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Old 12-28-2012, 02:51 AM   #41
Rok
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

Thanks for the comments, Mike.

I don't know if our local MB dealer will do mobile home work or not. We have a repair shop that deals exclusively with motorhome repairs less than a mile away from us, but I doubt that they have the certification to do warantee work on MBs, etc. Maybe on Onans, and some of the other stuff. I plan to go there to find out just what, if anything they can do for us. If, for instance, they could do Airstream warrantee work and not any of the others, it might have an impact on our purchase. Most of the dealers will readily admit that they can't do warantee work on the MB chassis and that we take it to them, and they take it to the MB dealer who returns it to them and back to us. It sounds like a bunch of hooey to me, but if that is what I have to do, I'll do it. I imagine that RVs are a lot harder to work on than an empty cargo Sprinter and the mechanics don't like it if they have to go outside to work on them because of the height, or "because that's where the heavy lift is". When mechanics don't like what they are working on, they often do a substandard job.

We did give the non-sprinter rigs a good looking at, but my wife really likes the ease of driving a dually Sprinter (3500 based rigs). We haven't driven the R.Trek Agile without the duallies yet. I'm expecting it to still be good, but not as nice as the dually 3500 chassis drives. Most of the gasoline rigs don't track as well on the road--at least from my perspective. The non-sprinter rigs are also usually fatter, and my wife wants somethng that will fit neatly in a normal parking space. That is partially why she wants an Agile. I know that close quarters can cause some discontent when we're both tired, and the few extra feet in a Plateau or a ERA might be a blessing in that respect.

As far as a used one goes, sure, we would buy a used rig, especially a "gently used" one. Those 50% of people who never sleep in their van have to unload them sometime, don't they? We would like to catch one of those at a bargain. The old Airstream mentioned earlier might have made it if it was a little better. $15K vs about $100K is huge.

We still have some research to do.

You might be right about the fiscal cliff thing. I can't imagine that they will jump us off that cliff, but if they do the impact might not be immediate. Being that 2012 is our last year of full time work, there are positive tax consequences if we buy before the end of the year (but we have agreed that that shouldn't hurry us into making a rash decision). I don't think we want to wait another year or two for the economic situation to clear up.

Thanks for your support!

.............Rocky
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:29 AM   #42
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

Most class B RVs will fit in a normal parking space as they sit. The class B vans that exceed 21' long may have some overhang nose to butt, but width-wise they all fit, even the "widebody" models can be parked in the local mall spots. My Roadtrek is officially 19'11" long and fits length and width (about 7.5' to outside edges of side mirrors) in almost every standard parking space we've ever found.

Another thing that has been mentioned is, what side of the van best suits the bathroom, or "I can't see out the right side of my van when I'm driving or changing lanes if the toilet/bathroom is in the way". That's what the passenger side mirror is for, but not everyone trusts them, I guess. If this were a show stopper for vans with the commode on the passenger side, and you find one that you like with this unpleasant feature, I would suggest you consider adding the turn signal activated rear view mirror blind spot option, that you mentioned in one of your previous posts. It sounds like it would be a good work around. I wonder if there are any semi-trailer truck drivers use that system?

Don't wait years for the economy to improve, take advantage of the downturn if it happens, to buy.
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:48 AM   #43
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

Sorry, I meant 5 feet in my last post!

I agree with you on wanting a smaller rv to get into different places, however I'm not sure the difference between the Agile and the regular sprinter will help much. The issue with Sprinters becomes the height. One of the places I want to take my rv is Baxter State Park in Maine - their limit is 20ft long & 9 ft high - the Agile is close to 10ft - and they are strict, they come out and measure. Not everyone is that strict, but take a look at the places you want to go and if the Agile will get you there.

To get service on a Sprinter, find a MB dealer that does Sprinters - not all do. I got lucky, the MB dealer by my school does Sprinters! The problem comes when you are on the road!
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:30 PM   #44
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

Hi Rocky,

I have just read through the posts, I have the same van as teachergal and both my wife and I love it. My wife drives it as our second car around town. We have camped a lot and this is my 3rd B. The larger fridge was a big plus for us. A lot has been said about the location of the bathroom. The reason i like the bath on the driver side is not the view while driving, but the view when in the campsite. It is nice to look out the large windows in the sprinter and be looking into the campsite not the side of the neighbors trailer or the bush beside your unit.

Good luck on your search.
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Old 12-29-2012, 12:05 AM   #45
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

I’m sure these things have been said many times, and in many ways, but here we go.

Having recently purchased a Class B motorhome for the first time, we fully understand the difficulty of the process and the myriad choices that must be made. We did have the advantage of renting a short Sprinter van a couple of years ago for a month, which allowed us to narrow down some of our likes and dislikes as well as determine if the Class B type RV style was a match for us.

Once we finally settled on what our RV lifestyle was, and accepted the prospect of purchasing “a divorce in a can,” we still had the agonizing choices of:
- diesel vs gas,
- the amount of money we felt we could afford vs the tempting products that tantalized us to push the budget ever higher,
- the length of the vehicle,
- things we considered to be nice-to-haves vs the essentials,
- and so on and so on.

It seemed to our friends and family that we would continue to research the purchase to the point where we would never actually do the deed, but armed with all of the information we gained and the process of clarifying what it was we actually planned to do with a rig, including the all important, yet fairly basic 5 Year Plan, and yes, a top limit on the budget, we waited around and the right rig finally presented itself. It took us a little bit by surprise as it wasn’t the diesel engine version that we initially thought was the best option, or the narrower body we thought we wanted; instead it was a wide body gas engine that had all of the critical safety features and met all of our mandatory requirements, it was the right price, and the right layout for us. On the matter of the engine type, we realized after numerous discussions that either diesel or gas would work for us, particularly after one of the premier RV dealers in town commented off hand on how they had a waiting list of folks who were looking for used gas versions of Class B’s.

In some respects the choice of a Class B is indeed a toss-up and much of it, such as internal layout and equipment, is very much a personal preference. In other respects, depending on the type of travel you expect to do, there are things that are essential. I liken it to buying a house where the interior decorating is a personal choice, whereas having a good underlying structure is mandatory.

I note that you have a fairly common thread concerning the ability to get into some remote locations. The ability of the vehicle you choose to allow you this freedom would appear to be paramount, and therefore the amount of ground clearance, not just the length, should be a major concern. To get our unit, (a Great West Vans Titan)* to have adequate clearance for the type of travel we wanted to do, we had to lift up the back end by putting in 1” spacer blocks on the rear suspension. This gave us an additional 2-3” clearance. We also installed skid wheels on the rear frame to prevent our generator from bottoming out coming out of steep driveways, parking lots, etc. We knew this deficiency existed when we bought the unit, (used only as a demo at RV Shows), so the extra expense did not come as a surprise. We also were not disappointed when we travelled some “interesting” gravel/dirt roads and made some equally “interesting” ferry entrances and exits, during our almost 10,000km/6,000 mile Alaska, Yukon and Northern BC trip this past summer. We still have a minor concern about the clearance of the black and grey water pipes, but since they are much further forward and do offer about 7” of clearance, it has not been an issue. We do note that almost all of the main stream Class B’s we looked at before we purchased ours had clearance issues of one form or another, but as you can see from our comments above, it may not an insurmountable problem to solve. As an aside, I understand that all the GWV Legends now come equipped with skid wheels. To get true backcountry capability, however, you will need to go the Sportsmobile or similar route, albeit Roadtrek makes a 4X4. Better still, if backcountry remote travel is your main consideration, seriously consider switching your focus to a Truck Camper.

In short, the following are things we consider to be mandatory when considering a purchase.

- Excellent handling characteristics, particularly being stable in windy conditions, on highways with large trucks passing, and on less than ideal roads. This is principally governed by the wheel base to length ratio. (You don’t want a unit that has a large overhang over the rear wheels.) Better handling for our unit is achieved by having dual rear wheels.
- Good road clearance as mentioned above for more than just traveling on the Interstate.
- A good Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC). Some units we looked at were on the margin of being unsafe if carrying more than two people with tank capacities only half full, thus no safe capacity for all your other stuff. Ours has almost 3200 lbs CCC with tanks full, which is exceptional. The 3500 Sprinter class with duallys is also good.
- Quiet enough at highway speed to be able to to carry on a conversation and to be comfortable.
- Adequate power to respond to emergencies and to grind up some of those mountain passes.
- Manoeuverability and parking. With a length of 21’6” we can park almost anywhere, and although our width at 7’9” without mirrors is greater than the Sprinter, it has not been a problem. Our lower overall height at 9’1” has been a plus.

On making life and travel much more comfortable, we added the following as part of our “must have” list:

- Swivel Seats to a table at the front allowing for two zone living.
- Config - Open view to pass side and galley on the “camping side”. Your back is not to the door or to the main focus of activity.
- Flexibility to have the bed up and function as a couch, or just leave it down.
- A comfortable bed. The memory foam in the version we have works very well.
- Adequate counter space to prepare meals, particularly when cooking outside is not an option. We can also use an extra table we have to improve functionality.
- Adequate storage. Although we have great storage under our couch/bed, we can move it forward to carry an amazing amount of stuff, including bikes if we so desire. (This is found in all GWV models.) We also have three outside bins that carry our BBQ, extra fuel, and allow us to separate outside “dirty” stuff from inside stuff.
- A Gen set. Doesn’t have to be built in, albeit that’s a nice feature and one we enjoy. It really comes into its own when dry camping, but if you only plan to use serviced sites reconsider your need for this.
- North-South sleeping configuration so no one has to crawl over the other to get in or out.

On the nice to have list:

- An Awning really expands your living space, and in unprotected sites it allows you to be out in full sun as well as inclement weather.
- Wide door access. Ours is not the large sliding door that the Sprinters have, but it’s larger than the standard door.
- Rear view backup camera.
- The MW/Convection has been excellent and the coffee maker is a real hit.

What we’d love to have:

- A permanent table nook would be fantastic, but not possible without other serious compromises as far as Class Bs go. It is possible in the B Plus Leisure Travel versions.

Manufacturers and Models We’d Seriously Consider

Pleasure Way - Plateau
GWV - Legend
Leisure Travel Vans. Part of the Triple E group.
Roadtrek Agile (Love the compact size and many other aspects about this model, but not keen on the galley/toilet-shower placement.)
Advanced RV.
Sportsmobile.

* We have a 2010 GWV Titan wide body van built on a Chevy Express 3500 cutaway chassis. In technical terms it is a Class C since it is not a van conversion, but it looks and behaves like a Class B. (The chassis and front end including the drivers cabin are all Chevy 3500, but the “house” is built from scratch to sit on the Chevy chassis.) It looks somewhat like a Pleasure Way Excel, (without the handling issues of this van), or a cross between a Class B and a Class B Plus. It is 21’6” long, has a unique lift up tailgate door, a GVWR of 12,274lbs and a UVW of 8,500lbs. These models are no longer being manufactured by GWV.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:00 PM   #46
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

Thanks for the comment Rick. Never having camped in a Class B we wouldn't know how to think about the camping site being on the Van's right, and being able to look out that direction is probably a nice feature. The new PW Plateau is nice in many ways that are important. There were only two deficiencies that we noticed when we looked at one in person: (1) There is no "second place to sleep". In other rigs like the RT Adventurous, there is a place for a third person, and even a fourth if you get the right configuration. Withe the Winnie ERA, there is a pull out couch in the front that can offer an additional sleeping spot. We don't plan on having a third person join us, but the extra bed allows one of us to move if the other is tossing and turning all night, etc. (2) The driver's compartment is cramped. This may have been because of the way I tilt my seat. AFTER viewing it, I noticed in the sales literature that there is a little bump-in on the wall behind the seat that is supposed to give the driver more room. I think I may have had my seat tilted back so far that it didn't go into that little bump-in. I'm only 6' tall, and it was cramped for me, and that seems unreasonable. I plan to go back and check out the seating again before making our final decision. The bump-in probably needs to have the seat adjusted just right to give maximum driver comfort.

I shoulld point out that those two small considerations are not deal breakers. However, the price vs a Winnie ERA might be in the final analysis. We can get get a new ERA for $85K, where the dealers for the Plateau seem to be wanting about $100k for them. We haven't started dickering yet, but if the difference turns out to be $15K, we can fix a lot of QC issues in the ERA for that. If the difference was much less than that, the Plateau would come out ahead due to the wonderful shower/bathroom and general quality. We viewed a horror story that an ERA owner wrote, and that has us scared a bit.

Thanks a lot for your comments.

..........Rocky
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:08 PM   #47
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

Thanks for your in depth and very well thought out comments, AandB.

I notice that you didn't inclued the Winnie ERA on your list of models that you would seriously consider. Why is that?

...............Rocky
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:57 PM   #48
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Besides the bathroom being on the passenger side with Airstreams and Roadtreks blocking your campside view is that they also cut down the generous wide opening of the door. The worst part is the undercounter and on the floor refrigerator and the under the counter microwave. To me that is bizarre and inconvenient.

Great West Van Legend, Advanced-RV and the Leisure Travel Vans model with the slideout all offer sliding screen doors for the sliding door opening. You don't appreciate that feature if you don't have it but it makes in camp passage from inside to outside a great pleasure as well as allowing you to leave your sliding door all the way open which keeps your Sprinter cooler.
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Old 12-29-2012, 05:19 PM   #49
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

As I have mentioned, I originally went through this investigating Class Bs when I first bought ours in 2006. It was a matter of investigating all the options but the hardest part is not ever having a B you really don't know what is important to you other than first impressions. The Pleasure-way Plateau at the time was the most appealing. After 5 years of ownership I had developed a list of desires from actual use that led me to buying a Great West Van Legend the second time around. Now I am developing a new set of desires but really don't have as much urgency as I am pretty happy with what I have. This thread goes through my decision making process and reasoning on the second time around:

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=1749

The easiest thing about a Sprinter vs Ford or Chevy between all the converters is test driving one is test driving all pretty much which then leaves you to concentrate on the conversion design layout and features.
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:01 PM   #50
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

Why not an Era?

Overall, we very much liked the configuration.
Thought the fit and finish wasn’t as good as the GWV, Pleasure Way, or LTV products.
Length was longer than we were looking for at the time.
Above our price range as the dealers were listing it at about 110K Cdn, and even at 80% of that, which from our other research we thought would be a fair price to pay, it was still pushing our price point.
Customers who have owned Winnebago products have reported some reliability issues, but not to the point where we would have rejected purchase, however, it was something to consider. (Determined from other forums including RV Consumer Group where we paid the fee to join.)

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Old 12-30-2012, 01:35 AM   #51
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AandB,

The Great West Titan shared a lot of the same amenities you described with the Sprinter Great West Van Legend. You are right about they are no longer being made. After GWVan was sold the new owners concentrated on just the Sprinter. They'll probably add the Ford Transit to the line up once they get under production rather than expand with the Titan again. At least that was hinted at last summer when we stopped by on our way to Alaska and the Yukon.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:20 PM   #52
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Davydd,

Looked at the Great West site and I have been there. I think we discarded them as a possibility because they don't have dealers in our area (Seattle). I would like to see one in person in case we are missing out, but the listed a dealership in BC, Canada and when I went to their site, it sounds like they don't carry them anymore. That would have been the closest we could have seen one. Not having a dealer nearby is scary. We have been told that the MB dealers really don't like to work on Class Bs, so the best thing is to take it to your dealer, then they take it to MB for warrantee work. It sounds like a hassle for any Class B built on the Sprinter Chassis, and it sounds like having a unit that doesn't have a local dealer would be doubly so.

You mentioned liking your Pleasure Way, and that may be the direction we're leaning right now. I REALLY like the screens on the Great West, and the tri-fold couch sounds like a deal, too. The photos of the shower/toilet unit make it look a little cramped--is it? It looks like they put a skylight in to increase the height, and that sounds like a good idea as well. All in all, the GW looks like they are trying to "build a better mousetrap". I like that in a company.

...........Rocky
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:41 PM   #53
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AandB,

I agree with everything you mention about the ERA. Liked configuration, thought it wasn't quite as well built as some others. Length is a bit too much. The list price seems high, too, but we have a local dealer who has them on sale right now for $85K which is our attraction. Is 80% of list some sort of rule of thumb for these? I think the $85K is a bit lower than that.

One of the dealers said to me: "Once you've decided which unit you want, then we'll sit down and find a price that is comfortable for you."

I said, "Say what?" "You know, price is a MAJOR factor in determining which unit we will choose." He didn't have any real response to that.

There is a scary write up by an Era buyer who documented a lot of issues with the unit he bought. I've come across it more than once. He went months and got lawyers involved and still didn't have a resolution. I expect that isn't a common thing. I HOPE it isn't.

The one great perk with the Winnie dealer is that they offered a loaner car for repairs. That is a huge bonus for us since they are about 40 miles away.

Thanks for the reply.

............Rocky

P.S.: Wow, just checked out that RV Consumer Group website. It looks like a first year membership of $139 would give us a lot of information--specifically on how much to pay for a new rig. Thanks for that tip, too. (I can't imagine that we wouldn't get $139 off of the rig we buy if we are armed with the information from that site. And the peace of mind that we got a good deal would be worth it, too.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by AandB
Why not an Era?

Overall, we very much liked the configuration.
Thought the fit and finish wasn’t as good as the GWV, Pleasure Way, or LTV products.
Length was longer than we were looking for at the time.
Above our price range as the dealers were listing it at about 110K Cdn, and even at 80% of that, which from our other research we thought would be a fair price to pay, it was still pushing our price point.
Customers who have owned Winnebago products have reported some reliability issues, but not to the point where we would have rejected purchase, however, it was something to consider. (Determined from other forums including RV Consumer Group where we paid the fee to join.)

AandB
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:36 AM   #54
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We found the RV Consumer Group information to be excellent, so you should have lots of fun going through their comments and recommendations. RV Consumers Group was the only source of information on brands and manufacturers we could find that actually gave you a recommendation and that was supported by objective research. Ref purchase price, RV Consumer Group will give you a ballpark percentage to work from, and although not cast in concrete it provides a start point for negotiations. Hopefully you'll be able to do better, since it's only an average price they provide.

For Davydd and Rocky, we've not only visited the GWV new location, but we actually bought our rig directly from them and the new owner. There is no dealer network in Canada for their product, although there used to be a couple, however, we are getting some warranty work done through a local RV shop of our choice. (Works well for us to go to a trusted source rather than rely on a prescribed dealer.) They have been very good about getting this work done, albeit it is a slower process I'm sure than if we had a dealer in the neighbourhood.

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Old 01-02-2013, 04:37 PM   #55
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Hi Rocky,

In regard to dealers for MB, we have had a few sensor issues and had no problem getting the work done at the MB dealership. We are about 2 hours away from a PW dealer, so we had some minor work needing to be done and the PW customer service set us up at the Road Trek/ ERA dealer 15 minutes from my house. I thought that was pretty nice of them. I like the trifold couch in the GWV for space behind the couch but we like the ottomans in our van as we will sometimes leave the couch made as a bed and sit at the table on the side seats (ottamans), or sitting and watching TV it is nice to put you feet up. I don't think you can do that with GWV.

We love the screens in GWV and Leasureway, it would be nice to have. We have made our own screen using a tension curtain rod and two overlapping pieces of screen with magnets attached to the sides. It works fairly well, not perfect the sliding screen would be better. We did the same thing for the back but attached velcro to the sides and floor for a tighter fit as we are not in and out at the back.

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Old 01-02-2013, 09:24 PM   #56
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

The dually wheel wells make perfect ottomans with the GWVan. Having had both Pleasure-way and GWVan I'm not speculating here. The Trifold sofa is much quicker to put up and take down. No messing with boards and infill cushions. Pleasure-ways under sofa storage got worse from the older model to the new model. I quickly found out I could not carry what I was carrying in my 2005 with a 2011 model.

I designed and built a side screen for the older model Sprinter (2005 Pleasure-way) that kept the bugs out but did not keep the cat inside. The newer models with the high doors and more curved opening would be a daunting task to do right with hanging screens. In my opinion there is no comparison in functionality and convenience to the GWVan screen. I haven't seen a solution yet that compares. However, Advanced RV said they would retrofit any Sprinter for you. So if you want it done right. Contact them.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:48 PM   #57
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We also live in Western Washington. We looked at other Sprinters and nearly bought a Pleasureway. However, we learned of the EX model, and thought we could really benefit from that extra space. We took a leap of faith and flew to Winnipeg and bought a GWV Legend Ex. We have not been disappointed at all. There have been a couple of minor warranty issues, and there has been no problem getting the matters dealt with. We simply chose a local RV dealer, took the Sprinter in, called GWV, received their approval, and received a check from them after they received the receipt. One of the problems was that there was a delay in GWV receiving an audio speaker that we ordered, and they sent it to us and we had it installed and they promptly sent us a check, so it isn't really fair to call it a warranty matter because that could indicate a compromise of quality, and that wasn't the case. We have been impressed with the workmanship of GWV and think it compares very favorably with others we've seen. The only problem we had with warranty was with MB, and that was finally resolved at our local dealer.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:20 PM   #58
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Hi Davydd, I agree with you on the screen, I would love to have the one from greatwest. You are in a far better position to compare both brands as you had both sprinters. We traded our great west classic supreme for the PW sprinter. We liked the great west and had no problems I am sure if there had been a GW out there when we were looking we would have consider it but the PW was the only one at the show and the only way to get GW was to order sight unseen, so we choose PW. We are very happy with it but i am sure we would have been happy with GW as well.
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Old 01-03-2013, 02:48 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Hi Davydd, I agree with you on the screen, I would love to have the one from greatwest. You are in a far better position to compare both brands as you had both sprinters. We traded our great west classic supreme for the PW sprinter. We liked the great west and had no problems I am sure if there had been a GW out there when we were looking we would have consider it but the PW was the only one at the show and the only way to get GW was to order sight unseen, so we choose PW. We are very happy with it but i am sure we would have been happy with GW as well.
The one in hand is always better than any in the bush. I've known a few procrastinators that always wait for the next best thing and dismissing all the enjoyment they could have had.
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:44 PM   #60
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Default Re: Deciding on which class B to buy.

After looking at some of the features of the Great West Van Legend and Legend Ex., it sounds like a great rig. I particularly like the feature of the "tri-fold couch" where it can be tri-folded up and pushed all the way forward to allow the van to be used as a half-cargo van in the back. That is a great feature for us in that we could trade in our VW Eurovan that we use for hauling. The things that I didn't like about the Great West vans were (1) Dealer location and support. (Addressed by Quanyin in another post.) (2) I can't find a floor plan in the literature. My wife and I REALLY like the bathroom/shower in the PW Plateau (one of the floor plans, anyway). It is the largest of any of the units we've seen so far, while the entire rig comes in at only 22' 9". The description of the layout of the Great West shower/toilet area sounds interesting, but I would want to see it before buying, and that doesn't sound possible.

If there was a way to get the tri-fold couch AND the Pleasure Way bathroom unit--we would probably be sold on whatever company produced such a layout.

Anyway thanks for the comments.

At this point we have pretty much ruled out the Agile because it is on the 2500 chassis and we can't see how the things we want will fit in 19' 5" even though we'd rather have the better parking and maneuverability (sp).

We are getting close to our final decision, but at this point we want to make sure we are ready to do some traveling once we buy the unit. We want to get the bugs worked out immediately (if there are any, and from what we've read, there usually are). If we buy and use it later we don't want to be taking it back after 6 months or a year trying to get fit and trim issues resolved.

Thanks to everyone who responded to this thread--it was all helpful.

Can one (or some) of you GW Vans owners share what you paid for your unit?

...............Rocky
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