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Old 04-29-2016, 11:04 PM   #1
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Question Replace a minivan with a Class B - Am I crazy?

Hi folks,
I've been lurking on the forum for a while but figured it's about time to join the conversation.

My wife and I are seriously considering ditching our well used 2007 Honda Odyssey for a Class B. We are a family of four with two elementary age kids. We like the idea of a rig that we can do most of the things we do with our minivan (i.e. haul kids around, road trips to grandparents in Florida, kids' sporting events, etc) but with the added flexibility of a head, sleeping and cooking capability, and even the possibility of spending several nights in the rig. We can either drop $50K+ on a new SUV or top of the line minivan or $100k(ish) on a class B. Since we can afford it, we're both seriously considering going the B route. The big drawbacks are that there is no way I can fit it in my garage, there is a good chance that our HOA won't even let us keep it in the driveway (although a Sprinter with a big Mercedes emblem on the grill might pass muster), and truly camping in a B with 4 people probably won't be super fun.

While I do think we'll camp in it, my plan is to throw a tent in the back and let the kids do that except in cases of bad weather. We simply don't have time for many week long trips but long weekends exploring what the surrounding states have to offer are realistic. Having the ability to just stay the night in the rig rather than drive home at midnight has a real appeal. Parking, even if I can't keep it at home, won't be a major problem since I can keep it at work about 10 miles away.

So questions:
1. Are we crazy?
2. Is it really realistic to drive true class B's around town and park (with some careful site selection)? Probably won't use it as a grocery getter, but would use it for Home Depot runs or taking it to the ballpark & rec center/ice rink/etc.
3. Could we open our aperture to include small "B+" that may be easier to fit 4 people in without ruining our ability to use it pretty much as a replacement car? I'm think like a used LTV Unity, not a class c.
4. Any recommendations on good Class B's (or B+) for us? I am pretty familiar with most models, but I'm hoping the forum can add a dose of reality or mention something I hadn't previously considered.

A few "requirements" (these come from my wife, hence the "quotes")
1. Must be able to seatbelt 6 people. This eliminates a lot of choices (including the aforementioned LTV Unity). This is so we can truly replace what we use the minivan for, which includes the occasional kid haul duty.
2. Must have an actual head. Wet baths are OK but porta potties are not.
3. Must have some ability to boondock. I don't need to run the AC off battery, but part of the appeal is to have a place to retreat to and watch TV between hockey games at a tournament, etc.

I know someone will ask about budget. I won't say "Money is no object" because I refuse to finance anything, so I have to be able to scrounge up the cash. I'd therefore like to stay around or below $100K. A lot below that would be great but I don't think I'll find what I'm looking for in a new or only a few year old RV. Would prefer to not go older than 2013.

Thanks for reading. I know I put a lot down but I've bottled up a few questions for some time. I'm really interested in hearing opinions and ideas. My family isn't the typical B buyer, but I'm interested in exploring this concept. Anyone camping with kids in a B would be great to hear from.

Thanks!!!
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:16 PM   #2
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Don't kid yourself, A Unity is not a Class B. It is a Class C and probably would not be a substitute for a mini-van. If you want to use it as a mini-van replacement You probably should be looking at Promasters for four only. If you really want to seat six legally with front facing seats and seat belts then you need to be looking at something like a Roadtrek Sprinter with with a convertible sofa to bed arrangement (seats 3 people) and a second captains chair behind the two front cab seats.
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Old 04-30-2016, 12:02 AM   #3
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Thanks David... pretty much my thoughts exactly based on what I've seen so far. I'd even go so far to say that there is really only one basic floorplan/arrangement that is commonly available in the US... exactly what you describe.

One could argue that something like a Roadtrek CS Adventurous with one 2nd row seat and three seat belts in the rear bench could accommodate six in a pinch (which falls into your description above). That could allow for more storage and a larger fridge. My wife isn't buying it though.

Thanks for your quick reply! I'm not aware of any promaster based US RVs with more than 4 belted seating positions. I'd be interesting in learning about some if they exist (even if the belted seats are forward facing). Otherwise I think we're indeed talking Sprinters.
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Old 04-30-2016, 12:22 AM   #4
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I believe the Pleasure-way Lexor on the Promaster chassis will seat 5 legally. It has the electric sofa/bed in the back and the two cab seats. It could seat maybe two additional on the ottoman seats but not so legally or safely.

Pleasure-Way ProMaster Lexor TS
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Old 04-30-2016, 05:10 AM   #5
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I think for family activity as you describe, a Travato may fit the bill. Unfortunately it only belts 4 persons. But there is nothing that drives easier and most like the mini-van that you are already accustomed too. And even better, you can get one for $70-74k, not $100k. About the same price as a new Suburban these days.
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Old 04-30-2016, 06:38 AM   #6
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Somewhere in the back of my brain, amidst the ever growing collection of neurological dust bunnies, I remembered that in 2014-2015, Leisure Travel Vans made a Mercedes Benz Class B that they called the "Free Spirit TE." It was sort of a combination minivan and camper. Like a minivan, it had sliding doors on both sides and it had belted seating for 7. Because it was a Class B, it had a bathroom and a galley, and you could fold down the rear sofa and sleep two people in its 68" x 74" bed. You might be able to find one used somewhere. LTV stopped making them, and all of their other Class B models, because of the overwhelming demand for the Unity.

I've attached the floor plan. Leisure Travel Vans still has info about the Free Spirit TE on their web site: http://www.leisurevans.com/freespiritte/index.html
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Old 04-30-2016, 07:03 AM   #7
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I brushed off some more of the dust on my brain cells and also remembered that Winnebago currently offers a similar floor plan, the Era 70X (sometimes called the 170X, if I'm not mistaken). It doesn't have the dual sliding doors that the Free Spirit TE had, but it, too, has belted seating for 7. I've attached the floor plan for it. There's more info on Winnebago site: http://winnebagoind.com/products/cla...era/floorplans

RV Trader has a 2016 Era 70X for $99,845. Of course, you should check any RV carefully before buying it.
http://www.rvtrader.com/dealers/Lazy...170X-117447832

There's a hilarious review of all of the Winnebago Era models that was put together by the folks who do the Fit RV site. Their review is here: http://www.thefitrv.com/rv-reviews/a...ls-one-review/
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Old 04-30-2016, 08:41 AM   #8
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Here's some advice for treating dust in the brain.
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Old 04-30-2016, 02:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wincrasher View Post
I think for family activity as you describe, a Travato may fit the bill. Unfortunately it only belts 4 persons.
Thanks wincrasher... I actually wish Winnebago would make the 59G with perhaps a goucho style couch (with seat belts) that turns into a double bed in lieu of the fold down mattress in the back. Perhaps they could then mount a flat panel TV in on the outer bulkhead of the lavatory. You'd definitely lose some of the storage flexibility but gain another "living area." You could also then swing arm the TV to face out the rear doors for tailgating.

You are absolutely correct that a Travato can be had for close to the price of a tricked out SUV these days.
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Old 04-30-2016, 02:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SiennaGuy View Post
RV Trader has a 2016 Era 70X for $99,845. Of course, you should check any RV carefully before buying it.
Thanks a bunch SiennaGuy. We have indeed looked at the Era online and at shows. I actually really liked the Era, and will probably check them/test drive one at a dealer. There are two problems I'll need to reconcile on the 70X:

1. Interior fit and finish looks pretty nice but the quality is questionable. At an RV show I was poking around and one cabinet door literally fell off in my hand and the screws on the wardrobe latch stripped out of the wood quicker than the latch released causing me to be left holding a piece of latch and two small screws in my hand. Mind you, I was not being rough at all... but can you imagine what my kids will do? My wife was decidedly turned off.

2. On the new model (2016.5 technically I think) Winnebago made what appears to be some nice upgrades. It increased the cost a good bit but they also appear to completely have sacrificed all storage behind the rear bench seats. I'm talking ALL storage. I couldn't even see where they intended you to stow a water hose or power cable. Just a strange choice. I'll need to look for a used one or excess inventory of the older design I think. (Unless someone can explain where that storage is now). So, where am I gonna stow that kids' tent?

Hmmm... Still probably a good option.
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