On the Lighter Side


Photos by Shawn Spence

Four-season living in the half-ton-towable Reflection 150 Series 230RL fifth-wheel is possible without sacrificing comfort

Many RVers are looking for a rig that can accommodate their desire for adventurous experiences, year-round, without forfeiting comfort. Fifth-wheels are well known for their livability and highway-handling capability but are often too large for folks who want to visit more rustic locations. To fill this niche, Grand Design has introduced the 2018 Reflection 150 Series, a line of fifth-wheels designed to offer extended four-season livability in a length and weight that can be towed by a 150/1500-series pickup truck. Tested here is one of four floorplans, the 230RL, which delivers on both accounts.
Complementing towability, the 230RL is also shortbed-friendly. The chassis is fitted with a Turning Point swivel kingpin box by Lippert Components (LCI) that extends the hitching point 22 inches in front of the trailer, which allows the fifth-wheel to pivot under the trailer’s frame. The pin box allows the trailer to turn a full 90 degrees in a 5½-foot pickup bed without the use of a sliding hitch, which is a great convenience.

The 150 Series is a smaller, lighter version in the Reflection line, but that doesn’t mean it’s an “ultralight” or of lesser quality. In fact, it’s built the same way, with aluminum-framed and laminated walls and floor, and a residential wood-truss roof with two types of insulation. With R-9 walls, an R-30 floor, and a roof R-value that adds up to 40, this trailer is designed to put up with extreme temperatures.

Shawn Spence

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all-season RVing. If an RV is going to be used in frigid temperatures, insulation is important, but how it’s built and equipped is just as important. For instance, the low-point water drains must be inside the heated space with a drain to the outside. For that matter, all the plumbing and valves have to be in the heated space. Single-pane windows, for example, transmit heat and cold to the interior; the 150 Series’ optional dual-pane counterparts ($1,113 MSRP) reduce heat transfer while controlling condensation. Grand Design validated cold-weather practicality by having the unit tested by a third-party lab in zero- to 100-plus-degree Fahrenheit conditions.

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Although we didn’t get a chance to test the fifth-wheel in extreme cold weather, we did spend time in the unit in the August heat in Elkhart, Indiana, and the air-conditioning system was able to easily keep up with the blazing sun and temperatures in the 90s.
Outside, the 230RL’s functional layout is as you’d expect with plentiful storage in the pass-through and front compartments. An additional small compartment is in the slideout, giving access to storage under the dinette. The outside storage space is carpeted, so an option would be to remove the carpet and replace it with a weather-resistant rubberized liner that’s sealed around the bottom to keep rainwater from seeping beyond the compartment, in case the door is opened in the rain or wet hoses and such are placed in there.

Above the theater seats, an expansive window provides great views; the 40-inch LED HDTV swings out for optimal viewing.
Above the theater seats, an expansive window provides great views; the 40-inch LED HDTV swings out for optimal viewing.

Utilities for the 230RL are conveniently located in the heated front compartment on the driver’s side. This Nautilus P1 command center includes city water and black-tank flush connections, dump-valve handles, freshwater control valves, and cable- and satellite-TV connections. There is a water-pump switch here, which is convenient, along with a siphon valve for winterizing and sanitizing the freshwater system, which is an excellent setup. Additionally, there is an outside shower, lighting and a 120-volt AC outlet.

Hitching up or working in and around the pass-through and front compartments at night is made easier with motion-sensing LED lighting. There’s motion-sensing entry lighting as well, so when the door is opened, the light comes on. Very nice.

Grand Design makes the 150 Series more affordable by offering very few options. Most of them are mandatory, which means they’re literally standard equipment. In the 230RL the only real option is dual-pane windows, which we highly recommend for efficiency and comfort when temperatures are extreme. Otherwise, the travel trailer comes fully equipped from the factory.
Setting up the 230RL is pretty straightforward. However, one difference between the standard Reflection and the 150 Series is that auto-leveling is not available, most likely for weight and cost savings. Leveling is accomplished via blocks and scissor jacks in the rear. If auto-leveling is important, you’ll have to move up to the Reflection to get it from the factory or add it in the aftermarket, but potential owners will have to pay close attention to loading, not to exceed the trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating.

The 230RL has a rear-side entry under a 17-foot Dometic power awning, which allows for decent patio coverage. We enjoyed this space, since there were rain showers during our stay, and by tilting the awning, we were able to stay dry under it.

Stepping up into the living room via the aluminum entry steps reveals a nicely sized, pleasant living space. To the left, the rear wall has a large picture window with Lippert (LCI) Thomas Payne Collection theater seating complete with cupholders, integrated blue LED effect lighting, and heat and massage features. These reclining seats are of good quality and super comfortable. The center console and two cupholders per seat ensure that your favorite beverages can always be close at hand. A cabinet and table on each side hold movie-watching necessities, and there’s an overhead cabinet for storage.

Speaking of movies, when lounging here, the 40-inch LED 1080p HDTV is at the one-o’clock position on an articulating bracket for optimal viewing. It is connected to a Furrion DV3200 DVD stereo with Bluetooth capability and an app provision, so the stereo and TV sound can be controlled from a smart device. The TV is mounted in a sizable cabinet, with open storage above and lots of enclosed pantry-style storage below.

Next to and forward of the TV cabinet is an L-shaped kitchen with solid-surface countertops and plenty of workspace, a Dometic 21-inch three-burner range and a built-in microwave oven. The kitchen also has a large stainless-steel farmer’s sink with a cover. These wide single-basin sinks are showing up in a number of new RVs, and they’re a functional upgrade that makes KP duty much easier. Next to the sink is a matching flip-up counter for additional space. To prevent damage, it must be folded down before retracting the slideout room Across from the kitchen are the roomy dinette slide and an 8-cubic-foot Dometic refrigerator-freezer. The comfortable 80-inch U-shaped dinette is adorned in soft brown vinyl and turns into a bed for guests. The rectangular table, which can provide additional cooking-prep space, is on double stanchions and quite stable. There is ample storage for large items under both sides of the dinette, and the aforementioned back section is accessible from an outside compartment door — no wasted storage space here.

The galley has ample room for meal prep, and a matching flip-up table adds to the counter space but needs to be put down before closing the slide; the wide farmer’s-style sink is a functional addition.
The galley has ample room for meal prep, and a matching flip-up table adds to the counter space but needs to be put down before closing the slide; the wide farmer’s-style sink is a functional addition.

There are pros and cons to every RV that prospective owners need to consider, and one such detail on the 230RL is the slideout. When the slideout is in, access to the refrigerator, bedroom, bathroom or fuse/breaker panel is restricted. Given the possibility of a slideout failure, it would be wise to relocate the 12-volt DC fuses to a more accessible location when the slideout is retracted. Also, opening the slideout to use the bathroom while on the road is an inconvenience, although it would have to be extended only enough to slip by. That said, we’ll point out that the slideout needs to be fully deployed to be sealed from the elements, so if it’s raining, for instance, the slideout will not be weatherproof if it is only partially extended.

Heading up the side-aisle stairs reveals the bathroom and master bedroom. The single-entry bathroom has ample space and cabinetry to get the job done. A square walk-in shower is against the far wall and features a retractable shower door, which is a welcome step up from a regular shower curtain. Due to a concern for moisture remaining inside the rolled-up door and causing mildew, it’s best to leave the door closed for a time after taking a shower to let it dry.

A skylight above the shower ensures adequate headroom, and the shower surround has an attractive brick pattern with steps and shelves. The vanity is nicely equipped with an oval stainless-steel sink and enough space around the basin for necessaries. The bathroom has plenty of storage, and there’s a mirrored medicine cabinet, storage cabinets on both walls and smartly placed towel bars for convenience.

The queen bed lifts to provide expansive storage underneath; attractive independently switched wall sconces illuminate both bedside tables.
The queen bed lifts to provide expansive storage underneath;
attractive independently switched wall sconces illuminate both bedside tables.

The bedroom is well designed and equipped for a restful night’s slumber. When climbing into bed from the carpeted step, headroom is adequate. Bedroom storage is excellent, using the wardrobes and cabinets above the bed, and a closet and drawers at the foot of the bed. Tables with closable cabinets on either side of the bed, independent sconces and a shelf above the vinyl-padded headboard help ensure comfortable bedtime relaxing and reading. The bed lifts to reveal a spacious cavity underneath, which is great for storing shoes, large items and seldom-used articles of clothing.

To keep costs down, no decor options are offered for the 150 Series fifth-wheels. That said, the interior is lovely, with maple cabinetry and black accents. The floor is clad with Beauflor hickory vinyl, and Shaw R2X stain-resistant carpet is found in the slideout and around the bed — all high-quality stuff.

Pull-down pleated shades adorn each window, with similarly earth-toned box valances with trim curtains. Wallboards and ceilings are in appealing shades of tan with coordinating patterns. Kitchen appliances are all black, and the range has a tinted-glass cover that matches the dark-tinted glass on the cabinet doors. This attractive, high-end cover adds a nice amount of flat counter space for prep, if the cooktop isn’t needed.

All in all, the Reflection 150 Series 230RL gets high marks for its comfortable, functional layout, feature set and overall construction. If you want a maneuverable all-season fifth-wheel to have fun in, this rig should be on your list.

Grand Design RV | 574-825-8000 | www.granddesignrv.com


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