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40v13: RV Purchase

How we Chose

I think choosing an RV is a highly individual thing! 

We went through the same basic process in searching that we did when deciding upon the Rogue 32v.

The criteria:

  • Opposing slides (opens up the main living space)
  • Separate garage
  • Dinette (we later decided having more seating was more important to us)
  • Larger tanks (we want to do more boondocking)

Things we liked:

  • Bed in slideout (“east/west” seemed to open up the bedroom more
  • U-shaped kitchens

Things we didn’t like:

  • Main TV too close to the couch(es).  
  • Kitchen islands that were ‘peninsulas’ versus a true separate island.  The one in our old trailer made it difficult to move around.
  • Multiple sewer connections!   I hated this in our old trailer.  

Again we visited local RV dealerships, RV shows, and LOTS of YouTube videos!

This time around we used the same spreadsheet format to compare everything apples to apples.  Once we had identified a dozen or two trailers we switched the spreadsheet around so we could sort by columns (features) that were important to us. 

We then eliminated all the models that deviated from the basic floorplan that we preferred.  That done, we narrowed it down to a handful of our favorites – loosely based on aesthetics, perceived build quality, and features.   We created a document that compared each of these 5 trailers to the other, copy/pasting floor plans and pictures from each so we could see at a glance the differences.

The finalists:

  • Heartland Cyclone 4006
  • Dutchmen Voltage 4225
  • Keystone Raptor 423
  • Grand Design Momentum 395 MS
  • Alliance Valor 40v13

What we chose

The Momentum was one of our favorites for eye appeal, along with the Voltage.   We ended up crossing the Momentum off due to lack of storage (basement and kitchen), as well as the very cool L-shaped couch.  Loved the layout, but felt it put us on top of the TV.   It was also the only unit in the list that would have required us to create a custom split black tank flush system like we did for the 32v. 

The Raptor was nice and it would have saved us some money, but ultimately it just didn’t feel like it offered the same build quality, features, etc as the others we were looking at.

The Voltage was very tough to dismiss – the 2023 models include the 35th anniversary package with some goodies in it, as well as a lighter colored interior.  This and the Cyclone both had our favorite seating (3 love seats in a “cross-conversational” arrangement).  I believe that this was Brenda’s favorite model.

The Cyclone had a unique feature with a huge door side slideout, and a mid-coach entry (in the slide).  The features we liked most were the air compressor, slide-out griddle in the outdoor kitchen, extra shelf in the kitchen, tilt bed, weather proof ramp door, and Azdel sidewalls.  

Ultimately what led us to the Valor in spite of missing that third couch was the company values, attention to detail, and features.  We like the ultra quiet non-ducted AC, reinforced drawers, Azdel sidewalls, multipoint tie down system (“L-track”) in the garage, onboard air compressor, steel cage around water tanks, dimmer switches, soft close doors, and so much more.  It just felt to us like it would prove to be more reliable and maintainable in the long run.   We assume that we can tweak things to fit our needs – such as adding a third couch (or some sort of seating) if we have people over, adding a dining table in the garage, etc.

How we Purchased

We agonized over buying used vs buying new but eventually settled on a new trailer and a used truck.  There are definitely pros and cons to each but felt that fit us best.

We bought the unit from Hemlock Hill RV in Connecticut.

There are a few PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) lists out there that come in handy on the day of purchase.  We downloaded a couple of them, squashed them together into a single list, and then added a few checks of our own as we thought of them.   We notified the dealership ahead of time that we intended to crawl through it so they could allocate extra time for us to do so.  
In the end we did skip some of the stuff on the list but felt like we did a much better job inspecting than we had in our first coach!   
Update:  One thing we missed was the generator.  The dealership had it running for us, but we did not try powering the rig from it.  On our first boondocking trip we found that the power would momentarily fail every hour or two.  An odd problem, but that sort of illustrates why it is helpful to test all the systems as much as possible in the PDI.  A few dealerships offer camping on site as a means of further testing and getting familiar with the unit.