|Post edited 20170219 to include my Instagram collage above, because I like it!!|
|I felt like I was a human quantum packet in a double slit experiment. Notice the two stars at photo left that say "You are here"? I was neither a wave nor a particle in this respect. I ended up being in two places at once.|
First, let me review the two 2017 Airstream Interstates that were on hand, because that's our brand.
|2017 Interstate Lounge EXT.|
|See the design resemblance? |
Seriously, this is exactly how that black-on-black scheme makes me feel when I enter the rig.
Thanks to Memory Alpha for the screengrab.
I spent some time inside this unit, contemplating both the design and the market research that apparently led to the conclusion that it's a good idea. I couldn't make any sense out of the latter, and here's the first of two reasons why.
|ROOM FOR EVEN MORE BOOZE.|
|And I went to great pains to downside my wine glasses as well. Pics from this post on small space living tips.|
|How much wasting away in Margaritaville can a person do, and still afford the likes of this?|
|It's definitely a departure from Skin of Evil.|
Which is to say that, secondly, the rig seemed to have an incongruously-youthful focus. Wikipedia describes the Tommy Bahama brand as "a lifestyle of never leaving the beach". There's an energy and a casualness that doesn't describe older, more sophisticated buyers outside the realm of temporary mid-life crisis. Maybe the market research pointed to this as a good idea, but I personally don't get it.
The other big annoyance here is that the TV sticks way out into the aisle, but in fairness, many Class B producers are now making this same mistake in the name of bigger-is-better. Especially with a rig that seems intent on getting its owners drunk, how long do you reckon before someone runs into that thing and smashes it?? How long do you think that owners are going to put up with the likes of that needless obstruction? Guys, if you insist on fitting your rigs with huge TVs, get off your butts and re-design the mounting arm so that they can be rotated out of the path of travel, which in a Class B is extremely tight to begin with.
There were some upsides to these two Interstates, namely these.
|Good execution on the work table behind the driver's seat in the Margaritaville. Not optimal, but good.|
|Rear door screen on the Skin of Evil. Very nice.|
|Slider screen on the Margaritaville. I liked the design and the feel of it. I would pay for it if I were ordering a new rig, not that I would order this model.|
|The Basecamp, with the two afore-described Airstream Interstates in the background.|
|Bigger is not necessarily better. This thing felt like the Goldilocks trailer to me.|
|If we were intending to buy a trailer, there would be no competition.|
|Show sticker for reference.|
We were dismayed to find only one Roadtrek on the show floor. There may have been others, but we searched and searched and could not find any.
|Not only was there only one, it was an Agile, which are built on shorty Sprinters. And notice how it was shoved all the way over to the far wall. It was very difficult to even locate it.|
|See the aforesaid tightness? Its nose is virtually touching the Class A in front of it.|
DeMontrond offered that I didn't see anywhere else:
|This will appeal to a LOT of buyers.|
OK, next in the assessment is the brand new Regency line, which is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.
|This is the first of two that were on the floor.|
Limited ability to properly climate-control Class Bs has long been the bane of the industry, and this past week, Regency sparked this lively discussion on Class B Forum with its claim that it achieves an R32 insulation value. Many of us flatly disbelieve this, on the grounds that we suspect it is physically impossible using today's technology.
As for the interior, it's not my style, but I've seen worse.
I absolutely detest the idea of having the bathroom sitting at the back doors, but there is a market segment to whom that appeals, so this was not necessarily a terrible decision on the producer's part.
|That is just absurdly small. Get rid of the second sink and build a functional galley or storage.|
|Fit and finish = not ideal. Look at the way that door is gapping at the top.|
|How can you use that bed as a couch if there is no back part to lean against? These fixtures are situated where your spinal column might want to be.|
For years, many manufacturers optimized the couch capacity at the expense of the bed. But in response to consumers' well-known feedback, for example this survey by The Fit RV...
|Graphic courtesy of The Fit RV in this post of theirs. And we thank them because they did a great deal of work to gather those data and to communicate with industry regarding this issue.|
What is the solution for this? I think the best of both worlds is achievable and I think it is to be found in a newer version of this, which is what we have in our 2007 Airstream Interstate.
Atwood or a similar manufacturer, and request that they re-engineer something that is a little more posh, in order to meet this need in a reasonable way.
OK, onward from that essential digression. This was the second Regency on the floor.
|As I mentioned on Class B Forum, I think they're making a huge mistake with those RV graphics. They're making their rig visually resemble units that are 50% less in cost. That cannot be an advantage.|
|No swoopy-doopy graphics with my premium price, please.|
|There's an interesting mechanicals cabinet in the Regency where some of the workings are found. We took pics for future reference so that we could parse the details as time permits.|
|See what I mean? It might accommodate a 3-year-old's foot but not much more. Compare this lower ground effects step to the width of the original Sprinter footwell above it.|
|This Sprinter-based Pleasure Way Plateau FL.|
|Wow. This is not a flashy or pretentious interior, but the fit and finish are superb.|
|Color wheel image courtesy of Sessions College for Professional Design. See how the yellow and yellow-orange are opposite blue? This kind of balance is essential if the result is to be pleasing to the eye.|
|This is the work station behind the driver's seat. It beats Airstream's version hands down.|
|This is Pleasure Way thumbing its nose at Airstream and saying, "We don't have to build a cabinet this nice, but we're doing it just because we can."|
Pleasure Way's design finesse extended well beyond this woodwork. It's obvious that they worked hard to integrate every component, including the electrical inverter, in creative unobtrusive ways.
|Again we see the problem with the TV sticking out into the aisle, though.|
|It did have one hell of a refrigerator.|
It's also built on a Promaster.
It had some positives but again, some of the same limitations were glaringly apparent. They optimized the bedding, but now where do you sit? The owner who claims the right bed could prop up their feet and lean against that back wall. But the left-side owner is screwed because they can't really slouch against their wall - the mechanical controls are mounted there.
Here are two different interpretations of how to leverage those precious rear Sprinter (or Promaster) double doors.
|Winnebago's Travato-related interpretation - it's all about a place for the toilet, ugh.|
|An image quilt selection of Instagram's spectacular back door views, made using the Tufte - Schwartz widget.|
|Thank God for a slightly wider running board. Good grief.|
But here's the thing buyers need to weigh: Is it really necessary to have a 3-burner stove in a rig that only sleeps 2 people? It's nice, and if cooking on the road is your big deal, then you just hit the jackpot with this rig. But personally, this is not where I'd want my rig's focus to be.
I did like the cabinetry in this one.
|Close-up. Very different and appealing.|
|For the most part, I was so mesmerized by the stove-sink combination and by this solar charge controller which is a brand we hadn't seen before, that I forgot to take general interior pics!|
* * *
OK, before I break the internet with the world's longest blog post, here are my 2017 Houston RV Show picks:
2017 CLASS B BEST FIT AND FINISH - Pleasure Way Plateau FL. Congrats, guys. You are the dark horse and if you keep pursuing Airstream on this selling point, you're going to kick their can all the way down the road.
2017 CLASS B MOST IMPROVED - Pleasure Way. Before we bought our Airstream Interstate two years ago, we looked at a few Pleasure Way models and, although they had potential, the execution was too blah for us. Boy, has Pleasure Way turned that shortcoming around.
2017 CLASS B BEST ALL-AROUND - No winner. Irrespective of whether a rear door view is important to many buyers, every single manufacturer is still screwing up the bed - sofa execution. Until someone surmounts this challenge, I will remain noncommittal on who I think is really poised to increase their share in that market by virtue of all-around excellence.
2017 BEST-IN-SHOW - It's not a Class B at all. It's the Airstream Basecamp, which was the only truly innovative new product that we saw, and we looked at everything from Class A's (they all look the same) to trailers to toy haulers to toppers. We did it all, and nothing held a candle to the Basecamp.
Thanks for reading!