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RV Review: 2022 Alliance Paradigm 385FL. If I were to buy a huge 5er, this would be it

It was so nice speaking with so many of you at the 2022 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show as I manned the RVtravel.com Media Booth along with my wife, Peggy. One of the niftiest things about that whole situation is that my travel trailer was literally sitting next to the booth right there on the Midway. I pointed it out to more than one person who was kind enough to stop by and chat about RVs. 

That kind of camping is exactly why I love small travel trailers. I do a lot of boondocking in the oddest of places. That is facilitated by having a rig that measures just 19’ in total length. 

But as I was wandering through the displays of RVs at the show and while looking at the 2022 Alliance Paradigm 385FL, I thought to myself, “Self, if I were to ever get a big rig, this would be the rig I would get.”

Pending approval of my wife, of course, who you also met at the show. 

Front living in the Alliance Paradigm 385FL

One of the reasons I like this floor plan is the “U” shaped frame. That means the front section is raised, as you’d expect in a fifth wheel, and the rear section is also raised. That raised rear section means there is a lot of space under the floor for things like kayaks or eBikes, for example. 

This isn’t unusual for this kind of floor plan. But I do like it for all the cargo carrying it affords. In the case of this rig, there is more than 2,200 pounds of load carrying—and I don’t doubt it. But, also know that 98 gallons of fresh water will take a good chunk of that capability. 

One of the many things I like about Alliance is that they use a MORryde CRE3000 suspension with “G”-rated tires. The tires are rated to carry 4,400 pounds each, so the tires combined can carry more than the gross weight of this rig. Nothing like having more than you need, especially on the things that keep you rolling. 

If I were to check the option boxes, one that I would absolutely check off would be the disc brakes. Again, anything that’s safety-related, to me, is worth spending extra for. That moment when it gets a full use is when you’ll be happy you did it. 

Build quality

The walls in Alliance Paradigm are fully vacuum laminated using Azdel substrate and framed in aluminum. The roof itself is a PVC product. It requires zero maintenance but can be repaired with PVC cement from the local hardware store. It’s also warrantied for 15 years. 

There are valves in the plumbing system that let you isolate sections of the trailer if there is a plumbing issue. That way you don’t have to shut off the entire unit.

As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, I’m a big fan of traditional buttons to control everything. Alliance seems to agree with that by having actual buttons to open the slides and awnings and turn on the lights.

I also like that these units are wired like an automobile. That means a specific wire in this unit is the same as the one in another unit. That’s not always true in the RV industry. 

Details in the Alliance Paradigm 385FL

The surfaces and cabinetry in the Alliance Paradigm also set it apart. Somehow, so many RVs have cabinet designs that can best be described as “flat.” The cabinets and even upholstery here have a depth to them more like what you’d put into your house. Or at least what I’d put into mine. There was really a quality feel to everything. 

Further, the slide rooms are carpetless and the flooring that the company has used works nicely. 

Inside the Alliance Paradigm there are storage cubbies where others might not have them.  This includes a storage area behind the electric fireplace. It seems large enough to hold the bedding, if someone’s sleeping on the couch. Many of the interior lights are on dimmers. These will be much appreciated as modern RVs are well lit but sometimes a bit too bright. 

There are three Coleman AC units that use about 10.3 amps apiece. That means on a 50-amp service, all three of the AC units can run at full speed. Furthermore, you can actually use two of the Coleman units on a 30-amp service, if you happen to have a site like that. The AC in the bedroom is not ducted into the main body of the coach. That means those who like to sleep cooler or hotter can do so. 

I also liked the Epoxy counters throughout the Alliance Paradigm—they add a nice touch. In fact, all the components seemed like they were chosen by someone who was going to use the rig rather than the low person in the accounting department who hates the customers anyway.

Alliance RV

Alliance RV started with several long-time players in the RV industry who sought to make different rigs than were already out there.

The entire Paradigm line was developed after polling some 3,000 fifth wheel owners to see what they prefer in a floor plan and what features and components are important to them. As a result, you see some of that voicing in things like a fold-down wooden seat in the absolutely huge shower in this trailer. Also, there’s a true residential-sized oven (3.73 cubic feet) where you can actually cook an entire Thanksgiving turkey. 

Alliance road tests every unit

But in setting themselves apart, Alliance actually fills the holding tanks and then takes the fifth wheels for a drive on a test course to make sure everything does what it’s designed to do. That means the first person to do so isn’t the delivery driver bringing the rig to your dealer. This way they can address things that might shake loose. Of course, the company builds things so they don’t shake loose in the first place. 

When it returns to the factory, the unit is thoroughly tested once again. If anyone else is this thorough in their pre-delivery inspection (PDI), I have yet to hear of it. 

In fact, Alliance recognizes that the Paradigm is so livable the warranty covers use as a full-time unit.

The tank valves themselves are in the heated underbelly of the rig rather than exposed to the elements. But the levers for the tank are located centrally in the water center. That way you don’t have to be a contortionist to dump your tanks. 

But again, what I think is most impressive is how the company tests each unit before it is delivered to the customer. And quality is something you hear associated with the products in many ways.

Legacy

I had mentioned that the Brady family is sort of RV royalty. Brian Brady, best known for helping to launch both Damon Corp. and Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC prior to his 2012 retirement as president and CEO of Heartland, and his sons—both former Heartland executives—say the idea for their new company emerged over a Christmas dinner. They realized that they shared a collective urge to start a company that would enable them to do things their own way, as so many industry entrepreneurs have done before.

To me, it also speaks volumes that Alliance was the only manufacturer to send one of their factory representatives to Quartzsite. While I know a lot of folks were in Tampa, there were also a lot of folks buying rigs in Quartzsite. Speaking with Curt Curtis of RV Country, sales were on a tear with a lot of people from all over the U.S. there shopping. Many of were full-timers and some were soon-to-be full-timers. 

In summary

But I don’t know if I would ever get a rig like the Alliance Paradigm for myself. However, I have plenty of friends who have larger fifth wheels and love them. If I did get one, though, the first stop before picking up the rig would be at a place that sells commercial trucks. I would want a much larger tow vehicle for this, such as the Volvo VNL that I wrote about in the past. 

*****

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong 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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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Pre-delivery inspection
Build quality & materials
Thoughtful features
Temporarily-small dealer network

SUMMARY

The Alliance Paradigm 385RL is a big fifth wheel with a U-shaped frame so there's big storage under the back.

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Steve
7 months ago

On one of our first trips in our Mini Lite travel trailer, a full fresh water tank bent the two flat steel straps holding it in place. Before we left for Alaska, I bolted two steel angle braces beneath the plastic tank for additional support. However, we still avoided driving any long distance with the tank full of water. We later continued that practice with our fifth wheel, the longest with a full tank about 15 miles to a state park with a broken filtration system. We found many places to fill the tank near our destination, including a Walmart auto garage, a county park, and a church. None charged us for “borrowing” 40 gallons of their water. We also found some public campgrounds, mainly USFS and USFWS, that would allow filling a 5-gallon container, but wouldn’t allow filling an RV tank. That caught us short a few times with only 5 gallons in the black tank and 8 or 10 gallons in the fresh tank. That’s when we got out the paper plates and disposable plastic glasses!

Roger Spalding.
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Steve and Ray: I appreciate your concurrence on the traveling with a full tank issue. Obviously, you both speak from experience which is worth sharing with other campers. Weighing your fully loaded rig carrying a full tank of freshwater is sage advice. An ounce of prevention… I once made the near fatal mistake of towing a TT with a fully filled tank of sloshing water while descending a steep mountain highway. Suddenly caught in a caravan of doubles and 18 wheelers at 70 mph, my life flashed before me. I’ve been lucky enough not to make that mistake a second time. I had ignored my teacher’s instructions. Bad move. Thanks to you both for chipping in.

Ray
7 months ago

I’d say all that storage space provides a tendency to overload. GVW – UVW – fresh water weight = 1803 lbs of stuff. Throw in the kitchen supplies and utensils, clothing, bedroom, bathroom supplies for 6, before you even throw in the tools and toys that might go back there. If boondocking, you’ll need a generator with fuel or solar. After filling your fresh water tank, you might want to step on the scales before going too far.

Roger Spalding.
7 months ago

Tony, I hold you in the highest regard. But, I don’t understand why you keep pushing campers to carry a full freshwater tank while on the highway. The fact that it cuts into CCC is irrelevant. I mentioned once previously that when I was taught how to tow a 5thW, it was strenuously emphasized that you never, ever try driving on the Interstate with a full tank of any kind. In this case that means pulling an approximate extra 900 lbs of water. This lenghtens stopping distance, and upsets the rigs center of gravity in incalculable G forces. Any sway in a trailer, or 5thW, with a full tank can catapult the rig out of control going around a corner at 65 mph plus. Going down a mountain is just as bad. My instructor always said a full tank is not worth dying for. Before we leave to boondock, I look for places where I can fill my freshwater tank as close as possible to our destination. Is this a chance you want to encourage your readers to take?

Steve
8 months ago

It does look like a high-quality rig with a lot of “must-have” features. If I were shopping for full-time fifth wheel, this might be the one. However, my wife and I have had many debates about front bedroom vs. rear bedroom. She likes the idea of the quietness of a rear bedroom because it is further from the campground roads in a back-in site. I like the rear living room because I want a huge picture window looking out at the lake, mountain, ocean, etc., in a back-in campsite. I guess if you are boondocking full-time, either bedroom works because you just orient the fifth wheel to take advantage of the views from the living room windows. And we would be boondocking a lot in this rig because it is too long for many of the national, state, county, and city park campgrounds we frequent! In most cases, this ideal boondocking unit will most likely end up spending all its time in “RV resorts.”

Tommy Molnar
8 months ago

The slide in at the rear is ingenious – but I would be tempted to fill that space with stuff and I’m always looking for ways to leave stuff behind. This would tempt me to take more stuff with me, and that’s not good – ha. I actually like this trailer though, and if I was in the market for a 5’er, this would be in the running. If Alliance can be believed about how they pull each and every trailer with full tanks over a test course, then recheck everything, this is another plus when considering a buy. This is extremely time-consuming and slows build time. I wonder how much time that takes. Disc brake option (must have), color-coded wires, and on and on. If I was in the market for a big trailer – sigh.

Don
8 months ago

Great review Tony. This looks like a 5er that I might actually be tempted to buy, IF I were ever to go back that way from my coach. 🙂

Tom H
8 months ago

The more I’ve looked at and walked through Alliance Paradigms the more I’ve liked them. I’ve said that if I were to trade in my current rig that Alliance was at the top if the list. Just a couple things I don’t like; floor registers (I know, I know, but it’s a deal breaker for me.) and they need to hide the control panel behind a door.
Overall though Alliance is 👍👍 from me!

RV Review: 2022 Alliance Paradigm 385FL. If I were to buy a huge 5er, this would be itThe Alliance Paradigm 385RL is a big fifth wheel with a U-shaped frame so there's big storage under the back.

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