Home on the Open Range

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Photo Credit: courtesy of the manufacturer

The front window features a perforated covering to help brighten the interior. Exterior standards include an electric A-frame jack and an Equa-Flex suspension.

by Kristopher Bunker
March 29, 2016
Filed under Top Stories, Trailer Reviews

 

Highland Ridge’s four-season Roamer hits the road with residential amenities and upscale appointments

A quick look at the history of Highland Ridge RV reveals an impressive lineage. Although relatively new to the recreational vehicle market, Highland Ridge was originally known as Open Range, which began constructing RVs in 2007. The company is a subsidiary of Jayco, which purchased Open Range’s assets in 2014 and formed the new division. That means that each Highland Ridge product is built up to the standards of the world’s largest privately held RV manufacturer and backed by a transferrable two-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Walk-through: Highland Ridge Roamer RT288FLR

Now that the “new company” jitters have been alleviated, it’s time to look at one of the results: the 2016 Highland Ridge Roamer RT288FLR, a 33½-foot triple-slide travel trailer. With its robust construction, the RT288FLR is built for the long haul. A steel I-beam frame combines with 12-inch on-center 2×2-inch aluminum floor joists and a 2×3-foot aluminum header to offer a stout foundation. The gel-coated skin and PVC roof material are insulated using R-9 block foam and R-14 batten insulation, ensuring protection against more extreme weather. For colder climates, the Roamer features 4-inch in-wall ducts that extend into the enclosed underbelly, where an innovative return system allows forced air to flow freely around the tanks, resulting in a much more efficient heating process than the usual pressurized airflow.

The attractive kitchen island is centrally located to the living area, making it a great place to interact with guests during meal prep.

The attractive kitchen island is centrally located to the living area, making it a great place to interact with guests during meal prep.

But a comfortable temperature inside is nothing if the trailer isn’t properly appointed. Upon entering the RT288FLR, it’s difficult to discern what to notice first. Is it the elegant island kitchen, topped with smooth Corian countertops, a dual-basin stainless sink and upgraded fixtures? Or is it the supple sofa spanning the rear of the trailer? Perhaps it’s the dual theater seats, with equally comfortable coverings, integrated cup holders and a storage space that’s ideal for holding DVDs.

Wherever you decide to focus, the Amish-crafted cabinetry, Beauflor flooring and darker tones add to the aura of luxury. Those darker hues are offset by the front window, which has a perforated covering to let the light in, revealing a practical, open floorplan that is just as capable of hosting a family with small children as it is of entertaining an impromptu adult dinner party at the campsite.

The theater seats and sofa (which opens to a queen-size flip-out bed with an air mattress) are joined by a freestanding table with four chairs, providing comfortable seating for up to nine occupants — even more if they don’t mind getting cozy.

The theater seats are naturally prime real estate when it comes to watching the 32-inch LED TV, which is situated on an angled wall, a configuration that is workable but not ideal. The view from the rear sofa is a bit difficult to take in from across the room, so that area will likely become more of a conversation nook than TV land. This is a bit of a concern because the stereo/DVD control unit is above the couch, away from the TV, a puzzling design choice that will have occupants clamoring for the remote control once they have parked themselves in the theater seats well away from the DVD player.

Highland-Ridge-Open-Range-RoamerSpecsBuyers who don’t opt for the optional electric fireplace ($653) below the TV will have a large space to fill. Our test trailer didn’t have the fireplace, and we were constantly asked if it were missing something.

Space for food prep is always a concern, but the island configuration offers more than enough space for chopping, slicing and dicing, and there’s a decent amount of space next to the range. A pantry and 8-cubic-foot refrigerator (adorned with that attractive Amish cabinetry) handle food storage, and cabinets in the island and beneath the counter hold dishes and nonperishables.

The amidships bathroom is spacious, with the toilet set at an angle to maximize space. The counter is large enough for teeth brushing and personal grooming. There’s a towel cabinet that holds less than expected, the reason being that it’s a shallow cutout of the angled bathroom wall. Overall, the room was a bit dark for our liking; even necessitating switching on the lights in the middle of the day, though the 34-inch radius shower was a pleasant way to overlook the relative darkness.

The bedroom offers a level of residential comfort, beginning with the comfortable, walk-around queen bed. The attractive pendant lights hanging from the shelves above the bed would be a more useful addition if they could be articulated to illuminate the book you’re reading instead of the nightstands. The closet is large and spacious, with a built-in shoe cabinet and drawers in one corner. Combine the closet with the cabinets and drawers around the bed, and storage shouldn’t be a problem.

The Roamer comes with two mandatory option packages (yes, we know that’s an oxymoron): Executive ($4,350) and Four-Seasons ($725), both of which include add-ons you’d likely opt for in any case, including the Corian countertops, crown molding, LED ceiling lighting, enhanced insulation, and heated and enclosed underbelly. The exterior has a power A-frame jack, a large pass-through storage compartment, a rear-storage tray and a nifty hookup station for city water, black-tank flush and exterior shower hookup that is situated next to the 50-amp power hookup.

The RT288FLR sleeps four comfortably and offers plenty of floor space for air mattresses or sleeping bags, making it a good choice for RVing families who prefer upscale luxury, or couples who enjoy residential amenities with the potential for overnight guests.

Highland Ridge RV | 260-778-7771 | www.highlandridgerv.com

Special thanks to Crestview RV in Buda, Texas. 512-282-3516, www.crestviewrv.com


 

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