Sometimes things aren’t what they seem. That was the premise of Apple’s advertising campaign “Think Different” (which always drove me nuts because the correct use is think differentLY). So today’s RV is definitely in the Think Different(LY!) category.
This is a relatively inexpensive Class B+ motorhome based on the Ford Econoline cutaway platform that has a floor plan I’ve never seen before. Unicorns are difficult to come by in this business. But the motorhome we’re looking at today is the Gulf Stream BT Cruiser 5210.
You may not have heard of Gulf Stream Coach, but they’re an independent manufacturer of RVs headquartered in Nappanee, Indiana. The company was founded in 1971 by Jim Shea, Sr., and is now being run by his three sons.
It’s unusual to see a full-line RV manufacturer that is still independently owned. That makes both the floor plan and the company somewhat unicorn-like. In fact this might be the first time I’ve looked at Gulf Stream’s website and was happy to see one of the web pages with all their floor plans so you could get some idea of what’s available. I was also surprised at the rather wide selection of models, including some decent no-slide models.
We’re certainly going to have to look back at Gulf Stream soon.
Different use case
This very unusual floor plan would actually serve the usual camping need, but it could also be a good mobile office. With so many people looking at alternative work environments nowadays this might be a great option.
But even better, with an MSRP of under $100,000 and an overall length of just 22’6”, this could actually work well as a daily driver. Now, let’s be honest. If you’re looking at a daily driver and considering this, you might be well advised to be aware of the fact that a gigantic V8 engine shoving a big box through the air isn’t going to make you forget your Econo car.
However, let’s say you go to kids’ sports games frequently, or drive around to sales appointments or meetings and that sort of thing. Here you’ve got a proper bathroom, a good-sized propane-electric refrigerator, wardrobe/pantry and some storage. You could sit inside with the generator running and tally up the scores or get some work done between meetings.
Lets’ talk about Class B vans. They’re very, very expensive considering their size. There are advantages to them – including the fact that the roof is steel along with the rest of the vehicle. They also generally fit in a regular ol’ parking space – another plus.
But Class B vans are usually a lot of compromise more than anything. The bathrooms are almost always wet baths, there’s usually not much of a kitchen, nor is there much of a refrigerator. Yeah, yeah, there are exceptions. But Class B vans can be more compromise than convenience.
Those two sofas have more seating/working space than in any Class B van that I’ve seen. So this motorhome is almost more of a work space than a camper. Almost.
Let’s talk about the down side of not having a bed. You have to sleep on a sofa and they are not comfortable. However, I would get a couple of RV Super Bags and, perhaps, a sheet of memory foam to put down if I was planning on spending the night in this rig.
The TV is also up in the nose cap of the camper. That means the occupants of either sofa aren’t going to get a good view. Oh, well.
What’s hot in the Gulf Stream BT Cruiser
There were a few things I noticed that intrigued me besides the floor plan and potential alternative use cases.
First of all, the nose cap and back side of this are fiberglass, as is the roof. The substrate material used on the side walls is Azdel. That is a man-made composite that is impervious to water damage – also a plus.
I’m a big fan of the frameless windows as they are less prone to leaking and can be opened even when it’s raining. While there’s not a lot of storage, the storage that exists is behind doors with slam latches and magnetic catches.
The holding tanks are behind a door, as are the knife valves. But the door is big enough you can see the side of the tanks above the frame rails as well as the sensors. You could easily replace the stock sensors with ones that work for more than one camping trip.
This is no knock against Gulf Stream. Typical holding tank sensors are as worthless as a vacation voucher to the local garbage dump. This is literally the easiest replacement opportunity I’ve seen on any RV.
One of the things I saw was a backup camera, which isn’t that unusual. But the inside screen was where you’d expect the rear-view mirror to be, so it’s a natural place to look. Cool.
Despite the affordable price of these motorhomes, you can still get optional features like full-body paint and automatic leveling systems.
A few things, some of which we’ve already looked at, are not my favorites.
One of those is the more industrial feel of the cockpit of the Econoline cutaway chassis. Yeah, I know, it’s now called an E350, but it’s an Econoline to me.
If you’re going to outfit an RV with a generator, a lot of the Onan units are forest disturbers. One of the bummers of boondocking is someone next to me with some models of Onan generators that sound like the lawn mowers I would mow lawns with in my youth.
I’d much rather have the open space in my RV and just use a nice Honda generator instead. Or give me the option of one of Onan’s quieter models that isn’t causing the bear to come knocking on your door to have a little talk with you about disturbing the peace.
The models I saw were outfitted with a Dometic thermostat. That was the model I had to replace frequently as an RV warranty manager. This would be the first thing I would recommend someone replacing – it’s an easy job to do.
The price of this unit is almost on par with some fancier full-sized pickup trucks. But let’s say you don’t get to go camping much, this could still make sense. As a mobile office, the headquarters for the kids’ sports team or any number of other unusual use-case scenarios could mean that this RV gets to get out and see some use even if camping isn’t a majority of how it gets used.
Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.
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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