Retro, Downsize RV Trailers Are The Buzz For 2010

February 27, 2010/Steve Tackett

MOTOR MATTERS ROLLING HOMES BY JEFF JOHNSTON

Recreation Vehicle companies are placing substantial engineering and manufacturing bets on some less-than-typical models for 2010.
The annual Louisville RV trade show was peppered with new models aimed at the downsized, easy-towing part of the market, as well as retro-style RVs with semi-antique styling. And some rigs combined both in what seems to be an RV market segment that’s growing in popularity.
The new Sportsmen Classic trailer from KZ Recreational Vehicles (www.kz-rv.com) made a splash in a subtle, low-key way. Sheathed in a rolled-contour aluminum skin remarkably like that used decades back, the 14RB measures just 15 feet 10 inches long and weighs in at a trim 2,020 pounds dry weight. Bare-minimum graphics and a modest-size company logo do little to disrupt the white overall finish.
In size, execution and function the Classic is very similar to the popular small single-axle trailers from the 1950s and 1960s. Its floorplan includes a forward dinette/bed, a curbside sofa/bed, streetside kitchen unit and aft corner bath with shower opposite the rear-corner entry door.
Interior materials were chosen for their retro look. In some cases, such as with the Formica countertops, we looked at the pattern and wondered, “Where did they get this old stuff?”
Almost by default KZ is taking a green approach as these trailers are fairly small and use relatively little material in each unit. A company spokesman said they purchased leftovers and excess materials from other manufacturers, as well as hardware that would have otherwise been discarded. The net result can be a funky but still appealing interior.
Meanwhile, the new Retro Lite by Cikira RV (www.cikirarv.com) features more contemporary styling in a package sized close to the Classic.

Its 16-foot, 6-inch length and 1,830-pound approximate dry weight place it squarely in the compact category.
The same raised-rib aluminum skin covers the Retro Lite, but a two-tone gray and black color scheme, swoopy graphics and details like aluminum wheels add to the rig’s contemporary appeal. The 160FD interior is fitted with a front dinette/bed, rear-wall sofa/bed, a small curbside kitchen and streetside wet bath enclosure.
A full range of comfort and convenience options, such as a 5,200Btu air conditioner, 15-inch LCD TV with DVD player, stabilizer jacks and a 20,000Btu furnace, are readily available. Construction upgrades, including fiberglass sidewalls and maple cabinet doors, can also be ordered to bump up the rig’s trim level image.
TrailManor has been in the lighter-weight towing business all along (www.trailmanor.com). Although the company’s new TrailMini isn’t retro styled, the company’s unique clamshell-collapsing raised-roof design ensures a certain utilitarian styling restriction is in place – its function overcomes any form shortcomings.
On the road the 1,850-pound estimated dry weight TrailMini is low profile, about 64 inches tall overall, aerodynamic and measures about 18 feet long. In camp, the roof top half of the body hinges up and forward to create a full-height trailer with walk around space for full-size adults. With a forward double bed, streetside enclosed wet bath and sofa/bed and curbside kitchen with adjacent storage unit the TrailMini provides comfortable camp living. Lifting the roof is easier than it sounds thanks to assorted torsion spring helpers.
Most notable of the TrailMini’s exterior features is the aft end deck that’s exposed when the roof is raised to camping mode.

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Fold-away safety railings ring the deck and an access stairway provides easy entry.
A trailer that’s heavy on the “fun” quotient is the new MPG from Heartland RV (www.heartlandrvs.com). Heartland is a fairly new company that’s growing like crazy and gaining an RV industry reputation for innovation. The MPG is a 19-foot trailer weighing about 2,700-pounds dry weight and its extra-rounded body gives it a true aerodynamic image.
Smooth fiberglass skin, bold colors and graphics should give the MPG a certain youth appeal, and the distinct fenders and wheels positioned outside the body are a stylized spotting feature. Inside, the trailer has several floorplan alternatives, and the model 185 example includes a large U-shaped rear dinette/bed, forward wall-to-wall kitchen and curbside enclose wet bath. There’s also a small streetside slideout room housing a sofa/bed, refrigerator and microwave oven.
A small trailer is always an exercise in compromise. It’s great to have a small RV that your family minivan or compact SUV can safely tow, but effective use of a small trailer also calls for some practice. And patience. But in all, it’s still a whole lot better than a tent. — Jeff Johnston, Motor Matters

Photos courtesy Jeff Johnston: At the Louisville RV trade show aerodynamics and modern materials combine in a stylish new package, such as with the MPG trailer from Heartland RV. The model 185 weighs about 2,700 pounds dry and can be managed by smaller tow rigs.
TrailManor’s new TrailMini weighs about 1,850 pounds and when folded up into camping mode includes a small back porch.

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010

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