Fleetwood’s iconic Bounder Class A gas motorhome features four slides and great full-time livability

In 1985, Fleetwood RV’s founder, John Crean, designed a Class A motorhome that would provide all the livability one could expect for long-term travel. Crean’s prototype, which is in the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum in Elkhart, Indiana, would lead to a motorhome that has been a staple of fulltime motorhomers ever since. After testing the 2020 Bounder 35P at the 1,129-site Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort north of Orlando, Florida, it was clear that the iconic kangaroo continues its legacy as a motorhome destined for full-timers, or those who want to spread out and pack heartily.

The Inside Scoop

Comfortable living and excellent storage space have always been two hallmarks of the Bounder line, and the 35P doesn’t disappoint. This floorplan has four slideouts in an alternating pattern that creates a very open feeling inside, while allowing access to all the essentials when the slides are retracted. The wide-open front living space features a 98-inch sofa with “incliners” located across from a roomy 42-by-72-inch standard dinette. The space also features a 40-inch smart LED TV on an articulating arm above a Furrion electric fireplace, which makes it easier to view the side-mounted TV from anywhere in the living area.

The roomy and comfortable dinette converts into a bed via an easy-to-use hydraulic table lift, and drawers beneath add to the already abundant storage. The dinette shares the space in the large passenger-side slideout with a well-equipped galley.

The interior of the Bounder is stately and attractive. The test motorhome features a Sterling Slate interior décor with Greystone Glaze cabinetry, which is one of three selections. This color palette is warm and inviting, including elements that are found in high-end homes. Deep glaze cabinet doors and fronts have a rich luster and are well constructed. The main floor is topped with Tarkett Cascade Travertine Pearl luxury vinyl tile with a marble-like pattern, while the dinette and galley slide are adorned in gray carpet.

Fleetwood Bounder dinette and galley
The dinette has plenty of space and is quite comfortable. Photos by Shawn Spence

The galley features a glossy, 81-by-33-inch solid-surface countertop, a stainless double-bowl sink with solid-surface covers, a gooseneck faucet with pullout sprayer and a stainless Dometic gourmet three-burner cooktop with solid-surface covers. This makes for a nice sized prep space (when all the covers are in place) that’s protected by a full-height tile backsplash. Above the cooktop is a High Pointe convection microwave with exhaust fan.

The cabinet bases are well designed and assembled and there’s an excellent mix of drawers and places to stash larger items. However, if the propane oven is selected as an option, two of the five drawers will be lost.

A large selection of vittles can be stored in the 18-cubic-foot stainless-steel Samsung refrigerator with French doors. Fleetwood incorporated stainless door locks on the refrigerator that not only work well but also look like they belong there. And, with a rated current draw of 3 amps at 120-volts AC, running the refrigerator on the rig’s inverter system should be a breeze. Next to the fridge is a ceiling-height, forward-facing pantry with Ozite-covered shelves and sides, located across from yet another pantry, which is built in behind the lavatory. Nice touch!

Opposite the galley is the amidships full bath, which is, in part, built into the rear driver’s-side slideout. Yet another nod to the Bounder’s livability cred, the bath is usable when the slide is retracted, although it’s a bit tight. A stackable washer-dryer is located in a cabinet that blocks the shower when the slide is retracted, but the toilet and sink are still accessible. That said, this is a shallow slide, so opening it temporarily to grab a shower at the Flying J shouldn’t pose a problem. The lavatory structure has plenty of storage space and is topped by a solid-surface counter with an oval ceramic sink. His and Hers medicine cabinets are located on either side of the sink, each with a drawer for brushes and other toiletries. The mirror is large and well lit. A porcelain toilet is tucked in neatly inside the door, which is a bit cozy until the slide is extended, at which time there’s plenty of room to complete daily primping.

Fleetwood Bounder washer dryer
The integrated stackable washer and dryer do eliminate trips to the laundromat, but they also consume bathroom storage space and add weight.

The rear bedroom is very attractive, with a pleasant mix of tans, browns and grays. Residents will be quite comfortable on the 10-inch-thick memory-foam mattress, but keep in mind that it’s 72 by 75 inches and will require the use of special-size sheets. Opposing slideouts prevent the use of a longer mattress, so those who are taller than 6 feet should try it out before signing on the dotted line.

Sitting astride the bed are two ample sized shelves with combination 120-volt AC/USB receptacles, and a generator start switch resides on the rearmost post below the receptacle. So, a middle of the night cool-off while boondocking is as simple as rolling over and starting the genset or employing Fleetwood’s proprietary Illuma-Plex multiplexing system by Precision Circuits, which controls all house functions through a smart switch, touch-screen display and smart device app interface.

Fleetwood Bounder CPAP cabinet
The CPAP cabinet above the bed features lighting, an AC outlet and a space for hoses to pass through.

Many people use CPAP/BiPAP therapy for sleeping, and Fleetwood has accommodated those customers with a dedicated cabinet centered above the bed. This cabinet is fitted with a power receptacle and lights, and utilizes an opening in the base to route hoses and allow fresh air to enter. If you don’t use a CPAP, the cabinet can be used for charging smart devices along with other stored items. Each bed partner has a reading light.

Across from the bed is a very well-designed and well-appointed closet system. An LED TV is mounted on the door that provides access to a hidden compartment. While not much of a “secret” these days, the large cabinet contains the associated electronics and a video source switcher. There’s plenty of room for a safe or other storage, if desired.

Below the TV are four large drawers next to the partially cedar-lined closet. In true Bounder fashion, this is a large closet with a genuine wood full-width closet rod.

Behind the Wheel

The driver’s compartment is one of the best in this class, likely the result of integration with the resources of Fleetwood’s parent company, REV Group. Beyond the RV group, REV builds some of the country’s best known and widely used emergency vehicles and fire apparatus, and the dash has that E-One fire truck feel. Many Class A dashboards are basic padded vinyl-covered fiberglass affairs with flat plastic instrument cluster mounting panels. Not here. The Bounder’s dash features automotive styling with good ergonomics, making for a comfortable, easy-to-use command center.

Fleetwood Bounder dash
The dash and instrument cluster are built in automotive style and are among the best currently in production.

The nicely recessed Ford cluster is flanked by two flat screens. The left one monitors the side- and rear-camera system, while the right is the Kenwood eXcelon stereo. The center of the dash has a recessed tray on top with a large wood-clad hidden drawer beneath. A similar tray on top with a sliding table/computer workstation is fitted on the passenger side.

The two-tone soft-touch vinyl captain’s and navigator’s seats are well-padded and comfortable. Both seats feature sideboards with cup holders and controls for various functions. The engine doghouse is color-matched fiberglass with an attractive top-mounted utility tray and two additional cup holders. Both seats rotate into the living space while retaining the recline function, and a single pedestal table, which stores under the bed, can be set-up between the two seats for additional dining or snacking.

Fleetwood Bounder electric bunk
The electric bunk over the driver’s compartment features its own TV, storage and AC plugs.

Above the cockpit is a fully equipped dropdown overhead bunk. When deployed, it has all the features found in the master bedroom, including end-of-bed storage, power outlets and even a dedicated LED TV. What is missing is a USB charge port, but there are ports below in the cockpit that could be reached using a long cable. A ladder, which stores under the main bed in the rear, is used climb on the bunk, and the storage space is accessible whether the bunk is deployed or retracted. The bunk mattress is, at best, child friendly, so if adults use it, they’ll either need to be happy with what amounts to a camping pad, or the mattress should be upgraded.

Fleetwood Bounder dash storage
The dash features handy spaces and compartments for storage and driving-time necessities.

From a driving standpoint, the test motorhome drove relatively well considering its size and weight. Some would undoubtedly complain about the acceleration and stopping power compared to a Freightliner- or Spartan-based diesel pusher, but it does get from point A to point Z and everywhere in between. That said, cornering and handling of this test motorhome were significantly improved because of the optional (MSRP N/A at press time) LiquidSpring suspension. With the LiquidSpring controls in Sport mode, the Bounder was far more stable on the road and in sharp turns than motorhomes without this upgrade. The LiquidSpring’s mettle was tested substantially during extensive highway runs in Florida, where we repeatedly put the motorhome through constant maneuvers on and off the four-lane state highway.

Fleetwood Bounder 35P floorplanOur test rig was able to maintain or even gain a little speed uphill with a full tank of water, although the cab area was a tad noisy. Downhill slowing was improved by using the tow/haul mode, which changes the shift points and uses the powertrain to aid in slowing and planning longer stops. The test motorhome is likely one the last of the gassers being built on this platform, which will give way to an all-new Ford F-53 chassis for 2021.

One concern is the weight rating and occupant/cargo carrying capacity (OCCC). This motorhome is designed to carry up to six seat-belted passengers and 110 gallons of freshwater, including the water heater. Dead empty, the certified weight label shows this model can carry 1,816 pounds of cargo and passengers. Running this motorhome wet (full water) and with six 150-pound passengers equals, interestingly, exactly 1,816 pounds. That leads to an OCCC of zero with a full crowd on board. Ford offers chassis with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds, so it’s a mystery to us why it wasn’t used for this model Bounder.

The Outside Story

Full-body paint is becoming more popular as midlevel RV brand managers look for ways to make their products stand out from the crowd. There are three standard paint treatments to choose from for the Bounder; the test model features the Bermuda graphics, a marine-like mix of navy blue, silver and white with black accents. The front and rear caps are modern and very attractive. The front panoramic windshield provides a wide-open view, while LEDs, automotive headlamps and a chrome Fleetwood logo give the front cap an almost Prevost-like appearance.

The rear cap is similarly well-designed and well-appointed. LED marker dots, tail lamps and backup lights surround a center section designed to have a diesel-pusher grille appearance. The fuel fill is in the rear cap, which is a seemingly good place for it considering the way many gas stations are arranged. The cap neatly surrounds the Class III hitch receiver, and the seven-way connector is mounted neatly in the fiberglass. 

Fleetwood Bounder 35P exterior
What’s Hot: Living-space comfort, galley layout, storage, on-road accessibility, dash design, LiquidSpring suspension
What’s Not: ROCCC, chassis GVWR selection

Built on Fleetwood’s Power Platform chassis saddle frame, the Bounder provides a well-balanced tank arrangement with an ultra-strong framework that permits excellent basement storage, all reached via side-opening slam-latch baggage doors.

A Carefree of Colorado lateral arm awning is mounted on the slideout wall above a neatly concealed mid-wall entertainment center with LED TV and automotive stereo with speakers. The awning, like most these days, has an integrated LED lighting system in the end bar with an available accessory rail, but also features a wind sensor to stow the awning automatically if the winds get too boisterous.

The Final Word

From a technology standpoint, the Bounder comes standard with a basic WiFiRanger Sky4 DC; however, the test motorhome was equipped with the Sky4 ProPack with LTE, which provides enhanced service There’s also an optional collision avoidance system that’s available, plus Velvac mirrors with blind-spot detection.

No doubt the Bounder 35P feels very comfortable when occupied for extended living or for a large family; however, the lack of carrying capacity will require owners to be very cautious when loading and weigh it carefully to ensure the chassis will not be overloaded. While it has a 100-gallon freshwater tank and 10-gallon water heater, carrying the full amount of water isn’t a wise decision when traveling; if boondocking, water can be added at the closest possible source. If this motorhome were built on the 26,000-pound Ford chassis, it would rise to the top of the pack.


SPECIFICATIONS

Chassis

Model Ford F-53
Engine 6.8-liter Triton V-10
SAE Hp 320 @ 3,900 rpm
Torque 460 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Axle Ratio 5.38:1
Tires 255/80R22.5 LR-H
Wheelbase 252″
Brakes 4-wheel Disc with ABS
Suspension Front/Rear Tapered Leaf Spring/LiquidSpring
Fuel Capacity 80 gal
Fuel Economy  8–10 mpg (average)
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles

Coach

Exterior Length 36′ 3″
Exterior Width 8′ 6″
Exterior Height with A/C 12′ 10″
Interior Width 8′
Interior Height 7′
Construction Aluminum welded frame/
Vacubond walls, R-10 roof, R-8 side walls
Freshwater Capacity 100 gal
Black-water Capacity 30 gal
Gray-water Capacity 45 gal
Water-heater Capacity 10 gal
Propane Capacity 25 gal
Air Conditioner  (2) 15,000 Btu
Furnace  34,000 Btu
Refrigerator 18-cu-ft residential
Inverter/Charger 2,000-watt, 60-amp
Batteries (4) 6-volt FLA
AC Generator 5.5-kW
MSRP $195,047
MSRP as Tested $201,054
Warranty 1 year, 15,000 miles;
3 years, 45,000 miles structural

Wet Weight

(Water and water heater, fuel, propane tanks full; no supplies or passengers)
Total 22,184 lbs
Towing capacity 5,000 lbs

Chassis Ratings

GAWR, F/R 9,000 lbs/15,500 lbs
GVWR/GCWR 24,000 lbs/30,000 lbs
ROCCC 1,816 lbs

GAWR Gross Axle Weight Rating
GVWR Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
GCWR Gross Combined Weight Rating
ROCCC Realistic Occupant and Cargo Carrying Capacity (full water, no passengers)

Fleetwood RV
800-854-1344, www.fleetwoodrv.com

1 COMMENT

  1. The analysis concerning the ROCCC is inconsistent. The specifications table shows that GVWR minus the wet weight, no passengers is 1816 lbs. ROCCC is also stated to be 1816 lbs. in that table. In the text, however, it is stated that the 1816 lbs. is “dead empty”, as in no water. If the table is correct, the Bounder is not pushing its weight limit with a full load of passengers and a full fresh water tank.

    Since this appeared in the July 2020 issue I would hope someone else caught this but since this review still has the inconsistent information perhaps not.

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