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Old 05-11-2022, 02:11 AM   #1
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Default An Observation

A friend of mine recently purchased a very nice 2017 Roadtrek built on the 159 inch Dodge Promaster. It is really nice, interior seems to be good quality however, stepping in there my initial impression was that my 190 Versatile was a better layout and was more ďliveableĒ so to speak. It was really odd but it seemed to be kind of cramped in there, where the 190 seems to be more open so to speak. Maybe it is my mind playing tricks on me or something, but if I had to choose between the models given they were both in good shape - I think I might take the Chevy 190. I would sacrifice the better MPG and modern amenities for the feel of the 190. Also I like the fact that it does not ride as tall and is really a nice looking rig.

All that being said, my friends rig is awesome

Just an observation not trying to justify having an old rig
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Old 05-11-2022, 02:17 AM   #2
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I recently toured a 2020 Roadtrek on the PM 159” extended, so 37” longer than my DIY 136” PM. It was awful. Don't blame the vehicle. Blame the idiots who don’t save enough space for human habitation.
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Old 05-11-2022, 02:51 AM   #3
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Oh I am not blaming the vehicle by any means. I was ever so close to ordering a brand new Promaster 159 with swivel seats, sliding pass door with glass along with rear doors with glass. I would probably have it now if it not for Covid and the long lead time. They are great machines and I was going to build one out - after using it "empty" for a while until I knew what would work for my wife and I. I like the way you have yours setup - I have seen it when I was researching things so I am aware of you and your rig and think you have a great setup - what you need and want - nothing more and nothing less.

My situation changed when I moved to a community with a HOA which stipulated that any RV must be garaged or able to be parked in a carport. I determined that the Chevy Roadtrek would fit in my carport so I checked one out. I immediately liked it because of the minimalist design and the nice quality of the build. Also, a nice clean older model was affordable - if one could find one - and at the end of the day I had something that was really efficient and nice.

It seems to me of the newer class b designs seem to be an attempt to provide class C functionality which is a tough thing to do. My previous rig was a 1982 Westy which I really liked and had completely restored. To me that is the essence of a van camper. I loved the simplicity and the design, however I could not deal with the 67 HP air cooled engine so I sold it. But I do miss the design and layout of that van. To me the Roadtrek 190 is the step up from the Vanagon, simple design, good size, adequate power, and good looks. We wont be seeing the likes of rigs like this anymore!
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Old 05-11-2022, 12:20 PM   #4
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It is all personal choice of what you want, what you need, and what you are willing to compromise on in a class b.



Originally, pretty much all class b's were stuffed with cabinets and other things for functionality and almost all under 20' long. These were the class defining characteristics of an easy to drive and park with the amenities of a a larger RV. Then they started to get bigger and bigger until they are now up to 24' long and on dual wheels. The "openness" trend appeared with the increase in size and mid height cabinets disappearing and with them a lot of storage space. Now there appears to be a trend back to more usability with less openness, especially with the smaller Promasters and short Sprinters, so everyone can choose what they want.


I have found it very interesting that DW, who is quite claustrophobic, does just fine in out 07 Chevy Roadtrek 190P with full cabinets and the addon armoir in the third seat position, but if she gets in a 24' Sprinter that has a wall of floor to ceiling cabinets on one side and wide open on the other side, she is very uncomfortable in it and wants to get out. It appears it is the "unbalance" between what is on each side that matters in that case. Probably like the tendencies that many people have about unintentionally moving away from a wall on one side, which I know I do also. I have read it is why people often tend to have trouble on cliff type trails along a wall of a mountain as they without wanting to move out from the wall side and fall off.


For us, as long as we have window openings on both sides of the van, in our case alternating sides but full in front and rear, it is plenty to keep her comfortable.


So our choice was good for us. Lots of storage space and features and still short enough to park most places and just over 20' long, very driveable, no dual wheels to deal with. We have gone to lots of shows and gone through nearly all other b's and haven't found anything we would trade for to this point.



There recently was a post on another discussion that mentioned that class b's can park anywhere and that is one their big features, but that is not necessarily true anymore and "most" are now longer than the most common 20' long parking spot. There probably could be an argument that many of the current class b vans are not really class b's because they don't fit one of the original defining features, I suppose, but that is a stretch.



Bottom line...get what you suits your taste and needs and don't necessarily listen to what others tell you is good for you to get except as a data point in your quest.
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Old 05-11-2022, 12:57 PM   #5
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You're right.. it's not your imagination. The newer vans have some of the worst interiors. Many of them have the look and feel of a prison cell.. cold, harsh, grey, a few small windows (Small on purpose? Is that "style"?) My 20 year old van is warm, comfortable, bright inside, and welcoming. And, it was 1/5 the price!
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Old 05-11-2022, 01:25 PM   #6
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This was one of the reasons we had our van custom built. We couldn't find an RV with enough windows to make it feel open. Roadtrek is one of the worst RVs for this. They don't even put the main windows on the correct side so that you can see your campsite.

Part of this is based on what sells the best. Customers want the biggest bathroom, refrigerators, closets, etc.. You can't have big open windows and everything else. People would rather have 3 weeks of food and clothes in a tall refrigerator and closet than a view of the scenery they are traveling to see. This even makes the vans harder to drive. We made sure our RV had a full line of windows on the passenger side so that I can change lanes on the freeway without totally relying on mirrors.
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Old 05-11-2022, 01:47 PM   #7
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Part of this is based on what sells the best.
Exactly correct. It's the same with any vehicle.. they are designed so as to induce an impulse buy on the sales lot, because they know that's how most people operate. Has nothing to do with camping. Gold plated fixtures? White leather seats? In a camper? What in the world..?
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Old 05-11-2022, 02:18 PM   #8
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There is a recurring topic on our PM forum (mostly DIY'ers) about whether you live "inside" or "outside" your van. Some avid outdoorsy types brag that they live "outside" with the van used only for sleeping, so it doesn’t matter if the van is a cave. My position is that unless you are limited to very short trips when you can choose the weather with precision, the van needs to be comfortable for sitting out bad outdoor conditions, whether, rain, cold, wind, bugs, whatever. I love bad weather days in my van.

Another factor is the ability to move around freely, even with two people in a <18' van. Instead of an aisle, we have a 4’ x 4.5' open space. This allows two people to move freely around each other, even if we are putting on/taking off backpacking packs. No "Could you please sit down so I can get to the bed?"

"People would rather have 3 weeks of food and clothes in a tall refrigerator and closet than a view of the scenery they are traveling to see." We have the 3-week storage capacity AND the view. We didn’t have to choose.
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Old 05-11-2022, 02:59 PM   #9
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KurtFranz, Your observation prompted me to look up the floorplans you mentioned. I think the flaw of the newer Roadtrek layout (Zion and Simplicity) is the upper half-closet next to the galley that 'closes off' that side of the van, and makes that dinette seat unuseable. It feels unbalanced and tunnel-like. Compared to layouts that have one side open to the rear, such as your 190 Popular and my Free Spirit.
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Old 05-11-2022, 04:18 PM   #10
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We have the 3-week storage capacity AND the view. We didnít have to choose.
I like your website. You did choose though. You made the decision not to have a bathroom at all and instead use a 5 gal pail in order to have more windows and an open design. Nothing wrong with that though. There are always compromises. Most Class B owners wouldn't make that one.
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Old 05-11-2022, 04:19 PM   #11
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Before I ran into the HOA situation which led me to the Roadtrek, I also kicked around the idea of recreating the Vanagon Westy in a promaster 136 inch wheelbase. That was a great layout in that it had the large open area in lieu of an aisle - which I agree leads to the claustrophobic effect which we have been mentioning.

For those who are unfamiliar ....

vanagon_interior_2.jpg
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Old 05-11-2022, 04:34 PM   #12
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Most Class B owners wouldn't make that one.
People get very sensitive about going to the bathroom. But once one gets over that, things open up and you can clear out all that nasty clutter and plumbing and make much better use of the interior space. A prior owner had the flushing head removed from our van - I'm still thankful to whoever it was that did that.
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Old 05-11-2022, 04:45 PM   #13
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People get very sensitive about going to the bathroom. But once one gets over that, things open up and you can clear out all that nasty clutter and plumbing and make much better use of the interior space. A prior owner had the flushing head removed from our van - I'm still thankful to whoever it was that did that.
I am not the least bit sensitive about going to the bathroom, so there is nothing to "get over". That does not stop DW and me from placing a luxurious wet bath as #2 on our priority list, right after a comfortable bed. This is our personal priority and we have no desire to get over it. @jrobe has it right. We should be helping newbies to understand the objective tradeoffs and then do our best to help them realize their decisions, not to try to covert them to ours.
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Old 05-11-2022, 05:05 PM   #14
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What I am reading is interesting, especially when others are describing "types" of people and what and why they prefer. I assure you we don't fit many of those descriptions when compared to what we like.


As I said earlier "to each their own (choices in a van)" and there is no reason to categorized those folks to justify not liking what they choose.


Lots of stuff others like that we put way on the bottom of our list of needs/wants, but that certainly is not for us to worry about it. As someone mentioned earlier, if nobody wanted the features they wouldn't sell and disappear from the market except in customs.
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Old 05-11-2022, 05:17 PM   #15
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As someone mentioned earlier, if nobody wanted the features they wouldn't sell and disappear from the market except in customs.
I agree with the sentiment, but I do also agree with the previous point that distinguishes between "curb" features that are designed to appeal to (often first-time) buyers as they stand in the dealer's lot vs "use" features, which only come into play when one is actually camping. The gap between the two is often depressingly wide, and most of the cash value lies in the former.
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Old 05-11-2022, 05:37 PM   #16
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I agree with the sentiment, but I do also agree with the previous point that distinguishes between "curb" features that are designed to appeal to (often first-time) buyers as they stand in the dealer's lot vs "use" features, which only come into play when one is actually camping. The gap between the two is often depressingly wide, and most of the cash value lies in the former.

Absolutely correct especially with first time buyers or just looking soon to be buyers. It is pretty surprising how many things that you think you absolutely need fall away very quickly once you have them. We found that especially true with a set of cookware for our van that never go used because of the way we preferred to cook. We hauled them around for 10 years or more before we wised up and sold them recently.
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Old 05-11-2022, 05:37 PM   #17
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I like your website. You did choose though. You made the decision not to have a bathroom at all and instead use a 5 gal pail in order to have more windows and an open design. Nothing wrong with that though. There are always compromises. Most Class B owners wouldn't make that one.
No 5-gallon pail. It's 2 gallon. It's from Sherwin Williams and even says right on the side that it's "Purdy."
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Old 05-11-2022, 05:53 PM   #18
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I agree with the sentiment, but I do also agree with the previous point that distinguishes between "curb" features that are designed to appeal to (often first-time) buyers as they stand in the dealer's lot vs "use" features, which only come into play when one is actually camping. The gap between the two is often depressingly wide, and most of the cash value lies in the former.
An egregious example of marketing a 'curb' feature was Roadtrek:

A heat pump that will fail leaving you with nothing but HOT, no ac. I cannot think of any, zero applications for a heat pump in a B. Did Roadtrek not think? Or they did, and well, they behaved like Roadtrek.

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Old 05-11-2022, 06:40 PM   #19
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High on my list of the "curb hall of shame" is hugely powerful, energy-sucking air conditioners that are capable of making ice cubes on your countertop in three minutes. The salesperson only has three minutes to demo the A/C, so it has to be fast. In real life, they cycle too often, disturbing sleep and are ineffective at humidity control. This is especially egregious in the case of old-school bang-on/bang-off single-speed compressors.
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Old 05-12-2022, 01:27 PM   #20
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Tent campers donít have windows (I was one for 40 years.) Most van drivers donít (Amazon) have windows and get around easily. The large expanse of cab windows is all the sight seeing necessary while driving. The hippie nostalgia went away with my 1968 converted Chevy window van. As many know I had exceedingly packed more into a van in going up to 24 ft. With dual wheels including two Lazy Boy like articulating beds with surrounding windows. The ultimate in interior comfort. All the comforts were there to rival bigger motor homes including food, clothing and dumping on a three week interval. Once you go achieve that you donít want to give it up as seen in some longtime camper friends who have gone up to Class Cís.

I went in the opposite direction down to 19 ft. Van but did not give anything up. Actually gained a bigger private wet bath with a 31Ē sq. shower pan. Windows were strategically placed where you needed them in the sliding door, over the kitchen counter and end the back at the head of the bed. I have the space at the sliding door and fully turned around cab seats. Thatís where you need it. We do live outside as much as feasible. Thatís what you do in a ďcamperĒ van.

BTW, I met MsNomer last week at a campground where we had a miserable rainy week. Fortunately the group rented a shelter space. We toured our respective vans. MsNomer did a fantastic job of conversion with unique design efficiency. If you ever have a chance to see it, you would be amazed.
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