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We’re just back from a trip to Elkhart, Indiana, the RV Capital of the World, where we were honored to host the RV Business Magazine’s 2022 RV of the Year Awards. In between filming the official RV of the Year finalists and winner announcement videos, we managed to grab some behind the scenes video tours for you to watch.
In this blog post, you’ll find video tours and an overview for each of the five finalists. You’ll find the official Awards video and winner announcement at the very end of this post.
You can find out more about each rig – including specs – at their website. Most of the RVs we saw didn’t know the final MSRP yet, as supply chain logistics challenges have impacted pricing – an issue being faced by just about every industry.
We kick this series off with a quick interview with Rick Kessler, Executive Editor of RV Business Magazine, who helps manage the RV of the Year Awards every year.
Here’s our RV of the Year Video Playlist – including the official winner announcement video.
How is the RV of the Year Chosen?
In this first video, we share a quick 5 minute interview with Rick Kessler, Executive Editor of RV Business Magazine. We met up at the RV/MH Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana. It was so cool to walk around and look at RV innovations of the past, while discussing the criteria and selection process for who will win the award this year, for 2022! It’s amazing to see how much RVs have evolved over the decades!
Watch the video here.
Who are the Five Finalists for RV of the Year 2022?
Of the hundreds of RVs considered, RV Business listed many honorable mentions. But there are only five finalists for the RV of the Year Award. In alphabetical order, they include:
- East to West RV Ahara 365RL (fifth wheel)
- Ember RV Overland Micro Series ROK (adventure camper)
- Heartland RV Cyclone 4014 (toy hauler fifth wheel)
- Keystone RV Arcadia 377RL (fifth wheel)
- Winnebago EKKO (motorhome – Class C)
East To West Ahara 365RL: RV of the Year Finalist
The all new Ahara is a luxury fifth wheel offering from the relatively new company East to West RV (now owned by Forest River). Check out the video to come along on on our tour of this rig.
Our Quick Review
This is a very comfortable and livable unit. It feels very well thought out and laid out. Spacious with TONS of storage, we feel that this would be a very comfortable RV to live in full time. High quality fabrics on the furniture, access to all main areas even when the slides are in. Love that it has high cargo carry capacity, without being crazy heavy for a luxury fifth wheel. At 38 feet long, it would also be more maneuverable than many of today’s 40+ foot long luxury 5ers.
Loved the easy fold out sofa / bed. Probably the best one I have seen – a five year old could operate it! Interior styling was very nice, light, bright and modern. You could live with this for a long time without becoming dated. The light, neutral color palette allows you to easily update your decor with a few colorful accent pillows, artwork and accessories to give it some pop. Really liked the thoughtful design, storage and decor touches on this unit.
Outside, note that high bedroom slide at the front, which will prevent many future head bumps! It’s all part of the new bed slide system, which is discussed in the video.
Learn more: https://easttowestrv.com/fifth-wheels/ahara
Ember RV Overland Micro Series ROK: RV of the Year Finalist
Based in Bristol, Indiana (Elkhart County) Ember RV is a brand new company, with a team of industry veterans who really know what they are doing! See for yourself in this video tour of their new Ember ROK (rear outdoor kitchen).
Our Quick Review
This clearly adventure focused Overland Micro Series is a very cool new rig. This was just a prototypes that we got to tour, but we were very impressed with the quality.
The robust tubular chassis and independent suspension are some of the most groundbreaking changes. Loved the creative approach to features like a wheel chock/parking brake, gear box, changeable coupler, and innovative front jack. Also the exoskeleton which provides a rugged look and extra rigidity, with classy Ember logo.
This little rig has a LOT to offer compared to other small rigs we have seen. This ROK (rear outdoor kitchen) model is super cool, but if you don’t want a kitchen and prefer more cargo space for your gear, look at the ROL (rear outdoor locker) model. As you can see, there’s an option for a rooftop tent, and a rack for carrying gear like a kayak.
We really appreciated that these units are coming from the factory with many typically aftermarket products – like tire pressure monitoring systems, Battle Born lithium batteries, Thule roof racks, Goodyear wrangler tires, and more.
Inside, the futon style sofa folds down to a comfortable bed, swivel Lagun style table, great storage and pass through storage inside. And the rear outdoor kitchen has everything you need to camp in comfort.
Ember RV will also be producing larger 20-22′ long floor plans for those who want more space and comforts. We definitely are excited about this innovative new disrupter, and look forward to seeing how RV buyers respond when it is released.
Learn more: https://www.emberrv.com
Heartland RV Cyclone 4014 Toy Hauler: RV of the Year Finalist
Heartland Cyclones have been one of the most popular toy haulers out there for many years. They already have many great floor plans available, but the new 4014 is definitely something special. Check out our quick tour.
Our Quick Review
This thing is massive at nearly 47 feet and a GVWR of 21,000 pounds, so you will need a lot of truck to tow it, plus some big spaces to maneuver around and park it. That size could be limiting for finding campgrounds, especially if you want room to put down the rear deck, but this unit really shines in the open areas it was truly designed for. We can see this being popular in places like the Glamis sand dunes.
Really like how the 14′ garage area is big enough for any factory off road ATV, even a small car, yet has design elements that tie into the main living area. With roughly half of today’s toy hauler buyers using them as second bedrooms, office, craft rooms, or other flex space – instead of big toys – it is nice to have it little less garage-like.
Two full bathrooms, with residential touches in the living room, well equipped kitchen with full oven, fridge and a flip up butcher block extension for serving, dining or working – plus a great entertainment system. They put the RV patio side entry door inside the slide out, which has an amazing impact on the openness of the living space. The king size bedroom has a dresser with slide out counter top which can double as a work space while sitting on the bed.
Nice touch with stowaway steps for the rear deck. Really like the large gas grill outside, and the high accessibility of the front storage area with the lowered generator. If you are looking for a rig that lets you take it all with you, it is hard to beat this one.
Learn more at: https://heartlandrvs.com/rv-model/cyclone-4014c
Keystone RV Arcadia 377RL: RV of the Year Finalist
This is the nicest, and largest travel trailer we have seen. But it’s not just about looks. Check out our quick video tour with Keystone President, Jeff Runels to learn about the innovations you can’t see.
Our Quick Review
We were both amazed at how residential the Arcadia felt inside. Tall ceilings, big windows, no interior steps, and huge slide-out boxes that blend in so well. Especially with the flush floor slides with matching flooring, which make the Arcadia feel super spacious and homelike.
Great effort in creating storage areas, in spaces that might have normally been wasted. Beautiful living area, well equipped kitchen, and a handy butcher block flip up counter for extra dining, food serving station, or to work from using one of the dining chairs. Roman shades on the windows really add to the residential feel, and also practical as they can be easily removed to be cleaned. King side bed and barn doors on the large closet.
It really is awesome to see companies like Keystone answering the call of customers wanting better off grid power systems, and delivering with solar and large lithium batteries. My one concern with this rig is that at 37 feet long and being a travel trailer – not a fifth wheel – it could be a little tricky to maneuver. I guess that is all the more reason to have big solar and batteries, so you can spend more time on open land.
Different variations of the groundbreaking design improvements for the Arcadia chassis sound like such a better way to build. Wish I could have seen more under the skin to better understand and share with others. But these innovations will drive others to follow suit, and likely start showing up in RVs across many brands in the not too distant future.
Winnebago EKKO: RV of the Year Finalist
With Winnebago being based in Forest City, Iowa, this poptop Class C motorhome is the only one of the five finalists that we did not get to see in person. In an effort to share all five finalists with you, we asked Winnebago to share some video footage for us to view. We also found specs and photos for the EKKO on their website. Between all that – and touring its predecessor the Solis at the Florida RV Super Show a couple of years ago – we have a pretty good feel for this unit. And we think this is a totally cool and innovative little RV.
All photo and video footage credits, courtesy of Winnebago.
Our Quick Review
Built on the Ford Transit chassis with All Wheel Drive. This unit would be awesome for all season off-grid adventure with extra insulation, all water lines inside, massive storage for your gear, and factory installed solar panels and lithium batteries. Watch the video tour here and read on for more.
Love all the awning space with the main patio awning and the swing around one on the rear driver side corner. The driver and passenger seat spin around to face the living area, and there are additional automotive style seats in the dining space. Two table options for easy working, as well as eating. Twin beds in the rear, plus a pop top roof for extra sleeping area with penthouse views.
Great storage and tank capacities (50 gallons each for black/gray) for this little unit, but we do wonder if that 5 gallon cassette toilet will be limiting? We have never used a cassette toilet, so if you have, we’d like to hear your thoughts.
Very modern styling and clean lines, with a bold red interior option for the the brave, cool grey if you aren’t. We haven’t seen anything quite like this. It seems to be a very well thought out, innovative and capable rig, with innovative which we think will be super popular. And we look forward to seeing one in person, hopefully at the 2022 Florida RV Super Show.
Having seen the RV tours now, which one do you think will win RV of the Year? Let us know in the comments below!
And, the 2021 RV of the Year Winner Is....
Congratulations to Keystone, for their RV of the Year, the Arcadia! A beautiful unit, with industry-changing chassis innovations, and stunning style, inside and out.
PS. Stick around to the end for the outtakes!
These Other RVs are Also Worth A Look
There were close to 100 RVs considered for RV of the Year 2022. And while they didn’t make the shortlist of 5 finalists, here is a list of Top Debuts and Must See RVs, that were honored by RV Business Magazine for the 2022 model year. We look forward to getting a look at some of these at the Florida RV Super Show as well.
- Alliance Avenue
- Cavco PMRV
- Coachmen RV Cross Trail 20CB
- Cruiser Hitch 18RBS
- Entegra Launch / Jayco Terrain
- Fleetwood Frontier 36SS
- Forest River No Boundaries 10.8
- Forest River Palomino Backpack Edition 2912
- Grand Design Reflection 341RDS
- Jayco Eagle 335RDOK
- Kropf Manufacturing PMRV
- Keystone Raptor 420
- KZ Durango 311 BHD
- Mission Overland Summit
- Newmar New Aire 3543
- Thor Motor Coach Magnitude RS36
- Travel Lite Rove EV
- Vanleigh Ambition 399TH
- Venture RV 333VMI
- Winnebago Micro Minnie FLX Series
- Winnebago Hike 100 Series
- Aliner Family Expedition
- CrossRoads RV Redwood 4150 RD
- Dutchmen Voltage Triton Series 4271
- Dynamax Europa 31SS
- Forest River Riverstone 442 MC
- inTech RV Terra Twin Bed
- NeXus RV Rebel
- Renegade Classic 25th Anniversary
- Roadtrek Play / Play Slumber
- Tiffin Cahaba
Have you seen already seen any of these RVs? What is catching your eye? We would love to hear from you. Leave us a note in the comments.
GOT COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS?
Which RV do you think deserves to win, or at least caught your attention? We would love to hear from you. Drop us a note in the comments section below.