RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×
 
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 04-29-2016, 11:04 PM   #1
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Virginia
Posts: 21
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!!!
__________________

Moose1790 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2016, 11:16 PM   #2
Platinum Member
 
Davydd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 5,096
Default

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.
__________________

__________________
Davydd
2015 Advanced RV Ocean One Mercedes Benz Sprinter
Previous Class Bs:
2011 Great West Van Legend Sprinter
2005 Pleasure-way Plateau TS Sprinter
Davydd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 12:02 AM   #3
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Virginia
Posts: 21
Default

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.
Moose1790 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 12:22 AM   #4
Platinum Member
 
Davydd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 5,096
Default

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
__________________
Davydd
2015 Advanced RV Ocean One Mercedes Benz Sprinter
Previous Class Bs:
2011 Great West Van Legend Sprinter
2005 Pleasure-way Plateau TS Sprinter
Davydd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 05:10 AM   #5
Platinum Member
 
wincrasher's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Greer, South Carolina
Posts: 2,611
Default

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.
__________________
2019 Winnebago Travato GL
Follow my blog: https://www.wincrasher.blogspot.com
Our Facebook group is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ClassBCamperVans/
wincrasher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 06:38 AM   #6
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 300
Default

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
Attached Images
File Type: jpg LTV Free Spirit TE Floorplan.jpg (88.5 KB, 5 views)
SiennaGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 07:03 AM   #7
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 300
Default

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/
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Winnebago Era 70X.jpg (63.5 KB, 4 views)
SiennaGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 08:41 AM   #8
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 300
Default

Here's some advice for treating dust in the brain.
Attached Images
File Type: png Treatments for Neurological Dust Bunnies.png (90.4 KB, 5 views)
SiennaGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 02:22 PM   #9
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Virginia
Posts: 21
Default

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.
Moose1790 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 02:40 PM   #10
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Virginia
Posts: 21
Default

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.
Moose1790 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 03:17 PM   #11
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Virginia
Posts: 21
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiennaGuy View Post
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."
Glad you had your coffee today because I had totally forgotten about this model. Unfortunately you might as well call it the "Free Spirit Unicorn" because I've never seen the mythical beast. None listed for sale on any of the usual websites. But YES! If one could be had for a reasonable price this is exactly what we're looking for. I could be wrong, but this is the only 4 captain chair model I can recall with a pax/camp side galley (which I prefer). I can't imagine LTV sold many of these... I get the market they were trying to tap, but I just don't see most folks contemplating what I am.

Now that I too have dusted off my memory, I recall that my dad actually was interested in this model a few years back. He was thinking it would be great to haul his retired golf buddies to the course/clubhouse and the myriad other activities they do to pass time... all in the luxury of something much more functional than the standard Lexus/BMW everyone seems to have. Unfortunately the gated golf community he lives in said "no way" to letting him have it in the driveway. Cars stored in the driveway are OK but not "campers." In today's day and age, I bet many folks in the target market ran into that issue... which is why you simply don't see many of these on the road. Ironically, my dad ended up buying a Chrysler Town and Country minivan and all his golf buddies prefer to ride with him in the van than in their own Mercedes S Classes or BMW X5s. Go figure.
Moose1790 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 06:48 PM   #12
Platinum Member
 
Boxster1971's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,027
Default

The ERAs are all on 24 foot Sprinters which are more difficult to park. The newer Airstream Interstates are also only now on the long Sprinters. I think only Roadtrek continues to offer a B-van in 22 foot Sprinter that seats seven. In the used market you would have choices of Roadtrek, LTV, GW and Airstream in 22 foot Sprinters with seating you want.
__________________
2013 Airstream Interstate Lounge EXT on 2012 Sprinter 3500 170Ext
Formerly: 1973 Dodge B300 DIY pop-top conversion
Boxster1971 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 07:27 PM   #13
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 300
Default

The Free Spirit TE may just be a ghost spirit. I've been unable to find one online anywhere. Perhaps if you wrote to Leisure Travel Vans on their website, they might have an inkling where one might be. If not, they could probably steer you towards the largest dealer of used LTV products and then you could ask them to let you know when they get one.

Between the TE and the Era 70X, I also would prefer the TE. LTV has a better reputation for quality than Winnebago (at least that's what I've heard) and the galley on the passenger side makes more sense to me, too. The TE was also shorter than the Era 70X. The Era 70X is built on the extended Sprinter chassis, while the TE was built on the medium size chassis. The TE would therefore be easier to park.

I managed to find a video of the 2016 Era 70X (not the 2016.5) and saw what you meant about the rear space. There's some space beneath the sofa but it looks like the back of the sofa is almost right up against the door.

Also, in looking at various Era 70X videos online, I realized that the quickest way to tell the difference between the 2016 and the 2016.5 is to look for cabinet door handles. The newer one doesn't have them, but both may be labeled "2016."
Attached Images
File Type: png 2016-Era-70X-rear.png (1.31 MB, 7 views)
File Type: png 2016-Era-70X-Cabinets (Handles).png (886.6 KB, 6 views)
File Type: png 2016.5-Era-70X-Cabinets (No Handles).png (1.05 MB, 6 views)
SiennaGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 08:37 PM   #14
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Virginia
Posts: 21
Default

For those who have driven both, how much harder is a 24' Sprinter to park than a 22'? Aside from the obvious (duh, it's about 2 feet longer), have people found that the extra 2 feet doesn't really make a difference or that 2 more feet is exactly the right amount more to turn an easy park job into a nightmare? I imagine it could go either way.

I have a 19.5 foot long Ford F-150 that I have no problems parking most of the time (except in parts of NYC where it's a pain). Something on the long Sprinter chassis is going to be a good 4+ feet longer, which really could make a big difference. I was thinking that the trick would be finding a spot near a curb (typically back of the lot) or something where you could back in and put most of the overhang out of the parking lot over grass.

Also, interestingly I find that the hassle with the F-150 is usually the width. I believe the Sprinters are a good 6 inches narrower. I know I'm going to eventually have to get out there and test drive all these things, but I'm interested in some real world experience from Forum members (because dealers will inevitably talk you into thinking parking anything will be easy).
Moose1790 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 09:33 PM   #15
Site Team
 
avanti's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 4,109
Default

I've driven both. I wouldn't say that the extra length makes it much HARDER to park. It is just that there are many situations (typically involving shallow parking spaces perpendicular to the traffic) in which you can squeak by with a 22' but in which a 24' would just stick out too much.

You are correct that width is not an issue with Sprinters.
__________________
Formerly: 2005 Airstream Interstate (Sprinter 2500 T1N)
Now!: 2014 Great West Vans Legend SE (Sprinter 3500 NCV3 I4)
avanti is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2016, 11:13 PM   #16
Platinum Member
 
Boxster1971's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,027
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by avanti View Post
I've driven both. I wouldn't say that the extra length makes it much HARDER to park. It is just that there are many situations (typically involving shallow parking spaces perpendicular to the traffic) in which you can squeak by with a 22' but in which a 24' would just stick out too much.

You are correct that width is not an issue with Sprinters.
I've also driven both and agree with avanti - the 24 foot model is just as easy to drive, but you typically need a double depth parking spot due to its length. Sometimes they are more difficult to find. I always look for the double length pull through spots on the outer edges of shopping areas. When I parallel park on the street it takes more than a single space. I look for ones on either end that give enough room but don't take two spots.

On edit - I should add the bigger problem will be the height, since you are used to a mini-van or a pickup truck. I've gotten into several spots over the last three years where I had to back out of an area due to my nearly 10 foot height. No more typical parking garages if you drive a B-van conversion, unless it's a pop top like Sportsmobile builds.
__________________
2013 Airstream Interstate Lounge EXT on 2012 Sprinter 3500 170Ext
Formerly: 1973 Dodge B300 DIY pop-top conversion
Boxster1971 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2016, 05:10 AM   #17
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Sarasota, FL
Posts: 68
Thumbs up Coachman Galleria

I'm surprised that nobody brought up the Coachman Galleria. It looks really nice and has the Truma Combi heating system, available solar charging, beautiful interior and four different floorplans. It's probably the highest quality motorhome that Coachman builds. The street price seems to be hovering under $95k.

2016 Coachman Galleria
GigaGeek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2016, 01:48 PM   #18
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Virginia
Posts: 21
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by GigaGeek View Post
I'm surprised that nobody brought up the Coachman Galleria.
Agreed! I definitely need to check these out. They look really nice (best source of info thus far has been the FitRV videos since the Coachmen website isn't very detailed). The only trouble with these is that there doesn't seem to be much of an active owner community. I haven't found a lot of user feedback (i.e. pros/cons and ownership experience) to use as a gauge. Maybe someone on this forum has one?

I checked out the few Galleria threads on here and it looks like one or two folks may actually have them. I'd love to hear feedback. Maybe I'll post my questions over in the Galleria thread. Thanks!
Moose1790 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2016, 03:52 PM   #19
Platinum Member
 
Davydd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 5,096
Default

I've never seen a Coachmen on the road that I can remember. They aren't represented by anyone in Minnesota where I live that I know of.

Generally it appears to be another floor plan clone of the Roadtreks with small refrigerator (most likely 12v compressor in this case) and microwave under a counter. To me that is bad design. The wardrobe and TV over the passenger side ottoman seat is awkward. The 2nd and 3rd seat and sofa don't have headrests if it is to be used as a passenger van.

It has very small tanks for an extended body Sprinter of 22 gal. fresh, 14 gal. grey and 11 gal. black.

It does have two 12v house batteries but it comes with a built in electric induction cooktop. That begs being plugged into shore power most of the time.

In effect, for this B to be functional the company looks at it as if you are going to visit full hookup campgrounds. That probably stems from the big motorhome and trailer mentality.

There is and isn't a lack of information. They seem to carefully conceal the details in their presentation. They don't seem to have anything "proprietary" to hide like Roadtrek does with its Etrek stuff. For example, where are the two batteries located? Any outside storage compartments? Four captain's seats but are they convertible for sleeping?

This is the one that does have well made real wood cabinetry with dovetail wood drawer construction. Other than that, it doesn't seem to be keeping up with the competition to differentiate itself as a must have.
__________________
Davydd
2015 Advanced RV Ocean One Mercedes Benz Sprinter
Previous Class Bs:
2011 Great West Van Legend Sprinter
2005 Pleasure-way Plateau TS Sprinter
Davydd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2016, 04:25 PM   #20
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,313
Default

The one thing that stood out when I was in a Galleria at a local RV show was how narrow the aisle is, seemed much less width than our Roadtrek RS Adventurous, but it only takes a few inches there to make a big difference.
__________________

gregmchugh is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT. The time now is 11:36 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×