By Tony Barthel
When the Tiffiin group sold to Thor there was a big stink among some in the RV community. Bob Tiffin was featured in a number of media outlets that RVers were likely to see. He said that he had reached out to Thor and felt their ownership was a good fit.
Indeed, Thor and Forest River both give their various divisions a great deal of autonomy. I would never judge a Tiffin product based on the way something like a Coleman trailer is built. This is because the team, the management, and the philosophy are very different indeed. So when Debra Rohm suggested I look at the Vanleigh line of fifth wheels I thought it a good idea to do so.
Vanleigh – The Tiffin of 5ers
Vanleigh is built by the Tiffin family and is the Tiffin of fifth wheels. As such, there is an expectation of quality workmanship and excellence in both design and material choice. That’s what Tiffin owners are looking for. In addition, that’ why they can justify the expense of choosing something under the Tiffin flag.
The model I looked at was the Vanleigh Vilano 377FL only because I like the idea of the front living floor plan (as mentioned in my reviews of the comparable Jayco North Point 382FLRB and the Grand Design Solitude 390RK-R).
The first thing that caught my eye was the company’s statement about their electrical systems, which can be a challenge in an RV. From their website, they feature a multiplex 12V electrical system. The CAN-Bus system was developed by Bosch in 1983 and implemented in Mercedes-Benz vehicles in 1992. Tiffin Motorhomes adopted this technology in 2005.
What’s a CAN-Bus system?
So what the heck does that mean? CAN-Bus is the Computer Area Network (CAN)-Bus system where all the various components can talk to one another without having to go through the main system. This is now relatively common in vehicles. It is a robust and somewhat simple way to make these systems work together.
Other things that I like about the Vanleigh Vilano is the use of five-sided framed, insulated and laminated slide rooms and hardwood cabinetry throughout. As with many RV manufacturers on this scale, there are also a number of very different cabinet finish choices, from white to more traditional woods.
However, another thing that’s on the company’s website is the fact that they’re family owned and operated. They also state that they’re not chasing quarterly results and month-end quotas. Someone in marketing needs to spend a little time working on the website. This is because one very obviously incorrect section does a lot to bring the rest of the content into question.
There are also qualitative things that I noticed about this brand, including electric dump valves and copper plumbing manifolds so that you can shut off sections of the coach if they spring a leak without having to shut down the whole thing. Nice.
The Vanleigh Vilano 377FL floor plan
As mentioned above, we’ve seen adaptations of this floor plan before in previous reviews and it’s interesting, to me, to see how various RV companies interpret specific designs.
In this interpretation, the first thing that caught my eye was that the downstairs bathroom incorporates space for the stacking washer-dryer, which means that all the household “work” can happen in one place. I like this better than putting the laundry in the bathroom upstairs. Like many larger fifth wheels, this features a 10-gallon water heater as opposed to the typical six-gallon units in many RVs.
The galley in the Vanleigh Vilano 377FL
Other things to note here are the large Insignia range with a full-sized oven along with the convection microwave and LG residential refrigerator. There is a 1,000-watt inverter aboard so you could run the fridge while shuttling down the road. I’d love to see one of these premium RV companies incorporate a 12-volt DC fridge instead. My experience with residential fridges in RVs is not a good one at all.
After I saw the Jayco layout of the upper living room I got spoiled, but there were also comments from people saying they didn’t like it. But, in this rig, the upper living room is pretty typical in its layout with the dual recliners having their back to the lower kitchen area and a couch on both sides of the living room with the television and large electric fireplace at the front. That TV is on a televator, so you can lower it and see the front windshield.
The furniture in the Vanleigh Vilano 377FL appears to be a step above others that I have seen. Vanleigh notes that the manufacturer is Franklin, and is made in the USA. It does look nice.
The back bedroom and master bath
In the back bedroom, there is a king-sized mattress in a slide. The slide room count on this model is five. Wow!
Lastly, there’s the master bathroom in the back with a large shower, porcelain foot-flush toilet and two sinks.
Based on the price of the Vanleigh Vilano 377FL, I don’t think it’s out of line with the perceived quality. As mentioned, the furnishings appear to be very high quality and I’ve noticed that that’s not always the case, even in the upper price ranges on some RVs.
The raised bedroom at the back of this rig also means there’s a tremendous amount of storage under the back of the trailer with two adjoining cabinets on either side of the rig, along with a huge rear-facing space that incorporates a metal sliding drawer big enough for kayaks and such.
Of the three somewhat similar floor plans mentioned here, which would I choose? I think it might be the Vanleigh Vilano 377FL. The cabinets and furniture really speak to me and I like the five cabinet finish choices available.
Interestingly, the name Vanleigh comes from Bob Tiffin’s sons, Van and Leigh.
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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