Friday, September 17, 2021
Friday, September 17, 2021

RV Review: 2021 Gulf Stream BT Cruiser 5210 B+ motorhome

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. 

Gulf Stream

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. 

Looking at this floor plan, there are two opposing sofas inside with a long table that sits on two poles in the middle. That opens this up to a lot of options in terms of use case. 

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. 

What’s not

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.

In summary

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.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Work-friendly floor plan
Relatively affordable
Multiple use cases
Bed comfort

SUMMARY

The Gulf Stream BT Cruiser 5210 is a small B+ motorhome that has an unusual floor plan that could serve as a home base or mobile office.

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Bill Massicotte
1 month ago

I have owned a 2004 BT Cruiser and I can honestly say I wish I had kept it!
The quality, finish and accessories were far superior to present-day rigs. Our model was the 27 footer with the rear bed (5270). One slide for the sofa area. The over cab area had tons of storage behind TV and more solid wood cabinets. We installed glass backsplash behind sstove and sink. Replaced carpeting with vinyl flooring. I miss that rig. We traded it for 16k on a newer class A . They sold it for 20k. It is now selling for 35k. The quality in the newer rigs doesn’t come close to the workmanship in my older rig!

Cheryl E Lane
1 month ago

I wouldn’t call this a new or unique floor plan. If you look at BornFree’s 22 ft Built-for-Two Class B+ motorhome, the design is almost similar, with the exception of the bathroom and entry door. My 2006 BornFree has a rear door and a wet-bath, but otherwise is almost the same, and is also on a Ford E350 van chassis. I love my BornFree!

John
1 month ago

Would be a good layout if they added at least one slide in the living area.

Sink Jaxon
1 month ago

The first RV I sat in was a BT Cruiser, and I fell in love with it! That was in 1985 and I was 27, I’ll never forget it. However, at that time and age in my life, there was no way I could afford something as extravagant as the BT. I’ll never forget that impression it made on me though…Glad to learn they didn’t sell out!

Roger Spalding
1 month ago

This might be the first of this range of small Class C’s (I can’t stand the term “B+”) that is actually appealing. The big Lance camperbacks (or competitors) with dry baths are usually nicer and have the advantage of offloading capability. Gulfstream has done a very commendable job which requires very few compromises. Clearly, it has done a lot of work that merits exposure by you, Tony.

Bob M
1 month ago

The tanks seem small. Would be nice to have some type bed. What thermostat do you use to replace the Dometic Thermostat?

Pat
1 month ago

I laughed when they called it a true B plus. I have an older unit and the paperwork clearly calls it a Class C. Relabeled class, but same RV layout. The difference I see is a 24 gal black tank vs my 30.

Pat
1 month ago
Reply to  Pat

I took out the jackknife sofa and put in a bed. I live in it full time

Donald N Wright
1 month ago

Funny, my Airstream also has the TV mounted as the same side as the couch. Look over your shoulder at the television show ?

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