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Old 01-26-2018, 02:44 AM   #1
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Default A little deflated after the Aktiv test drive...

Today I visited the most local dealer to me (not the further away one that I had the great experience with on my way back from the Toronto RV show).

I made an appointment to test drive their only available Aktiv, the 1.0 with Promaster 2500 chassis (figured it would give me an idea of handling, drivability etc. even if it wasn't the same engine, or length).

I think it was a bit of a fail... I entered the van to find the flooring on the step up curling away from the edge (i.e.: not held in place by the metal strip that is meant to contain it). The sunroof was ajar and let in a lot of road noise and wind noise and the salesperson was not able to properly close it (whether it was broken or just hard to close, I don't know?). When I put pedal to the metal to accelerate the engine had a tough time (assuming this is a function of the 4 speed 2500 engine?). The motorized step wouldn't retract. We all had a difficult time closing the sliding door so that it was actually shut. I thought it road really nicely on the small town roads but on the highway I felt the impact of 18 wheelers going by, the wind, feeling like I had to grip the steering wheel to keep control. I was a bit white knuckled. (would a stronger engine perform better? I just don't have enough experience to know). At the Toronto show they had the doors on the 2.0 (with power sofa) open and everything just so and it felt much better than being in this 1.0 today with the bedding all askew and freezing outside so we had the door closed. I had to put the bed platform up just so there was enough room for the three of us to stand.

My sister accompanied me on the test drive - she is very kind and sweet and tried for the entire way home to find demure ways to let me know I should keep looking.

She was googling competitive models while I drove and suggested we stop at a dealer in Massachusetts on our way home to look at Winnebago's. We looked at the Travado's (neither of the floor plan will work for me but both my sister and I were impressed with the quality, comfort). We also looked at the Winnebago Era 70A and this is actually a floor plan that could work because of the three beds (vs. four on the loft edition of the Aktiv 2.0 loft). It is the Mercedes Sprinter chassis, 188 hp 6 cylinder.

The two options price out about the same. The Hymer has under hood generator vs. Onan Super Quiet. Hymer has cassette toilet vs. Winne gravity dump. Hymer has compressor fridge vs. 3 way on Winnebago. The Hymer is 3.6 L 280 hp 6 cylinder gas engine. The Winnebago is 3.0 L 188 hp 6 cylinder diesel engine (i really don't have a basis for comparison). 6 year warranty with Hymer, 1 year with Winnebago.

Hymer sleeps four comfortably in less than 21' - Era sleeps three in a bit more than 24'.

I was all set to place a deposit. The dealer experience today was not great -- it was the one closest to me. I did not get a good vibe at all and wished to the degree they could have cleaned up the van before the appointment, they had - batteries required multiple priming to get going, the issue with the retracting steps, etc. They also had a flyer with "show pricing" MSRP of $121K on this 1.0, what??? how is that even possible to get to that amount? - I asked the salesperson if they'd gone on to "build your own" on the website, no, they had not. I was frank about the impossibility of the MSRP and was told their freight and prep were in there too. If I were to purchase I'd be looking at using the dealer further away (without traffic 3.5 hours vs. the Winnebago dealer that is reputable and was such a great experience about 1 hour away).

Wish I'd come away on top of the world today - sadly that was not the case.
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Old 01-26-2018, 03:22 AM   #2
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.

The fewer moving parts, the better.

Those retractable steps are the worst thing in any RV.
The road salt will eat it alive.
That's why Winnebago replaced them with fixed running board last year.
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Old 01-26-2018, 03:27 AM   #3
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.

About acceleration.

The RV, any RV, is pretty heavy even when dry. You are hauling a whole house with you. Don't expect the acceleration to be spectacular.

The Promaster chassis is more than adequate. Maybe the engine was cold when you tried it?
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Old 01-26-2018, 04:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
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.

The fewer moving parts, the better.
I thought those steps were pretty cool before today. Not so much now. As they say KISS.

Any opinion on the Winnebago Era?
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Old 01-26-2018, 04:17 AM   #5
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.

About acceleration.

The RV, any RV, is pretty heavy even when dry. You are hauling a whole house with you. Don't expect the acceleration to be spectacular.

The Promaster chassis is more than adequate. Maybe the engine was cold when you tried it?
It was in the teens today so perhaps... I'd like to test drive the Promaster 3500 to try to discern the difference. Maybe the MB Sprinter on the Winnebago Era as well.
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Old 01-26-2018, 04:31 AM   #6
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I'm surprised the other dealer didn't have a 3500 you could drive even if it wasn't an aktiv.

There is a subforum here called Class B Camper Van Reviews. Here is an ERA review:

http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f1...ions-4018.html

There are a lot of used ERAs available. They were often sold for just under $100K so should be coming up used for a lot less. In fact, there is a 2009 with four seats on RVT.com for $45K but you would have to figure out how to make a second bed.
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Old 01-26-2018, 04:35 AM   #7
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I thought those steps were pretty cool before today. Not so much now. As they say KISS.

Any opinion on the Winnebago Era?

This is strictly my personal opinion:

1. The Winnebago ERA is a great value. It has a nice interior finish. There are many layouts to choose from. The power system (Onan & AGM) is tried and true.

2. I would prefer to stay away from diesel. Any diesel. The current generation of diesel engines has complicated and finicky computer managed emission control system. I don't want to pay $$$ when the warranty is out.

3. Mercedes Benz Sprinter service centers are few and far in between. It is ok if you are in a major center. But if you break down in the boonies, you have to flatbed the RV to the dealer, which might be hundreds of miles away. (Google Sprinter limp mode for horror stories).

4. I would prefer not to have dually. They are not as good on snow, and a pain if you need to mount chains on them.

5. MB is bringing out a new Sprinter later this year.
Some people do not like to buy the last model year (going to be obsolete).
Some people like to buy the last model year (all the bugs are ironed out).
YMMV

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 01-26-2018, 04:45 AM   #8
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Agree with the diesel assessment, which is why we chose gas. MBs are expensive and problem-prone, but many people drive them and they work fine, with the right maintenance.

You will still probably be better off with an older Chevy. If you buy a less-expensive RV, you can afford to swap out the refrigerator and perform some upgrades. Tax, license and insurance are less expensive, too.
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Old 01-26-2018, 04:50 AM   #9
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I might add that if you want to purchase a diesel Sprinter based RV do some research on diesel engine problems.
It might just be my luck but after I got our 2015 144 6 cylinder 4x4 Sprinter I loved it for the first Summer then the emissions problems started. For a complete year every time I was on a trip the engine would bog down and I would lose acceleration. I don't remember how many times this happened but I took it into the Seattle dealer probably 5 times and a California dealer once on a ruined vacation. Finally! They replaced the correct part but that was after having problems for a year.
I'm not saying that all modern diesel engines suck, but their emission systems are so complex that the chances of having problems are a lot higher that with a regular gasoline engine.
Also they say to avoid idling diesel engines or driving on short trips without running them on the freeway in order to get the temperature high enough to burn off the soot. Plus it's a heck of a lot easier to find gasoline than diesel on the back roads.
I'm just saying...I plan to purchase a Promaster based RV next time.
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Old 01-26-2018, 05:16 AM   #10
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One tip I can offer you in your search...

Look for an RV with the Truma Combi. This is the next-gen furnace and hot water heater combo. Designed and made in Germany, it is small, quiet, and efficient. If you have ever suffered the Suburban insomnia, this Truma will make you very happy.

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Old 01-26-2018, 12:52 PM   #11
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.

One tip I can offer you in your search...

Look for an RV with the Truma Combi. This is the next-gen furnace and hot water heater combo. Designed and made in Germany, it is small, quiet, and efficient. If you have ever suffered the Suburban insomnia, this Truma will make you very happy.


Oops... please ignore... posted in the wrong thread.
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Old 01-26-2018, 01:50 PM   #12
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Thank you all for your insight... So it sounds going in the direction of diesel is dicey. Leads me back again to the Aktiv 2.0 Loft - can't seem to get away from it. It did seemed cramped yesterday (was in the 1.0) as compared to when I was in the 2.0 in Toronto. Having the doors open helped. Also, at the dealer yesterday, there was stuff piled on the floor, bed all askew. They didn't put their best foot forward.

Phoebe, I honestly wanted to get out of there. I will test a Promaster 3500 elsewhere. I am very curious the difference. If I were looking as a couple (vs. my family oriented search) the Travato K with twin beds really sparked my interest. I liked it a lot. I do hold out hope I can get my daughter to join my son and I. Also, hope to camp as a couple one day (if it's in the cards for me?).

BBQ, thanks for all of your advice - very much appreciated.

Jon, ugh, I'm so sorry to hear that. I appreciate you sharing a tale of woe to help someone else avoid the same.
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Old 01-26-2018, 02:22 PM   #13
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The difference between PM 2500 and 3500 is in the suspension, not in the engine. I'm surprised you had handling issues--with its FWD, handling is normally considered a strong suit of the PM, even around big trucks, and especially in bad road conditions. I would, however, strongly recommend gas over diesel.
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Old 01-26-2018, 02:43 PM   #14
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Searching is part of the fun.

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Old 01-26-2018, 03:13 PM   #15
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Well, I think the diesel criticisms are overblown. There have been some very vocal complainers about Sprinters from a few years ago, but it seems to be quiet on the newer models.

Yes, MB can be expensive to repair. But Fords aren't exactly cheap these days either. Almost all the vans need a commercial service center, which there aren't a ton of. But that is for warranty repairs. You can get oil changes and the like just about anywhere.

The emissions system is warrantied by law for 10 years. My 2011 Silverado is still under this warranty. It's been a reliable work horse and is still going strong at 100,000 hard miles. Early on, GM had to replace my DEF tank because the sensors burned out. They also had to replace an injector. Both fixed without any fuss. The upside is economy - the interval between oil changes is 20,000 miles. The average MPG is above 19. Not to mention it pulls like a train and is actually easy to drive climbing mountains, even with a heavy load.

My gas vans have served me well. No warranty issues on the chassis at all and I've gotten great fuel economy. But they also have no towing ability, and come up short on power. They are heavy vehicles after all, and I don't expect them to have the performance of a car.

My next van will probably be a Sprinter. I'm enamored lately with the short Sprinter. It may perform very well with a gas engine, but there are advantages sticking with the diesel besides the great fuel economy. Having a deisel heating system is a very nice thing to have in an RV. Being able to have the 2nd alternator and idle the engine would be much more useful to me than a genset. Idling a gas engine for long periods to do the battery charging has it's own issues. So far Promaster is the only one you can safely do this. Can a Transit? Will a gas Sprinter?

Exciting times with all the new product coming online!
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Old 01-26-2018, 04:13 PM   #16
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Most of these problems stem from a poor dealer... who isn't cleaning up the mess (and breakage) caused by too many lookers. Obviously someone had messed up the skylight and they hadn't bothered to fix it. There is a trick to the sliding door... have an open window or front door. It's a bit too air tight. And there is the possibility that lookers have messed things up. Another reason to never buy off the lot. LOL

Power steps are total pain. I only had two issues with my LTV Libero in 4 years. One was the %&%$& power step. Whichever Roadtrek/Hymer product I end up with will have the cab ones excluded and I will try to get the other one deleted... which they may not do. And the other was the damned labor intensive total pain in the backside Onan generator. (there is NO such thing as a quiet Onan... they are all deafening and tend to cause what was for me such an irritating vibration that it would have made me nauseated to try to sleep with it running... never again!!)

I also would never have another 3 system fridge. You have to be relatively level... which is another pain for the single traveler. Either driving all over trying to find a level spot or getting in and out of the rig a dozen times juggling levelers. aggravating...

If this is the first time you have driven a big box down the highway, there is a learning curve. Yes, some are REALLY squirrely in wind or passing trucks - my first rig on a Ford E350 was white knuckles all the way. Horrible... But my Chevies are fine. (BTW... rigs with dual tires are usually more stable in winds and passing trucks.)

I suspect that you are expecting too much acceleration from a van full of furniture and kitchen appliances. These are not cars and will never win a drag race. (although the little Carado Axion is pretty spunky) Not to mention that rapid acceleration will suck up gas very fast.

Try to find a 3500 at the other dealer and hopefully your experience will be better. I still think the floor plan is your best option. Order it without the power steps... and the pop-top gets rid of the skylight. LOL

Print out a copy of the website MSRP. The delivery charges are usually around $2500.
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Old 01-26-2018, 04:28 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Well, I think the diesel criticisms are overblown. There have been some very vocal complainers about Sprinters from a few years ago, but it seems to be quiet on the newer models.

Yes, MB can be expensive to repair. But Fords aren't exactly cheap these days either. Almost all the vans need a commercial service center, which there aren't a ton of. But that is for warranty repairs. You can get oil changes and the like just about anywhere.

The emissions system is warrantied by law for 10 years.
Actually 5 or 7 years, depending on the part and the state you live in.
Quote:
My 2011 Silverado is still under this warranty. It's been a reliable work horse and is still going strong at 100,000 hard miles. Early on, GM had to replace my DEF tank because the sensors burned out. They also had to replace an injector. Both fixed without any fuss. The upside is economy - the interval between oil changes is 20,000 miles. The average MPG is above 19. Not to mention it pulls like a train and is actually easy to drive climbing mountains, even with a heavy load.

My gas vans have served me well. No warranty issues on the chassis at all and I've gotten great fuel economy. But they also have no towing ability, and come up short on power. They are heavy vehicles after all, and I don't expect them to have the performance of a car.

My next van will probably be a Sprinter. I'm enamored lately with the short Sprinter. It may perform very well with a gas engine, but there are advantages sticking with the diesel besides the great fuel economy. Having a deisel heating system is a very nice thing to have in an RV. Being able to have the 2nd alternator and idle the engine would be much more useful to me than a genset. Idling a gas engine for long periods to do the battery charging has it's own issues. So far Promaster is the only one you can safely do this. Can a Transit? Will a gas Sprinter?

Exciting times with all the new product coming online!
I generally agree with the sentiment of your comments. But, as an owner, I can attest that the issues with the Sprinter are not trivial. I have had what I would call an average amount of bad luck with Sprinter emissions. The issue isn't so much that they are unusually unreliable, but rather that the consequences of a failure are pretty severe. Expense aside, when the CEL comes on during your vacation, you are faced with two realities: (a) Sprinter-capable Mercedes dealers are few and far between, and are often extremely busy; and (b) an emissions failure will often put you into a "10 starts remaining" condition, that only a dealer or a very-well-equipped independent can remedy. These are not attractive prospects for most RVrs.

I love my Sprinter. But the emissions systems really are sub-par (although, yes, they seem to be improving), and the design of the "force a repair" system is ridiculous and unreasonable. I don't expect to have a lot of problems. But my previous experiences have left me with a Sword of Damocles feeling on every trip.

I would switch to petrol in a heartbeat if I could.
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Old 01-27-2018, 12:04 AM   #18
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Mumkin (and others!) did you see the Sunlight V2? I went to see it today at the closest camping world to me. About one hour away. Interestingly enough, the sales person I had was far and away the most knowledgeable of any I have encountered thus far. He knew his stuff cold. I got my price on the aktiv 2.0 with loft. It really is the ideal set up / layout for me. I like that it has the cassette toilet because I think I would use the camper in situations unrelated to campgrounds. For instance tailgating at sporting events / concerts. Or going on a long day road trip etc.

I like that the loft sleeps two comfortably. And that you can sleep two comfortably in the sofa bed area that provides the extra seat belts. Really no complaints whatsoever, but just struggling with the price which I got today. All in with the 6.25% Massachusetts sales tax and I am at $111,000.

I started thinking about the 59K Winnebago travato. this is about $80,000 plus tax. The sunlight v2 is about $70,000 plus tax.

I believe many of the objectionable items in the V1 have been addressed. What I saw today had a very nice fit and finish. The cushions were super comfortable and from a very soft leather. The cabinets in the bathroom no longer hinge for the door. The door has a slide out with magnets on it That attach on the other side, was good enough, in my opinion. The walls and ceiling are nicely padded in a similar way to the more expensive models. It does have the macerating toilet which would not be my preference. It does not have a screen door and that's a big problem for me. That was probably what I disliked about it the most. But thinking for short money you can get an aftermarket screen. It has 400 W of lithium batteries. Rather than 200 W originally. It has aluminum wheels. Also upgraded from the original set up. There was a small round fan behind the driver seat. There was another fan in the bathroom.

I don't know… For $40,000 price difference, maybe my daughter and her friend sleep out in the tent! Who knows if she'll even come with us… it does not have the extra seatbelts but she'll have her license this summer. She can follow me in a car for that much money.

I really really really want the one with the pop-up roof, the loft addition, but just struggling to justify that cost. This sunlight v2 was pretty nice. I had read another thread that you were involved in (Mumkin) where you were looking into it so I just thought I would reach out and ask your thoughts. The salesman I worked with today showed me all these differences from the V1 to the V2 and all the improvements. It was quite a nice van.

And I've been thinking a lot about Phoebe's suggestion to buy something used. Looking around at various options. And then I thought… Do you buy something used and fix it up or do you buy this cheap new one that's pretty damn nice? Likely end up at around the same price range and at least have a 2 year warranty etc.

I think to get to a significantly lower used price in a B class, I might have to go older than I would be comfortable with giving my lack of mechanical abilities.

Plot thickens. Trying to figure it out sooner versus later because the loft addition is now on a 16 week leadtime. If I don't order that soon, if that's the direction I go in, I will get it later into the summer than ideal.

By the way, I used Siri to type this so sorry if there's any typos or weird mistakes.
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Old 01-27-2018, 12:13 AM   #19
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If you have three people in your family and want to take any family trips by and RV with three seatbelts. You can overlook a lot of shortcomings but not being able to take the whole family on trips is not something I could live with. Myself, I would rather wait to get something that better met my requirements.
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Old 01-27-2018, 12:13 AM   #20
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This is not likely to be your preferred solution, but I have a friend with a class B who pulls a very small teardrop trailer when she takes extra kids. You might want to go for a four-seat class B for those tailgating events and pull a small trailer with an extra bed for camping. It is not as difficult to find a class B that seats four but only sleeps two.
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