Luxury that’s Half-Ton Towable!
By Norm Rosen.
RV Lifestyle Magazine has had the pleasure of road testing several of the Grand Design RV fifth wheel models over the past few years, and we have always been very impressed with the design, the fit and finish, and the overall quality of these trailers. When we had the opportunity to check out the new half-ton towable Reflection 150 series, we jumped at the chance, and headed off to Outdoor Travel in Hamilton, Ontario, to take a close look at what may very well be the most innovative approach to serious fifth wheel touring in recent years.
The Reflection 150 series from Grand Design is an all-new concept that is engineered to give you the best possible towing experience with your half-ton pickup – the 295RL model that we selected for this road test measures 32’9”, and features two large slide-out sections… it tips the scales at just 8,496 pounds dry weight with a hitch weight of just 1,391 pounds. Compare this to a similar Grand Design 303RLS model that measures 32’5” long, and features three slide-out sections, and you will find a dry weight saving of about 750 pounds and a hitch weight saving of 300 pounds – that’s the difference between towing with a half-ton pickup and a three-quarter ton tow vehicle.
The Grand Design engineers have really done their homework to create a rather large fifth wheel that is half-ton towable. Whether you have a standard box pickup or a short box, you will be able to tow and safely maneuver this trailer thanks to the use of the Turning Point Swivel Pin Box – a Trail-Air design from Lippert Components. This pin box has two pivot points – the regular pin location, and a rear pivot approximately 22 inches behind the pin… you simply lock the front pin pivot and unlock the rear pivot, and the geometry of the pin box changes, letting the front of the trailer rotate around the rear pivot so you can clear the rear of the cab with no problem at all. When set up by your RV dealer to precisely match your trailer to your truck, this “Turning Point” pin box lets you tow without the need for the much more complicated (and more expensive) “slider” fifth wheel hitch that had, until recently, been the solution for towing with a short box truck.
As with all Grand Design RV models, the Reflection 150 Series features outstanding fit and finish – PDI and quality control at the factory is the class of the industry, and every detail is double-checked at the dealership.
Weight distribution is very well engineered in the Grand Design 150 Series – front to back and side to side, the unit is very well balanced – for example, the slide-outs in this unit are approximately the same size and carry similar weight – our unit had the free-standing dinette and the theatre seating in the slide-out on the passenger side, and the galley with pantry, refrigerator, and the entertainment centre on the driver’s side.
The Reflection, like all Grand Design fifth wheels, utilizes a fully bead welded aluminum frame, with fully laminated construction and block foam insulation the solid wall structure is covered by a 3-year structural warranty. There is full pass-through storage in the underfloor compartments, with motion sensor lighting.
The overall construction of the Reflection 150 series trailer follows the traditional Grand Design concept, which is to build their trailers to a “higher standard,” using fully laminated walls with R-9 radiant foil and fiberglass insulation, a double insulated floor with R-30 insulation, a double insulated roof with R-40 insulation, and a double insulated front cap with R-40 insulation. Heated holding tanks, a heated utility centre in one of the exterior compartments, and heated and enclosed water system drains make this an all-season trailer.
If you plan to travel in the dead of winter, you can specify an “Arctic 4-Seasons Protection Package” which has been tested in a climate-controlled chamber to a range from -6°F to +101°F. We tested the Reflection 295RL on a cold winter day when it was -10° C, and the furnace warmed up the trailer interior in about ten minutes to the point where we were comfortable, and after about 20 minutes the interior was 20° C. The trailer is pre-wired for solar panels.
On the Road
The Reflection 150 Series rides on nitrogen-filled E-rated Westlake Radial Tires with alloy wheels. These come with a full five-year warranty and a 12 month “no questions asked” warranty. The Dexter axles, brakes, and suspension are ideally suited for a fifth wheel of this size and weight, and the result is one of the best towing trailers we have tested.
The rear hitch on the 295RL is a convenience hitch that is rated 300 lbs. Perfect for bike and accessory racks.
At the Campsite
Your family and guests will enjoy easy access to the trailer thanks to the all-aluminum side entrance step and the Lend-A-Hand grab handle.
Take a minute to extend your awning and flip the switch to illuminate the LED lighting at the base of the awning support rails, and your campsite will have a very attractive evening ambiance.
For the utmost convenience when hooking-up and maintaining your holding tanks, the Reflection 295RL features an exterior utility compartment equipped with a Nautilus water utility panel that puts control of all the water and holding tank systems at your fingertips – even the holding tank valves.
Comfort and Convenience
The 35,000 BTU forced air furnace is quiet and capable, bringing the interior temperature of the trailer up to a pleasant 20°C in a matter of minutes. The heat vents in the living room area are ducted under the galley island, eliminating the unsightly vents in the floor that tend to attract dust and dirt. The heat vents in the bedroom are also at the base of the walls.
The Reflection 295RL is a bright trailer, with lots of large windows, and overhead Fan-Tastic Vent fans to help eliminate the moisture in the galley.
The Reflection 295RL features premium Congoleum vinyl flooring throughout the main section of the trailer, with carpeting in the master bedroom area.
In the Galley
Like all Grand Design models, the Reflection 295RL has a galley that will bring a smile to the face of any serious campground gourmet. There is a very well-appointed island with a large “farm style” rectangular stainless-steel sink, and lots of counter space and cupboards, and a huge pantry in the galley slide-out section. The appliances are also impressive – Grand Design uses the Furrion “blue lighting” oven and range.
The Reflection features hand rubbed maple cabinet doors and solid hardwood drawer fronts. The overhead cabinets in the galley are lower than most – this is a major asset for shorter RV chefs.
One of the really nice features of many Grand Design fifth wheels is the “service hutch” adjacent to the galley. This can be used for a bar or an RV office.
In the Lounge
The Grand Design fifth wheel features RV furniture designed specifically for comfort, opulence, and durability. The Thomas Payne theatre seating in the dinette slide is a very nice touch, with reclining back and leg rest, and a range of massage, heat and lighting accents. There is a tri-fold sofa bed on the rear wall of the trailer, ideally placed to provide additional seating for your guests to enjoy the entertainment centre.
The entertainment centre features a 40” LCD TCL Roku TV, Furrion DVD player and stereo. There is a very attractive 5,000 BTU electric fireplace below the TV. This fireplace sends a very nice warm breeze through the area.
In the Bedroom
The Reflection 150 Series trailers have moved the typical front closet to the bulkhead between the bedroom and the bathroom. This not only reduces the trailer’s pin weight, it shifts a substantial amount of load weight farther back in the trailer, contributing to a better front-rear weight distribution for better half-ton towing and better roadability.
In addition to the spacious hanging closet, the queen-size bed has flip-up under bed storage. The Grand Design fifth wheels feature residential mattresses – your sheets will fit these beds!
There is a backer in the wall and outlets for a TV to be installed in the bedroom – our test unit did not have the optional TV.
In the Bathroom
There has been considerable thought applied to the placement and design of the bathroom in this unit. For example, the engineers have used a pocket door instead of the typical swing door that forces you to back down the stairs to open the bathroom door.
The Reflection 295RL has a very spacious and well-appointed bathroom with a large ABS tub surround with a Nautilus shower curtain, a vanity with sink and medicine cabinet, and a porcelain foot-flush toilet.
The Bottom Line
The Grand Design Reflection 150 Series brings the highly acclaimed luxury and interior design of the standard Grand Design models to the RV enthusiast looking for a half-ton towable fifth wheel.
The combination of engineering excellence, top-level quality control, and impressive interior design make these fifth wheel trailers the class of the industry in 2018.