Saturday, December 3, 2022


RV Review: 2023 Grand Design Transcend XPlor 235BH


Today’s RV review is of the 2023 Grand Design Transcend XPlor 235BH, a unique bunkhouse travel trailer model. I think that mentioning the term bunkhouse puts a certain image in our heads. I’d like to encourage you to forget that for a moment. This is quite different. 

Bunkhouse not bunkhouse

Since I mentioned that this bunkhouse is very different than what you might expect, let’s look at that aspect of this trailer. On the road side of this trailer is a super slide and in that super slide are theater seats and the bunkhouse space.

Essentially, think of a hope chest-type of arrangement that has a cushion on top that you can sleep on. Then, above that, another flip-down bunk. 

The thing that’s really nifty about this is that you don’t necessarily have to use it as a bunkhouse. 

I sold a lot of trailers to a lot of grandparents who had these big ideas of taking their grands with them camping. In their mind’s eye they pictured these wonderful getaways, showing the latest version of their family hardware some of the camping experiences they treasure. 

Except, well, they didn’t factor in the teenager quotient. Teenagers have almost no interest in spending time with old people (old by their definition). So many of the bunkhouse trailers I sold never had anyone sleep in the bunks. 

That’s where something like this makes so much sense. Even if you never use the bunks for sleeping, you still have either storage space or hanging space or whatever that still makes this a very usable trailer. 

The rest of the story

There is a lot to like about the floor plan in the Grand Design Transcend XPlor 235BH, even if you don’t see that flexible, usable space. 

For example, the bathroom spans almost the entire width of the back of this trailer. That means that you get a very decent bathroom with plenty of shower room as well as space around the toilet to accomplish what you need to, including paperwork. 

There are also a good number of cabinets and drawers all over including space even for a trash can. Further, there’s even a cabinet right at the main entry door so you could put things like shoes and such. 

Kitchen counter space is good, as well, in here. 

Murphy’s bed in the Grand Design Transcend XPlor 235BH

One of the things that does stand out to me is the Murphy bed in this unit. I know a lot of you have absolutely no interest in Murphy beds. I think this design might be part of the cause of that. 

Not only is this a bed that has a split in it, but it’s also a short queen. Two strikes against this… except there’s a catch. 

The way this trailer is designed you could just leave the bed down all the time and put in whatever mattress you want. Well, as long as it clears the slide room, which the shortie queen does. So you could de-Murphy-ize this trailer if that’s something that you’re interested in doing. 

Solar now standard

The RV world is competitive, so 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. Keystone 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 can 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 roof-top solar, the Grand Design Transcend XPlor 235BH now also has roof-mounted quick-connect plugs to add more solar for those for whom solar is right. 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 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 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, 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. 

Also, 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. This 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. 

Other details in the Transcend XPlor 235BH

Speaking of heat, the ducts for the furnace of this unit are up on the cabinets instead of in the floor. I absolutely prefer this, 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. 


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. Heck, I don’t even have kids and I can figure this out. 

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. 

These corners being cut makes me think this design is less than grand, frankly. Yet they go above and beyond with the build quality.

Boondocking and travel access

Surprisingly, you can really use the whole trailer with the slide room in, including the Murphy bed. I had mentioned that you don’t absolutely have to put the bed up just because you want to bring the slide in. 

In fact, if you’re traveling solo you could use the lower bunk as your sole sleeping position and never drop the Murphy bed. 

Tony’s thoughts

I can see this design being very polarizing, but I like how Grand Design really thought outside the box on this. There are so many features and design elements that I really do like about this that the annoying things that seem pervasive in the RV industry just annoy me further. A few easy fixes and this would truly be a trailer that appeals to a lot of people. 

Even without those changes, Grand Design does do a great job with their “stick-and-tin” models. And this is one that thinks outside the box without a doubt. 

More from Tony

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our 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.

If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson—me!

Tony comes to having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. He also works closely with a number of RV manufacturers to get an inside look at how things are done and is a brand ambassador for Rockwood Mini Lite with his wife, Peggy.

You can also check out his RV podcast with Peggy.

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. 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!


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C Strawser
14 days ago

First time RV purchase. 2020 Grand Design Transcend 245 RL.
Never used due to Covid and then overcrowded campgrounds and high temperatures. When defects were found eg; Both doors wont shut and latch properly which let wind blow open doors numerous times even when locked. A patch job on a rear window that went unoticed. A few other minor cosmetic issues.
Their 3 year Structure wararranty is useless, as explained to me by 2 different reps it only pertains to the interior metal frame. Not the walls or doors, windows or roof. Just the metal support system behind the walls. Sad for me but hopefully others will be more careful of their chosen brand.

Roger Spalding
21 days ago

I have never been partial to Grand Design RVs of any class. Unreliable, poorly assembled and overpriced. However, GD does seem to be trying to correct some shortcomings. The freshwater tank capacity has been nicely enlarged to where one might consider short boondocking outings (battery/inverter capacity permitting for the 12V fridge). The oven is still inadequate to heat up a frozen pizza, though. I genuinely hope GD can improve to the point it is on equal footing with Keystone and Jayco. That is still some ways off, however.

Steve H
21 days ago

Looks like the Murphy bed left down all the time would interfere with access through the door. And, in addition to the tiny oven and bathroom fan, you can add those filthy solid steps right next to the kitchen counter as a “no sale” feature for me!

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