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RV Review: Coleman, Dutchmen, Springdale or …? Three trailers compared

What do I think of the Coleman Lantern LT 202RDWE travel trailer? That’s one of the questions I recently got with someone using the form at the bottom of these RV reviews. In fact, as always, a lot of readers have been writing in and I’m working to clear the backlog of requests. So, if I haven’t gotten to yours yet or responded to you individually, know that I’m working on it. 

So let’s talk about the Coleman Lantern in general. 

Coleman Lantern

The Coleman Lantern brand is something you’ll most likely only find at a Camping World, at least as a new RV. Of course, once it’s sold new you could find one anywhere as a used trailer. Just mentioning Camping World is going to get a lot of keyboard warriors to start drafting comments. 

Coleman Lantern trailers are built by Dutchmen, which is part of the Thor family. But it is also somewhat linked to the Keystone family. 

So you can get a Coleman Lantern new at a Camping World store or seek out the almost identical Aspen Trail LE series by Dutchmen, which is not likely to be found new at Camping World. Or, to a certain extent, you can also get a Keystone Springdale trailer. Again, very similar in many ways. 

Essentially same floor plan

The specific model, the 202RD (or 202RDWE in the Western section of the country) offers essentially the same floor plan across all the brands. But there are also a few key differences. Well, sort of. 

In the Springdale world, the 220RD is built for the Eastern market, but the identical 222RDWE is built up in Oregon for the Western market. Oh, and it carries about a $3,000 price penalty because, well, you have to ship parts from Indiana to Oregon. You know. Those parts that were just south at the Long Beach harbor a short time ago after their journey from China.

Oh, that again

I’m sure some of your eyes are going to roll with this sentence, but when I was selling RVs, we sold quite a few of both the Dutchmen and Springdale versions of this trailer because it offers a lot of value. That was … until we just dumped Dutchmen for Cherokee. 

But this floor plan offers a lot in a relatively compact size. Those features include a couch and a dinette, a dry bath, walk-around queen-sized bed. In addition, it is relatively affordable with an MSRP somewhere in the low $30,000 range, depending on which brand you choose. 

Another thing I really like about this floor plan is that it does not have a slide room. I know the vast majority of RV buyers are looking for slide rooms in their rigs. But there are also some of us that like simpler rigs. So plans like this one and the Lance 2075, the inTech Terra Oasis, and every Airstream travel trailer still find a strong number of buyers. 

This particular model is a “stick-and-tin” trailer – which means it’s a wood frame with an aluminum skin. We just talked about the relative advantages and disadvantages of this type of construction yesterday, so I won’t rehash it. 

What’s hot

So, of all the various floor plans that feature this layout, which is the one I would choose? And do I even like this floor plan? 

To the last question, the answer is absolutely. I think this floor plan offers a lot of value and it’s a very usable design. You could sleep additional people in here in a pinch, although it’s still not a huge trailer. 

There’s a proper couch, which is nice. But there is also a dinette. What I like about this floor plan isn’t just the lack of a slide, but also the fact that there are really large windows in the dinette/couch area of the trailer. One of the reasons many of us choose to camp where we do is that the places are beautiful. This is a really good way to enjoy that space. 

Since the bathroom’s on the side, it’s not the largest space out there. Plus, it is a plastic toilet in all these units.

What’s not

What I don’t like about this floor plan is that the kitchen counterspace is really limited. I would like to see a counter extension on any of these. But that would impede the access to/from the entry door. So that isn’t likely going to happen from the manufacturer. You’re just going to have to do your own. 

Of course, like most more affordable trailers, this uses a non-ducted air conditioning unit – which also tends to be louder. You’re also going to be riding on simple leaf springs, and usually with a brand of tire that’s maybe not likely to score highly on a consumer product website.

Which is my favorite of these floor plans? 

Of all the available floor plans that I’ve mentioned here, the Keystone Springdale is undoubtedly my favorite of the bunch. That’s for a number of very specific reasons. 

First, I’m not a fan of a brand you can only buy in one place. I know folks who have had great experiences at Camping World, but also some who have had terrible experiences there. This is honestly true of every dealership and product out there – so it’s not a slam on Camping World specifically. 

But I also like choice, and the fact that I can take a trailer wherever I want for service has just a bit of value, although recently we looked at how RV service is handled. 

Second, Springdale’s front is a smooth sheet of aluminum as opposed to a corrugated design. I think this makes a small but potentially perceptible difference in towing. No reason to drag something through the air that’s not as slippery as possible. 

Keystone also includes a 200-watt solar panel. Even if you don’t plan on doing much boondocking, this will still help to maintain any battery(ies) you have on the trailer while it’s not being used. But this is also a good starting point if you do choose to go boondocking. 

On the subject of boondocking, the Springdale also has considerably larger tanks, at 52 gallons of fresh water as opposed to 40. Again, if you’re not going to be doing any boondocking, this may not be as important. But if you are, 12 gallons makes a world of difference. 

Confusing

I just don’t understand certain aspects of the RV industry. From a manufacturing standpoint, wouldn’t it make much, much more sense to build fewer variations on a product and build more of that product? Imagine how much more consistently these could be built if Thor reduced the number of brands that build them and then just built them in highly automated factories? 

I know this is something this guy named Henry Ford pioneered which revolutionized cars. While I realize the idea is only a scant hundred years old or so, I just don’t see why the RV business is so reticent to cut back on brands and just offer a few really high-quality models at really affordable prices. 

Dizzying array of nearly identical floor plans

But that seems like an idea that hasn’t taken root in the RV space so, for now, there are a dizzying array of nearly identical floor plans including some that are sold only at certain dealerships. 

Though I shouldn’t complain too much as I appreciate the chance to help provide information to so many readers of RV Travel and answer questions. 

One more thing. The model designation on the Coleman indicates that it’s built on the West Coast (202RDWE – Western Edition), so the Springdale will have a comparable 220RDWE model.

*****

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 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.

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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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Rear windows
Dinette and couch
Value
Kitchen counter space

SUMMARY

What's best, a Coleman Lantern, Dutchmen Aspen Trail or Keystone Springdale? We answer reader mail to find out what's the best course of action.

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Karl
5 months ago

Good brand review. The ONLY person to Ever explain the WE thing. Little things like the smooth front and practical things like the bigger water tank. And no bottom licking for a brand. Much appreciated.

Kurt
9 months ago

The wife and I recently purchased a Springdale 220RD. We liked the layout, especially with the large back window, and that none of the seating positions had their back to the window, like many other models do. We found 2 surprises. It has more cabinet and storage space than many models up to 7 feet longer. It also has a bigger capacity to haul, the difference between the empty weight and GVW, than many other models. And as you pointed out, the simplicity of no slide. We also liked the exterior stairs, power awning, and solar charging system. This will be my first RV without a gas refrigerator, but also first with solar, so I am unsure of how that will go.

Tommy Molnar
9 months ago

Something I’ve never thought of, Tony. Automated building of RV’s. Yeah, we don’t need five different names of the same floor plan just so that same floor plan can be sold at five different dealerships. Most likely that would require a HUGE initial investment in computer-controlled ‘machines’ but the outcome would (hopefully) mean more quality control and faster building (which would also mean more folks out on the road – not entirely a good thing). Good old Henry Ford.

Bob M
9 months ago

What would also be good is if RV manufacturers would allow you to put in as an option the type of air conditioner, Fridge etc. in your ordered RV. For example if you don’t like Dometic air conditioners and fridge. Allow to have them install Coleman A/C or other brand and better quality fridge or range exhaust fan. Even allow you to put in a range with bigger oven. Could mean more profit for them.

RV Review: Coleman, Dutchmen, Springdale or ...? Three trailers comparedWhat's best, a Coleman Lantern, Dutchmen Aspen Trail or Keystone Springdale? We answer reader mail to find out what's the best course of action.

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