DRV Mobile Suites Luxury Fifth-Wheel
Chuck & Teresa Campbell Photos by Rich Cox Photography
December 6, 2012
Filed under Trailer Reviews
Although laid out along traditional fifth-wheel lines, our Mobile Suites 38-foot test unit (model 38RSSB3), sported a forward upper compartment offering a spacious bedroom and bathroom salon that enjoyed extra floor space granted by opposing slideouts. The area also included plenty of closet, wardrobe and drawer storage.
The unit further featured a lower deck with a combined galley/living room zone that again offered expansive opposing slides that covered just about the entire rear half of the layout. The galley hosted a streetside mid-trailer kitchen arrangement, asymmetrical 72-by-26-inch center island with dual sinks, and a curbside dinette. To the rear, the living room was furnished with curbside twin black leather recliners, rear sofa, streetside built-in fireplace, ceiling fan and audio/visual entertainment center.
Several additional suspension and towing enhancements were incorporated to improve the overall ride, and tame certain performance issues inherent with many fifth-wheels. These included a TrailAir Center Point (CP) air-ride system, and a Tri-Glide pin box with air bag and shock absorber to reduce chucking and push/pull tendencies. For these items, add $2,502 more to the price tag.
Prospective customers should realize that these lavishly constructed RVs aren’t inexpensive. First off, this unit had a suggested base retail price of $90,154 that puts it way above your average fiver. This unit was initially conceived as a triple slide, until an optional fourth curbside “Vanity Slide” was added in the front bedroom ($2,320). Other significant options included a “Mobile Suites” package ($9,425), full body paint ($8,694), and a 40-inch Sony LCD HDTV with DVD and surround sound ($3,046) to name a few. This is just the beginning, as most Mobile Suites come accessorized “to the nines” as ours did, with expensive discretionary upgrades.
When all options were factored in, the final suggested retail price (less shipping) totaled $125,697. If you are considering this an occasional recreational vehicle, it is a pretty good chunk of change. However, if you intend to use this fifth-wheel as a full-time abode or seasonal living hangout, it looks like a reasonable deal for what you are getting.
DRV LLC of Howe, Ind., has been building highline fifth-wheels for full-timers, and those seeking a deluxe, extended travel experience since 2002. The company currently produces four luxury lines including the more economical Tradition, along with upper end Elite Suites and Full House iterations. All told, consumers have more than 30 different floorplans to choose from.
Interior embellishments can only be described as sumptuous in a fifth-wheel that was bedecked in a classy Imperial Ebony décor package, and residential-style, solid wood raised panel cabinetry in New England Cherry ($944). Wood paneling and trim in the unit reflect the best of the cabinetmaker’s art, with carved moldings and fluted accent pieces at every turn.
Finishing off interior trappings were beige toned carpeting, tile flooring in the galley and bathroom, pleated day/night shades with upholstered valences, solid surface Corian countertops, and brushed nickel fixtures and hardware.
This model’s forward bedroom suite was plush to say the least, with a 72-by-80-inch king bed as its centerpiece.
Included with this was a handy under-bed storage with a pneumatic lift assist, and frontal drawers for easy access. Forward of the bed was a walk-in, cedar-lined closet with mirrored doors in the nose of the unit, which offered extensive options for stashing hanging clothes, linens, and other soft goods.
When making up the bed, maneuvering was just like home, with generous aisle space on all three sides. This was enhanced further by the optional curbside Vanity slideout that provided additional counter surfaces, drawers and even an optional overhead 26-inch LCD TV ($864).
Contiguous to the bedroom suite on the upper level was a streetside bathroom with a 30-by-31-inch corner shower stall that provided decent room for leisurely wash ups, and 25 inches of foot space in front of the china toilet. The bathroom was also fitted with a Corian topped washstand, smaller cabinets, and a corner linen closet for towels and cleaning products.
Across from the bathroom, in the hall between the bedroom and lower deck, was a 52-inch-wide, ceiling-to-floor walk-in wardrobe closet that is half dedicated and plumbed for a washer/dryer unit. Including a washer and dryer can greatly contribute to any long-term residency intentions, and increase comfort levels considerably.
The entry to this floorplan was mid-trailer curbside, and into the galley and dinette area. This zone is fitted with an easily cleanable tile floor, and features a central island cabinet with double sinks and raised gooseneck faucet affording plenty of room to prepare serious meals.
Against the streetside wall was a three-burner gas stovetop with foldable cover and Corian backsplash, an overhead convection microwave, quad-door side-by-side 13-cubic-foot refrigerator, and plenty of surrounding cabinets, drawers and cupboards. Offering a combined counter workspace of 20 square feet between stovetop and island, owners can easily whip up meals for two or more with ease.
When dinner is ready, food can be conveniently served at the curbside dinette across from the island counter. Two chairs are provided with this setup, but the tabletop can be expanded to a full 29-by-28 inches, and entertain additional diners when extra seating is added.
Overall lighting and visibility to the outside in dining and rear lounge quarters was quite good, thanks to the placement of oversized windows in the curbside and rear walls. During our stay at Outdoor Resorts of America in Aguanga, Calif., the generous rear windows allowed us to appreciate a beautiful view of a verdant golf course fairway just outside. All windows are high-quality, weather-efficient thermopane ($1,994) that also contribute significantly to climate control and interior comfort.
This layout’s well-furnished rear lounge area was ideally suited for kicking back and relaxing. Seating arrangements include two faux black leather recliners curbside, and a comfy couch to sprawl out on in front of the noteworthy 40-inch Sony. And if one is so inclined, they can add to the soothing ambiance of this area by lighting off its optional fireplace ($958) situated in the front of the same cabinet.
Built to Last
DRV designs its Mobile Suites fifth-wheels for the long haul, with sophisticated, resilient architectural elements that ensure they will withstand challenging, extended use.
Looking to the foundations, the company uses a proprietary, elongated gooseneck chassis employing a 15-inch, triple-stacked box channel frame. This engineering approach is intended to add strength to the entire structure, while deterring flex and metal fatigue.
Furthermore, the chassis offers optimum ground clearance that’s so important to a vehicle of this sort. It also created a spot for a large pass-through basement storage bay beneath the fifth-wheel overhang that included a handy slide-out cargo tray ($386).
Suspension and running gear consisted of 8,000-pound, sealed oil bath bearing axles, and the aforementioned TrailAir Center Point system. It additionally utilizes Kodiak disc brakes, and Michelin 17.5-inch, Load Range J tires for improved ride height and minimization of blowouts.
With a wet weight of 16,380 pounds, users can reasonably expect a cargo carrying capacity of 2,120 pounds before reaching its gross vehicle weight rating of 18,500 pounds. And despite its formidable weight, there are still three to four 2012 one-ton pickup trucks available from each of the big three American manufacturers, that are rated to tow this kind of load.
Regarding upper construction; composite, 3-inch thick, R-29 insulated floor assemblies sit on the frame rails, and are topped with 5/8-inch tongue-and-groove, residential-grade plywood floorboards. For added strength and rigidity, floorboards are screwed and glued to the assembly ensuring the entire structure is stable, supportive and creak free.
Thick, 3 1/4-inch-thick sidewalls are supported by aluminum tube studs, some of the most robust in the industry. With sub-zero, high-density wool insulation, 1/4-inch Monsanto Fome-Cor and dual vapor barriers, all walls including slideouts carry R-16 insulation values that minimize condensation. Adding to structural integrity, wall members are lag-bolted, not screwed, to the floorboard.
Roof assemblies consist of high-strength trussed aluminum rafters, extra thick R-25 insulation and a 1/2-inch wood exterior roof deck that keep a lid on temperature exchange. This walk-on, composite fabrication also uses a standard rubber membrane cap to finish things off.
Climate control is another issue that DRV has given great consideration to in its engineering, with filtered, oversized ducts for heat and air in all zones. Adding to its efficiency, sizeable filtered return ducts ensure even heat and air distribution, and a comfortable, church-quiet environment at all times.
When you travel in a Mobile Suites fifth-wheel, whether your plans include favorite RV resorts, or excursions to the far reaches of North America, you will be enjoying the luxurious amenities built into every unit. And if first impressions hold true, DRV appears to be masters at what they do.
Exterior Length: 38’ 4”
Exterior Width: 8’ 5”
Exterior Height: 13’ 2”
Interior Width: 7’ 11”
Interior Height: 7’ 6” – 8’ 6”
Construction: aluminum framing, laminated sidewalls, wool insulation with Fome-Cor vapor barrier, wood roof with rubber membrane and bow trusses, fiberglass exterior skin, proprietary chassis
Freshwater Cap: 100 gal.
Gray-Water Cap: 75 gal.
Black-Water Cap: 50 gal.
LP-gas Cap: 18 gal.
Water heater Cap: 12 gal.
Refrigerator: 13 cu.-ft.
Furnace (2): 30,000 Btu
Air conditioner (2): 15,000 Btu
Converter: 80 amps
Battery (2): 6-volt
Tires: 215/75R17.5 LR J
Suspension: leaf spring, Trailair Center, Point Air Ride
Weight: (freshwater, water 16,380 lb. heater, LP-gas full; no cargo)
Hitch Weight: 3,395 lb.
Axle Weight: 12,985 lb.
GVWR: 18,500 lb.
Gross axle weight rating (2): 8,000 lb.
Cargo carrying capacity: 2,120 lb.
MSRP, base: $90,154
MSRP, as tested: $125,697
Basic warranty: 3-yr. limited
DRV Luxury Suites, 260-562-1075,
Thanks to Southwest Coaches, a premier retailer of luxury RVs (760-863-5330; www.southwestcoaches.com), located in Indio, Calif., for the loan of the DRV Mobile Suites unit for this evaulation.