What is your definition of luxury? There are a lot of RV manufacturers who bandy about the term “luxury” and there’s no real standard of definition. To me, luxury means the absence of failure in the operation of a thing.
That used to be Mercedes-Benz cars in the 1960s and ‘70s. I’m not sure that definition applies any longer, as the rush to develop new products and gadgets has overtaken the building of the same car for a decade because it was designed well in the first place. Oh, well.
But the point of that silly rant is to call out the Airstream Atlas – which is referred to by Airstream as a luxury Class B RV. Okay.
Probably no other brand in the RV space has such good name recognition. You can ask just about any human in the U.S. to point out an Airstream travel trailer, and they probably could without thinking about it. Over the decades, Airstream has also built RVs other than travel trailers, including motorhomes. The Atlas is in that category.
Aside from a price tag north of a quarter million dollars, what qualifies this rig as “luxury”?
There are some things that carry over from Airstream’s iconic travel trailers. Those include an aluminum ceiling in this rig – which some aficionados insist will last longer. Okay.
I also like the cabinetry in this motorhome and, in particular, the positive catches on the doors. Simple and magnetic catches are fine for homes but have no business in a moving vehicle. Kudos to Airstream for seeing this. In fact, interior materials, in general, have a high quality feel to them. The overall fit and finish and feel of things in this rig give it an air of quality.
Features to love in the Airstream Atlas
There are, indeed, some really good features in this coach. For example, when you unlock the doors with the key fob remote, that also gains you access to the under-floor exterior storage bays. I’m surprised how many and how spacious they are, given the size of this vehicle.
The steps are power-operated and sort of tumble into a space below the door. This design makes it so the steps don’t take any of the interior floor space. That’s a great idea.
I like that the Murphy bed sits on a Froli sleep system. It is 73” X 73” and can even be used when the slide room is closed. Big kudos on this!
Airstream swaps the traditional rear leaf springs on the Sprinter cutaway chassis for air springs. This offers both handling and ride quality improvements. Another big plus.
There’s a nifty sun roof over the bed that can be opened for air flow. It is protected by a screen to keep the uninvited bugs out. But there’s also a blackout shade over it if you prefer to sleep in the dark. Nice.
The convection microwave features an air fry function so you can nuke, bake or air fry something.
But the best thing is the build quality of the exterior fiberglass shell on this rig – which is one piece. There are no seams to fail over time, and that’s a big deal. Of course, I would rather see an aluminum shell like a proper Airstream trailer. But at least this is a first-rate use of a fiberglass box.
But is this “luxury”?
There are a lot of features that are defined by Airstream as luxury touches that I think are silly.
For example, power blinds. I can see these breaking after a few years and, of course, in the up position so you can’t sleep at night. Just give me simple blinds – I can retract them myself.
The same is true of the couch – which has a power foot rest for the two outboard positions. Honestly, it would take less time to simply flip up a foot rest. Again, it’s not taking battery power to have me do so. Also, that same couch has a power fold-down mechanism. See previous comments about this. But it seems that the folks at Airstream are more about checking boxes that they feel qualify them as “luxury” than trying innovative things.
For example, when I wrote about the Newell Coach, one of the things that impressed me is that the blinds could also serve as projection screens. That left the space that would have been taken up by a televator to be useful interior space instead. It would really make sense in that cabinet across from the Murphy bed that is, in fact, taken up by a televator.
But, honestly, for over a quarter mil’, Airstream uses a plastic toilet in this rig. Seriously? I get a ceramic toilet in a $26K Cherokee, but I buy an RV for more than the price of many houses and get the cheapest squeaky toilet on the market? This is the equivalent of seeing the queen of England react as the rest of our intestines do to a dinner from Taco Bell.
And, while on the subject of cheap: a two-burner cook top that’s nothing better than a cheap camp stove? I think an induction cook top or anything other than the first thing you saw in the discount RV parts catalog would be better here. Yeah, yeah. It’s some low-grade of stainless steel, but you’re not fooling me. Even the new, very affordable Jayco travel trailer has a much, much nicer two-burner cook top than this one.
I do like this rig and like the layout. but there are a few things that just stick in my craw. While the cabinets are high-quality and there are some very thoughtful features in here, I think Airstream could forgo the power blinds and power couch and move up to at least average-quality when it comes to some components like that cook top and the plastic toilet.
Watching a recent video from Matt’s RV reviews on this unit, the salesperson was saying that you can get one of these in a matter of months as opposed to having to wait two years for a comparable unit from Leisure Travel Vans. Given Airstream’s brand recognition, I think that’s a telling story about the prioritization of some of the components chosen for this rig.
Tony comes to RVTravel.com 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.
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A lot of money for very little motorhome. Airstream was more innovative and had nicer motorhomes when they built their own motorhomes. Instead of using MB Sprinters. I don’t think they’re very good looking.
This is a class C, not a B!
what does it have for batteries, solar, inverter?
The cheapo toilet is probably a weight-saving move. This much money for this little space is tough for me to take. As others have mentioned, you’re buying the name (and that’s where the over-price comes in).
The airstream is an EXTREMELY expensive knockoff of a Canadian-made Leisure Unity/Serenity. I cannot understand why someone would want to pay upwards of $230,000 for this vehicle, especially with the known issues of the Mercedes chassis. Ridiculous, IMO.
Especially when the Leisure costs far less, and IMO is better constructed inside.
The writer mentions the Atlas has air springs. So what. These are prone to failure after as short as five years. The writer also says you have to wait two years after ordering a Leisure. So what. There’s a reason. Several, actually. They are in high, high demand because of their build quality. And owners get that quality without that Airstream premium price.
I really wish there was some way to gauge vehicles like this after a few years of use, much like JD Power, etc., do with cars. Perhaps RVtravel should consider such polls for real-time reality check reviews. When I did car reviews as part of my work, I always took that into consideration. Sure, everything is great out of the showroom at least for cars, but these days not RVs. But, what about polling RV owners of various models and ask them their real-life experiences. Would they buy the same unit again? How many times has that unit been in for serious service issues? How reliable has that unit been? Now THAT is a vehicle review.
I can’t tell you how much I would love to put together a reliable resource that had this information.
Unfortunately SO much of what goes into any RV is the same as the parts in every other RV so the first thing you’d want to do is establish reliability statistics for those components.
Aside from walls and cabinets RVs are basically parts sourced from a few manufacturers.
I guess it didn’t come across in my post but the fact that an Airstream person is bragging that their unit is more available I think tells a lot of the story. I would argue that Airstream is a better known brand than LTV but I agree with you, I think the LTV is just a superior product.
Must be chasing Coachhouse. Failed. Selling the name.