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Old 12-08-2019, 07:35 AM   #1
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Underwhelmed with Poor Quality

My wife and i have been getting ready to purchase an RV for the better part of the last year, and seriously seaching for the last 2 months. We have 4 kids and plan to tow a 5500-6000# 2007 Toyota Land Cruiser. That weight toad kind of narrows us down to the F450 chassis. We have visited RV shows and 2 dealerships and have consistently been really dissapointed in the cheap feel of just about everything in the Forest River lineup, including the Leprechaun which is supposed to be the "better stuff" line. The easiest thing to pick out that shows the manufacturers race to the bottom line is the build of the cabinet boxes and face frames. Low end class C models have nearly 100% vinyl stocker wrapped particle board cabinet doors, face frames, drawers and cabinet boxes, and even "top of the line" will have solid wood and even raised panel cabinet doors, but the face frames and boxes are always CHEAP pressboard wrapped in a vinyl sticker. Once you get out of the real bottom end at least they use what appears to be real cabinet grade plywood in manufacturing the drawer boxes.

We plan to travel as full time as possible with 4 kids ages 6-12 for the next few years, and i can't stomach paying north of $85,000 on a rapidly depreciating pile of particle board. The only thing that seems to vary from the lowest of the low end to the top of the line that i have been able to see at my (admittedly Forest River leaning local dealership) is variance in floor plans. While we are absolutely wanting a floor plan that works for our six person family, the floor plan wont matter if in 12 months and 1 day all the cabinet hinges and drawer slides start pulling out of the face frames, or after a few water spills the bottom of the jacknife sofa panels starts to swell (because they too seem to be made from cheap particle board). Several people recommended Tiffin for quality and lifetime customer service, so we checked out the Allegro line (we want 35' and shorter) and they are phenomenal and finally found build quality to be what I would expect. Several of the used models from 2012 and up are well within our price range. Sadly though, they only have a 5000# tow rating. If you want to get up to a 10,000# tow rating in the Tiffin line you have to bump up to Phaedra but they are too new, too expensive and too big for us as we want to stay in most national parks. So we looked at the Class C/B Tiffin Wayfarer, but the tow rating is too low and the floor plans are pretty cramped. So we go back to the delaership and after touring several Tiffins and going back into the forest river lineup, asking to look at the best they have, even some of their class A rigs, all seem so cheaply made. In short, I'm trying to find Tiffin build quality in a rig that will pull 6,000+ pounds (flat towing my overlanding 4x4 truck), sleep 6 people, and not fall apart 3 seconds after the warranty expires (or before).

Where can I find that level of quality?

Footnote - I do not mean to turn up my nose at any owners of Forest River RVs as i'm sure that with their market share they represent a fair share of owners in this forum. But even the best rigs I've seen have substandard building materials where i can SEE them, and it makes me very concerned about where corners are being cut behind the curtain.
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Old 12-08-2019, 08:12 AM   #2
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The lesser cost of the lower quality rv's only means you will have to be more diligent in the care and maintenance of the units. Be more proactive on inspection of seals and sealants, be a little gentler on operating the drawers and sofa beds, and pay extra attention to fixing things as soon as they malfunction. The bigger problem is in the manufacturing assembly line where they go so fast screws are missed or stripped and things misaligned. Once you get beyond finding and fixing those issues there really isn't that much difference.
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Old 12-08-2019, 08:16 AM   #3
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The lesser cost of the lower quality rv's only means you will have to be more diligent in the care and maintenance of the units. Be more proactive on inspection of seals and sealants, be a little gentler on operating the drawers and sofa beds, and pay extra attention to fixing things as soon as they malfunction. The bigger problem is in the manufacturing assembly line where they go so fast screws are missed or stripped and things misaligned. Once you get beyond finding and fixing those issues there really isn't that much difference.
It's hard to be gentle enough on particle board. It just wears out exponentially faster than cabinet grade plywood. And once it has a hogged out screw hole, there's only so many things you can do to fix it. I'd rather buy better quality from the get go, live normally, and fix as needed, than buy cheap, try to live like a church mouse, and even then still fix on the regular. None of the Forest River models i have looked at have been rated for full time use and Forest River will void the warranty on many if you live in them full time. On the other hand Tiffin is made for full time use.

Surely that level of quality exists somewhere in the class C space?
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Old 12-08-2019, 08:24 AM   #4
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"In short, I'm trying to find Tiffin build quality in a rig that will pull 6,000+ pounds (flat towing my overlanding 4x4 truck), sleep 6 people, and not fall apart 3 seconds after the warranty expires (or before).

Where can I find that level of quality?"

You've already answered your question. You can't, at your price point, and size limit.

The simplest answer for you is find a lighter towed that will tow with a 5,000lb. rated hitch. If you need a 6 passenger vehicle, you might have to look at some of the FCA minivans or other lightweight multi-passenger vehicles as your towed.
Getting your towed's weight down under 4500lbs to 5,000lbs, will remove that impediment from your search options list.

Good luck with it.
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Old 12-08-2019, 08:27 AM   #5
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"In short, I'm trying to find Tiffin build quality in a rig that will pull 6,000+ pounds (flat towing my overlanding 4x4 truck), sleep 6 people, and not fall apart 3 seconds after the warranty expires (or before).

Where can I find that level of quality?"

You've already answered your question. You can't, at your price point, and size limit.

The simplest answer for you is find a lighter towed that will tow with a 5,000lb. rated hitch. If you need a 6 passenger vehicle, you might have to look at some of the FCA minivans or other lightweight multi-passenger vehicles as your towed.
Getting your towed's weight down under 4500lbs to 5,000lbs, will remove that impediment from your search options list.

Good luck with it.
So if i read you right, there are no class C manufacturers who install (for instance) cabinets with full cabinet grade plywood construction on an E450 chassis?
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Old 12-08-2019, 08:51 AM   #6
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I agree quality is pretty bad in general but better cabinetry and full body paint with metal cargo doors and fiberglass rear caps and roofs will be high on my list for a new coach. I love the floorplan and size of my coach I would pay for the same thing with those upgrades.

I wish someone would just focus on a simple well built RV without all the glitz.

Your main problem is the weight of the toad, nearly all gas class A are 5000lbs towing. You could technically do more if you upgrade the hitch and weight the coach to make sure you have the GVWR left over for the extra 1000lbs. Then again I see people towing Full size pickups with golf carts in the back with gas coaches all the time probably with stock hitches....

Its why you see a lot of Wranglers though, mines right under 5000 and it is a great overland / offroad vehicle that has taken me to some amazing places.

You might want to look at something like a Dynamax Isata 5 if you want a quality Class C that can tow more but they are not cheap.
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Old 12-08-2019, 08:56 AM   #7
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So if i read you right, there are no class C manufacturers who install (for instance) cabinets with full cabinet grade plywood construction on an E450 chassis?
Honestly, I doubt it. You've done extensive searching/research and haven't found any.
You also seem to be stuck with a choice of towing the (overweight) Toyota Land Cruiser, versus the quality of the interior build for a potential full time lifestyle.
Another consideration for you is that if you do find something on an E450 with real wood cabinetry, and other top end finishes, that will more than likely eat into the OCCC/GVWR of the coach, which will again reduce the towing capacity. Real wood is heavier than particle board, porcelain is heavier than plastic, granite weighs more than corian, and so on.
Unfortunately, something's gotta give.
Again, good luck with it.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:01 AM   #8
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So if i read you right, there are no class C manufacturers who install (for instance) cabinets with full cabinet grade plywood construction on an E450 chassis?
Maybe:

Motorhome Dealer | Low Profile Motorhome | RV Manufacturer | Quality Motorhome

and

https://www.phoenixusarv.com/

But your still GVWR / GCWR limited that's why you will have to step up to Super C's or Class A's
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:08 AM   #9
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Here's another discussion describing a similar towing issue. Fit and finish not a priority, but some good info on E450 restrictions and limitations in various makes/models of motorhome.
E450 Class C towing ability
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:30 AM   #10
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Honestly, I doubt it. You've done extensive searching/research and haven't found any.
You also seem to be stuck with a choice of towing the (overweight) Toyota Land Cruiser, versus the quality of the interior build for a potential full time lifestyle.
Another consideration for you is that if you do find something on an E450 with real wood cabinetry, and other top end finishes, that will more than likely eat into the OCCC/GVWR of the coach, which will again reduce the towing capacity. Real wood is heavier than particle board, porcelain is heavier than plastic, granite weighs more than corian, and so on.
Unfortunately, something's gotta give.
Again, good luck with it.
Truly i don't feel like it's been extensive, rather limited to Forest River Feelander, Forester, and Leprechaun and then the Tiffin.

I can't see cabinet grade plyood being more than maybe 200-250 lbs more heavy over particle board for the total of all the cabinetry in the rig. Even if we double that to 500 lbs extra weight it still only reduces the Class C effective towing from 7500# down to 7000# which is still more than ample to pull my toad.

I don't mind even formica laminated countertops, if they would just use cabinet grade plywood instead of particle board, don't need a porcelain toilet, and certianly don't need granite, it's not that much better than corian or formica. I have formica countertops in rental houses that is 20+ years old and in good shape, if of dated appearance.

I do see your point, but there surely there HAS to be some manufacturer who takes long term quality seriously on the e450 chassis....
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:42 AM   #11
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Like most things you buy, if you want quality you will pay extra for it. That's the trade off! $85K barely buys a truck anymore, let alone a RV on a truck chassie.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:46 AM   #12
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Donít worry about getting into National Parks. As long as you stay at 40 feet or less you will get in. Many can even handle the 45 foot Class A Diesels now, just fewer spaces available.

As others have said you may consider a different tow vehicle. The Jeep Wrangler is very popular, and is under 5,000 lbs.

Another option if you are going to eliminate your Toyota is to get a Ford F-250/350, or Chevy/Dodge 2500/3500 and purchase a Fifth Wheel. There are many quality 5ers out there with good floor plans and a Ford/Chevy/Dodge will hold your large family.

If you want to stay with a Class C look at Winnabego. They are not the top of the line but close. Many floor plans and tons of used ones available. Not to put anyone down who has one but I would stay away from Thor and Forest River. Have heard too many complaints on these forums about them.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:46 AM   #13
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Trade the Land Cruiser for a late model JK/JKU Jeep and buy a 2008-2009-2010-? Tiffin DP.
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:55 AM   #14
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It’s a shame... but you are looking for (and expecting) a Unicorn.

Your only option to meet all but one of those expectations would be a 8 to 10-yr old Diesel Pusher.

You’d have room for 6, solid wood cabinets, and towing capacity for your toad. You might even reach your price target. The rig may be too big for some, but not all, camping within the National Parks.

You may say NO! To that, but honestly that is the only way to go.

You might find a 3 or 4 year old gas Class A that would fill your needs, but the 5,000lb towing capacity is really the norm.

We bought a brand new 31’ Forest River Forester Class C in 2015. It was very cheaply built. We had lots of problem with the RV and it was just the two of us and our toad was a Fiat 500. We got rid of it after 18-months and 12,000 mi. We lost $30,000 on that purchase.
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