If you’re in the market for a towable camper, it can be hard to narrow down the options, especially since there are so many to choose from. There are pros and cons to every trailer, and that makes choosing the right one difficult.
If you have been looking for a high-quality travel trailer or fifth wheel, then you have probably heard of Grand Design RV. Grand Design towable RVs are very popular and known for their excellent construction, but Grand Design isn’t the right manufacturer for every RVer. We want you to have the facts you need to understand how these RVs are built, so you can decide for yourself.
Bish’s RV has more than 30 years of experience helping RVers find their dream camper. Using our experience with Grand Design RVs, we want to teach you about the pros and cons of these towable RVs so you can decide whether or not one of their towable campers is right for you.
5 High-Quality Construction Differences in Grand Design RVs
1 – Lamination
Grand Design laminates the rear walls, slide walls, slide tops, and even slide bottoms of their fifth wheels and most of their travel trailers (the Transcend Xplor is an exception as it is a stick and tin camper).
A lot of seasoned campers prefer laminated sidewalls over aluminum, ribbed side walls because lamination protects your camper from water and weather damage. Laminated walls are also stronger and usually lighter than the typical aluminum sidewall.
Grand Design uses the highest quality lamination material on their campers. Even going so far as to pay their supplier a premium to get first pick of the best luan (a strong plywood) used to make laminated RV sidewalls.
Grand Design uses a pinch roll lamination process to laminate their side walls. This process is done in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment to improve the quality control in materials, preparation, and execution.
Most manufacturers use regular glue during the lamination process. Grand Design takes the process a step further by using lavender dye in their glue. This dye allows the manufacturer to see if the luan is fully covered by the glue. Full coverage means a stronger wall.
Once the pinch roll lamination process is complete and the camper is fully laminated, Grand Design RV does what they call a “drum and peel test,” to test the strength of the adhesion. This adhesion test measures how many pounds of pressure it will take to rip apart a wall.
It takes 120 pounds of pressure to rip apart the average laminated RV sidewall. But a Grand Design sidewall can withstand a whopping 550 pounds of pressure!
If a wall fails to pass the drum and peel test, Grand Design will remake that entire batch of walls to ensure top-quality construction in every laminated RV.
These kinds of extra quality control steps make Grand Design RVs some of the highest-quality campers on the market.
2 – Dual Seal Technology
Water is the biggest threat to a camper’s value and integrity. Grand Design’s sealing process is one of the main reasons their RVs tend to hold their value better than most campers.
Grand Design uses Titan dual-seal technology to help prevent water from entering their campers. The dual-seal is made with Mylar tape and PVC die-cut seals.
Mylar tape is a gummy material that stays pliable and does not deteriorate. The tape is so sturdy that it usually outlasts the camper itself!
The most common sealant on other RVs is made of butyl tape. Butyl tape contains very little rubber. Without the rubber, weathering can cause this material to start to break down within 6 months!
Grand Design RV uses Mylar and PVC on all of their seams where leaks commonly occur (roof to sidewall, floor to sidewall, and backwall to sidewall).
The PVC die-cut seals are cut the exact size of the component that needs to be sealed. This ensures the best possible protection from water intrusion.
3 – Insulation
Insulation quality is important for any RV if you want to be comfortable while camping. When you’re out camping, especially in a camper, being too hot or too cold is the last thing you need to deal with. After all, this is probably one of the reasons why you are considering or have already purchased an RV.
Grand Design’s insulation quality is top-notch. Each of their RVs, from the stick and tin starter travel trailer to the luxury fifth-wheel toy haulers, is built with a four-seasons protection package to allow RVers to maximize the amount of time they can spend camping each year.
This protection package includes residential insulated walls (lined with fiberglass insulation), a heated and enclosed underbelly, an insulated roof, and an insulated front wall/front cap.
Your passthrough storage space is also heated and protected from the cold. This includes your universal water bay. You can also use a thermostat to control your tank heaters and run them on 12-volt power. These features were all tested in zero-degree weather and are well above the 32 degree freezing mark throughout the camper’s coach and underbelly.
Grand Design’s Transcend Xplor has slightly inferior insulation compared to Grand Design’s other products, but compared to the industry standard, the Transcend Xplor still beats out the competition by a mile.
A Cherokee Grey Wolf travel trailer, as an example, does have a heated and enclosed underbelly, a roof membrane with heat reflectivity, 13,500 BTU AC, and a fireplace (which isn’t available on all models).
The Transcend Xplor not only has all of the insulation listed above, but it also has an evenflow heating system that evenly distributes the heat from the front to the rear without heated floor vents. This heat comes from a 35,000 BTU furnace that runs through the underbelly, providing heat to your tanks that helps them prevent freezing in colder temperatures.
4 – 300 Point PDI on 100% of Grand Design RVs
Every single Grand Design RV goes through a 300 point PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) before it ships out to the dealership. This inspection results in fewer issues, cleaner campers, and happier RVers.
Grand Design has spent more than $3.8 million on this process since the company’s inception in 2012. They are the only RV manufacturer that has done this inspection consistently on each and every camper for the past 10 years.
If you’re looking for an RV with quality control, look for a manufacturer who inspects their RVs before delivery.
You may be surprised to hear that this is not usually the case with other RV manufacturers. Some manufacturers don’t even do a walkthrough of their campers before they ship them out to the dealerships. Fortunately other manufacturers are beginning to follow Grand Design’s example. Jayco, for example, also opened a PDI center in 2022.
Many campers are mass-produced and/or made of lightweight material that isn’t necessarily the best quality. In this case, why would a manufacturer, who knows they make an inferior, or potentially defective, product, go through their campers to find problems when finding problems means they’ll have to spend more money? This might not be what you want to hear, but, unfortunately, it happens.
Grand Design’s PDI process shows they are a manufacturer you can trust. You can be confident that you’ll receive a high-quality, well-tested RV that is functional and ready to use from the get-go.
5 – Customer Care After the Sale
One of Grand Design’s most notable differences is the customer care they have after the sale. Every manufacturer claims to have the best customer service in the industry, but not all follow up on their promises.
Unlike their competitors, Grand Design has regional traveling service technicians throughout the US (soon to include Canada). These technicians are equipped with everything they need to fix any sort of problem with a Grand Design camper. Their techs can even make immobile campers operational again.
Grand Design is the only manufacturer in the industry to offer a service like this.
Grand Design has also built three different service centers solely for customer repairs. Grand Design has built these service sites to keep up with and resolve the problems that keep campers from experiencing the great outdoors with their families.
As most know, the black eye of the RV industry is service. Campers aren’t perfect, and problems occur all the time. Grand Design is doing their part to make service a better experience for their RV owners.
Lastly, Grand Design carefully selects the dealerships they work with. This allows Grand Design and the dealership they partner with to put their best foot forward to provide quality care for customers.
Grand Design does not partner with any internet-only dealers. Internet-only dealers are primarily wholesalers who look to quickly sell the RVs, but they don’t offer services after the sale. Grand Design is not involved with these businesses because they want to know their RVers will be taken care of beyond the sale.
Looking after their customers is one of Grand Design’s greatest strengths. Grand Design loves taking care of their customers and wants to turn a new customer into one who will own Grand Design RVs for years to come.
Grand Design’s Pricing & Business Strategy
If you have looked at a new Grand Design RV for sale, you may have noticed that it was listed at an MSRP price. All of their new RVs are listed at MSRP to ensure an equal playing field across dealers.
This means that dealerships can’t advertise new Grand Design RVs at a lower price than the MSRP. This creates an even playing field across the trusted dealerships the manufacturer works with.
One of Grand Design’s Core Pillars is being Dealership-Focused and Customer-Centric. These pillars shape the way Grand Design RV conducts business for both dealerships and customers. Learn more about Grand Design’s company pillars and how they shape how Grand Design does business.
Grand Design cares about being “dealership-focused” because they know it helps the RVers who buy their campers. Grand Design wants to incentivize dealerships to carry the Grand Design brand, and to also incentivize dealers to help Grand Design customers when issues arise. Their company pillars make this possible.
What are the Most Common Problems with Grand Design RVs?
Every RV, even a well-built one, has problems eventually. A camper travels up to 80 mph while bouncing down the road. Things shift and break, and moving parts are jostled in these hurricane and earthquake-like conditions. You wouldn’t expect your house to be totally fine after several back-to-back earthquakes, right?
Bish’s RV service departments tend to see issues with refrigerators and slide out mechanisms on Grand Design RVs. Do these problems occur all of the time? No. But, these are the most common problems that we have seen with Grand Design RVs.
Grand Design RVs come with a one year limited base warranty and a three year limited structural warranty. The base warranty covers the entire RV against all defects caused by the manufacturer during the construction process. The structural warranty protects the owner from any defects in the structural material. These two warranties protect you from any damage or mistakes that happen while the product is being made. These warranties do not cover damages from misuse, commercial use, or lack of maintenance.
Grand Design recognizes that issues come up, which is, again, why they only partner with dealerships they trust to take care of your RV and get you back on the road again quickly.
Is Grand Design Right for You?
Maybe! Every camper is different. Every person is different. You have specific wants, needs, and requirements for your camper.
If you’re looking for a high-quality camper that you know is going to last a while, then a Grand Design RV could very well be for you.
If price is a big factor in your decision, then you may want to consider another quality option that may cost less. The Jayco Jay Flight product line is another great option for a high-quality camper at a lower price. To read more about the Jayco Jay Flight, click here to learn more.
If you aren’t sure if a Grand Design RV is right for you, you may want to check out these other towable RV options.
Grand Design’s Comparable Competitors
Now that you know more about Grand Design and its campers, you can decide for yourself if they are a good fit for you. Check out these 5 Grand Design brands to see if one of them is the RV you’re looking for.
If your needs are different and Grand Design campers just aren’t for you, don’t worry! Bish’s RV has helped many customers find their perfect RV. We’d love to help you find another quality camper, whether it’s a travel trailer or something else entirely.