Well, not really “wars,” just differences. In our process of choosing an RV, it pretty much came down to Jo looking at mostly “inside” things and me looking at “externals.” Basically, she was looking at the floorplans, living amenities, and the appliance items. Her focus was also on what looked nice and looked very functional. My job was to look at frames, brakes, suspensions, and supplemental systems like inverters, leveling systems, slide mechanisms, and the outside functions like holding tanks, dump systems, and what have you.
We had pretty much decided that we would defer to each other until we found something that was just right for both of us. While one might really like a feature, the other may not like something else. That would a natural process to finding a match. Since we both knew that the foundation of an RV is its frame, suspension and wheels, if those systems were inferior, it didn’t matter what the interior was like. If a company will scrimp on the foundational systems, they will likely also scrimp on the smaller, but still vital features and amenities.
Jo pretty much knew that if I didn’t like something that I examined that I would explain to her my concerns. We seldom had any real differences in opinions of what we were considering. But, while the foundational things were important, if she didn’t like the floor plan; well, it was move on to the next one.
While we could have gone with either of the Phaeton motorhomes, the 42 footer with the tag axle was pretty much agreed upon as the best to handle and with its amenities. While we had looked at other motorhomes, the Phaetons were our first look and they pretty much set a pretty high standard for everything else that followed in the way of motorhomes.
We felt that whatever kind of RV we chose, it would have to be nice as well as sturdy since it was going to be our home for many years to come. So, in looking at everything, looks was almost as important as other amenities and features.
We had looked at a lot of fifth wheels, but again, the DRV Suites brand was our first impressions and the standard by which all would be compared. If there were just a few thousand dollars difference between one brand and the Mobile Suites, then we would pay the difference. While we had also liked the Elite Suite models, we weren’t really pleased with the weight differences, and granite counters weren’t that important to us. So, as for the DRV Suites models, the Mobile Suites were pretty much our choice.
It helped that had we wanted an Elite Suites feature on a Mobile Suites, DRV would have put it into a Mobile Suites. The Elite Suites and Mobile Suites both share the same floorplans. We looked at the differences in the standard features, and the Elite’s “extra” standards weren’t that important to us. Plus, we knew to be considerate of the weight issues so that we didn’t have to buy a bigger truck than we needed. (Yes, I’m a full-fledged member of the weight police. Driving an overweight rig is just asking for trouble, if not to oneself, then possibly to others.)
We considered a lot of the different fifth wheel brands, looking at them both at RV shows and on the dealer’s lots. It was not unusual for us to drive a couple hundred miles or more to look at a particular floorplan because we wanted to make sure that what we saw in pictures was truly the way it looked in person. When we went to look at different RV’s, I usually took along a camera so that if we liked something pretty well, I could take pictures of what we liked and sometimes the things we didn’t like, just in case we wanted to ask to have that feature changed.
While we looked at a lot of brands and models, if they didn’t “strike our fancy,” I didn’t take pictures of them. So, the following list of brands and models is based on what I took pictures of and placed into separate computer file folders. In alphabetical order, the fifth wheels we looked at were these:
Carriage Carri-Lite models 36SBQ, 36MAX1, 36XTRM5, and 37MSTR (The Carriage models didn’t impress us as much as their Carri-Lite models did.)
Cedar Creek models 34RSLA, 34TSA, and 36RD5S
DRV Suites Mobile Suites models 38RLSB3 and 38TKSB3 (The latter our final choice and purchase.)
Grand Junction 35TMS (I was to be turned off of Grand Junction when I asked the salesman and later the area factory representative about Grand Junctions warranty if one was full-timing. Both basically said to just don’t tell them we were full timing. Sorry, I can’t lie about something like that.)
Open Range 398RLS
I didn’t list the model years because as time goes on, the manufacturer may not offer those floorplans. At the very last, we were down to the four above (discounting the Grand Junction) when it came to a choice. In late 2009, there was no way to get a brochure for the 2010 model year DRV models. In e-mail messages with the DRV factory rep out of Texas, I found that a dealer in Granbury had a few that she had just dropped off. I called that dealer and requested that they hold one for us.
Jo and I also wanted to look at a couple of Carri-Lite models, particularly one with a front bathroom, and they had one at a dealer in north Dallas. So we planned a Saturday trip down to see those and then drive over to Granbury to get the brochure. After looking at three different Carri-Lite models we then went to Bennett’s in Granbury. After getting the brochure and visiting with the salesman there, we went out on their lot to look at their current stock of DRV’s.
After we stepped into the DRV’s they had, it was pretty evident to us that the quality of the interior of the DRV models was far superior to the Carri-Lite’s. While we were there the salesman gave us two tickets to the upcoming (February 2010) Fort Worth RV Show. So, we then made another trip to Fort Worth a few weeks later. On that occasion we also got to meet the DRV factory rep in person. We sat in a Mobile Suites with her for about an hour and a half, thoroughly enjoying ourselves and asking more questions. (For some reason, those things just keep coming up….even now on occasion.)
All in all, it has been a somewhat fun, somewhat frustrating process in choosing what we did. But, in the end, I feel it was worth every minute and every mile of looking to be sure that we got something of quality. The only thing so far that has proven to be of lesser quality was the couch and recliners that were standard in the Mobile Suites. Those got sold on Craigslist and we purchased a new La-Z-Boy loveseat recliner and a Lane “euro-chair” that you can see below.