Today’s RV review is a renewed look at the Alliance Paradigm 385FL, a front living fifth wheel. I got a chance to look at the 2022 version in person last year at the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. There have been enough changes to it that I thought we should have a renewed look.
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.
But in setting themselves apart, Alliance road tests every one of the units that rolls off the line in a set course. That’s so the first person to do so isn’t the delivery driver taking the rig to your dealer. That 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.
Further, the rigs are all tested with the tanks completely full to test the ability of the RV to haul with full tanks. Some of you have brought up the Jayco response to an owner after one of their tanks failed while being towed with contents in it.
Warranty covers full-time use of the Alliance Paradigm 385FL
In fact, the company itself recognizes that the unit is so livable the warranty covers use as a full-time unit. Alliance actually fills the holding tanks and then takes the fifth wheels for a drive on a test course. They want to make sure everything does what it’s designed to do. 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.
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. So, you don’t have to be a contortionist to dump your tanks.
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.
2023 upgrades to the Alliance Paradigm 385FL
I wouldn’t say that the 2023 models are a major upgrade, but there are enough differences that they’re worth noting. One of the first things that I’m seeing at Alliance, and in the industry in general, is just a beautification of interiors.
It used to be that brown was the color of choice for the RV industry. Fortunately, there was enough flack over this color choice that there has been a big shift to very light, bright and still neutral colors for 2023.
While Alliance wasn’t doing brown, they have shifted interior colors to lighter and more contemporary choices. I don’t think they needed a change, as some brands did, but it’s nice to see the change just the same.
They’ve also mounted the dining table in this model on the side wall of the slide box, so there are no knee-knocking poles. And, as an homage to fanciness, there’s a soft close lid on the toilet in the bathroom.
More solar, too
The 2023 Paradigm comes with a single 320-watt solar panel along with a 40-amp charge controller. This should be enough to zero-out the consumption of the 12-volt refrigerator which, in this unit, is a 20-cubic-foot model.
The fact that Alliance is putting an RV fridge in an RV instead of a residential one shows that they’re paying attention. I know this is a constant debate but, as someone who managed warranties, residential fridges were one of the worst to deal with. You couldn’t give me an RV with a residential fridge in it.
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 raised, as well. 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 over 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 (about 818 pounds) of that capability.
One of the many things I like about this brand is that they use a MORryde CRE 3,000 suspension with “G” rated tires, which 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.
The walls in these units are fully vacuum-laminated using Azdel substrate and framed in aluminum. The roof itself is a PVC product which 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 rather than having 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, so a specific wire in this unit is the same as the one in another unit. That’s not always true in the RV industry.
Boondocking and travel access
As mentioned, this model comes with at least 320 watts of solar—which may be enough to compensate for the demand of the 12-volt fridge. But, should you want more, they make it available. You can get a model with three of those 320-watt solar panels.
So that you don’t have to take off your shoes to add that up, that’s 960 watts of solar. Further, the larger system includes a 60-amp charge controller and 3,000-watt inverter. It is set up to operate the air conditioner at the middle of the rig.
As for road mode, you actually can get to the refrigerator and the guest bathroom in the center of the trailer, so I would call that good.
I know where a lot of people’s minds go when considering a larger fifth wheel of higher quality. But I really think the two brands we looked at most recently should be on your shopping list, if this is where you’re thinking of going. To be specific, Cedar Creek and Alliance.
I ran into the Alliance people at multiple events where others didn’t bother sending a factory rep last year. Speaking to them, you could see they had an actual understanding of what customers were looking for.
Seeing the changes for 2023, which aren’t overly significant but still reflect a refinement of the product, it makes me think this is a brand worth watching. For those for whom this makes a difference, Alliance is also an independent company—in other words, not part of Thor, Forest River or Winnebago.
More from Tony
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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. 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.
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