Five Takeaways from Elkhart Open House Week

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Travel Lite Falcon

ELKHART, Ind. – As the remaining dealers made their way through displays one last time last Thursday morning, looking for one final deal from this year’s Open House Week Extravaganza, the overall feeling from dealers and manufacturers alike seemed to be that this year’s show was a great success.

Manufacturers said that the day-earlier opening on Monday this year gave the show a different feel, with no huge rush of customers like on past Tuesdays, but a general steady stream of people checking out the 2017 models.

One thing was definitely evident in this year’s show. Although there’s always a certain amount of copying among the manufacturers, there seemed to be an increased level of innovation to go along with it.

Whether it was leveling systems, smooth-ride systems, automotive-quality front windshields or just plain eyebrow-raising new floorplans, it was plain that a lot of work went into creating a difference in the 2017 products.

So without further ado – in no particular order – are five things that caught RV PRO’s attention in Elkhart last week.

  • Montana 3921FB: This whopping fifth wheel by Keystone has a front bathroom that, by itself, may not be that unusual. But the full-sized residential-style bathtub that takes up the space immediately behind the large front windshield is a stunner. The bathroom also contains a full-size shower separate from the tub.

Product Manager Mark Krol said the unit’s Suburban on-demand water heater makes filling the tub a snap, although the tub does cause the need for a larger gray-water tank.

This floorplan has a hefty dry weight of 13,710 pounds and has an MSRP of about $85,000.

  • Falcon: Travel Lite President Dustin Johns waited until the last possible moment to introduce the new aerodynamic lightweight Falcon travel trailer. Though a small trailer by any measure, it is built as a 101-inch wide body.

The aerodynamic nose does not cost interior space, as a queen bed is at the front of the trailer, not requiring the extra headroom. Space also is saved by having an external shower, with components located in the rear bumper.

The Falcon 2475 is the first floorplan, but Travel Lite expects five or six more by March.

The Falcon has an MSRP of $14,900.

  • The Mystery: For lack of a real name, that’s what RV PRO will dub the shiny, retro-looking trailer that was front and center at the Heartland display that had dealers swooning.

The trailer, originally sketched out by a designer at MORryde, has aluminum sides and roof with an 84-inch awning. It also has a fully heated underbelly.

The front window is from the same manufacturer that supplies glass for John Deere tractors and is steel reinforced.

Inside, the trailer has an electric-lift bed and induction cooktop and features MORryde steps at the entrance.

Currently the trailer weighs in at 4,200 pounds, with engineers trying to reduce that to 3,800. Heartland, which intended the trailer as a concept model, plans a maximum of three floorplans with an MSRP of about $13,500.

  • Wildcat 301RES: For its simplicity, dealers liked the Forest River 301RES Wildcat “couples coach,” which features an 11-cubic-foot residential refrigerator (up from 8 cubic feet a year ago) in a rear kitchen floorplan.

“The residential refrigerator is going to be an integral part of our floorplans moving forward,” said Chris Saal, sales manager.

Other features include a 40-inch TV on a swing arm for 180-degree viewing, twin Euro-style swivel rocker/recliners, pullout kitchen sprayer, stainless steel appliances and an outside kitchen.

The 34-foot-long unit will retail in the mid-$20s.

  • Park Model: Dealers looking for motorized or towable product likely breezed past the park model village at Forest River and missed the attractive “barn unit” shown by Quail Ridge.

The exterior red siding is Celect Cellular Composite Siding by Royal. It could become the siding of the future.

Inside, features of this eye-catching model included a unique bar dinette, barn door-style den entry door, hammered copper kitchen and bathroom sinks, Edison-style light bulbs, a USB charger outlet in the kitchen, faux wood beam header for the den doors and special edition light fixtures throughout.


Travis O. Pryor

Travis Pryor is the former managing editor of RV PRO.

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