Tuesday, September 26, 2023


RV Review: 2023 Grand Design Imagine XLS 23LDE—Nailed it!

Today’s RV review is one of our first 2023 models, the Grand Design Imagine XLS 23LDE. I’m starting to pick up on some of the new rigs coming out and, of course, this is the place I’ll share those with you starting here. 

Highlights of the Imagine XLS 23LDE

Two things I noticed right off the bat with this trailer that almost made me cheer. Except I’m writing this at about six in the morning and only one of the two of us in this trailer are awake. Don’t poke the bear and all of that. 

First of all, no stinking windshield in the bedroom! Instead, the bedroom has a padded headboard and there are cubbies on either side of the bed that are big enough for a CPAP machine or any of those noisy electronics we’re not supposed to look at before we go to sleep. 

But we all do. And then we have weird dreams. 

Under the true queen-sized bed there’s storage, of course, and a nifty sliding compartment for things like shoes and whatnot. There’s also a shoe garage under the cabinet by the rear entry door. 

Further, there are nightlights on either side on a short but flexible arm. Each side of the queen-sized bed also gets two drawers and a hanging closet. This, my friends, is how a travel trailer bedroom should be done. What’s more, this bedroom has its own entry door. 

I’ve noticed that lots of RV doors are now losing their windows, which is a bummer. But this bedroom door does have a window. This is the one door where I would think no window would be okay. 

The second thing that makes me happy about the Imagine XLS 23LDE

I mentioned two things. No. Solid. Steps. This trailer features real, traditional, albeit aluminum, folding steps—the way things should be. Have I ever mentioned that I absolutely despise the solid steps only because of the amount of time it takes to deploy them? 

I do. 

Further, you can’t just hop in during a quick stop. Instead you have to fiddle with the dumb feet on the solid steps. Also, the arc that they need to open makes them unusable in some storage facilities. Further, whatever schmutz is on them is now in your camper when you swing them in. 

But I recognize the solid nature of them. Lippert does have the Solid Stance Step Stabilizer available for the steps on the Imagine XLS 23LDE. 

Anyhow, Grand Design is using more traditional steps in this trailer, which makes me happy. So it seems that they’re actually listening to real-world feedback. I’ve seen in more than one poll how people feel that the solid steps have more disadvantages than advantages. So it’s not just me. 

Rear kitchen in the Imagine XLS 23LDE

There are a few travel trailer design features that get a lot of feedback in this space. One of those is a rear kitchen—and here we have one. Other than the small ovens, Grand Design does a good job with their kitchens. This one is no exception. 

Plenty of drawers and cabinets make this a usable prep space. Also, there’s a nice wide amount of countertop. Further, there’s a cabinet just behind the Trailer Chef with more drawers and additional counter-height prep or service space. 

The table top in the 2023 Imagine XLS 23LDE is interesting in that it’s on a single pole. It can easily be pushed up and down once you’ve released a latch. Some of these RV dinette tables are pretty fiddly. This one is not. 

Also, there are theater seats in the slide room. These feature both heat and massage function. Yeah. 

I know one of the complaints about rear kitchens is that your stuff just gets shaken up a lot. While I haven’t found this in my own trailer, know that Grand Design is still using old-fashioned simple leaf spring suspensions. So I wonder how much different the experience would be. The fridge is in the slide room, and not all the way at the rear of the trailer. 

Mid bath

Trailers with the bathroom in the middle make a lot of sense to me. The bathroom splits the rig in half and there are two doors between the main living space and the bedroom. Again, I know some of you don’t like this. I do like how Grand Design uses a Nautilus shower door, which is like a big window shade. The Nautilus door also has a built-in squeegee. Another plus. No stupid glass shower door.

Big pieces of glass in moving vehicles makes no sense to me. I’ve done the warranty claims. You never do get all the little shards up, and you’re in the bathroom with bare feet.

Water system

I haven’t used one of these Nautilus water systems before where everything is in the front pass-through storage compartment. They are becoming more common in travel trailers and have been a staple in fifth wheels for years.

This one’s interesting in that it’s perpendicular to the door and seems to be more “in” the compartment than some. For example, on the Ember it’s more isolated from the compartment.

Boondocking and travel access

Another reason I like these normal trailer steps is that you can quickly get in at a travel stop. This is where you’ll find that you can access the whole trailer, sort of, in travel mode.

The reason I write “sort of” is that you do have to access the bathroom from the bedroom entry door and the kitchen from the kitchen door. But everything is accessible—so they get a gold star.

In summary

This whole trailer shows why Grand Design has such a good reputation with buyers. The company has a reputation for being very attentive after the sale, which is a good way to measure any business. 

But so many things about this model show that the company is listening to the buyers and reacting with the product. The interior is light and airy, and the company still uses lots of windows, including windows in the doors. 

But they also aren’t following trends that don’t make sense—like windshields in bedrooms and those solid steps. Have I mentioned that I don’t like those? 

Overall, as a couple’s trailer, it’s hard to fault this one (other than my usual gripes of small ovens and cheap vent fans). There aren’t significant changes over the 2022 model—just because Grand Design got things right. 

More from Tony

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson—me!

Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing hereat StressLessCamping and in several other places.

You can also check out his RV podcast with his wife, Peggy. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!


Tony Barthel has been a life-long RV enthusiast and travels part-time with his wife where they also produce a podcast, write about RVs and love the RV lifestyle.


  1. Just looked at one. The steps are cheap. I’ll take the solid steps any day over the steps they have. 20lb propane tanks? Really? Couldn’t do 30lb like everyone else? They skimp on a lot of standard equipment on other rigs. The fan in the bathroom isn’t a max air. It has a little dinky fan. Again, what is standard on other rigs isn’t on Grand Design. I’ll pass….

  2. As the owner of a Grand Design travel trailer since 2019, I can confirm that the original company’s well earned reputation for quality construction and “for being very attentive after the sale” is no longer deserved. My trailer, built 3 years after the sale to Winnebago, is no better or worse than those of any of their competitors. I have experienced the same failures as other brands involving furniture, cabinetry, electrical wiring, chassis, etc. Their after sale customer service has also been equal to the low level one expects in the RV industry. I love the floor plan of my 22RBE, and would consider a future purchase of a Grand Design product, but I would not expect to receive better quality or treatment after the sale than any other manufacturer.

  3. I will be really interested to see how much these actually weigh in actual use once you fill it with your stuff plus water.

    The unloaded weight to GVWR being only 1,398lbs, I’ve got to believe when you camp at no hookup campgrounds like we have out west (no dump station) and then have to travel at least a little with filled tanks, you’re going to be overweight.

    Wonder how much that’ll matter.

  4. We’ve gotten SO used to the two-door design on our trailer, I don’t know if we could go back to a single-door layout. Be advised though, that the Solid Stance Step Stabilizer does not fit all stairs. We ordered them and found they did not fit our trailer. There was quite a hassle trying to return them but we prevailed. I’ve never seen the Nautilus water system before so I watched the video. Cool. A very nice couples trailer.

  5. While I like the floor plan in a CG, I think the rear kitchen on the leaf spring suspension would be a problem for us. We currently have a leaf spring TT with a combo wardrobe/pantry in a rear corner. It took us a while to figure out how to even keep hanging clothes on the rack; there’s a tremendous amount of bouncing.

  6. I’ve never been overly impressed with Grand Design trailers. Just “OK”… nothing more.
    Middle of the pack with a blustery name.
    Many other brands have better layout, features and execution.
    But I certainly agree about the fold-out steps and for the same reasons. For “never move anywhere” rigs, the solid type are great…but for trailers on the move (like mine) …I think they are a PITA.


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