As my husband and I get closer to making a decision as to what we would like to purchase, it has come time to openly join this forum in order to seek the advice and opinions of those who have far greater experience and knowledge in the matter of Class Bs than we do.
By way of Class B background, we owned a VW Westphalia camper van many years ago, (circa 197
, that served us and two kids well, although it was underpowered and already showing its 10 years of age when we made the purchase. Fast forward to 2010 for our second Class B encounter, where we rented a Fiat Ducato caravan for a month as we travelled around New Zealand. We really loved the handling characteristics of the Ducato, which is essentially a Mercedes Benz Short Sprinter conversion, much like what we would imagine a Pleasure Way Ascent or a Roadtrek Agile would offer. It was quiet, responsive, easy to park, and although not as well appointed as the other models mentioned, it was almost perfect for the four weeks of touring we did. Another plus was the exceptional gas mileage it delivered, not only because it was a diesel, but also because it had a manual transmission. Downsides were that the front seats did not turn around to create a separate seating area, and the bed had to be made up each night. (Another downside, at least initially, was the fact that the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the vehicle and the stick shift on the left. Makes for an interesting adjustment. Of course we drove on the “other” side of the road too, so all in all it worked out just fine.)
We’ve done quite a bit of research over the past few months on the various models of Class B available, and although we would love to afford a new Sprinter, the 100K plus price tag is just a bit too far of a reach. Therefore we are looking to buy an older Sprinter model, or a newer non-diesel conversion. I should add that we have been fortunate enough to have toured the Roadtrek facility in Kitchener Ont, (June 2011), and most recently, the new Great West Van location in Winnipeg, Manitoba, (April 2012). All said and done, the front runners in our research are the Pleasure Way and the Great West Vans products, mostly due to build quality, layout preference, and the positive relationships customers appear to have with the manufacturers.
So far we are looking at a used, but extremely clean and well maintained 2005 Pleasure Way Plateau TS, with almost 60,000 miles/100,000km on the odometer; or a relatively new, 2010, very low mileage and well priced GWV Titan. Note that their is a possibility that a 2008 PW Lexor RL4 might fit into the mix.
A main detractor for the 2005 PW Plateau is that the engine noise seems very pronounced on any kind of acceleration. Also the the fixed position of the steering wheel in the “bus driver’s position” seems like it could be fatiguing on a long drive.
For the Titan, the main issue appears to be the fact that it is on a 139” Chevy Express chassis, which means its wheel base to length ratio is just under 54%, which does not bode well for highway control, although it does have dually’s. (Note that the brochure says it has a 159” WB, but according to the factory it has always been built on the 139” WB chassis.) Also, the lower gas mileage in relation to the diesel vans is a negative, particularly with the price of gasoline on the rise, but is not a show stopper. The increased width of the Titan is not as attractive as the narrower Sprinter, but does not appear to pose a major concern. We’d be interested to hear what other Titan owners have to say about their vans. As an aside, we were informed that GWV will not be making any more Titan’s.
For the 2008 PW Lexor RL4, the lack of storage and the relatively high price tag for the van are its downsides.
Finally, we have read Davydd’s comments on the GWV product with interest, and can attest to their build quality, but note that they have recently been sold to a new owner, although they have retained the same employees as the long standing original owner. Assuming that the new owner takes as much pride in the product as the original owner, the GWV track record of quality should continue.
Any comments/advice that may help us in making a decision are greatly appreciated.