I've been following the market for 2 years now and reading as much as I can when time allows. I've looked at TTs on and off as inventory and location have allowed, mostly one or two units here and there. Over this time I have seen and read enough to narrow my selection down to some pretty specific requirements and wants, while at the same time I'm trying to remain open to other options. Physically being inside of the trailer, sitting at the dinette, operating the hatches and drawers, standing in the shower, etc., all give a good idea of the space, much better than any picture ever could. The problem over the last two years has been inventory, so we've waited and watched.
This spring the pendulum has started to swing in the other direction, and inventory is no longer an issue so I decided to start looking in person once again. I wanted to see firsthand some of the changes in the new TTs. After seeing dozens of models and brands over the last few weeks, I think I should lower my expectations.
I must say at this point that I am very grateful for all of the posters here who share their stories and experiences. Without them, my BS meter would not have gone off nearly as often.
We're looking for a comfortable travel trailer that can get into most public campgrounds, can easily handle a few nights off-grid (but, like at a Harvest Host vineyard). It will be just the two of us 80% of the time. We're retiring, and we're spoiled.
We're looking for:
- "couples" coach with the ability to convert something into a reasonable bed that an adult or two kids could sleep on. There are a few with dinettes that are large enough, but most aren't. A jackknife sofa works fine but so many "couples" coaches come with theater seats.
- walk-on roof with a ladder
- no bunkhouse models
- MAX 7200 lbs. This one is a hard line that dealers just don't seem to understand.
- a good, full-service dealer who has a clean, large service center and can do aftermarket upgrades like solar.
When I enter a dealer I really try to avoid any specific manufacturer and I'll let the salesperson guide me. After all, they're the expert, right? Up on the latest? Don't count on it.
Some of my favorite lines:
- With a good hitch you can tow at least 500 lbs more
- If it doesn't have a ladder you can't walk on the roof. Period (he was adamant)
- Adzel is just fiberglass and is prone to delamination
- him: "This one weighs 6300" Me: "yes, but that's dry" him: "no one puts much in these. You'll be fine." It had a GVWR of almost 10k and a 100-gallon fresh water tank.
- "Brand X is terrible with shoddy construction and is overpriced." Said by every dealer about their competition. The horrible truth is that they're all pretty much shoddy and overpriced. Still.
Pricing is all over the place. The price on identical units can vary as much as $15-20k depending on region, and can even vary a few thousand at the same dealer. One dealer said it had been marked down (it hadn't) and it was still $2k over MSRP. They said it came with a "free" extended warranty. Pass.
Service is also something I ask about and they always tout their service departments. "We only service what we sell so we can always take care of you." "Great" I said, "but I do worry about issues on the road, especially if so many dealers are like you and won't work on my trailer if I didn't buy it there."
New v Used. I was strongly discouraged from buying used by several dealers, and it turns out it's because they've started wholesaling out their used inventory because the lots are JAMMED to the gills with new 2022 trailers and the 2023s are on the way. One salesperson was even complaining because the
lot was jammed and he couldn't find anything. "We've never had so many" he kept saying.
It was great getting out and seeing so many in such a short period, kind of like my own personal RV show, and I learned a lot. There was one standout dealer and I visited two of their locations getting excellent and professional service from each of them.
We do have a few leading candidates. One is the Cougar Half Ton 22MLSWE, a number of the Keystone Passports (Keystone says the 229 RKWE has an MSRP of $44k, but the dealer has it "on sale" for $51K?), any Airstream smaller than 25', and I surprised myself by actually liking the NoBo trailers after hesitating to even look at them. They have two dual axle trailers we're considering. We were at one time considering Lance but we've decided against it for various reasons. Grand Design has a few as well.
So to recap: prices are all over the map with zero consistency, service after the sale is suspect, and a well-informed consumer knows far more than most RV salesfolks. Caveat emptor.
To get ahead of the inevitable follow-up question: It's a 2019 BMW X5 with the tow package. No, I won't buy a one-ton dually.
Good luck out there kids!