Thursday, September 29, 2022


RV Review: ARI Legacy Sleepers – the ultimate big rig

By Tony Barthel
If you’re in the business of keeping up with the Joneses and suddenly they show up with a new Ram 3500 Laramie that can tow up to 35,100 pounds there’s only one way to go – HDT. What is an HDT? A heavy-duty truck – the kind you see long-haul truckers using to keep food (and your Amazon purchases) coming. 

But wait, you say… You don’t want to be a gear jammin’ CB yakking trucker! You like things like automatic transmissions and air conditioning and a great GPS. No worries. Today’s modern trucks have all that and just about everything else in your fancy SUV. Oh, and the ability to tow 80,000 pounds….

Take that, you Joneses!

But that’s not all. You could take your truck to ARI Legacy Sleepers in Shipshewana, Indiana, and have that truck converted into an RV on par with whatever you’re planning to tow. Or whatever the Joneses are towing. Forget using the toilet in truck stops – ARI Legacy Sleepers creates sleepers that are fully outfitted with everything you could want in a fashion that would give those Joneses’ luxurious fifth wheel a run for its money. 

Things like 12vdc refrigerators, climate control, actual residential mattresses and, yes, showers and toilets. And the company is agnostic, of sorts, in that they don’t pay allegiance to just one chassis builder. You can get their sleepers on things like the Freightliner Cascade or a Western Star 5700XE or just about any brand you can come up with. 

For example, I looked at their conversion of a Western Star 5700XE wherein was fitted a Detroit DD16 600hp diesel engine shifting through a DT-12-speed manual transmission and engine brake. Of course. 

The sleeper cab, which is behind the regular place you’d sit when driving around looking down at those pesky Joneses, was outfitted with a full kitchen using an induction cooktop and microwave. When it’s time for dinner, there’s a gaucho dinette in the back and if the chef burns dinner, again, there’s a high-performance roof-top fan with a rain sensor… and a wireless remote. 

If someone’s driving and another is back in the recreational part there is an in-motion satellite system to keep up on the latest news and entertainment via a 43” flat-screen TV. These are designed also for driver teams so one person can be hauling the goods while their partner, or spouse in many cases, is back there catching some shuteye. 

As such, the bed arrangement is designed to be used while the vehicle is in motion with a full “net” type arrangement in front of it made up of the same webbed material you’ll see in seat belts. So you can relax in the back before you make miles in the front. 

Climate comes from a 15,000btu Coleman-Mach AC unit with a heat strip so you’re comfy year ‘round. Of course, since both the cooking and climate are electric, there’s a Cummins-Onan 7500-watt generator to make sure the juice is flowing. Still, there’s also a Webasto diesel heater if things get super chilly. 

As with all nicer RVs, the cabinets are genuine hardwood and almost the entire perimeter of the rig is lined with them. As for storage, there’s more outside in the form of substantial stainless steel storage boxes for tools or gigantic tire chains and whatnot. 

Lest you think you’re sleeping on some flat minimalist cushions designed to promote chiropractic visits – nope, that’s not the case at all. The gaucho features a Murphy bed mechanism where you’ll find an actual residential queen-sized mattress. 

One difference with these is that they do tend to use cartridge toilets as you can’t just pull your semi tractor-trailer up to the dump station. Also, many of these are customized with various features or furnishings designed to accommodate your lifestyle. 

Of course, these are really designed primarily for long-haul truck drivers. They make financial sense for truck drivers who usually must pay for motels, truck-stop showers, and restaurant food.

The fact that the tow vehicle alone is as nice as, or nicer than, many RVs is telling. That means you could have a whole second big fifth wheel for your mother-in-law so she’s “back there.” Or, you could use this RV to haul loads and create the ultimate work from the road situation. 

One thing’s for certain, the next time you pass a big rig on the road and see that huge sleeper back there you’ll know that they’ve got quite a nice office and home that just happens to be on the back of the rig they’re using to bring you what you need. Or, perhaps, you could have the ultimate tow vehicle. 

Either way, I would still want the CB so I could go down the road and watch out for the bears while pullin’ a double nickel as I keep the hammer down, good buddy. That’s a big 10-10. 

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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Neal Davis
1 year ago


tim palmer
1 year ago

I see these setups on the highways used by FEDEX “Custom Critical”.
Always wondered what they looked like inside. Pretty impressive!

1 year ago

About 10 years ago, met an RV’er pulling a 40 ft 5th wheel with Volvo tractor sleeper cab. He had one of the rear axles removed, a 5th wheel hitch installed and used the tractor as his tow vehicle. He knew the truck well since he was a driver for the company that owned it. At 750,000 miles or so, it was auctioned off as surplus. He was the successful bidder at $15,000. The positives were never worrying about weight again, 12+ mpg, spending less than the least expensive F 150 of the day and at least a couple hundred thousand miles useful life before requiring major overhaul. The downside? No drive thru access at fast food joints. Surprising we don’t see more of these!

Jim G.
1 year ago

HTD trucks are also much safer than the biggest pickup trucks for pulling the mega RV’s down the road. As Tommy mentioned “Oh, and the term “good buddy” is no longer used” as it’s meaning has changed over time. Unknowingly, a few years ago I used that term and was met with silence – never again will I make that mistake.

1 year ago

Did someone mention sleeper? Where’s the bed in this thing? Love it’s roominess, floorspace.

Bob P
1 year ago

That Freightliner you spoke of is a Cascadia, and the transmission is a 12 speed auto shift manual transmission, meaning it is manual but it shifts itself, you just hold the steering wheel and mash on the go pedal, please stick to facts you do know.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

I LOVE these big trucks! I wish I could have had the opportunity to drive one during my career, but they were pretty much ‘reserved’ for owner/operators. No company I know of EVER spent that much mulah on a tractor they were going to let some hireling drive. Oh, and the term “good buddy” is no longer used – for reasons I won’t go into. And that’s a big 10-4, driver!

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