Family adventures await in this gas-powered Type A motorhome, which boasts plentiful storage and well-designed living space.
By Gary Bunzer, Technical Editor
Holiday Rambler first burst onto the RV scene back in 1953. Today, this iconic brand falls under the umbrella of Decatur, Indiana-based REV Recreation Group. Holiday Rambler officials recently allowed me to check out the 2018.5 Holiday Rambler Vacationer 35K. A midyear release, this Type A motorhome floor plan includes a private full bathroom in the rear and a guest bathroom in the midsection. In fact, the Vacationer line offers three floor plans with the popular bath-and-a-half amenity. Three single-bath floor plans are available as well. During my review, I took a close look at this gas-powered motorhome, fit for any active RVing family.
On the test coach, beautiful AkzoNobel paint and clear coat came together to create an exterior design scheme called Spectrum, with graphics suggestive of forward motion. Buyers can choose two other striking exterior options as well: Celestial and Harbor.
The Vacationer is perched upon the tried-and-true Ford chassis, powered by a 6.8-liter Triton V-10 engine. A six-speed Ford transmission with automatic overdrive transfers 460 pound-feet of torque to the drive axle at 3,000 rpm. A hefty, 175-amp alternator charges both battery banks while cruising.
The 35K has two slideouts — one in the living area and one in the bedroom.
The Vacationer offers plenty of cargo space to hold toys and gear. Storage bays feature robust rotocast linings. Many are equipped with auxiliary lighting, and all bay doors are solid, side-hinged, and include a locking mechanism along with a strut assist for safe, easy access.
Two 13,500-Btu air conditioners are mounted on the one-piece roof and provide cooling on hot, muggy days. The Vacationer also has a powered roof vent in the living area and in the master bathroom.
The entry door is positioned just behind the front axle. A large LED television screen and entertainment system are mounted next to the door under the 18-foot-long, armless patio awning. The awning, by the way, contains integral LED lighting to add evening ambience.
Aft of the entry door is a bay that houses the inverter and battery control center. The next compartment, below the furnace, is a ducted, heated pass-through bay that includes a deep area for storing taller items. Two doors open to this pass-through compartment.
Other curbside compartments house the 10-gallon Atwood water heater, the 23-gallon ASME propane tank, the reservoir for the hydraulic system, and additional pass-through storage.
The motorhome’s rear cap features a stylized design with high-mounted tail lamps, a roof ladder, and a backup camera.
On the driver’s side of the unit, compartments conceal even more storage areas, as well as the shore cable and surge protector, the 5.5-kw Onan generator, the 100-gallon fresh-water tank, and the plumbing bay. The fully equipped wet bay includes the usual essentials for connecting the fresh-water hose and the sewer hose, plus some nice extras. For instance, a Flow-Pur water filter system with a replaceable Watts canister serves the entire motorhome. The water pump is neatly tucked behind the main panel but fully accessible for maintenance.
A back-flush fitting helps keep the black-water tank clean, and hot and cold low-point drain valves share the same space. Hot and cold faucets in this area feed a retractable shower hose for washing off sandy feet after a day at the beach. Pluggable openings on the bottom of the compartment allow easy draining of residual water and for feeding the hoses down through the bottom so the bay door can remain closed and locked while in camp.
A smaller bay provides dedicated storage for the sewer hose and other waste-management essentials, which keeps them separate from the wet bay and helps to prevent contamination.
Even though there is plenty to croon about on the outside of this Holiday Rambler Vacationer, whether it will adequately meet the needs of an active family also depends on what’s inside.
Upon entering through the door, one notes a handy panel on the forward-facing side of the galley cabinet that includes a bevy of lighting, fan, awning, and slideout switches, along with a battery disconnect switch.
The galley is directly to the rear of the door, on the passenger side. A generous-size double stainless-steel sink is mounted in the countertop at an angle, which creates extra work area around it. Sink covers provide additional space. The galley window above the sink floods the area with natural light.
The lower galley cabinetry offers a plethora of storage. This includes a full-height cabinet to the left of the sink; a tilting gadget shelf mounted directly under the sink; and a double-door storage space below that. Three full-length drawers are to the right.
The cooktop, at the far right of the galley, sits atop two more deep drawers (think pots and pans), and the louvered return air duct for the furnace. The louvered wooden vent cover matches the cabinetry perfectly and adds a nice touch.
A microwave-convection oven is mounted directly above the cooktop, with yet more storage above the oven and two additional overhead cabinets at the far left. An 18-cubic-foot double-door residential refrigerator occupies the floor-to-ceiling space to the right of the cooktop. Ceiling and under-cabinet lamps augment the lighting in this area. A bright backsplash enhances the overall décor.
Directly across from the galley, the dinette and main living area are ensconced in the long street-side slideout. Six overhead cabinets line the entire length of the slide room above the dinette and living area. Combined, the Vacationer 35K offers more than 300 cubic feet of interior and exterior storage space. That’s a lot of room for stuff!
A nice pantry is positioned to the far right of the slide room, forward of the convertible dinette. The pantry’s upper portion contains three full-depth drawers, while the bottom section supports an adjustable shelf. This neat cargo space actually could be used for many things besides food storage.
A welcoming L-shaped sofa with a collapsible extension lounger beckons weary RVers. The dinette sits directly forward of the comfortable living area. Two large drawers extend out from each dinette seat, providing plenty of room for bedding or other personal effects. Positioned at an angle for optimum viewing, a 39-inch LED television hangs above the electric fireplace. In addition to several storage nooks tucked around the TV and fireplace, this area also includes cable connections, a 120-volt-AC receptacle, and stereo speakers.
Down the hall, the Vacationer’s half-bath is positioned amidships on the passenger side. It includes a porcelain Dometic VacuFlush toilet, a stainless-steel sink, a lavatory cabinet, and a mirrored wall cabinet.
Sliding doors separate the master bedroom from the rest of the living space. The king-size bed nestles in the bedroom slideout on the passenger side of the coach. Holiday Rambler designers included windows on either side of the slideout, providing an outside view from the bed and natural lighting for this area when the slideout is open. Two large cabinets above the headboard are outfitted with reading lamps, speakers, and receptacles. Both nightstands have USB and 120-volt-AC receptacles, and one stand includes a convenient remote generator start switch — perfect for getting that coffee percolating even before throwing off the covers in the morning.
Directly across from the bed on the driver’s side stands the wardrobe, dresser, and an optional Splendide combination washer-dryer. Six large drawers compose the central dresser. To the right, the cedar-lined wardrobe is mounted above cabinet doors that open to yield two more deep drawers and the AC panel-board distribution box. The escape window is just above the dresser, with the television mounted above it.
Left of the dresser, behind louvered doors, is the aforementioned washer-dryer, accompanied by more drawers behind matching cabinet doors and another cabinet with an adjustable shelf. Most shelves inside the Vacationer’s cabinets are fully adjustable, making it easier to stow odd-shaped cargo.
The master bathroom stretches across the rear of the motorhome. The shower on the right features an accommodating bench seat, a skylight, and a fully adjustable showerhead. Straight ahead are roomy cabinets, a lavatory sink, and a mirrored medicine cabinet.
The toilet is mounted on a small platform to the left. Impressive cabinetry and four deep drawers provide more than enough space for bathroom supplies. In fact, I can’t remember seeing this much storage space in a gas-powered motorhome less than 40 feet long.
Although the master bathroom is not accessible when the slideouts are retracted, a pathway to the midcoach bathroom remains unobstructed. The two slideouts provide a practical, relaxing, and quite comfortable living space when extended.
Monitors on either side of the steering column provide camera views for both sides of the motorhome. Another monitor connects to the backup camera. The instrument cluster and all controls and switches for chassis functions are well placed and easily accessible. I felt immediately at ease upon slipping into the driver’s seat. Both cockpit seats, by the way, boast a custom-stitched Holiday Rambler logo, adding a high-class look.
The copilot’s side of the dash features a slide-out workstation, perfect for holding a computer, tablet, or road atlas. A 12-volt-DC receptacle is available for charging needs. Indentations in the center and right portions of the flat dash prevent small items from rolling off while in transit. Both the driver and passenger sides have a personal lamp, fan, and cup holder. Small magazine or knickknack nooks are mounted above each occupant. The fire extinguisher is just inside the entry door (according to code), within reach of the seated copilot.
An optional Euro-Loft electric bed provides additional sleeping space. Mounted above the cockpit seats, and flush to the ceiling when retracted, the bed lowers to a sleeping position with the flip of a switch. At the very front of the coach, a centrally mounted LED television hangs from the ceiling, flanked by storage compartments; a lockout feature prevents the TV from operating while the coach is in motion.
A panel with controls and monitors for the heating and air-conditioning systems, the water heater, the Magnum inverter, the Euro-Loft bed, the generator, and the street-side slideout is mounted above the entry door. It’s certainly nice to have all the oft-used controls in one place.
Acceleration tests proved typical for the Ford engine/chassis combination, though the noise level coming from the front engine was quite noticeable during these quick takeoff routines. Under normal driving conditions, the volume was much more tolerable. I noticed no creaking during my tight turning exercises, likely attributable to the interlocking structural members — the method by which joists, beams, floor, and roof connect and interlock with each other.
The coach handled nicely on all road surfaces. My test outing included a narrow, unpaved, winding gravel road; two-lane country roads; four-lane city driving; and freeway. Braking required careful consideration, as is true with all motorhomes, but it proved more than adequate with an empty coach. Once a motorhome is packed for travel, it is advisable to take some practice laps, at least to reaffirm the driver’s grasp of the vehicle’s specific handling, turning, and braking characteristics.
Running the empty motorhome across the scales revealed a total of 6,780 pounds on the front axle and 13,420 pounds on the drive axle, for a total gross vehicle weight of 20,200 pounds. The maximum cargo weight permitted, according to the safety labels, is 1,551 pounds.
Overall, it’s apparent that the Holiday Rambler Vacationer 35K will serve just about any RVing family. Though the Holiday Rambler lineage has included diverse parent companies, the original vision has stayed true to this day: providing families amenities for pursuing fun and adventure.
Remember, RVing is more than a hobby; it’s a lifestyle!
Holiday Rambler, division of REV Recreation Group, 1031 U.S. 224 E., Decatur, IN 46733; (800) 854-1344; www.holidayrambler.com
6.8-liter Triton V-10; 320 horsepower @ 3,900 rpm; 460 pound-feet torque at 3,000 rpm
Ford 6-speed automatic with overdrive
5.38 to 1
Michelin 235 80R 22.5
gas-pressurized Bilstein shock absorbers front and rear
house — (4);
chassis — 12-volt, 78 amp-hour, 750 cca
Magnum 2,000-watt pure sine
5-kw Onan with remote start
36 feet 3 inches
12 feet 10 inches, with A/C
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 8,000 pounds;
rear — 15,000 pounds
OCCUPANT & CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (OCCC)
1,774 pounds (average for floor plan)
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 58 gallons;
black water — 42 gallons
(2) 13,000-Btu units
1 year/15,000 miles coach limited;
3 years/45,000 miles structural limited;
chassis — 3 years/36,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS EQUIPPED