Today’s review is of a Grand Design Reflection 312BHTS, a very large travel trailer that has the floor plan you might expect in a fifth wheel but in a travel trailer. So why not just get a fifth wheel?
Well, there are a lot of reasons including the one a reader wrote in to share with me. In the case of the writer, knee issues would make having to go up and down stairs to the bathroom a challenge. I’ve also talked to some campers who prefer a travel trailer so they can put a cap on their truck and carry things back there like eBikes or supplies, tools, whatever.
Of course, the disadvantage of a travel trailer of this size is simply that. It’s a big momma. Weighing in at 9,432 pounds dry with a tongue weight of more than 1,000 pounds, you’re absolutely going to need quite a capable vehicle to tow this. Further, since the entire length of the trailer is behind you, as opposed to having some of the length over the bed of the truck as in a fifth wheel, it becomes quite a long total length. There’s more than 37 feet of trailer behind however long the towing vehicle is.
Highlights of the Grand Design Reflection
Being at the top of the line for Grand Design’s travel trailers, this is appropriately upscale in finish and features. There’s a tankless water heater, mirrored closet doors in the bedroom and an island in the kitchen.
There’s also a closet at the foot of the bedroom that can be the space for your washer-dryer or, of course, your stuff. We all need a place for our stuff.
I also like the retractable clothes line in the shower. This makes so much sense.
The floor plan is very much like a fifth wheel with a counter at the bulkhead of the main living space. You could use that for a coffee station, for example.
One of the things I really liked in the model in the video attached here was the four-door 12-volt fridge and, in particular, the latches on the doors. Seems like an odd thing to focus. However, it appears that many of the newer 12-volt fridges don’t have door latches that are well-suited to being mobile. This seems better.
With the sudden interest in 12-volt DC compressor fridges, I’ve seen quite a few suddenly come on the market. Not surprisingly, some seem more thought-through than others. There are absolutely brands that need additional customer engineering to keep the doors closed in transit. This just provides further proof that there are a lot of things in the RV industry that exist because some management person believed some marketing person, but never went camping and actually tested it.
That’s not this fridge, basically.
Good, and versatile, bunk room
Another thing I like about this floor plan is that it is a bunk model and is arranged such that there’s a proper “go to” space in the bunk room. So, if you are camping with youngsters and they need to go to their room, there’s a room.
But if you’re planning an office or a hobby room, this could also serve that purpose. The bunk room features a couch and a flip-up bunk along with a permanent bunk over the outside kitchen. You could easily take that couch out or spend a few moments with a screw gun and remove the flip-up bunk, if that serves your camping style.
Now you have a den or an office or a craft room or whatever. Take the lousy mattress off the permanent bunk and now it’s storage.
Outside kitchen on the Grand Design Reflection
Outside this trailer features an outdoor kitchen and, like a lot of these outdoor kitchens, it’s pretty high up. That’s because the chassis has to be high enough off the ground so that it doesn’t scrape on driveways and such.
The kitchen outside is well-equipped, too. It has a two-burner flat-top griddle, a fully plumbed sink and a rather large refrigerator. For those who like to cook outside, this isn’t a bad choice.
But seeing that Ember 191MSL where they effectively took the outside kitchen completely out and gave us storage instead, I wonder what your feelings are on this? If you did repurpose the back room of this large trailer for an office or den or whatnot, would you also want this space for storage?
Frankly, if this were a trailer being used for a family outing, I would imagine that the outside kitchen would make a lot of sense. It is a bit high off the ground, by necessity. So only the adults can really reach the fridge. But depending on what you put in it, that may not be a bad thing.
Boondocking and travel access
This is where these large trailers with opposing slides really fall short. But I suspect many of them are in permanent sites, so it’s not that big of a deal.
But forget anything behind the bathroom in this trailer when it’s in travel mode. The camp-side slide room completely blocks access to everything behind the bathroom wall. You can get to the bathroom and bedroom, though, so that’s okay.
The odd thing about the way the slides are arranged is that the button that’s accessible in the doorway to open the slide only opens the camp-side slide. Once that’s open, then you have access to the two road-side slide rooms. Interesting.
Observations on the Grand Design Reflection
I like that Grand Design has moved to Goodyear Endurance travel trailer tires. But I really, really wish they would also upgrade their suspensions to something other than the least expensive leaf spring setup. There are so many better options, and the company pitches itself as a premium product.
I can’t tell you how many people I come across who have upgraded their suspensions on Grand Design trailers. Come on, guys. At least give us the option of something better.
This trailer would serve someone well if they wanted the space of a fifth wheel with the flat floor of a travel trailer. I also like that you get folding steps on these rather than the solid steps that are so much in vogue nowadays. But I think they are a pain in the neck, frankly.
Would I choose this trailer?
But would I rather have this trailer, or something like the Keystone Outback 341RL, for example? I think I’d rather have the Outback only because they have a better solar package available. Also, my experience with the build quality of that brand is really good, and they don’t use as cheap of a suspension.
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.
If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson – me!
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 an RV podcast with his wife, Peggy.
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.
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