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Old 02-13-2016, 11:13 PM   #1
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5th wheel comparisons

Just finished a 6hr trek through the Houston RV show. Narrowed down the ones we like to 3 finalist. KZ Durango 2500 346BHQ, Sierra 376BHOK, and finally Grand design 355BH.
My question is: Is one of these manufactures better than the other? It appears to be that most of the construction is the same. But is there better quality in one vs the other? This will be a full time rig for about a 1yr. Can't afford the mobile suites or their comps so let's not go there lol.
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Old 02-13-2016, 11:54 PM   #2
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Out of the three I hear good things about the grand design customer support after the sale. Not saying anything negative about the others just don't hear much about the others customer support.
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Old 02-14-2016, 08:49 AM   #3
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I would go with the Sierra 376BHOK manufactured by Forest River MFG. Why there customer service is outstanding; they will actual communicate with their customers. On their web site; Forest River provides contact information on sales and service representatives and states you will receive a reply within 48 hours. Here is the contact page for Sierra fifth wheels. Forest River RV Contact Us - Forest River, Inc.

I have used this site for my Cedar Creek 34RL when purchasing and with a small issue after I purchase. In both cases I received a response within 24 hours of asking the question.

I would also inquire on this site too from owners of this model and see their response. http://www.forestriverforums.com/forums/
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Old 02-14-2016, 07:18 PM   #4
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I do like the availability of the forest river line. However I am leaning more towards the Durango for the decreased weight. Then again I don't know where the weight savings are going if it's at the cost of construction quality. I know the grand design seem to be a big deal now but i don't know if they have the track record yet to prove their product.
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:19 PM   #5
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To live for a year and then sell?
"Don't go there--Mobile Suites?" I suggest a 2-3 year old DRV Suites---cost should be getting comparable to a new one like you are looking at, and you won't lose as much when you sell.
But the truck may well be a problem with the Suites/high pin weight, if you don't already have a dually.
Good luck in your search.
Joe
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Old 02-14-2016, 11:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarver View Post
Just finished a 6hr trek through the Houston RV show. Narrowed down the ones we like to 3 finalist. KZ Durango 2500 346BHQ, Sierra 376BHOK, and finally Grand design 355BH.
My question is: Is one of these manufactures better than the other? It appears to be that most of the construction is the same. But is there better quality in one vs the other? This will be a full time rig for about a 1yr. Can't afford the mobile suites or their comps so let's not go there lol.
Poke around a bit and I think you will find that most RVs are neither intended or warranted for full-time use. I spoke with a Coachmen rep who said they could build a rig made for full-timing but it would cost a lot more and they didn't think it would be worth trying to address that market because buyers are looking for lower cost rigs. If I'm not mistaken, Grand Design does warranty their rigs for full-time use. Call the manufacturers and ask. Don't rely on sales people at dealerships. Get copies of the warranties in writing before you buy.

A well built rig, in my estimation, is going to be heavier and more solidly built. It may have a plywood roof instead of thinner, flimsier, luan, for example. The walls maybe be thicker with more insulation. You might find real wood surfaces instead of paper covered particle board, a porcelain toilet instead of plastic. Other things may be less obvious: quality upholstery and curtains, double pane vs. single pane windows. Are slide toppers included or extra?

I too am investigating 5th wheels and thinking about buying one. The more I learn, the more I realize there is to know. There are a great many things you may wish to consider from hitch, to suspension type and brand, to brake type and size, axle manufacturer and quatily. Each one of these is a subject worthy of investigation. Then there are things such as carrying capacity, holding tank capacities, and how much you can or cannot move around when the slides are closed--can you make yourself a sandwich on travel days or open the closet to get a warner coat without opening slides?

You could easily create a list with 100 considerations once you start thinking about them.

Personally, I ruled out Grand Design, not because of quality, but rather because I didn't find enough windows in the smaller models I liked. I've been looking at Arctic Fox and Glacier Peak because they have smaller rigs with lots of glass and appear to be heavier, more well insulated and better made. Mfrs. I've heard mentioned that made quality rigs include the now defunct Teton and Excel.

I hope that helps and good luck!
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Old 02-15-2016, 08:52 AM   #7
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Hi Russ on the Road, thanks for that explanation. I'm not in the market right now but I'm now better informed. I think craftsmanship is a big factor in the making of a premium RV. The bells and whistles included in a top line RV is part of the additional cost. Many of the components used in high end units are also found in lower cost units. One thing that separates good better and best is
the application of materials providing reliability,or as you stated in some cases better quality stuff .
I use the analogy of a dish washer, a cheap unit is 300 bucks the best unit is 450. Both share the same body, motor, and pump but the 450 model has 5 more control settings. To some degree that the same as RV's but on a much larger scale :>)
Thanks again for your post

CLIFF
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:08 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by clifford j View Post
Hi Russ on the Road, thanks for that explanation. I'm not in the market right now but I'm now better informed. I think craftsmanship is a big factor in the making of a premium RV. The bells and whistles included in a top line RV is part of the additional cost. Many of the components used in high end units are also found in lower cost units. One thing that separates good better and best is
the application of materials providing reliability,or as you stated in some cases better quality stuff .
I use the analogy of a dish washer, a cheap unit is 300 bucks the best unit is 450. Both share the same body, motor, and pump but the 450 model has 5 more control settings. To some degree that the same as RV's but on a much larger scale :>)
Thanks again for your post

CLIFF

I tend to disagree a little bit on your analogue. Sometimes the KISS method is the best. I tend to shy away from all of the bells and whistle on a product if the basic model uses the same components such as motor, pump and body as you suggested.

Why? Less things to go wrong and easier to trouble shoot.

The higher end units in my humble opinion are for the most part manufactured better and have features that are not offered on the lower price units. Based on experience as we have owned three 5er.

What you need to do is make a list of what you want and then try and find the unit with the most features in that meets your criteria. I would also look at suspension components such as a wet bolt system with bronze bushings for improved life of the suspension. Instead of the standard plastic bushings and non greaseable components that are used in the lower end units and last around 6,000 miles. Another item is the pin box I would recommend a TrailAir style pin box, less stress on the truck and passengers when pulling. Also a level up system is a great feature to have; to name just a few items to look for.
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Old 02-16-2016, 11:41 PM   #9
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To live for a year and then sell?
"Don't go there--Mobile Suites?" I suggest a 2-3 year old DRV Suites---cost should be getting comparable to a new one like you are looking at, and you won't lose as much when you sell.
But the truck may well be a problem with the Suites/high pin weight, if you don't already have a dually.
Good luck in your search.
Joe
I know everyone has different experiences. Here are mine. Three 5th wheels owned. 1st and 3rd were pre-owned. Great experiences with both. 2nd one I purchased new. I will never do that again. Why? 1. The new one had all kinds of minor issues I had to deal with (plus major ones, but not at issue because it was new). 2. The depreciation of value probably rivals the investors loss in the making of the movie Dune.

No issues with the used rigs because the PO's already fixed the bugs. Now I have an older Carriage Cameo and love it. Cost me 1/3 of my rig purchased new, much nicer and no problems.

Used DRV, probably still expensive and heavy but will be super nice. I think you could still find an original Carriage (pre 2012) which is high quality, moderate weight and under $20k.

I apologize that I didn't make you decision any easier.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:26 AM   #10
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I appreciate the responses so far. Regarding the older DRVs, yes I would absolutely love one but I can't seem to find a bunk model and the weights are definitely high. I'd only tow those with a brand new f450 or medium duty truck, neither of which I particularly want. Tried looking for the Carriage line and no luck again with bunk house models and it appears crossroads rv has taken that name over now.
Reading the grand design website they state they are designed for full time living or actually extended stay.
At the Houston Rv show I spoke to a Highland Ridge rep and their 3x line seems like excellent quality as well. The way they install the front cap, 3in outer walls with extra insulation, and other little things here and there sound like a quality rig to me but I don't know much about that brand.
Has anyone had experience with these 2?
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Old 02-17-2016, 06:50 PM   #11
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I seem to remember that DRV only made a bunk model in the 43' lines--can't remember one in a shorter unit, but I don't look a BH models very much.

The Highland Ridge line includes the Open Range units that is now owned by Jayco, I think. Don't know much about them.

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Old 02-17-2016, 07:13 PM   #12
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We went to the Houston show also and probably looked at all of the same rigs you did. The 3X looked pretty good on the inside, but I have seen some just a couple of years old that the gray colored gel coat faded pretty badly. Maybe Open Range has overcome that deficiency lately.
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:42 PM   #13
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We went to the Houston show also and probably looked at all of the same rigs you did. The 3X looked pretty good on the inside, but I have seen some just a couple of years old that the gray colored gel coat faded pretty badly. Maybe Open Range has overcome that deficiency lately.
Exactly what i was thinking about the cap. I questioned him about it and he says it is better than the automotive paint that some use because the clear coat doesn't chip. The 2yr warranty will cover the fade though so I would probably request the automotive paint if it did fade
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Old 02-17-2016, 11:12 PM   #14
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I doubt you can do any better than the Grand Design. I've had my Solitude for 3 years next month. In October we just got back from a 10,113 mile, 38 state road trip. Only problem we had, I flushed too hard and broke the pedal. GD makes an excellent unit and stands behind them, by far better than any company I've ever had to deal with, even out of warranty.
I was having a problem with a couple of flickering LED's and was talking about it on the owners forum on a Saturday. Within half an hour I was notified by someone from GD that said he'd have someone call me Monday morning. Got the call, told them about what was going on and mentioned we had no volume on the DVD player. A week later I got a box with 8 new LED lights, including fixtures and a new DVD player. I couldn't have asked for better service, and all while out of warranty..
Good luck with which ever you choose
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