By Tony Barthel
I looked at two Class B motorhomes recently and, as I’ve said before, Class B motorhomes are hot. We’ve looked at the Winnebago Travato and the Airstream Interstate. If you’re willing to consider a Class C instead of B, let’s see what you can get for under $100,000 in something like the 2021 Coachmen Freelander 21RS Class C.
With even a list price under $100,000, the Freelander offers quite a bit of motorhome for the money.
Class C versus Class B
There’s a lot to like about Class B motorhomes, with the fact that the entire body structure is steel and is engineered by a vehicle manufacturer. You don’t read about roof leaks or water damage much in Class B motorhomes – and that’s one of the things that’s appealing about them.
Class B motorhomes also drive more like cars, partially because they’re the same width from front to back, whereas Class C motorhomes have the motorhome body built by an RV company and the van front and chassis built by a major vehicle manufacturer.
Furthermore, the Ford E-Series chassis and GM cutaway chassis have been in production for a very long time and show it. Since the majority of the customers for these are commercial in nature, the interiors of these vans have a feel that leans toward fleet operation logic rather than individual owner passion. In other words, they feel industrial.
Class C bonus
Stepping inside this motorhome almost feels as if there is a slide out in the main body as this is a spacious and open floor plan.
The first thing you’ll see upon entering the RV door is what Coachmen calls a “J Lounge” – which is just that – a J-shaped seating area. With the table removed, this reveals a large open floor. Pop the table back in its pole position and you’ve got seating for four easily. Slide out a support and you can turn this into a U-shaped dinette.
Opposite that is the kitchen which, in the unit I saw, had a weird lifted counter section and then a huge double-bowl sink. Next to that is a three-burner stove but no oven – so you’d think I’d be all giddy about that. But there is also just a plain microwave, as opposed to a convection microwave, so I’m less so. Plus, there’s a drawer directly under the stovetop so that’s good.
Bedroom and bath in the 2021 Coachmen Freelander 21RS
For the size of this rig, there is a decent amount of cabinet and drawer space, including a pantry behind the kitchen and even a closet in the bedroom area.
That bedroom incorporates a slide room revealing a queen-sized bed that utilizes a mattress that folds in half. If this isn’t the case for a foam topper I don’t know what is.
Also in that bedroom there’s a step right about at the middle of the bed and I can see this being a serious trip hazard in the middle of the night. You’ll want to put a motion-activated night light there.
Opposite the bed is a dry bath, so much nicer than the wet bath in a Class B. There’s a decently-sized shower – but the toilet, at an angle, isn’t going to be anybody’s favorite place to be. You’ll almost have to use that toilet with the door open and, considering that this will sleep six people, there are going to be five (maybe six) very unhappy campers.
Comparing this to a Class B, there is a lot more outside storage here. In the back, there’s a unique “caddy-corner” storage space that is pretty roomy and can be accessed from either the rear of the coach or the road side.
The RV portion of this is made from a laminated composite wall using Azdel substrate material which is not susceptible to water damage. But you should still do routine inspections, as water intrusion and exterior seals are still something to be on top of. And that’s one place where Class B RVs are much better: There is almost no exterior maintenance to do relative to water intrusion.
Even though this is an ancient chassis by most standards, Ford did recently upgrade their E350 with a new V8, the Godzilla. For us old-time hot rodders, an engine like this would have been a “big-block V8” in the olden days, which is basically a modern, simple, big gasoline V8 that replaces Ford’s odd overhead-cam V10.
An engine and chassis like this mean that I would have no issue with the claimed 5,000 lb. towing capacity of this motorhome – so if you want to bring your boat, go for it. Or maybe even a small travel trailer where all those other five people can go when someone has to go potty with the door open in this unit…
What I don’t like
There were a few things that were not to my liking in the Coachmen Freelander. The most significant of which is the fact that it’s a ductless heating system. That means that there’s only one heat source for the whole unit, which seems good if you live in the tropics but kinda chintzy in something that costs a hundred grand.
Also, the mattress in the back is a split mattress which means that, most likely, someone’s hips are going to be on the split and that’s the person who’s going to tell me all about it. If ever there were a case for a memory foam topper, this is it.
Lastly, that trip hazard in the bedroom area is almost inexcusable. There’s also a step up into the bedroom area and I can live with that – but a tiny step in the middle of the bedroom is just a bad thing.
I realize that comparing this entry-level Coachmen to those Class B motorhomes is a bit disingenuous but, by the same token, it’s the same dollars that are going to buy whatever the customer ends up with.
Considering how usable and open this motorhome platform is even with the slide in, along with the towing capability and price, this could be a much better choice than some Class B motorhomes. And there are slightly larger models of this for not a lot more money.
Where I live just the sales tax difference between $100,00 and $135,000 is almost $2,900. That, alone, makes a cheapskate like me start looking around at what my options are.
In the case of this Coachmen, it’s certainly a good one.
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.
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