By Tony Barthel
A friend of mine is RV shopping and is intrigued by the Grand Design Solitude 390RK-R, a very large fifth wheel with a rear kitchen. When they asked me what I thought of this, it gave me a chance to look deeper. And write this.
Grand Design has two main grades of fifth wheels in their arsenal with two additional sub-classes. The Reflection line is available as just the Reflection or the Reflection 150, which implies you can tow it with a half-ton truck. Then there’s the Solitude and Solitude S-Class borrowing some marketing juice from Mercedes-Benz.
The Solitude models are warrantied for full-time living and feature things like MORryde CRE3000 suspension systems with a rubber-sprung pin box from the same company. The company also talks about the “race track” air conditioning ducting system. It claims it is twice as quiet (would that be half as noisy?) and that it provides up to 23 percent more airflow than is typical.
Storage in the Grand Design Solitude 390RK-R
What really inspired me when I looked at this, and did the same for my friends, was the sheer amount of storage in this rig. If you look at the floor plan from the side and with an X-ray machine you’ll notice that the front of the fifth wheel is raised as is typical, but the floor of the back is, as well, with the center section being in the well of this “U” shape.
The roof of the rig is completely flat, which affords you a lot of storage space in the rear under the raised floor. And it’s a lot of storage, indeed. There are five exterior doors to access the storage. There are two large swing-up doors on either side, then a very large door in the rear. Behind that rear door is a slide-out “tray.” This enables you to access the things you’ll want that are inevitably just outside your reach if the tray weren’t present.
Furthermore, this the Grand Design Solitude 390RK-R features a drop frame – so there’s also a tremendous amount of storage up front. This is not a fifth wheel that skimps on storage in any way. However, there is about 2,000 pounds of cargo-carrying capacity built into this, so you will want to be careful. It might seem that a ton of stuff is a lot. But when you add fluids, food and all those things to the mix you can actually get well past a ton without thinking about it.
There are a few nifty things on the exterior of the Grand Design Solitude 390RK-R worth noting. One of these is the fact that the six-point auto level control panel is on a door that opens 180°. That means when you’re hitching or unhitching, the panel is pretty close at hand. Good thinking. However, that door is part of a two-piece door assembly and you have to open the back half to get the front open, which is a bit odd.
Like more and more nicer fifth wheels, this features a cord reel in the back in one of the storage bays. This is a nice touch when wrestling the 50-amp cord that brings power.
I also like that the company offers heavier-duty axle systems including two 7,000-pound axles with disc brakes or two 8,000-pound axles with disc brakes. These will be among the best dollars you can spend on something of this heft.
The grand tour of the Grand Design Solitude 390RK-R
Enough with the dorky specifications and such. What about the interior? Well, it’s a nice place to be, indeed. As you walk in, the first place you’ll be is in the lower “well” of the floor plan between the two raised sections.
On either side of this is a slide room. This holds a sofa that seems like it could accommodate three skinny seats or two built like mine quite easily. Toward the front of the coach is a large TV and electric fireplace. Grand Design has placed some space and the audio system behind a flip-down glass panel.
Opposite the TV and fireplace are two power recliners with heat and massage.
The kitchen – Wow!
Toward the back of the Grand Design Solitude 390RK-R on the upper level is the kitchen. The first thing I noticed was that there’s a bar there – directly facing the big TV. I know this is going to be a place where some owners catch up on whatever news programming they prefer.
On the left as you go into the kitchen is a pantry that is sort of two levels. On the upper is a traditional pantry with large open spaces. The lower door opens to reveal concealed drawers.
There’s a four-burner Insignia stove after that with a huge (by RV standards) convection oven. This is essentially the size of a residential oven. If you like to cook, and my friend does, this is a kitchen that is very well set up for meal prep. My friend used to own a steak house, so this is going to see some serious use.
‘Round the bend is a large refrigerator where you get the choice of a gas-electric refrigerator or a Samsung residential model. I always admit my bias in these reviews and, frankly, I’m no fan of Samsung appliances. This is way out on the tail of the RV where it will likely see some action on the rough roads that are becoming more commonplace. Therefore, I would suggest going with the RV fridge if they’re going to do some serious traveling. I’ve been in places where I’ve seen slide rooms removed to replace these residential refrigerators that don’t fit through an RV door.
Enough about that. Our next stop is a sink that sits behind a large window. That’s so you can look at wherever you’re camping while you’re wishing you weren’t washing dishes. But this sink is neat in that it’s a two-bowl model that has a low divider between the bowls. It has a cover that is made of the same composite countertop as the rest of the kitchen.
Lots of counter space and storage in the kitchen
On the road side is a very large countertop that extends almost the whole width (length?) of the kitchen. There are tons of drawers and cabinets below the counter, a plug on a pop-up port at the back of the counter and a convection microwave above.
If you’re living in this rig, that counter is where you’d likely find things like air fryers and instant pots and all those things. The cabinets below is where they’d live when you’re going from place to place. But the bottom line is that there is plenty of space for all those real-world kitchen gadgets we all love.
Finally, there’s an island right at the center of the kitchen whose surface is not obstructed at all. It’s just a big flat table – which is great for meal prep or serving. Of course, there are more cabinets and drawers in this island. So this is not a kitchen where anybody but the most serious gadget collector is going to complain about a lack of storage or prep space.
I also like that there’s a high-performance fan in the kitchen as well as a low-profile vent hood over the stove.
The bathroom has tons of storage
On the opposite “high” side of this trailer is the bathroom, as you might expect. That bathroom features a dual-well sink with a huge mirror in front of you. Once again, storage is the word for the day and there’s a bunch more in here with drawers and cabinets.
The shower is a step-in model that’s quite sizable. I’ve noticed that Grand Design has recently added a seat to this mode. The last time I looked it wasn’t there. They’re listening.
One thing to note. The bathroom vent fan is of the dollar-store variety. For $100K+ I’d rather see a high-performance fan here, too. That cheap fan just really sticks out to me.
The bedroom of the Grand Design Solitude 390RK-R
Moving on to the bedroom – there’s the option of a king-sized bed if you’d like and, whaddaya know, more storage. The bed slide is on the road side with a cabinet under a window on the camp side. Beyond that in the nose cap is a closet that can also accommodate a stacking washer and dryer. Even further there is a large walk-in closet at the front of the bedroom. A TV is above the dresser and opposite the bed.
When you ask what I think, I’m a straight shooter. What I really liked about the Grand Design Solitude 390RK-R is the almost ludicrous amount of storage. That certainly is a big part of the appeal of this unit. The other thing is the kitchen layout. Ooh la la! That is a nice kitchen!
But I was less than impressed with the styling of the interior of this unit than, say, yesterday’s Jayco Pinnacle, which is roughly in the same price range. While I realize these things are subjective, it seemed that the “feel” I got from the Jayco is that fancy people who are used to fancy things got to be part of the design process. This feels, to me, more like the regular trailer crew were in charge of materials and styling. For example, I noticed right away that the upholstery in the Jayco was definitely above-average, whereas this just feels like RV 101. I could be mistaken, but I’ve seen a lot of RVs.
But I’m left scratching my head …
Also, there were other things that left me scratching my head like. A couple of these were that cheap bathroom fan and the fact that there’s no awning over the main body of the trailer. There is an awning over the front – and I also know folks who dislike awnings.
Still, this is a great floor plan and if this were the place I hung my hat for years to come, I wouldn’t be disappointed with this as a choice.
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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