By Tony Barthel
Even before the pandemic made the market explode for RVs, I remember having people eagerly waiting for these Cherokee 294BH trailers to come into the dealership I worked at. When I was selling RVs I would have a list of people who had asked about these and, almost invariably, as soon as one would come in it would find a home with someone and go camping.
And why not? The Cherokee 294BH is a large, two-bedroom travel trailer that doesn’t break the bank and has many useful features. One of the first features that I noticed when we adopted the Cherokee line was the tire pressure monitors which were simple valve stem caps that would be green when the tire pressure was correct and red when it wasn’t, a simple solution to a common problem.
What made a lot of people want one of these is the bedroom at the back of the trailer that featured a bunk above a closet with a built-in folding ladder on the camp side of the trailer and a jackknife sofa in a slide room with a folding bunk above that on the other.
One of the things our factory rep used to explain is that someone could almost literally jump up and down in the tub and not do damage to it. He was quite proud of the fact that the tub floor was fully framed and well supported.
Another thing he would do is invite customers to pull the drawers out under the dinette which were really, really deep. It certainly made an impression. The U-shaped dinette shares a large slide room with another jackknife sofa. There’s a nice accent light between the two on the wall and a blue light above the slide room.
Opposite is a kitchen that features a wedge-shaped composite counter with a large black farmhouse sink. There’s that Furrion stove with three burners on top and the tiny oven that I would surmise isn’t good for anything that’s not flat like cookies or pizza. I don’t know why it’s so common to find the smallest oven available to the RV industry in trailers that can sleep so many people. At least the burner grates are cast and you can light the oven with the built-in igniter…
Something that would always catch customers’ eyes would be the fireplaces in these, with the 2021 models sporting a 30” Furrion electric fireplace. From my recollection, that fireplace alone sold quite a few of these and it is an unexpected feature in a more affordably priced trailer. In this trailer, there’s a space below the fireplace for shoes. Not a sexy feature but one that will play well in the real world.
But what impressed us at the dealership was the absolutely huge outdoor refrigerator in these. There’s a substantial outdoor kitchen that features a gas grill on a drawer arrangement with a metal housing. There’s also a metal drawer and even an ice maker included. The metal countertop and drawer make so much sense outside as opposed to the wood used in virtually every other RV’s outdoor kitchen.
Just adjacent to the outdoor kitchen is a door that takes you directly into the bathroom so you don’t have to traipse through the trailer to get to the bathroom. Nice.
Another plus – I’ve kvetched about requiring apps to operate a camper in the past with the main complaint being that you need to fumble around to get to do anything. But the Cherokee 294BH has an app that allows you to control functions in the trailer but there’s also a full set of proper switches – those who like the app-based control have it and those who prefer switches have those. This is how it should be done, in my opinion.
We also liked that there was a rack on the back of the trailer that’s capable of holding 200 lbs. There are a lot of useful features in a travel trailer that is about in the middle of the price spectrum, but at the larger end in terms of features and space.
Another reason I used to really like Cherokee trailers is the almost complete lack of stickers on the outside. While there are branding stickers on the front and back, the majority of these wood-framed aluminum-skinned trailers is painted. That’s a feature in the million-dollar coaches that I’ve reviewed in the past and, to be fair, the paint on these is not a multi-layered hand-rubbed gloss, but it’s a step up nonetheless.
I complain a lot about wacky swooshes and swirls on RVs of all kinds, and most of those design elements are done with decals which inevitably fail in a rather short amount of time. With these, the exteriors are almost completely painted – which eliminates that concern. Again, Cherokee shows just how it should be done, in my opinion.
But when I went to look at this particular 294BH for this review I was almost shocked at the interior of the trailer. While the RV industry can be rightfully criticized for the overuse of anonymous brown #7 and the Cherokee interiors were not immune from that, this model that I saw had a lot of black in the interior – which really made it seem dark to me. The doors, cabinets and other accent pieces were almost coal-black and, frankly, I thought it was depressing.
While the brown interiors are neither exceptional nor horribly off-putting, this black just really made the trailer feel small, and that didn’t used to be the case for these.
Cherokee has absolutely hit the market hard with trailers that offer a tremendous amount of value and quality features at the more price-sensitive end of the market. With things like the crazy big outdoor kitchen, two bedrooms, no swooshy graphics, and a redundant system allowing for both gadget lovers and those with more traditional tastes to take full operational advantage of this trailer, it was a popular choice even before the pandemic craze.
Cherokee has added even more to the 2021 models including the Furrion 12vdc refrigerator and a solar panel “Juice Pack” that helps maintain the battery with assistance from the sun. But, my gosh, it was tough for me to get past that interior color choice. But that’s a subjective choice, I guess. It’s still a lot of value for the money.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. 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.