Join Date: Feb 2021
Pleasureway FL Review
After about two years in our Pleasureway Plateau FL, I wanted to write a review. This summary is likely most useful to those considering this purchase. I found lots of commentary on this and other forums very helpful when we bought our van, so I wanted to do my part to contribute.
We purchased this van from a local deal slightly used, getting in just before the deluge of buying around the pandemic. For a variety of reasons, we’ve not been able to take the longer trips we envisioned, but have been out frequently for two-five day trips in the Pacific Northwest and down to northern CA, Nevada. We “graduated” to the van from the wonderful Lance 1985 travel trailer, which we enjoyed for many years. We do miss the warmth of the Lance in the rainy shoulder seasons here, but happily trade that for the ease of use and range of areas we have been able to access in the van.
Overall, the Pleasureway Plateau FL has been a great choice for us. As a long-time married couple, we are used to negotiating our differences. My wife probably wanted something a bit larger, such as the Leisureway offerings, and I probably would have wanted the shorter form van. The Plateau FL has worked out well for both of us.
This is my first diesel and I have liked the way it drives, with great power and good mileage. I’ve not found checking on our putting in the DEF worrisome or challenging. The first maintenance was definitely pricey, but these are further apart than my gas Jeep. 4WD was not available on the long-form chassis, and at this time I do not think I would buy it even on the short form. Having driven my Jeep on true 4WD roads, I can’t really imagine waddling around with all my dishes and technology. With better tires (see below) and so much weight in the back (ours is about 5400 lbs rear and 4000 lbs front), I think we can get ourselves out of most jams (I do carry recovery boards) The dually wheels were worrisome at first, as I have no experience. Talking with tire shops and buying a better tire inflator, the Viair 40047 400P-RV, and finding effective valve extensions, I am less concerned than formerly (warning that there is a fair amount of bad advice/perspectives on duallys). I have purchased and installed snow chains (outer tire only is my choice) for crossing the mountains where we are generally required to carry chains. I upgraded the tires, finding the Continentals that came with the van adequate, but wanting something with more grip for frequent dirt roads and perhaps some additional snow driving, ending up with Les Schwab’s Backcountry AT, a snow-rated tire (there are cheaper options but I appreciated advice from my Les Schwab dealer). I also decided to invest in Agile’s RIP system, which hugely improved the ride of the van and has allowed us to navigate some pretty bad gravel roads. Prior to this installation, I found that the van bottomed out on uneven gravel and dirt roads. The lift it added (perhaps 4 inches in the back and 2 in the front) was also helpful in avoiding curb scrapes on the fancy steps Pleasureway adds. For our purposes, I would have preferred another retractable solution, but with the new Agile system, these low points are less of an issue (and likely keep me honest about all the other lower hanging points in the van. I am wondering about one other major change, considering a locking rear differential if that option becomes available for the 3500 (I saw one offering on Owl Vans with a note that a version for the 3500 was pending).
It’s an attractive package and easy to maintain. A general question with Class B RVs is exterior storage. I would have liked the van to come with a roof rack. Mounting one at this point did not seem practical to me. The configurations of solar, AC, etc on the roof leave little room for storage, and we would have to replace the awning with one that would attach to a roof rack. One advantage for a custom van would be to construct the components around storage on a roof rack. My solution was to add the Owl Van Sherpa rack to the back. This has worked well, including for a folding canoe we’ve enjoyed (MyCanoe Pop). We purchased a two-bike carrier, a not terribly sturdy Yakima two-timer which has nonetheless accommodated my light gravel bike and my wife’s 35 lbs ebike that sits on the Wilco Offroad Swing hitch (it does come up too high to open the rear doors without opening the hitch). Given the remote locations we visit, I did purchase a spare tire and the Owl Vans ladder and tire carrier (it does not seem to interfere with passing car sensors). The only thing that has really not worked well is the awning, where the wind sensor will kick in when we close the sliding van door too hard, unrolling all the way a number of times and requiring me to rewind it manually (I am glad I asked how to do this; it is a bit of an acrobatic effort without a ladder, which I typically do not have). I find these exterior upgrades essential, and I might have looked harder for a van that had some of these features on the initial purchase, although I have seen very few examples.
It is a beautiful package, as many have remarked. The shaping and construction are excellent and have held up well through some very bumpy drives. Our camping style is generally dry camping. While initially I did not know how we would downsize from our travel trailer, we now feel that everything fits pretty easily and, amazing to me, the “garage” storage in the rear is adequate. There are many forums discussing the FL vs the TS. We do shower in the smaller FL bathroom when that is the only option and really enjoy and use the front lounge for the not-infrequent times we are eating and relaxing inside on cold and rainy days. We leave the bed down, after experimenting, that that eases late-night arrivals (and the dog likes it). We now use the space under the bed for some additional storage. After worrying about the tank size, I find they work well for 4 days or longer if we adopt more rigorous dry camping techniques. The electrical system (200 solar plus lithium) is a marvel, after the marine battery system on our trailer. I rarely plug the van in, even in cloudy weather. I have used the generator just once, to run the AC during a hot lunchtime stop in California. The propane tank is a decent size for heating the van and running the fridge, but would likely not last long running the AC and is noisy. If I were custom designing a van, I would likely not get a generator, using some of the newer battery technologies I’ve seen. The heater does not bother us (some find it too noisy) and with moderate use (in temps between 35-45 degrees F.) does not drain the batteries or propane a lot (and we are not out for long in those situations). I like the idea of the diesel powered heaters and would likely move in that direction with a custom design. The simplicity of the van and Pleasureway’s long experience with this layout shows. Things have worked well and (knock, knock) not broken. We have not added anything exotic to the interior beyond cutting reflectix insulation to put behind the shades on very cold nights (I love the more elegant solutions but just have not had the chance to make these changes). The absorption fridge is fine for the NW, but I did prefer the compressor fridge in our travel trailer. At the same time, the compressor fridge did not work well at high altitude on the marine batteries. We like the propane stove and are amazed that we can use the microwave and oven just off battery power. We are big camping cookers and like the larger size of the long-form van kitchen. The desk of the FL (behind the driver’s seat) makes for a great bar as well (the new design for that desk, while not as beautifully curved, is more practical and offers better access to the under-desk storage). We’ve never used the front TV; if I were designing a custom van, I would not include that, substituting some kind of storage (we disagree on whether or not to have a TV in the van). The carpeting in the front of the van is standard car carpeting. I hope to replace it with something more suitable for dirt, likely a lower-pile indoor/outdoor solution. I installed the Vancillary DIY Sprinter Van Headliner Shelf Kit and that added great storage for a range of items including bike helmets and canoe paddles that are strapped to the bottom of the shelf with webbing. A favorite item has been the Volcano grill, which I purchased because it would fit in the garage in the rear of the van.
I hope this is helpful to all of you considering this big purchase. We’ve enjoyed our time in the van. If we were somehow to change our camping choice again, I might try to custom design a short form van, but I would not have been able to do this well without having the experience of owning our own van.
Happy trails -