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Old 09-23-2020, 08:30 AM   #1
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Small Class A instead of B+?

Good day. I've started my journey to RV ownership in 2022 and I'm in the due diligence phase right now. So far this has meant the internet though we have stopped at several RV dealerships and wandered around. Some details about us and how we intend to use RV:
  1. Myself, DW and cat. Occasional other passengers (2-3)
  2. Home based in Maine - Would like 3 season capability at least
  3. One long trip across country (1 month), and then 1 weekend a month along with 2 week long trips

I started looking (online) at Class B+ and wanted to be around 25'. We would opt for "quality over quantity" and I spent some time looking at (virtually) Leisure Travel Vans, Coach House and Winnebago Navion. While not exactly an apples to apples comparison, that's where I've been. I also rank then in that order from a (subjective) quality perspective. I'm open to feedback.

As we were wandering around it became clear that perhaps small Class A's could be in play if we were willing to go to 30' (and absolutely no more).

We like the idea of National and State parks for some visits but I would say largely full hookup private campgrounds would be more the norm.

My question is from a quality perspective how do you rate the small Class A rigs? In no particular order I have browsed:
  1. Thor Axis (various sizes)
  2. Winnebago Intent and Vista
  3. Coachmen Pursuit Precision
  4. Jayco Alante
  5. Thor Ace
  6. Newmar Bay Star

So my fundamental question is how do you rates these small Class A's from a build and quality standpoint? Are there any others I am missing? From here I will worry about things like how they are outfitted (solar, generator size, hot water systems, etc.). And lastly we will decide on a floor plan. I also think our walk out of the dealership price is under $150K.

Understanding quality is subjective, I don't want this to be another Which is Best thread.

Many thanks.
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Old 09-23-2020, 08:51 AM   #2
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Based on your list Newmar would be first and then my next choice would be tiffinthen Winnie. I love my fleetwood storm at 32ft can get in anywhere, state,county,national parks, etc. I like the height of the as because its like watching a movie going down the road. It has enough bells and whistles for me. Less things to go wrong. After deciding a vs b and brand layout should be the next primary factor based on how youre planning to use it. Good luck with your search.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:46 AM   #3
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For a 27-30’ Class A I think everyone here would agree Newmar tops your list. I’d put Winne second and the rest all under #3. Jayco is a Thor company and Coachmen is a Forest River.

Here’s a couple links to help:

This one tells you who makes what and is helpful once you find a manufacturer that you either want to pursue or avoid:
https://campaddict.com/rv-manufacturers/

And this is the Newmar Archives which is helpful comparing build quality, and if you start leaning towards lightly used you can evaluate value by the presence of options:

https://www.newmarcorp.com/owner-too...hures-archive/

For the B+ rigs Coach House is going to be among the highest quality builder, but traveling with additional folks in a B+ is going to be tight.

I had a 25’ Phoenix B+ and liked it for two plus our two dogs, but any more would behave been uncomfortable. I had a 30’ Class C after that (temporary coach but had it for almost two years) and liked the size, but a Class A the same length has a lot more living space. So next was a 30’ Bay Star as my entry into the Class A world. It was a really nice rig, the best gas Class A builder there is (IMHO), and I put 20k miles on it before deciding on the Ventana as my DP for the next five years or so.

A couple things to consider:

1.Look at the difference between the Bay Star 3005 and 3014. The 3005 is an innovative design putting the bath in the rear but the mattress fold up when the slide is closed. The 3014 allows you to use the bed while traveling and makes a mattress upgrade a much easier prospect.
2. Any factory solar, other than the 10w panel provided to trickle charge, will be over priced and under engineered compared to what you can do yourself or have done in the after market, although you’ll find most post production installers ridiculously over priced.
3. Generator size is based on load and pretty much governed by the number of ACs. In the 30’ range you’ll have one AC so the standard 4kw Onan is fine.

There’s so much to comment on in your post that I’ll leave the rest for later. You’re on the right track from what I can see. Good luck on your search.
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Old 09-23-2020, 10:02 AM   #4
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Thank you denverh and R. Wold for your quick responses. I'm not sure this factors into my focus on quality first, but thought I would mention I am in Maine and would like to camp for at least 3 seasons.
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Old 09-23-2020, 10:17 AM   #5
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I can' help because I'm way too old to cram this fat stiff body into a Class B!
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Old 09-23-2020, 10:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgoulart View Post
Thank you denverh and R. Wold for your quick responses. I'm not sure this factors into my focus on quality first, but thought I would mention I am in Maine and would like to camp for at least 3 seasons.
It does mainly because Newmar seems to be considered the best insulated builder by nearly everyone, including Tiffin owners.

Another thing I just noticed is that you can option two 13.5 AC/heat pumps and a 5.5kw gen on the smallest a Bay Stars which would definitely be in your best interest.

I had one 15k btu in my Bay Star (the only optional upgrade at the time) and cooling while in the South in the summer was the only category in which the coach was actually was lacking.
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Old 09-23-2020, 11:27 AM   #7
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I can' help because I'm way too old to cram this fat stiff body into a Class B!
Ha! Same here. One of the reasons why I am asking about small Class A's.
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Old 09-23-2020, 02:36 PM   #8
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We had a 30' class B+ and liked it a lot. My wife and I and our two dogs filled it up pretty well, however. It was easy to drive and pretty comfortable most of the time. There were some things we didn't like so much however. The front seats did not swivel around, so the entire cab space was unusable (except to pile stuff in) when camping. Also, the kitchen was tiny, the fridge was only 6 cu. ft., the bed was a short double bed, and there wasn't a lot of storage space. So after two and a half years, we traded up to a 30' Newmar Bay Star. There is a lot more usable space and the basement storage is considerably larger. The two of us and our dogs fit much more comfortably. The front seats swivel making for a lot more seating options, the bed is a regular queen and the fridge is 8 cu.ft., which is enough for us during our 6 week trip south in the winter. The down side to all this is that it is not as easy to drive as the B+ was, especially on narrow secondary roads. But all things considered, we much prefer the Bay Star.
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:19 PM   #9
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We had a 25' Thor Vegas (same as Axis) for our first year and loved it! Great floor plan for us, could go and park just about anywhere, no toad needed, etc. Build quality was OK, but for about $75K it was an outstanding machine that did everything we wanted. Only reason we got rid of it was we decided to go full-time and needed MUCH bigger than that.

Good luck and have fun with the search!
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:36 PM   #10
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If I was looking for a sub 30ft class A it would be a Baystar.
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:49 PM   #11
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If ride is a consideration. You may want to look a bit harder at the E450 chassis MHs, like the Axis or Vegas line. Its the same chassis used on most class C's and Bs.

If you compare handling and ride complaints, on the site, between the E series chassis RVs and the F53 class A chassis, you will see the F53 complaints outnumber the E series over 70 to 1.

Top of the line, status symbol, RV, no but its a good, nice handling unit.
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Old 09-23-2020, 11:03 PM   #12
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If ride is a consideration. You may want to look a bit harder at the E450 chassis MHs, like the Axis or Vegas line. Its the same chassis used on most class C's and Bs.

If you compare handling and ride complaints, on the site, between the E series chassis RVs and the F53 class A chassis, you will see the F53 complaints outnumber the E series over 70 to 1.

Top of the line, status symbol, RV, no but its a good, nice handling unit.
I think this has changed with the new 7.3 gas F53. All reports claim improved handling and ride comfort and reduced noise. Just something to consider.
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Old 09-24-2020, 04:14 AM   #13
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I think this has changed with the new 7.3 gas F53. All reports claim improved handling and ride comfort and reduced noise. Just something to consider.
So I read, but just improving sway is an EZ fix. I don't recall anything about softer rude or and more movement in the suspension.

If it still has the same stiff springs, its going to bang its way down today's highways.
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Old 09-24-2020, 07:24 AM   #14
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That’s true and my big class C had a much more agreeable ride. It’s all trade offs. I finally bought a DP and even with a straight axle, the air suspension ride is simply amazing by comparison. I’ll be interested to read more owner reports on the improvements of the F53 chassis.

And adding Koni shocks to my Bay Star, while improving sway a bit after the CHF, only made it more still. FSD sounds good in theory but I never experienced the claimed improved ride. When I sold the Bay Star I included the Bilsteins and told the buyer he might want put the front OE shocks back on.
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