Our Future in an RV

Digital Notebook of Our Planning Stage

Larger Luxury Models

One of These Could be Our Ultimate Trailer

(updated 4/23/17)

We would like to keep our budget under $80,000 for the fifth wheel trailer,  upgrades and trailer related equipment such as hoses, small generator and more.

Because of our budget, we would have to buy any one of a few high end trailers a couple of years old. I’ve also taken off the list all trailers which do not have a drop frame because of lack of basement storage.

Time after time experienced folks tell me to buy a used unit from the higher end class as they are better constructed. It’s also been recommended to go check out used units to see which has held up the best. Especially compared to less expensive luxury units. What I’m doing is checking the dealership’s website for used models and ages, to get a short list of what to look at before visiting the dealership. Seems like 2010 was a big year for model changes and builders coming and going from the market.

It helped us reduce our trailer choices down to 22 when we decided we wanted a luxury rear living room floor plan between 35 and 40′ weighing no more than 19,500 gross. We could reduce that down to 10 if we stick between 35 and 38′ as of the 2018 models. And stick to mostly the trailers available to tour closer to home or at the local RV show.

Click Here For My Trailer Ratings

Click Here For Trailers Taken Off Our List

Redwood

Redwood2016:  These folks come right out and say it.  According to the first page of their website “Redwood was created for the sole purpose of providing the exploding Baby Boomer market with a high-quality, full-time residential Fifth Wheel at an affordable price.” We toured one in 2015.  Really beautiful rig. This was the only trailer designed and owned by Thor from the beginning. Some say the Crossroads Carriage is very similar to the Redwood. Heard the Rushmore is built in same factory so they share some of the same construction methods. They advertise their Falcon Technology as a single source design for the rigs foundation such as frame and suspensions. Lippert builds this system for them, if there are problems with any of it you just have to go through one company to have it fixed rather than several different vendors. Update from a dealer – in 2017 the Redwood ceiling is changing. It will not be diving down in the back. Toured again in June of 2017. I noticed the Redwood finishes and some of the trim were downscaled. The dealership sales manager said their were changed to move to the Redwood to a lower price point which was done when the ex-Keystone President went to Redwood as Keystone (a Thor Company) bought Crossroads/Redwood last year.  I personally like the changes because they may have moved Redwood into our budget range. Still has the 8,000 pound axle, MorRyde 4100 suspension, larger drum brakes. This is why the lessor priced Sequoia model is no longer built in 2017.  As of Early 2017 they still offer the 2 year warranty. I may be writing up a review soon.

DRV Mobile SuitesDRV Mobile Suites – 2016: Bought out by Thor Industries in 2015. I’d heard they were going to be managed under the Heartland brand but have not confirmed this (darn, wished I had written down where I heard that). My first impression with little research in 2014 was DRV is a rig to compare others against. They have the thick walls and an awesome plumbing system.  They are heavy but have a well designed 15″ frame to support it.  DRV was founded in 2003. For many, this is the go to rig if you are looking for a luxury model. Personally, I’m more of a fan of the Augusta RV Ambition or Luxe. Some have warned against purchasing the older models – may be back in 2010 (not sure on the actual year).  My favorite floor plan is the 36TKSB3. Gross weight is 19,000 which has a 100 gallon fresh water, washer/dryer in a slide, real living room and only 37′ long!

drv-aire-emblemJust announced in September 2016 is the DRV Aire, coming in the Fall of 2017 with a 38′ and 40′ model. Apparently they are coming up with a Mobile Suites model intended for single rear wheel trucks.  It has many of the Mobile Suite features but in the 14,000 pound dry weight range.  Update – From the Rolling Retreats Facebook. Appears it is going to be a 101″ wide body, 12″ I beam, 100 gallon fresh water, 90 grey, 45 black. Have 2″ walls (R-11), R25 roof and R30 floor. Gross weight at 17K.   I’ll be comparing it against the DRV Tradition which they stopped building about two years ago.  It will be interesting to see how DRV is attempting a remake of a lighter trailer. There are also photos on Rolling Retreats Facebook.

Luxe by Augusta

Augusta RV2016:  We drove to Indiana and toured the plant. According to them “the Luxe is unlike any Fifth Wheel you have ever seen or experienced. From the structural design to the interior & exterior fashion trends applied, no detail was ignored.  Developed using a new styling direction and advanced towable technologies, the Luxe is leading a Fifth Wheel revolution.   With amenities only found in high end residential housing, the Luxe redefines Luxury.”  —–   I can say one thing for sure about them, they have done a better job of listing their construction methods on their website than most other brands have done.  I have a feeling they are paying attention to construction methods as well as looks of the rig. Here is a forum topic for the Luxe which is their high end model. They are definitely going after the DRV Mobile Suites market. And I’m definitely going to keep an eye on this company! Many are suggesting the Luxe will require an MDT (huge truck) so that might take it off the list, even as a used trailer, as right now I’m firm on a one-ton truck. Appears Augusta started in 2012. In 2016 they were bought by a well known toy hauler brand – The RV Factory.

Augusta Ambition2015 Augusta added the Ambition to the lineup. Believe they dropped their Flex lineup at the time as it is no longer on their website. 11/25/15 I find myself attracted to Augusta because of construction and modern colors. Believe they are selling factory direct which concerns me there could be issues getting service from any dealerships.  I’d compare the Luxe against the DRV and Ambition against the Heartland Landmark 365. I evaluated the 2017 Ambition. Here is a link to the blog post. A couple people I trust are telling me the hung walls on their previous trailers are not as quite and harder to heat/cool than their laminated wall. But both have blue Dow foam which is not typical either.

 

Landmark by HeartlandHeartland RV  (2016) has three rigs I may look at. The Landmark is heavy with standard 8,000 pound axles. Thor Industries owns Heartland. Here is one of the better “walk-around” videos I’ve seen. I like the Ashland floor plan. The guy in the video claims 2-3 better miles per gallon with Landmarks aero dynamics. I’d have to fact check that. Given the price compared to others in this class I’m going to take a hard look at the Landmark. The Ashland comes in around 18,000 pounds which I’m thinking can be towed with the right F350 dually truck – or similar, but an F450 would be safer. RVs for Less out of Knoxville, TN was a top dealer for Heartland and DRV as of 2014. Landmark is perhaps the most affordable in this class. 2016 marks the 14th year the Landmark has been built. They claim they did big changes in the redesigned 2014 model year. The 365 in Landmark 365 means fulltime all year living. I like the English Slate décor. I think it’s classic and will not go out of style. Not sure yet on exterior color I would prefer. As have most people our age, we have owned a few different colored vehicles. I think back , white, gold, bright red, silver and maybe grey where the easiest to keep clean. Black is too hot in the summer and hard to keep clean as is brown. White reflects the heat in the summer.

  • 11/25/15 I continue to find myself looking at the Landmark. And Heartland customer service is well liked in the forums. Their president is a Jim Beletti and people seem to like him. One 2015 construction detail I’ve found myself curious about is in the Heartland Big Horn and Big Country there appears to be a vent under the AC unit which looks familiar to me as one of the noise makers. The first chance I get I plan to check this out as it would eliminate both from my list. That would be unfortunate because the Big Horn is very popular.
  • 8/31/16 Read in a forum that Heartland uses 3/8″ OSB “continues” sub-flooring rather than 5/8″ tongue and groove. And the 3/8″ is not even marine grade. This could be an issue if the floor becomes wet. I checked their website and could not find the flooring material mentioned. Wonder why?  I’m sure this is done to keep the weight down.
  • RV Business.com report the Landmark added a new floor plan in 2017 and improved 45 items on the brand.
  • In 2016 the Bighorn went to a whisper quite air conditioning system, so no more worries there. Apparently they had issues in earlier 2017 but fixed it.

Here is a post from a GM at Heartland who came from Redwood. He talks about selling points and how, at Redwood, they would pinch rolled laminated construction methods which is why they had no window in the door (to stop theft) when they actually wanted a way to avoid another window blind. Hmm, wonder if the same pitches are used now at Heartland? In 2018 Heartland moved the Big Horn roofs from laminated to having a 5″ truss system like everyone else. The remainder of the trailer, to include the walls and slides, remain laminated.

Heartland Big CountryThe  Big Horn is very popular. The Big Country is a step down – I think, and the Landmark is their top trailer. All the photos I’ve seen show a vent where the air conditioner is located in 2015 and older units. That is concerning as I will definitely want a system where the air is fully ducted which reduces the noise. In 2015 I’m leaning more towards the Landmark depending on what it takes to pull it.  I recently discovered in 2016 Heartland Landmark comes with a two year warranty. In 2016 the Big Horn and Big Country have a two year bumper to bumper warranty. In 2016 the Big Horn and Big Country exposed AC returns went away and now they are ducted, whisper quiet. I’ve been reading the Big Horn Traveler series is coming in 2017. Not sure yet but believe the Traveler will not have a full back cap, like the Keystone Montana, non-legacy, addition. Reading further, the Big Horn General Manager has also been assigned the Oakmont brand which is going away, being replaced with a new name – Big Horn Traveler which is apparently just an upgraded Oakmont. Here is a link to my 2017 Bighorn post. Here is a link to my 2016 Big Country post.  There were several changes in the 2018 model to include they changed from a fully laminated roof to a truss system.  Here is a link to a forum. There have been issues in the earlier quiet air systems. One is regarding condensation building up in the drain pans which was fixed in June of 2016. By November of 2016 I read where a new buyer said they were not having the air flow issues.

  • From the product general manager, here are some of the Bighorn changes in 2018.

    We have a new dinette light, we have a new island front, we have new decor glass, new entertainment center with larger tv, new USB ports on either side of the sofa, theatre seats are now standard, EL units have taller slides on both sides of the coach in the living room, we now have the upgraded Furrion kitchen appliances, USB ports on both sides of the bed, updated carpet, updated Lino, pull-out trash cans in most if not every island, legless dinette table, new pass-through storage flooring, new graphics & painted front & rear caps, we just changed roof construction as well. We went from a laminated roof to a roof truss system so we could have some additional flexibility to at some point add an additional 3rd A/C At this point we don’t have that option but it’s hopefully coming within the year. We were also able to improve the efficiency of the A/C system and increase the amount of ducts that provide A/C. The new roof is a touch lighter as well which helps with carrying capacity.

Keystone Montana – 2016: Claims to be the top selling luxury brand over 14 consecutive years. I’m having a hard time finding anything about them I don’t like.  The new outside paint in 2015 was a well needed upgrade. Went through one at the 2015 Kansas City RV show.  Love the arched ceilings and ac/heat runs. I need to read more about their vented attic space. Wonder if resale is better because of the popularity? Not all rear caps are wrap around – I’m not sure if that is important or not. Grand Design is competing directly against them. No wonder, because Keystone employees left and formed their own company.

Keystone builds the Alpine which I toured at a campsite. Here is a series of videos about the Keystone building process.
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Forest River -2016: Seems like every company has to build a luxury unit.  Forest River is no different.  They build a couple models that are well known as full time rigs.   The Cedar Creek  – 2015  We took a hard look at the Cedar Creek in 2015 and here is my blog post. I was not impressed with the interior wood work but the price was well within our budget. Cedar Creek announced their new high end rig, called the Champagne Edition in 2016. Cedar Creek uses a hung wall rather than vacuum/pinch rolled laminated. It’s a 2012 post but some say Cheyenne Camping Center in Iowa has great prices. Here is an awesome forum thread on Cedar Creek options. Here is an awesome video concerning Hebart’s Travels’ issues with their Cedar Creek. The Cardinal – 2015 is a rig from the past that’s still around. I noticed in 2016 they added the Cardinal Estate that appears to be an upgraded version. I noticed 8000 pound axles was one option that you might need because the stock units all have very low cargo capacity. New for 2016 is their Riverstone 5th Wheel which is their most expensive lineup.

Columbus – 2016 by Palomino is a division of Forrest River.  A friend has one and paid $50,000 for it in 2014. He loves it but does not fulltime in it although he spent of 150 nights in it last year. The local dealership has a large selection. The word fulltime does not appear in their brochure.  I like their new 2016 paint and La-Z-Boy furniture, We toured it again in 2016, the furniture was a little stiffer than other La-Z-Boy chairs we sat in.  Weights go from 13,500 GVRW and up so that might be one reason they don’t advertise as being for fulltime. It’s hard to fit heavy duty stuff in the lighter weight trailers. Here is a link to my blog post on the Columbus.

Grand Design Solitude

Grand Design Solitude: – 2016 Was started by former Keystone executives (who started Keystone) in 2011. They left after Thor bought out Keystone. They believed the quality of the Montana was declining and asked to be bought out of the company. They built a 400,000 square foot plant and started up Grand Design. This is a company I’m going to keep my eye on as their product goes head to head with the Montana. Winnebago (a Thor company) purchased Grand Design in late 2016.

  • Checked out a floor plan in 2015 at the local dealership. Here is the blog post. Noticed they have no full wrapped back cap. Salesman says there is no reason to spend the money on a wrapped rear cap. I asked about this in a forum thread after hearing wrapped back caps allow for better air flow which leads to better mph. Those that responded said they just look better and have a higher insulation value. I could see having the flat back wall allows for a better layout if the television is on the same wall. Toured at show in 2016.

Grand Design uses wood roof trusses. According to them “residential style wood trusses, spaced 16” on center, provide the foundation for a full walk on roof.  Wood framing provides better screw retention than traditional aluminum trusses, and it eliminates the metal on metal connection to the aluminum framed sidewalls. Personally, in 2017 I concerned about lack of cargo capacity and grey water tank size in most all their trailers if used for full time. But, a lot of people are buying them and bragging about how well they are built.

I was not that impressed with the Grand Design in its early years but they are starting to grow on me. Customer care after the sale is perhaps the most important thing to look for, according to a couple full timers. In 2017 they opened a huge customer care centerAs of 2018 models I wish they had a few more selections in the 35 to 38 foot range.  Also their cargo capacity leaves room for growth. I may call them to see how they figure their cargo capacity because surely they must be considering that as the Solitude is built as their full timers trailer.  Most take the gross weight less the empty weight to figure cargo capacity. They are lagging behind in that area. You also have to watch their grey water tank capacity depending on floor plan (as of 2018 models). Unless you camp for shorter periods of boondocking or only on full hookups of course.

Jayco Pinnacle

Jayco Pinnacle – 2016  Company started in 1968 and remains family owned (Update, Thor bought Jayco 7/1/16). Here is a good forum thread about changes in Jayco management. They claim their two year warranty, compared to most others with one year bumper to bumper, is the best in the industry. Toured again in 2016, they still build a nice front living room but the furniture was not comfortable. The pillow backs pushed on the back of my head.

Jayco Designer (700x350)New in 2016 is the Jayco Designer. The Designer appears to be a rebirth of an older model. I want to research the Jayco warranty which states:

“The Jayco 2-Year Warranty is a manufacturer’s limited warranty. Each Jayco is warranted against defects in materials and workmanship to the original purchaser for twenty-four (24) months from the original date of purchase. Jayco offers to the original purchaser additional industry-leading lifetime parts and labor coverage on our camping trailer lifter system, roof, floor, and frame.”

Open Range 3X

Open Range 3X 2016:  April 2015 Jayco purchased Open Range which is now to be known as Highland Ridge RV. I’m interesting in comparing these to others as I understand they try and get their rigs light weight.  I follow the Campers Cornicles blog. They travel in an Open Range. Of course I’ll be watching for any changes due to Jayco having purchased the company, The Jayco warranty for Highland Ridge states: “The Highland Ridge RV, Inc. (“Highland”) warranty covers this recreational vehicle (“RV”), when used only for its intended purpose of recreational travel and camping, for two (2) years of use.” I toured the 3X in October of 2015 at a Clinton, Missouri dealership just to look at floor plans. I’m worried that Open Range is not advertised as being a fulltime unit. This and others may someday be off the list just because their advertisements nor warranties claim the rig is for fulltime usage.

Rushmore fifth wheel

Rushmore by Crossroads RV

Carriage Fifthwheel

Carriage by Crossroads RV

Cameo Fifthwheel

Cameo by Crossroads RV

Crossroads Cruiser

Cruiser Touring Edition

Crossroads RV  – 2016 has been around since the 1996. In 2016 I noticed the Rushmore was no longer on their website. I’m not sure but the Cruiser Touring Edition may have been added and is advertised as their #1 selling RV. There are three levels of the Cruiser fifth wheel. Over the past 18 months I’ve been watching forum posts about the Rushmore and many posts are negative. Is this a move to just remove the Rushmore – for now- because of bad press? Other fifth wheels such as Carriage or Cameo  are built by Crossroads. These were popular fifth wheels several years ago, owned by other companies. Crossroads is a division of Thor.  I’ve heard they built Rushmore in the Redwood factory so there are a lot of similarities such as the frame. Just like with the Redwood by Evergreen they advertise their Falcon Technology as a single source design for the rigs foundation such as frame and suspensions built by Lippert. On their construction page all claim to be rated for fulltime usage. Of the four, Carriage may have the better construction but I’m still researching that. Crossroads is another company with a two year warranty. I’m really wanting to see a Carriage up close. Rovingbear on the IRV2 forums has one, bought it at the Missouri dealership which has a “lifetime warranty.” Carriage has disc break and 8,000 axles option which would be needed to improve their marginal cargo capacity with 7,000 pound axles which might be because of heavier construction. I’ve been reading the Carriage is a lot like the Redwood because Crossroads owns Redwood. One forum poster said there are Redwood stickers on the frame. It’s not shown here, but CrossRoads also builds two levels of the Cruiser. They announced their 2017 Cruisers are redesigned to be 10% lighter and costing less. They may have dropped the Carriage in 2017 because it’s not on their website.

Arctic Fox

Northwood Arctic Fox: Hear a lot of good things about their durability. Their frames are not built by Leppert which some think is a plus. They claim having an off-road chassis. I’ve never seen one in the wild but I’ll be on the lookout. Appears they are in the 70k range new.

KZ15_DurangoGold_G372BHF_ExtFront3-4Dr-thumb

K-Z Recreation Vehicles 2015 builds the Durango Gold in 2015 which is advertised as a fulltime rig. As of 2015 they have been in business for 43 years. They have some features I want to look at; to include what they call power fresh tank water fill, outside shower & dry camping water siphon system and Touch Remote for slides, awnings, exterior lighting & leveling. Toured it a the 2016 show. Using a rating system of what’s important to Karen and me, the Durango came out low in the ranking.

  • Noticed their G381REF model in 2015. Really like it. Rig is lighter weight than others with the same floor plan. Great use of space in the living area. Kitchen is separated by the recliners. First noticed this floor plan with Grand Design which is 3′ longer. One issue with the G381REF, for us, is no coat closet.
VanleighRV (800x382).jpg

Vanleigh Vilano

Vanleigh RV – 2016 is a new (Sep 2015) luxury fifth wheel company out of Burnsville, Miss., co-owned by Leigh, Van and Bob Tiffin, three generations of the founding family of Tiffin Motor Homes Inc. Not sure but their warranty may not be the best (3 years on frame). If I were to look at buying a class A, Tiffin would be high on the list. Here is a short blog post after we toured the Vilano in 2016. Tiffin owns their own glass company, wood supply and laminates. So much of what their motor homes are built with is owned by the company. I would assume that would make it easier for replacement parts as a trailer ages. I also like the fact they are starting out small in fifth wheels and not trying to dominate the market right off. This approach might help insure quality as they are not outgrowing their capacity to build a nice unit.

Winnebago Destination

Winnebago Destination

Winnebago Destination – 2016.  I’ve done no research on this unit yet. Wanted to get it added to the list to make sure to remember they build a fifth wheel. They bought Grand Design so I’m still waiting in 2017 to see what changes.
Prime Time Sanibel
Just added the Prime Time Manufacturing – 2016. Sanibel fifth wheel. I’m reading the Mark and Patty RV Adventure blog and noticed their rig. Prime Time has been around since 2009. They had planned to buy a used high end trailer but went with a new Sanibel which was affordable. I still need to research the trailer and compare it against others at the same price point. It has a drop frame so the basement is larger. I look for this feature in all fulltime trailers. Prime Time is a division of Forest River which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway. At a quick glance the cargo capacity looks a little low and so does the fresh water tank. Offer the Forrest River 2 year optional warrant at no extra charge. They announcement big upgrades in 2017.

22 thoughts on “Larger Luxury Models

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    • AlanB
      I’ll be writing about an older guy I just met who was pulling a DRV Elite with one of those tractor trailer like trucks. He picked his Elite up at the factory last year. He has owned fifth wheels for 25 years and managed camp grounds. He also had 6 large issues with his Elite. One issue included a poor paint job, noting DRV does not do their own painting. He had to call the owner of the paint company who made good on it. They kept his rig for a few weeks to fix the paint. He knew DRV and a lot of other’s contract out part of the process and all use a lot of the same components. What he did not appreciate was that DRV sent the Rig out with a poor paint job.

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  6. David O – We owned a 2010 399BHS Open Range until last year. As a company they are tops!!!!! Absolutely love their service after the sale (at least from their facility in Shipshewana – hated our selling dealer)! My only concern for anyone planning to be full time is they use frames from Lippert which are only 8 inch beams along the length of the frame (I have the frame detail drawing from Lippert showing all member sizes/gages). Ours lost camber over time and ultimately cracked both sidewalls. Fortunately Lippert recambered it for free (they are great too), but I had to pay O.R. to repair the fiberglass (not a lot but, hey). I thing they, along with other manufacturers, take weight out of the steel frame to make them lighter. Helps on towing but not on longevity. The rear overhang past the axles flexes too much if the frame is shallow and flexible (think diving board). We bought a used 2009 Cameo F37RE from a friend and love it for its durability, although similarly equipped with our stuff it weighs a full 2500 lb more than the O.R. did but it has double 2×6 steel tube frame rails. I will never again full time in anything that did not have a stiff, heavy frame – everything else is cosmetic. Just make sure you have enough truck to tow AND STOP the thing. Most 3500 or 350 trucks since around 2013 should do fine. Prior to that nobody had a light duty truck with a GCWR over 20,000 lb. My new 2016 Ram 3500 top 39,000 lb! FYI DO NOT keep the 235/80R16 tires and wheels – they are junk no matter the brand (after buying 28, yes 28, in 5 years I tried them all)! I bought 17.5″ high pressure aluminum wheels and Goodyear G114 LHT 215/75R17.5 tires adn absolutely love them – not cheap ($500/tire and $265/wheel) but it was well worth it. Have not had a bit of trouble with them in 2 years and 50,000 miles – haven’t even had to add air!

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    • David, appreciate the descriptive comments. I had read about the durability of the Cameo a while back. A long-term fulltimer is telling me to buy an older well built unit and upgrade it as needed which may be what we end up doing, but not sure yet. Believe I’m sold on the 17.5″ H rated tires and wheels for the heavier rigs. If I’m reading correctly what you wrote, you suggest staying away from the 16″ tires. I had been wondering about a G rated tire on a 16,000 pound class trailer such as some of the Open Range 3Xs?

      I’m leaning towards a 12″ beam for 16,000 to 19,000 trailers. Augusta RV says their frame is slightly thicker than others and I’ve read where some, like the DRV, added a box frame. Seems like many of the units I’m attracted to at least have the 12″ I beam. Suppose the suspension might matter as well. For example if we buy an older rig and upgrade to the MORryde independent suspension.

      Just started looking at trucks and appreciate you adding the comments about the 350/3500 trucks. Still not sure if a 19,000 pound trailer will require something like an F450. Recently watched a video regarding the need for a truck that will STOP a large trailer and the F450 was about 1,000 pounds heavier than an F350. F450 has larger brakes and tires which all add up to better stopping but less pin weight capacity because of the heavier truck. That’s about all I know about trucks. Still trying to learn about gear ratios and more.

      Really interested in your views on all of this. We would like to get it right the first time and all the construction details are confusing.

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  7. We were at the 2016 Tampa RV Show and ordered a 2016 DRV (Mobile Suites). After waiting over 4 months for it to be built with specific modifications, we received a 2017 rig. We didn’t know this until we were signing the papers at the dealership. We are going full-time and were at the point in this process that we really needed a different rig so we continued with the delivery of the 2017. The rig has differences from what we saw in the 2016 at the show but I can’t find any information on what was changed on their web site. We are finding some problems and have a factory appointment in August mostly because this was the earliest appointment we could get. After reading what you wrote here, I am wondering if you have a source of information for the DRV products that I have been unable to find doing web searches. I have sent an extensive email to the factory sales rep that we met and worked with on this order but haven’t received a response. During the order/delivery process we worked with several sales reps through the dealership because they kept quitting which could be why no one from there ever mentioned that we would be getting a 2017 instead of the 2016 we ordered.

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    • Diana, I don’t have a good source for current DRV products. Steve, at the Puppy Paths blog owned one but had a tremendous problem with issues in his Elite Suites. Last year he had all the names and contacts at DRV. Unfortunately, his trailer turned out to be a lemon which I’m sure can happen at times.

      DRV is tops on our list in that price point, so far. For our budget we would have to buy maybe a three year old unit so we have been watching the 2015 and newer trailers.

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  8. We just started full timing and purchased a DRV 38RSSA. Even though we had ordered a 2016 DRV, they apparently had a model year change over and sent us a 2017. We have had this new high-end rig since about April, 2016 and have had some rather ridiculous problems. Some of these include: The cloths hanging bar in the closet came down 3 times (we’re hoping its fixed now); the kitchen sink was not “glued” in property; the kitchen faucet would swing completed around with the handle opening in transit and if the water was connected before catching it pointing at the floor, that’s where water would start running; the kitchen faucet and side spray would drip (the factory replaced this with another faucet that was also defective so we finally purchased one from Home Depot and installed it ourselves); floor tile in front of the off door slide has buckled and separated (the factory says this is not covered under warranty), the factory re-glued the buckled part but its not a neat looking repair; a pantry drawer comes completely out in transit damaging the rails and drawer below (it actually is found sitting on the floor below), we had installed a latch to hold it in and their authorized repair facility replaced the rails removing our latch and on our first trip out the same drawer did the same ejection so we put the rails back together as good as we could and re-installed our latch; the assist handle by the steps disappeared while in transit and we hadn’t made any stops so we know it wasn’t stolen; and some other little things.

    This is our fifth 5th wheel but our first to be considered “high-end”. The rig seems to be structurally sound and has a lot of really nice options that we hadn’t experienced before and really like. However, the DRV under Thor ownership is not proving to be the DRV that we heard so much about before the Thor acquisition where customer satisfaction was one of the most important things.

    We went on a DRV factory tour during one of our factory visits for repairs. One of their salesmen conducted the tour. This salesman was telling people on the tour with us some of the same things that we were told at the Tampa RV show where we put in the order for our new rig. So far, we haven’t experienced things we were told by either the factory or one of their overflow repair centers. While on this tour, we refrained from being confrontational with the salesman but wanted to give the factory time to make things “right” with our new rig. So far our experience with DRV has been disappointing.

    In looking at your latest post a couple of things came to mind. You didn’t mention rig length. When you’re looking at places to pull in for the night or to spend a few months, the longer your rig the more limited you are on options. This is one of the main reasons why we had to go with the 38RSSA from DRV (the other is the weight – we can pull this rig with our 1 ton duelly with a 20K hitch). The other is where you mentioned the tires on the new DRV Aire. We really like the “H” rated tires and if they’re pulling anything less on the new model, its worth it to upgrade.

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    • Diana, thank you for stopping by and the detailed comments. Really are depending on you that went before us to learn from.

      The first trailer I bought was a 30’ travel trailer. Went to the lot, asked the salesman what was their bestselling brand then picked out one with a walk-through bath and put it on a rented RV lot. Not much planning. When we decided this time on a fifth wheel, like so many others, we learned DRV and Montana were very popular in their price points. That was over two years ago, and I’ve learned so much. Both trailers became a good starting point for comparisons in my research. I of course sought out others that owned both trailers to get their firsthand experience. I’m sorry that you have had issues with your DRV, others I know or met have had issues as well. I hope once you get everything fixed then that will be the end of it. The factory not fixing the floor on warranty and then doing a poor job is inexcusable. I’ve also been reading lately that Thor is moving management around in their recent Jayco purchase. Wonder if that will change the Jayco image – I’d think so, and not for the best. I’d hope DRV would stay the same before the purchase.

      Wow, I’m glad to be researching trailers by the build year. So much changes each year and if we ever bought a used one, without researching prior years, who knows what problems we would end up with.

      We are trying to stay under 40’ (pin to rear bumper). It’s been suggested for fulltime the 38’ length is a sweat spot. We looked at many at the 35’ length and the floor plans did not work for us. Floor plan will most likely dictate our length and we will make do with it. Of course, we want the shortest length that will work in terms of floor plan. I follow and read many blogs where folks travel with a 40’ trailer so I’m thinking I have an idea of what to expect.

      I’m still torn between going with a trailer in the 16,500 or 19,000 (under 20,000) pound gross weight class. It is becoming most apparent those closer to 19,000 are better built structurally. But then again, I follow blogs where most have trailers closer to 16,500. For sure we are going with a one ton dually truck. And when we purchase I’ll make sure to set it up to handle the weight, to include the pin weight. At times, I wonder if the heavier trailers have to have heavy construction such as H rated tires (which I agree are best no matter what), 8,000 pound axles, disc brakes and more. When the lighter trailers can get away with less of a foundation because of the reduced weight. I’ll not sacrifice tires even in a lighter trailer.

      I’ve not seen the new DRV Aire in person. I was not overly impressed with their last attempt at a lighter weight trailer which was the Tradition. I guess I’m more excited to see what the difference will be.

      All this said, even the best engineered and best materials will not overcome poor construction labor. We are heading to Augusta RV soon to tour their trailer. This will be our first factory tour. And because of great advice from people like you, we will be looking at more than just the flashy interiors. I want to know more about service after the sale, financial stability, how they treat their employees and more.

      Not funny how the guy on your tour said some of the same things when you went to the RV show. Maybe an indication of rehearsed replies rather than telling the truth based on experience. I also think when one reads a brochure and can’t find the answer to questions it’s because they don’t want to talk about it – because the competition has a better way. I’m about done with uneducated sales people who stick to the script, if they even have an answer. When we tour the plant at Augusta RV we are to be one on one with a product expert. I’m handing her a list of written questions to answer; then we can go on the tour.

      I checked out your floor plan on the web. We are leaning towards a rear living room plan. Karen is leaning towards a model like the 38RSSB3 with the stairs on the off-door side and hallway closet. She knows she will give up kitchen counter space but feels the larger center island will work. Your vanity slide in the bedroom must be way nice to have. Nice DRV, especially the 19,000-gross weight. You have a beautiful home.

      Please, when you have time, stop back and give me some more pointers.

      Mark

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  9. Thanks for you response. One quick additional note that might help you our when picking your floor plan. The main reason we picked the 38RSSA was that my husband really wanted to be able to access the bathroom with the slides in. When we were looking at the Tampa RV Super show (there is also one in PA I think in the Fall and these are great for seeing what’s out there), this was one of the few options we had from DRV with this feature. In examining floor plans of various manufacturers it appears that if the stairs are on the off door side, you can not get into the bathroom with the slides in.

    I will be interested in what you find after your Augusta tour. When we were at the Tampa show, we really liked what we saw at their display and almost made the decision to purchase from them. The DRV factory salesperson convinced us to go with DRV and threw in some upgrades when we were placing the order. We had also met and talked with a lot of DRV owners in our travels and they were also part of our decision process but Augusta was a very close contender. If you go with DRV, there is a small family owned dealership called Rolling Retreats in Elk City, OK that has an excellent customer service reputation. Alicia who is the wife of this husband/wife owned dealership gave us a lot of pointers on what we should insist on in our purchase even though we ordered through a dealership in Ocala, FL. If we should ever decide to order again, we would definitely go through Rolling Retreats (if we were to consider DRV again). Right now we do really like a lot about the DRV but are still very disappointed in our experiences with the warranty issues.

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    • Thanks for the comments Diana. Very good point about the bathroom access on the off-door side hallways. I took another look at a floor plan we were liking and there is an issue. I can now see why some of the bathroom doors are on a slant. We also prefer access to the bedroom, bath and fridge with the slides in. We also know we don’t want a slide under the main awning. That has helped us reduce the floor plans we are interested in.

      I’m wondering if it is an issue also when the furnace vent is under the main awning? Or do you find your not outside under the awning much when it’s cold enough for a furnace? Or do you just don’t sit in front of the vent?

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  10. Our furnace vent is on the door side between the entry door and basement door. Its where the door opens to so you wouldn’t sit in that area anyway and it has not been as issue. We do have a vanity slide and the awning goes out over this. Since this is a very small slide, it also hasn’t been a problem and we really like that bit of extra bedroom space. We only went with the one awning on the door side and the only problem with this is that because of the door side slide the awning edge is just barely over the entry steps. This doesn’t give much coverage for when it rains. Instead of buying the second awning, we’re in the process of having window awning put on over the windows on the door side slide. We had these on one of our Carriage Cameos and they are really nice in windy areas where you can’t put the large awning out. They have a tie down strap that straps to the rig and we’ve had them out in 30+ miles per hour winds. Hope this helps.

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    • Thank’s for following the blog!

      I suppose fiberglass would be better than rubber roofs. Personally, I’m sticking with the rubber roof with a 12 year warranty. I had a rubber roof on a travel trailer for six years with no issues. Today, if the roof goes bad there are other options such as coatings they put over them with lifetime warranties. Of course, I’d hate to have to argue with a warranty provider if there was water damage to the trailer. And none of the RV brands I am considering come with fiberglass roofs so for me it’s a moot point.

      I read the article you provided the link to. Looks like the author also replied to his own article four times. I did not read through the web site much, but looked at the titles of other posts. The titles seemed controversial for lack of a better description. Hearing both sides of the story is a good thing. I may read a few more of his articles but will keep an open mind.

      I have come to believe at least with fifth wheels, they will loose about 45% of there value in the first five years, assuming you buy new at a fair price to start with. So, it seems reasonable to assume the 45% loss in value is part of the expense of ownership. I would also think proper and consistent maintenance, or lack of, would play a role in how fast the trailer deteriorates. For me, the trade off is worth it for the ability to travel the country in a “home” rather than paying for motels or whatever.

      Not all RVs are built equal in terms of labor. For example Augusta RV and New Horizons use hourly employees rather than those that work by the piece, slinging trailers together. I plan on doing the best I can to check everything out before I write the check. And not buying more RV than I can afford to; knowing it will depreciate.

      I would really enjoy further discussion on all the topics mentioned in the article but did not want to tie up your time with it. For example, as you may know there are different ways to build a laminated wall. And it you don’t want a laminated wall there are trailers that don’t use them.

      Please send a reply if you want to discuss further.

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