Thursday, March 23, 2023


RV Review: 2022 Grand Design Transcend Xplor 231RK

There’s a pretty common perception that stick-and-tin trailers are the way to get into the market, but that you really want to move up after you have one of these. What are stick-and-tin trailers? They’re the traditional trailers with the corrugated siding. 

Building this type of trailer is less expensive than building a laminated model so it’s often reserved for the entry level line in any company’s range. That’s true of Grand Design’s Transcend Xplor models. But I recently took at look at their 2022 Transcend Xplor 231RK and found that there’s still enough build quality that, perhaps, this could be a goal trailer rather than a starter model. 


Building trailers in this configuration is less expensive just because there are fewer forms and processes involved in the build. There are also advantages to this type of construction. Those include the fact that, if there has been damage to the outer shell, it’s easy for just about anybody with even moderate carpenter skills to effect a repair. 

The disadvantages include the fact that the uneven surface is slightly more difficult to seal. Owners really should pay attention to all the places where there are holes in the wall. Those include windows and baggage doors and that sort of thing. But these are maintenance points on all RVs. 

In fact, this is one of the areas where Grand Design makes a lot of noise by using a four-step process to seal places where two major structures come together. In the side walls where they join the back and the roof, Grand Design has a four-step seal process that the company claims reduces the need for re-sealing. 

In fact, the company states that this is a reason they offer a three-year structural warranty on these models. Cool. 

More features on the Transcend Xplor

There are other features in this trailer that really caught my eye as being a cut above. 

For example, typically you’d want a power tongue jack on a trailer of this size. This enables owners to lift both the tongue of the trailer but also the back of the tow vehicle. This makes putting weight distribution bars on and taking them off a much simpler and safer process. 

But the manual tongue jack on these trailers enables you to operate it with a power drill. I bring one of these with me anyway, as that’s how I raise and lower the corner stabilizer jacks. This is actually a brilliant feature because power tongue jacks can be pretty cheaply made. So it makes the trailer more affordable without making it less convenient to use. 

Speaking of really good features, I also like the connections on these quite a bit. Like a fifth wheel, there is a single connection point for water that is also enclosed in the front storage area. This also means you can hook up the water connection and the cable/TV connections and then lock them behind the baggage door. It’s both neat and nifty. 

Grand Tour of the Transcend Xplor

There are two entry doors in this trailer and both are accessible via aluminum folding steps. Those have become far less common recently. I know many, many people prefer the swing out steps. They have the advantage of being mounted inside the door and having legs that reach down to the ground. But not everybody is universally thrilled with these. 

So, going in through the rear door you immediately enter into the galley. But there’s also a cabinet to your right which has a bunch of cubbies for shoes. Above those are two drawers for all the things you want to dump as you come through the door. Then there’s a solid surface counter top above it all. 

The galley

The galley, at the back of the coach, features a long counter top across almost the entire rear of the trailer. In the center of that is a large stainless steel sink. Then there’s a three-burner stove with 17” oven on the road side. Above and below the counter are drawers and cabinets – and there are plenty of them. 

There is also a pantry over on the road side slide. It resides next to the Furrion 12-volt refrigerator, also in the slide room. 

That single slide’s other occupant is a theater seat with massage and storage for your remotes and such. The seat itself houses USB power receptacles in each arm rest. Then there’s a 120-volt outlet behind the center armrest so you can sit here and get your laptop nonsense done. 

Sitting in the theater seats, you’ll be staring at the booth dinette which has a nifty rough edge-look table that can fold down to be the basis of a bed for one. Above that is the TV, which would be convenient for the theater seat occupants but not the dinette occupants. Oh, well. 

Great for incompatible sleepers

My wife and I are presently looking for a larger trailer for one reason. I get up early and write RV reviews around 5 a.m., and she doesn’t. She stays up late and works on RV stuff, too. I’m done by mid-afternoon. 

As such, the idea that a bathroom separates the main living space and the bedroom of a trailer has a lot of appeal to us. Such as this trailer. You get not just one single door between the sleeper and the typist, but two, essentially. And a bathroom. 

In that bathroom the road side has a sink and counter space. The camp side has the seat of great decision making as well as a shower with a Nautilus shower door. There are pocket doors on both ends of this room making for more sound absorption. 

The bedroom

As mentioned, there’s a second entry door into the bedroom. This one has no window in it so you don’t have to worry about light getting in. But there’s also no window in the bedroom on the camp side, which is kind of a bummer. 

However, there is a closet on the wall between the bedroom and the bathroom, so that’s pretty slick. There are also drawers below the closet. 

Furthermore, there are mirrored closet doors in the bedroom on each side of the queen-sized bed. They reveal segmented spaces, meaning that your sole hanging space is that one on the bathroom wall. But that’s generally sufficient for what I would imagine you’d want on a camping trip. 

In summary

While this model’s slide room blocks access to the bathroom from the main entry door, you can still get to it from the bedroom door. So this is also a rig that would work well for mid-journey breaks. That’s another thing my wife and I have prioritized. 

Grand Design makes mention of the fact that this rig has three vent fans in the roof. I’m a huge fan of high-performance fans like the Maxxair models. So I don’t know how comparable three small fans are to a single one of those, but I am skeptical. However, since the vents are already wired, it’s a simple screwdriver job to swap cheap fans out for good ones. 

The company also makes a lot of noise about the fact that there is 43 cubic feet of pass-through storage space in the front. This is pretty good, indeed. 

Big fresh water tank in the Transcend Xplor

But what floats my boat as a boondocker is the 62 gallons of fresh water. Also that the tanks are in a heated and enclosed compartment. To me that’s a real plus. 

For 2022, Grand Design has made a few changes to this model including painting the nose cap black instead of a lighter color. I’ve seen more and more RV companies going to darker colors. I’m not a fan of this from a practical standpoint, even though it looks good. 

However, that nose cap is a thicker grade of the aluminum skin used in the RV and this is a smooth sheet of aluminum. I would argue that is better for towing than some competitors’ corrugated noses. 

Overall, I like this floor plan for a lot of reasons. But then, Grand Design has added some really slick features that make this even more of a grand design, to my way of thinking. 

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!



Tongue jack
Fresh water/boondocking capacity
Storage inside and out


Grand Design's Transcend Xplor is the brand's most affordable series but offers some really unique features to a usable floor plan with a lot of interior space.


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1 year ago

I really like this trailer and was seriously considering buying one to replace our aging Spree 261 RKS but there are door less cubbies all over this thing. Does Grand Design not realize that we move these things down the road and that anything up in that cabinet above the bed is going to be on the bed when we get to our destination? Same with some of the bathroom cabinets. The final nail in the coffin was a door to access the under dinette storage rather than a drawer.
The build quality did look good however and if these shortcomings were addressed I would give it another look.
Right now I have my eye on the Arctic Fox 25W. It checks most of our boxes.

1 year ago

Tony. I looked into the Grand Design TTs on RVTrader and was horrified to read in the reviews some of the horror stories people have had with this brand. It was not only that a brand new unit had major problems but that owners had a terrible time getting their dealer and Grand Design to address the issues. They have a floorpan I am particularly interested in but I am looking elsewhere after I read the reviews.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

We’ve only had two trailers in our 25+ years of RV’ing. Both travel trailers, and both with kitchens mid-coach. Our travel trailer experience is that anything in the rear of the trailer gets tossed around like a rag doll. The rear of our current trailer is where our Lazy-Boy chairs reside, and the overhead cabinets hold books, and bar accoutrements. All are a shambles when we arrive at our destination. I would not want a rear kitchen . . .

1 year ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

I have been using a rear kitchen unit for more than a decade and have had no issue with stuff getting tossed around. Maybe it is just a well balanced trailer.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago
Reply to  Snayte

“Maybe it is just a well balanced trailer.”

Possibly, or maybe smoother roads. 5th wheels do not have this issue because they don’t experience the see-saw motion that all travel trailers experience.

1 year ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

It is not the roads. Here in WI they BUILD them with the bumps. 🙂

Grand Design's Transcend Xplor is the brand's most affordable series but offers some really unique features to a usable floor plan with a lot of interior space. RV Review: 2022 Grand Design Transcend Xplor 231RK

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