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Old 10-05-2015, 05:56 PM   #1
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Hi, I am a new forum registrant.

My husband and I plan to purchase a class B in the near future and are actively researching, test driving, etc. We have so many questions! I don't want to overwhelm in this first post so I will hit the top 3.

First, a brief description of our intended use and critical needs. By the time we purchase, we will be living in Lake Tahoe. We will be semi-retired and using the camper for extended trips to visit friends/family across the US, Canada and Mexico. My husband is an avid skier and he will take the camper to distant ski resorts. I am an avid tennis player and will take the camper to tennis tournaments within California (some in busy cities). We will be mostly traveling as two adults and two dogs. We belt our dogs in. We want to have at least 4 seat belts.

We have never owned an RV. We want the size/flexibility of the B. Class A is too big ...way beyond our needs. We prefer the subtlety of the B over the C. I prefer short (22 feet or less) but am okay at under 25 feet.

We will not garage the camper. It will be covered when not in use (hopefully short intervals only) and in our driveway. For winter use, we can dry camp but safety while driving on snow and ground clearance are concerns.

We will not buy new, probably a few years old, and since we are looking to purchase next year or the following, we are paying attention to the 2012-2015 models.

This is our shortlist (but we have no brand preference ...mostly this is based on size, layout and price):

Winnebago Era 70A or Travato 59K
Roadtrek SS Agile, RS Adventurous or Zion
Roadtrek 190 Popular (least favorite)

Question #1. This past weekend we looked at the Roadtrek Zion and Winnebago Travato 59K and liked them both. However, I read that the Promaster chassis is FWD and this cannot be converted to a 4WD/4x4...is this true? We are not 100% certain that we need 4x4 but want the flexibility to convert after market if it turns out we really do need it.

Question #2. We loved the Roadtrek SS Agile. However, we heard two very different things from two dealers. One dealer told us that the short wheelbase (144") and height made the driving very squirrely in any kind of wind/bad weather. In fact, this dealer told us that he has had two returned at a $30K loss and those clients bought the Zion or Travato. Another dealer told us that the Agile is their #1 seller, folks love it, he has never heard of any issues and that Dealer #1 is wrong. So ....

Question #3. I like the floorplan of some of the older Winnebago Eras (especially the 2012 170X). I've read that the Eras made prior to 2011 (when they took a year off) had engine issues (before they switched platforms). Any validity?

I would very much appreciate any information, advice, etc. We have no brand loyalty and would consider Pleasure Way, etc. We have focused on Winnebago and Roadtrek because that is what we've seen on the lot for class Bs in our price range (which seems to change daily, but for sure is <$80K used).

Best,
Leigh
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Old 10-05-2015, 07:10 PM   #2
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many PW's only have 2 belts seats up front ( our 2006 Lexor TD- $35K last year- our budget was $70K).

you could install belts in the rear for the dogs, we have 1 at 85 pounds ...we don;t belt and she has a bed between the seats...and often lolls in the back bed looking out the side window.

we do have neighbors who show dogs, they removed the armoire behind the drivers seat and bolted in a couple of crates, stacked vertically.

before buying the PW I was hot on a 2009 Era- the chassis was wonderful, it drove great I LOVED it!...however the quality of the coach build was shockingly bad. poor choice of material and really poor craftsmanship ( none). crude cuts & blind screws

so lesson is: pull the cushions and look underneath on any build. look that all electrical and plumbing is well laid out - it should look orderly...no spagetti.


owners of more recent ERAS say they are much better now...but look

in general I'd stay away from any mdf or fiberboard builds. my cabinetry is partly maple and it makes a difference. the screws can all be tightened to fight squeaks and rattles

ours has ok storage..we have been out for as long as 30 days. some builds have cabinetry which can make it claustrophobic.


many dealers post great youtube videos demoing the interiors and features- easy to guess if the layout works for you. watch for how easily the often 'large" sales guys move around the coach

a big determiner for me was the chev chassis- i own chevs, so easy to work on and understand


4WD- if you need it you need it. I never needed it the whole time I lived in Canada ( 1/2 my life). it adds height and weight ( 900#) and a less agile front end.



we are at 20' easy to park and drive, my Spouse has done solo trips to the CA beaches when I've been tied up with work. No problems at all.
A little learning curve for both of us with the "systems".


my tire kicking left me thinking that the quality of the PW build is slightly better than the RT $ for $.
The RT may have a dropped floor, which to me was a trip hazard.
the 4 seat versatile is a sideways sleeper with a bed about 5' 10" long.
and a climb over to use the can.
the popular model is a 3 seater

the more you look, the better you will figure out what you'd like.


skis- look into how you are going to carry these.

I am in the process of making a vertical kayak rack....revision 3


good luck, Mike
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Old 10-05-2015, 07:18 PM   #3
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The ERAs built before their year hiatus were 2500s with 4 wheels not 6. Decide for yourself if it is worth and wonder why they took the year off.
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Old 10-05-2015, 11:32 PM   #4
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If you want a used (2012-2015) 4x4 B-van your choice is mostly limited to a Ford E van conversion by Sportsmobile.
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Old 10-06-2015, 03:15 AM   #5
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Q2: we looked for small Bs and were also concerned with stability. Our 2015 Agile has the new MB safety features that seem to have eliminated the problems, at least nothing bad so far. We really like it so sales person 2 was correct.
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Old 10-06-2015, 03:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MobileCabin View Post
Q2: we looked for small Bs and were also concerned with stability. Our 2015 Agile has the new MB safety features that seem to have eliminated the problems, at least nothing bad so far. We really like it so sales person 2 was correct.

Thanks! What are the MB safety features? Can they be retro'd to a 2006 model?
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Old 10-06-2015, 04:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
I read that the Promaster chassis is FWD and this cannot be converted to a 4WD/4x4...is this true? We are not 100% certain that we need 4x4 but want the flexibility to convert after market if it turns out we really do need it.
Converting an existing unit to 4wd is probably not realistic. Aftermarket conversion of a Sprinter cargo van runs about $20k. Removing the RV tanks, plumbing, cabling and battery packs for conversion then custom refitting them might add another $10k. That's $30k for an aftermarket 4wd conversion with no Mercedes factory warranty or support, and limited resale value.

By comparison the Mercedes 4wd factory option adds only $6,800 to a new Sprinter. So if you end up needing 4wd just sell the existing unit for market value and buy a new 4wd Sprinter Class B like the ERA or something similar.

Or just buy a Promaster or Sprinter based unit and budget for a full set of winter wheels and snow tires. Buying a nice set of winter snows every few years would still be less expensive than 4wd.

The folks over at FitRV.com live in ski country (Utah) and just got a Winnebago Travato (Promaster) outfitted with inside water tanks and composting dry toilet for winter use. They'll likely have some useful winter snow / tire experience to report in the coming months.
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Old 10-06-2015, 04:10 AM   #8
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The first two under safety

Sprinter Cargo Van Features | Mercedes-Benz Vans

I think you can modify anything with enough money, but probably cheaper the get one with the features already installed.
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Old 10-06-2015, 05:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockymtnb View Post
Converting an existing unit to 4wd is probably not realistic. Aftermarket conversion of a Sprinter cargo van runs about $20k. Removing the RV tanks, plumbing, cabling and battery packs for conversion then custom refitting them might add another $10k. That's $30k for an aftermarket 4wd conversion with no Mercedes factory warranty or support, and limited resale value.

By comparison the Mercedes 4wd factory option adds only $6,800 to a new Sprinter. So if you end up needing 4wd just sell the existing unit for market value and buy a new 4wd Sprinter Class B like the ERA or something similar.

Or just buy a Promaster or Sprinter based unit and budget for a full set of winter wheels and snow tires. Buying a nice set of winter snows every few years would still be less expensive than 4wd.

The folks over at FitRV.com live in ski country (Utah) and just got a Winnebago Travato (Promaster) outfitted with inside water tanks and composting dry toilet for winter use. They'll likely have some useful winter snow / tire experience to report in the coming months.

Good points. $30K for an aftermarket conversion is much higher than I expected. I thought the conversion would be comparable in price to a 4x4 conversion of a 190 popular, which is less than $15K.
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Old 10-06-2015, 02:45 PM   #10
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I think for occasional trips to snow country, the front wheel drive Promaster would be the way to go. Plus, for your budget, you can buy a brand new one.

The K also has all the fresh water tankage and the water lines are inside the van, so it can be used in fairly cold weather if you have the heating system running. The G may be a better fit if you need the belted positions for dog security or mounting crates in the back. The G would need a few things modified for winter weather service - mostly just insulating a couple of the pipes under the van.

The Era is also getting the Truma heating system, but it would be on a brand new build as they just announced this upgrade. You can get an Era A in 2wd for somewhere in the low to mid 90's, so you might want to consider stretching your budget a bit and get a brand new van.
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