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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 11-23-2020, 04:11 PM   #1
BEF
New Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 10
Default Wannabe Looking to Get First Van

Thanks to you all for your thoughts an input. We are true first-timers who have not camped before. Looking to begin exploring the country, probably starting in 2022 for our 40th wedding anniversary. Use case will primarily be traveling from place to place, spending 3-4 days in one location. Never bought an RV of any kind, but a Class B certainly seems to meet our needs.

Living in New England, there are not a lot of RV dealers that have a lot of Class B inventory for us to look at in person right now so all of the input is appreciated. Recognizing there will be trade-offs, I have developed the following list of criteria to help our search (any thoughts on that would also be appreciated.)

Must Haves
  • Gasoline Engine
  • Under 21' long
  • Compressor Fridge
  • Queen Bed or larger
  • Toilet with Wet Bath

Strongly Prefer
  • Under 20' in length
  • AC runs without shore power
  • Separate front lounge area
  • Swivel front seats
  • Induction cooktop
  • Lithium batteries (>200 ah)
  • 2,000 W or greater inverter
  • Deeper sink

Nice to Have
  • Bigger Fridge/Freezer
  • Ford Chassis (Wife has had Fords for 30+ years)
  • Instant Hot Water
  • More Storage
  • Second Alternator

Based on what I have seen, the vans that come closest to checking all these boxes (and under 20') are the Pleasureway Ontour 2.0 and the Roadtrek Zion SRT. Clearly the Ontour has build quality and the Ford Chassis, while the Zion SRT has more on-board battery/electric and a slightly better design for our needs, however, I am not sure whether the new owner (Rapido) will remain committed to this product or what the build quality will be.

Looking at slightly bigger vehicles, the Roadtrek Zion and Winnebago Travato 59kL seem to be best. (Except for the absorption fridge the Pleasureway Lexus FL would be on the list.)

That's where we are right now without seeing any vehicles. I'll probably start calling around to see if there is any place within reasonable driving distance to check things out. I may follow up with this group for more ideas or if we have to range farther. Thanks again.

Brian
__________________

BEF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2020, 04:30 PM   #2
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 314
Default

For a short (under 20 ft) gas engine vehicle you could check and see if Roadtrek offers their Agile on the gas engine Sprinter chassis. Pleasure-Way Ascent would be a similar possibility.

And since you're in New England you might consider the Canadian built Safari Condo Sprinter LDX 19. For US buyers Safari Condo builds on a buyer supplied Sprinter chassis so you could get that in the gas engine version.
__________________

rockymtnb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2020, 05:07 PM   #3
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Washington
Posts: 34
Default

My advice: rent for a couple of short trips before buying anything. In addition to dealers, there are several AirBnb style web sites that you can rent a privately owned RV from. This is particularly true if you've never owned any type of RV before - you may discover that you just don't enjoy it at all and will save yourself a tremendous amount of depreciation over buying a new unit and then selling it in a year or two. An RV siting in your driveway is not only depreciating but requires constant maintenance, particularly in climates that feature cold, wet winters. I suspect any competent financial planner would recommend NEVER buying an RV unless you are going to live in it almost full time - in which case 20 feet probably won't cut it. The only real advantage I see to staying under 21 feet is parking in urban areas, but honestly if you are going to spend significant time visiting urban areas, you're probably better off in a hotel (at least after Covid). Even a 20 footer will be difficult to park in dense cities (where both width and height of a camper will be an issue).


Some of your criteria are probably mutually exclusive, like running AC w/o either shore power or generator. BTW, a generator still far outclasses LiPo batteries in terms of bang-for-the-buck or energy density. I don't know about induction cooktops, but I would assume that they are also a major electricity suck. My wife certainly prefers cooking with gas, and the smallish 9 gallon propane tank in our Era seemingly lasts forever, even when powering the Truma furnace/hot water heater, the generator, and the cooktop. 10 days of camping (at least) between fills... Important when boondocking out here in the west. Also consider the size of water/waste tanks that you need. I believe the Era has the largest fresh water tank in class (45 gallons) but in Utah and Nevada we still had to monitor the water situation very carefully and fill at ever opportunity.

I say all that despite the fact that the wife and I bought a slightly used Winnebago Era this year. But we had owned a camper before, and understood pretty well the trade-offs we were making, both in terms of buying a B vs a C vs a towable, but also just in buying one at all.

I'm curious to know why the 20 foot limit, and also the gas engine preference. Our first test-drive in a MB Sprinter based RV drove us entirely in the other direction. We did a 4k mile trip through the SW USA in October and very much enjoyed both the extra space (the Era is 24 feet, plus has a slide-out) and the impeccable driving behavior of the Sprinter and it's diesel. And no, we've never owned a MB product before, the wife and I have driven cheap Toyotas or Hondas are whole adult lives.
KitsapEra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2020, 05:33 PM   #4
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: PHX, AZ
Posts: 1,636
Default

long time tent campers, we rented a camper van in ireland


then came home and started our search to buy one


we looked at about 30 units, each of which showed us a plus or a minus to add to our list



our needs/requirements were not yours


in the end our perfect selection was a 2006 PW Lexor TD on a Chev


Mike
mkguitar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2020, 06:21 PM   #5
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Washington
Posts: 34
Default

I appreciate your criteria is different from ours - but my comments were for the OP, who indicated that they had never owned any manner of RV before. My opinion (and it is just that) is that a newbie won't really know their criteria until they've taken a few trips, and spent at least a few weeks using an RV. The OP indicated that they were basically looking for something new, and at a pretty high price point to boot (both because of new and the requirements for induction cooktop and LiPo power). The depreciation on something like that is going to massive, particularly if they buy in a time of Covid and were to sell a year or two later post-pandemic (when everyone is predicting a glut of used RVs on the market anyhow).

But any RV is very much mission-specific and a compromise. That's why one of my neighbors has two! A truck camper for short, in region trips where they tow their boat, and a huge 5th wheel for longer, extended trips. They obviously are willing to make the financial commitment to having two in the driveway, even though it boggles my mind.

The maintenance aspect is something I feel that any newbie should be aware of. Even the salesman who sold us the Era was honest in saying that if you won't either do the work yourself, or be willing to pay $$$ to someone else to do it, you are probably better off without an RV. A buyer in NE should price out what a dealer will charge for winterization and de-winterization each year and what is involved. That's a cost (in $$$ or your time if DIY) that has to be paid each year no matter how little the use. Other stuff like batteries have a limited life, both in terms of charge/discharge cycles but also just shelf life while sitting (LiPo does have a real advantage in the later area).

Even for frequent users, an RV will probably end up being the most expensive hotel room they will ever stay in. Out here in the west, with so many boon docking spots and so much nature to see, I see the value (in many places we go a hotel is not even really an option) but if we still lived in the east, I personally would never consider it.
KitsapEra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2020, 06:48 PM   #6
BEF
New Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 10
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by KitsapEra View Post
My advice: rent for a couple of short trips before buying anything. In addition to dealers, there are several AirBnb style web sites that you can rent a privately owned RV from. This is particularly true if you've never owned any type of RV before - you may discover that you just don't enjoy it at all and will save yourself a tremendous amount of depreciation over buying a new unit and then selling it in a year or two. An RV siting in your driveway is not only depreciating but requires constant maintenance, particularly in climates that feature cold, wet winters. I suspect any competent financial planner would recommend NEVER buying an RV unless you are going to live in it almost full time - in which case 20 feet probably won't cut it. The only real advantage I see to staying under 21 feet is parking in urban areas, but honestly if you are going to spend significant time visiting urban areas, you're probably better off in a hotel (at least after Covid). Even a 20 footer will be difficult to park in dense cities (where both width and height of a camper will be an issue).


Some of your criteria are probably mutually exclusive, like running AC w/o either shore power or generator. BTW, a generator still far outclasses LiPo batteries in terms of bang-for-the-buck or energy density. I don't know about induction cooktops, but I would assume that they are also a major electricity suck. My wife certainly prefers cooking with gas, and the smallish 9 gallon propane tank in our Era seemingly lasts forever, even when powering the Truma furnace/hot water heater, the generator, and the cooktop. 10 days of camping (at least) between fills... Important when boondocking out here in the west. Also consider the size of water/waste tanks that you need. I believe the Era has the largest fresh water tank in class (45 gallons) but in Utah and Nevada we still had to monitor the water situation very carefully and fill at ever opportunity.

I say all that despite the fact that the wife and I bought a slightly used Winnebago Era this year. But we had owned a camper before, and understood pretty well the trade-offs we were making, both in terms of buying a B vs a C vs a towable, but also just in buying one at all.

I'm curious to know why the 20 foot limit, and also the gas engine preference. Our first test-drive in a MB Sprinter based RV drove us entirely in the other direction. We did a 4k mile trip through the SW USA in October and very much enjoyed both the extra space (the Era is 24 feet, plus has a slide-out) and the impeccable driving behavior of the Sprinter and it's diesel. And no, we've never owned a MB product before, the wife and I have driven cheap Toyotas or Hondas are whole adult lives.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I recognize that we don't know enough about what might be involved at this time so wanted to seek out thoughts from folks like you and others with more experience. Again, looking at 2022 for our first trip so we have a lot of time to investigate, which is just starting. I agree about renting before jumping into anything, but the problem is that looking at rental options for Class Bs, I have not been able to find anything within 2 hours of us (There aren't any used Class Bs in our area either.). Probably will bite the bullet come spring and get a rental even if we have to travel to pick it up.

The consideration about length primarily comes about because of maneuverability and turning radius, as well as being able to fit into more parking spots. (Wife would be more comfortable driving.) To be clear, we will probably going out 2-3 months at a time 2 or three times per year. Concerned about Mercedes due to availability of service and availability of different diesel blends. Finally, I haven't told my financial advisor about this yet, but you are right this is not a "financial decision", but a potential new "lifestyle change". You may be right at the end of the day we might just elect to hop in the car and stay in hotels, but there is also some appeal to be able to carry what we need with us.

Appreciate the desire to make sure we see the full picture. Hope you and yours enjoy the holidays.
BEF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2020, 08:26 PM   #7
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 40
Default Renting a campervan

Granted that this is not possible at this exact moment in time and it's not necessarily practical for everyone , but thinking just a bit outside the box renting a campervan abroad is a way to get experience with features you may or may not like. We have rented/owned campervans in a few different countries; Iceland, New Zealand, and Australia for instance. We intend on doing it when possible in S Africa and Ireland as well. Now you certainly aren't going to get match for match units, but we've have gotten a pretty good picture of the things we find important which form a good basis for evaluating what is available domestically.
Binny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2020, 09:05 PM   #8
Silver Member
 
Doctor Old's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 71
Default

Having owned both a Ford Transit and a MB Sprinter this year, my advice to you is don’t limit yourself to a gas chassis. I, too, thought that gas was a must have. And given, with the Transit, you get great horsepower and some nice features with that chassis. But now I have a Sprinter and although it definitely lacks the “oomph” to accelerate swiftly when you need it or get up those mountains, the Sprinter ride quality is superior IMO. I’ve driven the same stretch of rough roads in both vehicles and the Mercedes handled those roads much better. There are a few other features that I prefer on the Sprinter but there are also a couple things I miss about the Transit. Just keep your options open.
One thing I will tell you, it’s almost impossible to get your ideal van. You will have to give up something. Even though we had experience with class C years ago, we had our “must haves” and we found some were “didn’t needs”. Renting and trying some stuff would def help.
__________________
2020 Winnebago Boldt KL
Doctor Old is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2020, 11:52 PM   #9
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Washington
Posts: 34
Default

I would also say if you've never done this at all before, don't limit yourself to class B, at least for rental... There's lots of class C rentals out there, including some national chains that sometimes give deals on one way rentals (when they need to reposition inventory). A week in a small class C will tell you a lot, particularly like whether the two of you can tolerate a lengthy time together (picture 2 or 3 straight rainy days) in a space much smaller than a class C. You might find your "style" of camping is much more amenable to a towable trailer that can be parked at a campsite for days while you move easily about in the tow vehicle. Towables are about 85% of the market, or something like that...

Here is my take on where B's are good:
1. If you don't like staying at RV parks.
2. If your destinations do offer boon docking potential (probably not much in most of the east, but I'm in the far west so what do I know )
3. If you are constantly on the move vs camping at one spot for many days/weeks in a row.
4. If you are comfortable boon docking. Some folks just aren't...
5. If you value travel flexibility over comfort.
6. If cost is basically not a concern (newer B's are BY FAR the most expensive per square foot option on the market).
7. If you are not usually going to be camping with > 2 persons.
8. If you can tolerate a very cramped "wet bath" (our Era is one of only a few B's ever made with a sizable dry bath, and the floorplan sacrifices any pretense of sleeping > 2 to have it).
9. If you don't need a lot of storage, particularly for bulky objects. B's don't have the "basement" storage of A's or C's.

Note that I don't include urban camping in the list - IMO class A or C towing a small car, or a towable, or a hotel room are all better options for visits to dense urban areas.

I agree the Sprinter drives great, and my 5 foot tall wife has no problem driving it. The supercharged diesel does a great on high mountain passes, even ones where I see gas powered RVs with supposedly much more powerful V8's, and V10's bogging down. Ours had no issue at all climbing to 9k feet in Utah.
KitsapEra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2020, 11:59 PM   #10
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: MA
Posts: 72
Default

You will not find a dealer option for rental in New England. Try http://outdoorsy.com. They have several class Bs available around Boston at least.
jakegw2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2020, 12:27 AM   #11
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: MA
Posts: 72
Default

Thoughts on length:

I have owned a 17' pop-top and now have a 24' "B+." The breakpoint of about 19-20' is pretty much where it goes from being easily a daily-driver to something that requires a bit more care. It is also the typical limit for ferries and such. One ferry I looked at wanted 3x the price to go from 20' to 24'. That being said, the limitations created by the longer length that we have experienced are almost all law or regulation related (like parking restrictions that limit on-street parking to 19' or less), not maneuverability or size. The turning radius on our Promaster chassis is just downright amazing - we squeeze into all sorts of tiny spots that would have been a challenge even in our 17' Ford E250 chassis, just because it is so easy to maneuver. Occasionally we find parking lots with no side spots where we can hang our rear over to fit within the space, but usually we do fine.

Bottom line: 21'-24' isn't the end of the world. You gain a lot of space and do loose some freedom of movement, but it may not be as bad as you think. Using the van as a daily-driver is the one exception here.
jakegw2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2020, 01:44 AM   #12
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: MA
Posts: 72
Default

Regarding the compressor fridge:

Depending on the model of absorption fridge that comes with the unit initially some manufacturers (like Norcold) have exact size compressor versions that can be used for a swap. They run around $1,000-$1,500 for the fridge plus whatever the RV shop charges for installation. That sounds like a lot, but it is a rounding error on what you are going to pay for your van, so if you find a good deal on one with an absorption fridge that has a compressor version twin don't hesitate to move on it.

I cound not find the camper we really wanted, but with a little work, some help from a good RV place, and about $5k in investment we have gone a pretty long way towards what we want.

My absorption fridge has a compressor twin and it is on my list of things to do. A bit expensive, but the near-instant cool down makes taking the camper for day trips far more practical.
jakegw2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-25-2020, 10:27 PM   #13
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: ar
Posts: 32
Default

Buy used at a decent price. if you change your mind you won't take the significant initial depreciation hit. Then go buy what you then think will fit you better.
parkgt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 05:21 PM   #14
New Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 2
Default Pleasure - Way excel ts

I am selling mine and it has most of the features that you are looking for! 2007 Ford. Contact me for more info and photos. Afsteiner1 @gmail.com
afsteiner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 05:25 PM   #15
New Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: WA
Posts: 6
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by KitsapEra View Post
I appreciate your criteria is different from ours - but my comments were for the OP, who indicated that they had never owned any manner of RV before. My opinion (and it is just that) is that a newbie won't really know their criteria until they've taken a few trips, and spent at least a few weeks using an RV. The OP indicated that they were basically looking for something new, and at a pretty high price point to boot (both because of new and the requirements for induction cooktop and LiPo power). The depreciation on something like that is going to massive, particularly if they buy in a time of Covid and were to sell a year or two later post-pandemic (when everyone is predicting a glut of used RVs on the market anyhow).

But any RV is very much mission-specific and a compromise. That's why one of my neighbors has two! A truck camper for short, in region trips where they tow their boat, and a huge 5th wheel for longer, extended trips. They obviously are willing to make the financial commitment to having two in the driveway, even though it boggles my mind.

The maintenance aspect is something I feel that any newbie should be aware of. Even the salesman who sold us the Era was honest in saying that if you won't either do the work yourself, or be willing to pay $$$ to someone else to do it, you are probably better off without an RV. A buyer in NE should price out what a dealer will charge for winterization and de-winterization each year and what is involved. That's a cost (in $$$ or your time if DIY) that has to be paid each year no matter how little the use. Other stuff like batteries have a limited life, both in terms of charge/discharge cycles but also just shelf life while sitting (LiPo does have a real advantage in the later area).

Even for frequent users, an RV will probably end up being the most expensive hotel room they will ever stay in. Out here in the west, with so many boon docking spots and so much nature to see, I see the value (in many places we go a hotel is not even really an option) but if we still lived in the east, I personally would never consider it.
Per the last paragraph: based on 45+ years of traveling, backpacking/hiking, tent camping, pop-up pickup camper adventure, trailer and Class B exploring; an RV (and a late model or relatively new Class B in particular) is indeed the most expensive motel room you'll likely ever own.

However, it's all about the priceless experience, leisure and adventure of wandering the highways and byways of North America (and elsewhere for that matter) at one's own pace. That's true especially for us folks who reside in the West where there is an abundance of off-the-beaten-track public lands to explore and enjoy.

But hey, that's this simple man's opinion. What the heck do I know?
nelsong is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 05:45 PM   #16
Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Southeast Michigan
Posts: 128
Default

Another advantage of the "B": driveway camping ("mooch-docking") at friends and relatives homes. Beats a hotel/motel every time!
__________________
A 2014 Ocean One MB Sprinter by Advanced RV named "Imagine"
mikes47 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 05:50 PM   #17
New Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: KY
Posts: 9
Default

Check out the just released all new Winnebago Ekko, on a Transit chassis with gas engine. Keep in mind you'll NEVER get everything on your must list. Compromise is the word!
KYRuss is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 06:20 PM   #18
New Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: WA
Posts: 6
Default

Kinda handy during a Pandemic too.
nelsong is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 06:53 PM   #19
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: California
Posts: 36
Default

We just bought a 2021 Solis Winnebago 59P and love it! It hits some of your wish list however not everything. Congratulations on your 40 year anniversary! We bought a 1971 VW Camper Van when we married in 1971 and now were almost going to celebrate our 50th and bought a 2021 Solis Winnebago Camper Van. Its considered the answer to the VW Westfalia. Its 19'9" long, had 2 queen size beds, a fine size shower/toilet, larger than it looks refrigerator however no AC on this unit. The AC comes on the Solis 59PX, its a little longer with a generator and AC. We live at the beach and travel the coast so no need for us. It is on a Ram Promaster 2500. Yes, I never thought I would like a Ram having owned Mecerdes Benz cars and Ford trucks. Life is a compromise and we chose the Solis and we love it! We went to a local Farmers Market today and placed our refrigerator stuff in the van after we shopped and used the restroom in the van, totally Covid friendly. Best of everything in your search! And happy wife, happy life!
pacificstar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-29-2020, 09:52 PM   #20
Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: ct
Posts: 20
Default

As a fellow Connecticut DIY campervan builder/owner, I'd like to share a few thoughts that may or may not agree with some of the above.

- you have time to plan... consider a DIY campervan... visit promasterforum. com for lots of info and ideas. I was all set to buy a Class A, then thought about a Class B, then decided there were lots of "features" we wouldn't use, and it took up lots of space for "stuff" we'd like to take... so a Promaster build worked out well for us.

- my campervan is easy to winterize... just empty the portapotti, and we have a case with all of the freezable stuff that just moves in and out with us. 5 minutes at the end of a trip, easy to use on winter trips, and a quick setup for last minute plans.

- You mentioned turning radius - my 159wb gas Promaster turns a tighter radius than my cars do! I do U turns in places i wouldn't even consider it in a car. And, parking is as simple as a car too.

- A Promaster is definitely the squarest, widest van and gives you more space than MB or Ford, plus a lower (by about 9") step in height at the slider and back doors.... you'll use them a lot while camping. Oil changes and service are affordable... it's a van with the same engine that's in lots of Chrysler products. Price maintenance costs on MB.

- Many of our trips are 2 or 3 days in campsites and then one in a hotel. It's a very comfortable way to travel.

- during the pandemic, the PM has become our rolling dining room. Been to Pepe's in NH a few times, and Joey Garlic's on the Berlin Tpke.. Order, they deliver to the van, and we dine in a warm, comfortable, and safe space with piping hot food!

If you'd like to discuss ideas, feel free to contact me. I don't have a commercial RV but do keep up on many of the models that I find interesting. If I was buying a Class b right now, I'd probably get a Thor Sequence. It's like a Travato with lots of nice, thought out features! And it's affordable. (I still say they copied MY floorplan that the Travato K copied first!)

Retired and camping every now and then... but not lately!
__________________

__________________
We have a DIY Promaster with all the stuff we need, and none of the stuff we don't!
proeddie 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 04:37 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×