A raised-floor rear kitchen and copious storage space drive Grand Design’s Solitude 390RK into residential territory
Fifth-wheel trailers that span more than 40 feet are known for their exceptional livability. Making them as comfortable as possible for long-term living has become an art form among RV designers, and to get there, floorplan creativity has propelled many models into new frontiers. Grand Design, now under the auspices of Winnebago Industries, has made a name for itself in a relatively short amount of time, and arguably has developed a cult-like brand similar to the reputation Alpenlite experienced in its heyday. Keeping the popularity of the Solitude on an upward spiral, Grand Design has introduced the 390RK in its top-drawer line, and it has “residential” written all over it. Beyond copious room to move about inside, even owners who pack storage compartments heavily will likely have a hard time filling the cavernous space afforded by the floorplan.
The interior is segmented into four distinct areas with the focal point being the rear kitchen that’s elevated to accommodate the extensive storage facilities below the floor. While rear kitchens are not new, a dining-table bar and belly-up-style chairs work in harmony with the elevated floor to create an apartment-size galley area that provides wide-open spaciousness and enough room for the chef to spread out, even while preparing complicated meals.
Walking up the three steps to the kitchen, occupants will pass by a large window that allows a lot of light to penetrate the area. No doubt, the kitchen will become a hangout area for residents and guests who like to putter, especially since the kitchen bar is so inviting and the area is augmented by a beautiful center-mounted island counter. This counter is perfect for serving appetizers and meals, and gathering in the kitchen will be reminiscent of how it’s done in stationary homes.
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The chairs at the kitchen bar are comfortable, and the counter is just right for eating meals, working on the computer (cables are easy to route) or watching the TV that’s mounted on the front wall in the living room. It’s easy to entertain a fairly large crowd in this fifth-wheel, but seating for dining is limited to the kitchen bar, which means two people get the space and others can eat on their laps or use the swivel trays on the theater seats (which are not very solid), or pull out owner-supplied TV trays for positioning in front of the couches in the living room. Frankly, the lack of a space-consuming dinette or freestanding table and chairs is a good compromise for those looking for a wide-open environment and who like socializing.
Keeping the galley fully stocked will be an easy task. At the top of the platform is a huge pantry segmented into two areas: the top for storing larger items and four natural wood drawers in the bottom. A generous assortment of cabinets and drawers grace the three kitchen walls and center island, putting almost everything kitchen dwellers need at close reach.
A stylish Furrion three-burner cooktop is built into the counter between the pantry and rear wall; a stainless-steel-clad oven is flush-mounted below. The rear wall houses a four-door, 18-cubic-foot RV refrigerator, which is a sizable optional investment ($3,100) for those who would rather not have a residential model. Although there are benefits attached to the RV refrigerator, those who frequent full-hookup sites will likely go for the residential model.
Rear-kitchen layout, massive exterior rear storage, reclaimed-teak block wall with fireplace, big wardrobe closet
What We’d Like to See
TV upgrades, bigger porcelain toilet,
nicer bathroom appointments and counter, higher gvwr
The kitchen is designed for convenience. Every move leads to the appliances, counters, seating, cabinets, drawers and shelves. In the very rear, the stainless-steel sink with high-rise faucet is configured for washing larger dishes and pots. Turn to the left side of the fifth-wheel, and another large counter sits below the optional microwave/convection oven.
Together, the elements exude a higher-end environment comparable to that in a modern residential kitchen. Add in the large window with a view of the patio area, and a tremendous amount of light paints the kitchen with bright hues, supplemented by strategically placed LED fixtures.
The kitchen is clearly a home run for this plan, but the livability does not stop there. Standing on the raised platform (or sitting at the kitchen bar), residents have a commanding view of the living area and will be attracted by the area’s visual warmth created by the theater seating and opposing couches, and the reclaimed-teak block wall that surrounds the big TV, cubbyhole shelving for audiovisual components and a swank-looking horizontal fireplace. It’s easy to accommodate six adults on the plush furniture, but those sitting on the electrically operated theater seats will have the best view of the TV; others will experience neck craning, but unless they are invited to spend the night on the trifold sofas, watching the tube by more than the two likely occupants who take up residence in this fifth-wheel should not be an issue.
While the high ceiling and large windows provide the necessary accents to offset the predominant brown and beige upholstery, walls, floors and window treatment, the living area is still begging for personalized decor items to add color and shapes to embellish the homelike look.
Upon entry, just about midway on the 41-foot, 5-inch body, and accomplished via a lift-assisted, four-step apparatus that folds into the doorway, another three steps immediately to the right lead to the bathroom and bedroom. While the front portion is more conventional in design, the features continue the theme of exceptional livability. A large window in the right-side hallway provides excellent lighting, offsetting any tendency to make limited space here seem closed in, and directing light into the bathroom when the sliding door is open.
The bathroom is large and well appointed but a little understated for the level of fifth-wheel. There are two sinks in a nice-size counter, a large mirror and plenty of places to stash toiletries, but the counter material and fixtures seem out of place in a fifth-wheel that will retail for six figures. Grand Design should look into upgrading this area, along with adding a larger porcelain toilet.
The roomy rectangular shower is fitted with a shelf and places for essentials, and has decent fixtures. Step out of the shower and turn to the right, and two doors lead to a large linen closet where towels and other bathroom items can be easily stored and reached. Lighting in the bathroom is bright and augmented by a skylight.
All the elements for extended stays or full-time living are provided in the front bedroom. An optional king bed resides in the slideout room and is flanked by shelves that can be used to store typical nighttime items. Windows above the headboard and on the sides enhance ambient lighting, and combined with the spaciousness of the room, create an atmosphere of privacy and function.
A large compartmentalized storage area is revealed when the bed platform is raised, and an ottoman can be pulled out at the end of the bed, which can be used to rest one’s feet or sit on closer to the floor. A six-drawer dresser is centered on the opposing wall from the foot of the bed, and it provides a roomy place to store clothing and other essentials. The dresser counter is very useful as a catchall or for placement of pictures, etc.
Above the counter is a TV mounted on a bracket and in perfect eyeshot for those lying in bed. While component placement in the bedroom is ideal, the TV could use some upgrading. Like the one in the living room, it’s one of those discount-store brands, which works but is a model that folks buying a fifth-wheel of this caliber will find unimpressive.
Up front, the wall-to-wall space is devoted to a huge wardrobe and closet ensemble. There was no washer or dryer in the test fifth-wheel, but it’s optionally available and can be planted in the right-side closet using preinstalled plumbing and power. Most people looking for this size fifth-wheel will likely opt for the laundry facilities, but for those who don’t, the space will swallow up a lot of bedding and other gear. The lighted wardrobe portion, accessed by mirrored sliding doors, has enough room for a substantial collection of clothing and shoes.
Standards and Options
Designing a fifth-wheel that has a residential feel takes some planning and the implementation of targeted features. Grand Design makes it work with the use of a number of mandatory packages. It would be silly to consider these packages optional, although two of the four require upcharges to the sticker price.
The Residential Living package ($10,723) lives up to its name, providing a long list of items that enhance the experience. Included are roller shades, dual air conditioners, central vacuum, keyed-alike locks, nicer furniture, entertainment equipment, the aforementioned steps and just about everything anyone would want to make this fifth-wheel more comfortable and functional. Add the Weather-Tek package, which is included in the base price, and the trailer becomes suitable for all-season use. Dual-pane windows are not part of the package but should be opted for to mitigate extreme weather, be it hot or cold.
Then there’s the Peace of Mind package ($4,181), which is a collection of appliance-related items, suspension components and embellishments to the furniture and slideout controls. The last package, the Max Built Construction offering, is included in the base price, and its componentry plays to structural integrity and exterior finish. Included in the package are 7,000-pound-rated axles, 16-inch aluminum wheels, high-gloss gel-coat side walls with a painted front cap, aluminum cage, slam-latch baggage-door latches and 50-amp power. G-rated tires will add $881 to the price tag, but they are a good investment. Full-body paint is also available as an option.
While the Solitude 390RK has a lot going for it, the massive storage capabilities definitely take center stage. The front exterior compartments are rather conventional in fifth-wheel land, featuring large pass-through storage and a locker in the front where the batteries are mounted. These areas alone will hold quite a bit of gear, and that’s how most fifth-wheel owners handle storage. A while back, Grand Design introduced its game-changing rear-storage configuration, and it’s been integrated into this new floorplan.
Open up the rear hatch, and an impressive lattice-type aluminum cage surrounds multiple locations for storing large items. A stout sliding tray allows stuff stored in the front section to be accessed from the outside. Owners will have no problem storing barbecues, firepits, patio chairs and mothers-in-law. A large rope-style net keeps items that are placed in the front section from sliding rearward.
Along the sides, accessed by two compartment doors on each side, are catwalk-style platforms that can handle tools and supplies; finding space for Costco-size food and beverages, for example, will be no problem. Since the rear-storage space is so overwhelming in size, and it will be tempting to fill up every nook and cranny, owners should have loaded-for-the-road weights in hand and be cognizant of the fifth-wheel’s gross-vehicle- and axle-weight limitations.
Although the test Solitude did not have full-body paint, the painted front cap and graphics present a clean, handsome image. There’s good access at the utility center for pulling the dump-valve handles that, thankfully, are in one place, and the single water-filter canister is easy to remove for changing the cartridge. Turning the knobs for water routing requires some study, and the city-water hookup is clearly distinguishable from the black-tank rinse inlet. Hung on the forward-front compartment door, on the driver’s side, are controls for the six-point hydraulic leveling system.
The feature and benefit list is quite extensive, and if you’re up for the sales pitch, plan on spending a lot of time learning about the residential qualities of this model. The segmented floorplan is not for everyone, but it does offer versatility and exceptional convenience for those dwellers who spend a lot of time inside.
2020 Grand Design Solitude 390RK
Exterior Length 41′ 5″
Exterior Width 8′ 5″
Exterior Height 13′ 5″
Interior Width 8′ 3⁄4″
Interior Height 8′ 6″/6′ 6″
Construction Aluminum cage, laminated walls, drop-frame chassis, TPO roof, heated underbelly and holding tanks
Freshwater Cap. 93 gal.
Black-Water Cap. 53 gal.
Gray-Water Cap. 106 gal.
LP-Gas Cap. 14 gal.
Water Heater Cap. 12 gal.
Refrigerator 18-cu.-ft. RV
Furnace 35,000 Btu
Air Conditioner (2) 15,000 Btu
Converter 55 amp
Battery Dealer installed
Tires ST235/80R16 LR G
Suspension Leaf, Equa-Flex equalizer
Weight (freshwater, water heater,
LP-gas full; no cargo) 15,456 lbs.
GVWR 16,800 lbs.
GAWR (2) 7,000 lbs.
Cargo Carrying Cap. 1,344 lbs.
MSRP, As Tested $105,322
Basic Warranty 1-year limited/base
An RV/MH Hall of Fame inductee and publisher emeritus of Trailer Life and MotorHome, Bob Livingston has written countless RV technical and lifestyle articles and books, and created and appeared on the weekly television show RVtoday. A lifelong RV enthusiast, Bob now travels and lives full time with his wife, Lynne, in their fifth-wheel trailer. He continues to be a regular contributor to Trailer Life.