Sport-Utility Trailers & Toy Box Trailer Roundup

August 1, 2002
Filed under Camping Gear, RV & Trailer Reviews, Trailer Reviews

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They’re called sport-utility trailers (SUTs), toy boxes, garage units, and toy, cargo or patio haulers. Whatever you call them, they’re arguably the most versatile recreational vehicles in existence, combining a unique mix of living space, cargo area and loading ramp. Perfect for toys such as bicycles, motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATVs, these SUTs are the ideal way to pack a little more adventure into your camping trips. They’re catching on fast, too.

While a few companies have built such towables for decades, the concept has begun to get mainstream-builder attention over the past several years. Now, it seems almost every RV manufacturer is in on the act – or soon will be. The SUT market is growing fast, with scores of new builders scrambling to make sure they’ve got at least one product on hand for the action-hungry camper.

In this roundup, we have attempted to include as many of the SUT players as possible that offer trailers with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or less. These rigs are still large enough to handle your favorite motorized toys, but offer big-time versatility in a smaller and more easily towed package.

What jumps out about Dutchmen’s (574/534-1224; dutchmen-rv.com) Sport 23 SRV is the effort toward making the interior, well, nice. Your precious jet skis may very well take precedence, but those coming along for the ride shouldn’t have to feel like they’re living in a garage on wheels. How does oak frame cabinetry, kitchen wall borders, window valances and a designer bedspread sound? Dip into the options pool and continue the Sport’s makeover even further – aluminum rims, window shades, and the tough decision of carpeting or diamond plating in the cargo area, for instance. Creature comforts, including two pull-down sofas, galley with microwave, bathroom with tub, stereo/CD player, awning, furnace and air conditioning are also available.

Bummed that your Prowler, Wilderness or Terry towable can’t tote along bicycles, canoes or motorized goodies? Hold the phone because three of Fleetwood’s (800/444-4905; fleetwoodrv.com) most popular towable lines now come with SUT flavors. Best of all, they did it in a big way, with several floor plans under 10,000-pounds GVWR for you to chose from. The two newest models, the 21C and 25E, feature dual sofa beds and forward bathrooms. More bedding options come in the 26A, in this case adding a front double bed and dual dinette/sleeper to the mix

The FunChaser from HI-LO (419/886-0066; hilotrailer.com) breaks rank with traditional sport-utes due to its lower traveling profile and hydraulic-lift platform. Load your toys into the 10-foot cargo bay using the fold-down ramp. When it’s time to hit the road, lower the automatic lift into the sleek traveling position. Just lift the roof upon arrival to the amazement of your friends. Inside, it’s pretty untraditional, as well. Here, the lounge/bed is located far forward, with the kitchen/galley providing a nice buffer between you and the garage area.

Jayco’s (574/825-5861; jayco.com) first entry into the SUT market resulted in the Talon ZX, a 26-footer that manages to avoid the weight gain of similarly sized trailers. Motorized goodies such as ATVs and motorcycles maneuver up a 7-foot-long, nonskid ramp door into more than 11 feet of waiting cargo space. An optional wall separates the garage area from the rest of the interior, which is graced by numerous overhead cabinets. The exterior features several deep storage compartments, as well. Knowing that your adventures might take you out into the boonies, Jayco designers outfitted the Talon with some of the largest holding tanks in its class. Boondocking is further aided by two 30-pound LPG tanks and an optional 4000-watt generator.

When the Tail-gator debuted five years ago, consumers were more than satisfied with the half garage/half RV configuration. These days, say our contacts at Keystone (219/642-4590; keystonerv.com), they want more, forcing changes to the product, line. Start with the ramp door itself, made longer to facilitate an easier, 18-degree (formerly 22) angle. Gear stored inside now benefits from more than 4 extra feet of cargo room. Extra-wide axles reduce intrusion of wheel wells inside, meaning more storage room. Divider walls are now standard. The 210RR, the smallest in the series at 24 feet, offers a pull-down queen-size bed, a pair of hideaway sofas, small galley, and trailer-wide bathroom with shower/tub and wardrobe closet.

K-Z Inc.
We’ll focus on the 26 Sportster from K-Z Inc. (260/768-4016; kz-rv.com), which offers as standard features items such as a double-door refrigerator, three-burner cooktop and range, single-piece tub/wall surround, 30-amp electrical service, 6-gallon DSI water heater, 13,500-BTU AC unit, and 15-inch radial tires. Options include an exterior shower, stabilizer jacks, fiberglass exterior with end caps, an extra 55-gallon freshwater tank, tie-down rings in the cargo area, diamond plate on the cargo floor, a second entry door in cargo area and a ramp extension. In addition to all this, you get a 10-foot-long storage area that can hold a bundle of ATVs, motorcycles or whatever you choose to bring along.

Three different floor plans and plenty of different room configurations are offered in Marathon (800/803-0117; marathonhomes.com) SUTs. Do you want a private front bedroom with queen-size bed or twin beds? How about fold-down bunks in the cargo room? Speaking of which, do you need 10 or 12 feet of space for your motorized gear? Where do you want the galley with its double-door refrigerator, three-burner stove and microwave oven? No matter which model you chose, each Free Stylin’ trailer comes with a vapor wall separating people from machines, side cargo nets, and a generator compartment, should you wish to add off-line power later.

Is it so wrong to want to bring your ATV and have a nice place to sleep? Must you curl up with a set of handlebars poking you in the ribs? National RV (800/322-6007; nationalrv.com) doesn’t think so, as evidenced by its SUT models sold under the Rage’N brand. The larger units, the 27-T and 29-N, provide a master bedroom with queen-size bed up front. This is in addition to the usual nighttime settings of a pull-down queen-size bed and convertible dinette. The 24-C, the smallest model, delivers the same options (sans master bed), but makes up for it with a shower/tub, microwave, roof air-conditioner with in-ceiling ducting, CD player, awning, window valances, and two interior color schemes.

Play-Mor (573/455-2387) started with the Sport model 18 years ago, the company’s – and one of the industry’s – first forays into the cargo-hauling, travel-trailer concept. Like the new SUTs, Play-Mor’s product line is much more diverse these days, loaded with trailers for all occasions. The Motorsport, which holds the “entry-level” rank and starts at 14 feet in length, features a pull-down bed, portable head, and air-conditioning. The Sportster line starts at 19 feet and features a foldout bed and tandem pull-down beds. The Renegade models, all under 9000-pounds GVWR, offer three distinctly different floor plans. And then there’s the trusty old Sport, still ruling the roost with numerous models from 26 to 34 feet, and all under 10,000-pounds GVWR.

Roadmaster (219/537-0669; roadmasterllc.com) is a company that’s made its living hauling gear, most notably in the form of cars, motorcycles and vehicles of all persuasions. These trailers have the sleek, steely exterior of horse haulers, but with interior amenities designed to be hospitable to humans. The Campmaster is such a vehicle, or MURV (Multi-Use Recreational Vehicle), as the company calls it. Travelers choose from one of three sizes (8-, 10- or 12-foot-long) of living quarters at the trailer’s front end, containing a dinette and/or sleeper sofa, galley, and small bathroom. Optional ATV or motorcycle hauling packages are available, complete with six floor-mounted D-rings, two removable wheel chocks, and a pair of sidewall vents, so your trailer can act like a garage, but not necessarily smell like one.

Can you still call it camping if you never leave the confines of your trailer? Purists would say no and I have a hunch that Starcraft (800/945-4787; starcraftrv.com) would agree, for the Star Shuttle series lends itself to living both outside and in. For starters, there’s the removable table separating pull-down sofa/beds in the cargo space. Or you can order the optional divider wall with passage door, which deletes the sofa/beds and table. Mealtime meets the woods, thanks to an optional two-burner carryout stove and mobile RVQ gas grill. And by deploying the king-size foldout bunk at the front end of the Star Shuttle 23TB, you can sleep and get a taste of outdoor slumber without braving the wet ground. The 23TB model delivers residential feel in a relatively small space, with a rear garage area that measures 9 feet, 6 inches long and 7 feet wide.

It’s the many things that you can’t see – or don’t really notice – that Thor America (570/837-1663; thorindustries.com) prefers to master in its Citation and Chateau 31 SUTs. Take for instance the aluminum-laminated construction, fiberglass exterior, torsion axles with independent suspension for a smoother ride, the plywood (not particleboard) floors, R-10-rated (floor and walls) and R-12-rated (ceiling) insulation, and in-floor ducted heat. Thor also added a solid vapor wall and sealed it up tight. Did I mention the living room slide-out?

Thor of California (909/697-4190; thorca.com) has followed the example of others and cleverly married the hybrid trailer concept with the sport-utility design in two new SUT models added to its well-established Tahoe (20 TB TT) and Wanderer (207 TB TT) series. The result is a different type of trailer. On one hand, there’s the typical cargo-hauler mentality – ramp door, storage area, removable table and fold-down bedding. On the other hand, a foldout, tented bedroom extends from the front of the trailer to dramatically increase sleeping space. This definitely isn’t business as usual, nor is the choice of a fiberglass or aluminum exterior and intriguing options such as rear patio room, CD player, and fuel-pump station (to gas up your machines).

While more mainstream manufacturers simply dip a toe in the sport-utility trailer waters, Weekend Warrior (800/500-9914; warriormfg.com) has built nothing else for the past 15 years. Such longevity places them in venerable standing, as does a complete line of products for most any camper. On the lightweight side is the new FK1900, a far cry from the wide-body behemoths that first put the company on the map. Of course, this 24-footer is still large enough to offer respectable living quarters. A pull-down, queen-size bed, as well as two side fold-down bunks guarantee sleeping for as many as four adults. The galley and bathroom are up at the front of the trailer.

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