Today’s review is of the Grand Design Transcend Xplor 265BH, a larger “stick-and-tin” bunkhouse model with a floor plan I’ve seen before in other brands. But where isn’t this the case in the RV industry?
Since so many of the components used in RVs is common, R&D doesn’t necessarily stand for research and development but, rather, rip off and duplicate. It’s something lots of folks in the RV world are aware of.
Solar now standard
But the RV world is competitive, so the lead here is that you will now find these models standard with 165 watts of solar on the roof.
I think Keystone RV really shook the industry up when they announced their SolarFlex™ package. It puts a minimum of 200 watts of solar on the roof of every one of their products. I’m almost certain that you’ll see more and more solar from more and more companies just so they remain competitive in the marketplace, frankly.
This means that, with more big companies buying lots of solar panels, potentially the price of these will come down. So, for those who want solar, it may become cheaper more quickly. That would be the biggest benefit to some campers.
In addition to 165 watts of rooftop solar, this model also has roof-mounted, quick-connect plugs to add more solar for those who want solar. There is also a solar charge controller. The refrigerators are all eight-cubic-foot, 12-volt models. You can, however, still get the traditional propane-electric absorption-style RV fridge, if you prefer.
Cheaper but not cheaper
Traditionally wood-framed aluminum-skinned trailers are the least expensive type to build. But that doesn’t mean they have to be poorly made or built cheaply.
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 including 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 affect 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, including 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.
There’s also a fully enclosed and heated underbelly. That extends the time you can camp in this trailer by minimizing cold on the unit’s plumbing. Basically, if the tanks are heated, they’re far less likely to freeze—unless you get to where it’s ridiculously cold.
Speaking of heat, the ducts for the furnace of this unit are up on the cabinets instead of in the floor. I absolutely prefer yhid, particularly in a bunk model, as it means the kiddos won’t be dropping skittles into the floor vents all year and Fido won’t be tracking dog hair so the first time the furnace kicks in you get “that smell.”
If you’re down there looking at the underbelly, you might also take note of the fact that there is but one point for the sewer hose. Many, many RVs have multiple connection points which absolutely drives me nuts. Just spend the extra $2.17 on the plumbing to connect everything already.
Junk in the trunk in the Transcend Xplor 265BH
This floor plan’s bunks at the very back of this trailer mean there’s space to have a trunk for your junk. A large cargo bay at the very back of the trailer is a nice added touch. Grand Design already does a good job with the cargo space up front under the bed.
Earlier I mentioned Keystone and they offer a similar model, but in a laminated design, in their Keystone Cougar 30BHS. However, that model does a much better job with the rear storage and offers a king-sized bed as well as a cargo door and a cargo hatch at the back. But, it’s going to be a much pricier proposition getting into that model.
Of course, Grand Design follows the normal practice of putting the smallest possible oven in a rig designed for lots of people. Drives me crazy, as you all know.
Also, there’s carpeting in the slide room under the dinette. I am pretty sure that carpeting where kids eat is one of the poorer decisions out there. I don’t even have kids and I can figure this out.
While I really like a trailer design where the bathroom bisects the trailer, some of you have clearly stated that you do not. Know that that is how this is designed. To me this offers a better sound barrier between the main living space and the bedroom and that’s a principal advantage.
I do wish they’d put in a better vent fan, too. These dime store fart fans really do nobody any good and are nothing more than noise makers.
Boondocking and Travel Access
There are two entry doors to this trailer: one for the bedroom and one for the main living space. You can get to the bathroom and the front bedroom easily through the front door, which has no window. This makes sense in a bedroom.
You can get to the rest of the trailer through the back door but there’s one big exception—neither door offers much access to the fridge. If only the door had been hinged on the other side, you might have access to it. But, good news, happy campers. This is a change you can make easily as refrigerator doors are designed to be hung on either side.
Also, there is a lot of liquid storage aboard this rig, with 62 gallons of fresh water storage and 78 gallons of gray water storage. So you could spend a decent amount of time off the grid in this rig. Add a few additional solar panels and some lithium batteries and you’re out there for a good long while.
This offers both good seating and enough sleeping space to where I think this layout makes more sense than a number of bunk models. There is also a huge amount of kitchen counter space in this. So you really could serve a larger group here, provided baking isn’t one of the choices of what you’re making.
Further, Grand Design also does a better job insulating these than some who build stick-and-tin trailers. So if you camp more in the shoulder season, that might also be a good reason to look here.
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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