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Help buying a small travel trailer

Max-4
Explorer
Explorer
Hello, this is my first post and I am very excited to be joining this great group! My family of 4 is in the market for a small travel trailer in the near future. I am looking for something in the 21' overall length and around 4000 pounds gross weight. I own a 2017 Toyota Highlander with 5000 towing capacity so id like something that this SUV could manage without too much difficulty.

The particular model that we are looking for is called a "bunkhouse" so when you walk in we are looking for a permanent queen size bed on your right (not Murphy bed) and the bunk beds in the back. I guess most of these models have the designation "BH" after their model numbers to specify this.

I am fully aware of the way the industry works I know that there are only two major manufactures Thor and Forest river and they are all made within 10 miles of eachother. I am also located in Canada so if we quote prices you will have to keep in mind that I will be paying the CDN premium.

I have gotten an idea of what new models like the Wolf PUP 16BHS sells for which is $26,000 or the Salem 177BH which is $23,000 the Rockwood Geo Pro G19BH is $32,000 the Apex Nano 185BH sells for $26,000 and Jayco Jayflight SLX7 174BH is $23,000.

I guess my questions are am I going to find something with aluminum construction for the lower price of the Salem or Jayco? in these smaller travel trailers how does the quality of a Wolf Pup vs an Apex vs a Coachman vs a Jayco compare? I am also looking at a Salem FSX 177BH which im assuming is the same as a Forest River FSX 177BH?

Also is a 54x80 going to be the biggest "queen" bed I can get in this type of model trailer? Any information you guys could give me about build quality, add ons ownership would be awesome. is there any other manufactures by THOR that I should consider besides Jayco? Thanks
30 REPLIES 30

toedtoes
Explorer II
Explorer II
BarabooBob wrote:
We have been happily together for 35 years.


You need to update your signature, it says 32 years. 😉
1975 American Clipper RV with Dodge 360 (photo in profile)
1998 American Clipper Fold n Roll Folding Trailer
Both born in Morgan Hill, CA to Irv Perch (Daddy of the Aristocrat trailers)

BarabooBob
Explorer III
Explorer III
I hope that you have good luck with your TT. My family has been travelling for 35 years and 3 of the kids love it, 1 hate it. 2 of our kids have their own camping equipment and spend as much time as possible camping. I hope that your kids and wife enjoy themselves.
While travelling, I do most of the cooking so that my wife gets a vacation also. If she has a good time, things go much better and you may spend much of your life camping and making great memories. If she doe not have a good time, life can be VERRRRY bad. Treat her well. We have been happily together for 35 years.
Bob & Dawn Married 34 years
2017 Viking 17RD
2011 Ford F150 3.5L Ecoboost 420 lb/ft
Retired

Max-4
Explorer
Explorer
Thanks for all the information guys we just put a downpayment on a 2021 Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7 174bh with fiberglass sides. We got a steal of a deal on it because it was a demo model. I am in Canada so I won't bore you with pricing but we got it for what we are seeing used 2017 and 2018 units selling for on the second hand market.

It is 21'8" long and weighs in at 3075 lbs dry and 3950 lbs gross.

I am going to be putting a weight distribution hitch and 7 pin trailer brake controller on the Highlander. I am happy with this buy, we saw heavier units almost at the max of our specifications but I turned them all down and was rewarded with this deal! Can't wait

propchef
Explorer
Explorer
valhalla360 wrote:
wanderingaimlessly wrote:
Max-4 wrote:
Can we get some information about build quality with the listed units above? Thanks


A starting point may be to look at warranty, most only offer one year, a few offer two Jayco, K-Z, and a few others have better warranties, and better reviews on their units as well as more devoted fans.
This is a brief rundown on brands and their coverage.
warranties.


Warrantee paperwork makes great TP. Did around on the forum and you'll find tons of stories of RVs sitting at dealers for weeks or months waiting on warranty work.

I wouldn't count on the warrantee reflecting much of anything beyond advertising.


Also, most of these "warranties" require you, the owner, to perform certain maintenance items every 3 months (like resealing the roof) or kiss that warranty goodbye. Read them VERY carefully. Very.

Grit_dog
Nomad III
Nomad III
Max-4 wrote:
So are we saying that I will struggle with a V6 Toyota Highlander with 5000 pounds towing capacity pulling a 3900 pound gross weight 21' travel trailer? I'm not talking dry weight, most of the trailers I quoted above are under 4000 pounds gross weight. Thanks


The term struggle is relative.
Hard to explain to folks who aren’t already kinda saavy with vechiles and trailers, but in general, mid size uni body suv cuv type vechiles aren’t stellar at towing.
Just like pickup trucks aren’t stellar at things Cuvs or sports cars are.

Safety is also relative and not only related to the vehicles abilities but also the drivers experience.
You appear to be on the lower end of both which is what gives some people pause.

That said, there is nothing in your proposed setup is inherently mis matched.
Just know you’re on the upper end of the limits of a vehicle that’s only marginally designed for towing and hauling.

If you’re planning on x country trips, mountains, high altitude etc I would not say the Highlander is well suited at all.
That said, just keeper rubber side down and you’ll be good!
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

valhalla360
Nomad II
Nomad II
wanderingaimlessly wrote:
Max-4 wrote:
Can we get some information about build quality with the listed units above? Thanks


A starting point may be to look at warranty, most only offer one year, a few offer two Jayco, K-Z, and a few others have better warranties, and better reviews on their units as well as more devoted fans.
This is a brief rundown on brands and their coverage.
warranties.


Warrantee paperwork makes great TP. Did around on the forum and you'll find tons of stories of RVs sitting at dealers for weeks or months waiting on warranty work.

I wouldn't count on the warrantee reflecting much of anything beyond advertising.
Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2021 Gray Wolf
Gemini Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and RV

GrandpaKip
Explorer
Explorer
Max-4 wrote:
Can we get some information about build quality with the listed units above? Thanks

Build quality is all over the lot. As said, 2 identical units next to each other can vary greatly in their fit and finish.
All of them will have basically the same appliances such as the fridge, AC, water heater, etc.
I would look at and compare:
Cargo capacity
Fridge size
Tank size, though if going to full service campgrounds, it’s not that important.
Interior and exterior storage
Bath layout. Can you sit on the pot comfortably, turn around in the shower, brush your teeth (some don’t have a separate sink)?
Type of AC. Roof mount is better.
2 tanks of propane
Good luck and happy hunting.
Kip
2015 Skyline Dart 214RB
2018 Silverado Double Cab 4x4
Andersen Hitch

wanderingaimles
Explorer
Explorer
Max-4 wrote:
Can we get some information about build quality with the listed units above? Thanks


A starting point may be to look at warranty, most only offer one year, a few offer two Jayco, K-Z, and a few others have better warranties, and better reviews on their units as well as more devoted fans.
This is a brief rundown on brands and their coverage.
warranties.

wanderingaimles
Explorer
Explorer
According to Edmunds, along with your 5000 lb towing capacity, you also have a 1370 lb cargo capacity.
So for a 4000 lb trailer expect 500 to 600 pounds tongue weight. (the hitch is rated for 500)
If you are planning on a weight dist hitch, you are over, if not you will have about 750-800 lbs available for people and gear in your Toyota.
Hope this is helpful.

valhalla360
Nomad II
Nomad II
Max-4 wrote:
capacitor wrote:
Does the Highlander have a receiver and 7way plug? Seems like a pop up trailer would be better to start with. Your mirrors will work without replacing them. What size v6, 3 liter? It’s built on the Camry platform.


My 2017 Toyota Highlander AWD has a 3.5L V6 and makes 295hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. It has a max tow rating of 5000 pounds and I do have a proper hitch installed but I will have to upgrade from a 4 way to a 7 way plug and get a trailer brake controller installed, not a problem.


You have plenty of HP, though it likely will be running at higher RPM than you may be used to.

While there is no issue running at 100% of the ratings (the engineers aren't going to recommend unsafe operation), there is more than one rating to consider, Tow Rating is mostly about HP and braking. Payload is where you are likely to run into problems.
Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2021 Gray Wolf
Gemini Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and RV

TomG2
Explorer
Explorer
I have had several entry level travel trailers and the Jaycos have been the best. I currently have a 212QB and a 174bh, The 174bh would probably work for you.

NamMedevac_70
Explorer II
Explorer II
I bought a new fiberglass 2003 R-Vision TT in 2003 and towed this trailer for over 15 years with no delamination issues or problems with the front, rear, sides or roof whatsoever. And it set outside all the time on storage lots in hot Texas and Nevada sun when not in use. It was maintained well by me. So earlier statement about delamination issues on 5 year old fiberglass trailers is malarkey. This like saying most new red cars will have faded paint after 5 years.

These days I see a of a lot more fiberglass trailers on the road than aluminum ones. Cheers

Skibane
Explorer II
Explorer II
Max-4 wrote:
Can we get some information about build quality with the listed units above? Thanks


Neither Thor nor Forest River regularly get rave reviews for their build quality. They're huge conglomerates, and build products with an eye towards minimizing labor and materials expenses, and maximizing profits.

In this regard, some of the smaller, independent brands are considerably better.

Since you're in Canada - Have you looked at Escape or Bigfoot?

Max-4
Explorer
Explorer
Can we get some information about build quality with the listed units above? Thanks