2024 Fifth Wheel Models: A Dramatic Shift in Exterior Design

The modern updates have been made to attract a different generation.

There is a new kid in town when it comes to exterior design in the towable sector of the RV market. It’s lighter, brighter and sleeker than anything seen in the past, and younger customers are swooning over it. What is this new exterior style trend, and is it here to stay?

Fresh New Look in Fifth Wheel Exteriors

It’s tough not to notice the dramatic shift in RV towables, especially fifth wheel exterior designs, with the release of 2024 models. This year it’s all about brighter and stark contrast. Just a few short years ago, fifth wheels were still a sea of beige tones with the traditional RV swoosh graphics shared by their motorhome cousins. Except for custom paint models or the occasional black Luxe on the road, most fifth wheels looked pretty similar.

This year’s models took a turn in a new lighter direction. The classic beige tones have all been replaced by bright white. While white has been slowly trickling into the market for a couple of years now, this year’s white is paired with contrasting black graphics that further set off the design. The thing is, these aren’t just any regular, run-of-the-mill black graphics. The graphics are straight, boxy and edgy against the white. Gone are the classic rounded swoosh graphics we are all used to seeing throughout the RV industry. The new kid in town has a modern look not previously seen.

More Than Just a Shift in Color Scheme

Grand Design Influence’s minimalistic appearance stands out among the manufacturer’s other offerings.

So, what’s the big deal about this dramatic shift in exterior fifth wheel design? Many models have taken this modernization a step further by including structural components such as RV windows and doors. To support the straight and boxy exterior, the traditional towable rounded exterior windows have been replaced with square windows. While not all models have gone to the square shape, some have additional black graphics around the windows to create the illusion that they are square.

Some models didn’t just stop at the windows. Others updated the door with a black glass reflective design to contrast the white and the windows. While the door update isn’t as widely seen yet in the 2024 models, the square windows or appearance of square windows via the surrounding graphics has really taken off.

Where Did This Design Trend Originate?

This new design trend has spread like wildfire across most major players in fifth wheels and also in some travel trailer models. But where did this style originate? One example of the new modern exterior was at the 2023 launch of Brinkley RV’s Model Z fifth wheel and Model G toy hauler at last year’s Florida RV Show in Tampa. The booth was buzzing, and the consensus among the people was positive about the unique sleek lines and starker contrast of the black graphics against the white.

I personally grew up on a lake popular for boating and known for speed racing events in the Midwest. My family owned many different brands and types of boats over the years, and as soon as I first viewed this new design, it reminded me of the graphics and designs seen throughout the boating industry. I apparently wasn’t the only one with this opinion either. I spoke to Brinkley RV’s marketing director, Jerimiah Borkowski, at this year’s 2024 Florida RV Show about my boat industry origination theory. I learned that his background before transitioning to the RV industry was, in fact, the boating industry, working for Bennington Marine, a prominent manufacturer of pontoon boats. He offered some validation to my opinion that this style looks similar to those found in the boating world.

Custom Paint Sticks Out More Than Ever Now

At this year’s 2024 Florida RV Show, the sleeker, boxier, black-and-white color scheme swept the show, with models displaying this new design across towables in many brands. This trend seemed to take hold with lightning speed, and just like the sea of beige fifth wheels seen in the past, now we have an ocean of white and black.

With so many models sporting the bright white exterior, custom paint jobs stand out now more than ever. A great example of a standout at the show was Keystone RV’s Cougar Midnight Edition. This monochromatic shiny fifth wheel in Black Onyx generated its own unique buzz at the Florida RV Show.

The feedback we heard at the booth with the Midnight Edition was positive. People stated that the black was something fresh and different. Despite favoring the look of its blacked-out appearance, many people we spoke to had concerns about how hot the black paint would make the interior of the fifth wheel.

It would be an interesting experiment if Keystone did a side-by-side temperature test of a Midnight Edition and a regular model in the same conditions. The Midnight Edition also comes in Phantom Gray for customers who are drawn to the all-dark look but may have heat reservations about the black paint.

Appealing to a New Demographic of Buyers?

It’s no secret that the towable RV market has long been the favorite of younger buyers. However, as a larger sector of this market is attracting millennials and now Gen Zers, the design update may target this youngest growing demographic.

As a Gen Xer, I can still hear my parents and my grandpa telling me never to purchase a white vehicle when I went to shop for my first new truck in the late ’90s. White will show too much dirt, they advised. My father was an auto worker for General Motors his entire career and knew what he was talking about. I, of course, listened, and as a young man more interested in attracting ladies than living at the car wash, I bought an all-black, lifted-up truck instead. I actually met my wife cruising town in that truck soon after. I digress. Needless to say, their phobia of dirt had an impact on my color-purchasing decision.

Today, as a full-time RV family of almost nine years, I know the challenges personally of trying to keep our home on wheels clean as we hop across the country. Everything from black streaks to road construction tar and mold crosses my mind when I look at all these new bright white fifth wheels. As much as I appreciate the sleek design, experience has taught me the realities of maintaining this look.

However, Gen Zers are attracted to more modern designs and are less likely to be influenced by the older generation’s concern about showing dirt. They also may not have developed the veteran RVer’s fear of black streaks just yet.

Regardless of style, Gen Z values outdoor adventures and will become a significant target of the RV sales market. RV manufacturers need to take notice of what Gen Z prefers and incorporate their needs into future designs. Don’t sleep on the desires of the younger up-and-coming buyers.

New 2024 Product Launches

While many existing fifth wheel product lines have been updated to this whiter color scheme, some new product lines launched in 2024 with the updated design incorporated from the start. At the Florida RV Show, we had the chance to check out Grand Design’s new fifth wheel line, the Influence. The Influence exterior is extremely minimal. A single group of black and gray stripes of varying thicknesses runs the length of the unit, and that is it. Most of the fifth wheel is a blank white canvas. Compared to other Grand Design models, it almost looks, dare I say, a bit bare. They were going for a different, updated look, and this line stands out from the others in their lineup. The front cap bears the model name among a mostly solid silver cap with Grand Design’s drawing compass logo.

The Heartland Corterra has a prominent vertical stripe on the nose cap displaying the product name.

We also spent some time in Heartland RV’s new fifth wheel product line, the Corterra. While the Corterra doesn’t have square windows, graphics are used around some of the windows to mimic a boxier shape. It also has a panoramic oversized window built into the front cap.

Something particularly striking about the Corterra’s exterior is the way the product name is displayed within a prominent vertical stripe on the nose cap of the fifth wheel, as well as part of a rectangular graphic under the windows to further the boxy appearance. While some of the graphics are solid black and rectangular, other straight bar graphics are a dark gray and fade into the white exterior on one end. The design is modern and unique.

Is It Here To Stay?

While this new, more modern exterior fifth wheel design seemed to come out of nowhere, only time and sales will tell RV manufacturers if they hit a home run or completely missed the mark with this one.

Will this sleek update resonate with younger buyers? Will the white exterior turn off more experienced and older RVers who don’t want to battle to keep their fifth wheel clean? Stay tuned!

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