Monday, August 20, 2012

Kia Optima EX Luxury - First Highway Trip

So we took our first family road trip this past weekend, it was about 700 km round trip and included only two of my three kids.

For some quick info, I got 7 L / 100 KM as compared to 10 L / 100 during a regular driving week.  I thought that was great considering I was hauling 4 bodies and clothes for a couple of days.  My average speed was probably about 110 so I was driving fairly easy using cruise control for the large majority of the time.

It was pouring rain on the way to our destination..... I mean pouring and I was still able to keep a comfortable 100 km / hr going.  I know for a fact my tires are useless in the snow but seemed to be fine in the rain.

The drive was comfortable, both kids had enough room for a nap in the back seat and we had lots of trunk storage for what we needed to take.

I did run into one minor issue, while going up steep hills the cruise control had trouble holding speed which I found weird.  Instead of dropping back a gear it insisted on trying to get up to speed in 5th on the hills which was not working, I lost about 10-15 km/hr several times but it could have easily been prevented by down shifting.  Luckily I could manually down shift with the manumatic mode but without that I would have been stuck losing speed on the larger hills.  Next time I am in for an oil change I will ask about it.

Overall first road trip was great in the Optima.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Travel Trailer Sizes

Ok, so in my last post I said I would provide more info on travel trailer sizing, so here goes...

Travel Trailers in the under-4000-pounds - 

Range in size from the compact 13-foot trailer models up to those measuring approximately 22 feet. The larger travel trailer units are suitable for extended use, while the smaller units make great weekenders.

The 18-foot and larger models offer full bathroom facilities, including a separate shower and a fully equipped galley.Living room and dining-area space and furniture are governed in large part by the overall size of the unit, with the more elaborate layouts being found toward the upper limits in size, class, price and weight.

Travel TrailersThe larger models in this size class require some serious consideration of the tow vehicle selected. There is a wide range of vehicles that will tow this size trailer, but the tow vehicle must be selected with the total weight of the trailer in mind.

Prices for travel trailers under 4000 pounds can range from $9000 to $20,000.

Travel Trailers Over 4000 Pounds - 

Depending on the floorplan, these units -- like their smaller counterparts -- are suitable for large families or for extended use by two people. With the increased size (they range between 25 and 37 feet), there is a wider selection of floorplans available. Some of the options are aimed at the large family, such as a separate bunkhouse-style rear bedroom. 

For two people, the larger models offer generous living accommodations. Top-of-the-line models have facilities and space quite competitive with the larger motorhomes, but at more manageable prices. Slide-out rooms are becoming much more common in the larger units for the increase in living space they offer, but the buyer should be aware that sliders noticeably increase weight as well as space. Even when a new tow vehicle is factored in, the price range for the more expensive travel trailers is well below the higher-priced motorhomes.

Travel TrailersMost of these units will require a pickup truck or a truck-based vehicle, such as a Suburban or a full-size van for towing. Any of these tow vehicles, including a pickup truck if a shell is added, is suitable for "cartopping," the ability to carry a good-size fishing boat, for trailering anglers. These larger units make an excellent choice for a couple on a budget who want to spend extended periods of time in their RV.

Any size trailer has a major advantage over the motorhome when it is set up for living, since the tow vehicle is free for local transportation. Conversely, the trailer is only available for use when stopped, as opposed to the motorhome's facilities, which are available while moving.

Prices for travel trailers over 4000 pounds can range from $12,000 to $75,000.

In my next post I will get into some more info on tow vehicles.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Motor-Homes 101 - Class 3

So this post isn't exactly about motorhomes but rather the motorhome alternative..... travel trailers.  Travel Trailer use greatly outnumbers motorhome use at least in this part of the woods.  There is only one local dealer selling motorhomes as far as I know although you can find a decent selection in the local online classifieds.

Anyway the big obvious difference between motorhomes and travel trailers is the lack of a motor in the travel trailer, as a result you need something to tow it.  And don't think you will just hook the old CRV up to one of these babys and head out the highway.  You might get a pop up variety like this one from Jayco but only the smallest of these is under 2000 lbs, a CRV can only tow about 1400.  You can check some out at:

Unless you will be towing the smaller pop up type travel trailer you will need a pick-up truck.  And not just any pick-up truck.  You will need a full size pick-up with a towing package.  Even a modest size travel trailer can have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over 6000 lbs, and that is very modestly sized.  The GVWR is the weight of the trailer plus its carrying capacity.  You should go by the GVWR and not the weight of the trailer because by the time you add water, propane tanks, luggage, bikes, bedding, food etc.... you will be closer to the GVWR than just the weight of the trailer.  And if you pull a trailer with a vehicle that can't handle the weight you will destroy your vehicle's engine and transmission.

In my next post I will get into more of the particulars about travel trailer sizes and amenities as well as recommended tow vehicles.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Motor-Homes 101 - Class 2

NLClassifieds: Beautiful Tioga by Fleetwood Motorhome 1

Ok, so I've been doing motorhome research for a couple weeks now and have a few observations to share:

I can't see why you would buy one of these new.  The cheap ones are about $100,000 after tax, and like a new car they depreciate like a rock, but it seems even more so.  Most used models about 6 to 8 years old go for 30-40,000.  I guess that's the point that the owner either wants to up-size or down-size, or maybe has just gotten tired of the pink velvet interior.  But either way some of these machines don't get much use and you can pick a nice looking used one up for about 1/3 the original price.  If you get bored after a couple years you could just sell it again.

There are about 1000 different floor plans, models and layouts.  In fact it's difficult to find good comparison pricing material.  I went to Islander RV and they didn't have prices on anything, they also had limited selection of smaller motorhomes.  I'll save my full Islander RV post for later this week.

Class C motorhomes seem like the best bet for a starter motorhome for a small family.  They come with the bunk over the cab plus another bed usually in the back for anything over 24'.  Even the 21' - 23' ones have a sofa and table that can convert to a bed to sleep 6..... well 6 munch-kins but they can sleep 4 fairly comfortably.  I can't imagine the converted table is very cozy though.....

The Class A just seem too large for occasional use, they are the hardest on gas and are expensive to maintain.  Class A are the ones that look like a bus.  Not for weekend trips to Butterpot but would probably be nice if you were Snow-birding it to Florida for 6 months of the year.  They are the most like a home away from home.

Class B are like the traditional Class C motor-home but without the bed over the cab, which makes them look a bit nicer.  So you lose sleeping for 2 but get a nicer looking rig.  Good trade off if you only want to sleep two or three people, they are also slightly better on gas than the Class C.

There doesn't seem to be a large availability of motorhomes in this area, the travel trailers seem more popular by about 100 to1.  The largest market is in private sales and these guys that bring motorhomes in from the mainland and Florida, here is one of their ads:

So Class C motorhomes seem to be the way to go for occasional motorhome camping with a small family.  The 25'-28' models mostly have queen beds in back, bunk over the cab and a decent kitchen and bathroom.

But then you have to ask yourself..... why does everyone use travel trailers here and not motorhomes?