My Trailer Ratings

General Notes About Ratings System

  • These ratings are based upon what features Karen and I think are important. Yours might be different.
  • I am using a decision matrix and a form to keep notes.
  • What is interesting is when you look at a score and what it’s costing you compared to another trailer. For example, in 2018 I scored the Redwood without full body paint compared to the Heartland Bighorn. The Redwood is 20.78% more expensive but scored only 3.5% better than the Bighorn. However, if one must have 8,000 pound axles, larger breaks, maybe better suspension and H rated tires then you have to go with the Redwood because the options are not available on the Bighorn.
  • I went to See Dealer Cost. com for a guess at what the dealer is paying the factory and in most cases what the MSRP would be.
  • In 2017 I began using ratings that were floor plan specific. For example one floor plan may have offered better cargo capacity than another floor plan from the same manufacturer therefore scoring higher in that category.
  • I have a Microsoft Word file with categories and what is important to us. I use this to score each trailer in an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Some of the more expensive trailers were rated because we could buy them used because they are outside our budget it new.
  • We have been in all these trailer brands other than the Arctic Fox and the Cameo.
  • I’m not interested an any trailers with less than 12″ I beams and 7,000 pound axles so a few are off the list.  We want heavier construction for full time cargo capacity at over 3,000 pounds. We are also eliminating any that do not have access to the bathroom, at least one side of fridge and bedroom with the slides in.
  • We are also determined to get a trailer with a decent grey tank at around 75 gallons or more.
  • Here is a big one regarding how I finally rate a trailer. I call it my “value score”. Basically, I rate the trailer by adding up points. I then divide the points into the manufacturers suggested retails price (MSRP) to come out with a “value score”. For example if the trailer scores 200 points and the MSRP is say $90,000 then the value score is 450 (90,000/200). Another example is a trailer with the same point score of 200 and a higher MSRP of $100,00 would have a worse value score of 500. In other words if a trailer scores higher points and can be purchased at a lower price, compared to another, then it has more value to us. I’ll be writing a blog post later on this scoring system and post a link when done.
  • And finally – how I get to the top ranked. I have a spread sheet with all the numbers compiled. I have a final ranking based on how the trailer rates compared to others based on points and the value score. More on that in an upcoming blog post.

2018 Ratings (Stay Tuned for Final Overall Ratings)

Most accurate so far because they are based 100% on the options we  want after over three years research. Click Here for Link to our Choices Page. This year we will be focusing exclusively on rear living room floor plans, targeting 35 to 40′ lengths. I am also leaning towards trailers in the 16,500 pound gross weights but would still consider a used heavy trailer at 19,500 pounds and under.  Rating prior year trailers has guided me to what is important to us and establishing the components I wanted to rate. 

We started the year with a list of 38 trailers. If we decide the max length we want is 38′ that would brought the list down considerably. By July of 2017 I was down to 24 trailers to evaluate because some lacked must have features.

The lower the number that appears as the “value score” the better.

Luxury Models (as of 7/30/17) most all the 2018 floor plans are out.

  • 2018 Keystone Montana Legacy Addition 
    • 3720RL 39’7″  – Value Score is 419
      • Off door side stairs, super slide bedroom
      • (In this price point this floor plan may be the trailer to beat other than the water supply in the master bedroom super slide for the washer).
      • We toured the trailer on 6/10/17. The basement space has a lot of stuff running through it. I like the extra storage area outside next to the basement. The fake fireplace rock even looks good.
      • Dealer agrees Keystone, and all Thor products, may not have the best way of handle customer care when you call the factory.
      • This floor plan, generally does not have as much bathroom storage. The Montana has a larger shower rather than a corner shower.
      • Rated without the full body paint.
    • 3160RL 35’6″ Door side stairs
      • Karen says off the list, she does not like the floor plan where kitchen is flipped to door side and fridge is next to TV. I also prefer the pantry to be in the kitchen area and not across the room.
      • Montana really needs to build a better shorter version of the rear living room with the theater seats across from TV. They build a shorter rear entertainment model that could be adjusted. The Redwood 340/3401 model would be a perfect example to follow. Or perhaps a shorter version of the same.
    • 3660RL 39’4″ Separated living/kitchen – 5 slide – ?
      • Off the list because we are sticking with max of three slides.
  • 2018 Keystone Alpine
    • 3400RS 36’4″ – Value Score of  414.5
      • Door side stairs. Full shower
      • 1st time to review but I’ve been in two of them
  • 2018 Keystone Avalanche (lower finishes than Montana)
    • To bad it’s off the list because, of other things, it has a 10″ drop frame rather than the 12″ minimum we want.
    • 320RS 35’10” Door side stairs.
    • 370RD 39’10” Rear den with 5 slides. Cargo capacity is marginal.
  • 2018 Keystone Montana High Country (lower finishes than Montana)
    • Toured again on  6/10/17 and took it off the list. The finishes are not what we want but it is a nice trailer. Don’t like the Dometic fridge, most electronics are off-brand, plastic sink, the worst bed I ever felt so far.
    • 305L 35’8″ Door side stairs
    • 344RL 37’3″ Door side stairs – 4 slide
      • We toured this floor plan on 6/10/17 and really liked it.
    • 353RL 37’5″ Door side stairs
  • 2018 Heartland Bighorn  
    • 3160 Elite 35’10” – Value Score of 408
      • Door side stairs w/d in kitchen, long shower
    • 3270RS 35’2″ – Value Score of 402
      • Door side stairs, corner shower.
    • 3585RL 38’9″ – Value Score of 427
      • Off door side stairs, super slide bedroom.
      • What’s perfect about this one is the bedroom super slide does not have the washer/dryer connection in it so no issue with a water line in a slide. The connection is in a separate closet in the master bedroom.
      • Rated this one in 2017 as well.
      • As for other builders, this floor plan does not have as much bathroom storage. The Bighorn version has a corner shower compared to the Montana.  The hallway entrance to the bathroom may be easier to get at than the Montana with the super slide in.
    • 3575 Elite 39’4″  Value Score of 427.5
      • Door side stairs.
    • 3685RL 38’11” Door side stairs Value Score of 436
      • Will be evaluating this one. Is not longer being built as of 2018. A friend has a 2016 that he wants to sell us in 2018.
  • 2018 Heartland Oakmont (lessor finishes than Bighorn)
    • OM345RS 37’6″ Door side stairs
      • Took it off the list due to construction such as strings window covers, no drop frame basement, plastic sink, no frameless windows – all are early signs the trailer would not score well for our full time living wants.
  • 2018 Forest River Cedar Creek Hathaway Edition
    • 34RL2  37’11” Value Score of  404
      • Door side stairs, double vanity
        • Rated this one in 2017 as well.
    • 36CKTS  39’10” Door side stairs, single vanity
      • Discontinued to 2018.
    • Note: The Champagne Edition is off the list because both floor plans are over 40′
  • 2018 Forest River Cedar Creek Silverback (lower finishes than Hathaway)
    • These do not have drop frame basements so off the list.
  • 2018 Grand Design Solitude (6/30/17 just came out with 2018 specs)
    • A dealer I actually trust, the sales manager, keeps up on the RV market in general. He says one appeal that makes Grand Design the fastest growing line of fifth wheels is their price point is $10,000 under the competition for similar luxury fifth wheels.  It’s also not a Thor company and he believes therefore the customer service will be better after the sale.
    • You have to be careful because some of their models only have 10″ I beams which might account for marginal cargo capacity.
    • 310GK 34’11” Door side stairs, long shower cargo capacity marginal.
      • Toured on 6/10/17. Like the full upholstered dining chairs, Thomas Payne furniture might be a tad harder than Montana. Small but maybe serious design flaw when you open a cabinet into a couple plastic controls such as the max-fan switches. Karen loved the kitchen for a smaller trailer, she also likes the TV that raises up and down from the cabinet. Really worried the AC is not quiet because you can see below the ceiling. The use the Solid Step which is a Lippert knock-off the new MorRyde entrance steps. They are not secured to the trailer as well.
      • After much thought, it’s off the list because of only having 2900 pounds of cargo capacity. Must be because the frame is a 10″ I beam.
    • 369RL – 38’11” rear living room – discontinued in 2017. – Value Score 413
      • On line they show it with the new grey water capacity. 2017 tank sizes were marginal for grey water. This one does have better than cargo capacity, although not the top in the class.
    • 360RL 39’4″ Separated living/kitchen – 5 slide
      • Off the list because of 5 slides. Also at 2,500 cargo capacity I just can’t risk not having capacity for full timing.
      • Rated this one in 2017 as well. Toured in June of 2017. Not sure we want five slides, even if they are smaller, but still debating that one.
      • When sitting in the living room theater seats you have a wall on each side, because it’s in a small slide. There was no way to have a conversation with someone in the kitchen from one of the chairs.
  • 2018 Grand Design Reflection (lower finish than Solitude)
    • 337RLS 35’6″ Door Side Stairs Off the list because it lacks construction features I want for full time usage. In it’s class, I always liked this trailer.
  • 2018 KZ Durango Gold (per 2017 specs)
    • G355RLT 36’1″ Door side stairs, cargo capacity is marginal
    • G370RLT 39’2″ Door side stairs – Value Score is 417
      • cargo is marginal at 2,814.
      • I wanted to rate mostly because it is a lower cost, full profile luxury unit. Might be a better trailer that the Bighorn Traveler series.
  • 2018 Jayco Pinnacle
    • 36RSQS 39’3″ Door side stairs 4 slides. Grey capacity is marginal. Per 2017 specs. Discontinued in 2018.
    • 36KPTS 39’6″ – Value Score is 428 (for now)
      • The current value score could change after I see it in person because there are a ton of positive changes in the 2018 models. 
      • door side stairs 3 slide.
      • One video said this trailer is actually 40’11”
      • Rated this one in 2017 also.
      • Karen does not like large center islands like this one.
  • 2018 Highland Ridge 3X (so far no floor plans we like under 41′)
    • To bad because it’s a nice trailer for the weight and is one of a few that have 3″ side walls which are important for insulation and sound isolation.
  • 2018 Highland Ridge Roamer and Mesa Ridge (less insulation than 3X)
    • Removed from list because I don’t see it being in even our top 9 finalist.
    • RF348RLS or MF348RLS 36’10” Door side stairs
  • 2018 Heartland Big Country 
    • 3155RLK 35’10” – Value Score of  376.5 (Best Value Score so Far)
      • Door side stairs, corner shower
    • 3650RL 39’5″ – Value Score of  401
      • Door side stairs,
      • Long shower, marginal cargo capacity per 2017 specs.
  • 2018 Prime Time Sanibel
    • 3550 39’2″ Door side stairs
    • Rated the brand in 2017 and it did not make it to the top nine. But the price point might be worth looking at because it has full time features we are interested it. Also I read a blog where they travel in a Sanibel that impressed me.
    • Off the list. After review of the 2018 models I like a few improvements inside such as solid surface molded bathroom sinks. Not much else has changed and I don’t see it making it to the top three. I also had growing concerns after reading owner reviews over at RVT.COM which were consistently poor over a period of several years. This might make for a good vacation rig, but not for us full time.
  • 2018 Northwood Arctic Fox
    • 35-5Z 38’11” Off door side stairs
      • Off the list for a number of reasons, although this could be a fantastic trailer for the right style of travel. No apparent fully ducted AC which means it is not quiet. Going to pay more compared to another brand we are interested in. There are no nearby dealerships to tour with the closest being 225 miles. Grey water is marginal at 67 gallons. Smaller hot water tank, fridge, tv and more.
      • There is a lot to like and too much too list. I would not skip a chance to see it in person. The AC thing is just too much to except. I refuse to have a unit that is not a quite as possible.
      • Some RV full timer friends are in Washington State and ran by a dealership to tour one.  Here is a link to their video review.
  • 2018 CrossRoads Cameo
    • CE3301RL 35’2″ Door side stairs.
    • Sometimes the decision is real easy. This one is off the list. There are windows at the head of the bed and no headrest. We sit up and read and leaning on window shades is not going to work. I want more privacy in a bedroom. Also there is only one dealership even close to us at 286 miles. Not much competition for a biding war. Too bad, I liked the floor plan layout and cargo capacity. Might be the best layout for a trailer in it’s length. Really liked having a regular pantry in the kitchen and full size shower which are two things you generally give up in a 35′ trailer.

Heavier or More Expensive Units  (would mostly likely buy used)

  • Note, need to make sure and not overweight the scoring because of full body paint option because it would not be a correct comparison for those that do not. However, most all the ones we are looking at have the full body paint option and to that degree, I’m evaluating most as if they have the full body paint.
  • 2018 Heartland Landmark $128,161 MSRP with full body paint
    • Oshkosh 39’2″ Off door side stairs (still not sure about the double depth slides). Considered the new Louisville but the layout is terrible for kitchen.
    • Might need to look for a used floor plan to afford one.
    • Using full body paint for grading. Loaded with 8,000 axles, H rated tires and disc brakes, Heat pumps, two awnings, multi-plex lighting.
  • 2018 Redwood 
    • 3401RL/340RL 36’9″ – Value Score with Full Paint is 497, without is 469
      • Door side stairs
      • MSRP $113,335 without full body paint, $125,727 with full body paint
      • Toured an early 2018 model on 6/10/17 and really like the floor plan. The bed was nothing special, furniture was maybe an upgraded Thomas Payne which is a Lippert product. Drawers are no longer self-closing. In 2017 they made some big changes to move the price point down. Karen really liked this one. I liked the 8,000 pound axles, larger drum brake, H rated tires and MorRyde 4100 suspension.
      • Scored with full body paint.
      • We will definitely take a second look at this trailer. I’m also very interested to see how the brand is doing a year from now. Some think it might not survive. I think the newer leadership is repositioning the brand’s price point without sacrificing too much or the build quality. Actually, the MorRyde 4100 suspension was a good move on their part.
    • 2017 36RL 38’11” – Value Score with full paint is 594 
      • Off door side stairs.
      • Might be the 38RL is a replacement at 40’3″.
      • Added because it’s an awesome floor plan and in our budget slightly used or as a year end close out. They stopped building it in 2018.
      • Rated this one the first time in 2016.
      • Must check to make sure you can get to bedroom and bath with slide in. If we can’t, this may knock this one out.
      • Scored with full body paint
    • Personally I think the Redwood’s have declined on interior finishes in 2017 and 2018 (more so in 2018) as they pushed the price point lower. The higher ratings, compared to units like the Bighorn) have to do more with the Redwood having 8,000 pound axles, H rated tires and larger drum brakes.
  • 2018 Vanleigh Vilano  
    • 325RL 34’7″Value Score of 449 
      • Door side stairs
      • Lacks grey water capacity at only 45 gallons.
      • Really thought about taking off the list because of grey tank, but decided to rate it just to see how it compares and if I would even want to consider the compromise should the value come out.
    • 365RL 38’11” Value Score of 429
      • Door side stairs,
      • lacks cargo capacity at 2,900 per 2018 specs. .
      • I like the fact their trailer height is 4″ less than others at 12’11”.
      • Rate this one with G rated tires, heat pump, Flex-Air pin, disc brakes, 2nd awning and like all others with electric cord real.
      • Rated in 2016 also and saw a lot of improvement since then.
  • 2018 Augusta RV Ambition (as of 7/1/17 the 2018 are not out but started rating what I can)
    • 33QS 34’6″ Door side stairs, corner shower
    • 34KS 35’3″ Door side stairs, corner shower
    • 35RS 36’9″ Door side stairs, longer shower ($121,677 MSRP or $136,800 with full body paint)
      • Priced out with full generator prep to include button, energy and waste management systems, heat pump, buffet table. This one is hard to estimate what a dealer would pay because they are factory direct. 
      • Bump it up to full body paint, keyless entry and surge protection takes MSRP out to $136,880.
      • Ironically, when I went to their website and checked their sale prices on the 2017 models with more expensive MSRP’s were discounted 31%. Suggesting they are willing to sell to individuals at a price they would have been selling to dealerships assuming the system I’m using has the invoice price correct. I wondered however if their MSRP prices might have been over-stated? I’d expect invoice pricing to be closer to at least the Vanleigh Vilano at 45%.  However keep in mind they are not building Ambitions at the same volume as the larger companies. And their construction is heavier/better in some areas such as their leveling gear, doubled out-riggers on slides and true high gloss finish which in theory should be factored into the MSRP.
  • 2018 DRV Mobile Suites Aire
    • MSA-38 38″ Door side stairs, double vanity, 4 slide.
      • The 4th slide is the narrow extra bedroom slide.
  • 2018 DRV Mobile Suites (so far non under 20k Gross Weight that we like floor plan)
    • 36RSSB3 at 37′ 2. Off door stairs.  Looks like you can’t get to bedroom with slide in.  It’s also 20K Gross so no chance we would be getting one.

 

2017 Ratings

Those reading this blog will find that I am evolving in terms of general RV knowledge, just like you in your own research. In late 2016 I totally overhauled my list of deciding factors used in a decision matrix regarding the best camper for Karen and me. What I use to compare trailers became less subjective. 2017 is a very important year for us. This may be the first year where I would see us buying a used model from.  We hope to make a purchase in late 2018 so we can use it while taking a lot of vacation time before retirement in late 2019 (that’s the plan right now).

In 2017 we want to stay under 19,500 GVWR because of the trucks we are considering.

I consider the trailer and the available options to score it.  For example, if a trailer comes standard with drum brakes but has a disc brake option then I score it higher than one that does not have the available option. In 2018 we will come up with a list of what specific options we want in the price point we are going to buy as new. It will have been a help to have scored some of the more pricier models as we could buy those used.

I can tell already there is a chance even our best rated trailer may be out if we can’t find a floor plan we like from any particular manufacturer. Karen and I know our selection will be a process of compromise because there is no perfect match. Process is by elimination it would appear.

By the end of 2017 we decided we want a rear living room model and will stay at 40′ or below with 35′ to 38′ being a best case size.

Luxury Models

Full Profile and Other Models

Heavier and More Expensive Units 

  • 2017 Augusta RV Ambition 38RLS: 234.25 (MSRP $125,729)
  • 2017 Forrest River Cedar Creek Champagne 38EL: 218.5 (MSRP $103,000)
  • 2017 Heartland Landmark 365 Oshkosh: 210  (MSRP $118,903 – w/full body paint)
    • Standard full body paint adds $10,000
  • 2017 Redwood 3821RL: 199.25 (MSRP $137,920 – w/full body paint)

2016 Ratings

This was the first year for my ratings and were more subjective than for 2017 and beyond. Mostly because I did not understand the pros and cons of some construction methods and we did not have a good idea of what options or floor plan we were interested in. By then we knew we wanted a fifth wheel.

Luxury Models

Heavier High-End Models (and more expensive new)

  • 2016 DRV Mobile Suites: 233.75
  • 2016 Forest River Riverstone 38TS: 205.75
  • 2016 Heartland Landmark 365: 199.75 (big changes in 2017)
  • 2016 Redwood 36RL: 194.25
Advertisements