By Tony Barthel
Grand Design just announced a new Solitude 3540GK as part of a dealer rollout. This 2021 Grand Design Fifth Wheel Trailer is a larger RV at 38’ 3” in length with a 2,544-pound hitch weight and shipping/unladen weight of about 12,758 pounds. It features three slide rooms and offers either a dinette or free-standing table and chairs.
EDITOR’S NOTE: These reviews are not based on an actual physical inspection or test drive of an RV (with exceptions). We gather and interpret information from RV manufacturers and other sources to try to provide you with a sneak-peek about each model that we discuss in this space 365 days a year).
The Grand Design Solitude is a wider unit at 101” – much like some toy haulers. The construction is all aluminum welded including slide rooms with a painted gel coat exterior (as opposed to decals), so it should remain a showpiece for years. The entire vehicle runs on a MORryde CRE3000 suspension system that accommodates the 16,800-pound GVWR. Taking the 12,758 unladen weight into account, this gives just over two tons of cargo carrying capacity.
That will be important with the huge holding tanks on this unit – with 91 gallons of fresh water capacity, 100 gallons of gray and 53 gallons of black capacity.
With the 10-gauge wire in the solar prep, that means you could theoretically be out boondocking for a good long while. They also offer a 30-amp controller, 300 watts of solar and a 2000-watt inverter as an optional solar package. For those who would rather do things with a generator, there is a 4kW Onan unit available as well.
Grand Design also boasts no carpeting in their slide rooms and, on the subject of slide rooms, the bedroom slide is huge and features a genuine queen-sized bed along with the lavatory and cabinets for the bathroom. And that bathroom has a very large shower with a bench and linen closet.
There is also a huge linen closet in the nose of the vehicle along with two wardrobes. This truly is a very, very livable floor plan if you’re looking for something for full-timing.
If you do choose to ever come out of the bedroom, and that may be a tough decision, downstairs the Solitude offers a large kitchen with an island sink. You get a choice of a gas-electric refrigerator or residential model. Theater seating is actually on the opposite side of the coach from the television so you won’t be visiting a chiropractor after a night of movie watching.
There’s also a couch along the entire back wall of the coach, with overhead cabinets, which transforms into a bed.
Grand Design boasts about both the insulation of their coaches along with the cooling system, stating that their “racetrack” ducting allows for much more even cooling inside the vehicle. They also claim that the combination of insulation and tank heaters makes theirs a true four-season coach.
If you’re looking to check off option boxes you could include dual-pane windows, a third 15k BTU air conditioner and a king bed in this unit.
Every RV is a compromise of some sort. In this case you’re compromising maneuverability for an outstandingly livable floor plan, weight for large storage tanks and plentiful storage of your stuff.
Truthfully, you’re going to have to really look hard to find things not to like about this floor plan. It’s one that would do a good job of accommodating full-time living, including those times when you want to be far, far off the grid. I like that the company still offers a gas/electric fridge, as I’ve written extensively about horror stories with residential refrigerators in RVs – but there are plenty of people who swear by them.
If I were looking at larger fifth wheels, I would absolutely consider the Grand Design Solitude 3540GK a worthy contender in this market.
Please leave a comment with your thoughts, pro or con, if you own this model RV or a similar model Grand Design Fifth Wheel.