Advanced RV - General price premium over other brands?


New member
Sorry, long post. Too much caffeine. Wrote this to supplement the many interesting posts by Davydd about ARV. Hopefully someone will find it useful.

My spouse and I recently finalized our ARV build and wired the second (large, non-refundable) deposit to them, so we are committed. Here is the process that got us to this point. In 2010 we rented a Roadtrek RS Adventurous and spent a week camping in Michigan’s upper peninsula. We discovered that we love off-grid camping in a fancy van, but hate generator noise, especially our own generator noise. Figured it wouldn’t be long until someone came out with an “all-electric” class B, which happened in 2012 when Roadtrek introduced the E-Trek and ARV introduced their first generation vans. We couldn’t bring ourselves to get serious about buying from a brand new producer, so we ordered an E-Trek in early 2013 from the dealer we rented from in Michigan (American RV in Grand Rapids, which was great, then sold to Camping World, which is horrible). Fast forward 6.5 years and 100,000 miles. We enjoy our travels in the E-Trek, but after careful consideration (including three ARV Fests) we decided to plop down the first (refundable) deposit and custom configure a 4x4, standard-length Sprinter.

ARV is rather explicit that their new builds start around $250k, and, especially for a 4x4 Sprinter with all the optional comfort, convenience, and safety package upgrades it will be well above the minimum. How does one justify that expense? We view an ARV custom build as substituting for a second residence somewhere warm that we saved for throughout our working years and, now that we are retired, no longer desire. When we bought the E-Trek we built a large climate controlled detached garage, which definitely enhances my (not so much “our”) enjoyment of having an RV. It’s a fun year-round play pen to putz in when not traveling. Suffice it to say that Mom and Dad taught me to take good care of my toys.

The experience configuring our ARV has been fun but time consuming. It is like building a new tiny house, so lots of nitty-gritty details - not for everyone. We plopped down our first deposit in February 2019, which reserved a spot in the build queue and got the Sprinter ordered. The expected delivery date is February 2020. We spent 3 days in August and another day in September working in person with the design team in Willoughby, OH. ARV states that most people finish the in-person part of the configuration process in 2 or 3 days, so I guess we embraced the task and opportunities to customize more than many ARV clients. Over the past two months we have worked with ARV via email and a few phone calls to refine the exhaustive “configuration file” for our build. Within a few hours of confirming finalization of our configuration we had a price, which is very close to our expectation when we submitted the initial deposit last February. We did not haggle over price - it was accept it or revise the configuration. We are fine with that and think the new van will be ideal for our all-season travels.

Perhaps the thing that we found most difficult about the configuration process is not dwelling on the cost and benefits of each detail in the build. The design team tries to keep things focused on configuring your ideal van, then they give you a price quote for that ideal, then you can opt out or reconfigure. There is some truth to “if you have to keep asking, you can’t afford it”, so at some point we decided that we are fortunate enough to just go with the “dream on” paradigm and see what we come up with. Again, it is not for everyone and would not have been acceptable to us prior to having traveled extensively for over 6 years in our current van.

Our Sprinter chassis is listed by MB as built and in transit to ARV from SC, so the initial February 2020 delivery date will probably turn out to be a good estimate. In the mean time we will continue to enjoy our Roadtrek. Sorry, we are not going to reveal here the bottom line for our ARV build, but take a look at the pricing of their previously-owned vans and you will get a ballpark estimate. If you are still interested, attend ARV Fest, tour past builds, and talk to owners in person to refine your expectations.

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