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Hot And New Towable-RV News

April 1, 2003
Filed under Camping Gear, Misc. Camping Gear, RV Reviews, Trailer Reviews

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Storage and convenience are the buzzwords this year in towable-RVs. A few manufacturers are offering “garage” storage compartments built into the rear end of the trailer. Many of these garage storage areas offer large doors that when opened, reveal shelving — some including peg-board for hanging items — for stashing all kinds of supplies and equipment. We’ve seen trap doors for dropping laundry down into waiting dirty-clothes baskets contained inside exterior-accessed compartments. Rear lounge areas with big picture windows, common in fifth-wheel trailers, are now becoming popular in smaller trailers. New floorplans abound in long-established product lines; and more than one manufacturer has jumped into the booming lightweight travel-trailer market with a collection of all-new towable-rv products.

Coachmen Recreational Vehicles (800/353-7383; coachmenrv.com) builds the Coachmen and Shasta brand travel trailers. It was among those manufacturers that debuted the rear garage-storage feature on selected models. The Coachmen LT Series 248TBG offers this extraordinary rear storage compartment in a forward double bed, rear bunk bed coach. The 26RBS (rear bath model with sofa and convertible dinette in a single slide-out), 26TB (front queen bed with triple bunks in rear) and the 30TBS (triple-rear bunks with sofa bed and convertible dinette in a single slide-out) models of the Coachmen Cascade line also offer the rear garage-storage feature.

The Shasta Oasis Flite line of travel trailers also offers three models with the new rear garage storage. The 24TBG model is a two-bedroom unit. A rear bath and a slide-out sofa bed highlight the 26RBS. The Shasta Oasis Flite 27BH (two rear bunk beds, front queen bed) offers a double-bunk down, single-bunk up option.

Coleman (800/444-4905; colemantrailers.com) never ceases to innovate and bring new convenience features to its customers. This year it’s the Monterey model in the Grand Tour Elite Series. The Grand Tour Elites, including the carryover Niagara and Bayside models, are the Cadillacs of the Coleman tent trailer line, offering front storage trunks, 2.5-cubic-foot, three-way refrigerators, two king beds, and slide-outs as standard. A standard cassette toilet and shower comes in the Niagara, and a standard cassette toilet in the Monterey. But what really makes the Monterey special is Coleman’s exclusive “Full Power Up and Out” lift system that not only lifts the lid via power, but slides the tented beds out under power, as well.

In addition, another floorplan has been added to the Coleman Caravan expandable travel-trailer line. The C25TB (triple-bunk beds in the rear, pullout master bed up front) model offers all the features and equipment typically found in a hard-sided travel trailer.

Columbia Northwest (724/423-7440; aliner.com) has reintroduced a new and improved version of its 14-foot Cabin A trailer. The Cabin A is a diminutive, wedge-shaped travel trailer that uses aluminum-composite construction to form a seamless, ultra-light body. The rig weighs just 975 pounds, but is 80 inches wide and 80 inches tall, and offers standard features such as a 3-cubic-foot refrigerator, three-burner cook-top, sink and microwave.

Fleetwood RV (800/ 444-4905; fleetwoodrv.com) has really done a number on its three core travel-trailer brands: Prowler, Wilderness and Terry. Ground effects have been incorporated for a more aerodynamic design. Storage compartments (most offer pass-through storage) are lined, lighted and lockable. Most models offer 45-inch-wide convertible dinette seats and larger dinette tables. A full-function galley, lavy and master bedroom is also standard across the board. And two completely new floorplans have been added to the brands: 280BH (bunk beds in the rear) and 320DBHS (four bunks in the rear, dinette and sofa bed in a single slide-out, and queen bed up front). Additionally, the all-new AX6 (aluminum-frame construction on all six sides) product crosses over all three of these brands and is featured on four travel-trailer floorplans in each brand.

The garage-storage concept went a different direction with the Fleetwood products. The door is located on the side, near the back, measures approximately 4×4 feet and opens up to reveal bunk beds, the lower of which swings up and out of the way to create a large storage area. This feature appears on several bunk-bed models in the Prowler, Wilderness and Terry lines.

Forest River (574/ 534-8542; forestriverinc.com) debuted the Surveyor and Surveyor Lite lines of travel trailers with dry weights ranging from to 2100 to 4000 pounds, load capacities up to 1500 pounds, and overall lengths from about 19 to 30 feet. Among the 15 Surveyor and three Surveyor Lite models, a wide variety of floorplans, many with slide-outs or expandable bunks, is available. A welded-aluminum frame, smooth fiberglass exterior, and independent torsion axles are construction highlights of the Surveyor and Surveyor Lite lines.

Gulf Stream’s (800/765-8787; gulfstream rv.com) towables division recently introduced an all-new lightweight line of travel trailers called Stream-Lite. Eight floorplans are available in the line of ultra-lights, with sizes from 18 feet to 25 feet in length with weights beginning at 2700 pounds. Four models in the fully laminated, aluminum-framed Stream-Lite travel-trailer line offer slide-outs, too.

Jayco (800/825-8408; jayco.com) brings a number of new items to the RV consumer, but the new upscale Designer folding camping-trailer line, all-new 10 SG model in the Eagle line of tent trailers, and the Qwest TSL travel trailers are the really hot news from this customer-oriented company.

The sleek, aerodynamic Designer offers a dramatically different look for tent trailers with a swoopy, up-turned rear end on the one-piece fiberglass roof, giving the trailer a rear-spoiler look when under tow. The luxuriously appointed Designer offers a swing-level-galley system that keeps the sink and stove upright when the top is down for travel.

Jayco’s new Eagle 10 SG folding camping trailer offers a two-burner cook-top, self-draining ice box, portable-toilet cabinet, sofa bed, convertible dinette and front storage trunk as standard. A host of options are available to outfit the 10-foot box trailer.

The popular Qwest line of travel trailers from Jayco has been revamped with the new TSL option package that features aluminum framing and laminated-wall construction. This is a real bonus in a line of feature-packed and economically priced towables.

Keystone RV (574/535-2100; keystonerv.com) builds a handful of towable RV brands, including standard travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers. The Outback travel-trailer line stands out with a new model, and the Laredo brand is an all-new line with five fifth-wheel and two conventional travel-trailer models.

The new Outback 21RS is a rear-bedroom slide-out model offering bunk beds up front, and an outdoor cook-center that opens up to reveal a two-burner cook-top, built-in cutting board/counter and flip-out towel bar. Also featured is an enclosed underbelly for better aerodynamics when towing, and radiant heat ducts for an extended camping season.

In the Laredo line, we especially liked the 25+4RL model, a travel trailer featuring a front queen bedroom, rear lounge with sofa bed and picture window, slide-out convertible dinette, and a mid-coach lavy and galley. Storage is the big story with the Laredo, though, as it offers a phenomenal 75 cubic feet of pass-through storage.

National RV (541/998-3720; nationalrv.com) enters the new year with a new line of lightweight travel trailers sold under the Surf Side Lite brand name. Designed specifically for towing behind SUVs and light-duty trucks, the travel trailers in the Surf Side Lite family include four floorplans, including slide-outs and a choice of 7 or 8-foot widths.

Skyline (800/736-2573; skylinerv.com) offers a handful of towable-RV brands, many sharing the same floorplans. One of its most popular, the model 250 travel trailer, offers a queen bed up front, rear galley and sofa bed slide-out. While not a new layout, the model was such a hot seller that Skyline decided to slim it down and include it in the Century Ultra Lite line of lightweight towables for 2003.

Starcraft RV (800/945-4787; starcraftrv.com) has taken a unique approach with its all-new 10RT folding camping trailer. The 10RT trailer is for the outdoor enthusiast who really wants to get off the beaten path — way off! Equipped with aggressive 15-inch tires, a heavy-duty leaf-spring axle, shock absorbers, and the kind of ground clearance normally reserved for Jeeps, this compact and lightweight (1590-pound dry weight), yet well-equipped trailer can tackle tough terrain on its way to really remote campsites.

Other notable news from Starcraft RV includes the new four-model Centennial Series of fold-down tent trailers with residential-height countertops that don’t need to be folded down when it’s time to pack up and go home. A new family of expandable travel trailers, the Antigua line, delivers five floorplans with light and bright interiors that provide a sensation of roominess. And the all-new Aruba line includes seven travel-trailer models that have bright, open residential interiors. Three Aruba models include a large door (Starcraft calls it bicycle storage) on the trailer’s side adjacent to the bunk beds — the lower bunk flips up to create a huge storage space.

Sunline RV (717/336-2858; sunlinerv.com) produces the Solaris, Solaris Lite and Solaris SR (slide room) travel trailers known for their rich interiors and top-notch appliances. A wide range of floorplans, 21 at last count including two new models, make finding your perfect home-away-from-home easy. The new T-2499 offers two entry doors, a full entertainment center, walk-through bathroom, front queen bedroom, and a rear lounge with sofa bed and huge picture window. The other new model, the T-310SR provides a queen bed up front, a gigantic mid-coach galley, full lavy with tub-shower, rear lounge with two swivel chairs, and a sofa bed and convertible dinette in a large single slide-out.

Sun Valley Inc. (800/327-7684; sunvalleyinc.com) introduced its new X-treme Lite line of aluminum-framed lightweight travel trailers, including four expandable models. Ranging in lengths from 15 feet, 6-inches to 28 feet, 10 inches, the X-treme Lite travel trailers offer the consumer a diverse choice of camping facilities. Our favorite is the XT24RKSL that offers a front queen bedroom, rear lavy and galley, center convertible dinette, and a sofa bed slide-out in a 26-foot, 2-inch coach.

Thor (574/534-1224; thorindustries.com) offers a cornucopia of RV product brands. Among these, the Dutchmen (long-lived brand with some new blood) and Colorado (a new brand) travel-trailer lines were of greatest interest.

The Dutchmen Lite travel trailers were among those offering rear garage and side garage-door storage options. From this line, the 24BH caught our attention. This model has a garage-storage door located aside the bunk beds in the rear, allowing access to a huge cargo space when the bottom bunk is flipped up and out the way. The Dutchmen Lite 27BG model offers the side-rear garage-storage door, too, but also has a huge exterior garage-storage door on the back end of the coach. Many of the Dutchmen travel trailers also offer a handy laundry chute for soiled clothes.

The aluminum-framed Colorado line is completely new and provides a choice of four travel-trailer models ranging in length from approximately 29 feet to 33 feet, with floorplans that include a rear queen bedroom, rear lounge, rear bunk or rear lavy design.

Thor California (909/697-4190; thorca.com) produces a number of brands including Jazz, Wanderer and Tahoe. The Jazz line is an existing upscale fifth-wheel line, but new for 2003 is a conventional travel trailer featuring all the luxurious amenities found in the rest of the line. The Jazz 3010 RL offers a sofa bed and convertible dinette in a single slide-out, front queen bedroom, walk-through lavy, huge mid-coach galley and a rear lounge area with two chairs. The Wanderer and Tahoe travel-trailer lines have been updated, too, most notably with enclosed and heated undersides.

Trail Manor (865/426-7426; trailmanor.com) manufactures travel trailers that fold down, but not in the traditional tent-trailer format. A two-piece affair, the Trail Manor trailer has a top half that is lowered over the bottom half, cutting its towing profile in half, and making it easier to haul. All eight models are equipped with a swing-away tongue for 2003, and the interiors have been generously upgraded.

Western Recreational Vehicles (800/777-4133; wrv.com) has long been known for its top-quality construction, and its Alpenlite fifth-wheel trailer brand is highly regarded. This year the company broadened its scope. Debuting two Alpenlite Aspen travel trailers, the 28RK, a rear-kitchen model and the 28RL, a rear-lounge model, Western RV is moving into the highly competitive conventional travel trailer market. Loaded with premium standard equipment such as Granicoat polished solid-surface sinks, galley countertops and vanity/bath surfaces, the new Alpenlite Aspens also offer upscale amenities in option packages. The Luxury Group includes premium entertainment electronics such as a 20-inch-stereo TV, DVD home-theater sound system with CD changer, and surround-sound speakers with sub-woofer. The Convenience Group includes the Exterior Trim Package with front and rear fiberglass caps, complementing the gelcoated exterior surfaces.

As you can see, there’s a great deal of hot news in the towable-RV market. And while we don’t have the room to show you everything under the sun, we have gathered some of what we think are the most exciting highlights for Camping Life readers. We encourage you to further explore what you’ve found of interest by calling the factory phone numbers or visiting the manufacturer’s websites.

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