Jayco Redhawk 31XL: Bunk It Up, Pack ’Em In
An affordable Class C that’s long on standard amenities and sleeping positions
The RV industry is rife with buzzwords and phrases, from “affordable luxury” to “bang for your buck” on up to “family-friendly.” Most dealers jump at the chance to utter even one of those catchphrases at a potential buyer, so one can only imagine the euphoria salespeople must feel when a motorhome like the Jayco Redhawk 31XL comes along.
The Redhawk essentially combines all of the above into a smooth-driving, nicely appointed Class C package. Jayco has recognized the need for an affordable coach that includes many of the amenities of more expensive models without sacrificing too much. And, the company has done so in a style that befits families with children of all ages.
At first glance, the exterior of the Redhawk doesn’t necessarily stand out from the crowd, but a little more scrutiny reveals some pleasant surprises. The front fiberglass cap, part of the “mandatory” Customer Value Package option ($4,691) and the radius-cornered entrance door are fine touches, plus the standard frameless windows add a touch of elegance. The seamless one-piece rubber roof will no doubt help with leak protection in the long run.
The Redhawk is built on the Ford E-450 chassis, and the Triton 6.8-liter V-10 gas engine is rated at 305 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The five-speed TorqShift Series transmission tackles the terrain with aplomb, while the Hellwig helper springs and rubber isolation body mounts help make for an enjoyable, shudder-free ride.
But the Redhawk’s place in the spotlight lies inside the coach, which has been outfitted with a nice amount of walk-around space and up to eight sleeping positions.
Stepping up into the entry, the Redhawk’s interior appears more upscale than its price point would indicate. The Ultraleather sofa and dinette, decorative slideout fascia boards and glazed cabinetry with brushed-nickel hardware would be right at home in a more expensive motorhome. The vinyl flooring is surprisingly tile-like; I had to run my hands over it to be sure. The cabinets are plentiful and the drawers all feature ball-bearing guides, which is always appreciated. One simple feature I especially liked is the cabinet containing the monitor panels: Corkboard has been inset in the door, as have three key hooks, which made for a very handy spot to hold keys, wallets, etc., in addition to a message center and/or picture holder.
The living area consists of a two-person, belted J-steel sofa bed and a compact four-person dinette (also belted). Both the sofa and part of the galley are housed in a 98-inch streetside slide.
Interior entertainment is provided by a 32-inch LED TV, which is offered as part of that Customer Value Package. However, the location of the TV — combined with a less-than-desirable swing mount — made for some interesting TV-yoga to view from the inside position on the dinette. First order of business would be a larger (longer) swing-arm mount that allowed for some swivel as well.
The cabover sleeping area was comfy enough and rated for 750 pounds, which is way more capacity than an area so tricky to access without a ladder needs. This area has teenager/young adult written all over it — provided said youth is OK with the lack of a curtain, and therefore privacy, afforded by the perch.
The galley features the standard three-burner range, oven and microwave, but food-prep space is near non-existent. With sleeping accommodations for so many people, I expected more usable space but, luckily, our simple RV menu is usually heavy on outdoor grilling anyway. With the lack of counter space in this floorplan, expect yours to be, too. I’m also not a fan of the plastic sink and faucet in the galley, but they do work as advertised.
The 8-cubic-foot double-door refrigerator/freezer is just the right size for extended weekend stays, and should have no trouble handling groceries for large families. Non-perishables can be stored in a handy pantry located just past the kitchen in the hall area.
Also located in the hall area is the bunk house, which brings the motorhome up a serious notch in terms of livability. Each 72-inch-long bunk features a light for reading, and integrated curtains mean the little ones will have the privacy that the cabover sleepers lack. Plus, the location of the pantry makes midnight snacks a breeze! The whole area can be cordoned off from the living area up front and the master in the rear via accordion-type doors.
The streetside bathroom is just spacious enough to get things done. The foot-flush toilet is positioned at an angle for additional space, and though there is no medicine cabinet, an open-shelf arrangement behind the potty is a good place for toiletries. The shower curtain is vinyl with a rigid-type frame, which helps keep it away from soapy skin.
The master bedroom is dominated by a wonderfully roomy wardrobe/drawer piece, which can easily hold all the vacation clothes with room to spare. The unit is part of the massive 138-inch curbside slideout, which begins at the bunk area and ends near the rear of the motorhome. The upper cabinet is wired for a TV should you need more viewing options, though its height means you would need to purchase a quality, wide-viewing-angle TV.
The queen bed was rather comfy, enough so that I can easily imagine sleeping in it for more than a few nights without any side effects. At each side of the bed, Jayco has put a night “surface” (I refuse to call them nightstands due to their abbreviated size) that becomes incredibly useful as an electronics charging station, with an outlet immediately beneath each one.
Overall, it’s clear that Jayco has drawn heavily on its near half-century of experience in anticipating which appointments buyers at this price point want and incorporated them as standard (the included Onan 4,000-watt genset is a prime example). Rounding out that “mandatory option” (another industry buzzword) Customer Value Package are a 400-watt power inverter, back-up camera and monitor, power awning, black-tank flush and holding-tank heating pads.
It’s true that some concessions must be made to fit it all in (I’m looking at the sinks, fixtures and the countertops, specifically), but a large family should rarely be found wanting when spending time in the Redhawk 31XL.
Our thanks to Crestview RV (512-282-3516, www.crestviewrv.com) in Buda, Texas, for its help with this review.
|Kristopher Bunker, the fomer editor of Trailer Life magazine, has been RVing for more than a decade and is currently a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad.|