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Old 07-18-2015, 06:54 PM   #29
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I would recommend broadening your search.

When we decided to replace our 2005 Interstate a year ago, we shopped very carefully--starting at the Hershey show, where you can see pretty much everything available. Although we entered the market with a pretty strong bias in favor of both Airstream and RT, we quickly eliminated both of them on the basis of build quality. RT was pretty bad. Airstream was somewhat better, but adjusted for price, just as disappointing.

Here is how I see the market:

--As others have said, Interstate designs and material quality are very appealing, and the "Airstream" brand has a cachet that appeals to many (including us). But, I would only recommend it to someone who has the ability and interest to do a lot of DIY repairs and improvements. Either that, or had convenient access to an unusually reliable dealer.

--Roadtrek is probably the most technologically aggressive of the large upfitters. Their new all-electric designs are very interesting and have many advantages. But, they probably have the worst build quality of the bunch. Only consider them if you are really into the technology.

--Winnebago is in my judgment the most cost-effective of all the available choices. They are not high-end and don't pretend to be. Materials and systems are more modest, but build quality is good and their prices are very attractive. It would be my first choice for someone on a budget. They have pulled well ahead of both AS and RT in recent B-van sales. I suspect they are going to dominate the market for awhile.

--Leisure Travel Vans is well worth looking at. Consistently high quality and good designs. They have been concentrating on C-vans recently, though, so the options may be limited.

--Great West Vans is a smaller player. They have a consistent reputation for excellent build quality, first-rate materials, and technical innovation. They were our ultimate choice. There are rumors that they are having business problems though, so be careful.

--Pleasure Way. I kind of group them with LTV, with similar tradeoffs. Quality seemed good, but the designs were unexceptional to our eye.

--Advanced RV. Very high end semi-custom upfitter. Everything totally first rate and unimpeachable build quality. Each van made to order, so long lead times. The sky's the limit with these folks. Bring your checkbook.

--Sportsmobie. Kind of a mass-market ARV. If you want something made to order at a reasonable price, they are probably your choice. They have several locations, and it has been suggested that build quality varies with location. I do not know this as a fact.

--There are several other smaller players, but I am unaware of any others that are particularly noteworthy.

So, there are a lot of choices, and a number of dimensions to consider. All depends on what you value. But, having spent 8 years with a love/hate relationship with our AI, build quality was a big thing for us, which, for us, ruled out both Airstream and RT.
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Old 07-19-2015, 05:53 AM   #30
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Avanti

thanks for the perspective. Can you speak more to the cost premium factor for Advanced vs. AI, e.g. 1.5x? more? less?
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Old 07-19-2015, 06:37 AM   #31
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I was most impressed with the AI compared to RT, Leisure, and Great West. A combo of deluxe Sprinter options and quality appearance. After 15k miles I have to emphasize the word 'appearance' . Maybe the others would have been no better (or even worse) but I am disappointed at sloppy attention to detail (mostly leaks). Also disappointed at design flaws that should be remedied by now. For example, shower onle drains reasonably well if perfectly level. If front down water pools on the toilet ledge. IF back down the shower floor won't completely drain. Plus a number of other minor things that the would have cost little to no more for them to have done right (or at least much better).

If I had it to do over again I would price out the Advance RV and check its lead time. Though without having driven my AI for 15 k miles I probably wouldn't have known what I did and did not want and need in a custom-built Advanced RV. I don't dislike the AI enough to even think about trading.

It gets a lot of attention (nearly every time I fuel up) if that is what is important to you. So much so that my wife makes the bed first think in the AM in case somebody want a 'tour'.
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Old 07-19-2015, 07:45 AM   #32
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In answer to the OP's original question, one word - design. It was an easy decision for my husband and I because we are DIYers. A Sprinter is a Sprinter so the rest of the package is just a matter of (a) design and (b) execution. We can fix (b) but we cannot change (a).
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Old 07-19-2015, 08:22 AM   #33
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Avanti

thanks for the perspective. Can you speak more to the cost premium factor for Advanced vs. AI, e.g. 1.5x? more? less?
That's a tough question. When dealing with ARV, you have many options and they have some unique offerings that aren't available elsewhere, so it is kind of apples-and-oranges. Plus, they don't sell through dealers, so there are no published MSRPs to compare. I imagine that 1.5X might be a reasonable guess. BUT, I get the impression that a discussion with them is kind of a slippery slope--not because there is any kind of hard-sell, but because they have so many enticing (and expensive) options available.

Give them a call--they are good people.
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Old 07-20-2015, 10:06 AM   #34
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Having personally owned both a Roadtrek Adventurous for four years and currently own a 2011 Interstate for four more, I can give you my perspective, for what's it worth. I've driven both over 35,000 miles on extended trips.

On paper, and in design, the AI is far superior. In execution, equally are poorly done. While my Roadtrek had no quality issues (a single defect, easily and quickly fixed), the Airstream has had so many quality control issues I've had to resolve I've lost count. However, from what I've read in other forums, Roadtrek has also suffered from quality issues recently but I really don't have anything to base that on other than hearsay. But reports of flaws are now common. Roadtrek throws them together in six days, and from a video they released, incredibly seem proud of that (
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Old 08-08-2015, 06:52 PM   #35
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This is one of the few posts I've seen mentioning Leisure Travel Vans. Anyone else have any perspective? They have some interesting floor plans and apparently solid specs. No idea their size, financial stability, or quality reputation. The Sprinter-based C-class looks kind of interesting also.
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Old 08-08-2015, 07:53 PM   #36
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This is one of the few posts I've seen mentioning Leisure Travel Vans. Anyone else have any perspective? They have some interesting floor plans and apparently solid specs. No idea their size, financial stability, or quality reputation. The Sprinter-based C-class looks kind of interesting also.
LTV is a very respectable manufacturer. They were runners-up when we bought our GWV Legend last year. BUT, my understanding is that they are concentrating on their C vans and may not actually be producing B-vans right now. I think their C vans are probably the best on the market--if you want to be one of THOSE people.
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Old 08-08-2015, 08:41 PM   #37
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LTV is a very solid company and builds some of the best products in their class. Their quality is second to non and they stand behind their product.
Prior to building products under the LTV banner they made high end products under the Triple E trade name


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Old 08-10-2015, 07:52 PM   #38
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I have an Airstream Avenue suite for sale in the classified section of this Forum due to health reasons. This model worked well for my wife and I. It seats 5 and sleeps 2. It is a 2013 model Chevy 3500 chassis with about 10k miles on it. I like the idea of Chevy service available at more locations then Mercedes. Maintenance costs are reasonable. Vehicle is finished nicely inside, rides well, and gets about 15 mpg on trips. I believe Airstream only made this model for a couple of years. I also like the idea that it looks more like a conversion van than a motorhome, even though it has a private bath and full motorhome equipment. Sorry, I don't know anything about the Interstate. I understand they are very nice units too. I don't think the Roadtrek is finished off as well as the Avenue.
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Old 08-23-2015, 08:15 PM   #39
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I'm also shopping by AI and others. Love the layout on a Sportmobile which has two couches facing one another longways in the rear - opens up the rear and hauls more people. Anybody know how hard it would be to alter a AI lounge to end up with two facing couches in a rear dinette setup?
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Old 08-23-2015, 09:20 PM   #40
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Probably be easier on the twin bed layout. But then attaching "legal" seatbelts would be a problem.
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Old 08-24-2015, 08:59 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by restretch View Post
This model worked well for my wife and I. It seats 5 and sleeps 2.
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Love the layout on a Sportmobile which has two couches facing one another longways in the rear - opens up the rear and hauls more people.
Novelist Ernest K. Gann once owned a 36' trawler yacht, that he said was the ideal sizeó sleeps two, feeds four, drinks six. I submit that the ideal B-van is similaró sleeps two, feeds four, hauls six. There are always trade-offs involved in trying to squeeze more utility into the same space. The more people you want to carry, sooner or later you reach a point where a plain-Jane Sprinter passenger van hauling a travel trailer becomes the optimum choice in terms of price as well as people-carrying capacity.
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Old 08-25-2015, 07:15 AM   #42
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... sleeps two, feeds four, hauls six. ....
^^^ *LOVE* that. As for the utility factor, here's the thing: If you have a singles or a couples lifestyle, the moments when you need to haul six are probably rare. It will be the extended family gathering or the college reunion or the office picnic or something of that nature. So the way I see it, you don't want to buy your Class B as if your life revolved around those moments. Therefore I would not want to sacrifice the open airy feeling by getting a newer lounge model with its legal front-facing seatbelts. The older smaller T1N Interstate has the six seat belts AND the open-ness.

Rosie, here's a pic of our 2007 in case you haven't see this lay-out anywhere else, given that there are apparently none in the resale market right now (the four rear seat belts are tucked into the couch creases in the fold-down photo so you can't see them). The other thing that was important to me besides a non-claustrophobic rear end was the big removable table. I own a small business and I have to be able to spread out computer, peripherals, files, etc. on the same generous table that easily feeds four people. Most Class B's have tiny tables that would not work for me, but the proportions you see here are absolutely perfect for what I do. As has been noted many times previously, Airstream knocks it out of the park on design. As long as you can live with the challenges of execution, it's a good way to go.
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