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 have included notes under each year in an attempt to show how we progressed from year to year.
  • I am using a decision matrix and a form to keep notes.
  • I’ll skip listing the MSRP pricing for 2018 because I have a good idea of where each trailer fits in terms of which price point. After all these years I can see where generally you get what you pay for. But who is to say that a less expensive model might rate better than another more expensive because of the options we are willing to pay for – or not.
  • 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.  I may post both files some day on the blog! Before then, send me an email if you want a copy at mseneker@hotmail.com.
  • And of course we have a budget for both the truck and trailer and will stay within the budget. Some of the more expensive trailers were rated because we could buy them used.
  • I’ve had to limit the trailers to those we can see at dealerships within a reasonable driving radius or at the annual show. There are plenty to choose from. We did travel to Elkhart Indiana and toured Augusta RV. I’ve really not found any others I would travel to see other than maybe the Northwood Arctic Fox.
  • I have provided links to specific brand trailers in the corresponding years where I reviewed the brand. Although I may not have written a review, we have been in all these trailer brands other than the Arctic Fox and Highland Ridge Mesa Ridge.
  • 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 such as the smaller Grand Design Reflections and Heartland’s Bighorn Travelers Edition. We want heavier construction for full time cargo capacity at over 3,000 pounds.
  • We are also starting to eliminate any that do not have access to the bathroom, fridge and bedroom with the slides in.

2018 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. If I bought something used built in another year I would use the 2018 rating scales to judge it. 

We start 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. Also would lower the selection to throw out any short on cargo capacity (3,000 pound minimum) or grey tanks (75 gallons minimum).

I have added categories this year so there are more possible points than years before. So you should only compare scores in the same year. There is a possible 295 points this year.

Luxury Models (as of 6/3/18 not all 2018 floor plans are out – will have to confirm floor plan numbers)

  • 2018 Keystone Montana Legacy Addition
    • 3270RL 39’7″ 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.
    • 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.
    • 3660RL 39’4″ Separated living/kitchen – 5 slide – ?
  • 2018 Keystone Alpine (1st time to review but I’ve been in two of them)
    • 3400RS 36’4″ Door side stairs. Full shower
  • 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  (225.75 point average)
    • 3160 Elite 35’10” Door side stairs w/d in kitchen, long shower 228.25 points
    • 3270RS 35’2″ Door side stairs, corner shower. 227 points 
    • 3585RL 38’9″ Off door side stairs, super slide bedroom. 224 points
      • 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″ Door side stairs. 223.75 points
  • 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” Door side stairs, double vanity
      • Rated this one in 2017 as well.
    • 36CKTS  39’10” Door side stairs, single vanity
  • 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
    • 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.
    • 310GK 34’11” Door side stairs, long shower cargo and grey 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. Sorry, I still don’t see why it’s the fastest growing fifth wheel brand at the moment. Perhaps because they are not owned by Thor?
    • 360RL 39’4″ Separated living/kitchen – 5 slide – ? Cargo capacity is marginal.
      • 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.
      • Leaving it on this list for now because there are only two floor plans advertised at 40′ or less (although the actual size could be larger.)
  • 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
    • G359RET 36’5″ Door side stairs, cargo is marginal
    • G370RLT 39’2″ Door side stairs, cargo is marginal
  • 2018 Jayco Pinnacle
    • 36RSQS 39’3″ Door side stairs 4 slides. Grey capacity is marginal. Per 2017 specs.
      • Discontinued in 2018.
    • 36KPTS 39’6″ 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′)
  • 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
    • 3150RL 35’7″ Door side stairs, corner shower
    • 3650RL 39’5″ Door side stairs, long shower, marginal cargo capacity per 2017 specs.
  • 2018 Prime Time Sanibel
    • 3550 39’2″ Door side stairs
  • 2018 Northwood Arctic Fox
    • 35-5Z 38’11” Off door side stairs
      • Not sure it has the quite AC system.
      • Grey water is 67 gallons that is a little marginal when we want 75.
  • 2018 CrossRoads Cameo
    • CE3301RL 35’2″ Door side stairs.

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
    • 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 find one.
  • 2018 Redwood (233.75 points average) – With the full body paint option.
    • 3401RL 36’9″ Door side stairs 233.75 points
      • 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 like this one. Like the 8,000 pound axles, larger drum brake, H rated tires and MorRyde 4100 suspension.
    • 2017 36RL 38’11” Off door side stairs. 234 points
      • 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.
    • 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″ Door side stairs, lacks grey water capacity at only 45 gallons.
      • Sorry has to be off the list because of grey tank size.
    • 365RL 38’11” Door side stairs, lacks cargo capacity at 2,900 per 2017 specs.
      • I like the fact their trailer height is 4″ less than others at 12’11”.
  • 2018 Augusta RV Ambition
    • 33QS 34’6″ Door side stairs, corner shower
    • 34KS 35’3″ Door side stairs, corner shower
    • 35RS 36’9″ Door side stairs, longer shower
  • 2018 DRV Mobile Suites Aire
    • MSA-38 38″ Door side stairs, double vanity, 4 slide.
  • 2018 DRV Mobile Suites (so far non under 20k Gross Weight that we like floor plan)
    • 34 RESA3 36’10” is 19,000 gross but dealer stock only was one we liked and they don’t build anymore. I might rate the trailer because in our price point we would be buying used anyway.

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