Almost every RV out there is built like every RV other out there. That means a lot of wood in the build of the RV—which is heavy and doesn’t fare well on the roads that are becoming ever worse. So when reader Robert H. wrote in and suggested I look at the Embassy RV Traveler, of course I was curious.
But the more I looked, the more I realized that Embassy is doing things very differently than what is typical in the RV space. Perhaps that’s because the company not only makes RVs, but also specialty vehicles for the medical and law enforcement segment as well.
I had the chance to speak with the company’s Vice President, Terry Minix, in a very interesting conversation. Interesting because Minix has vastly different ideas from what is customary in this business.
Big differences in materials
The company is different from the start, but this was driven by Minix having to work on a vehicle that had been in an accident in the past. While that vehicle had never experienced a water leak, he found that the insulation behind the walls was damp. The reason for this is that vans are simply a small space where moisture gathers. As such, the insulation had absorbed this moisture and the van had a musty smell. There was also the potential for mildew and other harmful bacterial.
Ew. The solution? “I’ve tried every insulation you can imagine,” says Terry.
Embassy starts with special foam insulation
So Embassy starts with a multi-layer industrial bubble foam insulation. It is formed to the shape of the van and glued in place eight layers deep.
“I’m creating a vehicle that’s truly four seasons.”
The bubble foam conforms to the curves and shapes of the van and also does not absorb moisture. “My own van is years old and still smells new,” bragged Minix.
The flooring, too, is unique. It is a one-and-one-half inch thick proprietary subfloor that’s bonded to the metal flooring in the van. Further, cabinets, walls and every other surface is made from materials that are unique to this build.
Since the company makes many of the materials themselves, it makes sense why you don’t see them in other van builds. Though that can change. More about that later.
Big differences in systems
While the materials used to build the vans are different, so are many of the systems that you don’t see.
For example, the Embassy vans can use a 12-volt mini-split-type air conditioning system with the exterior unit being mounted beneath the floor. Minix indicated that they can do a van build that is so stealthy he has customers who own them and live in areas with a homeowners association that prohibits RVs from being parked there. However, these owners park their vans on their property undetected by the snooping HOA.
As of this writing, all the vans come with at least 630 amp-hours of lithium power, Plus, they are fitted with a second high-capacity alternator to charge the batteries. There is no solar, although the company will fit the wiring if asked.
But the philosophy is that, with the quality of the insulation, you can park under a tree and idle the engine if you run low on juice. But that may not be an issue. Terry indicated that you can run the installed mini-split system for about 15 hours and still have more than a third of your battery reserves remain.
Yes, you probably should re-read that paragraph. That is one heck of a claim.
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No Embassy RV has propane onboard
Further, none of their builds have any propane onboard. Instead, they use the German-engineered Espar heaters that draw from the vehicle’s fuel tank. This means either gasoline or diesel fuel is used to heat the air. Water is heated through the same source.
If you’re a boater you might recognize some of these tactics. Indeed, there is a lot of thinking that is brought over from the marine space.
Another of those is that there is no black tank. Ever. Your choice of toilet is either the Laveo dry flush toilet we reviewed a while back, or a composting model. But that toilet is situated in the bathroom such that it can be closed off so the bathroom isn’t just about the toilet. It’s actually a pretty spacious affair, especially for a Class B RV.
A van, a plan, an RV
Another thing that’s really unusual about Embassy is that they’ll build whatever van you want. Like the Promaster? No worries. Prefer a Ford? Done. If the Sprinter’s your thing, then they’ll do that too.
In fact, they have a newer program called the Project Bear Cub where you can even bring your current B van in and have it converted to an Embassy RV. So if you’re quite tired of the RV portion of your Class B built between model years 2016-2021, perhaps there’s a solution for you.
One more thing on the Embassy Traveler
There’s one more thing I absolutely need to mention and that’s the available back porch function of the coach. Embassy has created a very unique back porch tent option for their RVs that literally expands the interior significantly and creates a closed-in back porch. Essentially, this comes from opening the dual rear doors, dropping down a platform and then erecting a specially built tent. It’s not much work, but it drastically expands the RV’s living space. In fact, it essentially can turn it into a two-bedroom unit—or just a nice back porch to hang out on.
What’s inside the Traveler
If wood is your thing, and I do really like the look of wood, then you’ll be challenged by the interior of this. But the layout is as smart as the material choices, with seating for up to seven around a Lagun table. Cooking is done via a microwave and induction cooktop. There is actually a good amount of storage and cabinet space here. The latches that keep the cabinets closed are marine-grade.
We RV folks could learn a lot about how to build things from the folks hanging out with Popeye.
When things break
By building things to a different standard, things tend not to break, according to Minix. But “parts is parts,” and there is always the chance that something can go haywire. As such, the charging and battery systems can actually be diagnosed remotely. That was done recently with a customer in California whose charging system wasn’t behaving as it was supposed to.
By design, that customer enabled Embassy to log into the van and a fix was established remotely, returning the van to full functionality.
I almost feel like a carnival pitch man. A friend does refer to me as a cross between P.T. Barnum and Curly Howard (from the Three Stooges)—but there’s more. Embassy only sells their vans directly to the customer. This isn’t horribly unusual in the RV space. We’ve seen this with things like the Bigfoot RV and the Escape brand, as well.
But Minix claimed that the cost of materials on an Embassy RV is about 30 percent higher than is typically used in most Class B RV builds. So how much are these? Surprisingly reasonable by Class B standards. For example, the company is awaiting a number of Ford Transit van chassis equipped with four-wheel-drive and expects to sell those as completed RVs for around $145,000, depending on customer choices.
The Embassy product is quite the value
Now, when you think that there are Class B RVs out there whose price exceeds $200,000, it becomes evident that the Embassy product is quite the value.
I had described the Vanaholic build as one of my favorites thus far—and that’s still the case. But this is on a whole different level, especially with the built-in energy systems. Interestingly, both of these companies offer a form of “bring your own van.” And neither uses wood or other water-absorbing materials in the build process.
Lots of vans being built these days
There are a lot of folks building a lot of vans these days. More and more companies are jumping into the fray because, frankly, Class B RVs are a hot and growing segment of the market. With the way Embassy builds their vans, including the material choices and the whole way the company thinks so differently, I believe that you’re honestly doing yourself a disservice if a Class B RV is something you’re shopping for and you don’t consider their product. It may or may not be the right choice for you, but the way they do things has knocked my socks off.
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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I’m linking to this article on my YouTube channel so hopefully you will get more subscribers!
Although I don’t represent Embassy in any way, I love their integrity and build quality enough to want to get the word out.
If anyone is interested, Scott Watson at Go Small Live Large does represent them and has a lot of informational videos on their RV builds. Be seeing you!
Thanks for the heads-up!
Here’s a link to his channel playlist about the Embassy vans. Darn, as if I didn’t already really like these vans.
Here’s a link to my playlist… I have some info on insulation and the ordering process.
I’m almost certain it should be AWD and not 4WD on the Ford Transit. Embassy doesn’t alter the vehicle in that way.
Yes… it’s an AWD.
We love our Class B RoadTrek. I can see a lot of great new products in this new build. Gives me hope for future purchase! Thanks for another great review 👍
Remotely diagnosing charging and battery systems. Sounds like another way to violate a person’s privacy. Don’t need anyone keeping track of where I am or possibly doing.
My dad felt the same way until he learned that I could remotely reverse the things he did to his computer. Suddenly it was a different story.
It’s 2022. Privacy is dead. If you carry a modern cell phone you’re carrying a GPS tracking device that can be remotely accessed.
As I understand it, you aren’t connected unless you actually send the information yourself, but to each his own.
How are you making the leap from a connected electrical system to physically tracking someone? Do you know the physical location of a given web server? No. Do you need to? No. So why would this company know, or care about the location of the system?
I’m completely certain that they have nothing better to do than keep an eye on where you’re camping. I’m sure they have teams of people just tracking information on their buyers.
Seriously, though, you would have to give them permission to log into your vehicle. Some folks are just paranoid.
Sounds almost as good as the Vanoholic, price is the difference, of course the Vanoholic might as expensive if you had it built for you.
This one is a bit more integrated but I like that the Vanaholic can be pieced together more and tailored to the customer. But the battery subsystems in this are exceptional.
This or the Vanaholic build are both really well made – either would be a great choice for different reasons.
One of the very few Class B’s I would consider, too bad their website has not been updated for the Transit AWD chassis. The toilet might be a dealbreaker, too complex and proprietary. Would much prefer a cassette toilet with SOG system. Also, since they are nicely concerned with insulation, are the windows dual pane?
If Embassy RV has a glaring weakness, it is their website which doesn’t reflect the quality and innovations they are famous for. An outside company has been hired to address the issue, but the results have been “coming soon” a lot longer than I would have expected. For the real skinny on Embassy, Go Small Live Large on YouTube has an entire playlist with tours with the VP Terry Minx in vans during the build process and sit-down Q&A sessions, that go into a great deal of depth on how and why they are built the way they are. The Laveo dry flush toilet may be a bit to proprietary, although it *is* possible to use it in a manner not intended by the manufacturer with just aftermarket plastic bags if you like, but the Separett and Natures Head composting toilets aren’t complex or very proprietary at all. Dual pane windows are used in some builds, but it’s not possible with all windows, have to talk to Embassy about specifics.
Oh yes! We’ve been telling Terry for a long while they need to get that website updated. The Laveo is only one option for toilet. We are getting a C-Head, and a few are getting the Separett Tiny. No cassette toilet available anymore… there were just too many issues… and not the pleasant kind, either!
It’s almost never that I visit ANY RV manufacturer’s website and come away impressed. I’m still convinced that the RV industry is about 20 years behind the times in general, with some still stuck back in the 1930s and a few that have made it all the way to the 1990s.
And don’t get me started on Forest River. Ol’ Warren Buffett needs to hire someone who actually understands how the world works today and re-do the whole horrible site.
Further, the spoils go to the company that puts more content on their build and engineering rather than the swishy swirls.
I’m assuming that because they are built “for the customer” there aren’t any that can be seen?
Embassy does do factory tours where you can come in and walk around with Terry and see vans in all stages of the build process, and if you join the Facebook Group “Embassy Owners and Wannabees”, there is a list of people in various parts of the country that will meet you someplace so you can check out their vehicle and ask questions.
We have a Facebook group and many of the members own an Embassy that you may be able to see if you are nearby one of them. There is also a yearly get together in Elkhart first weekend in June. If our Embassy is completed, that’s when I’ll be there to pick it up and show it off.
WOW! Thanks for this eye-opener, Tony…