By Tony Barthel
For a while, Roadtrek was the largest manufacturer of Class B RVs in the industry. As such it became the target of a takeover as Thor Industries sought to buy out Erwin Hymer Group, which had previously taken over Roadtrek. However, there was some question about how things were going down in the Roadtrek division and things started to unravel. Ultimately, Roadtrek filed for bankruptcy.
Eventually a company we Americans weren’t familiar with, or so it seemed, bought Roadtrek and is slowly working to rebuild the reputation with products that appeal to the dealers and customers once again. One of those products is the Roadtrek Zion.
Like all currently produced Roadtrek products, this one is based on the Ram Promaster front-wheel-drive van chassis. Soon, there will be Roadtrek products on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis, according to the company.
Roadtrek is keen to point out that the Zion is aimed directly at those with an active lifestyle. The standard models leave a large open space in the back for your stuff like bicycles, kayaks and other toys or equipment. The very back of the van is comprised of two facing couches that can be folded, at the touch of a button, into a king-sized bed.
If you have someone who wants to go camping with you but might not deserve first-class accommodations, there is an optional mattress that goes across the two front seats – but let’s just say this is not going to win any Michelin stars. But, again, if you need the option, at least it’s there.
There is a small table that can be inserted into a pole between the couches to serve as a respectable dining area. That same table can be placed in a hole behind the front bucket seats in the cockpit, which can be swiveled around to face the main cabin. Someone could be fast asleep in the large king bed while another camper sits in one of those swivel seats and enjoys that first cup of coffee in the morning.
Once that coffee takes effect there is a wet bathroom in the Zion with a foot flush toilet.
So far, nothing I’ve written is going to come as any shock and, truthfully, in a Class B van there’s not a lot of wiggle room for making things really stand out. But Roadtrek did anyway. How? In the battery department.
Roadtrek has been a leader in battery and charge systems for some time in this class and the Zion follows along in that tradition. This van comes with a full 400-amp/hour lithium battery system which is charged either by a second alternator on the Pentastar V6 engine or via 330 watts of solar. All of this is standard equipment.
There is also a 3,000-watt sine wave inverter with a power converter and charger – meaning that you shouldn’t have any issues with keeping the 5-cubic-foot 12-volt refrigerator nice and cold.
This means that you can also keep yourself cool with that much power available so, yes, you can run the air conditioner using those lithium batteries. The one thing I saw about this is that they use that Dometic thermostat that we had so many issues with when I was working warranties. Don’t worry, though, it’s easy to swap out for a better one.
You could also power the optional induction cooktop if that’s what you’ve optioned for – and those things are slick. If you haven’t used an induction cooktop yet, check them out.
There’s a nice screen available to cover both the sliding side “van” door as well as the rear double doors which has a magnetic closure. It makes ingress and egress easier for the people but not the bugs. There are also two sliding windows at the back that allow for nice cross breezes. Both have privacy and bug screen sliding panels when needed.
Roadtrek was an innovator when it came to lithium power in a Class B RV. In fact, the company has been a staple in the Class B market.
So what about moving forward? Well, I had mentioned that most people in the U.S. may not be familiar with the name of the company that bought Roadtrek, Rapido Group, but you may be familiar with their history as they are also the company that made the Westfalia camper conversion for VW vans in the past.
It’s not a stretch to say that buying a new Roadtrek is sort of like buying the successor to your parent’s old VW Westfalia van in many ways. The company wants to send a clear message saying not only that they’re back, but back and better than ever. Part of the way they’re communicating this is by offering a two-year unlimited-mile warranty to the original purchaser of any new Roadtrek product.
While the company has had its issues in the past, they couldn’t have returned to the market at a better time. But now there are also significant competitors who have really taken the market by storm, not the least of which is Winnebago – who has really put a lot of effort into making some innovative Class B campers.
For those looking for a Class B camper, Roadtrek is back and is making some vehicles that are certainly competitive.
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.