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RV Product Review

Jeff Revisits the Popular R-Pod

Every once in a while, an RV comes along that seems to set a new standard in the industry. Its cosmetic good looks, features, and functionality all add up to a vehicle that becomes very popular. Well, the R-Pod trailer from Forest River has been around for a few years now, but it’s still flyin’ off the dealers’ lots, and there’s several good reasons for that. You know, the R-Pod, its cosmetics is what makes it really easy to identify and part of one of the things that’s made it so popular today. The colors are great, the graphics are minimal. You know, it just looks nice. And part of what makes it really great to tow is its overall shape. That rounded configuration makes it very aerodynamic. The front up here, this helps cut through the wind, regardless of what kind of tow vehicle you have on it, that it just makes it really, really aerodynamic. And on the back, it’s rounded down a little bit, and that, too, helps to ease its passage through the air. Now, in this particular floor plan that has a kitchen on the back, they brought the back end down straight, and that allows a little bit better cabinet space in the back for the kitchen. And the width, one of the things that you also see on the trailer, of course, is the fact that it has the fenders and the tires on the outside of the trailer. So the trailer is a little bit narrower than a standard one. That lets you put the tires and fenders on the outside, and that means you don’t have wheel wells on the inside of the trailer to have to build cabinets and such around, and that’s kind of a convenient thing. for the designers. 

And there’s a few other features on the outside here that are worth talkin’ about as well, so let’s take a closer look. Now, this particular floor plan of this trailer has only one exterior storage compartment. They use this really nice, new, high-tech magnetic latches, which are really handy, and this compartment runs all the way across the trailer on the front; and the back, it’s a little bit shallower. It’s not quite deep enough to be able to put a lawn chair or a camp chair in here. Those will have to go in your tow vehicle or on the floor, for example, inside the trailer, but this is big enough. It can accommodate tools and small general hardware, and if you have longer items like tire pumps or anything that’s under about six and a half feet long can go in crossways across the front. So it’s a small compartment, but it’s fairly functional. Now, one of the easy spotting features on the R-Pod– and it may be something that part of responsible for its popularity–is the fact that the body is fairly narrow. It’s about 6-foot-6 outside, wall to wall. That not only helps to make it a little more compact and, you know, seemingly easier to tow; it also makes it a little less prone to wind resistance. I mean, it makes it slip through the air a bit easier. But that narrow body means it’s possible to put the fenders and the tires on the outside, and that, too, is what gives it a look that is a little bit different than your average RV, and it’s part of the popularity.

This version of the R-Pod is called the Hood River Edition, built in Dallas, Oregon. Has a couple of features that are different than the standard R-Pod. First, it’s got about 3 inches more suspension or chassis lift. That’s provided by the design of the rubber torsion axle, which is a really great way to provide a soft, smooth suspension for a trailer like this. That extra 3 inches of lift means that you have extra clearance. So, if you wanna get off the pavement and go to a campground in a remote spot on a dirt road, you have less likelihood that you’re gonna be scraping or bottoming out on anything. And the Hood River Edition also includes these really cool heavy-duty-looking kind of off-road mud-and-snow tires. Gives it the little bit of that rugged Northwest look along with the custom wheels. It’s a fun package.

One of the factors that makes small trailers like the R-Pod so popular is slide-out rooms. Now, this trailer is approximately 17 feet long in the body, but it’s got a 9-foot slide-out which is darn near a full wall slide-out in something like this. Now, this slide-out contains the dinette over on this end and the refrigerator here which is adjacent to the rear kitchen, and we’ll see more about those when we go inside the trailer. But this slide-out adds so much extra space. It’s not extremely deep, but it’s deep enough that that adds extra floor space, lets you make the dinette a little bit bigger, and generally speaking, it adds a lot of livability to a small rig like this.

Well, the outside of the R-Pod, the cosmetics is what catches people eye the first time, and there’s good reason for that. It’s a great-lookin’ little trailer. But let’s take a look on the inside. There’s a lot of features in there that really make you realize why it’s so popular and what makes it so great for livability. Little R-Pods have been pretty well known for having a tremendous amount of space and functionality on the inside. They’ve done a good job of designing things. Now, this one happens to be the R-Pod 179. It’s got the rear kitchen, side dinette in the slide-out, and a forward bed. Now, this rear kitchen arrangement, this is really great for cooks because, if you happen to have cooking as kind of an emphasis for your RVing, this is a nice setup because it covers wall to wall in the rig. You’ve got a lot of open counter space here for working on foodstuff. Little cover comes off the sink, and then, when you’re not using the sink, of course, you have more space there, and over on the other side, your generic suburban two-burner stove. Over on the side here, this is the back end of the slide-out, and, of course, you have your Dometic two-way refrigerator– actually, this is a three-way because it’ll do both 120-volt AC gas and 12-volt electric– and a nice-sized microwave oven.

This version of the R-Pod, the 179, has what amounts to being, like we mentioned on the outside, pretty much, a full-wall slide that includes the refrigerator, the microwave, and this dinette. And this U-shaped dinette is, for a little bitty trailer, it’s pretty darn big. I mean, you can accommodate four people sitting around here very easily for a card game or something like that, and it’s pretty comfortable. The seats are–you know, you can adjust the cushions and such as needed, and this table is portable. So, in addition to positioning it inside where you find the best use for it, you could also take it outside, for example, and use it in your campsite. And it also adjusts for level. And this isn’t quite so smooth operating–at least, I don’t do it right– but you release it, and this folds down far enough that you can turn this into a bed area as well. Lock it back up there. So this turns into an additional sleeping space which would be kind of snug unless it just happens to be a couple of little kids. So, if cooking is important to you, when you’re looking at a floor plan, you know, you kind of look at what you wanna emphasize or what you really need or want out of an RV. If you got a cook in the family who really likes that, then this would be a good choice because of that big kitchen across the back end. And this also would be a good one for entertaining because you have this good-sized dinette. This floor plan includes a wet bath. It’s got a toilet, kind of a built-in shower, and a really small sink in the corner. Another one of the R-Pod floor plans, on the other hand, has a bath that goes across the back of the vehicle with a separate shower, so it kind of depends on what’s important to you. If you like–if you really want a good quality– a good-sized shower, you’d probably pick that other floor plan. This one also has a full-sized bed up front, and we’ll take a quick look at that. Jeff: What you might describe–it’s full-sized bed. Maybe you can call it an RV queen or an RV full size, but it’s plenty wide because of the small overall size of the trailer. It’s like the trailer is about 6-foot-6, wall to wall on the outside. The bed space is about 6-foot 3-inches approximately from wall to wall, so for the average sized person, they’re gonna fit it just fine. I can’t say that I fit, but, then, that’s because that’s my problem because I’m too tall for this sort of thing, but it was a very comfortable mattress, and we slept okay on it, and that’s kind of, when you’re looking at RVs and you have your priorities, one of my personal priorities is having a comfortable place to sleep more so than having a giant bathroom, for example. So this would be kind of a floor plan that I would be interested in, and my wife likes to cook, so the big kitchen would be cool for her. This would be a great floor plan for us. But the bed area, you got good-sized windows on both ends for plenty of cross ventilation. Nice illumination up here. We’d kind of like to see a couple of lights up by the head of the bed, but, you know, that’s one of those small details. Everybody has different opinions about those things. The television is on a mount, so you can swing it around. You can watch it from the dinette area or move it back and be able to keep watching it from the bed area. And this, of course, is also adjacent to the stereo which is really close to everything. Next to the bed, you got a nice hanging wardrobe for shirts and things, and that’s top– tops another set of three storage drawers. There’s a surprising amount of storage in here, and there’s also storage overhead, up above the dinette, which is very handy. The R-Pod was a good matchup for our Nissan Frontier pickup and would likewise tow well with other small vehicles.