HOW TO BUY THE PERFECT RV – Part 2
We want to buy the “perfect RV,” but what does that mean for us? After touring many motorhomes at RV shows, we came up with the list of wants and needs which you can read all about in Part 1. That list is made up of individual features that we’ve seen in dozens of RVs. The question now is to find out which makes and models put the most important features into one vehicle.
Time to look at more RVs – but this time using the internet!
There are several websites where people who want to sell an RV can list them, and those who want to buy can find them.
www.rvtrader.com This seems to be the most well-advertised shopping site, with the largest array of motorhomes to choose from.
www.rvt.com Not as well known, but lots of options.
www.searchtempest.com This is a website that allows you to search all of Craigslist at one time. Nice!
With both rvtrader.com and rvt.com, you can shop by type, make, price, and distance from home. You can also apply filters to limit the RVs you are shown by brand, trim, new or used, age, private seller or dealer, mileage, length, fuel type, weight, and number of beds. There’s also a “keyword” search that you can use to look for specific features. In our case, we used the keyword “bunk.”
A nationwide search of used, gas powered, Class A RVs from 2006 to 2016 with bunks on www.rvtrader.com brings a lot of hits. Today, for instance, it brings up a list of 277 motorhomes! That’s too big a list for serious shopping, but it’s a good place to start looking at pictures of various brands and floorplans. Some of the ones that we like include:
Fleetwood Storm 32BH
This is a beautiful motorhome that meets most of our requirements and wishes. Some of the things we like include a TV you can see when sitting on the couch, nightstands on both sides of the queen-size bed, three bunks (two in back and one over the cab). Better still, the rear bunk beds can be converted into a small work area when not needed for sleeping. (We’ve only seen this on one other RV and can’t figure out why everyone isn’t doing it.) What we don’t like so much is the kitchen design that has less counter space than some larger motorhomes. It also has fairly small holding tanks, which might limit how long we could camp without hookups. Fleetwood motorhomes are in the lower-mid price range and good quality. A strong contender.
Fleetwood Flair 31 B – Another good entry from Fleetwood, with a better kitchen design, but fixed bunks that are not convertible.
Tiffin Allegro 32 QBA
As a manufacturer, Tiffin has one of the best reputations in the motorhome industry. Not surprisingly, they also have prices that match. This RV is a little bigger than the Fleetwood Storm, but those couple of extra feet seem to make a big difference. The kitchen has lots of counter space, and the quality of the woodwork is a notch above. On the downside, neither of the two TVs in the living area can be watched while sitting on the couch without turning your head, the bathroom is small for a unit this length, and only one side of the bed has a nightstand. Another strong contender, but we’d probably have to get an older version to fit into our budget.
Winnebago Vista 35B
Winnebago is one of the oldest and best-known names in the RV industry, and they have a reputation for well-built coaches in the upper mid-range of prices. Some of the things we like about the 35B are the abundant counter space and storage. This coach has 1 ½ bathrooms, which can be a real plus when we have kids or guests traveling with us. And, as an added bonus, this means that there are two black and two gray tanks and an extra-large fresh water tank, great for boondocking. We also like the queen-size bed with nightstands on both sides. What we don’t like is the TV placement that can’t be easily watched from the couch, and the bunks that cannot be converted to living or work space when not in use. Also, at 36.5 feet, the handling on windy days can be somewhat challenging and camping spots for this larger RV will be harder to find, especially in state and national parks.
Our favorite? Definitely the Winnebago or it’s identical twin, the Itasca Sunstar 35B which is also made by Winnebago. These coaches have so many nice details including heated wet bays so that your pipes don’t freeze, an outdoor propane connector for grilling, a little desk that folds out for the front passenger seat, a well-designed control panel, and a HUGE shower. We can definitely imagine living in this coach for months at a time. A sway bar can be added fairly inexpensively to address the problems with road handling.
We started out by limiting our nationwide search to 2013-2015 Winnebago 35B with optional drop-down bunk over the cab, and the optional, large four-door refrigerator and “just missed” buying one for a really great price in Florida. Unfortunately, all the rest that we’ve seen have been above our budget despite some serious negotiating.
Recently we’ve expanded our search by adding the Fleetwood Storm, and we plan to see one soon.
We’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, and advice as we narrow our search. And, of course, if you haven’t already, please subscribe!