Friday, December 8, 2023


RV Review: Salem Villa—Wildwood Lodge 40FDEN

Today’s RV review is of the 2023 Salem Villa and/or Wildwood Lodge 40FDEN. I’ve mentioned before that there are several brands of RVs that have different monikers but which are the same rig. I’ve been told this is for market share. I often think of the RV industry sort of like the mattress industry, where there are hundreds of brands of the same product. 

Anyhow, this is a large destination trailer. The thinking isn’t so much that you drag this thing from destination to destination, but that you pick a destination and just leave it there. Some people keep these in a specific site at an RV park. But there are others who buy some land and use these to simply put up quarters. 

You might look at this and compare it to a travel trailer or even a fifth wheel—and there are some similarities. For example, wheels. These have ‘em, too. 

But these are not necessarily designed for the rigors of regular travel with rather bargain-focused wheels and tires. Further, there is no automatic leveling system since the idea is to take this to a place and leave it at there. 

In fact, we sold a few of these when I was selling RVs. We would simply tow them to where they were going to live. Oftentimes the customers wouldn’t have any ability to tow these at all, and had no intention of doing so in the first place. 

Many of the RV dealerships who carry these will either have a provision to tow them for the customer. Or the buyer will know someone with a big enough tow vehicle that they can handle the job. 

Warning regarding full-time destination use

But I also want to warn you. Not all jurisdictions are happy with the idea of a vehicle defined as a towable RV being plopped onto a property full-time. For example, the county I came from very specifically limited the amount of time you were able to use one of these on your property as living quarters. 

This was something we had to be very clear about with our customers, as many saw a sub-$100,000 home and thought they had found a great deal. If we hadn’t warned them, what they would have found was a world of hurt, as the local county was pretty strict about this. 

Further, financing. While the dealerships who handle these will likely have a resource for customers who buy them, not all banks are hip to having you finance an RV and then live in it. It’s a huge sticking point with many lenders, actually. 

If you do use this as a destination trailer, let’s say at an RV park or even on a piece of land where it’s permitted, you may find that financing can be a challenge.

But the Salem Villa 40FDEN can make sense

There are a lot of reasons why these can make sense, though. For example, they are large and offer a nice, open feeling with plenty of space. Not having the complicated chassis nor high-end suspension of some fifth wheels or even other travel trailers means they can be made less expensively. That’s how you get something this large for under $70,000. 

However these are also not at all designed to be toted around a lot. The cargo carrying capacity on this is a scant 886 pounds. Now, that won’t matter if a dealer tows it somewhere and that’s where it stays, but it will absolutely matter if you have any intention of towing this on a regular basis. Consider that there is 40 gallons of fresh water capacity—that’s 320 pounds right there. 

What’s inside

If I did own a property that had a great view and it was permitted to do so, this might be a nifty choice. 

There are huge windows at the front and on the road side of this thing. 

The couch includes a trifold sofa but is longer than what I would typically expect in a couch. It reminds me of the photos I’ve seen of those ridiculously long couches that seem to find favor in the Middle East. 

I don’t know if those same customers appreciate having an ottoman with storage, but you get one here. There’s also a recliner that isn’t mounted to the floor so you can move it to take advantage of those windows or that built-in fireplace. 

The kitchen features a residential fridge. That really does make sense, since this isn’t moving around. 

For the number of residential fixtures in this thing, I was truly disappointed to see the cheapest 16” RV oven available. Bleh, this is a bummer. I’ve seen a number of these with actual residential ovens. 

Tall ceilings in the Salem Villa 40FDEN

One of the big pluses you’ll find is accommodation for taller individuals. The ceiling height in this has to be eight feet—and that includes the shower. Since this is all on one level, that tall ceiling is everywhere and it really does open up the space. 

Taller folks will also appreciate the king-sized bed. There are household and USB outlets on both sides of that bed along with breeze windows on either side. 

Despite those huge windows throughout this rig, there are roller blackout shades.

One of the more interesting things I noticed was that there is but one air conditioner standard, but wiring for two units. I can see the folks in the Pacific Northwest not opting for a second unit but, for everybody else, a second unit will be almost mandatory. 

But this also could leave you with a great option. RV air conditioners are vintage rattle traps. You would do so much better installing a mini split system. That is more energy efficient, more effective and significantly quieter. Although it’s not necessarily portable—but that may not matter here. 


I can see this kind of thing making sense. In fact, when I was a kid I had some relatives who lived in a destination trailer. Unfortunately, the reason for that was that they had owned a carpet and drapery business that went bust. They liked to live very high on the hog and when things went just slightly sour, so did their lifestyle. 

But for those with a great view and an understanding local jurisdiction, I can see this being one of the least expensive and fastest ways to have a place to go when it’s time to get away. 

More from Tony

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 having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. He also works closely with a number of RV manufacturers to get an inside look at how things are done and is a brand ambassador for Rockwood Mini Lite 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.


Tony Barthel has been a life-long RV enthusiast and travels part-time with his wife where they also produce a podcast, write about RVs and love the RV lifestyle.



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Rebecca (@guest_206119)
1 year ago

Yikes, that’s a lot of windows! Who washes all those? If you’re parked overlooking a beautiful lake, then maybe. But if you’re cheek by jowl with neighbors in an RV park…?

Tommy Molnar (@guest_206107)
1 year ago

It looks like if you put three big windows in the front and add a sliding glass door it automatically becomes a “park model”.

Steve H (@guest_206142)
1 year ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

True “park models” are 11-13′ wide, so must be hauled by a commercially licensed driver. They are built with completely different specs than an RV, cannot exceed 399 sq. ft. in size, and never have slides. They also have no tanks use residential appliances. Before Covid, we snowbirded in a rental park model in a n RV

Steve H (@guest_206143)
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve H

To finish my sentence “snowbirded in a rental park model in an RV “resort” in Tucson. And the resort was about half full of permanent, owner-occupied, CAVCO park models sitting on rented RV sites.

Bob p (@guest_206100)
1 year ago

That’s half of what we live in now, the Florida room makes the other half. We love it, of course we don’t have holding tanks as we’re connected to park water and sewer.

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