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wabbit 09-20-2012 08:46 PM

Decisions, decisions...
We just got back from a great trip to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington (state). There were a lot of motorhomes on the roads and it was interesting to note the areas where we saw a lot of class B's and the other areas where the class A folks were moving to a new location.

I, of course, was promoting our upcoming purchase of a B and mentioning how many more campgrounds and RV parks there were than motels. My wife began asking some tough questions that sent me backwards in the search. I thought that we had decided on a Roadtrek Agile because of its short length and the ability to use it to replace my current vehicle for everyday use. She was reciting a list of my complaints about our previous B and asking some very good questions.

Our old Coachmen B was on the 250 Ford chassis and was also underpowered. Since our favorite locations involve twisty mountain and coast roads, the constant lean and rocking on the 250 chassis was annoying. She asked about the difference between the Roadtrek Agile and Adventurous with respect to chassis stiffness. I began to wonder too if the 3500 Sprinter chassis would be more to our liking. If so, that would also bring the Great West and others into the selection process.

So, what are the tradeoffs? When visiting all of those cute little towns, I could easily see that the shorter B would be easier to find parking for. The smaller turn radius would also help in the small towns. I only saw one campground where the length would make a difference. What else am I missing in the evaluation process?

Davydd 09-20-2012 09:58 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
The Agile is a bit more agile but you give up an awful lot, IMO. The standard length Sprinter (22'-9") has proven to me to be able to go anywhere I desire. The only thing that would change that would be to carry a hitch receiver cargo carrier or bikes. Then the length exceeds many parking spots and starts to poke out into the driving lanes. Also, the extended length Sprinter (24'-1") starts exceeding comfortable parking most places.

The 3500 Sprinter dually is a very stable riding platform. You could get that in the short Sprinter as well if you went a Sportsmobile route. I just looked at an Agile yesterday. I liked the Pleasure-way Ascent better but they are no longer sold. If I wanted to go the short Sprinter route I think Sportsmobile would be my only option. I wish US companies would take note of this German company. ... .htm#start

They have a lot of options built on the short Sprinter wheel base and even shorter one not sold in America as well as 4WD models. I got to see one on our Alaska trip.

wabbit 09-21-2012 12:22 AM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
For the 22' length, do you need to go find RV parking?

Since there are only the two of us, we would install the additional closet/cabinets instead of the extra seats. I can see how that would be very handy on trips. What else would we be giving up with the shorter Agile? I'm sure there must be something I didn't see when visiting the dealer.

From what you have posted about your GWV, I'd be very interested to look at them. Unfortunately, my nearest dealer is 600 miles away. Since the Roadtrek dealer is only 40 miles away, I can easily visit there and compare the two lengths. If we decide on the 22' length, a road trip to see the GWV will be in order.

teachergal 09-21-2012 02:09 AM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
I can get my 24' Sprinter into a standard parking spot but only if I can back in and have space behind me for overhang. If I put the back wheels against the curb it fits just fine.

I have the 3500 with the dual rear tires and it handles beautifully! I've driven it on some windy backroads and it's great!

teachergal 09-21-2012 02:11 AM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
Just thought of what I was gonna add...
The dually is a bit of a pain when driving toll roads...the states of NY, MJ and MD all charge you more than double for their tolls (and there are a lot on the main interstates) just b/c you have 6 tires. MA, NH and ME all charged me like a car. Haven't driven toll roads in any other state yet.

wabbit 09-21-2012 04:59 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
Aside from the 3500 chassis stability, were there other reasons why you chose the longer unit over the shorter one? I can see how the extra storage space would be handy, but is there something else that I haven't noticed? Is the bed/couch area about the same?

Davydd 09-21-2012 06:09 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
The Agile bed is not even across. The passenger side is a few inches shorter plus a retractable bathroom lavatory hangs over the bed. I'd judge an Agile to be not for tall people if that makes a difference.

The 3500 chassis has much more load capacity. The converters all went to 3500s for the standard 170" wb van simply because the 2500 could not handle the weight. It took most a couple of years to figure that out. Pleasure-way knew it from the get go with the newer V6 engine models. I haven't investigated the short wb load capacity.

wabbit 09-21-2012 07:02 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
Thanks Davyyd. The bed length makes a big difference for me. I guess the decision is getting easier. Now if only the GWV Legend dealer wasn't 600 miles away... One thing that I like about the Roadtrek is that the driver and passenger seats both have two arm rests, where it seems that the Legend only has one. It sounds like a small thing, but I've discovered that it matters to me.

Davydd 09-21-2012 08:14 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
The problem with the Roadtreks is they put the microwave below counter and the refrigerator on the floor. I've never understood that especially with an older population demographic that would rather bend over as little as possible. Also they reverse the kitchen to the driver's side with the tall bathroom blocking half the sliding door opening and blinding the driver from seeing through windows for traffic coming up on the right side. That too has always been a mystery to me. For those two reasons alone I've always favored the LTV, P-W and GWVan plans. I'm cool to Winnebago ERA and Airstream Interstate for those reasons too, though the ERA has an alternative plan that's pretty good.

You can talk directly to GWVan about your desires and they will work with you. They are semi-custom in what they do and I bet they might be willing to undertake putting on two armrests if that would make the sale. Last June when I visited the GWVan factory the president was personally delivering a Legend that had been altered for accessibility to a new owner in Louisiana.

I'm on my second Sprinter, second converter, second dealer. I liked them both but the second time around I was less willing to compromise on my desires and needs, and had a much better idea of my wants from experience. You ought to explore Sportsmobile and Advanced-RV as well. Sportsmobile is custom and Advanced-RV is so new I think they would be willing to work with you as well.

wabbit 09-21-2012 09:04 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
The kitchen on the driver's side made sense to me with the shorter Agile, with that very cool swing-up table for the front seats. I really like the design of that table. :clap: I can see your point with the longer units, though. I have a hard enough time swiveling around to see on some of those angled entry roads without something blocking my view. I also really like the screen for the side door in the GWV.

My nearby Roadtrek dealer is located near some mountain twisties, so I expect to be doing some evaluation drives, figuring that the weight and center of gravity should be similar for most mfrs on that chassis. There is also an LTV dealer "nearby". Now that my wife is fully on board with the purchase as soon as the unit is chosen, I can certainly find the time to do the detailed evaluation. :D

teachergal 09-22-2012 12:43 AM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
2 armrests on the driver/passenger seats would be awesome! I hate that there's no armrest when I turn the passenger seat around!

I took was a big fan of the flip up table in the Agile, but I love the layout of the PW with the tall stuff on the driver side and the kitchen on the passenger side. I have a TV table that I stow behind the driver seat but can use for a table at the passenger seat so I don't have to put the bed up to have a table. Of course I did have to clean out the passenger seat! :-)

I thought I wanted an Agile, I thought that was the only RV for me, but I ended up buying the PW Plateau and I'd never go back. You'll find what works for you!

wabbit 09-22-2012 01:32 AM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
My primary use for the flip-up table was a laptop computer, so I need something sturdy. I'll take a very thorough look at the design when I'm at the RT dealer and make some notes, in case I decide to have someone build one for me.

Other than the placement of the kitchen and bathroom, what were the other reasons you decided against the Agile?

What made you choose the PW Plateau over the Adventurous or the GWV Legend (or the others)?

Mike 09-22-2012 03:57 AM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
Does the RV have to be on a Sprinter chassis? You mentioned it would be a replacement for
your everyday vehicle, and at 22' 9" (almost 23') it's a longish commuter vehicle, but you would
know what you plan on using it for, day to day. Unless you prefer diesel to gasoline powered?
Just wondering if a non-Sprinter option might work better for you. As some have mentioned,
there are some custom converters who might be able to come up with something smaller. Maybe
you need an upgraded/customized Agile-sized van, with your preferred floor plan/equipment?
Good luck with the project/search.

wabbit 09-24-2012 03:09 AM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
The Sprinter chassis seems to be the one that handles the mountain grades the best and I do love those mountain grades. I work from home, so it would only be used for errands such as trips to the doctor or grocery store. I'm making the drive to compare the Agile to the Adventurous later this week, with a long list of questions and notes from what I've been hearing here. They have all of the Chevy models there also, so I'll be comparing and asking a whole lot of questions.

Mike 09-24-2012 02:02 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
So the issue is hill climbs? And potentially engine braking on the way down? I'd have to agree about hills and mountains, as we love the western mountains, too. I started a thread a while back on "power to weight ratios" and was almost at the point where I was in touch with a custom engine rebuild shop that would rebuild the 350ci V8 in my Chevy 2002 190P and increase the base HP and torque by 30%. In my case, the '02 Chev 190P is under powered for places like the mountains between Montana and Arizona, and some climbs in the eastern mountains, Adirondacks and Appalachians are a challenge. I've never needed engine braking, but it's available on some newer Sprinters, and it sounds like a nice feature for mountainous terrain, but gearing down the conventional transmission, and controlled conventional braking works well for me.
Anyway, I held off on the engine rebuild, as our plans have been all over the map this last year with the change of address, and just prior to our move we considered switching to a truck/trailer combo to accommodate longer trips, and to allow us to bring the cats with us, but that also got shelved when we sold/bought. I looked into it extensively, and we decided if we ever got settled, we'd probably still be tourers, not destination campers, and the truck/trailer wouldn't work. And we've found a new cat sitter for our pets so we've solved that issue. So, we're back to a sometimes under powered '02 Chev 190P and the challenges it presents in the places we like to travel.
Newer Chev chassis may have significant improvements over my set up, and I wouldn't completely discount them based on the opinions of others. Larger standard engine displacements, and newer technologies in regards to performance and efficiency and fuel economy, have probably improved their ability to tackle the mountains. However, that's just an opinion, too. Sorry for the lengthy monologue, but I wanted to put my comments in context. You'll figure it out, I'm sure. :wink:

teachergal 09-24-2012 03:24 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you!
I ended up with my unit by chance - it was truly meant to be - so I didn't really go through a real "pros and cons" shopping list, but now having used my PW and seeing the other designs, I see why I like mine better...does that make sense?

Here are the things I like on my PW:

The layout - I really wanted a unit where the tall stuff was behind the driver so I could see out the back. I don't have a backup camera and I don't even feel like I need it. Also the fact that it's on the 3500 chassis, it has a big fridge with a separate freezer - I take long summer trips and having a freezer is very helpful. I also liked that the wardrobe is permanent and doesn't replace the captains chairs. The fact that there is no second row of captains chairs works great for me - the space is used in ways that work for me - large wardrobe, extra counter space, and I have seat belts on the couch/bed so if I need to take passengers I can.

It doesn't have a macerater pump - I like that there's one less piece of equipment that can break. Also I read about emptying the tank and how you have to run inside the coach and check the levels to determine if it's empty since you can't hear it...I'm usually by myself and running in and out the coach while I'm dumping just doesn't work for me.

I think there were other things but I can't think of them right now...

Davydd 09-24-2012 03:32 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
The Sprinter turbo diesel doesn't lose power in the mountain passes. It performs as well at the 11,550 foot high Hoosier Pass in Colorado as it does at sea level. That is a major key to mountain driving. I can generally drive the Colorado mountains up and down almost brake free. The Appalachians are actually tougher because the grades can be steeper and less sweeping in duration. I went 61,000 miles on my 2005 Pleasure-way Sprinter with annual trips crossing both the Rockies and Appalachians and I still had acceptable brakes when I traded it in.

Davydd 09-24-2012 03:42 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...

Originally Posted by teachergal
It [Sprinter Pleasure-way Plateau] doesn't have a macerater pump - I like that there's one less piece of equipment that can break. Also I read about emptying the tank and how you have to run inside the coach and check the levels to determine if it's empty since you can't hear it...I'm usually by myself and running in and out the coach while I'm dumping just doesn't work for me.

When we traveled the Alaska Highway to Alaska and also in Alaska and the Yukon we encountered many campgrounds with full hook-ups at no additional cost. It just seemed the norm. The campgrounds generally were not all that great in that they seemed to be nothing but gravel parking lots but the services were above average. So many times we took advantage of the full hookups and connected our 3" gravity dump and city water hookups. It is a big plus in those situations to be able to have unlimited water, better water flow than the pumps and unlimited waste. Not to mention being able to leave a campground with empty gray and black water tanks and not have to wait in line at a dump station.

Gravity never fails. :)

AZ ADVenturist 09-24-2012 06:06 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
[quote=Davydd]Seems I missed most of this discussion as it was mostly during OUR L-ong Alaska driving trip. Over 9,000 miles/5+ wks round trip. We to used a variety of camp facilities - from State & Provincial Parks to Commercial RV Campgrounds. The best were State parks in Oregon - most have Elect. & water hookups & showers (we really like showers) 2nd best were Provincials in B.C. Worst was the rarely used Trailer Court/RV park. We even did the WalMart thing one rainy night in Fairbanks. And a couple of OverPriced KOA in Wash. State when we were driving hard & to tired to look around.
We try to travel light, so don't fill our water tank & don't use the toilet or shower thus - no tanks to dump or bathroom area to clean (works for us).
As indicated, ours is a now 10 yr old RoadTrek 190V. Chev. 5.7L(350c.i.). With now 63k miles on't.
We've had a few issues with it & I complain a lot. But nothing that spoiled our trip & fuel MPG avg. at 14. It is some under powered. But we live in mountains of Arizona, so have compensated our driving style.
Regarding Sprinter - I have heard lots of mixed reviews & opinions. Those who have 'em & understand - seem to love them. A couple we met in Whitehorse, Y.T. love theirs & would never buy American. Another couple in Klamath Falls told horror stories about 2 they had owned & both let them down with serious mechanical break-downs on the road in Colorado. Now in their 3rd R/T - Chev. Also owned Dodge in past & loved them. Their statement was that nearly any mech. shop in North America can repair a Dodge or Chev. Very few can fix a diesel Sprinter motor when it fails.
I know opinion & perspective is kinda' like ArmPits - nearly every one has at least one or two. & YMMV...

Davydd 09-24-2012 06:22 PM

Re: Decisions, decisions...
Here is an example of a campground I spoke of. This is the Oceanside Campground in Haines, Alaska. It was nothing but a gravel parking lot right on the Ocean and conveniently right in the center of town. It had full hookups of water, sewer and electric. It had no common dump station. The fire pits and picnic tables were across the drive along the shore. Seward and Valdez were similar. The closest campground within walking distance of downtown Anchorage was also similar.

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