On the Mark

Photo Credit: Shawn Spence Photography

by Chris Hemer
February 28, 2016
Filed under Top Stories, Trailer Reviews



Get set for luxury living in Heartland’s redesigned flagship Landmark 365 Syracuse fifth-wheel

We’ve all heard the expression “Bad news travels fast.” It’s grounded in the belief that people tend to talk more willingly about failure than fortitude, scandal than success. But when Heartland Recreational Vehicles decided to place new focus on its flagship Landmark fifth-wheel lineup in 2014 and relaunch it the following year with a new team and new designs, the good news spread quickly throughout the RVing community. That’s likely because, while there is a wide variety of fifth-wheel trailers to choose from, not many are truly designed for full-time living, and due to the recent recession, fewer still are backed by a company with more than a decade of experience under its belt.

The Syracuse features a traditional fifth-wheel floorplan but offers an elegantly appointed kitchen with a large island.

The Syracuse features a traditional fifth-wheel floorplan but offers an elegantly appointed kitchen with a large island.

The Landmark brand has been around for nearly 15 years, so the new line definitely had to hit the … uh, mark. Dubbed the Landmark 365 for its year-round livability, the fifth-wheel is available in eight floorplans, most of which are 40 feet or longer. Getting everything you want in a trailer this size isn’t terribly difficult, but it can come at the cost of some maneuverability and an added weight penalty, not to mention reducing the number of RV parks and campgrounds that can accommodate you. So, we were intrigued by the idea of full-time livability in the smallest of the Landmark offerings, the 35-foot 6-inch Syracuse, and arranged to test it near its birthplace of Elkhart, Indiana.

Even at less than 40 feet, the Syracuse is physically imposing. Unlike many other fifth-wheels that have a tapered roof, it has a straight roof from front to rear, which not only yields more headroom inside but also contributes to the overall impression of grandeur when viewed from outside. In the case of the test unit, which came to us finished in Dark Silver full-body paint with tinted, frameless windows and aluminum wheels, the effect was intensified.

Heartland-LandmarkFloorplanPerhaps not as noticeable but equally important to full-timers are functional features like a Level Up automatic hydraulic leveling system, slam-latch baggage doors, a universal docking station, a power awning with LED lighting, an outdoor entertainment center and Goodyear load range G tires. Suffice it to say, the fifth-wheel got more than its fair share of attention from fellow RVers who stopped by to admire the new trailer and ask questions about it.

Inside, the Syracuse is a pretty traditional floorplan but a well-executed one. The Autumn Harvest interior color scheme is warm and inviting with maple-toned cabinetry complemented by earth tones in the living area carpet, and kitchen and dining area tile and countertops. Dark brown faux leather on the sofa and recliners adds a modern touch, while country-themed upholstery on the valances, dinette chairs and throw pillows pays homage to tradition. The living area belies the trailer’s relatively short length with its 8-foot 5-inch ceilings, large opposing slideouts and a center island that makes the kitchen part of the entertaining space.

 A king-size bed in the master suite is comfortable, and the creative use of lighting keeps the area bright and cheerful.

A king-size bed in the master suite is comfortable, and the creative use of lighting keeps the area bright and cheerful.

At the rear of the fifth-wheel is a large sofa that converts into a full pullout bed with sconce lights on either side for a cozy, homelike appearance. You can place your drink or a TV remote on handy ledges on either side of the couch. The test unit was equipped with an optional high-rise table/desk that looks like a standard coffee table but has a top that lifts up and toward you, making it easier to eat in front of the TV or work with a laptop. It’s a useful addition, for sure, and we actually have one like it in our home. You just have to remember to orient the table lengthwise before bringing in the slides, or it will prevent the slides from closing.

In the curbside slideout are a pair of standard power-reclining theater seats that drew high marks for their comfort and functionality. Just press a button, and the leg extension deploys as the seat reclines. The seats are a bit on the narrow side, and we would like a center section with cup holders, but at least they fit the space properly and worked as designed, which are big plusses. Directly across from the chairs is a huge 65-inch LG LED flat-screen TV with a sound bar and a Blu-ray player, and an optional electric fireplace below. We conducted our test in the summer, so we didn’t have occasion to use the fireplace, but the TV and sound system worked perfectly and were welcome features that we enjoyed at the end of each day. The MCD solar/blackout shades kept the area dark and cool, and we appreciated abundant storage for movies, blankets and pillows in the entertainment center and surrounding areas.

The available Home Package nets a thoroughly modern kitchen featuring LG solid-surface countertops, a two-burner True Induction cooktop, a residential Frigidaire stainless-steel refrigerator with double doors and an icemaker, and a residential-size stainless-steel High Pointe convection/microwave. By now, you’ve probably surmised that this is a mostly electric RV designed to be plugged into 50-amp service wherever your travels take you. Heartland does offer a generator option for those occasions where you might find yourself in a campground without hookups.

The entertainment center features a 65-inch flat-screen TV, an electric fireplace and cabinets galore.

The entertainment center features a 65-inch flat-screen TV, an electric fireplace and cabinets galore.

The small but elegant kitchen also features a real tile backsplash, and there’s enough room on the side of the cooktop to place prepped items. The center island is where you’ll do most of your slicing and dicing anyway, as it offers plenty of working room along with a huge single-bowl sink, a residential faucet with a pullout sprayer, and dual sink covers hiding an interesting feature: plastic food-grade cutting boards on the opposite side. With proper chef knives, hard sink covers can damage a knife’s cutting edge, so this is a feature we’d like to see more often.

The lack of a traditional oven means the kitchen has tons of storage space. One small and two large drawers with full-extension ball-bearing drawer glides live directly underneath the cooktop, and a cabinet below the counter offers two larger drawers, one of which features a peg-and-hole arrangement inside that secures small items during travel. It’s a thoughtful touch, and the genuine wood drawers inside seem very well made, as do the cabinets in general. We also liked the spice rack on the same counter as the cooktop.

The island boasts a lot of storage as well. At either end on the kitchen side are large cabinet doors; the one nearest the living area offers dedicated trash-can storage (another plus), and the other houses three more of those nice-quality pullout drawers on roller ball-bearing glides. The top-middle drawer is a tilt-out for items like sponges, scrub brushes and the like, and in the middle is a large, open storage cabinet.

Heartland-LandmarkSpecsOn the living area side, another cabinet at the rear has 120-volt AC-power outlets at each end. A large cabinet array at the front of the kitchen features a unique sliding pantry shelf inside and another one mounted inside the right cabinet door. The tank monitor, power control system, slideout, awning and light switches are within easy reach in an adjacent cabinet.

Up the stairs and to the left is the bathroom, which may be a little on the small side for some couples and families. The shower features a radius-glass sliding door and a nice-quality fiberglass enclosure with a residential-style showerhead, but the space will be tight for larger individuals. The shower also has a built-in ledge that is really better suited for placing your foot while bathing rather than sitting on, because the shower faucet handle would be at your back. The rest of the space is shared with a Dometic porcelain toilet, a single sink with a cabinet and open storage underneath, and a mirror with integrated vanity lights above. In lieu of a medicine cabinet, the large closet can hold towels and sundry items.

Like the rest of this fifth-wheel, the master bedroom is a well-conceived and usable space, incorporating a comfortable king-size bed in a slideout room large enough to accommodate it. That means there are small nightstands on either side with enough room to place a glass of water and a book, which is really all that is necessary. There are no overhead cabinets, but Heartland did include reading lights at the top of the slide, and the large window just behind the headboard admits plenty of light, as well as a welcome breeze in warm weather.

At the foot of the bed is a truly interesting feature: a two-way mirror with a 32-inch television behind it. When the TV is off, it just looks like a mirror in a frame; switch it on, and the picture shows through. Below the TV/mirror is a chest of drawers, and two more large, deep drawers deploy from the foot of the bed.

The forward closet makes it easy to organize personal items with a cedar-lined shelf for shoes and space for hanging clothes, plus another chest of drawers on the street side for more folded items. On the curb side is a large cabinet that is prepped for a stacked washer/dryer and can provide additional space, if needed.

The bath area may be a little on the small side for some but offers good storage and a nice quality radius shower with sliding glass doors and a residential showerhead.

The bath area may be a little on the small side for some but offers good storage and a nice quality radius shower with sliding glass doors and a residential showerhead.

The Heartland Landmark 365 offers an impressive, well-equipped fifth-wheel lineup in general, and the smaller Syracuse, in particular, fits an important niche in the fifth-wheel market. If you’ve been on the hunt for a more maneuverable luxury fifth-wheel that you can live comfortably in every day, this trailer is good news, indeed.


Heartland Recreational Vehicles | 877-262-8032 | www.heartlandrvs.com




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