.
- Nice separation of bedroom/bathroom space from the living area by a hallway with storage.
- Nice entryway closet with a seat.
- Hand laid tile back splashes.
- Very modern interior design/colors.
- Standard soft close drawers which are dovetailed. They place the hardware on the bottom of the drawers to allow for a slightly wider drawer space.
- Real residential four burner stove and oven compared to the smaller RV style.
- Lights are dimmable and zoned.
- Heating and cooling temperature sensors spread around the trailer.
- Thoughtful consideration of which way cabinets open such as easier access above the bed. Outstanding storage in bedroom!
- Water shut off valves below the sinks.
- Built-in wireless cell phone charging.
- 85” sofa and upgradable furniture. The upgrade is Lambright which Augusta claims to be exclusive to them.
- Colored ceiling.
- Molded sink in bathroom.
- Standard king size bed with option for a queen. You can even upgrade to the Sleep Number bed.
- Heavy closet rods.
- Up to 4,000 pound cargo capacity.
- 2.25” exterior walls compared to others with 2”. The trailer is also wrapped with a thermal barrier.
- Electric rack and pinion for the larger slides.
- They publish how-to videos on Youtube.
- 16 gallon hot water tank.
- Slam latch doors are 1.25” rather than 1”.
- Full prep for generator to include a button inside the trailer.
- Setup for Direct TV standard with option for Dish TV
- True high gloss gel coat exterior.
- 12” I beam frame with slightly thicker steel. Slide out-rigors are also well designed.
I had a few concerns and have not had the chance to call Augusta RV for comment:
- Because they have no dealerships I wonder if service work will be harder to get.
- Not sure there is room for more than two batteries without some changes in the compartment.
- They advertise as coming standard with a residential fridge running off an 1800 watt inverter. Right now we would prefer an RV type fridge. Again, I’ve not been able to call them to see if that’s an option. (Update – I sent Augusta RV an email asking about a option for a gas/electric fridge. I received a call back and there is an option for this but it is not advertised as an option). I also received an email from the president of Augusta as well as a timely call from one of his staff.
- I could not find their warranty listed on their web page.
- I’m still not sure about hung wall construction vs laminated. Although the successful Cedar Creek has hung walls as does the DRV. (update 8/16/16 – There has been a lot of comparison by trusted sources who say their laminated walls were quieter and heating/cooling was easier. However they were comparing hung walls with their laminated walls that had the Blue Dow Foam insulation which is the best of the best.)
In the Ambitions price range we would most likely have to buy a used trailer to meet our budget. For those that missed it, Howard at RV Dreams posted his article on what trailer he would buy today. This is a well done article using several examples. In the end, not that he is looking for a new trailer, but he would buy used and spend money hauling it around and getting upgrades. In one example he suggested he would buy a used quality unit for between $30,000 to $40,000. Then upgrade to a few essentials costing about $8,000 to $10,000. Then spend another $25,000 to $30,000 to remodel it. That would total $63,000 to $80,000 but includes full body paint. Several others have also suggested that we buy a quality used heavy unit and upgrade it as needed. I’d want to make sure whatever used unit we bought had a frame capable of handling the weight for the upgrades.
I’ve also been spending some time looking at a few trailers which are less costly such as the Jayco Eagle, Grand Design Reflection (my favorite in the class at the show), Montana High Country and Keystone Laredo to name a few. Some of these trailers are approaching the price range of the 16,000 pound luxury models but would not require a dually truck.
For now, Karen and I are sticking with our goal to “buy our third trailer first.” I suppose this is making our selection more difficult. The practical side of me says buy something in the middle of the price range. It’s nice to see folks traveling, and having a good time, in rigs within a wide selection of price ranges. I’m sure our budget will dictate what we end up buying.
Below is a good post about a factory tour – where they learned Augusta pays employees by the hour rather than by the piece. Others say only two other custom builders pay by the hour which include New Horizons:
“We just returned from touring many RV manufacturers in Elkhart, IN. By far the wife and I favorite was the Luxe 39-FB. We also toured DRV, which isn’t a bad 5th either. Honestly, it comes down to taste. I would absolutely chose a Luxe over a DRV. Mainly because of the color schemes offered and the placement of the vents. Another thing that really bothered me was the complete chaos at DRV manufacturing. It left room for error for sure. They were producing 11 a week compared to the 2 a week at Augusta. Yes Augusta is new and not well known but they are also hourly employeed and not set to a production number. I am a commercial aircraft technician by trade and for me its about the little details. An example would be the insulation being laid in the belly. Augusta’s was flawless no gaps and went up the side of the frame as well. DRV not so much, gaps in a lot of places and none on the side of frame. DRV used screws to hold their side wall structure together. Augusta welded. Wall insulation is glued on by both. Augusta went over the top with the glue using ample, DRV not so much. They both are custom and say they can make alterations sometimes for the customer. DRV offers only dark wood. I asked if a lighter wood could be used as a custom wood. Nope???? THe icing on the cake for my was usb ports. Usb ports are becoming a norm in all hotels and you can now get them for your home. They are standard on a Luxe. I asked DRV if they could install and the guy laughed and said that was just bling and who really uses them? I wouldn’t worry yourself too much with warranties and all that stuff because anyone whos been doing it for a minute will honestly tell you they are all the same. About 1 year and after that its like pulling teeth.”