We've returned from our first real trip in our new Legend - a 4-night tour through eastern PA, Maryland and West Virginia, staying at state park and national forest campgrounds. Here is our initial review:
2014 Sprinter chassis:
--Flawless. The 4-cylinder/7-speed drivetrain blew us away. Refined, quiet and very capable. I started as a skeptic about the 4. We ended up with one instead of a 6 due to a clerical error and we are thanking our lucky stars that this happened. The little engine is at least as powerful as our former T1N 5-cylinder and far more refined and quiet. Power is adequate for everything we asked it to do, even in the mountains of WVa. I'd never go back.
--Favorite new feature: Blind Spot Assist. This is a side radar thing that lights up a red triangle in your side mirrors if there is a vehicle beside you in the next lane. It warns you if you turn on the turn signals when a lane change would be ill-advised. Yes, I know how to set my mirrors properly in order to eliminate the blind spots. Nonetheless, I quickly came to value the extra set of "eyes". Recommended.
--Runner up: Lane Assist. This one beeps if you start to drift out of your lane without first turning on the turn signal. Sounds annoying, I know. But it is very well-executed and genuinely helpful. It makes a lot of subtle decisions, such as adjusting its tolerances depending on the width of the lane (cuts you a break if the lane is very narrow), and overlooks crossing the inside line on a tight turn. This feature is interesting as a quantification of various driver distractions. I noticed that it is very difficult to fiddle with the radio or GPS without drifting a bit.
--The Becker Map Pilot nav system is interesting. It takes a kind of minimalist approach to navigation, with fewer features and options than they typical Japanese interfaces that I am familiar with. Definitely takes getting used to, and there are plusses and minuses, but I warmed to it during the trip. The routing quality was good, and the voice and visual directions were very clear. There is no touch screen, though, and I did miss that. Entering addresses with the little knob is a pain. Voice recognition is above average, but not perfect. I really like the current speed-limit display on the screen. You can set it up so that the nice lady-in-the-box will warn you if you exceed the speed limit by a user-specified amount. Should save a ticket or two. Really like the navigation summary in the dashboard display.
2014 GWV Legend coach:
--We went with Great West primarily due to their reputation for basic build quality. We were not disappointed. The coachwork is solid, robust and quiet. Compared to our previous Airstream Interstate the difference is like night and day. Everything done with solid wood or 1/2" plywood, all properly screwed together. Not a piece of fiberboard, staple, or rivet to be found. As a result, it is very quiet and solid. The only serious rattle was traced to the plastic tray in the Keurig coffeemaker (which doesn't really count, since we were warned upon delivery to remove it for travel). This is a job for a piece of velcro.
--We are very happy with the layout. Our erstwhile Interstate was a front lounge model and we do miss all the wide-open space up front, but the Legend rear-bed layout is definitely more practical. Nice to not have to crawl out of the head-side of the bed for a nighttime bathroom visit.
--Love the tri-fold bed (a GWV hallmark--although recently cloned by Advanced RV). Very comfortable and easy to configure for day or night. We did have a minor malfunction: One evening, the bed stopped half-way down and wouldn't budge. I crawled underneath to investigate and quickly discovered that a nut had come off a little machine bolt in a locking mechanism, causing the bolt to fall out. I couldn't find the nut, so I held it in place to complete the bed-down cycle. After a quick trip to Tractor Supply the next morning, all was well.
--GWV advertises themselves as having "the most storage space in any B-van". Don't know if that is literally true, but there is a LOT of space. After years of squeezing all our stuff into our Interstate, we had space to spare, and with far more convenience. We had planned on two hanging closets (one in the front and one in the rear). But, our semi-cusom front closet has turned out to be so roomy that we don't really need the back one, so I put in some wire shelving and turned it into a pantry. Real luxury. Oh, and there are acres of space under the free-span rear sofa-bed. We got a long, wheeled under-bed plastic tray and used it for all our shoes. Works great and there is still plenty of room.
--Our custom Outback 2800 watt inverter is awesome. Quiet and works seamlessly. With our two big coach batteries it has no trouble at all running the air conditioner. It is obviously not going to run it for long periods, but it worked great for cooling down the coach after an afternoon in a sunny parking lot.
--We really didn't get to try out the Espar. Too hot for the furnace, and we had shore power and so ran the on-demad water heater on 120VAC. The water was hot and reliable.
--Bathroom is far roomier and more comfortable than we were used to. I was worried that the sink on the toilet side of the bath would be a pain, but it is actually quite convenient, at least for males.
--In the Legend, the window shades are mounted horizontally rather than vertically. This is fine, but unfortunately the ones in the back were mounted such that they slid from the rear to the front. The problem with this is that we like to leave the shades open a crack near our heads while sleeping. So, I flipped the shades around so they open from front to rear (an easy job). Problem solved.
--The rear shades were mounted a little sloppily and did not close completely. Another straightforward adjustment, but shouldn't have been necessary. There were a couple of small issues like this--I suspect related to the move to Alabama and a new workforce. Still, many fewer workmanship issues than with the Interstate. I am sure that GWV would correct all this stuff under warranty, but it is easier to just do it myself.
--I am very pleased with my custom-designed control panel. The row of toggle switches (Inverter, Propane, Refrigerator, Electric Heat, DataComm Power, Media Power) permits very convenient and intuitive direct control of all the major systems, and permits fine-tunedf DC load management. I am no luddite, and do a lot of home-automation projects. But, in a B-van, I think that direct, physical controls make a lot more sense than the menu-based touch panels that others are starting to use. Much more convenient and no custom logic boards that will be impossible to replace in the future.
--We specified a ShurFlo pressure accumulator tank in the fresh water system, and it is great. Eliminates banging when the pump runs--makes it almost silent. These things should be standard.
--The huge NovaKool refrigerator is great. Glad we went with a 12V-only compressor unit. Much better performing than our old absorption unit and no "keep it level" nonsense.
So, not perfect, but a very, very good shake down cruise. No leaks, no squeaks, no serious problems. Second time B-van owners are notoriously fussy, and we are no exception. We will continue to make tweaks, but the Legend has proven to be a great choice for us. Not sure how we could have done better.
Here's the van at Seneca Rocks: