Thanks to our friends at the Auto Channel, I had an opportunity to attend the RVIA (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association) show in Louisville and peruse the exciting offerings for 2013-2014. This is the annual RV manufacturer’s show, and a chance for them to wow dealers with the latest in innovative design.
As the saying goes, the devil’s in the details, so I concentrated on both the small and large innovations. I was looking for usable design features – clever features to thrill the RV buyer – and I was not disappointed! Here’s a compendium of brilliant design touches I stumbled upon:
There’s no question that RV bathrooms can be cramped and dark. Thank goodness several manufacturers are addressing this issue, even in small units. A running theme was the use of very large skylights in the shower, which gives a sense of spaciousness and a less claustrophobic bathing experience.
Even in Class B motorhomes, I saw a trend toward dedicating extraordinary floor space to the bathroom. Sure, this addresses a consumer complaint, but in a 23’ Class B that’s a lot of space to give up in the rest of the cabin. Everything else becomes compressed when you lose all that footage to the bath, and I’m not sure that’s an important enough benefit to compromise living space in the rest of the unit.
|Huge Bathroom in a Class B|
Kitchens are always a big focus, especially for the cook in the family. I loved the trend toward upscale residential faucets in the the more expensive coaches, and I expect it’s only a matter of time before this feature will filter down to smaller units as well. Induction cooktops also make a lot of sense, especially when you’ve got 50 amps of juice to power it.
|Upscale Faucet – Monaco Dynasty|
|Induction Cooktop – Monaco Dynasty|
Another great design was the use of curved sink islands in some larger Fifth Wheels. Good thinking! The curved design opened up the aisles and reduced the hip-bump factor.
|Curved Sink Island – Aviator|
Airstream also showed a microwave-in-a-pantry concept, which frees up space for an additional overhead bin. Not sure how practical that might be, but it sure was innovative thinking!
|Pull-Out MW – Airstream|
The one noticeable absence was a lack of built-in coffee makers in the new RVs. Really? No coffee maker? I know that’s an old-school feature, but from this addict’s point of view it’s a serious omission. Get between me and my caffeine at your own peril!
The usual floor plan for a large fifth wheel is to situate the master bedroom upstairs, with the living quarters and kitchen on the lower level. I was impressed with Jayco’s reversed design in the Pinnacle, where the living room is located up a half-flight. The overall effect is a quiet, comfortable room to relax and watch TV, away from the hustle and bustle of the kitchen and dining room, as well as the entrance door. A bonus was the tall ceiling in this area, making the room seem even more spacious.
Aviator stepped further into the comfort zone by offering luxury power recliners with a lighted charging station and desktop between. My friends took the opportunity to relax in style.
|Power Recliners – Aviator|
|Power Chair Controls|
In a large motorcoach, I spotted a dedicated hamper drawer in the bedroom. This was a feature I’d never seen before, and it solves a persistent problem – what do you do with all those dirty clothes?
|Hamper Drawer – Allegro Bus|
In smaller RVs, where space is always at a premium, I saw a couple of clever Murphy bed designs that seemed to solve a lot of problems. The dinette/couch is usable during the day, then the bed folds down for a comfy nighttime sleep. My only dislike was that in several units the Murphy bed blocked one of the primary windows when it’s folded up. Think about it – you can only look out this window when the bed is down, and that would be at night when it’s dark outside. Essentially you’re giving up a key view for a queen size mattress. So the Murphy bed is a good idea, but it has a big trade-off.
|Murphy Bed – Folded Up|
Speaking of windows, there were some lovely touches found throughout the show. Renegade showed windows that were framed inside like a residential home, and what a difference it made in the ambiance of the living room. Airstream added a splendid art glass window in the bath door. And Sabre showcased a slide-out with full-length windows on every side.
|Framed Windows – Renegade|
|Art Glass Window – Airstream Serenity|
|Slide-Out Windows – Sabre
The RV industry has gone a long way to making units attractive on the outside as well as inside. And there’s still some innovation left to explore. Monaco’s 2014 Dynasty will offer LED running lights in the nose cone, a beautiful and interesting touch of class to this flagship coach.
|LED Running Lights – 2014 Monaco Dynasty|
Manufacturers have also gotten smart by installing side-opening doors on exterior storage bins. No more kneeling in the mud to rummage for those tiki torches! The industry is also moving toward larger entrance doors. All of us wide-body folks thank you!
|Side Opening Bins, Extra Wide Door – Holiday Rambler|
Overall, I had a great time touring the RVIA show, and can’t wait until next year to see more design goodies!