Thursday, October 21, 2021


RV Review: 2021 Palomino River Ranch 390RL fifth wheel trailer

By Tony Barthel
Fifth wheel and motorhome buyers have had decided reasons for buying each configuration, oftentimes dictated by under-floor cargo space. But Forest River’s Palomino division has thrown a new choice into the ring with their new River Ranch fifth wheels that feature under-floor storage almost the entire length of the body of the coach. 

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 of each model that we discuss in this space 365 days a year.

Up to now, fifth wheels have a raised section and a lower section with the roof line dictating interior height. Part of this was dictated by overall vehicle height limits so the fifth wheels, and their air conditioners, could go under overpasses and such. But the folks at Palomino have come up with a good solution for this. 

By utilizing a Coleman-Mach air conditioning system that is typically found in mobile offices, they were able to create a fifth wheel with a single tall roof height for the entire trailer. Furthermore, by doing so they were able to put storage almost the entire length of the trailer facilitating over 480 cubic feet of under-floor pass-through storage. That is actually more than what can be found in many motorhomes. 

The Coleman-Mach AC system has mostly been used before on mobile offices rather than RVs. It has a robust filtration system like those used on homes, implementing a 5-inch x 16-inch x 22-inch air filter, which cleans the intake air for both the AC and Suburban furnace. The HVAC system uses the same ductwork for the AC and furnace.

At debut two floor plans will be available, a mid-bath model and a mid-bunk model. 

The River Ranch models have an 84-inch ceiling height end-to-end and no stairs inside, being all a single level. This may make owning one of these easier for folks who have trouble with stairs although, of course, there are still stairs to get into the unit. 

Owing to the size of this trailer, Palomino fits them all with residential-grade appliances including refrigerator and stove. There is also a tankless water heater as well. 

Options include a gas/electric RV refrigerator, a 5.5kW generator, dual-pane windows, and washer-dryer. 

These have fully laminated construction and feature Azdel substrates in the build process so water intrusion is less of a concern. Roof trusses are still wood but this is not uncommon, especially in larger fifth wheels such as this one. 


For people looking at full-time RVing, this Palomino River Ranch fifth wheel is a true alternative to other fifth wheels or motorhomes. Offering more cargo space than many motorhomes and a flat floor end-to-end, this is a significant model. The HVAC system, too, breaks new ground. 

The big decision might be if someone wants to tow around a trailer that can weigh 18,000 pounds.

The MSRP of the RV is $107,360.

Please leave a comment with your thoughts, pro or con, if you own this model RV or a similar one.



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8 days ago

Please advice… We are due to pick up our 2021 River Ranch 5th Wheel Friday. Seems there are alot of negative comments with no resolutions for the issues. Can you please share more detail with the issues you are having before we too have a 80k piece of crap.

Thank you

Patrick O'Keefe
4 months ago

2nd. Part of Warning !! So here we sit at home with an 80 thousand dollar piece of crap we cant use because of no A/C. The blinds inside are coming apart. You will literally spend an enormous amount time on the phone between your dealer who doesn’t give a crap, and with Forest River who doesn’t care either. Our time out in this piece of crap is over for this year. 80 thousand dollars and used it 3 months. I hope this two part warning helps someone from being burned like us. Oh one other thing…… don’t buy an extended warranty. You’ll have an uphill battle getting things fixed on the regular warranty so no reason to purchase a warranty that will do you no good. Save your money and find an independent who does RV work. You’ll be money ahead and a lot less BS !!

2 months ago

Yes we are having the same experience you with our pile of crap! The ac unit will not cool at all! It’s like an oven in this trailer! Our blinds are doing the same thing! The refrigerator doors will not stay shut! The biggest pile of crap I ever spent $80k on!
We are living in ours in Texas in 100• days! It is like staying in a hot box, While we are building our house!

Patrick O'Keefe
2 months ago
Reply to  Blinda

Sorry you guys are having issues too. They are definitely an 80 K piece of crap. Not only is it burning up inside but we have multiple other issues with it. I don’t plan to let this go on much longer if I don’t hear something from someone who can let us know that they are working on a solution soon I will be filing a lawsuit. I am not happy about this. We bought ours in March, and haven’t had one enjoyable weekend in it. 80k for this RV and not one call to say, yes we have a problem and yes we will take care of it. Even if they don’t have a solution yet, I would at least like for them to acknowledge there is a problem and they are working to correct it. We even purchased a Portable A/C unit, but still can’t stay in it. The temperature is up around 100 degrees in Oklahoma. We can’t even get it to 90 degrees in the trailer.

Tim Lavender
28 days ago

Patrick, I’m having issues with my 2021 Thor Challenger 37FH. Aside from not cooling worth a sh*t, there are too many issues to list. Fortunately, I am able to lemon it out with California Lemon Law.

I’m glad I read your warning as I was looking at this as a potential replacement.

Patrick O'Keefe
4 months ago

WARNING !!! DO NOT PURCHASE ONE !! We purchased a River Ranch in Middle of March of 21. Since we have purchased this over priced piece of crap we haven’t had one weekend trouble free. The manufacturer doesn’t care about you or your pile of crap you purchased, nor will your dealer. It’s a total run around getting anything fixed. Don’t get sucked in with its looks and hot talk about all the wonderful things it offers. Our A/C unit will not cool. We have called the dealer, and they don’t work on AC units and they said even if they did work on them it would be middle of July before they could look at it. Our problems began day one. This even goes for people who just purchased. Our internet in the ceiling was missing a wire so no internet. TV in bedroom the cord got pinched and they put in a different TV we can’t get to work. Our shower poured water into the storage below. Our black water flush doesn’t work. Our 2 sinks in the bathroom drain super slow. Total piece of crap !!

7 months ago

Forest river sucks as far as customer support. My experience is that they are 1 of the worst.

Jo Hite
4 months ago
Reply to  George

We are on our 2nd Forest River 5th wheel. We’ve had excellent service. BTW we just bought the
2021 Columbus Palomino River Ranch and love it! We are FT and it fits our lifestyle.

Mike Gage
4 months ago
Reply to  Jo Hite

Have you had any problems with the River Ranch?

Patrick O'Keefe
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike Gage

Gee whiz I wish we had their luck. Ours is an 80 thousand dollar lemon. Can’t even use it. If I could get my money back I would take it and never look back. Nice looking piece of crap sitting here at home.

Tommy Molnar
9 months ago

In my opinion, one of the downfalls of 5th wheels IS the steps to either the bedroom or front living room (my preference). This plan eliminates this problem. Finally. However, the downside, as I see it, is how we all know that stuff expands to fill space allowed. That means the ability to stuff more unnecessary items in all that underbelly space will overcome common sense. I know that would apply to me for sure.

But I love the idea just the same.

1 year ago

Several important items are missing from the description.
1) axle type and weight rating
2) Tire and rim sizes
3) low temperature rating
4) is the basement heated/cooled.
5) how many and type of batteries
6) solar peeped?
I was impressed that an RV type refrigerator was offered as an option. We’ve found that our Samsung residential French door bottom freezer refrigerator has less usable space than the 18 cu ft Norcold RV fridge we had in a previous unit.
Finally, all of that extra storage space could make it difficult for full timers to keep the weight of the onboard STUFF down so as to stay under the gross vehicle weight rating.

James ream
1 year ago

100 grand for a 39 gallon black tank? No thank you!

James Ream II
11 months ago
Reply to  James ream

You get a lot more than just a black tank sir!

Philip Smith
1 year ago

Forest River?! Check the literature about their customer support.

Ray Leissner
1 year ago

At 68 – 69 years old, we find the stairs handy. We take turns using the stairs to put our tennis shoe on. It’s easier to reach/tie your shoes while sitting on one step with your foot propped up on the other. 🙂

R Mutchler
1 year ago

It looks to me as if these are advertisements for these RV’s. These are not independent evaluations of an RV, they are a compilation or the manufacturers descriptions without a physical inspection and evaluation.

R. Schulz
1 year ago
Reply to  R Mutchler

Perhaps read the editors note.

Ellen L
1 year ago

They might think about re-naming the color of gray on the interior. Disfunctional gray just does not sound good.

Sink Jaxon
1 year ago
Reply to  Ellen L

Where did you read Disfunctional Gray?

Abe Loughin
1 year ago
Reply to  Sink Jaxon

Click on the floor plan, look at the kitchen island

RV Staff (@rvstaff)
1 year ago
Reply to  Abe Loughin

Thanks, Abe. Yep, there are four locations in the floor plan that are labeled “disfunctional gray”! Wow!!! 😯 —Diane at

Sink Jaxon
1 year ago
Reply to  RV Staff

Ah! I see it now..I never clicked on the floor plan. Obviously…and I agree with Ellen! and hello Diane! 🙂

RV Staff (@rvstaff)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sink Jaxon

Hi, Sink! How’s it going? Stayin’ healthy, I hope. Take care. 🙂 —Diane at

1 year ago

Really like the one level. It seems to open the space up more. I think this will be a big seller as long as they build it good.

Norm Wright
1 year ago

You mentioned the entrance stairs. How many risers are there, and how does that impact the Interior Space?

M Hale
11 months ago
Reply to  Norm Wright

Norm – click on the floorplan. It shows 3 steps from entrance to main floor level. Yes. it impinges some, but my concern is someone getting up from the table who might stumble a little. Pretty close to the stairwell.

William Duff
1 year ago

I am curious if the AC ducts are all in the floor like the older/cheaper mobile homes or are there wall channels to output thru the ceiling.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Duff
M Hale
11 months ago
Reply to  William Duff

William – based solely on the pictures, the outlets are in the floor. Fine for heat, problematic for A/C.

Roger B
11 months ago
Reply to  M Hale

Why problematic. Never saw a sticks n bricks built any other way. Should work as well since the system is more like s&b than mobile systems. As long as they add heat to the tank area.

5 months ago
Reply to  Roger B

Actually walked one with the AC running. Though the vents are on the floor the cabin was COLD. That unit had no problem with the outside temp at 80-85; when it gets to >100 we’ll see.

Patrick O'Keefe
4 months ago
Reply to  Richswarts

You are totally right with what your saying. We bought a River Ranch in March and its in low to mid 90’s and its 81 degrees in the trailer. It’s a piece of crap !

Kenneth Richardson
3 months ago

We bought one Memorial day weekend. We bought it in Ohio and live in West Texas. The AC in the unit will only cool the RV 8 degrees below outside temp. I was told by Columbus that most of these RVs that they manufactured have this problem…but not all of them. Airxcel (Coleman Mach) had a meeting at Columbus last week to try and determine what exactly the problem is. Evidently they didn’t figure anything out. I bought a portable AC to put in the bedroom and vented it through the dryer vent. It at least helps keep the temp around 80 (with a 100 degree outside temp). We are full time in this RV and don’t know what to do. The local Forest River shop had it for a week after we first bought it and asked us to get it off of their lot because they couldnt do anything with it. I had a residential guy look at it and he was surprised it was cooling as well as it is. He recommended a bigger fan motor to move more air. There is no room for air flow around anything. It only uses half of the condenser coil because the other half is blocked off. The AC internal temp is always 140-150 degrees. When outside temps are above 100, the compressors overheat and turn themselves off for 20 minutes, and then pump 100 degree air into the RV.

Patrick O'Keefe
3 months ago

Sorry you guys are having the same issue. It also turned out our ac unit lost its charge due to poor workmanship. One of the brazed fittings by compressor #2 was not brazed properly and leaked the front out. These are sealed ac units. No ports in them to be charged. AC company came out and checked everything and determined the unit had to be pulled, and that’s when we discovered no charging ports on unit, and saw the missed spot on the fitting that wasn’t properly brazed. So we’re sitting home not able to use our over priced River Ranch 390 RL trailer.