Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Forest River Impression 235RW leaves a good… feeling

Today’s RV review is of the Forest River Impression 235RW fifth wheel, a smaller fifth wheel with a layout that could work very well for some campers. While this smaller 5er is built more as an affordable model, it does have some surprising features that could serve some travelers well. 

Big on features

Depending on your style of camping, there is a lot to like about the Impression 235RW fifth wheel. 

For example, the back of this unit features a large countertop that extends from behind the main entry door to the back of the rig. This elevated countertop is intended as a two-person dining space but could also be used as counter space or for writing RV reviews or something like that. 

There are cabinets above this space as well as a household power outlet that pops out of the solid surface counter. There is a second household outlet at the base of the overhead cabinets, so you could plug in your computers or even that Margaritaville drink-making machine you know you’ve been wanting. 

There’s more counter space along with a large sink, and then the three-burner stove we all know and (don’t) love. And, of course, with the tiny oven. 

But this counter space is more substantial than in a lot of RVs that are much larger, and I like it. 

Further, they’ve put some rather large windows along the counter, so it really opens up the rig, although there is strangely no window in the door at all.

Large hidden storage compartment 

The overhead storage is nice, but there’s a TV and fireplace at an angle on the other side of the entry door. In a secret compartment that would give Vincent Price chills, you can swing open the entire front where the TV and fireplace are and discover a rather large hidden storage compartment. 

Okay, it’s not that hidden because there’s a giant sticker that announces it. But think of the pranks you could pull on fellow campers by hiding in here. Well, and hoping they eventually come looking in here because you could maybe get locked in. 

I like all the totes they put on the shelves, too. Totes make me happy and, perhaps, that’s because I’ve put so many of them in our own RV. They’re everywhere. 

Theater seats also live down here with a handy little table on the side of them that has a bit of storage space beneath it. There’s a pop-up USB port on the theater seats, and you can flip up the armrest to accommodate one more hind end here. 

Open and airy feeling

This whole space really feels open and airy with good window coverage and floor space which belies the fact that this fifth wheel is 28’11” long. Not that big in the grand scheme of things. 

Bedroom features

The upstairs bedroom holds some secrets of its own. This is one of the times I really like the windshield up here as it really opens up the space but also provides a decent shelf ahead of the actual queen-sized bed. 

Speaking of which, this is one of those back breaker mattresses. I wonder if any of you have put in a Froli Sleep System instead of chucking the mattress and replacing it with something better? I’m intrigued by these because many of the replacement mattresses are so heavy and these are not. 

On either side of the bed are hanging wardrobes and drawers, as you would expect, but they include hanging wardrobe organizers, which is unexpected. I’ve put these in our own RV and it’s nice to see them here. They can also be removed if you don’t want them. But they’re pretty great for organizing if you don’t bring anything that hangs. 

Another surprise up here is the large closet at the back of the bedroom that is large enough to accommodate a washer-dryer and is even plumbed for it. Not what you’d expect in a rig of this size. 

More to like about the Forest River Impression 235RW

There are some other things I really like about this RV, including the fact that it sports Goodyear Endurance tires. 

The underbelly is heated and enclosed, and there are 12-volt heating pads on the holding tanks. Nice. The underbelly enclosure is also a segmented design, so you can remove a single panel if you need to do a repair under there. 

The steps to the upper deck are sort of “floating,” so you might fit your shoes under the steps, depending on the size of the shoes. 

Boondocking and travel access

Let’s talk solar, shall we? I gotta get this off my chest for all the RV companies who read this and, apparently, many do. 

This comes with 100 watts of solar which is supposed to offset the consumption of the 12-volt fridge. It very likely will not. Further, I bet most RV dealers are still putting in lead acid batteries, which further compounds the fact that the solar won’t be able to overcome the consumption. 

What I would really like to see is just a port in the roof so we could put in our own solar. I also like the way Keystone did it with upgrades from the factory or available for dealers to install. 

If you buy a rig like this and simply tow it to a seasonal site with hookups, you’ll be fine.  

But if you’re more mobile, that wimpy solar panel won’t keep the fridge going in your driveway. 

Now, there is the option of a propane-electric fridge and, if you choose that, it’s a different story. 

Still, I would rather just see an industry-standard port of some sort. That way, those for whom solar makes sense can install it very easily, and those for whom it makes no sense don’t have to pay for it. 

Further, who thought it would be a good idea to put the solar charge controller and its control surface in the baggage compartment? 

As for travel access, the slide is on the road side along with the steps to the upstairs, so you can forget about the bathroom and bedroom and even the stove when the slide is in. You can get to the fridge, though. 

Some challenges

This rig isn’t all rainbows and lollipops, although I do like the good features. But there is no window in the entry door and I wish there were. The placement of the TV is also way, way up near the ceiling with no provision to point downward. That’s weird. 

And there are the usual challenges I have with so many RVs, including a cheap vent fan and two dump fittings. I could even plumb them together with my limited plumbing skills, so Impression should be able to, as well. Though there is a nifty tube to hold the hose, which I like. 


For some RVers, they are going to see this and the layout is going to be pure magic. 

I also like that the company uses curtains instead of shades, as my wife made new ones for our first RV. Having curtains means you can go with what came with this rig or very easily change them and make a big difference on the interior color and feel. 

Also, I saw more than one of these with a sticker that reads “half-ton towable.” I am hoping someone sues an RV company so we never see this ever again. Sure, there might be some half-ton trucks that might be able to tow this, but most can’t. Many dealers don’t understand towing or just don’t care. I wouldn’t consider towing this with a half-ton truck, quite frankly. 

The RVIA could do the industry a huge service to provide actual usable resources so people in this industry can learn about towing and have a way to actually determine what a specific vehicle can tow. 

Overall, I really like this floor plan and think it’s quite unique, in a good way. Or, you could say it made a good Impression on me. 

More about these RV reviews

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.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!


Tony Barthel
Tony Barthelhttps://www.anthonybarthel.com
Tony worked at an RV dealership handling sales and warranty issues before deciding he wanted to review RVs and RV-related products. He also publishing a weekly RV podcast with his wife, Peggy, which you can find at https://www.stresslesscampingpodcast.com.


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20 days ago

I’m wondering about the gap between the counter and the dining area…looks like it would pose a cleaning problem. I wish they hadn’t gone to the smaller oven. Our 2015 Rockwood 2109s has the larger oven that I use all the time. We like the electric/propane fridge over the 12 volt. Agree, TV trays are great. We got rid of the table that stored behind the sofa that took 2 men and a small boy to get out…got rid of the weight, too! My husband and I agree, we are not sold on the solid drop down stairs. We like the fold up, because we can step in using the frame work instead of having to drop the stairs when we make a quick road stop. Oh, and just a note, we are both in our 70s. This does have a lot of cool features and a lot of storage.

21 days ago

I don’t like the layout. The counter looks like a hillbilly found some trash and glued it to the wall. I don’t value a large TV or have a need for fat slob theater seating so this fiver makes it easy to scratch off my list. We use our dining space for large meals, work, crafts, games and socializing. There are many better floor plans that suit us much better.

Steve H
21 days ago

Our Rockwood fifth wheel was two feet shorter and 3,000# lighter and we towed it with a 3/4-ton Ram diesel (we live in the Rockies). We refused to sell it to a couple who wanted to tow it with a brand new Toyota Tundra. The car dealer had told them it would be no problem towing our fiver with the two of them and their 3 teen grandsons in the crew-cab! But a trailer hitch installer also flatly refused to put any fifth wheel hitch in their truck. So some of us do understand the limitations of a half-ton truck.

Bob P
22 days ago

I like it, it has everything you need and nothing you dont.

Mikal H
22 days ago

For a “small” 5ver, there are certainly things to like.

Funny how 29′ is “small” nowadays. I remember when my dad traded in his 24′ for a 28′ 5ver, no slides, and that people still had to bend over in the bedroom the ceiling was so low, and we were all in awe at how huge it was! 🙂

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