Review of Redwood 2015 38RL and Crossroads RV
Earlier this year I promised to come back with a review after two months as full timer, George reminded me last week since it then was exactly two month and here is my review:
I am as you all know Swedish but prefer to write in bad English ;-).
Me and my wife made the decision to sell the house and become full timers in November last year. Hard to change from 4400 sqfeet to a little over 400 at first. I sold my companies in Europe and got retired at 51 and that is pretty unusual in Sweden where I am from. After seven years in the same place in the US it is time to start travel I use to have over 200 travel days per year and really hate flying and airports, hotels etc.
So when decided, step one was to find a unit that would be so comfortable that you can live in it for a longer time.
In November last year we planned to look for a condo in a place warmer and sunnier than Wisconsin during the winter.
First step was to find a unit.
I think I spent at least three weeks on internet trying to figure out what brands, manufacturers etc. that was available in the US. We hardly have Fifth Wheeler in Europe. Too expensive and roads to narrow I suppose and gas is over 9 dollars per gallon.
I found three manufacturers that I liked and started to compare. Got a good feeling and emailed when their home pages did not give enough info. Read reviews, forums, blogs etc.
Since I have time we took our trike down to Key West literally and started to visit dealers all the way up to Wisconsin. Stopped at a huge dealer in Florida and could walk through many different unites made from the three manufacturers I have pinpointed. Then a number of smaller dealers on the way back home.
Problem was that every time me and my wife entered a Redwood, it just clicked. Redwood felt just like Apple. Just works, great floor plans and exactly like Jonathan Ives and Steve Jobs thinking re. details.
You get the feeling right away this is not just an ordinary RV but put together by somebody who has been thinking, and thinking a lot. Intelligent solutions and smart thinking in details.
After all most of the RV manufacturers use generic components so a lot of brainpower is needed to really make the wow-feeling appear. Redwood has succeeded with this.
Given the fact that I really do not understand structural components. To get all components from one company like Redwood gets from Lippert make sense even if I don't have a clue if that is a good brand.
Next question is what size. My best friend told me right away. Don't save, go for the best and then add a bit or you are not going to be happy living in it full-time. We did so. Ordered whatever we could add except a built in generator and full paint. The later since I am Swedish and think the base paint looks more like a house. Americans most likely feel different and like more flashy outsides. Volvo is Swedish Cadillac is American.
We decided to go for the 38RL.
Went to a RAM dealer and got a new 3500 Dually as well after reading this forum. I have no clue of trucks but no European trucks in the US and RAM seemed to be ok.
From day one I still get the wow-feeling every time I step in to our home!
When I reefer to Apple my thoughts goes to Jobs and the Think Different campaign.
Redwood thinks different. Maybe not world changing things but the total experience is the sum of all details, it is all in the details.
Slide in slide - genius. Gives and extra 75cm. Kitchen layout with the possibility to have a real coffee brewer (European off course) hidden in the pantry, the finish of all the wooden interiors, a good quality dishwasher, a real fridge same brand as we had in our house, King Size bed, ability to have two heat pumps and the most important - the floor plan.
Then when it comes to technicalities I was given a lot of information when doing the factory tour.
Just a bit hard to know whether the information you get there is relevant since I don't know what to compare it to. Great however that a company dares to show off the factory from the inside.
I was not offered that from the two competitors.
We have had some minor problems and somebody told me that the RV business in the US are some 20 years behind the car industry. He was correct.
QC within the RV industry has a lot to improve. It is not ok to deliver units with pipe cutouts in the tanks, with broken recliners, with valves that does not shut, leaking water connections etc etc but again that is not the end of the world. Fixed once and then it is ok.
I still think it is important to have a perspective before one complain too much. In Europe we would pay at least 75% more for the same unit even before our 25% sales tax and it would be branded Mercedes or BMW. That would translate to about 190.000 dollars and nobody here is willing to pay that. Same applies to cars.
And after all looking at both Thor Industries and Crossroads annual financial closing of books report for 2012 I am happy that they are able to make a decent profit. They are not swimming in gold but hopefully they will survive so that we are able to get our warranties taken care of and spare parts in the long run. A strong surviving company is important for us customers. I am thinking of all SAABs customers with small or no chance to get hold of popular spare parts today after their bankruptcy.
As some of you know Carrier, one of my second choices actually did not survive, not because they were manufacturing a bad product but they happened to be a customer in a bank that was bought up and despite that they actually were able to provide what the "new" bank required still was put in to bankruptcy.
So all companies have to cut corners somewhere but I am very happy that Redwood are showing black figures and hopefully they will stay in business long.
However, in the unit we got the factory had connected the wires to the brakes wrong. That is far from acceptable. Dealer was confused and did not have all the equipment needed to test the new disc brakes immediately. Our RAM had to stay in service for two days since no one thought that brake wiring on the RV was the problem. It had been hauled all the way from Indiana to South Dakota. I got hold of the owner of the company producing the brake boxes and I was not the first to call. That is not acceptable.
But all in all. Redwood is a clear winner. They have that little extra that the competition lack. With one exception which Andy who showed us the factory confirmed several times.
Marketing and communication can be improved. Homepage had outdated pics (better today), not one single video online even if several dealers have their own on YouTube.
Yesterday when I checked their brochure still offers 1/5 years warranty even if it should be 2/5 I think. Before buying that was one of the things that confused me so I emailed Crossroads just to make sure it was 2/5.
First email no answer at all, reminder no answer. Called and left my name and number no one returned my call. I also emailed some other very simple questions in total five. Some where answered within weeks some not at all.
My second question out of total five was what color scheme will our RV have on the outside resp. Inside. We first asked one dealer and answer nobody knows. We then asked Andy at the factory tour and same answer, outside is set but was wrong on Redwoods homepage at the time, but inside you don't know until you get your unit. Unacceptable to since I am going to live in the unit and that was one of the unanswered email to Crossroads. The competitors answered fast and correct but here I think Crossroads have stepped up today.
Emailed my last question from a different email address before this review now in June and no answer, two reminders etc. when I finally got a person in this case Jim Lazzarinos email I received an answer within 30 minutes!
And then a very prompt and professional follow up even at 11.18PM. Made me very happy. He helped me out once before with a small thing. So my thinking is first always ask the dealer and second try to get hold of a person on Crossroads, don't use their general email.
Problem with us is that we did not do it the typical American way with first finding a dealer and then a brand but the opposite. And very few dealers have more than a couple of brands except a large one in Florida.
I am seldom impressed and reading this forum where every one says Redwoods customer service is outstanding and earlier I did receive an answer after weeks or not at all but that has changed.
I also understand that if Redwood should try to handle every single question on every single detail they most likely needs an army of staff. That must be the dealers job. So it is a balance.
Back to what I would have changed if I was the owner of Redwood:
as being from Sweden the country who invented safety belts, Airbags and Volvo I would not place the emergency window behind the rear ladder
Improve QC a bit since for full timers it is annoying to put their home to service for small items like cutouts in a tank or a leaking valves, loose cables etc. If I was a dealer I would employ a person paid by the dealers to do the last QC since they end up with all the problems in the end
I would offer carefree batteries as an options - easier to steal Mona Lisa in the Louvre than to check battery level on our 38RL
I would give more options for micro/oven since it is for full timers
Offer a tempur mattress solution as an option
Use the same size for the spare tire at least the same rating
Change the Redwood logo from robust capitals from the seventies to something more Elegant reflecting 2014 and the fact that Redwood is not a VOLVO but a Maserati
I would introduce a chat or a faster email response system
Update the homepage with both actual pics and small 360 videos and a success stories section, change the text in the warranty Still 1/5 if it still is 2/5 and that is just confusing and very unprofessional to have printing mistakes for over 6 month and then blame the marketing people (Andy's words)
Find a door knob system more convenient than the present plastic ring
More and more people do use WiFi more than local TV and one options should be a per wiring coax for a WiFi antenna
Use the same key for all outdoor locks
Offer an option with a shade covering the sun window in the bathroom
Offer an option with a built in BOSE sound system. JBL sound bar is ok but as being your home you might want a bit higher standard.
Offer a litterbox solution for those traveling with cats. A small hole under the coach in the living room leading to the basement and the extra storage in the back for easy litter change
Remote controlled slides with or without cable
USB outlets with full iPad amp not just the standard iPhone current
Option to buy an end table to the recliners
The list can be long. After all most of things is just cosmetics but Redwood has already changed the market with intelligent solutions so why stop. If they can get me to put a cutting board with a hole in to be on my plus list before deciding a cat hole would for sure be two pluses.
We must also understand that it is a very complex unit with a lot of systems, all bumping around at 65mph on the road and things do break. What I am after is that all must be ok for the PDI.
Summary: Redwood won the game but can improve.