It was mid-December 2014, and rather than focus our efforts on shopping and wrapping, we decided to investigate RVs. We had a casual interest, consisting mainly of watching RV shows on the Travel Channel and admiring RVs as we drove to some of our favorite vacation destinations, such as Gettysburg. Often we would pass an RV dealership and comment that we should stop and browse, but mainly we were all talk and no action.
However, this year, there were major developments that led us to seriously consider purchasing an RV. Our son started college in Boston, which is a 4.25 hour drive at best, but usually ends up being 5 hours each way. Also, we decided to get a new puppy to join our almost 3 year-old Goldendoodle, Topper. Basically we wanted a way to travel comfortably with the dogs to go back and forth to Boston, as well as take occasional weekend trips to Gettysburg and other Civil War and Revolutionary War battlefields. We also have family in Florida and the Midwest, so we are hoping to make those trips eventually.
There were three RV dealers in our area, each about 50 miles away and in three different directions. We were originally interested in the Class B models, because of their sleek appearance and versatility. However, I was beguiled by the more spacious floorplans of the various Class B+/Class C models, not to mention, the dry bathroom. We left the dealerships with a stack of product brochures and more confusion.
We initially considered the Winnebago Navion and Leisure Travel Unity, both categorized as Class B+ models. We did not know a Class A from a class C and were surprised to eventually learn that the size/functionality letter order (large to small) was Class A then C then B+ then B. It does not work like the traditional grading system!
For the next week or so, we watched a number of YouTube videos. We are especially fans of Dean, who does very enthusiastic and entertaining walkthroughs of the various Leisure Travel models. (e.g., You want cabinets? We’ve got cabinets. Here and here and here. And look at this: a TV on a swivel! Amazing!)
We created a huge, multi-tab spreadsheet RV Analysis which itemized all of the features of the various models. We soon limited our focus to RVs which were built on the Mercedes-Benz 3500 Sprinter Chassis. Only the Mercedes-Benz 3500 Sprinter had the advanced safety features, such as blind-spot detection, collision prevention, and lane assist (known collectively as the “EOM luxury chassis package”). This option was only available on the Class B models. We are surprised that these features are not found on the larger Class A, C, and B+ models which need blind-spot detection even more!
Enter our next requirement: the teenage boy named Ryan. Although he is a teenager, which, by definition means he won’t travel with us very often, we still needed a sleeping space for him. Most of the class B and B+ RVs have one bed, which severely limited our options.
A third feature that appealed to us was a tankless water heater. Our research had indicated that the typical 6 gallon hot water tank was barely enough to wash the dinner dishes. Knowing our fondness for hygiene, this would never do!
Then it was back to the dealerships to look at the finalists. Although we thought the Winnebago ERA might be a good choice, it did not have the safety features even as an option. Surprising since it is built on the Mercedes-Benz 3500 Sprinter Chassis, but apparently different manufacturers request different options. There are even additional safety features, such as Parktronics parking assist and crosswind assist.
The floor plan of Leisure Travel Free Spirit did not impress us, although it did have many of the features we desired. However, parked just next to it was a beautiful Roadtrek E-trek. We were immediately drawn to the open floor plan and multiple seating and sleeping zones. We liked the idea of quiet solar powered batteries rather than a noisy generator.
One of the dealers had a brand new E-Trek, with all of the options we desired, available for viewing on December 23rd. So we fought the last-minute shopping traffic to go see it. On December 26th we were back at the dealer to make a deposit. We pick it up Monday, January 5th. We will be documenting the walkthrough so look for our video soon!
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