Friday, December 16, 2016

Featured Review: New 2017 Model of Thor Motor Coach Gemini 23TB

Here at RV Trader, we're always looking for the latest analyses by esteemed reviewers in the motorhome industry. One we found particularly interesting was this Forbes feature, written by contributor Jason Fogelson on Thor's 2017 Gemini 23TB. Check out his thoughts perhaps use them to firm up some selling points when you communicate with prospects about new models like these- let us know what you think in the comments!

Full article featured on Forbes here

Let me begin by stating that I am not a camper. I’m not an outdoorsman. I’m more of an indoorsman if there is such a thing. My experience with motorhomes goes back to a Dolphin unit that my family used to have, mounted on an overloaded Toyota pickup truck frame. It was tippy and underpowered and only hinted at the potential for fun travel. So, when I was offered the opportunity to try out the 2017 Thor Motor Coach Gemini 23TB motorhome for a weekend, I had to do a little bit of consideration and research before I accepted.

Thor Motor Coach is a division of Thor Industries, a company with multiple motorhome and travel trailer brands including Thor, Airstream, Keystone, StarCraft, Jayco, Entegra and more. Thor builds motorhomes in Class A and Class C categories, along with a new class they call “RUV” or Mini-Class A motorhomes.
Class A is the traditional full-sized motorhome, usually built on a truck or bus frame and ranging in length from 21 – 45 feet and in price from $103,000 – $670,000 at Thor. In some states, a Class A motorhome may require a special driver’s license. Class C motorhomes are built on pickup or van frames and are 21 – 35-feet long with Thor retail prices from $86,000 – $236,000, and can be driven with a standard driver’s license. (In a little bit of confusing nomenclature, there are also Class B vehicles, which are smaller than the rest and most commonly referred to as “campervans.”)

The Gemini is an RUV, according to Thor. RUVs come in lengths between 13 – 21 feet and cost in the $60,000 – $100,000 range. A regular driver’s license is all that you need to drive an RUV.

The Gemini 23TB arrived at my curb, and I loaded up my wife, our two dogs and a weekend’s worth of clothing and supplies. Our plan was to drive from Los Angeles to Los Osos, California on the region’s Central Coast and back, a round trip of about 400 miles. We’d park at my sister’s ranch, where she conveniently has an RV pad and hookup near her house.
The Gemini is built on a Ford Transit chassis, which is a very good thing. Transit is Ford’s next-generation van, taking over from the old E-series setup. The front cabin area of the Gemini – front seats, dashboard, windshield and front doors – are very much Transit. It’s a good setup and feels more like an SUV than a truck or van in terms of driving position and view out of the front. The cabin is open to the rest of the motorhome, with a clear view all the way to the back window. The latest technology, including navigation, Bluetooth and rearview camera, are integrated into the dash. An experienced car driver can easily take the wheel and drive the Gemini without a lot of orientation.
Once on the road, I discovered that the Gemini’s 3.2-liter inline 5-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine delivered excellent performance. The Selectshift 6-speed automatic transmission makes the most of the engine’s 185 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, sending the power to the dual rear wheels. The trip from LA to Los Osos crosses traverses several mountain passes and changes in elevation, and I was pleased to discover that the Gemini not only kept pace with traffic on inclines but could actually accelerate up hills when necessary. Driving in traffic was never harrowing, as the views out of the big windshield and effective mirrors made navigating the 90-90-inch wide/23.5-foot long/10.5-foot tall Gemini fairly stress-free. When the road got curvy, the Gemini handled nicely, thanks to independent front suspension and very stable footing. Two hundred miles passed smoothly – I could have easily driven twice as far without difficulty or exhaustion.

When we arrived at my sister’s ranch, we spent some time exploring and setting up the Gemini for the weekend. Using the included 30-amp cable, we connected the Gemini’s exterior outlet to 220-volt power, and hooked up to water with the supplied drinking-water-safe hose. My sister doesn’t have a sewer connection on her RV pad, so we didn’t set that system up. The Gemini can hold up to 31 gallons of fresh water, 28.5 gallons of waste and 19.5 gallons of gray water, so we’d be fine for a couple of days without emptying the tanks.

There’s a lot of functionality inside the Gemini and a lot of buttons and switches that need to be attended to. There’s an LP gas tank onboard that supplies fuel for a generator and for the gas stove. The refrigerator can run on 120 volts, 12 volts or LP. There’s a tankless water heater, which is great. As long as you’ve got water, you’ve got access to hot water, so if you’re hooked up to a fresh water source, you can take a leisurely shower without concern. There’s even a microwave oven, which for me marks the difference between roughing it and an enjoyable trip.

Though the interior of the Gemini is compact, there’s a surprising amount of elbow room inside. A comfortable couch doubles as a dining area when you install a pedestal table. At the back of the unit, a motorized slide-out bed emerges from the driver’s side at the push of a button. A comfortable, firm queen-sized sleeping platform with plenty of headroom, the bed is a wonder.

The bathroom is small, but manageable, with a tight stand-up shower stall, toilet and sink. I’m a big guy at 6-ft, 2-in, and I was able to use the room comfortably for all functions – enough said.

The Gemini has plenty of storage space, with a floor to ceiling linen cabinet, lower and upper kitchen cabinets, cabinets below and above the couch, and even some storage above the driver’s head. There’s are additional 25.3 cubic feet of locking storage space in various compartments on the exterior of the vehicle, as well.
But what really impresses about the Gemini are the premium finishes and luxury features.

Gemini’s interior design is tastefully neutral in color and pattern, favoring earth tones and muted pastels. Forget the garish plaids and shag carpeting of old. The floor is a lovely bamboo plank laminate, and the cabin features modern textiles, roller shades and real wood look surfaces and stainless steel appliances, more boutique hotel than Super 8. A skylight brings in natural light.


Entertainment options abound within the Gemini. A Jensen sound system pipes music to every corner of the RV via multiple speakers. There’s a 24-inch flat screen in the bedroom, a 32-inch screen in the living room/kitchen area and an optional 32-inch LED mounted in a compartment on the outside of the Gemini, flanked by stereo speakers for an outdoor theater experience, if that’s your thing. A motorized awning provides shelter from the elements and is smart enough to roll itself closed if it detects high winds that might cause damage.

My wife and I were very comfortable in the Gemini. We didn’t have to use the heating or air conditioning in the very temperate Central Coast, but both systems are included on the Gemini. If we had additional guests, room for two more sleepers is available by sliding out the coach in the living room into a bed. As it was, our two big dogs (a 65-lb Standard Poodle and a 100-lb Labradoodle – he’s a giant) slept comfortably on their dog beds on the open floor space. It was cozy but comfortable for all concerned.

When it was time to return home, we carefully reversed our setup process, unhooking and storing the power cable and water hose, folding the bed and motorizing the slider back in, retracting the awning, closing and locking all of the exterior storage compartments and securing our belongings inside the vehicle. Our drive home was uneventful and pleasant, with light traffic and no scary incidents.


I had the Gemini for a few more days, so I drove it up to Rosamond, California for an event at Willow Springs International Raceway, about 90 miles north of Los Angeles. I invited some of my automotive journalist colleagues to inspect and explore the vehicle and was pleased to hear my impressions confirmed. Everyone was impressed with the fit and finish, design and features. The Gemini was a popular attraction.

Over the course of my driving in the Gemini, I averaged about 17 miles per gallon of diesel fuel, which is pretty remarkable considering the size of the vehicle.
I only had a few small complaints with the vehicle. The Gemini has multiple locks, from the front cabin doors to side door to storage compartments and access ports, and requires multiple keys, which is cumbersome and inconvenient. The motorized bed slider can easily become jammed if you don’t completely clear the interior floor of obstructions and doesn’t have an automatic shutoff if it runs into a hitch. Both of these complaints are minor, and neither would keep me from recommending the vehicle.

All of this comes at a healthy price, starting at about $102,225 plus options, bringing the price to $104,140 as tested.


So, did my time in the Gemini convert me into an RV enthusiast? Possibly. My wife and I are considering renting an RV for a longer trip with our dogs to see how we’d enjoy a more extended journey. 

The Gemini is the perfect size for a weekend getaway, and would even be great for day trips, tailgating and quick overnights. It represents a great middle ground between tent camping and a hotel stay and even makes visiting relatives a much less stressful experience, as you’ve got a private retreat right outside when you need it.

If you’re eager to travel but not eager to sacrifice comfort and convenience, an RUV like Gemini is a great option.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

All the information you need on RV Prices, Guides and Vehicle History Reports!

Are you overcharging? Undercharging? Find out the absolute best prices to charge for your units for optimal results sales results, and to stay competitive in the industry. Factoring in brand, model, year and make, sometimes pricing is more than meets the eye. Visit one of our favorite resources, NADA today!

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Yes, your dealership needs to go mobile - now. Expert explains and simplifies the role of mobile advertising in successful business models today

Recently, PowerSports Business published an incredibly valuable article for powersports dealers that we here at RV Trader feel applies quite well to RV dealers, too! Written by mobile industry expert Ron Cariker, the article points out the obvious overwhelm that can be pushed onto dealerships when they're told that they'll fail without a digitized mobile presence, Cariker decided it was time to take a step back.
"Of course you advertise and market your dealership. But you'd be surprised how little some dealers invest in promotions. But it's not the quantity that matters as much as the quality."
It was quickly acknowledged that of course traditional advertising and marketing strategies work, and they work well - and they've done so for years. But consider this about consumers before you continue reading....

86% of consumers in this industry research extensively online before they visit a dealership.

And now, with more than 92% of Americans own a cell phone, mobile platforms offer an on-the-go, additional way for these consumers to search and browse units online.

Given these statistics from the past couple years, and minding the fact that these projections are only expected to grow within the next few years, Cariker's article proves one incredibly valuable to dealers from all locations, of all sizes, and with all customer demographics.

The biggest thing right now = applying strong, classic advertising practices to the mobile sphere. In the article, you'll find a simplified explanation and rundown of some of the best tips on how to integrate these success-driving strategies to mobile audiences. Check it out- a great read, and great advice from a prominent mobile industry professional!

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Changes in the Consumer Buying Experience

The New Consumer Buying Process
The purchase of an RV is a BIG decision, and it’s no surprise that consumers take their ultimate buying decision incredibly seriously. Not only a weighty financial decision, this next RV is also something these consumers dream about long before they ever venture into the dealership to sign the closing paperwork. After all, 76% of prospective buyers say that they'd be willing to drive more than 2 hours to purchase their next unit.
With internet users making up 88% of the US population, the path to purchase a unit has drastically changed. 86% of these consumers research extensively online before finalizing a purchase decision, spending an average of 123 days educating themselves on what the market has to offer. They want to know what a fair purchase price looks like, how these units will fit into their personal lifestyles, and which dealerships can truly meet each and every one of their needs.

With so much information available online, prospects are now turning to the internet before ever stepping foot in a dealership. 70% never actually contact a dealership prior to their initial visitation, making online listings the very first place consumers actually interact with your dealership.

Analyzing Consumers’ Online Behavior
Diving into a deeper, more comprehensive analysis of online consumer behavior is no new concept. Experts at Google have written on it extensively, with several articles published focusing specifically on the automotive industry. Just a few of these publications include:
  • The Car Buying Process: One Consumer’s 900+ Digital Interactions
  • The Zero Moment of Truth Automotive Study
  • ZMOT: Why It Matters Now More Than Ever
Whether you refer to them as micro-moments, interactions, or connections, these behavioral patterns reflect a significant change in how buyers are choosing to shop. However, in the end, it is still what drives walk-in traffic to your dealership, and what helps attract consumers from well outside your immediate geographic location.
Using our audience of more than 4.3 million monthly motorcycle and RV consumers, we’ve chosen to look closer at how prospective buyers are connecting with our dealers and their listings in 2016, aside from phone and email leads.
The Bottom Line
What we’re seeing is clear. Consumers are connecting with our dealers now more than ever, relying on dealer listings to help them decide what unit will best fit their budget, lifestyle, and amenity needs. As we continuously track these trends, we gain the opportunity to understand the RV and powersports consumer now more than ever before.

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