Advanced RV - General price premium over other brands?

joeerg

New member
Now they are selling some refurbished used units. Wondering about the price premium over other brands and whether anyone has had any experience with purchasing them?
 

Davydd

Well-known member
ARV has always sold refurbished used units be they retired rental units or buy backs. With rentals it is mainly a desire to present the newest thinking. With the buy backs it has been some who could no longer RV, some who have upgraded to a new ARV and some who simply did not follow through with commitment. The refurbishment is a serious attempt to bring older units up to current technology as possible and to recustomize to the new owner's desires. Those have mainly been going to people with more limited means and a shortened wait time desire. Since there are only a little over 50 in existence, those few that have bought that way in some ways have "won the lottery" or were just there at the right time. Just recently a botched order from MB was a godsend for another customer. Buyers have total control of what options and van color they desire. Currently the wait time for Sprinters has grown especially for the 4x4s. A dealer in Shreveport told me today they were na logged a year in getting 4x4s.
 

Marks71

New member
I've read through this thread and don't see any comparisons to Airstream Interstate (I have a 2015). We are really happy with our AI, but hearing about ARV piqued my interest and led me to consider our next purchase to be from them, to enable more customization. But the price premium ($220-250?) for a Sprinter Van is startling. AI's list in the mid $150's, but of course discount off of that . Let's say $130. VB air suspension (now available on 2016's) would add $6K, and with ours ... I spent $2000 with an outside contractor to upgrade solar panels, wiring, and controller. We get really great power mgt. It think the fit and finish are excellent and stylish looking (opinion only of course) compared to others I've seen, including the ARV's on their website videos.

Most RV's have their problems, including AI, as you can read on the forums. Ours have been pretty negligible. Truly ... an extra $80-$100K for a Sprinter B from ARV?
 

Taratupa

New member
Marks71 -

As someone who has looked at Roadtrek, Airstream and ARV fairly extensively, driven two of the three and spent some time in each, I'll give you my general thoughts, for what they are worth. I'm still dithering on what direction I'm going to go and don't yet own any of them, so I have no owner-allegiance. I think all three are very nice vehicles.

I've discussed my thoughts on ARV vs. Roadtrek in a previous post on this thread, so I won't repeat them here.

I initially looked at the Airstream Grand Tour. The biggest shortcoming of the AI, for my intended use, is the more traditional systems found in the AI. AI isn't available with an all electric/diesel set-up. It uses propane for the generator, heat and cooktop. It doesn't have the underhood engine generator or a diesel heater, nor does it have the option of large lithium battery banks. Those are expensive components, which would drive the price of an ARV significantly higher than the AI. I would guess that the systems and some of the other ARV special features probably account for about half of the price differential between ARV and AI. If those features aren't important for your use, then an AI may be a better value.

The price differential between a Roadtrek with the features described above and an AI is much less than the ARV, of course, but the Roadtrek interior finishes, while nice, are not equivalent (in my opinion) to either the AI or the ARV. And Roadtrek does not offer air suspension and a few other upgrades.

AI and ARV both have very nice interior finishes. As to which is more appealing, that's a matter of personal preference, as you noted.

I'd say that ARV combines the higher finish levels of AI with the more advanced systems available (as options) from Roadtrek. If you want both, ARV is the only manufacturer I've identified that can provide both.

As far as I can divine, the balance of the price differential can be attributed to ARV's customization of each vehicle. ARV allows a buyer to pick and choose chassis options and color, and all of the interior finish materials. ARV also allows extensive customization of the layout, cabinetry, accessories, lighting and just about everything else. All those custom design features are nice, but they come at a substantial cost, because building one-off vehicles takes a lot of design and administrative time and effort. ARV does not benefit from the economies of mass (relatively speaking, of course) production and assembly line manufacturing that AI and Roadtrek can achieve.

If the ability to engage in a custom design process isn't important for your use and desires, and you don't want both a higher finish level and the more advanced systems, then an AI or Roadtrek may be the better value. In that case, the choice between AI and Roadtrek would depend on whether AI's finishes or Roadtrek's systems are most important to you.

As I said before, I think they are all very nice products that would hold different appeal to different buyers based on their intended use, as evidenced by the loyal following each brand enjoys with its owners.

I have no dog in this fight, but perhaps you'll find my observations useful.
 

avanti

2014 GWV Legend 3500 I4
As a former owner of an Airstream Interstate, here are my two cents:
I feel that Airstream offers very good designs, finishes and conservative but high-quality systems. However, in my experience, the initial build quality was horrible. I documented all of this long ago over at the Airstream Forums, so I will not repeat them here unless somebody explicitly asks. I will say that I am not talking about the occasional lapse. I am talking about inexcusable "I don't give a s**t" sloppiness. As of when I tuned out of the Airstream community a year or so ago, feedback from others led me to believe that things haven't improved much. This was also confirmed in 2013 when we were shopping for our current rig and inspected several brand new Interstates personally. Since then, I have no data.

Now, I will say that few or none of the issues were unfixable. (Perhaps the most serious one was improper paint treatment on the body penetrations, which led to blistering rust around all the outside fixtures, such as the water fill port and the shore power plug.) That said, unless things have gotten much better in recent years, anticipate a fair amount of tinkering or else a lot of time and money at your dealer's service center.

I am not anti-Airstream. Quite the opposite. I have a romantic attachment to the Airstream name, and I like the good parts of the Interstate a lot. We loved the idea of owning an Airstream. If I ever find myself shopping for a third B-van, I will definitely take another look. By the time we sold our 2005 Interstate, it was in first-class condition, but it took a LOT of work to get it there--work that shouldn't have been necessary. I would not cross the AI off of your list, but I strongly suggest that you close your eyes to Airstream's slick marketing and glitzy finishes and take a cold, hard look at the build details. Take a screwdriver to your inspection.
 
Last edited:

Marks71

New member
Yep, systems, build quality, and customization are probably good ways to look at the differential. The more advanced systems aren't that important to me. I did spend $2K aftermarket to add 200w of rigid panel solar, with upgraded wiring and controller, but the way we use our van, most of the other I can live without.

Build quality is harder for me to speak to. I read the Airstream forum a lot, and see all kinds of complaints. Hard to know what % of ownership it represents, because forums attract complaints. As I said, ours has been pretty good, with next to no problems. I haven't taken things apart and looked behind the panels, so maybe there's a lot of sloppiness etc that's going on that someone more engineering-inclined would care about.

THANKS for the thoughtful responses

p.s. also looking at Leisure Travel Vans as an entry in the category with a good reputation
 

Davydd

Well-known member
Liesure Travel Vans is currently out of the business of converting Class B Sprinter vans. Class C only. That is an apples to oranges comparison.
 

Marks71

New member
Liesure Travel Vans is currently out of the business of converting Class B Sprinter vans. Class C only. That is an apples to oranges comparison.
Yes good point. I don't think it's completely apples to oranges. They're C, but a small C on the same MB chassis, and just a little larger than the van. Their price point is about at AI and their systems are pretty similar

But you're right, wouldn't make too much sense to compare price points

THX
 

Mr.Mark

New member
It would be nice to see some new info here on AdvancedRV from actual owners. Nice looking coaches.

Mark
 

Davydd

Well-known member
I'm working on my second Advanced RV. This time it is a challenge to pack what I have now in a shorty 144" WB Sprinter. It will be nothing like anything offered now. If you don't invest your time and effort in achieving what you want in an Advanced RV and really think another company can satisfy you, then you are wasting your time, IMO, to even talk to ARV.

I had two other Sprinters before I bought my ARV and I spent a lot of time upgrading, modifying, etc. to make them to what I wanted until I abandoned them because they still did not satisfy. With my ARV I haven't changed a thing other than add a beer bottle opener and a few 3M Command hooks.

On Facebook, Sue Valentine, is going to document her build of a short Sprinter with ARV via blog and YouTube videos with ARV. It is just starting. Sue has been full-timing in RVs several years, first in a Class A and currently in an ARV. She has gone the extra mile to apprentice at ARV while they build it.

Another person, in retirement, has gone so far as to work part-time at ARV. You might have seen Fred in ARVs video working on developing batteries and air conditioners. His ARV is a total custom design based on his previous DIY T1N Sprinter. You can look it up. He named his ARV, Gustav.

As far as seeing other ARV owners, probably the best place is the Facebook group, "B"ing in Advanced RV. Advanced RV has hosted an Advanced Fest every May for anyone desiring and investigating Class Bs. They hold a lot of workshops and nothing is hidden and you have full access to their shop and employees. There are several ARV owners there and they hold an open house to see what others have built. An ad hoc group of west coast ARVers hold an Advanced Fest West in September on the west coast somewhere. ARV's only association is they send a factory representative out to join the group. It is strictly informal make you own arrangements but you can mingle with the many ARV owners and each van is different and you can check out all the ideas. We attended last year.
 

Davydd

Well-known member
Maybe this article with an interview with the owner of "Radio Days" from Advanced RV expresses it better than I can in why you should go to Advanced RV. In the owners own words:

“I chose ARV when I decided I didn’t want an RV. That was the pivot point for me. I wanted more than an RV, I wanted a home. There is no RV that can be or do what Radio Days is and does.”

https://advanced-rv.com/radio-days-interview/
 

Mr.Mark

New member
Davvdd, I do have a couple questions if you don't mind. Since you have had several Sprinter chassis units, reading over at the 'Sprinter Poll', it's a little scary. But I do know that web info will attract more negative info vs. happy customers. I'm not undermining the people who shared their neg. experience, I would share my feelings too.

Have you had good luck with all of your Sprinters? What year is Alvar?

I have noticed that AdvancedRV has several different applications on the covering for the sewer connections. I did see where you said that you have heavy magnets to hold your covers down, would you do that again?

I have been all over this Sprinter site with a lot more to read. I apologize if I've missed the info somewhere.

Thank you,
Mark
 

Davydd

Well-known member
I've had a MY2005 T1N Pleasure-way Sprinter, a MY2010 NCV3 regular body Great West Vans Sprinter and Alvar is MY2015 long body Advanced RV Sprinter. I'm now waiting for a MY2019 VS30 short body Sprinter. As for as the Sprinter chassis goes I have had excellent results. The only chassis events were a power steering line coming loose and and an electronic DEF sensor failure both on Alvar. They were fixed under warranty in and out of a Mercedes Benz dealer drive in with no appointment in under 3 hours. On the road ARV made arrangements and appointments, overnight shipped, and I had a Nations second alternator swapped out in Scottsdale, AZ and a VB Air Suspension bag puncture in Shreveport, LA at Mercedes Benz dealers under ARVs warranty. Both appointments were as soon as the parts arrived and my desired convenience under 3 hours in and out. I've been more than satisfied.

On my Great West Van I had a Dometic roof top air conditioner failure. I seldom used my air conditioner but discovered it on a 100 degree day in Kansas in September. It had to be replaced. I was going to sell my GWVan and it languished in the dealer's shop for a full month. Then the dealer, unsolicited, up and offered to buy it from me. It was in November and I took him up on it though I sold it to him for much less than I had it for sale. He wanted it because he was a GWVan dealer and had no stock to show. In the meantime, GWVan went under and he carried it for more than a year. In hindsight I dodged a bullet and certainly did not want to carry it over a Minnesota winter.

I got the first nerf bar design with magnetic hold down covers. I think there was one previous to mine. ARV quickly went to a hold down design with twist locks. I don't know why because my magnetic covers worked well and I never complained but there was no way to lock them down for security. I'm guessing lockable design won out. I think that is the design they currently use. I like them better than the fiberglass skirts.
 

Davydd

Well-known member
Here is the latest Advanced RV video with Mike and Brittany discussing the value aspects of Advanced RV entering their 7th year. Committed to short Sprinters and looking to reduce cost with innovation and hinting they are marketing to the "outdoorsy" crowd. Their new plant, I think, will improve their efficiency and delivery time to reduce cost.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1FzSXAh6ec
 

rent

New member
For those of you who have gone thru the order / build with Advanced RV, would you describe the process on pricing? Is pricing negotiable with them? If so, what can one expect on the percentages off?

Thanks!
 

Davydd

Well-known member
For those of you who have gone thru the order / build with Advanced RV, would you describe the process on pricing? Is pricing negotiable with them? If so, what can one expect on the percentages off?

Thanks!
If you have to ask, then you can't afford it. (famous quote)

In other words, Lamborghini buyers probably buy because they want it.

There are no two Advanced RV's alike as every customer goes through a period of planning, selecting features, custom ordering the van through ARV, and then sitting down for a couple of days selecting every material and color the interior. A lot of people bring their own custom design ideas in plan and features.

There is no other upfitter, I'm aware of, that can provide you all this service and cutting edge design and features. To date the only limiting factor is they have only built on the Mercedes Benz platform but they have done a conversion of a box van for a business that I know of.

When I last asked they said they've taken back every ARV from customers except one for various reasons, trade-in for new, sickness, death or just hanging RVing up. That's why you don't see them in the wild. Those ARVs have been refurbished, brought up to date and re-sold. They have a published price which I think then could be negotiable. There is no dealer middleman.

My first ARV that I bought in 2014 price never came up until I took delivery. I knew exactly what I wanted without compromise but had a fairly good idea what it would come to. I also proposed and designed the electric articulating bed design they since built many of and I suspect they ate a lot of the development cost because I know as a design professional (architect) what my cost would be and I was constantly supplying drawings, getting feedback and was one on one with their staff frequently in the process they agreed to without a proven solution in hand.

Now I have a new ARV on order with deposit down that I first proposed in February 2018 that will be a totally new design they never built before. I have been providing them 2D and 3D design drawings since and getting feedback. They in turn have done their 3D drawings for my review and have done an exhaustive detailed weight estimation for everything to be built because the challenge this time was to build on a short 144 WB 2500 Sprinter without a lot of compromise in features to be comparable to my extended 24 ft. ARV, and believe it or not, a bigger bathroom. Hopefully they will capitalize on it because everyone building on a short Sprinter has now gone to a 3500 dually chassis with the exception of spartan designs with porta-potty mentality.

Hopefully it will all go well...and to date I don't know what it will cost. And besides the van cost it will have a lot of personal cost for me built in as well since we live 800 miles away but willing to travel and help as much as it takes, but not as much as one customer who stayed on as an intern and participated in building her van. :)

I also suspect every ARV owner's experience and story is different and there probably are a few savvy negotiators.
 

Top Bottom