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Old 10-22-2017, 08:14 AM   #1
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Airstream Interstate vs. Winnibago Era FACTS

If you are looking at all the competitors to the Airstream Interstate, wouldn't it be nice if SOMEONE out there did some realtime research for themselves. More important, those folks would be open to share that data with ANYONE doing the same comparison. Well, I did it and I am happy to share it. Below are just something's I found.

Before I begins, a little background, I have over 40 years’ experience with working with most automobile and now RV manufacturers. This gave me information that most other folks did not have nor would have gotten easily.

My research began with Class "B" motor homes. I looked at Class "A", "B", "B+", "C", "C+", and "Trailers". Every class gave positives and negatives. It was clearly personal taste and preferences. Once Class "B" was selected, for all my reasons, it was time to look at Brands, Models, and Options. Brand first with all the comers in the race. Airstream, Road Trac, Pleasure Time, Winnebago, EXT. My research lead me to my finalists of Winnabago and Airstream to the final lap.

At first glance all the field looked almost exactly the same. Then it was time to learn about the companies, the current/past clients opinions. This went on to the Manufactures being considered after sales "Ownership Experience". Notice the notion of really drilling down on a Retail Dealer is not really an emphasis. I have found regardless of Class, Size, Manufacturer, Models and options. Most of MY experiences with RV dealers has been AWFUL!!!!!!! That is why I use my learned knowledge to teach, "Clients taking care of Clients" and my nick name given to me is The "RV Advocate".

The finalist as mentioned above were Winnebago Era and the Airstream Interstate Grand Tour EXT. The Winnebago was $25,000.00 less so I had to find out what made the different. There is "No Free Lunch" in this RV business. I called both the manufacturers for resources of very specific technical information. I wanted brands and models of almost every third party manufacture used. This included the specific order sheet they used to purchase the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis and shell. This lead to a Excel sheet for comparison of both models on every line item I could find. I color coded in green which line item was best.

I will give you one example that not even the Winnebago National Sales Trainer nor an Airstream Retail Sales Consultant knew at last years Tampa RV Show. Although both brands look identical, they are NOT. The way they order their Sprinters from Mercedes-Benz are completely different. Airstream orders the unit in a consumer order giving a laundry list of safety options available starting with the STANDARD suspension. Winnebago orders the commercial version. Drive both one after the other and you will feel the difference immediately. Airstream literally checks every single safety option box. What this means is the safety items are Mercedes and if the break, Mercedes fixes it and has the parts. It also gives you things like: Heated Windshield, built in blind spot indicators, accident/brake avoidance systems, ATC, ECT. All Mercedes options and install by Mercedes. Winnebago added on many of these safety options using MobileEye™, this is a third party vender and many items are not standard, they are options.

The fit and finish on an Airstream is MUCH better than the Winnebago. So why even consider the Era? They had a way to put in a third bed so it could sleep three. In my life, I don't want to take either of my kids on vacation with my wife and myself. I want them to leave my home not go on vacation.

I saved all of my data and speak about what I found on blogs, video's, and pod casts across the United States. If I can help you or if I upset any of the Airstream Gods, feel free to ask me any question you might have. It is time for "Clients taking care of other clients". I am The "RV Advocate". Be well and stay healthy.
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Old 10-22-2017, 08:38 AM   #2
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Great info. Is the era they all electric moidel?
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Old 10-22-2017, 08:46 AM   #3
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Would be great to know what are the specific model equipment used in the AI... parts catalog from AI does not cover this.

A/C?
Fridge - in your case you have a different one. I ordered the Lounge with the smaller fridge. I believe the Grand Tour has the larger fridge with an additional freezer.

I was comparing to the Roadtrek... and fit and finish was not even close between the two. What push me hard to the AI was when we were looking at the Roadtrek at the local dealer. They had an used AI for sale... this was an AI with 3-4 years of use and some 50K miles. The AI looked new inside. No loose trim, nothing... where the Roadtrek (new unit) had some blemishes and trim that was coming loose... as much as I love the E-trek package, I could not live with the rest of how things looked inside. The other thing that also pushed me to the AI was how well integrated the security options are... I found the rear view mirror with the three cameras to be just amazing... not like the Roadtrek where the radio switches from review mirror to radio when it goes in reverse. There were many other aspects that did not go well with us, but those were more around colors and finish of the cabinetry (very subjective so I will not go into those).

At the end we just loved the AI overall... I only want to improve on the battery/solar capacity after we get it to try to minimize use of the generator. I wished they had gone with a diesel generator and heater system... one tank, one fuel source...

I might stop by the local dealer today, want to see if I can look at one on the lot and see if there is room for an additional solar panel... the wait is killing me, lol.

We never thought about looking at the Winnebago Era... just looking at the videos on YouTube turned me away from them...
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Old 10-22-2017, 08:55 AM   #4
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Great info. Is the era they all electric model?
I am not sure they make an "All Electric" unit. I think Road Trek does. Hope this helps.
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Old 10-22-2017, 09:00 AM   #5
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I applaud people who do this kind of thing... especially when they share their data publicly.


I'm curious as to where the Pleasure Way Plateau FL ranked in your analysis. That was my personal pick for Class B best in show at the 2017 Houston RV Show. But due to time constraints, I did not do a detailed point-by-point tech analysis to back up my hurried choice. I looked at the build quality generally, styling, and peeked into the hidden areas to the extent possible, to see what quality of workmanship was displaying in those areas where most buyers do not look.

Oddly, the PW Plateau FL on the website has downgraded cabinetry relative to the unit displayed in Houston a few months ago. Not the best marketing approach, obviously.
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Old 10-22-2017, 09:08 AM   #6
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The Airstream Interstate A/C is Dometic. The same used on my Airstream Trailers. Dometic also makes other products for RV's.

The refrigerator is the same brand in both the 2018 Interstate Lounge and Grand Tour. Different sizes, YES. Brand the same. I believe it is new for this year and electric only.
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Old 10-22-2017, 09:23 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by sthrngary View Post
The Airstream Interstate A/C is Dometic. The same used on my Airstream Trailers. Dometic also makes other products for RV's.

The refrigerator is the same brand in both the 2018 Interstate Lounge and Grand Tour. Different sizes, YES. Brand the same. I believe it is new for this year and electric only.
I know the brand... I was looking for the specific model used so that I could look up the specs on the manufacturers site
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Old 10-22-2017, 09:23 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
I applaud people who do this kind of thing... especially when they share their data publicly.


I'm curious as to where the Pleasure Way Plateau FL ranked in your analysis. That was my personal pick for Class B best in show at the 2017 Houston RV Show. But due to time constraints, I did not do a detailed point-by-point tech analysis to back up my hurried choice. I looked at the build quality generally, styling, and peeked into the hidden areas to the extent possible, to see what quality of workmanship was displaying in those areas where most buyers do not look.

Oddly, the PW Plateau FL on the website has downgraded cabinetry relative to the unit displayed in Houston a few months ago. Not the best marketing approach, obviously.
My order was: 1) Airstream Interstate (Very Few Options leading to much more efficient productions/fit/finish.) 2) Winnebago Era (Two many options to keep initial price down. Some options like Alcoa wheels were not shown on material, glaring pour quality on things like the so called third bed. I liked the front TV function better then all the rest. Resale, average to below average.) 3) Road Trek (I really did not like the fit and finish. This is ONLY a matter of taste. Again, two many options to choice from. The Safety features were added but not Mercedes. The Suspension was really stiff especially on 4X4 version. It was much better on the rear air suspension models if you paid the price for this option.) 4) Pleasure Way (From start to finish I had a hard time with it's price compared to paying a little bit more with the above choices. The layout of the cabin had some positives for sure. Again, no Mercedes Benz installed safety items to keep the chassis cost lower, stiff suspension for the same reason. )

Hope that helps.

Gary, The "RV Advocate"
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Old 10-22-2017, 09:24 AM   #9
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Gary, Thanks for sharing. Always good to hear someone else's opinions and conclusions. We've had our 2015 GT for five months, 7000 miles, 7 trips, 39 nights inside. Haven't run out of storage space yet and we are really digging the advantages of all this mobility and convenience.

We have fine-tuned things and have found we can absolutely live in this GT, in spite of the fact we have to schedule with each other to move about the cabin. The question becomes for how long do we WANT to live like this. We're looking at renting out our townhouse next Spring and living half time on the road and half time in Costa Rica... until we tire of one or the other and then we can move back into our regular home.

And so we ponder whether to upsize our MH. I would say upgrade but as you've said, there really aren't many good options out there. The new Tiffin Wayfarer 24TW has our attention but the interior fit and finish are sorely lacking. There's less counter space, but more bathroom space and a separate shower. Exterior shows superb finishing, the slideout has no seams, and it comes standard with an Onan diesel generator, ducted air, and Sumo springs. But no solar, none, just prewired. It's $75k less than the upcoming Atlas though. So I'll have to keep playing the lottery or take a closer look at the LTV Unity U24MB. Not having to unmake the bed every morning would be a big plus.

A big factor in our decision making is that most of the other choices out there have a 60" wide bed. Not acceptable. The AI GT is 68" wide and is barely enough for us. That's why the Unity could be a good choice, with the reclining chairs... or the Tiffin's twins into a King could work... leaving it as a twin setup where the extra coach width allows each twin to be wider.

Sometimes you gotta push on doors to see if they open, so I listed our GT on RVTrader a few days ago. Not because we really WANT to sell it... but if someone prys it our of our hands, we can take the next six months searching for our next choice, with funds ready to fire. If it doesn't sell, I'll continue with my upgrade list: suspension upgrade, WeBoost, two more 220Ah batts, and more solar.

I appreciate your research and look forward to seeing how this thread develops.

Mark
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Old 10-22-2017, 09:38 AM   #10
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"I only want to improve on the battery/solar capacity after we get it to try to minimize use of the generator. I wished they had gone with a diesel generator and heater system"

2018 has 300 watts of solar power vs. 100 in 2017. Can't ask for more then that. The batteries is another story. They are deep cell AGM batteries and I wish they were lithium. I also wish they had an area that we owners could put the 12 inch AGM's in or just two more 6 inch without taking storage away from the owner. Lithium is the answer here. On the generator. I asked on this one. I want diesel generator also. If you will notice, the NEW Airstream Atlas "B+" unit has a Diesel generator. Watch my friend Patrick from Colonial Airstream in New Jersey do his product presentation of the Atlas. When he gets to the diesel generator, look at its size. Now look at the area where your LB tank and Generator is located. You will clearly see the engineering challenge here. There needs to be a balance between my "Wife" not yelling at me that she needs more space and the ease of using your generator on occasion. My rule here is my wife scares me.

Gary, The "RV Advocate.
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Old 10-22-2017, 10:49 AM   #11
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Gary, Thanks for sharing. Always good to hear someone else's opinions and conclusions. We've had our 2015 GT for five months, 7000 miles, 7 trips, 39 nights inside. Haven't run out of storage space yet and we are really digging the advantages of all this mobility and convenience.

Response from Gary: Good to hear, love life because the alternative is not an option.

We have fine-tuned things and have found we can absolutely live in this GT, in spite of the fact we have to schedule with each other to move about the cabin. The question becomes for how long do we WANT to live like this. We're looking at renting out our townhouse next Spring and living half time on the road and half time in Costa Rica... until we tire of one or the other and then we can move back into our regular home.


Response from Gary: Now you are talking.

And so we ponder whether to upsize our MH. I would say upgrade but as you've said, there really aren't many good options out there. The new Tiffin Wayfarer 24TW has our attention but the interior fit and finish are sorely lacking.


Response from Gary: The Tiffin gods are about to attack my humble sole. Tiffin is NOT the brand to buy from this point forward. The Wayfarer is out of the question for more reason’s then you gave. The diesel pusher which used to be some of the best in the industry are let’s just say, having some challenges. The diehard Tiffin owner groups are living in a false sense of security that the owner, Bob Tiffin who is 80 years old, retired one and had to come back because his team was killing the company he made famous is not a GOD. I don’t hear a lot of folks talking so much about Tiffin quality as any of their issues have been taken care of by this 80 year old man. The better story would be that the company would have been trained to be empowered to do what Bob Tiffin does to the “Ownership Experience” can be his legacy. But Bob Tiffin wants to be the legion and his company is falling short sorry to say.

There's less counter space, but more bathroom space and a separate shower. Exterior shows superb finishing, the slideout has no seams, and it comes standard with an Onan diesel generator, ducted air, and Sumo springs. But no solar, none, just prewired. It's $75k less than the upcoming Atlas though. So I'll have to keep playing the lottery or take a closer look at the LTV Unity U24MB. Not having to unmake the bed every morning would be a big plus.


Response from Gary: You are not going to like my next comments but believe me, I have looked at this every single way possible. STOP looking the purchase price. Instead look at your total “ownership investment”. This includes but is not limited to resale trends over years, total discount from sticker to your price eliminating the biggest part of depreciation upfront, only ordering your new coach so you have time to ALWAYS sell your current coach on RVTrader, Airstream Classifieds and or Craigslist. Remember that statement you will hear over and over again. “Buy your last coach first.” I would not buy an Airstream Atlas for two years until they get rid of all the issues. Never buy the first year of a new model especially when the company is using new materials to make their house (Molded Fiberglass and still studs ver. Aluminum skin or a Mercedes Benz chassis and house.)


First I am not crazy, consider a 2018 Entegra Anthem 44 F. MSRP is $540,000.00 and with your discount it will be $340,000.00 if you order it. Now get up off the floor, get an adult beverage and let me explain. It is not, nor will it ever be the price you buy an RV for that will cause you the most amount of expense or harm. It will be the total “Cost of Ownership”. When it is gone, how much did it cost me. The formula for this is: a) Past resale trends, b) Customer service; c) Warranty length to limit out of pocket expenses; d) Depreciation which you can see above is minimized by purchasing correctly; e) If the coach’s condition when being sold is excellent or did you trash it; f) Did you put huge miles on it or normal to low miles; g) Do you want to life in it which means it is a “Four Season Coach”.

Can you tell I research this more then mostly anyone else in the market place. I was one inch a way from doing this and my son talked to me. He said, Dad mom is so scare of this and does not understand all the due diligence you put into this. A divorce will cost you more than then the Entegra Coach. Buy your couch in two years and the Airstream Interstate NOW.” His name is Alex and his is ONE SMART KID. “By your last coach two day sir, your rental of your home will pay your mortgage.”

A big factor in our decision making is that most of the other choices out there have a 60" wide bed. Not acceptable. The AI GT is 68" wide and is barely enough for us. That's why the Unity could be a good choice, with the reclining chairs... or the Tiffin's twins into a King could work... leaving it as a twin setup where the extra coach width allows each twin to be wider.


Response from Gary: How about a “King Sized” Sleep Number™ bed. Stackable washer and dryer. Outdoor Domestic Refrigerator/Freezer on a slide. 12,500 Cummings generator. Outdoor Home Theatre with dual electric awnings. Dude, when you stop saying I am crazy, do the research and you will see where I am coming from. Enough said.

Sometimes you gotta push on doors to see if they open, so I listed our GT on RVTrader a few days ago. Not because we really WANT to sell it... but if someone prys it our of our hands, we can take the next six months searching for our next choice, with funds ready to fire. If it doesn't sell, I'll continue with my upgrade list: suspension upgrade, WeBoost, two more 220Ah batts, and more solar.


Response from Gary: Stop justifying your reasoning for selling it. Just sell it like you really want to do. Life is to short. Want to sell it quick, look at my Video on YouTube and do a similar one for your unit. https://youtu.be/my_lqY6l7IY

I appreciate your research and look forward to seeing how this thread develops.

Mark
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Old 10-22-2017, 10:59 AM   #12
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"I only want to improve on the battery/solar capacity after we get it to try to minimize use of the generator. I wished they had gone with a diesel generator and heater system"
The answer is to eliminate the generator and go with much bigger (lithium) batteries. Of course if you think customers are frustrated with killings AGMs left and right, wait until they have to buy a new $10k Lithium battery. That’s just too high of a stupid tax to place on most customers. Most of the Lithium systems out there are not yet user friendly enough for mass adoption so we get saddled with big noisemakers.
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Old 10-22-2017, 11:58 AM   #13
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The answer is to eliminate the generator and go with much bigger (lithium) batteries. Of course if you think customers are frustrated with killings AGMs left and right, wait until they have to buy a new $10k Lithium battery. That’s just too high of a stupid tax to place on most customers. Most of the Lithium systems out there are not yet user friendly enough for mass adoption so we get saddled with big noisemakers.


Have to agree. I've been keeping an eye on the RoadTrek forums and it seems the #1 issue that most customers report are failures with their EcoTrek modules. Not sure why these keep failing, but I don't envy RT's position of having to replace so many of them under warranty. That has to be costing them a bundle. Are these modules dying due to user error, poor design, dodgy components, or a combination of these? Whatever the case, they surely don't seem to be ready for the masses.....
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Old 10-22-2017, 12:25 PM   #14
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Wow, LOTS of interesting information here!
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Old 10-22-2017, 12:44 PM   #15
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Thanks for doing all that work, Gary! Did you compare Leisure Van Unity models, by chance?
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Old 10-22-2017, 12:45 PM   #16
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Molded Fiberglass and still studs ver. Aluminum skin or a Mercedes Benz chassis and house.
I'm leery of anything with a fiberglass skin. It may look good on the outside when new, but is that gelcoat a polyester that will bubble up over time or a vinylester that won't? Is the layup chopped strand, biaxial, or triaxial, or a combination? What is the glass-to-resin ratio? Is it solid fiberglass, or does it use a core material like balsa or rigid foam to reduce weight at the expense of greater water permeability and delamination potential? And are the ribs and stringers molded in or screwed onto the inside?

When it comes to fiberglass, you really don't know what you're getting unless you visit the factory and witness the layup process for yourself.
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Old 10-22-2017, 05:05 PM   #17
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Thanks for doing all that work, Gary! Did you compare Leisure Van Unity models, by chance?
I really did not. When I was at the Tampa RV show which was GREAT, I took a tour of all the Class "B" that were using the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter full body (Not the ones that used just the front and chassis. those did not have the structure and strength I was looking for.) I looked at the different brands displays, the signage then the front bumper. If I did not see a "Headlight Washers" and "Parktronics" sensors I would not consider the model. Sometimes like with RoadTrek, I want to the side mirrors to see if the side camera's were added on the door or in the actual mirror. This was followed by looking at the rear camera seeing if it was added or built into the brake light.

This all told me the type of Sprinter Chassis that was being used and the standard suspension the Sprinter had. Where most people look at the floor plan or fancy options. I look at the skeleton and what is behind the walls. I am afraid the Leisure Time did not in some way interest me.


Now I must say, I am a very unusual buyer. I study like crazy if I am drawn to a coach. So I mean no offence here. I am also very spoiled and blessed in life to make some decisions that really done effect me financially. With Airstream Interstates, "I got my cake and I can eat it too."
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Old 10-22-2017, 05:07 PM   #18
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Thank You

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Wow, LOTS of interesting information here!
Thank you, "I Love NEW YORK!!!!!"
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Old 10-22-2017, 05:14 PM   #19
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I'm leery of anything with a fiberglass skin. It may look good on the outside when new, but is that gelcoat a polyester that will bubble up over time or a vinylester that won't? Is the layup chopped strand, biaxial, or triaxial, or a combination? What is the glass-to-resin ratio? Is it solid fiberglass, or does it use a core material like balsa or rigid foam to reduce weight at the expense of greater water permeability and delamination potential? And are the ribs and stringers molded in or screwed onto the inside?

When it comes to fiberglass, you really don't know what you're getting unless you visit the factory and witness the layup process for yourself.

For those of you that don't read the "Protagonist" postings, you are missing something. This gentleman to whom I have never met but love his postings, sense of humor (Dry as the desert), and kindness. Protagonist was one of the first folks to respond to one of my very early postings is a understandable and kind way.

On to the Protagonist comment above. I could not agree with you more. Not just as it relates to the Airstream Atlas, also to all of the diesel pushers under $1,000,000.00. With the exceptions of the Entegra Products which are NOT cheap with MSRPS from $400,000.00 to $750,000.00. I am replying because I wanted no misunderstandings on how I personally felt about fiberglass and if you would like to add something on to the list, slide outs in general also.

Thank you sir. You are a Jedi Master.
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Old 10-22-2017, 09:42 PM   #20
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Gary- thanks for the extra insight into the current state of Tiffin, and your other comments.

Wouldn't it be great if a mature end user, like so many of us are here, could be in charge of advising those RV assembly workers about quality... make them live in their own creation for one night a week or some other method to help them "get it". Maybe this is not relevant, but I have seen and talk to many who have seen a decline in the quality and commitment and work ethic from today's younger folks.

We too have seen and are impressed by Pleasure Way products. The one my wife liked (murphy bed near the front and nice full bath in very back) reminded me of a Japanese apartment... or one of those new ultra modern urban efficiency units... slick and innovative, but it's still like 80 square feet and starts to feel plain and lacking in storage. Lots of frosted glass but almost no windows. Maybe we'll take a deeper look there at their other offerings... but I think the LTV Unity Murphy Bed model with the recliner chairs is going to be high on any list we may make.

Agree that the Atlas may be, or may become, the best choice in its class.

Cheers,
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