PDA

View Full Version : Moving from 2014 Roadtrek CS to 2017 Ascent - Some initial thoughts


nbalthaser
03-17-2017, 01:12 AM
I'm a happy owner of a 2017 Pleasure Way Ascent and for the time being also the owner of a 2014 Roadtrek CS Adventurous. Here are some reasons why I selected the Ascent and am selling the CS.

1. 3 feet of extra length makes a big difference. I loved the length of the CS but I found that I couldn't park it in standard downtown parking spaces. In parking lots I'd have to take up two spaces length-wise. We use the Ascent as a regular second car and I use it as a mobile office plus we love in Montreal so being able to park in normal spaces is a big deal.

2. With regards to the 3 extra feet, what did I give up? On the CS the extra 3 feet was allotted to a full height pantry, a half height closet, a third captain's seat behind the passenger seat and about 6-8 inches space in the rear. I found I never used the hanging closet. Some people might find it useful but I didn't. The pantry was nice but again it was a lot of space and I ended up just filling it with junk that I didn't need. The third seat on the CS was nice but my daughter is now old enough that she likes to sit in the back and watch TV as we drive so that seat isn't needed. The extra space in the back was nice. I have to admit that but I found all I used it for was storing chairs, a grill and a portable table. Now, I store those in the garage unless we plan on using them so no big deal. Giving up the ability to park the Ascent anywhere just isn't worth the extra storage. Funny enough, I've been smarter about storage with the Ascent and despite not having the extra storage of the CS I have the 3 upper cabinets on the Ascent still empty. Go figure.

3. I much prefer the layout of the Ascent over the CS. The CS was long and dark inside with the driver's side taken up with floor to ceiling refrig and microwave plus a floor to ceiling pantry. The passenger's side mid-section was blocked by the bathroom and the wardrobe closet. On the Ascent, the passenger side is wide open front to back with nothing blocking the windows. This makes for a much more open feeling. Even though the Ascent is 3 feet shorter, it feels more open and spacious because of the wall of windows. The Ascent puts the bathroom and refrig/micro combo on the driver's side. This makes a lot of sense since both go floor to ceiling - you may as well just put them on the same side. Plus, the bathroom needs to be a bit wider as does the refrig so why not put those on the same side as well, it gives you a tad more aisle space. Even though the CS is longer, the kitchen on the Ascent blows it away. I have two flip up counter tops which actually gives me a lot more counter space when I need it. When I don't need it, they are flipped down. I don't like the idea of permanent counter space on a B since space is premium.

4. Build quality. I know this is a hot button with folks but I have to say that Pleasure Way blows Roadtrek out of the water when it comes to build quality. By build quality I mean the actual construction and the quality of components and the design of things. Here are some things on the Roadtrek that just drove me crazy: a) The storage unit above the cab was just a bad idea. My spouse and I would constantly hit our heads when coming into the cab. The Ascent doesn't have that storage area and we can easily enter the cab from the coach. B) The cushions on the ottomans in the rear of the CS were not attached and would inevitably fly around while driving. Really silly design. On the Ascent but the seat cushion and the back rest are latched down. Have never had any of them fly around. C) The TV mount on the CS is unbelievably cheap and Roadtrek needs to replace it. It is "latched" into place with a screw knob that will inevitably vibrate loose resulting in a TV swinging around in the back as you're driving. This never failed to happen to me and I had to pull over all the time to reattach it only to have it vibrate loose again. On the Ascent, the TV attached with a proper latching and locking mechanism. I have never had the TV come loose while driving. C) Speaking of other flying parts, the CS had an awesome nightstand/table that would slide out from under the wardrobe on the passenger side. Great idea but in typical Roadtrek fashion its execution was cheap. They secure the table in place with a flimsy plastic part (the kind that holds the table top in place when it's stored). This part also inevitably will vibrate loose and when you accelerate you'll find that table flying out from under the wardrobe and landing in the back seat. D) The bathroom on the CS has a little drawer and it is shockingly cheap: just a whole cut into the wall and a wooden box stuck in. The "drawer" sticks out into the interior of the wardrobe closet behind it making the closet space less useful. It is unfinished and poorly designed. Roadtrek needs to do better here. Again this is just poor execution. E) There's another nightstand on the driver's side. This one has a flip out leg that the table top rests on. It is really cheap and mine ripped off the wall and had to be repaired. Again, poor and cheap execution.

5. Cabinets. This one is related to build quality but it deserves its own section. The latches on the cabinet doors and drawers on the CS are awful. I can't state that loudly enough. They are cheap and I had so many of mine break that Roadtrek literally just sent me a bag of replacements. I kept the bag handy because it seemed like every trip one of them would have to be replaced. The other problem with the CS cabinets and drawers is that they never stayed shut while travelling. They either flew open or were tightened so tightly that you could hardly get them open. There didn't seem to be a middle ground. I have yet to have a single cabinet or drawer open on its own on the Ascent. Additionally, they are all easy to open and close. The Ascent appears to use superior hardware for hinges and door stays. I don't know why Roadtrek can't just copy them and pay a bit more for their hardware considering they are in the same price range. Speaking of doors, the bathroom doors on the CS need to be redesigned. They rattle and the pin locking mechanism is a nuisance. It seems like they added the pin locking mechanism as a bandage because the doors were flying open while driving. If this is the case, Roadtrek needs to revisit the design. The Ascent does not have the problem because they use superior hardware with the latch and hinges. The Ascent has proper door hinges while the CS has a piano hinge which means by design it cannot be adjusted. I find this a bad design decision for a full length bathroom door on an RV where things tend to move and need adjustment.

6. Lighting. The CS features LED tap lights which are great on energy savings but poor in terms of design and usage. They don't dim and each one needs to be controlled individually. When the lights on the CS are on, they are very bright and cold. The Ascent has multiplex wiring and two control panels for all the lights. Any bank of lights can be dimmed and there's a master light switch to turn all banks on or off. The master control remembers the dimming level on all banks which is also a plus.

7. Gas mileage. The CS gets great gas mileage with its 6-cylinder engine. I could get around 22 mpg on the highway going the speed limit. The Ascent gets even better mileage with its 4 cylinder 7 speed transmission. I get around 25-26mpg on the highway going the speed limit. Those extra miles per gallon really add up on a trip.

8. Shades. The CS has pleated shades that offer two different levels of privacy/sun protection. I like that. However, the night shades are not black out and let a significant amount of light in. The Ascent has MCD shades which offer superior black out at night however that's it - there's no way to block out some of the sun during the day. Also, the CS shades on railed and the Ascent uses cheap velco to keep the shades in place. I have to give the CS the win here.

9. Wall linings. That doesn't sound like a big deal but it is a nuisance. On the CS the wall linings are attached with snap buttons. These buttons have covers and they fall off constantly. Shut the back doors and a button falls off. Slide the sliding door shut and a button falls off. I had so many buttons falling off that Roadtrek just sent me a bag full of button top replacements that I keep in the glovebox. This seems like another design problem. Not sure why, but I haven't had a single button pop off on the Ascent.

10. Refrig. The refig on the CS is huge. Like 9 cubic feet or something. It has a proper freezer as well. Here's the thing: Many will disagree with me but I don't want to take up space with a huge fridge. I found I never used all that space. It just sat there. When camping I generally only have the electricity hooked up. I don’t keep my sewer hooked up nor my water. I use my tank and dump when the water tank gets empty. This way, I can easily unplug the RV (like my Volt) and just drive to the store to pick up some things. Maybe if I was boondocking out in the wild for days at a time I'd need a huge refrigerator but I don't do that so the huge refrigerator is a waste of space. The plus side is that the fridge uses a compressor. Pleasure Way needs to move to compressor refrigerators. I've got a 3-way in the Ascent and I'll reserve final judgement until I use it for awhile. I never had a problem with battery charge on the CS when using the fridge, even in 100 degree plus temperatures so I'm not sure what the advantage is for the 3-way. Also the door latch on the CS is inferior to the Ascent. If I had heavy items stored in the fridge door, the door would often swing open on me while driving. Super annoying.

11. Heating. The CS uses the superior Alde water and radiant floor heating system. It is wonderful and allows me to switch between electricity, gas and gas/electricity. I like have the different energy source options. Plus the Alde system will use heat from the engine as well. All around a great system. The Ascent uses a separate furnace and Truma AquaGo instant hot water heater. The heater works fine. It's pretty quiet and doesn't use a ton of propane. It's -15 here in Montreal the last few weeks and we haven't been using much propane to heat the rig. While driving, the heat from the cab is enough to heat the whole coach and the coach heater generally doesn't run - even when it is -15 Celsius outside. While I prefer the Alde system, the Ascent setup works fine and is more easily serviceable and tried and true technology. I haven't had a chance to use the Truma system as the rig is still winterized so I'll report on that later.

12. Window in bathroom. Last but not least, why don't all class Bs have a window that opens in the bathroom? I love this feature so much. Not only is it practical for letting out steam and odors, but the bathroom just feels more open and pleasant. This is one of the pluses of having the bathroom on the driver's side.


Overall, the CS is a great vehicle but for my needs, I find the Ascent superior. Being 3 feet shorter makes a world of difference when you're using the rig as a second vehicle. You can park pretty much any place without reservation or needing to think about it. The build quality of the Ascent is also a big deal. Things just stay shut and in place on the Ascent. It gets old having to clean up the CS every time I drive: ottoman seat and back cushions on the floor, the tv swinging around, tray tables on seats. Cabinets and doors open and contents spilled out. It seems like minor stuff but just think about how annoyed you'd be if you had to clean up a normal car like this every time you used it. The shame of it is, all this is correctable by Roadtrek.

EBH
03-26-2017, 08:50 PM
We just love ours, for the same reasons that you mentioned.
Had it for five years and drive it to Newfoundland and back to Alberta every Sumer.
Best travel van built.
Enjoy!!
Ed

skipsteller
04-08-2017, 07:30 PM
Hi nbalthaser,

I have a 2016 Ascent and I'm very happy with it. I like all the things you mentioned. There are only a few incidentals I found to improve on:

1. The solar panel is so close to the vent fan that I've yet to find a way to mount a rain hood on the vent fan.

2. I noticed the RT Agile has a couple of folding cup holders under the window between the rear seat and the ottoman, low enough to clear the shades and high enough to clear the bed. I'm looking at pics of the Ascent metal frame in that area (provided by PW) to see where I can hit something solid with cup holder screws, but I'm still cogitating on how doable that is without drilling some false holes.

3. I found a couple of different ways to listen to oldies while tripping down the road:

a. The Audio 15 bluetooth works great with my IPad to play stored songs while the IPad sits comfortably in the glove box.

b. I just got an Onyx Plus Sirius radio and a sandbag base to mount it in the cubby hole on the dash right behind the steering wheel. I also got a separate USB out/power in cable to get power from the USB outlet right beside the AUX IN in the cubby hole (to keep from having to drape the power cord down to the 12V outlet). It all fits neatly except the sandbag base is a bit tight... but fits. For now, the antenna is on the dash against the windshield and reception is great. I'll see how reception is driving in different directions and go from there. I also got a separate/matching remote control and it works great to prevent having to lean over and squint at those small buttons to make changes.

4. PW stopped providing a spare tire after 2015, opting instead to provide a can if fix-a-flat with their roadside assistance number and saying something to the effect of well.... flats don't happen that much anyway Well.... OK, but I can just hear the roadside assistance folks on that rare occasion when I'm out in the boonies with a shredded tire and it's so hot out that even Ahab the Arab (Sheikh of the Burning Sands) wouldn't stick around. And then I tell them I don't have a spare.... No spare huh, uh, gee, no spare huh, well, uh, hummmm. Not quite the kind of adventure I'm fond of. So I special ordered the spare tire carrier from PW when I got the Ascent. I found it curious though, that although the 2500 Sprinter uses 14X1.5, R14 ball lug bolts to hold the alloy wheels on, PWs spare tire carrier uses 1/2-20 studs and cone style lug nuts.... and I've yet to find any ball style lug nuts in the 1/2-20 thread size. But.... I'm guessing that's OK because the PW folks confirmed that they are the correct lug nuts to use with their carrier and the MB alloy wheel spare.

5. I noticed that new for 2017 are the rear and side door bug screens. Sounds nice, but am I really gonna miss not having them?

Happy camping!
Skip

nbalthaser
04-08-2017, 08:02 PM
Hi, Skipsteller! Thanks for the reply and nice to hear your thoughts on your Ascent as well. Regarding the screens, I'm not sure yet. I have to see how the summer months are. I had a 2014 Roadtrek CS and I wanted a side screen on the sliding door. I had one on the rear doors and didn't use it too much. I like the screens and the only thing that bothers me is on the side door, there is a part of the screen along the right (looking from the inside) that does not roll up. I think this is because there are cabinets above and they have no place for the rolled up screen to go but it bothers me as I really would prefer the clean look of the screen fully rolled up. I have contemplated removing the sliding door screen, that's how much it annoys me but I'm waiting for summer and believe it would not be easy to do so.

Enjoy your Ascent too! I think they are just incredible rigs and grow impressed daily at their build quality.

2s4s8s
04-11-2017, 10:25 AM
I was wondering how everyone is connecting the wiring for the tail light and license plate light to the vehicle when installing the spare tire carrier?

Does it involve cutting / soldering to the vehicle wiring harness?

Has anyone come up with a way to add these lights without altering the existing lighting wiring harness?

It would be better to avoid cutting into the lighting wire harness. Also, it would be wise to disconnect the battery before any soldering of connections is performed.

Are the connectors used for the rear tail light assembly available separately (as replacement parts)? If so, they could be used to make the new spare tire lighting harness a “plug-in” addition instead of “hard-wired” which would be better as no alteration of the vehicle lighting wiring harness would be necessary.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

hiker man
04-11-2017, 05:39 PM
I looked closely at the Ascent, but ended up with a Plateau TS instead. Dealbraker for me was the passenger seat is not allowed to swivel. Pleasureway has great build quality and better configuration than Roadtrek.

nbalthaser
04-12-2017, 11:07 PM
I looked closely at the Ascent, but ended up with a Plateau TS instead. Dealbraker for me was the passenger seat is not allowed to swivel. Pleasureway has great build quality and better configuration than Roadtrek.

Yep, they have since fixed with mid-year 2017 models. Earlier 2017 models do not have the swivel seats.

skipsteller
04-17-2017, 07:47 PM
Hi 2s4s8s,

Instructions for mounting the spare tire carrier and for hooking up the wiring come with the carrier from PW. The RV folks I got the Ascent and carrier from hooked up mine. Of course, the unexpected always happens.... unforeseen was that the LP tank had to be removed/dropped down to mount the carrier.... and then there was the wiring....following the instructions, the RV dealers best electrical folks only managed to kill all the rear lights and ended up taking the Ascent to a Mercedes shop to fix it. I don't know which wires they got crossed, but I did see in the instructions that it involves removing the tail light assembly and snaking the carrier wires up through the corner frame.

Good luck with yours!
Skip