This baker’s dozen of Class A motorhomes offer top-notch amenities without busting the budget
In the art of sales, few words are as open-ended as “affordable.” From vacuums to appliances on up to RVs, the A-word is thrown around with seemingly reckless abandon, and is often used as a sales tool that roughly translates to “bare-bones” or “entry-level.” As you know, those terms have traditionally meant that very few options, if any, are included, and the product will perform as advertised, but do little else. There is plenty to be said for a well-performing unit that only contains the essentials, but we’re always on the lookout for fun, exciting ways to spend our vacations, and “adequate” doesn’t seem to cut it.
As the RV market continues to evolve for the better, the word “affordable” has shed its previously duplicitous meaning to mean simply that it costs a bit less than comparable models. And as manufacturers discover that buyers are more likely to trade in their “affordable” models for a like-branded heavily outfitted model down the road, appointments heretofore found exclusively in big-bucks units are popping up in these “real-world” motorhomes. Things like solid-surface countertops, improved ride and handling, premium insulation and even upgraded exterior graphics are becoming the norm, and the true winners are the consumers.
Following is a true baker’s dozen of “affordable” models that, when compared to many others in their price range, quite simply take the cake when it comes to value.
The TREK is back, and better than ever: The 2016 26HM has a host of features that many high-dollar motorhome manufacturers would drool over. Chief among them are two innovative uses of space, the TREK-Trunk and the TREK-Room.
The TREK-Trunk is a huge multifunctional storage area accessible from the outside, which is the result of raising the master bed inside. The Trunk is ideal for large, bulky items such as patio furniture, grilling accessories, recreational equipment and fishing rods. The TREK-Trunk space is actually created in the master bedroom area, where the queen bed is lifted to the ceiling to reveal a spacious walk-in closet with a full wardrobe and two dressers. Once the Trunk is unloaded and the bed lowered, the master transforms into a comfortable retreat with plenty of walkaround bed space. Allied Recreation Group has adorned the TREK with numerous other appointments, from full-body paint to a soft-touch ceiling to solid-surface countertops to a handy pullout drawer in the base of the dinette.
The all-new Pursuit is built on a Ford chassis with a gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) of 18,000 pounds and features a fully redesigned front end for a sleeker, more stylish look than previous models.
Inside, you’ll find a surprising amount of appointments, including a power drop-down bunk for additional sleeping room, a soft-touch jackknife sofa and a 32-inch LCD TV. The galley features hardwood cabinet doors, ball-bearing drawer guides, a flush-mount double-door refrigerator, backsplash and a large double-bowl stainless-steel kitchen sink. The master bedroom offers another, optional, 32-inch TV, wainscoting and an integrated headboard.
Other highlights include optional 50-amp service, dual 13,500-Btu air conditioners and a 5.5-kW AC generator. The 2-inch-thick side walls and heated enclosed tanks will allow the owner of the Pursuit to travel in colder weather, while mega rear storage makes it easy to pack extra gear for the journey.
At less than 28 feet long, the Flair is just the right size for a relatively nimble, easy-to-drive motorhome that’s packed with amenities. Outside, unexpected highlights include dual electric leveling jacks, bus-style cargo doors that open to reveal a large amount of storage, roto-cast molded boxes and full-body paint.
Inside the Flair, owners are treated to an open living space that feels anything but “affordable.” Full vinyl flooring, flat-panel hardwood cabinet doors, LED lighting and premium furniture immediately catch the eye, while thoughtful inclusions like a central monitor panel, deluxe roller bearings on the drawers, a whole-coach filtration system and a bath door with a residential-type lock are not immediately realized but appreciated nonetheless.
The laminate countertops in the Flair’s galley feature residential-type bullnose edges, while the bedroom’s integrated headboard and sunken reading lights add a touch of home.
The Storm is also designed for easy operation, combining the maneuverability of a Class C with the amenities of a Class A. The cockpit alone offers a host of features usually reserved for higher priced motorhomes, including a sideview camera package, a rear-vision camera, halogen headlamps, power heated remote mirrors and plush Flexsteel driver/passenger reclining captain’s chair. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Storm is the Nesta Hide-A-Loft, a patent-pending bed-lift mechanism that converts a raised bed into a full walk-in closet with dual mirrored doors and dressers. (Check it out on the website, which offers a great graphic of the unit in action.) Residential-type features include a 30,000-Btu furnace with wall-mounted thermostat, a complete PEX plumbing system, hidden cabinet door and Euro hinges, raised-panel refrigerator doors and a dual-basin sink. Outside, full-body paint, an LED TV, power awning with LED lighting and tinted frameless windows put owners in a high-class state of mind.
Forest River has badged the FR3 as a “crossover,” meaning owners can realize the easy handling characteristics of a Class C in a coach that lives like a Class A.
This affordable motorhome features a push-button cabover power front bunk that hides against the ceiling over the cockpit when not in use. Continuing the “hidden theme,” there is a storage compartment in the nose cone overhead, which is a great place to store blankets and pillows. The FR3 is adorned with a gray gelcoat fiberglass exterior, a brown Ultraleather interior with tan baseball stitching and Trekk flooring throughout the unit. The FR3 comes standard with everything (you’ll see), with no available options.
Deep slideout rooms, residential king-size beds, a power front sun shade, Ultraleather deep-seating sofa with integrated footrest and sofa bed, plus flush-floor construction, a comfort lounge dinette booth, exterior entertainment center with LED TV, hydraulic leveling jacks and oh so much more are jammed into this 31-footer.
Forest River Inc.
If you’re looking for surprising features in a relatively affordable package, how about a Class A with a private bunk bed for the kids? Oh, and did we mention it’s near a full bathroom? OK, how about the fact there’s also another, separate full bathroom off the master? The new Forest River Georgetown 364 offers an industry-first floorplan with two bedrooms and two baths. Finally, the king and queen can avoid the grubby handprints and splattered mirrors so often associated with a kids’ bathroom. Imagine your own clean, folded towels and unmolested bars of soap.
As if that wasn’t enough, the 364 also features a durable fiberglass roof, frameless windows, an exterior LP-gas grill hookup, LED lighting, solid-surface counters with under-mount sink, whole-coach filtration and heated holding tanks. A 32-inch LED TV on a swing arm makes watching the cooking channels a breeze while preparing dinner, and the king bed in the master will no doubt look even more inviting after a nice, warm shower.
Forest River Inc.
According to Itasca, the Tribute 26A is all about multipurposing for maximum utility and floor space. The “A” in Class A here may stand for adaptability, as the Tribute features a multifunctional Flex Bed module with a sofa bed that flips up against the wall to provide wide-open floor space, or opt for a unique powered table that flips up to provide a large 22½-by-64-inch serving table or work space. A swivel lounge chair with a three-point seat belt is located so as to provide additional seating by the dinette for a convenient conversation area with those sitting in the front cab seats, which swivel toward the living area and has a removable pedestal table positioned in between. The forward-facing dinette also has seat belts and tether anchors to securely fasten child seats. A powered StudioLoft bed is available in the front cab area, while a rear corner queen bed is provided along with an additional StudioLoft bed available above it. The inside forward corner of the queen bed also flips rearward to provide additional floor space when needed.
Although comfort is always at a premium, Jayco offers on-the-road coddling at an affordable price. The Precept comes with the Jayco exclusive JRide handling package, resulting in what Jayco calls the best ride in the market. The JRide package includes Bilstein shocks, a stabilizer bar, Hellwig helper springs and rubber isolation body mounts.
Other wallet-friendly features include frameless windows; slideout cover awnings; electric patio awning with LED lights; backup and sideview cameras with monitor; automatic hydraulic leveling jacks; touch-screen, in-dash sound system with built-in GPS, CD/DVD, MP3 and input jack; and six-way power driver and passenger seats. The Precept is available with the standard graphics package or the optional Beachstone or Splendor premium paint packages.
The 29UR offers plenty of sleeping positions, with bunks amidships, a convertible U-shape dinette and overhead bunk option at the front of the motorhome.
Bay Star 3401
The first thing you’ll likely notice about the Bay Star is the beautiful full-paint exterior graphic treatment, matching mirrors and Diamondshield front cap, characteristics generally reserved for motorhomes at twice the price. The optional BriteTEK roof, one-piece windshield and coated aluminum wheels all up the wow factor. Inside, a gigantic streetside full-wall slide opens up the interior to reveal scores of living space. A plush 84-inch L-shape sofa offers a jackknife sleeping area and a great view of the large flat-screen TV. In fact, the entire collection of furniture has been restyled for 2015. Throughout the interior, elegant touches can be found, including upgraded laminate material for the countertops, chrome cabinet hardware, LED lighting in the vanity and side-wall area and upgraded appliances. The master features a king-size bed, a chest of drawers, dual shirt wardrobes and plenty of overhead storage, which will come in handy while stowing the exterior gear you were able to purchase thanks to the Newmar’s reasonable price.
A.C.E. 30.2 Bunkhouse
The A.C.E. (which stands for Class A and Class C Evolution) started with a simple concept of redefining the motorhome by creating a coach with the best features of a Class A and a Class C, at an affordable price. But it’s the A.C.E.’s features that have made this model a popular selection since its introduction. Standards like the HD-MAX exterior with graphics package and premium gelcoat side walls, automatic hydraulic leveling jacks, MEGA Storage compartment and frameless windows catch your eye on the outside, while the 84-inch ceiling height, leatherette jackknife sofa, Better Homes and Gardens RV fabric collection and laminate countertops are sure to please on the inside. The EZ-Clean entry steps with utility storage and mudroom compartment for dirty shoes is a great use of space, and the A.C.E. is pet-friendly, with vinyl flooring, Pet-Link multipurpose tie-downs and a pullout kibble station. The bunkhouse model has a 32-inch LED TV in the living area, with an option for dual 13-inch LED TVs with DVD player in the bunk area.
Thor Motor Coach
Besides budget-friendly sticker prices, highly livable floorplans are what get people excited, and the Thor Hurricane fits the bill. With large living-area slides and uncluttered floorplans, the wide-open spaces in the Hurricanes’ interiors are bound to impress. The dual-slide 31S shown here has a streetside slide housing a Dream dinette with a 42-by-70-inch sleeping area, in addition to a sofa bed with air mattress that measures 60-by-80 inches. There’s also an overhead drop-down bunk for more sleeping options, and the amidships split bathroom keeps occupants from bumping into one another during grooming duties/bathroom breaks. In the cockpit, there’s a dash workstation, and LED ceiling lights keep things lit up when the sun goes down. The galley features solid-surface countertops, while select floorplans add an exterior kitchen. Raised-panel cabinetry, nickel-finished hardware and full-extension drawer guides are tough to beat at this price, as are the Denver queen mattress and foot-flush porcelain toilet.
Thor Motor Coach
The Vegas RUV, or Recreational Utility Vehicle, is compact, easy to drive and easy on the bottom line. Thor has billed it as the SUV of RVs, and with good reason: It’s easy to envision piloting this motorhome to soccer games or any activity that may require multiple-occupant transportation (up to seven in the 24.2 shown here) and a nice place to eat, change or use the facilities. The leatherette furniture looks great but is quite durable, and the included 28-inch LED TV and DVD player in the living area are sure to entertain between games. The three-burner gas cooktop and convection microwave oven will likely get a workout, while the MEGA Storage compartment outside should easily hold sports gear. A dash workstation, stow-away coffee table between the captain’s chairs and flat-panel cabinetry with rattan inlay are all welcome additions for the kid-friendly floorplan, which also boasts a power drop-down bunk and comfortably sleeps four (the comfy air mattress in the sofa bed more than makes up for the lack of a master bedroom).
Thor Motor Coach
While the Brave may sport the easily recognizable eyebrow appearance of the late 1960s and early 1970s, this Class A still features modern conveniences not found in the flower-power era, from LED lighting to an electric awning to a backup camera. The new 31C pictured here features a driver’s-side full-wall slide, which combines with the curbside dinette slide to make a spacious, open living area inside. With an available StudioLoft bed over the cab area, sofa bed, and a rear queen or optional king bed, there is sleeping available for up to six.
The 31C also has plentiful storage, including a large wardrobe across the bedroom wall. The split bath expands when the full-wall slide is deployed, which provides for a spacious bathing and private dressing area when the two sliding pocket doors are closed.
The 31C also comes standard with a residential refrigerator, dual air conditioners, and a 5.5-kW generator, all appointments you may not expect in such an iconic motorhome at this price point.