We’re always on the lookout for the hottest new RVs. The “Trending Toward 2011” feature in the January issue highlighted many of the most popular new design and manufacturing elements we had seen for the 2011 year to date. As our search for the best of 2011 continues, we’ve uncovered even more RV models that are sure to have potential buyers ready to pounce.
Borrowing ideas from European RV manufacturers and North American boat builders who specialize in small spaces in economical ways is nothing new for some U.S. towable RV manufacturers.
But that trend came into focus even more sharply during the early-winter National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, in one of the show’s more popular exhibits: the diminutive 2011 Element travel trailer from 3-year-old EverGreen Recreational Vehicles. The 24-foot, eye-catching Element also emphasizes a “green” component with the use of lightweight composite materials throughout.
“The Element’s styling is obviously a dramatic shift from what you see in a conventional RV,” said Dan Rodabaugh, EverGreen’s director of engineering, whose background is in boat building and architecture.
The general aesthetic trend evidenced by the Element and other new travel trailers and fifth-wheels for 2011 is to make exteriors more aerodynamic and the RVs themselves more lightweight for easier towing.
Interior-wise, there is also a push to “soften” décors by doing away with 90-degree angles in favor of radius walls and countertops.
“From a design standpoint, that is very difficult to do,” Rodabaugh said.
Difficult or not, many manufacturers have moved the focus away from traditional exterior design elements. “It’s not a rectangle like you’re used to seeing,” said Matt Buckman, national sales manager for Gulf Stream’s Kingsport division. “The lines are much cleaner.”
That’s not to say that RV manufacturers have abandoned building conventional RVs, tens of thousands of which ply American highways.
It’s just that the RV industry — much like the automotive industry — is constantly evolving.
It took Airstream more than a year and a half to develop the new outdoor-themed Airstream Eddie Bauer travel trailer. This 25-footer, with an msrp of $73,700, is equipped with a rear hatch to load kayaks, canoes, bikes and other sports gear. “We tried to include materials that were outdoor friendly, that are a little easier to clean up, a little more durable,” said Damien Huang, Eddie Bauer senior vice president of outwear gear/active lifestyle. Co-branded apparel and products will be launched in the spring, he said. The Eddie Bauer Airstream has oversized Michelin tires and is built with greater ground clearance than Airstream’s traditional “silver bullet” travel trailers.
Airstream, (877) 596-6111, www.airstream.com
Bridgeview Manufacturing, a predominately recreational park trailer manufacturer in Elkhart, Indiana, has introduced an extensive lineup of Harbor View travel trailers that are equipped for people with disabilities. The company expects the trailers to be popular with families that have children with physical challenges. The steel-reinforced wood-and-aluminum Harbor View mobility trailers are available in nine 26- to 36-foot floorplans, each with wheelchair lifts, 36-inch hallways and large bathrooms with showers. msrp: $40,000.
Bridgeview Manufacturing, (877) 775-4591, www.bridgeview.com
CrossRoads RV clearly had the aging Baby Boomer in mind when it created the new Rushmore fifth-wheel series with easier access to features such as pass-through storage and an under-awning tool and utility panel. The high-profile Rushmore is available in five 34- to 38-foot floorplans with up to four slideouts, three of which have a rollaway island kitchen. Standard features include high-gloss fiberglass side walls, Corian countertops, slam-latch luggage doors, leather sofas and recliners, surround-sound home-theater systems, under-bed storage with gas struts, extra-large linen closets and 40-inch HDTVs in the living room. Base msrp: $45,000.
CrossRoads RV, (888) 226-7496, www.crossroadsrv.com
Dutchmen has re-emerged into the toy-hauler market for 2011 with the Rubicon wood-and-aluminum travel-trailer series. The 8-foot 6-inch-wide Rubicon is available in five 19- to 31-foot floorplans. Equipped for off-road play and dry camping, the wide-body Rubicon features 86 gallons of freshwater in enclosed tanks, an onboard 30-gallon fuel station, a dove-tail cargo floor and a bottom-hinged ramp door. Interior amenities include maple shaker-style cabinets, custom furniture, halogen lighting and large windows. Base msrp: $16,000.
Dutchmen Manufacturing, (574) 537-0600, www.dutchmen.com
Using a new manufacturing technique, EverGreen Recreational Vehicles has introduced the highly distinctive Element travel trailer, available in four 24-foot floorplans. Totally wood-free, the Element is constructed with aluminum-and-composite side-wall panels that are fused to a color-tinted one-piece exoskeleton on the outer perimeter made of fiberglass reinforced polyester (FRP). On the inside, marine influences are apparent. With a dry weight of about 3,300 pounds, the Element can be towed by minivans and midsize SURVs. msrp: $38,995.
Evergreen RV, (574) 825-4298, www.goevergreen.com
FTCA/Coleman Folding Trailers has introduced the Evolution SV3 on-road version of its mid-priced Evolution off-road folding camping trailer. In the process, the Evolution SV3 has become Coleman’s least expensive unit with an inside shower and toilet. The 12-foot Evolution SV3, with a base msrp of $11,200, is one of four floorplans in the series. “It’s more of a street version,” said Alan Reeping, vice president of sales for the manufacturer. “It doesn’t have the beefy suspension, and it’s lower to the ground, so it’s better with conventional and crossover tow vehicles.”
FTCA, (814) 445-9661, www.colemantrailers.com
Gulf Stream’s Kingsport towable division has introduced the SKY wide-body travel trailer in six 24- to 34-foot floorplans. The laminated-fiberglass SKY, almost 8 feet 4 inches wide with 7-foot 6-inch interior ceilings, is designed with a radius profile and equipped with solar-glazed windows, pass-through heated exterior storage with slam-latch baggage doors, solid-wood cabinet frames, crown molding, ducted air conditioning, scissor jacks, dual scare lights and aluminum wheels. The more affordable wood-and-aluminum SKY XT is available in the same floorplans, but with fewer amenities. SKY base msrp: $22,650; SKY XT base msrp: $19,100.
Gulf Stream, (800) 289-8787, www.gulfstreamrv.com
Livin’ Lite has introduced the Camplite hard-side all-aluminum truck camper. Model 8.5 Camplite features all aluminum construction, from the framing to the skin to the roof. Highlights inside include a queen bed and optional removable dinette for alfresco dining options. A wet bath, refrigerator and electric water heater are all standard, while an LP-gas package is offered as an option. msrp for the 8.5 Camplite starts at $14,559.
Livin’ Lite RV, (574) 862-2228, www.livinlite.com
MVP RV has debuted an all-new Destiny luxury fifth-wheel series. “Destiny was developed with a clear direction — affordable luxury,” said Kevin Coleman, Destiny national sales and product manager. Destiny comes standard with solid hardwood upper and lower cabinets and stiles, fluorescent lights throughout, king beds with pillow-top mattresses oversized front wardrobe, solar reflective windows, slam-latch baggage doors and high-gloss gelcoat fiberglass exterior with more than 200 square feet of storage. Destiny is available in 35- and 36-foot floorplans, both with double-entry side-aisle baths. Base msrp: $49,952.
MVP RV, (951) 848-4288, www.mvprv.com
Two-year-old Prime Time Manufacturing introduced the 2011 Crusader, its first fifth-wheel. “For a little fifth-wheel, there is a lot of storage and a very residential feel,” said Jeff Rank, Prime Time president and co-founder. Available in six 29- to 36-foot floorplans, the 34-foot 298BHD floorplan features a fully equipped exterior kitchen with a stone facade. The Crusader features an aerodynamic front cap that affords an 88-degree turning radius, which is said to allow towing by shortbed pickups without the need for a slider hitch. Standard features include solid-surface countertops, large pantries, cherry-glazed cabinets, crown molding and wardrobe slideouts. msrps range from $27,000 to $45,000.
Prime Time Manufacturing, (574) 862-3001, www.primetimerv.com
Riverside RV has rolled out the retro-styled Whitewater 130 for 2011. With design cues evocative of the diminutive trailers of years ago, the compact 14-foot 6-inch trailer is easy to handle at a lightweight 1,640 pounds dry. A powdercoated frame, 91⁄2-gallon freshwater tank, convertible bed and two-burner stove are some of the highlights, but perhaps the biggest news is the trailer is said to be garageable in a standard garage thanks to its drop-floor construction. msrp begins at $14,774.
Riverside RV, (260) 499-4578, www.riversidervs.net
Yellowstone RV, launched this past October as a stand-alone spinoff from Gulf Stream, is offering the new RidgeLine full-profile fifth-wheel. The fiberglass-and-aluminum Ridgeline is available in five 37- to 40-foot floorplans, with up to five slideouts, and is equipped with a fiberglass front cap, side-swinging slam-lock baggage doors, hardwood cabinets stiles with raised-panel cabinet doors, full-extension drawer guides, cedar-lined closets, hardwood crown molding, china toilets, dual leather-touch chairs and a J-sofa. Base msrp: $51,000.
Gulf Stream, (800) 289-8787, www.gulfstreamrv.com