By Tony Barthel
Like all folks in the RV business, I get regular updates from companies when they’ve hit certain milestones or have some new and exciting developments. Such was the case when I got an email touting the fact that Fleetwood’s Bounder line is celebrating 35 years in production with the Fleetwood Bounder 33C. Wow!
As such, I took a look at how far the Bounder has come in the past three-and-a-half decades. It sure has come a long way. Specifically, I had to check out their “35th Anniversary Edition” – a special version of the Bounder line that comes with a bunch of upgrades including specially themed pillows and stitching on the seats, a Garmin collision mitigation system, 265 watts of solar panels and a power cord reel, among other things.
The Bounder is a gasoline-powered front-engine motorhome line based on Ford running gear including the new “Godzilla” 7.3L V8 engine. From that Ford backbone, Fleetwood adds a welded aluminum cage to which the walls, floors and ceilings are vacuum-bonded. The exterior is fully painted and all the baggage doors are metal with roto-molded compartments. No worrying about wood rotting – since there isn’t any.
One of the things Fleetwood says in their sales materials is that many RV companies use residential construction in the way they do things. Fleetwood, however, acknowledges that these are vehicles and therefore builds them as such, and builds their walls differently.
Inside the Fleetwood Bounder 33C
Looking at the Bounder 33C Anniversary Edition, the first thing you’ll notice when you step into the rig is a large credenza with a table and two free-standing chairs for dining. That table extends and there are two more chairs to turn this into a four-place setting… if that’s important.
But, rather than a booth, the credenza has a bunch of cabinet space, which makes sense.
Next to that, in the road-side slide room, is the choice of a jackknife sofa or theater seating. My personal preference is always going to be theater seating. But the choice is yours to make.
Across from that are the TV and electric fireplace. The 5,300 BTU heat from the fireplace and the heat pump in the air conditioning system will heat the coach interior. You don’t have to use a drop of propane. Of course, this means you’re either hooked up to shore power or running the included 5,500-watt generator.
To round out the seating up front, the driver and passenger seats both swivel 180°. This allows you to seat a total of nine people with the couch, or eight with the theater seating. Unless laps are involved, and then you’re just going to have to do your own darned math.
Along the camp side of the main living area is the kitchen, which starts out looking like a long countertop. The sink is revealed when taking the two covers off. The stovetop is also under a cover. All of the covers are made from the same solid surface material as the countertop.
There is no gas oven in here but there is a large convection microwave. A Samsung residential refrigerator is next to that. Behind the counter is a long, narrow window set into the backsplash – which adds a nice touch to the galley.
One of the things I really liked in the Fleetwood Bounder 33C is that, even with the slide in, every single thing in this floor plan is usable. The bathroom, refrigerator and all the cabinets’ functions are not impeded with the slide in. Of course, you just get more living space with it out. I love that the company paid special attention to this.
Above, I wrote that Fleetwood paid special attention to the fact that this is a vehicle first and foremost. So, another thing you’ll notice is that the cabinets are lined with a product called Ozite. This is a sort of marine carpeting material. This is intended to mask the rattling of dishes and other contents of the cabinets. I think it looks pretty nice.
In the back of the Fleetwood Bounder 33C, there’s a king-sized bed in a slide facing a wall of cabinets and drawers. There’s a second TV placed high. Above the bed are three cabinets. The center one features a 120vac outlet in it and space to run the hoses for a CPAP machine. Someone was really thinking to accomplish this. It’s just a small touch but would be very useful to those who would take advantage of this.
Another thoughtful touch is a redundant generator start button by the bed. While there’s a whole control system up front by the entry door which you can use to start the generator, this second one allows you to reach over and fire up the juice without leaving your bed.
Now, if only they could also have a push button that would bring mimosas or Bloody Marys, this would be the best RV ever…
There were a lot of things that really impressed me in this RV. For example, on the instrument panel there is both an Apple CarPlay screen and a second Garmin navigation system so you can use them both simultaneously.
The backup camera also has one-way communications built in so the person back there can speak with the driver. This isn’t unusual, but that doesn’t make it any less thoughtful.
The optional bed above the cockpit features teak slats to make it more comfortable, although if it’s your in-laws I’m sure you could do something to make the bed less comfortable. (Sorry.)
The company was very clear about there being no Luan in the backing of the walls.
Overall there are enough usable, thoughtful touches in this coach to make me think the company uses them for camping rather than just having someone in a dark room designing things that look good in the showroom. I think the interior is very attractive.
Dare I mention it?
As a fan of the show Breaking Bad, my first thought when I saw that the company started making Bounders in 1986 was to recall the motorhome used in that series, which was a 1986 Bounder. Clearly, these rigs have come a very, very long way from those initial units and are very tasteful and thoughtfully designed.
After seeing the attention to detail and the caliber of these coaches I almost didn’t mention the tie-in to that show, but, if you’re reading this, the 12-year-old boy inside me won out.
You’re also going to notice in the chart the only “downside” I mentioned was the lack of an RV-specific refrigerator. Perhaps that’s my own bias against that brand. However, I would like to see an RV-specific fridge, but I realize that makes me an outlier in this world and this isn’t the only motorhome with only a residential fridge. But I had to put something in the “downside” of the chart and I had a tough time finding anything, truthfully.
Still, the number of usable, thoughtful touches in this rig and the way they’ve put them together means that you will be enjoying spending time in here.
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.
Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!