I’ve been getting more and more emails through the form at the bottom of these reviews asking me to take a look at specific RVs. Such was the case for this unit, the 2021 Grand Design Imagine 2970RL.
Grand Design has done a really terrific job of branding themselves. Customers have a very favorable impression of the brand and the name comes up frequently in forums where people ask about a quality RV. I think this might be exactly in the crosshairs of Keystone with their new Arcadia line. The Grand Design 2970 has virtually the same floor plan as the new Keystone Arcadia 370RL travel trailer.
While the floor plans might be the same, picking one I would absolutely prefer was easy for me. But it’s good to know that I also got to tour the plant that makes the Keystone Arcadia and see what’s under the skin. That is a big factor in my own preference on these two.
What’s inside the Grand Design Imagine 2970RL
I really, really like this floor plan if you’re looking for a very livable couple’s trailer. There is a large slide on either side of the living space of the trailer, which occupies about two-thirds of the back of this unit. The front contains the bedroom and bathroom.
On the road side is a large slide room that incorporates theater seating and a dinette. I like this dinette because the table is free-standing. So you could also use it over with the theater seats if you like, though a booth dinette is also an option.
On the road side is the galley with a three-burner stove and oven, above which is a microwave, of course.
There’s also an island with a sink. The drawers in this make the entire storage situation in this trailer something to write home about.
Differences between the Grand Design Imagine 2970RL and the Arcadia 370RL
You start to see major differences between this trailer and the Arcadia in the island. On the Arcadia, there is a flip-up table on the camp side. It looks like a butcher block table and could easily be used as a desk. That’s really a smart thing.
The bathroom occupies the center of the trailer and sports a Nautilus shower closure. That is sort of a plastic sheet on a roller. That sheet rolls onto its roller and incorporates a squeegee so it dries off.
Keystone’s Arcadia has a third slide room in the bedroom where the east-to-west California King resides. This allows them to take their forward-slanting front nose and use that as a very large closet.
I was also shown how the Arcadia’s chassis is designed where there are channels specifically in the floor structure to run wiring and plumbing. That keeps it on the inside of the trailer and is less susceptible to climate damage. In fact, there were a lot of things about the Keystone Arcadia that just made me think it’s just a better design in so many ways, but particularly in hidden details. Keystone also has their “Blade” AC unit – which they claim offers better performance. They also have HyperDeck flooring and many other features.
But other options altogether are the 2021 Grand Design Imagine 2670MK and East To West Alta 2810KIK. I like the floor plan of both of these much, much more than the Imagine 2970, only because of that huge counter space and TV on a lift. Plus, they’re slightly shorter and offer a desk in the back.
One of the things that concerns me about a lot of travel trailers, including the Grand Design Imagine line, is the very basic leaf spring suspensions with dry bolts that are employed. I am not a fan of this kind of suspension in a “high-end” trailer. This is because it’s basically the least expensive suspension you can employ, yet is what the whole trailer is riding on. Well, and the tires, which are Westlake tires.
On the Arcadia they’re using a Kurt axle and suspension system that features wet bolts – which means you can lube them over time. This feature alone would sway my decision.
I know a lot of people really hold the Grand Design name in high regard. This is also going to make this trailer potentially easier to sell down the road. Like Airstream, if you can brand yourself successfully in this business, that actually has value in the real world.
Also, I like that Grand Design has now incorporated their tire pressure monitoring system into their Compass Connect app. That means you can monitor tire pressure without needing yet another screen in the cab of your truck.
But the competing Arcadia is not to be ignored, and Keystone has come on strong with that brand. I will say my wife loves the look of the interior of the Grand Design and doesn’t like the appearance of the interior of the Arcadia. I do like Arcadia’s interior but also like the Grand Design.
If you’re really convinced of the Grand Design 2970 as the floor plan of choice, I would suggest it would be a mistake not to at least look at the Arcadia. If it were my dollars, that would be my preference.
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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