Tuesday, October 3, 2023


RV Review: 2021 Grand Design Solitude 3540GK

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. 

Grand Design 3540gk floor plan
Grand Design Solitude 3540GK floor plan

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).

Page Contents

The Good

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. 

Solitude step animation
Grand Design Solitude 3540GK step animation

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. 

The downside

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. 

My Views

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.


Boondocking Score


The Grand Design 3540gk is a large, very livable fifth wheel that has outstanding living quarters and huge tank sizes for off-grid use along with solar capabilities and an optional generator. The "racetrack" AC plus standard and optional insulation components make this a great choice for full-time RVing. The wide body design and large slide rooms make for spacious interior, but that width also creates challenges for anyone looking to get into smaller spaces. Still, this is an exceptional combination of details.
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.


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2 years ago

Thanks for the review!
Would it be possible to add a link to your writings on residential refrigerators? This is a point that I go back and forth on!

Abe Loughin
2 years ago

As a Grand Design owner, Momentum 397th,and former rv technician, I have to add one thing to your review. Grand Design has unrivaled customer support and service. The only other manufacturer that takes nearly as good care it’s owners is Tiffen motorhomes.

Bob M
2 years ago

When you do the reviews, It would be nice if you tested a physical RV. Would like to know how the quality is. Is the a/c, range hood and water pump loud? How is the TV reception with the antenna. How are the appliances. Plus I’m sure other will have examples. We need to give exposure to how the quality, workmanship is to try and force RV manufactures and RV parts manufactures to produce Good quality RV’s.

Vanessa Simmons
2 years ago

Minor point…looks like the headboard is too small for a king mattress. Would prefer a queen and split the difference in the night stand so both sides have usable space. USB ports next to the bed?

M j
2 years ago

I hope it’s put together better than our 2020 ST380FL. Between multiple water leaks from poor plumbing installation, a black tank that doesn’t close and runs backwards to the gray tank, rubber roof peeling and almost every window valance either already has fallen off or is about to fall off and the list goes on. This is a box that is falling apart. The only plus is Grand Design has said they will cover this past the warranty since we are on the road currently and the warranty runs out during our trip. We’ll find out if that works out in April.

Mike Sherman
2 years ago

Good basic review, gave some info for those making initial, general inquiries. Not all questions can be answered in a single review, regardless of it’s length or depth. Solid cabinets add substantial weight. Residential refrigerators can be a problem because they are not made to roll down the road, technicians avoid them for a variety of reasons related to RV usage, and the gas/electric option is superior so you have choices on dry camping sometimes or hook-ups. California likes to turn off the electricity when it gets breezy, so if you are in a park with full hook-ups, gone for the day, it is good to discover the frig automatically switched over to propane to save your food. As with any RV, there are trade-offs. Want a washer-dryer? Loose storage space. Want a BIG rig? Don’t go too far off-road. We full-time in a similar rig, 42′, pretty much stick to full hook-up sites but enjoy the option of dry camping if necessary for 2-3 days.

2 years ago

Chuck, no matter some of the comments, I think this is a nice addition to the newsletter. Of course I will look at it much closer when I go out to actually look at it.

2 years ago

Nice review on the “ lipstick” items. The real meat is the construction and its materials.
The roof sheathing g is OSB. Not plywood. Why? The best roofing sheeting is plywood not OSB especially when the floors are sheeted in plywood.
If your buying the best why not use the best material.

No shock absorbers…you would think a unit at this price level would have shocks.
Shocks dampen the ride and with the moryde set up you would a great suspension.

It’s a trailer and all trailers will have problems…the real proof is how those issues will be handled by the manufacturer.
Submitted with respect

2 years ago

I ordered the 384GKR and took delivery 1st quarter of 2016, mine was one of the first three produced so I’m told, the msrp was around 98k, i obviously didn’t pay that much, but I ordered mine with the help of the west coast rep., and had dishwasher installed, the command system for the generator, onan 4kw self contained (battery separate), residential fridge, wanted ice and water in the door but it wasn’t available at the time, 4 slides, and when I went and picked it up at the factory, I got a tour, and by the time I got it back to the dealer I chose in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Bishes RV, I had a small list of items that needed to be addressed in the inspection, then I had the dealer install my front load washer and dryer from my Teton that I traded in on the new one. few issues since then, all taken care of by Grand Design, exceptional value for the money, and the others I looked at back then were 25k to 50k more in price. I think mine is called 384GKR 43′, 4 slides.

Last edited 2 years ago by DENNIS KOGLER
2 years ago

Nice review if your reader is a first time, know-nothing about RV living. But for those readers who have done their own homework or are experienced campers, this review is useless. Sorry to burst your bubble on a new column. I expected better.

Cindy Walker
2 years ago

I like the floor plan except if you decide to put in a washer and dryer you lose the pantry.

2 years ago


Sorry to say but this review read more like an advertising brochure. As others have stated, reviews should look at the critical items not the bling.

Are you just reviewing the sales brochures and summarizing them or are you actually physically looking at the RV itself?


Chuck Woodbury
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike

We are reviewing the literature and all other input we can find. We present these as an overview. Keep in mind, we are doing 365 reviews a year, no easy task. We want to provide our two-cents worth, then those interested can follow up if they wish. We do ask for comments, which we feel adds valuable information to the discussion.

tim palmer
2 years ago

I am not a fan of large slide rooms that have all the heaviest of appliances in them or slides that have plumbing in them. That means flex lines for water and drains. I would rather have smaller, lighter, slides.
So what is the extensive down side to residential refrigerator that you have written so much about?

Norris Bryan
2 years ago

What is the reason you left out the price of the unit?

Chuck Woodbury
2 years ago
Reply to  Norris Bryan

Good question. We should have and will do so in future reviews

2 years ago

I’m repeating a couple comments below because they’re SO importait: Fit and Finish are huge, as most new RVs are sadly lacking in this area. Are the cabinets solid wood? So the doors fit well and work smoothly? What is the floor material? Is the toilet porcelain or plastic? You get the idea. And PRICE is essential in any useful review. Hope to see these in future reviews…

John Sciortino
2 years ago

Can you include your comments on the “ fit and finish “ in your reviews? As you know, some units aren’t built very well when they leave the factory.

2 years ago

…,and the price is ????

Tommy Molnar
2 years ago

The “10” boondocking score must just mean you can park without hookups. There is little chance a trailer of this size is going very far off-road.

Tim Pittman
2 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Some of the best camp grounds I’ve been to in our 40 ft motor home are campgrounds with desiginated sites and no hook ups. Many forest service camp grounds are in that category, and they will accommodate any size vehicle.

Sink Jaxon
2 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

I agree, why need a 90 gal FW tank if you’re going to be on city hook up all the time?

Jefferson C Beifuss
2 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Dispersed camping in National Forest lands in the west are frequently just that. Driving down a dirt road, pull off into an approved site, and you’re camping. With Covid, rules and time limits may have changed, but I’ve seen some enormous rigs in the back country. You just have to watch that dirt road! Some are as good as blacktop, some are 4×4 trails.

Sharon Boccelli
2 years ago

Looking at Grand Design. We have a 98 Thor 5th wheel that is 21 feet and have loved it. One small slide and everything is manual. We want to move uo to just 25 or 26 feet but can’t find anything that size on the east coast. Don’t know why they don’t offer that. Do you?

2 years ago

Did you look at their Reflection 150 series? 29’ is the smallest unless you can find one of the dealer stock only models; a couple of them are smaller.

Winnebago owns Grand Design & they have fifth wheels too!

D Haley
2 years ago

Cougar 26 or 28′ and floor plan where exit toward front kitchen in back. Safety wise I think it’s great.

D Haley
2 years ago

23MLS keystones cougar 26′ 5th wheel. A very nice camper.

2 years ago

Our Rockwood Signature Ultra Lite 8244WS fifth wheel is 26′ 9″ long and 96″ wide. But it is a 2016 model and the newer versions of the same model are longer (29′?). And it is fiberglass-sided, not aluminum.

Tom Cox
2 years ago

Arctic Fox 27-5L is 29 feet, 6 inches. Well built top to bottom, front to back and very nice interior. Check it out.

The Grand Design 3540gk is a large, very livable fifth wheel that has outstanding living quarters and huge tank sizes for off-grid use along with solar capabilities and an optional generator. The "racetrack" AC plus standard and optional insulation components make this a great choice for full-time RVing. The wide body design and large slide rooms make for spacious interior, but that width also creates challenges for anyone looking to get into smaller spaces. Still, this is an exceptional combination of details. RV Review: 2021 Grand Design Solitude 3540GK

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