Simply the Best: 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards
The votes are in: Here are the winners of MotorHome’s 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards
Playing favorites may be frowned upon for things like business transactions and parenting, but it’s the ideal practice when it comes to selecting a motorhome, a reliable RV tire or even an RV resort. We all know RVers are a tight-knit community, so the kind of word-of-mouth product/service endorsements that are discussed with fellow owners are a fabulous tool for enhancing the overall motorhome experience. RVers know what we want, and we know how it needs to work to benefit our travels, on the road and in camp. In short, RVers love playing favorites.
That’s why MotorHome’s annual Readers’ Choice awards are so well-received year after year. As always, we’ve polled our readers and directly report the results here, which means the companies listed on the following pages are the best of the best in your eyes. From the top Class A motorhomes all the way to the best dinghy tow bar, these awards are a direct result of you sitting around the digital campfire and sharing your first-hand accounts about what your favorites really are. Turns out playing favorites can be a very good thing.
Class A Motorhome
Gold: Tiffin Motorhomes
Tiffin’s Class A motorhomes are often heralded for their craftsmanship and attention to detail. But the Red Bay, Alabama-based company also offers a family-like atmosphere, dating back to the first motorhome built in 1972. Today, members of the Tiffin family remain working on-site, with the Allegro Breeze, Allegro Red, Allegro Bus, Phaeton and Zephyr joining the original Allegro as part of the lineup.
Class B Motorhome
Gold: Leisure Travel Vans
Based in Winkler, Manitoba, Canada, Leisure Travel Vans has been manufacturing motorhomes for more than 45 years. Leisure’s Class B motorhomes, like the Unity shown, are built using in-house steel fabrication and hand-crafted fiberglass molds as part of what the company calls vertical integration, meaning it has complete control over every step of the construction process. Leisure also makes the Serenity and the Wonder motorhomes.
Class C Motorhome
Gold: Winnebago Industries
Winnebago’s Class C lineup begins with the Minnie Winnie/Spirit built on a Ford E-350 and E-450 chassis and known for their versatile livability. The Aspect/Cambria are built on the E-450 chassis and offer many of the amenities and features of a Class A motorhome. The Trend/Fuse offers good fuel economy and handling. The View/Navion is built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis and integrates a strong body design and state-of-the-art electronics.
Dinghy Auxiliary Braking System
Gold: SMI Manufacturing
An auxiliary dinghy-braking device will dramatically improve the stopping distance of a motorhome and dinghy combo. SMI offers a trio of systems to help slow your combo’s roll. The Air Force One is designed for diesel motorhomes with air brakes; the Stay-IN-Play Duo for hydraulic brakes; and the Delta Force is the company’s portable braking system. This wide range of functionality no doubt led to SMI taking home the gold.
Gold: Jeep Wrangler
For 75 years, the Jeep Wrangler has been a favorite of off-pavement adventurers and commuters alike. The 2016 Wrangler continues that trend with 11 trim levels featuring a 3.6-liter V-6 and manual transmission standard; the Wrangler is also flat-towable with the available automatic transmission. The Wrangler’s legendary 4WD capabilities will have you mudding and rock crawling like a pro, while the interior appointments and HD suspension (available on select models) will make trips from the campground to local attractions more refined than ever.
Gold: Lucas Oil Products
Widely available at auto-parts stores and home centers across the country, Lucas Oil products are designed to improve the performance of your motorhome or dinghy vehicle. In addition to fuel additives — which include conditioners, octane boosters and stabilizers — Lucas offers motor oils, cleaners, greases and even products designed specifically for hunting and fishing gear maintenance.
Gold: Pilot Flying J
With more than 650 locations across the country, Pilot Flying J centers are likely a familiar sight to most RVers. Many of the centers offer RV-friendly amenities, including designated fueling lanes, overnight parking, LP-gas and dump stations. Add to that a variety of big-name dining options and exceptionally clean restrooms, and it’s easy to see why Pilot Flying J takes home the gold for 2016.
Thetford’s industry-leading Aqua-Kem and Eco-Smart brands come in a variety of sizes, scents and delivery methods (liquid, granular and toss-ins) to fill most every motorhome owner’s need. The chemicals have been formulated to work around the clock and in all weather conditions, and provide powerful odor control and the ability to liquefy waste fast, all while being 100 percent biodegradable.
Gold: Carefree of Colorado
Carefree of Colorado has been increasing outdoor comfort since RV enthusiast Gene Upton introduced the first truly automatic roll-up awning for RVs some 45 years ago. And from day one, Carefree’s focus has been on the design, development and innovation of RV awnings and related accessories. The company claims its notable achievements also include the first motion-based wind sensor, the first slideout awnings and the first open-frame lateral-arm awnings. Carefree has had millions of awnings installed worldwide, and enjoys a rich tradition of quality, value, performance and style.
Gold: Freightliner Custom Chassis
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. combines advanced technology and engineering with premium components and exceptional workmanship to deliver some of the more popular motorhome chassis on the road today. Offerings include pairings with Allison transmissions; air suspensions, shocks and equalizer beams; a 60-degree wheel cut; and 9-inch frame construction.
Gold: 5 Star Tuning
5 Star Tuning is a family-run business in Florence, South Carolina, that specializes in custom tuning for motorhome and towable applications. With a 5 Star tuner, users can unlock their vehicle’s hidden potential with additional torque, increased horsepower, improved efficiency and improved shifting, according to the company — all of which makes for a pleasant motorhome experience, even while driving through mountainous terrain.
Gold: Interstate Batteries
You likely never even notice the batteries in your motorhome until they stop working and you’re left in the dark without some of your favorite RV amenities. It’s important to select the right model that works for your application. Interstate offers 6-volt deep cycle (house batteries) and 12-volt starting/house batteries, all designed specifically for RVs. Interstate also offers a sealed AGM dual-purpose battery that won’t leak and can be mounted in almost any position.
(866) 842-5368 | www.interstatebatteries.com
Gold: Pala Casino RV Resort
Pala’s new 10-acre resort in Southern California offers 100 full-hookup sites with grass lawns and picnic tables. RV-park visitors can keep busy by swimming in the heated pool or soaking in one of the two spas, or they can take advantage of the five barbecue grill areas, table tennis, horseshoe pit or fenced dog park. There’s also a billiard table, card tables, three flat-screen TVs and a laundromat on-site. And the fact that the park is just a few steps away from the gold-winning Pala Casino makes winning that much sweeter.
RV Casino Resort
Gold: Pala Casino Spa Resort
After relaxing at the gold-medal winning Pala Casino RV Resort, try your luck at one of Pala Casino’s 2,000 state-of-the-art slot and video machines, 87 game tables and 13-table poker room that hosts live play and tournaments. Dining options include a buffet, a world-class steakhouse, a traditional Asian restaurant and multiple cafés, or visitors can partake of the unique CAVE dining experience, with a Mediterranean-style menu and a tour through an underground wine cave. The casino is said to offer more live entertainment than any other in California.
RV Cleaning Product
A motorhome is a major investment, so it’s important to keep it clean and looking good. Meguiar’s offers cleaners for components ranging from tires and wheels to upholstery to the exterior. The Boat/RV Rinse Free Wash & Wax is a great way to restore a coach’s shine in campgrounds that don’t allow conventional washing; just spray it on and wipe clean for a high-gloss finish.
For more than 60 years ADCO has remained the dominant supplier of protective products in the RV industry. ADCO is a fourth-generation family-owned business that prides itself on delivering high-quality protective-cover options to RVers. ADCO’s Designer Series Tyvek Plus Wind RV covers utilize a unique and patent-pending Slip-Seam Strapping System, which cinches tightly for a snug fit while minimizing wind impact.
(800) 541-ADCO | www.adcoprod.com
RV Engine Oil
Gold: Mobil 1
Mobil 1 motor oils have been engineered to deliver top-notch performance and engine protection under all driving conditions. Mobil 1 Advanced Synthetic Oil is designed to remain heat-resistant at high operating temperatures, help prevent deposits and sludge build-up, aid in fuel economy and promote quick cold-weather starting to reduce overall stress on the starting components.
Gold: Cummins Onan
If your motorhome came standard with an AC-generator, chances are it’s a Cummins Onan. And, with more than 50 years powering up RVs, it’s no wonder the manufacturer has repeated as the gold-winning manufacturer. With more than 10 generators available for RV-applications, Cummins Onan can meet your power needs for off-the-grid adventures.
Norcold refrigerators are designed to handle the demands and rigors of the road. Manufactured in a variety of sizes, these models are made specifically for the RV lifestyle, and feature covered crispers with pop-up lids, full-width food and freezer compartments and full-width shelves.
800-544-4881 | www.dometic.com
Gold: Camping World
With 120 Supercenters nationwide, Camping World is the one-stop destination for all things RV, from motorhomes to campsite gear, and for RV repair and maintenance services. Plus, you can visit any one of the stores or log on to the website to gain access to thousands of RV-related deals, not to mention to explore the many RV services that joining the Good Sam Club will provide.
(888) 626-7576 | www.campingworld.com
Ensuring your motorhome’s tires are in good working order is one of the most important maintenance tasks, as they are called upon to absorb all the pits, dips and grooves that the highway has to offer. Michelin XRV tires feature multiple siping for a dependable grip and to promote long, even wear. The wide grooves help with efficient drainage while driving in wet conditions, while the XRV’s stable tread and cool running compound help improve handling and increase longevity.
866-866-6605 | www.michelin.com
Thetford’s Aqua-Magic lineup features a bowl to fill most every motorhome-toilet replacement need. In addition to quality and reliability, Thetford thrones are known for comfort and style. Available in high and low profiles, all Thetford toilets have a powerful flush that yields full-bowl coverage, according to the company.
800-543-1219 | www.thetford.com
(800) 544-4881 | www.dometic.com
Since its incorporation in 1954, Winegard has designed more than 1,000 antenna models and has been granted more than 80 U.S. patents. Built with the same certified reflector used in residential homes, the Trav’ler antenna (shown) provides increased signal strength and reliability, making it a great choice for RVing families who use multiple TVs. According to Winegard, the Trav’ler is the only automatic antenna to work with the DISH Hopper, is the only way to get DirecTV HD with an automatic satellite mobile TV antenna, and is the top HD and multi-TV viewing solution for Canadian RVers.
Watching TV while in an RV may be frowned upon by camping purists, but it’s a luxury that has become a necessity in most motorhomes. What better way to wind down after a long day of sightseeing than to catch the local news or a favorite flick? DirecTV makes it easy with a variety of packages, allowing RVers to receive many of the same channels they do in their residential setups, including multiple-TV viewing, HD channels and DVR services.
Gold: Cracker Barrel
The first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store opened its doors in 1969, and has been serving delicious dishes from handed-down recipes ever since. Cracker Barrel offers down-home vittles ranging from meatloaf to burgers to taters and gravy. And after filling up their personal tanks, visitors can top off their meals with a visit to the gift shop for a wide selection of Americana.
State in Which to RV
The United States is filled with world-class destinations, so selecting a favorite may be a difficult decision. Or not, as Florida remains the top destination as voted on by our readers, combining a number of unique ecosystems with world-famous theme parks and sultry tropical weather. Plus, spending the day on a white-sand beach listening to the waves lap against the shore is tough to beat in terms of relaxation.
Tire-Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS)
Minder Research prides itself on outstanding customer service and constant innovation. The company’s TireMinder TPMS, which has won Gold here for the last five years, was the first RV TPMS to offer replaceable sensor batteries, and Minder the only TPMS manufacturer to provide customers with a free battery replacement program, according to the company. The 2016 year saw the introduction of the TireMinder Smart TPMS, which allows users to monitor the tires from a smartphone or tablet.
Gold: Blue Ox
Blue Ox is once again the gold-winning choice for dinghy-towing hardware and accessories. The Avail tow bar is 2 inches longer than standard tow bars, which helps provide a smoother tow over rough roads, can accommodate wide or narrow towed vehicles, allows for safe maneuvers around objects like fuel-station pumps, and keeps the dinghy vehicle safely away from the motorhome in tight turns, according to the company. Blue Ox designed the Avail’s low-profile, non-binding latch to release easily under any conditions, including on uneven terrain.
Gold: Demco Kar Kaddy
A tow dolly is a valuable accessory for owners of dinghy vehicles that aren’t approved for four-down towing, and also for those who don’t wish to attach the requisite mounting hardware to the motorhome or dinghy. Demco’s Kar Kaddy remains the gold standard for MotorHome readers for 2016. The Kar Kaddy is available in two models, both of which feature a 4,700-pound weight rating. The Kar Kaddy SS features a galvanized finish, while the Kar Kaddy 3, has a black powdercoat finish; both are outfitted with an EZ-Latch coupler and disc brakes.