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Old 08-06-2022, 09:55 PM   #1
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Adventures in RV Shopping: Am I Expecting Too Much?

Hi everyone

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.

TL;DR 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!
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Old 08-06-2022, 10:38 PM   #2
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I just did a quick Google for trailers under 8,000lb. There are more site to explore.

Why would you want to sleep on a converted dinette or jackknife sofa? You're retired. They are extremely uncomfortable for adults. Get a real bed and you can add a good supportive mattress.

https://www.jeffsetter.com/8-best-tr...r-8000-pounds/

https://scanneranswers.com/travel-tr...nder-7000-lbs/

https://trailandsummit.com/best-trav...nder-7000-lbs/
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Old 08-06-2022, 10:42 PM   #3
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Looks like you are going in the right direction with your research.

Do you have a hitch on your BMW yet?

If so I suggest you go rent a U-haul trailer and load it up to about 5,000 lb then pull it for a couple hundred miles. See what you think about how it handles.

I pulled a 2,000lb trailer with my 3 liter 6 cylinder Lexus RX300. Had to go over a mountain pass and was down to 40 mph.

Your BMW has more power for sure but I would want to test it first.

I'm also thinking prices are going to be dropping in the next few months, good luck with your searh.m
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Old 08-06-2022, 10:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
I just did a quick Google for trailers under 8,000lb. There are more site to explore.

Why would you want to sleep on a converted dinette or jackknife sofa? You're retired. They are extremely uncomfortable for adults. Get a real bed and you can add a good supportive mattress.

https://www.jeffsetter.com/8-best-tr...r-8000-pounds/

https://scanneranswers.com/travel-tr...nder-7000-lbs/

https://trailandsummit.com/best-trav...nder-7000-lbs/
Thanks. The extra sleeping isn't for us but for the occasional grandkids. I want a good night's sleep. :-)

Those are great lists and we've looked at almost all of those listed. I find the 23' Airstream a bit small, but the 25 is just about ideal. The Cougar 22 is a close second.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch Hoagland View Post
Looks like you are going in the right direction with your research.

Do you have a hitch on your BMW yet?

If so I suggest you go rent a U-haul trailer and load it up to about 5,000 lb then pull it for a couple hundred miles. See what you think about how it handles.

I pulled a 2,000lb trailer with my 3 liter 6 cylinder Lexus RX300. Had to go over a mountain pass and was down to 40 mph.

Your BMW has more power for sure but I would want to test it first.

I'm also thinking prices are going to be dropping in the next few months, good luck with your searh.m
Thanks. I have good experience towing, even towing with the previous gen X5 which has lower (6k lbs) capacities. The new ones are very capable vehicles. :-)
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Old 08-07-2022, 01:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by propchef View Post
Thanks. The extra sleeping isn't for us but for the occasional grandkids. I want a good night's sleep. :-)
When we had our grandkids spend the night... (two at the most) they were perfectly fine with a sleeping bag on the floor. When they got older they pitched a tent on our site. Everyone loved it! I sure wouldn't purchase a RV based on room for the occasional kid sleepovers.
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Old 08-07-2022, 05:03 AM   #6
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Thanks for posting an interesting and informative report from the front lines. Absolutely loved the comment "if it doesn't have a ladder you can't walk in the roof". My favorite from a personal experience at the Hershey PA RV show was a rent-a-salesperson who told us we were looking at at 26' TT (because the number 26 was in the model number). We laughed and suggested that he measure it since it was way longer than 26 feet. Okay, so maybe that was a little snarky on our part but, really, these are the professionals who are supposed to be helping us.

Our in-depth, time-consuming year and a half of research led us to a great trailer that met our personal list of needs and wants. There are, indeed, some extremely knowledgeable and professional sales reps out there who are a credit to the industry and a huge help to shoppers. Others, not so much. I believe you were spot on when you said, "a well-informed consumer knows far more than most RV salesfolks - caveat emptor".

Wishing you and your wife many happy adventures in the years ahead!

Mary
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Old 08-07-2022, 07:23 AM   #7
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welcome and good luck. First, gotta get this off my chest, get a half ton pickup to tow. Resistance is futile, if you start extended driving and longer camping trips you will see the wisdom in this choice. Especially with a smaller camper the truck gives storage and just plain tows better.
Dealers will say anything to sell a unit. And from what I am reading the quality of the newer stuff is lacking. And new depreciates fast so if this plan doesn't work out it could be expensive.
Our old evergreen is now a 10 year old and while there are some small issues it is working great and we have not found a better camper for up to a month of straight camping. So don't rule out used private party stuff, just do your research. The one brand that almost had us was the terra line. They make a beautiful camper and well thought out.
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Old 08-07-2022, 07:39 AM   #8
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Salesmen are interesting. First you need to realize most of them have never spent so much as a night in and RV let alone owned one. And you expect them to be experts? You don't pose any question but I will mention you are going the be the guy I have to follow going uphill because you are trying to make a car into a tow vehicle. Yes you can tow with your car but the towing experience will be less than optimal. IMHO you don't have enough vehicle to tow the RV you want, but the salesman won't tell you that. It's not just the GVW. It's a complicated fusion between wheelbase, weights, front profile and side profile. Again in my opinion vehicles without a full frame should not be using a WDH. Unibody construction just isn't strong enough for the forces that may occur. There, we've both had our rant. I hope your search is successful and you end up being a happy camper.
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Old 08-07-2022, 08:02 AM   #9
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I did a lot of looking and research like you, for probably 4 years! Made spread sheets and visited lots all over the area. Runner up were Lance and Grand Design Imagine, we finally decided on the Grand Design Imagine xls 22RBE however before we could get one Covid hit and don't ask me why but we suddenly decided to buy a small motorhome and are happy with the decision so far. The biggest issue with the Lance was the very loud, non ducted AC and living in the desert AC is very, very important. In the beginning we looked at Airstream but another problem there with keeping cool in the desert, Airstreams are not great in the heat and anything over about 23 feet will need two ACs if you live in or visit hot climates. The Grand Design had the best insulation package, (R-30 in the roof if I recall) of any standard non-4 season trailer out there.
We once rented a Forest River for a week and that taught us the importance of insulation, we suffered in that trailer till we were able to reach higher elevations and cooler temps, it was pretty miserable until later in the evening, the AC just couldn't keep up with the heat gain thru the roof. After driving all day and stopping at camp with the inside of the trailer at 120F or so we had to huddle under the dump valve at the dinette to keep from roasting.
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Old 08-07-2022, 08:22 AM   #10
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I realize that the X5 is a far more capable tow vehicle than most folks realize but with my experience towing travel trailers for 10-yrs with various SUVs I would not look at any TT with a dry weight past 5,800lbs if I were you. Also, tow vehicle wheelbase is definitely an issue. Towing with an X5 I would stick with 26’ max as a good rule of thumb. And I think with a tow package you have a hard limit of 551lbs for tongue weight.

And, ignore the salesperson, if their mouth is moving they are lying.

There is quite a bit of X5 as a tow vehicle discussion at the Bimmerpost’s X5 forum and other BMW forums.
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Old 08-07-2022, 08:56 AM   #11
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I realize that the X5 is a far more capable tow vehicle than most folks realize but with my experience towing travel trailers for 10-yrs with various SUVs I would not look at any TT with a dry weight past 5,800lbs if I were you. Also, tow vehicle wheelbase is definitely an issue. Towing with an X5 I would stick with 26í max as a good rule of thumb. And I think with a tow package you have a hard limit of 551lbs for tongue weight.

And, ignore the salesperson, if their mouth is moving they are lying.

There is quite a bit of X5 as a tow vehicle discussion at the Bimmerpostís X5 forum and other BMW forums.
Thanks

I'm on Bimmerfest and have been for years. This is our second X5 and I've owned many other BMWs over the years. I've contributed to a number of those towing discussions. :-)

The tongue weight limit as posted on the receiver itself is 650 lbs. This is easily remedied with a simple reinforcement (if desired).

Wheelbase isn't an issue with such a short overhang and limited weight. Besides, there's only a 5" difference between the X5 (117) and an F150 (122). The obvious difference is the independent suspension, far more stable than a live rear axle. And I have bigger brakes. :-)

Quote:
Unibody construction just isn't strong enough for the forces that may occur.
Sorry, but this is a myth. The issue can be the hitch receiver mounting points. It has nothing to do with it being a unibody, they're far stiffer than ladder frames.

Thanks, everyone. I've made sure that I've stayed within the numbers, even knowing that the BMW numbers are very conservative. We bought this vehicle specifically with towing in mind. It tows every bit as good (if not better!) than a similarly equipped half-ton.

I'll have no issues pulling a TT uphill. 335 hp and 331 torques work well.
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Old 08-07-2022, 09:44 AM   #12
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Andy Thompson at Can Am RV Centre specializes in towing setups for passenger cars and I was pretty impressed with some of his videos. There are some people towing Airstreams with your platform over at Airforums using PPP hitches set up by Andy.
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Old 08-07-2022, 11:30 AM   #13
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I'm on Bimmerfest and have been for years. This is our second X5 and I've owned many other BMWs over the years.
Me as well. I've owned 10 BMWs since 1972 (1602 was my first) and my wife drives a 5-series now.

Most excitingly, we have an i4 eDrive40 actually in production right now for approx delivery in November.
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Old 08-07-2022, 11:44 AM   #14
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Personal Opinion......you'll be looking for a looooong time for the perfect RV in the sizes you're looking at. A friend of my daughter was new to RV's and asked me to educate her and help her find a good RV to fit her needs. She had a 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe. Even though that is a large SUV, the towing capacity really limited her to small TT's.

Small TT's equate to two things, very little space inside or "Lite" models that are longer but have little to no storage inside and out. Most don't even have an outside cabinet large enough for a folding chair, just bag chairs. Small also means base model units with a few exceptions, like Air Stream, but those are outrageously priced.

If you were 20 or 30 something and were taking a couple of one or two week trips a year with some weekends mixed in, a small trailer, used just for sleeping is fine. Now picture yourself retired, you've been on the road for a few weeks and now your parked at a campground and it's raining. That little trailer will soon lead to a search for a larger trailer or divorce court.
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