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Old 09-26-2015, 02:49 PM   #1
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Tell me about your interstate

Can all you folks out there with sprinters tell me your likes and dislikes of the airstream sprinter? The good,bad and ugly? Please be honest with opinions.
I'm considering a 16 Grand Tour, but seems like this forum has a lot of complaints and issues threads. Not a lot of positive whats great about it threads. Its a pricey unit, and I don't want to make a purchase mistake. We are down sizing from a Prevost Marathon.
Thank for all your input,
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Old 09-26-2015, 03:03 PM   #2
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They're a pleasure to drive and can go just about anywhere a full-size car/SUV can go.
The new ones have a lot of safety features that help keep you out of trouble.
They look slick and get a lot of attention whenever you stop.
Decent mpg for a five ton vehicle that has all of the aerodynamics of a brick.

Remember that most people that post in forums are looking for a solution to a problem so not necessarily representative of the population.

If you ever plan to ride in the rear, strongly suggest getting the rear air suspension option.
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:22 PM   #3
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Greetings! You appear to have been reviewing some of these threads, so this summary may contain a bit of repetition, but here goes.

The Interstate's weak suit is arguably its build quality. There are quality control issues that began with the older T1N Sprinter builds, and some of them appear to have persisted up to present day. As the other early-thread commenter noted, yes, threads tend to be skewed toward people with problems because that's why they are here - to solve their problems. So what you see here probably does not paint a picture of average ownership experience. Nevertheless, some recurrent problems such as with water leaks and battery ruination clearly should not be happening in brand new units. And furthermore, there are some problems that have not yet been brought to light in any of these threads. I'm sitting on one of those right now, but it's still 92 degrees outside today and I cannot get that issue scoped out well enough to commence a thread until Houston Texas finally decides to give up the ghost of summer such that I can get outside to work on the vehicle... sigh... we've all been waiting patiently, but the weather will not break, and it's almost October...

The Interstate's strong suit is its design and the versatility that naturally comes with it. Having suffered through the resolution of numerous repair issues that we arguably should not have had to face, my husband and I occasionally debate whether we should build our own Sprinter-based Class B RV (we are big DIY enthusiasts and we could do it, although it would take far more time than we have available as non-retired people). However I'm kind of against that idea because I'm afraid that the result would be anti-climactic - what we'd end up with would look almost identical to what we already have in our existing Interstate, because design-wise, there is not a thing I would change. And if we're going to go to all the time and trouble to build something, it should be a new and fresh result at the end, to make the entire experience worthwhile. Our result would not be new and fresh looking to us. But it would have far superior plumbing and electrical systems.

Yesterday I planned the first college tour trip for my high school senior... I am soooo excited about that!! I will be taking our Interstate and my daughter from our home to a college town some distance away where I have a hook-up reservation that backs onto a beautiful river, and from an overnight there, we will drive through the town, and onto the campus, where I will actually be able to PARK like a normal vehicle in numerous locations on the massive campus, and maybe on the trip back home, we will stay overnight in some other location entirely. There is no other vehicle in which I could plan a trip to unfold like that. Or if such a vehicle exists, then its design doesn't measure up to what I need and want for both that kind of trip and the other ways in which I/we use our Interstate.

In sooth, we take the bad with the good.
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:27 PM   #4
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73 Shark says it pretty well. Like all support and user to user forums 95% of the conversation is about problems and probably represents less than 5% of owners. No one posts to say, "My AI is problem free". Of necessity, Airstream Interstates are complex system and unless you have had previous experience with a motor home the initial learning curve can be a bit daunting (my wife commented she believes a Boeing 777 has a smaller set of manuals). Not surprisingly many of the posts you see on the forums are the result of inexperience on the part of owners or owners asking for help before they get into trouble. Another substantial group are owners wanting to customize or fine tune the appointments and features. But neither of those is a reflection on the AI.

My 2013 has been relatively trouble free the only recurring problem being a batch of faulty smoke alarms. We take ours any time we are going any distance at all because it is so comfortable to ride in and handles so well. Let me amend that and say conformable to ride in up front — the rear lounge not so much. You definitely want the rear air suspension. (That is on my upgrade list!)
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLTRisk View Post
I'm considering a 16 Grand Tour, but seems like this forum has a lot of complaints and issues threads. Not a lot of positive whats great about it threads.
It's an artifact of the AirForums, and most other RV-related forums as well, that the majority of the posts fall into two categories: (1) "Help! I have a problem! Do you know how to fix this?"; (2) "Hey, look at what I did! Ain't I clever?"

We don't really need "what's great about the Interstate" threads. Even those of us who absolutely love our Interstates, name them, and try to claim them as dependents on our tax returns (unsuccessfully, dang it!) have things we'd like to change.

The list of standard equipment on an Interstate is very long. The list of optional equipment is very short. This as much as anything is an indication that Airstream is trying to cater to the statistically average owner, not the uniquely individual owner. Those unlucky few at the very bottom of the bell curve hate their Interstates very quickly and get rid of them almost as quickly. Those lucky few at the very top of the bell curve customize their Interstates and spend a lot of time making their Interstates into uniquely personal RVs. Those in the middle, the average owners, just go on about their business with no complaints and don't even bother posting on the Forums.

So yes, you'll see lots of complaints here on the Forums, and not many "It's great, I love it, and I wouldn't change a thing" threads. But our complaints aren't just "it's crap and I hate it." They're mostly "what can I do to make mine better?"
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:46 PM   #6
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I've been very pleased overall with our 2014 Twin model. (just wife and I). For the most part Airstream uses quality components such as Magnum Inverter Chargers, the Novacool AC/DC frige, Lifeline Batteries, Sani-Con System etc. On a recent 3 day dry camp trip to Laguna Seca for the superbike races I discovered that my 50W solar system wasn't keeping up (with the frige running). I am in the process of upgrading to a 200w system with a better charge controller. That is the only issue we have had with our AI. Last year we did a month long 7800 mile trip and averaged 18 1/3 mpg. On that trip we hit a snow storm on I-70 West of Denver and were able to keep going for ~40 miles until we hit a point where the I-70 was closed in both directions. We were able to detour on the US 24 toward Leadville and kept rolling although there were dozens of cars and trucks that had spun out and were stuck. I never once spun the tires and I attribute the Sprinters performance in those conditions to the dual rear wheels and all season tires. My favorite feature of B vans in general is their narrow overall width. We were able to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and a portion of the Skyline Drive thru Shenandoah N.P. which is something you wouldn't be able to do in a Class A and probably not in a class C. I also like not having to deal with a towd. In May we head out on another month + trip.
Good luck in your decision.
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:53 PM   #7
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Agree with everything that's been said above: I'm always being stopped by owners of Class As who want to downsize, but the key difference is that Class As are primarily used to drive to a location and remain there, whereas Class Bs are primarily for touring; and the latest Sprinter-based RVs are very good at touring - excellent fuel consumption and easy to maneuver.
If you decide to go ahead, my advice would be to try to buy from a Mercedes dealer who sells Interstates since their servicing is always first class (Mercedes reviews their dealers) and they will give you a loaner while it's in for service.


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Old 09-26-2015, 06:52 PM   #8
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We are two and a half weeks into our month long trip to the west coast from North Carolina. The AI has worked extremely well. Our only real issue, so far, has been the strings that broke on one of our blinds so we cannot raise and lower it. It was very, very windy traveling across Utah and Nevada. While there was buffeting, the AI was still very drivable. Driving into and across winds
,accompanied by the elevation changes, resulted in the worst fuel mileage yet.

All the systems have worked well. It is 98 degrees today in LA with the AI in full sun, so the AC is struggling. A small fan really helps. Once you drive one you will be amazed at how well it handles. It did very well on the curve filled road from South Lake Tahoe down to Sacramento.

While accommodations are somewhat tight, we find we have plenty of room for the two of us and the dog. Plus sized people may struggle with the narrowness of the aisle and the bathroom. Speaking of the bathroom, we are both very comfortable taking showers in the bathroom. While we occasionally take showers in campground facilities, we appreciate the cleanliness of using our own shower. Those drop down clothes hangers that come standard in the newer models work great as places to hang wet towels and wash cloths. I installed three of them and they are used a lot.

We also find the bed to be comfortable. After spending three nights staying at a friend's house, we actually looked forward to sleeping in "our" bed!

All in all, we have been very pleased with our mobile hotel room.
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Old 09-26-2015, 08:23 PM   #9
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I have over 60,000 miles on my 2013 Interstate. We make yearly trips to Florida or Southwest in winter and into Canada in summer. Two years ago we lived in the van for three months on a 14,000 mile journey to Alaska. We also use our Interstate as a second vehicle, often hauling people and things, so it never gets stored and is driven year round at least once a week. I've only has one minor electrical problem which the dealer's tech helped me solve over the phone. I'm one of those that Protagonist referred to as modifying my Interstate to make it more personalized. I've added 400 watts of solar and am now upgrading the batteries and inverter.

I did a lot of research before buying the Interstate in October 2012. I looked closely at Roadtrek, Winnebago and Advanced RV. But chose the Interstate as the best for my use in 2012. Then only Winnebago and Airstream were offering immediate delivery on the extended Sprinter. Advanced RV was just getting started and I didn't want to wait for them to build me a unit. The Interstate was the best choice for my use at the end of 2012.

If I were buying today I'd look closer at Roadtrek and Advanced RV since they both offer large lithium batteries and lots of solar, things that are important for my use. I still like that design and style of the Interstate best, but Airstream is behind the curve with their current battery and solar systems.


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Old 09-26-2015, 10:45 PM   #10
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Best safety -Parktronic Drivers Assist, Collision Avoidance, Blind Spot Indicator
Best interior
Systems are easiest for a newbie
6 gal water heater w/ specialized mixing valve that stretches the HOT WATER to the equivalent if a 9gal- unique to airstream
Heated Tanks



Needs better solar
Needs a better sofa bed
Needs more headroom in the bath
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Old 09-27-2015, 05:02 AM   #11
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163,000+ miles on mine, couldn't love it more.

Beautiful, inside and out, comfortable, excellent fuel economy, eminently reliable......our little cabin in the woods, on the lake, in the mountains, at the shore...easy to drive and maneuver, wherever I park, we are home.


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Old 09-27-2015, 07:55 AM   #12
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73Shark your wife would be correct about the manual of the 777. I'm a retired airline captain and all of our manuals are on the captain and first officers iPad, wow we have come a long way in just the past 5 years. Thank you for all the information on the Interstate.
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Old 09-27-2015, 01:35 PM   #13
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73Shark your wife would be correct about the manual of the 777. I'm a retired airline captain and all of our manuals are on the captain and first officers iPad, wow we have come a long way in just the past 5 years. Thank you for all the information on the Interstate.

I have all my critical Interstate manuals on my iPad. 😀

Regarding build quality. If you look at all the other RV B-van forums you will see that the big three, Winnebago, Roadtrek and Airstream all have quality issues.


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Old 09-27-2015, 07:58 PM   #14
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73Shark your wife would be correct about the manual of the 777. I'm a retired airline captain and all of our manuals are on the captain and first officers iPad, wow we have come a long way in just the past 5 years. Thank you for all the information on the Interstate.
I think it was joemikeb's wife who mentioned the 777 manual in post #4.
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