Leisure Travel Vans Test Drive!

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We’ve got a fair amount of info on the site about various Leisure Travel Vans models.  We’ve toured the factory.  And I get frequent questions on LTV’s products, which I can usually answer.  But one question that keeps coming up in email and in comments is:  “How do they drive?”  I haven’t been able to answer that… until now.


When we went to Pomona recently, we convinced Dean to let us take a couple of the Leisure Travel Vans models out for a test drive.  This was no easy feat – as we had to navigate the Unity out from inside the show.  To cover both ends of the spectrum, we drove a Free Spirit (at the lighter, van end of the product line), and a Unity Murphy Bed (the heaviest and largest RV that Leisure Travel Vans currently makes).  We took them over basically the same course, and were driving for about an hour.

OK, So how did they drive?

In short, the Unity drove about like I expected, and the Free Spirit was much better than expected.

The Free Spirit was simply amazing to drive.  It drove like a very well mannered car.  I had expected it to drive similarly to Das Bus (our 2003 Sprinter), but it was much, much better in both ride and appointments.  Dean attributed the smooth ride to continued improvements in suspension and handling by Mercedes Benz since our RV was made.  As far as options, Leisure Travel orders the empty Free Spirit vans “loaded” from Mercedes.  The Free Spirit has a heavy-duty suspension package (which no doubt helped with the ride), but also comes with lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring (you can hear this beeping at me in the video), headlight washers, and front and rear parking assist (among other options).

The Unity is a bigger and heavier vehicle.  It exhibited more body roll (you can see this in the video when we first pull out), and it felt a bit more “insulated” from the road.  It was still a very well-mannered coach, mind you, but you definitely get the feel that it’s bigger, and there’s more of it to move around corners.  Dean described the Unity as a bigger “kite”, and the analogy is appropriate.  There’s simply a lot more square footage to catch the wind, to haul around, and to control.  One area where the Unity did not disappoint was in power.  The 6-cylinder engine had no trouble in jumping up from a stop or merging onto a freeway, and you can see that in the video.  The Unity also features the heavy duty suspension, but overall, there aren’t as many options available on the Unity, because Mercedes Benz doesn’t offer as many on the cut-away chassis.

Now, it wasn’t a windy day, and we had a limited amount of time, so one thing we didn’t get to test out was handling in the high-intensity crosswinds we always find ourselves in.  I can’t offer an opinion on that.  But there are a number of aftermarket suspension solutions available for Sprinters, so I have to believe any wind issues could be tamed similarly to how I upgraded our current Sprinter.

And a word about Stef… she shot most of this video while standing up, unsupported, in a moving vehicle!  So apparently those balance and coordination exercises she does really do work.  Bravo Stef!

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.

    9 thoughts on “Leisure Travel Vans Test Drive!

    1. ramesh


      I really like your blog , in this video you said abour air suspension, you have also fitted the same in your RV . Can you please tell me about experience with that also you have done some work to reduce the sway in RV , are you satisfied with that

      You have seen Roadtrek as well as LTV which one you recommend.thanks

      1. James - Post author

        Hi Ramesh – Between Roadtrek and LTV – it really depends on what you’re looking for. Roadtrek doesn’t make any B+ models – only the vans. Roadtrek also doesn’t offer a van with a slide-out. So if you need a little more space, you would have to go with Leisure Travel Vans. If you want the innovative e-trek type power system, well, LTV doesn’t offer that, so you’d have to go with Roadtrek.
        But as to the suspension. We added a Timbren front suspension kit, and a leaf spring assist kit from Upscale Automotive. I can recommend both of those products, as they really helped out with the handling of our Sprinter. If you want cutting-edge air suspension (that Stef loves), you’d need to contact Advanced-RV, who can install the VB Air Suspension kit on (I believe) most late-model Sprinters.

        1. Ramesh

          Thanks for everthing I like LTV but road trek has got etrek & sprinter option which LTV doesnt have it? I have contacted Advance Rv for air suspension and they have agreed to do it.Regards

    2. Roger

      Thanks James. We’ve only seen these at the Hershey RV show, and never had a chance to drive one. Very helpful! Another great video! Was Steph running the camera?

      1. James - Post author

        I think the Unity and the Serenity would have been more similar than they are different. They’re both built on the cut-away chassis, and are closer to each other in weight, width, and height than they are to the Free Spirit. Also, LTV gets the heavy duty suspension on all of their Sprinter chassis, so that would have been the same as well.
        This is ONLY a guess, but I would probably give the slight edge in driving to the Serenity. The fiberglass coach looks to be more aerodynamic, and probably a bit lighter. But this is just a guess.

    3. Terry McWilliams

      Thanks that was helpful , now think about a driving review of the
      sprinters with a larger
      r v mounted to the sprinter. Such as 2400r by forest river or Winnebago. Thanks James most helpful keep up your good work , the fitness videos are the best. Thanks Terry

      1. James - Post author

        That would be an interesting comparison. I’ll have to see if any of those larger motorhomes are sitting on a lot around here.
        Glad you like the fitness videos and thanks for watching!


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