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Old 01-26-2018, 01:44 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, 02:22 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, 02:27 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, 03:12 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, 03:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBQ View Post
.

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, 03:31 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, 03:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indoorsy View Post
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, 03:45 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, 03:50 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, 04:16 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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