Going for Gold

Goldrush-1

Photo Credit: Scott Hirko

by Chris Hemer
July 28, 2014
Filed under Reviews, Top Stories, Trailer Reviews

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KZ RV’s new bath-and-a-half Klondike floorplan promises greater flexibility for entertaining

 

Motorhomes with a guest half bath amidships have been a popular option for many years, as they allow visitors or overnight guests the freedom to use the restroom without traipsing into the master bed/bath area TL-testof the coach. The fifth-wheel trailer market has been somewhat sluggish to follow this trend, which seems strange when you consider that fifth-wheels, with their huge living areas, are usually more suitable for entertaining than their motorized counterparts. But KZ RV recently introduced a new floorplan into its GoldRush Durango line that not only has a half bath in the living area but is loaded with features that make it a good value in the competitive midprice fifth-wheel market.

Elegant-looking decor in rich brown tones makes for cozy living. The theater seats and couch are very comfy places from which to watch TV in the opposing entertainment center.

Elegant-looking decor in rich brown tones makes for cozy living. The theater seats and couch are very comfy places from which to watch TV in the opposing entertainment center.

Unlike most companies that use a series of numbers and letters to describe a given floorplan, KZ has given this new floorplan a name: Klondike. At just longer than 40 feet, it’s one of the bigger fifth-wheels out there, but with a dry weight of 11,460 pounds and a gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) of 14,500 pounds, it can still be towed by a 2500 series single rear-wheel pickup. It’s also competitively base priced at $58,645, making it an attractive option for those looking to step up on a budget.
Tan is the new white, and KZ follows the trend by finishing the GoldRush in tan gelcoat with graphics, standard aluminum wheels and frameless tinted windows (which in the test unit were also dual-pane, a desirable and highly recommended $1,155 option). Not as noticeable but also a nice feature is the standard power patio awning fitted with an LED light strip.
Functionally speaking, the exterior has what you’d expect in a trailer of this size: namely, a huge finished basement storage area and separate, easily accessible compartments for the battery and propane cylinders. The curbside battery door is fitted with controls for the standard four-point leveling system, which is a nice feature, but we wish it were located on the driver’s side. Operating the jacks on the passenger’s side, then passing between the truck and trailer to get back to the driver’s seat (sometimes several times) while hooking up grows tiresome in a hurry. In fairness, KZ isn’t the only manufacturer that puts these controls on this side.
The basement storage easily accommodated our trip essentials, but we did notice that the plumbing from the front master bathroom passes directly through this area — so be advised to keep heavy items away from the plumbing to avoid the potential for damage. Fortunately, another compartment at the front of the trailer would be a good place to keep toolboxes and other heavy items within easy reach. The test unit did have small cutouts in the metal floor for the optional generator prep ($470). You may need to line it with plywood or other material if you want it to be truly weatherproof.
On the street side of the trailer, the basement storage compartment features a utility center with the front bath black/gray dump handles, as well as clearly marked instructions for plumbing operation depending on the desired function (dry camping with demand water pump, city water supply, black-tank flush, winterizing, etc.). It’s a well-executed design, but we wish that the dump valves weren’t cable operated. This is probably a concession to the trailer’s unusual bath-and-a-half arrangement, but we’ve found that cables simply aren’t as durable or reliable as rods and are harder to fix when they break. In fact, the gray valve in the test unit would not close completely after dumping.

Kitchen and living areas are well designed and pleasing to the eye. Entertainment center has tons of storage space, and the AM/FM/DVD player is easy to operate.

Kitchen and living areas are well designed and pleasing to the eye. Entertainment center has tons of storage space, and the AM/FM/DVD player is easy to operate.

Towing the Durango with our long-term 2014 Ford F-350 Super Duty dually was completely uneventful — the trailer tracked beautifully and never gave us any cause for concern. Some of the credit here goes to the standard Rota-Flex pin box by Trailair, which contributed to the smooth, clunk-free ride.
Setting up at our campsite, we deployed the automatic four-point leveling jacks on decidedly uneven ground. The system did its job in about two minutes and was about ½ inch from perfectly level by our estimation. The front landing jacks on the test unit were equipped with JT’s Strong Arm jack stabilizers, which seemed to make a significant improvement to the stability of the structure as a whole.
If you want to have fun with your RVing friends during setup, ask them to find the control panel with the slideout switches. We looked in all the most sensible locations for several minutes before eventually finding it behind one of the waist-high doors in the galley hutch. The panel is situated between the retracted slides on either side and the kitchen island behind you, so the only way to operate the slide switches is to bend at an awkward sideways angle or wiggle your way between the slides and the island and then squat down. This is far from practical, especially for older users, so we’d definitely like to see the panel relocated to a more user-friendly location.
With the jacks down, the slides out and the patio awning deployed, we were able to take in the trailer’s expansive living area. The decor, with its maple-colored cabinetry, contrasting walnut-colored kitchen island and dark brown solid-surface countertops, is pleasing to look at, and we also appreciated the use of wood-look vinyl flooring in the kitchen and dining areas and plush carpet in the living area.

King-size bed comes at the expense of nightstands — a trend we wish would stop.

King-size bed comes at the expense of nightstands — a trend we wish would stop.

The kitchen is well laid out for the traveling chef, with plenty of prep space on the kitchen island, plus more if you use the sink covers. The stainless-steel sink is generously proportioned, but the faucet with pull-out sprayer, although handsomely designed, is flimsy plastic. The island has doors on either side, though much of the storage space within is occupied by plumbing. There are also electrical outlets at either end, and attractive pendant lights above provide plenty of illumination when needed. A towel bar at the forward end is also a nice touch, and there’s open storage on the living area end for miscellaneous knickknacks. LED accent lighting beneath the island lends a touch of class.
At the front of the kitchen is the aforementioned hutch with more counter space, plus four drawers and a cabinet. Above this area is a cabinet with decorative frosted glass doors, and beneath it are LED task lights that are controlled by switches mounted in the control panel cabinet. On the street side of the kitchen is a black residential Samsung 18-cubic-foot refrigerator with double doors and a freezer beneath ($1,840), which cooled quickly and had more than enough room for groceries. Though we obviously had to plug in to keep the fridge running once we arrived at our destination, we found that the trailer’s 1,000-watt inverter and a single 12-volt battery (not supplied) kept it cold during travel.
Next to the refrigerator is a cabinet that houses a four-burner Suburban range with a standard oven, utensil drawer and a handy slideout trash receptacle, which we wish more RVs had. Below the oven is another drawer that would be ideal for cookie sheets and frying pans. A black microwave oven of unknown origin was large enough to handle full-size plates of food, and a slideout spice rack made it easy to access the spices of our choosing while cooking.

Front master bath features a vanity with a mirror and plenty of room for storage. Space to the right of the vanity is unused — another vanity might make sense here.

Front master bath features a vanity with a mirror and plenty of room for storage. Space to the right of the vanity is unused — another vanity might make sense here.

Like most fifth-wheels, the dining area features a freestanding dinette table with an extension and four chairs. With the extension in place, we learned two things: that there was enough room for four average size adults, and that it made the table dangerously lopsided. That’s because this table has a single large leg with four feet that simply can’t balance the table properly. We suggest that KZ either change the table’s design or fit it with a strap or bracket attached to the wall that will keep it balanced when it is extended.
The living area is well executed and comfortable with plenty of storage space. Theater seats on the curbside recline and feature cup holders and a handy compartment that’s perfect for snacks, remotes, etc. Both the seats and the rear sofa sleeper are upholstered in very soft, plush material that we found preferable to Ultraleather or even genuine cowhide. The seats were a bit stubborn to deploy completely, but this might be because they were new. Once comfortably reclined, you have an excellent view of the entertainment center, which has some great features. The most noticeable is the 39-inch Hitachi flat-screen LED television, billed as one of the thinnest in the TV biz. Its svelte profile allowed KZ to mount it in a frame that has a handle on the right side. Pull on it, and the TV swings away to reveal additional storage and satellite connections. It’s a pretty slick setup, although the television had an annoying menu along the bottom that displayed the features of the television on rotation, and we couldn’t find a way to turn it off, even though KZ supplied the owner’s manual. We can’t imagine why any television manufacturer would think their customers would want this “feature” built into the product.
Above the television is more storage behind a frosted glass cabinet, and below it is a huge drawer that is perfect for an ambitious DVD collection. To the left of the TV are two more cabinets that would be good for blankets and pillows, and right between them is a Jensen AM/FM/DVD player. We found the entertainment system worked well as a whole; the Jensen unit was easy to use and has controls to switch speaker sound to the living area, bedroom or outside speakers. We didn’t have a cable hookup, but popping in a DVD let us experience the surround-sound system, which sounded great to us. We also didn’t have occasion to use the optional electric fireplace below the television ($445) but could imagine how cozy it would be to relax and enjoy this feature during the winter.
The couch at the rear of the trailer was likewise comfy — for sitting on. It folds out into a bed that, while roomy enough, has a steel support rod underneath that you can feel in the small of your back. It’s not a place anyone, except small, lightweight kids, would want to sleep. If you expect guests, invest in a thick memory-foam mattress topper or an air mattress. We’d really like to see KZ, or the furniture manufacturer, make this sofa bed more comfortable.
On the way to the front bedroom is a door that accesses the guest bathroom. This area has a surprising amount of room, plus generous counter space, a small stainless-steel sink and a porcelain toilet. A large mirror is located above the counter, and to its right is a tall, shallow cabinet with shelves. There’s plenty of room for folded towels in the cabinet above the sink, but it might be located too high for shorter users. More storage space is available beneath the sink, but considering this area also contains plumbing, you probably shouldn’t put anything here that you wouldn’t want to get wet in the event of a leak. The wall has switches for the overhead and countertop lights, but not the fan, which is located way too high for most people to reach. There’s also no switch for the water pump, and considering this is the bathroom that you’d use during travel stops, that’s a detail that shouldn’t have been overlooked.
Goldrush-floorUp the steps in the bedroom is a king bed in a streetside slideout. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again here — we don’t understand why manufacturers find it necessary to sacrifice nightstands for a king bed. Either make the room big enough to accommodate a king or leave it a queen with nightstands. The shelf above the bed can work, but try reaching for water or other necessities here in the dark. On the positive side, the combination inner spring/memory-foam mattress was very comfortable and had underbed storage with gas struts that easily supported the weight of the mattress. Storage for folded clothes is provided by a sort of curio cabinet at the foot of the bed; we wouldn’t call it a chest of drawers because it doesn’t have any. Instead, there are cabinets on either side of the window, a countertop and more cabinets underneath. There are hookups for a television but not enough space for a very big one.
All the way forward is the master bath, which, like the half bath, is surprisingly roomy and equipped with a porcelain toilet. To the right of the entry is a vanity with a stainless-steel sink, good counter space, a large mirror and a cabinet. We noticed that the space directly behind the door is unused, which made us wonder if it would be possible to fit a larger vanity with two sinks.
Goldrush-specsA trend in the RV industry that we really appreciate is the use of large, rectangular residential shower enclosures in fifth-wheel trailers. The GoldRush was so equipped, and the space features a molded seat and sliding-glass door to further the residential feel. Between the shower and the forward closet is a tall, deep cabinet perfect for storing folded towels, and at the front is a mirrored sliding door providing access to a spacious walk-in closet. This area features cedar inserts, shoe storage and a large cabinet that could be used to store comforters, blankets and the like. This unit was also proudly equipped with an optional Dyson hand vacuum ($530) that would neither charge nor operate. We’d recommend you save some money and bring your own vacuum.
Overall, the systems in this fifth-wheel worked well. Fifty-amp service allows the use of a second air-conditioner in the bedroom area ($975), with the thermostat controls logically placed in both zones. The ducted system proved to be both effective and quiet, and the same goes for the demand water pump that was barely audible within the trailer. The switches, while not labeled, were at least in fairly intuitive locations; the only exceptions to this were the controls for the ceiling fan in the living area, some kitchen lights and the awning control, which were located on the kitchen area control panel. Putting the ceiling fan switch anywhere would have made more sense — such as at the end of the island in the living area. By contrast, the powered roof vent here was controlled by a remote that was thoughtfully located in a handy holder near the theater seats. KZ also supplies a One Touch remote that can be used to operate the slides, awning, lights and leveling system.
Giving consumers the features they expect at a price they can afford is always a balancing act, and KZ did a good job with the GoldRush for the most part. We’d like to see better fit and finish in some areas, such as the ill-fitting trim over the tires and a drawer in the galley that was crooked. In our view, flaws like this are unacceptable because they’re very visible and should be easy to correct at the factory level. However, no trailer, regardless of price, is perfect — and with a few improvements, the KZ GoldRush in the Klondike floorplan could be a great choice for those in the market for a well-equipped, family-friendly fifth-wheel that won’t break
the bank.

KZ RV, Inc.
866-472-5460 | www.kz-rv.com


 

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