RV Model Comparisons, and… We’ve Chosen Our Next RV!


This is the third part in our series about shopping for our next RV, and we’re excited to announce, we know what our next RV will be!

But first, if you’re just jumping in, you can catch Part One here, and Part Two here.

In this video, we start off by comparing 5 models of “off the shelf” small RVs, and evaluating them against the criteria that we developed in the earlier videos.

 

And then… our world was pretty much exploded when we were given a sneak peak at something that’s coming soon.  THAT is going to be our next RV.  We can’t really say much about it yet, but we can say that we’re apparently not alone in what we want in a small RV.  So, if your list was comparable to ours, keep your eyes on this space for mind-blowing announcements coming up this month.

But if you’re going through this process on your own, there’s some good information in the video.  Stef gave me a lot of grief for it, but I took our list of criteria, and assigned scores to them.  There was a method to this madness (or so I claim) in that I attempted to account for our “must have” criteria in the scoring.  And also for the fact that both Stef and I had different ideas of what the “must have” criteria are!  I explain the rationale in the video, and in the end, the scores I assigned to our various criteria look like this:

Once you have a scoring system figured out, it’s a pretty easy exercise to evaluate just about any RV.  In the video, we do that for a total of 7 RVs.

      1. A Hypothetical Toy Hauler
      2. Our Own Lance Travato
      3. Leisure Travel Vans Wonder Rear Twin Bed
      4. Coachmen Cross Trek
      5. Winnebago Solis 59PX
      6. Winnebago Revel
      7. Safari Condo XL Flex (Sprinter)

Most of these we’ve reviewed before, so we were pretty familiar with them – all we had to do was get acquainted with any updates for 2021, which was pretty easy.  And once you know the details of each rig, the scoring just falls into place.  You can see the complete scoring for all 7 models in the spreadsheet that I’ve attached here.  Just click the picture below to download the Excel sheet.

So once you have the candidates scored, in theory it’s simple… just buy the rig that scored the best.  Or more precisely, if you were following our original 8-Step Plan, you would take the top few models and go and see them in person or at an RV show.  But this is 2020, and there are no RV shows.  And even visiting RV dealerships can be problematic these days.  We’ve been fortunate to have gone hands-on with all these models at RV shows in the past.

And in terms of our next RV, yes, we did get to put our hands on one.  And it scored over 60,000 points!  So for us, it became a no-brainer.  And seriously, I can’t wait until we can talk about the new rig.

If you’re going through this process yourself, or if you could see yourself going through it, I’m curious.  Was any of this helpful?  Would you really choose an RV this way?  Or at least narrow things down?  What changes would you make?  Would there be a “doesn’t feel right” veto power?  Would your significant other even sit through all the analysis we did in all the three videos?  Any other questions?  Let’s hear them!

 



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    59 thoughts on “RV Model Comparisons, and… We’ve Chosen Our Next RV!

    1. Mike Eisele

      We have loved your buy a new RV series. Thanks! A couple of questions.

      Can you say more about why its so important to you to have bikes inside? Is it protection while on the road? Access to back of RV? Value of bikes and you dont wont them outside in camp? Asking because we have always bike racked our bikes off the back.

      Second, You dont show the Solis 59PX as 4 Season Capability in your charts. What’s your definition of 4 Season?
      Thanks!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Some of our bikes are expensive race bikes worth more than our cars. We’re not eager to have them subject to campsite theft, road grime, rain, you name it. If you wouldn’t put your child out there, we wouldn’t put our bikes there.

        The 4 season RV has a new definition. See our video on the Winnebago EKKO!

        Reply
    2. Yoshi Endo

      Hey Stef and James, how come you didn’t include the GSMDL ( Greg Shultz Memorial Dump Light ) as a requirement ? It seems quite useful to have, unless every RV has one now? Also, I didn’t see Stef do her walk back test to see if she can get up to use the bathroom test while driving. Of course with the usual disclaimer “not recommended while driving” by James. It seems the EKKO has enough points and toys on it to even make James consider selling Lance ! Winnebago may even make me buy this one if I can get both lithium and generator option on it. I agree to power step must go, along with the awning. Thanks for the review and hope to see you both soon !

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We don’t have a GSMDL on Lance and honestly don’t feel the need. But it is there on the EKKO.
        And you can very easily get to the bathroom while driving!

        Reply
    3. Larry & Eve Taylor

      I should clarify my comments yesterday. Our favorite RV was the 1994 Winnebago Warrior II on a Toyota chassis. Very reliable ‘micro mini’. The Revel was noisy and the ride rough due to the 8 ply sidewall mud/snow tires, and small inside. A Ford or Ram would be fine and less expensive than a Sprinter. We really appreciate your scoring system and look forward to a reveal that fits our needs also. Thanks. PS: Please ask Winnebago to go back to Toyota’s. You get a gas engine, better reliability than Ford or Dodge, and less cost than a Sprinter. Thanks again.

      Reply
    4. Larry Taylor

      Your “Buying a New RV” series has been the best yet. I’m hoping the reveal is a Sprinter, not a Ford. We’ve owned a Revel but it just was too rough and too small. The Sprinter has more towing, the Ford just under performs. Thanks.

      Reply
    5. Don Kane

      My son (an engineer) used a similar approach to buying his first car, with one one important modification: each category was scored 0 to 100%. So, for example, your RV that was 1 inch over 24 ft would get 80% of the points in that category, not 0%. Or the RV that was 7 ft might only get 50% in the that category.
      And one category on his list but not on yours…price?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We try not to get into discussions about price here on The Fit RV.
        Obviously, it *IS* a consideration. There is a price that we would not be willing to pay. None of the models in our comparison broke it though.
        For others looking at doing a process like this for themselves, we’d recommend a simple over/under criteria.

        Reply
        1. Don Kane

          Of course he only had the list price/ base model prices. But the way he did that was cleaver: divide the points by the price. So, if the the price was lower you might accept more faults in what you get.

          But (Stef, look away) if you build your own, your list sets how YOU design your own van. First make a place for the bikes. Then the bed. etc etc.

          And we would get to watch videos from you for years…maybe 10…

          BTW, our van build was done in about 1.5 years and was mainly limited by $$ not time. And we both work full time (not that SHE does anything…)

    6. Shannon

      Love your content, reviews and insight. Just curious why the Winnebago Boldt wasn’t on the list of possibilities.

      Thanks Shannon

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Good question, as it checks a lot of the boxes.
        But it missed one of our three most important ones: Dedicated indoor bike storage.
        It would have scored worse than Lance. We both knew this without even running our score sheet on it.

        Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We really can’t reveal any more details about our new rig until Winnebago’s launch.
        (Trust me… it’s killing us…)

        Reply
        1. Ted

          Ha, ha, ha, Sounds like both of you are doing the “Pee Pee Dance” just bursting trying to hold in such a big secret! Mel’s probably the only one calmly relaxing around the house.

    7. Mark Harrington

      I’m glad to see you took my advice on September 7 regarding your search.
      I can’t wait to buy the successor to the Fuse – an AWD eco boost Transit with elevated twin beds and a bike garage below. Thanks for helping to make this happen. It seems American RV designers think the greatest innovation of the last ten years was the external TV. They need to wake up!

      Reply
    8. John

      One thing I just found out about my winnebago travato 59K, no spare tire! What do you with regards to Lance needing a spare tire on the road? Thx

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We don’t carry one.
        In 35+ years of driving, I’ve only used a spare tire on two occasions. It’s rare enough for me that we don’t think about it much.
        If we were planning a trip to Alaska or something, I might think differently. But even then, Travato do go there, and they usually bring a tire repair kit.

        Reply
    9. Jo

      I decided not to do the points exercise since, like you, I found that the existing universe of RV’s did not meet my top priorities. Since you have already dione the points work on a number of those priorities and since this new reveal came out about 60,000 … I am 99.9% certain the new reveal is the one for me (oh dear god I hope it has an updated interior.. ha!). Do you have any advice on the best option to get in line for one of these?
      I also wanted to note that I’ve shared the priority grid process with others. Several years ago another friend used it to determine their next job/home location … and as a result they landed in my hometown :).
      I like aspects of Stephanie’s “feel” approach but, as we know, feelings can fleeting. I have struggled with the RV choices for a long, long time – but this priority grid process nailed what I needed to do and to have. I feel no hesitation now and hope to be a happy camper ASAP 🙂
      I think the priority grid is a great way to make any decision!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Honestly, the best option to get in line early is to go through your local dealer. I wish we had some kind of “Fit RV Reader Cut In Line code”… but we don’t.

        And thank you for buying into the grid approach. I know for a lot of people, it’s a tough sell, but it does work!

        Reply
        1. Jo

          No local dealers here … so it’s up for grabs. I had just wondered if certain places would be getting inventory first… which I know was a reach for you to have that info .. but it was worth a try. Thanks.

    10. Bentrider

      Thank you for your research and rating system. I am wondering why you didn’t rate the Advanced RV B Box? From what I can tell from the video ARV posted, it seems to meet most of your criteria . I don’t remember seeing cost on your rating system. Thank you.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Good question. Mainly, we didn’t rate the B-Box because Advanced RV is a custom builder, and we weren’t looking for a custom build. (If we get a custom RV… I’ll be the one building it, thank you.) Advanced RV consults with each of their owners well before starting any build. This makes sure their owners get exactly what they want. So obviously, it would have checked every box on the list.

        The other reason is: we had already started working on and filming this well before they went public with the B-Box (at least the detailed video). We actually knew about the B-Box almost a year ago, if you can believe that. We hadn’t seen it though. But we don’t spill RV company secrets until they tell us it’s OK.

        Reply
        1. Chris Mack

          I was wondering about the B box myself as it would tick all the boxes. I know you guys do a good job of not discussing pricing during your videos, and I believe that quality should be a priority over price. That being said, price is always a factor. You would not be remiss to subtract a point for every dollar over (enter your own amount here).

        2. James - Post author

          You’re right in that we don’t generally discuss pricing.
          Including price in this exercise would have been really difficult. It would have required – in the case of the B-Box – multiple design sessions with the ARV team to arrive at what features and configurations we would have wanted.
          We would have also probably needed to contact sales reps for all the other coaches to go over price and option lists, price them out, and then negotiate down to a final price for each.
          For those who want to include price, I’d suggest an “over/under” criteria with their limit price.

    11. Rick L.

      After watching the third video I had this sinking feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t quite put words to it. And then an image popped into my head: Ralphie from A Christmas Story. That was it. I felt like Ralphie as he furiously decoded Little Orpan Annie’s message in the upstairs bathroom only to discover that it says, “Buy a Winnebago RV.” Was the whole “finding our next RV” series for real, or was it an ad for the Ovaltine that would be The Big W Reveal? I mean this sincerely when I say that you guys may be getting dangerously close to the Big W shill line. Please don’t cross it. As a viewer over at the Fuse Forum commented: “Arrrggg! had to wait through all that just to see them stand in front of the Winnebago logo.” Sounds like something Ralphie could have said.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Just a couple comments down below this, I explained where we’re coming from on this. Hopefully that puts you at ease. Thanks!

        Reply
    12. Steven Hite

      I certainly hope ya’ll bring your New RV over to ObeCo to get it fitted for “Super Storage and Organization”! (Besides, I know you are missing our Amish Crack!)

      Reply
    13. Adam Bendell

      To start, I want to affirm I LOVE you guys — your energy, the playfulness in your relationship on display in your videos, the slick editing and great ideas and detailed execution for Travato mods, for which You Are the Champions.

      I hope that softens this criticism: I am starting to get the sense that your search for you next RV is actually a carefully orchestrated and clever Winnebago marketing campaign for a new model release. You knew all along where this would come out, and the point system and all that is just a way to build suspense and build our trust in your independence. Pleas pay attention to how this reveal might land with your audience, and protect your reputation for integrity.

      I say this because you have tremendous brand equity and want you to protect that and be our guides for years to come. It is actually difficult to give you anything than love for all you do for the broad community.

      With affection, truly —

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hi Adam – Thanks for the kind words. We were wondering when someone would bring this up.

        We published our original 8-Step program for choosing your first RV over four years ago in 2016. Since then, we’ve presented the concept at RV shows, and referred numerous people to it. But we had never made a video of actually going through it until this series. So this whole process is a concept we’ve been working with for a while.

        And regardless of where our own search ended up, we (okay, mostly me) feel that this process is a worthwhile exercise for anyone to go through when deciding on their next rig. The criteria we chose are genuinely our own, and the results of the process could be duplicated by anyone with similar needs and wants in their next rig. True, we did happen to see this new rig before it is publicly available. But if it had sucked and didn’t meet our needs – it wouldn’t have won.

        It’s no secret that we get early access to new RV tech and models and info. That’s not just from Winnebago, but from other manufacturers as well. We like that, because it’s one of the things that allows us to keep pushing the RV industry forward. We do our level best to be fair to all of them and not release information before it’s appropriate. Since we both have day jobs, we have the luxury of only dealing with companies and people we like. And that makes discretion easy for us. That’s probably why it seems we have favorites – and to be frank, we do.

        As one of our favorites, Winnebago has asked us for help in the past with new product launches. We were instrumental in helping develop and launch the Revel. We launched their National Parks Foundation partnership by taking a NPF Travato on the road (we gave it back). We test-camped in a Solis 59PX to prepare a video for that product launch. Along those same lines, you can expect to see us involved in the launch of this new product.

        None of this is bad.

        We’ve always been all about moving the RV industry forward. Getting people to analyze their needs objectively before buying an RV does that. Nagging RV manufacturers until they make an RV that meets some un-met needs does that. And generating interest and debate about cool new RVs does that too – regardless of when we learned about it.

        Hope this helps clear up where we’re coming from.

        Cheers!

        Reply
        1. Adam Bendell

          Hi James:
          Wonderful reply, I do feel authentically met, and appreciate it.

          I can see how your need to honor your obligations of confidentiality to manufacturers and their release announcement timing would lead to you withholding that you knew the answer even as you filmed the questions. Also, it did make a more compelling story! And you are good story tellers, which is a complement — its why your fans are so engaged.

          Steph, I hereby assent to you continuing to moderate the Travato FB group even if Lance finds a new home :-).

          Warmly,
          AsB

    14. Rex Anderson

      Thanks for sharing with excruciating detail your point system! And thanks for showing James admit that it can all go out the window if the feeling isn’t right. Maybe it’s like a guitar, if it feels good, plays good, and sounds good, it is good, doesn’t matter what the name is or what wood and parts are used. Looking forward to seeing your choice and happy to see the big W. Wondering how many years it will take to build the new _________ Owners and Wannabe Facebook Group.

      Reply
    15. Rex Anderson

      Oh man the explanation of points was excruciating. All I could think about is how many ways could the system be broken. And how great was it to hear James throw out the system with his feelings about the Revel. So glad to see the big W and look forward to seeing the new RV.

      P.S. Always go with your gut, the intangibles matter. You might save some money and get a bike/RV that is available but the right bike in the right color, encourages and motivates you to ride, even if its just sitting in the room. Valerie had that feeling when she first walked in to the Travato K, I had to analyze it. She was right.

      Reply
    16. Graham Smith

      Since your search began, I’ve been reminded of a discussion at an RV show pertaining to your European trip and comparison of their C’s to ours. Merge that with a few other discussions and your non-reveal reveal is not a huge surprise but it is good to have it semi-confirmed. Look forward to seeing the official reveal later this month.

      Reply
    17. Smiley El Abd

      Guys I find it hard to believe that your pal Russ at Winnebago has not given you some inside intel about the new product. Back in 2019 pre Covid at Hershey a VP at Winnie told me to hold off placing a deposit on a Wonder RTB cause they were going to come out with something I would like, I made sure to tell them I wanted a Ford Transit based RV and he nodded in approval. So we will all know on the 18 th what Winnebago needs to do to address the growing needs for a storage garage for active RV’ers. At this point I have a deposit down with LTV which is fully refundable so I owe it to myself to see what American engineering has come up with cause lets face it everything LTV had done has been a smashing success as born out by their lead times. I am sure you guys will get the first model of Winnebago new class C so lets see how you guys roll. Congrats.

      Reply
    18. Jo

      Fantastic! I was pretty certain a new WGO that met your criteria was going to be the result of this exercise. Thanks fo pushing the industry forward – and I hope they modernized the interior as well. As noted in prior post – the priority grid is a great tool to guide and keep one on track… especially when the “feel” overwhelms but does not have the elements that will make for long term ease and enjoyment. I just hope there is not a long wait for this new RV option. I’m so over ready to leap.

      Reply
    19. Andy & Kim

      And then Winnebago said …..

      “Class C
      From the highly popular View to the family-focused Minnie Winnie, our Class C lineup has something for everyone. And we are adding to this impressive lineup with A COACH THAT IS ONE OF A KIND”.

      My oh my!!!!
      Andy & Kim
      Mimi & Jojo The Camping Kitties

      Reply
    20. Steve

      Like your 5 digit scoring system and how you can get from several hundred to 35,000 points in a hurry. Anyway, I stumbled across a post from a Winnebago product manager about significant changes coming to an existing model. He did go into some detail about moving storage tanks around to gain more space and better insulation in new locations. Sounded pretty cool.

      Reply
    21. Russ Johnson

      Have you driven a Ford lately?
      So your getting a Ford Transit AWD
      Built out by Winnebago, with drop down bed.
      Inside a copy of the Revel, only better, and a little longer.

      Reply
    22. Bill

      You can’t score above 60,000 unless ducted AC has been checked off. Is your next RV going to be a Class B or Class C? Interesting.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I wondered how long it would take people to reverse-engineer the points to try to figure out what the new rig will be.
        Congratulations! You’re the first!
        (Unfortunately, we still can’t say any more…)

        Reply
        1. Jim

          Do you actually care if the AC is ducted or do you really mean you want a very quiet AC unit? For instance, if the inside unit only put out 37 dB on high and 23 dB on low would that meet your goals?

        2. James - Post author

          Good question. The ducting solves two problems. One of them, clearly, is the noise. A 37db air conditioner would be a thing of beauty – ducted or not!
          The other problem though is air distribution.
          As quiet as the ARV air conditioner is, the main complaint we hear from those who own it, is that it doesn’t do so well in pushing cold air up to the front of the rig.
          That problem is best solved by ducting.

    23. Gail MacDonald

      Ahhhh! Thanks for the video and all the anticipation. It was like hockey night in Canada at our house. We immediately called our Winnebago dealer and they are watching your video. Lol. They also confirmed the reveal and the Canadian availability. So excited to learn more!!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Whoa!
        We’ve been in Canada on Hockey Night.
        If we made a video that ranks up there with Hockey Night, we MUST be doing something right!

        We’re super excited for the reveal. Can’t wait!

        Reply
    24. David

      Can’t wait to see what’s coming on 11.18 at the Road Ahead event. I knew from the moment they announced that a new class C would be announced, and you two were looking, that there would be something exciting coming 🙂 BTW, my Solis 59PX came with a Mopar tow package with both a 4-pin and 7-pin connector installed.

      Reply
    25. Martine

      Oh no! So unfair! I want to know and see the next RV!!! But I respect your silence. Anticipating the next big reveal!

      This was a great video and I loved the score system. But the brain works with ‘feel’ in the end. All those tiny details and variables that the brain notices unconsciously which is the ultimate determinant of all choices in life. Having the score system does give the framework and methodically screening OUT of most vans, and then the feel comes in for the remainder.

      Thanks for this hard work, you two! Very nice run down list. The hardest thing is to compose a list and give it priorities. Well done, and thank you!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thank you so much!
        The good news is… you only have to wait just over two weeks and all will be revealed.
        (and you’ll be blown away!)

        Reply
    26. Sandy DePottey

      Loved the score system I am the family RV researcher and have spent years doing research for our 2 motor homes. Getting the Travato was a project titled “mini Me”

      I also agree with Stef on the “feels”. We recently shopped both the Wonder and Crosstrek. Tom vetoed the Crosstrek as too cheaply built. we Love the Wonder RTB. But our first criteria is a bed and seat belt for my Mom, and LTV is just for two.

      So I have been figuring WInnebago will be coming out with something that will work in this segment. Looking forward to the reveal on this new rig or RIGs….I am betting there will be both B and compact C coaches on the Ford Transit AWD chassis. Woot.

      Now the hard part is to actually have 3 motorhomes…..is that wierd?

      Reply

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