RVs (and 0ur world) have changed drastically since you (and your parents and grandparents) were kids. Recreational vehicles are far more expensive, for one thing – it’s now possible to drop a couple million bucks on the unit of your choice, as you’ll see below. Yet the lure of living on the open road, stopping and making camp wherever you wish, is still powerful for the 9 or so million people who own and drive RVs in America.
These five RVs are but a splash in a sea of a hundred or so consumer choices we perused, but we think you’ll find something to like about each. We’ll bring you tests over the next few months, too.
The Via, which we lived in for three winter months a few years back, bests many of its bloated brethren by delivering far better mileage via its fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz Sprinter platform and turbodiesel 6-cylinder engine. It also had enough power to bust us out of a snowdrift when we got plowed in overnight, but that’s another story. For your $130,306, you get a very solid basic home-on-wheels which should meet the needs of one, two or more adventurers.
The 2018 unit offers three bedroom configurations; we like the loft bed lowering from the ceiling above the cab in addition to the double twin bed in back which configure to a nice-sized Queen. The Via is a tighter squeeze than some, no doubt about it, but you still enjoy a full shower, a fridge/freezer, two flat-screen TVs and a two-burner stove.
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The $39,500 (MSRP) Basecamp is the smallest travel trailer Airstream manufactures. It’s a two-wheeler, making it relatively light at 2,585 pounds, and capable of holding up to 915 pounds of gear and water. It’s also relatively small at 16’3 long, 7 feet wide and 8’6 tall, so it’s ideal for one person, a couple and – maybe – a dog. You can also parallel park it as you would a car – it’ll fit.
It holds 22 gallons of drinking water, has a small bathroom and features a 29-gallon “black water” tank – that’s the one for human waste. There is no grey water tank. As far as we can see, it’s a great beginner camper for those who may not initially want to take on the challenge of a big beast. We’ll be testing one in a few weeks, and will report findings here.
This is as close to a white-glove RV experience as you’ll ever get on the road. Both functional and formal, this $935,766 fit-for-a-king-and-queen unit has a kitchen equipped with a plethora of all-electric appliances such as a Wolf® induction cooktop, a stainless steel farmhouse sink, Delta® Touch2O faucet, and a Fisher & Paykel® dishwasher. There is a “master suite” with a hardwood barn door separating the bed from the bath, and even a Whirlpool laundry station. A porcelain-lined shower’s accompanied by a state-of-the-art trough-style vanity. Options include a Patio Hammock Package, a flag pole bracket, a power washer with 50’ hose reel connected to hot water line, a stainless steel trim kit for exterior compartment doors, and more.
Unlike some companies with ultra-cheap materials, this is more like a fine home, framed 16 inches on center and covered by a fiberglass roof with (walkable) decking and an integrated gutter rail. You’ve got enough power for a small rock concert available, too, with a 12.5 kW Cummins Onan® Diesel Generator, and Sixteen 6-Volt AGM House Batteries on a pullout tray as well as a 10-watt solar panel to charge the chassis battery. Engine-wise, its Cummins ISX 6-speed automatic making 605 horsepower is more than enough to get you up and rolling, and your tank holds 600 gallons.
Many an RV fan is influenced by nostalgia, perhaps growing up during a time when summer life was comprised of mood rings, .59 cent gas and dancing hot dogs on drive-in movie screens. A Cricket trailer dispenses with all of that; it’s mod, mod, mod, with an angular, space-age visage. That’s no surprise since the guy who founded the company is a former NASA habitation module designer called Garett Finney who came up with the compact spaces aboard the International Space Station.
You get the feeling nothing in the cabin is going to waste, and your trailer will weigh somewhere between an incredibly light 1,000 and 1,500 pounds. That’s great news because it means you can tow your unit not only with an SUV if you’ve got one, but also with a crossover and most newer cars. With stickers hovering anywhere between $10,000-$18,000, the price is right, too.
Jayco got its real start in 1968, when they sold 132 fold-down camping trailers. Now they’re selling over 25,000 RVs a year. We like their Hummingbird in particular; we tend to prefer smaller RVs in general. Spacious seating, high-density dinette cushions, smoked-glass decorative inserts and LED lighting give the Hummingbird a stylish flavor. Its sleeping area comes with a Jayco-exclusive Simmons® mattress with bedspread and pillows, and an optional 24-inch LED TV – although what on TV could be more exciting than your home on the road?
Beauflor vinyl flooring and decorative window treatments up the swank factor as does the optional low-profile 13,500 BTU air conditioner. Your kitchen’s comprised of a two-burner cooktop and sink, a 3-cubic-feet, 2-way Norcold fridge and ball-bearing drawer guides with a 75-pound capacity. A power awning with remote-controlled, multi-function and multi-color LED lights provide a semi-party atmosphere when you’re taking your ease or grilling – and isn’t every day in an RV a party?