Heeding RVers’ feedback and embodying a “do the right thing” philosophy propelled the launch of this new company’s inaugural model, a luxury fifth-wheel.
By Mark Quasius, F333630
Alliance RV may be a recent entry into the high-end fifth-wheel market, but after I spent time viewing its operation and debut product, I concluded the company has done its homework. With a team of talented industry veterans and a strong customer-driven approach, that’s understandable. The result is the Paradigm luxury fifth-wheel. Various floor plans are available, but the model I reviewed was the Paradigm 370FB, a four-slideout bath-and-a-half unit.
Understanding the importance of the RV foundation, Alliance designers developed the Benchmark Chassis, which features 10-inch steel I-beam main rails. It incorporates a drop frame storage area, a flush upper deck, and a running gear subframe consisting of 2-inch torsion tubes welded to the frame rails. These torque tubes allow the springs to function in perfect geometry, affording a smoother ride when towing; they also eliminate the twist common to spring hangers that are welded directly to I-beam flanges on the frame rails.
Dexter 7,000-pound-rated axles are combined with 4,000-pound springs at each wheel. Oversized G-rated 14-ply tires rated at 4,400 pounds each provide plenty of extra capacity in case the owner accidentally overloads the RV. A cushioned MORryde CRE3000 suspension system is fitted with upsized ½-inch-thick spring shackles to prevent the shackle pin holes from wearing. In addition, the wet shackle bolts are equipped with grease fittings to prevent seizing and wear compared with the typical dry bolt and bushing design. The result is that the Paradigm tows effortlessly on the highway.
As noted, the Benchmark Chassis utilizes a drop-frame design, which increases basement storage space. The large holding tanks do not have to be empty for travel. The fresh-water tank is encased in a heavy-duty steel cage to secure it in place. The black-water and gray-water holding tanks are molded to rest on full-length steel Z rails and are fastened with straps to prevent shifting when in transit.
The upper deck is built to be stronger yet flatter to eliminate some of the steps typically found in this space. The cushioned Rota-Flex pin box adds yet more comfort when towing. The chassis also is equipped with a 2-inch rear accessory hitch for towing boats or other trailers.
The Paradigm’s structure is designed for full-time living and is built to high standards. The sidewall, rear wall, and slideout faces begin with a welded aluminum frame filled with block-foam insulation. This is sandwiched between a high-gloss fiberglass exterior and an Azdel composite substrate interior. Azdel is impervious to water and temperature changes and is said to last longer, with no shrinking, expanding, or delamination. It won’t mold or rot, is 50 percent lighter, is odorless, and has double the insulation value of lauan. The entire assembly is laminated and cured.
The roof structure is filled with fiberglass batten insulation and a reflective mylar layer. It is topped with Tufflex PVC seamless roof material, which carries a 15-year warranty. PVC is more puncture resistant than TPO roofs; its bright white color is more reflective, which helps keep the RV cool. It won’t bleed and leave streaks down the sidewalls. In the unlikely event of a tear, the roof can be repaired with a patch of PVC material and PVC cement from a hardware store.
The high-gloss fiberglass front cap is finished with a urethane automotive paint and clearcoat to match the sidewall color and provide durability. A diamond-embossed skirt helps to protect the Paradigm from stone chips and adds an attractive, upscale look. Instead of silicone sealant, which shrinks over time and can be hard to work with, MS polymer sealant is used. Composed of 100 percent solids, it is touted as being shrink-free, solvent-free, and longer lasting.
The floor itself is another improvement. The lightweight aluminum welded frame is insulated with fiberglass and a reflective foil barrier. The bottom side is wrapped with a durable woven polystranded material said to be superior to Darco. On the top, a huge sheet of 5/8-inch Trubord is secured to the frame. This is an engineered-wood board with no seams to swell or shrink. It contains no outgassing resins and comes with a 25-year warranty.
Patio-side awnings are made of dark material to block out more of the sun’s rays. The awnings incorporate a friction and gas strut system, which works as a shock absorber for wind gusts and provides easy, one-hand adjustments. LED patio lighting is mounted on the sidewall of the RV so you don’t have to run your awning all the way out to light up the patio area. Under-frame LED lighting also brightens the patio area for nighttime entertaining.
RVers will find many desirable features inside the Paradigm. Large, flush-mounted atrium windows welcome in plenty of natural light and offer a spectacular view of the outdoors. Windows in the bedroom and living area are strategically placed to create excellent cross ventilation. You’ll find no heat ducts in the floor to step on with bare feet in the dark, or to drop things into. All heat ducts are brought up inside cabinets and terminated in registers built into the cabinet’s toe space.
Wood-plank-look vinyl flooring is used throughout the RV, which the company promotes as pet-friendly, allergen-free, and easy to clean. The kitchen slideout features a flush-floor design with no raised areas to stub your toes on.
MCD roller shades provide privacy and sun blocking throughout. All fascia, trim, and cabinetry are hardwood. Cabinet doors and drawers incorporate soft-close hardware in Champagne Bronze to prevent slamming.
A handy bench and coat rack are placed right next to the entry door — a great place to hang up your jacket and to sit down to remove your shoes, which can be stashed in the convenient shoe cubby beneath the seat. More shoe storage is available under the steps that lead to the upper deck. End tables, bedroom seats, and dressers also feature flip-up tops for additional storage space.
The Paradigm is finished in modern farmhouse décor, currently popular in residential design. The combination of the décor and the atrium windows gives the RV the feel of a getaway cottage. Kensington-brand furniture is upholstered with a high-quality polyurethane-based fabric, a nonbonded material that resists cracking and peeling.
On the RV’s rear wall, a sleeper sofa converts to a 60-inch-by-70-inch bed. On the curbside wall, electrically powered theater seating has dual controls for reclining; the latter seating is located opposite an entertainment center that hosts a 50-inch smart TV and a Bluetooth system, with a 5,000-Btu electric fireplace below. The fireplace is mounted on drawer slides and pulls out to reveal a sizable storage area. USB charging ports are placed in the end tables, theater seating, and bedroom nightstands.
The legless dinette is made of hardwood and features a live edge top, a design style that incorporates the natural edge of the wood. A matching live edge light fixture hangs over the table. (LED lighting is used exclusively throughout the Paradigm, with dimmer switches for lights in the living area and the bedroom.) The four dinette chairs have flip-up seat tops for storing placemats or magazines. Two are folding chairs and can be stowed under the bed.
The galley continues the residential feel. A 1.6-cubic-foot Insignia microwave oven, trimmed in stainless st
eel, is mounted over the stove; it includes a two-speed exhaust fan ducted to the outside. The Insignia range and oven could accommodate Thanksgiving dinner with ease. Its 3.73-cubic-foot oven can handle multiple dishes, such as turkey, stuffing, and potatoes all at once. The cooktop comes with four high-output burners. Below the oven, a drawer can store cookie sheets and shallow pans.
The 18-cubic-foot stainless-steel refrigerator is available in a four-door propane/electric model or as a French-door residential fridge. All appliances are residential grade and can be serviced by any appliance repair facility, avoiding the need to locate an RV-specific facility when traveling.
The island holds a stainless-steel farm sink with a roll-up dish drying rack. It is prepped for a dishwasher. A MaxxFan with rain sensor is located in the galley ceiling. The large pantry near the refrigerator is fitted with motion-sensor LED lighting.
Next to the pantry is the half bath, which contains a porcelain-bowl toilet and a vanity with a stainless-steel sink. Two steps nearby lead to the upper deck, location of the master bath, bedroom, and wardrobe area. These are the steps with shoe storage underneath; they also have motion-sensor lighting for safety.
Two sets of hardwood sliding barn doors separate the bedroom from the main living area to the rear and from the master bath up front. The king-size bed is equipped with gas struts to allow easy access to storage below. A window above the padded residential headboard provides natural lighting and ventilation when desired.
Overhead cabinets are equipped with reading lights; nightstands have electrical outlets. The bedroom is CPAP ready. Opposite the bed is a flip-top dresser and a smart TV. Next to the dresser, another comfortable bench seat has storage underneath.
The master bath contains a porcelain macerator toilet with a soft-close lid. A 61-inch-by-30-inch shower offers the look of tile but actually is a seamless enclosure with a fiberglass pan. Sliding glass doors seal off the shower, which has a fold-down teak seat. The showerhead has a long hose to reach as needed. A MaxxFan with rain sensor is mounted in the ceiling. The vanity, with ample drawers and cabinets, is equipped with a stainless-steel sink. The LED-backlit mirror is a nice touch and can be used as a night-light or accent lighting. Windows flanking the mirror provide more flow-through ventilation and natural lighting.
The walk-in wardrobe in the very front of the bedroom contains a clothes pole that spans the width of the RV, as well as numerous cubbies for shoes or similar-sized objects. A hamper, a linen closet, and a set of shelves are also included. The shelves can be removed easily to accommodate a washer-dryer.
The Paradigm’s underbelly is fully enclosed and outfitted with a heat return duct to allow usage in even the coldest temperatures. All electrical wiring is run in looms, and each conductor is labeled and numbered. The breaker panel/fuse box identifies each circuit as well as the wire number to make it easy to track down any issues. Wiring bundles are neatly run, without the usual spaghetti look. All plumbing and electrical runs are enclosed in the basement storage area. This area is totally finished and also equipped with motion-sensor LED lighting.
The exterior utility center is heated and includes a spray hose that stretches up to 8 feet. A second spray hose can be hooked up to the patio side of the RV for rinsing off feet or pets. A propane connection in the patio area enables use of onboard propane to power grills or a patio heater. Two 30-pound propane tanks, one on each side, are located near the front and feature an auto-changeover valve. These compartments are large enough to accommodate 40-pound tanks if you want even more capacity.
The six-point hydraulic leveling system allows for easy, fast, and accurate leveling via a control panel near the front of the unit in a roadside compartment.
Holding tank capacity is generous: 98 gallons of fresh water, 106 gallons of gray water, and 53 gallons of black water. All are equipped with 12-volt heat pads for cold-weather use. A 50-amp electrical service with a detachable cord provides shore power, and a 12-gallon propane/electric water heater meets domestic hot water needs. PEX plumbing is used throughout, with shutoff valves located at each fixture. The low-point drains are enclosed and heated as well.
A 42,000-Btu propane furnace heats the interior. Rather than incorporating a ducted ceiling for air-conditioning runs — which takes up space and lowers the insulation level in the roof — three new Coleman-Mach Q series nonducted air conditioners are installed. When they were operating — between 51 and 57 decibels — I found them to be just as quiet as any ducted system. A bonus: The air comes out colder, because it doesn’t warm up when passing through rooftop ducts.
Alliance RV designers packed a ton of good ideas into the Paradigm. Most everything is standard. Only four real options are offered, none of which were included on my review unit: dual-pane windows; hydraulic disc brakes; generator prep or installation; and a solar package with a 190-watt solar panel, a 2,000-watt inverter, and a 30-amp charge controller capable of powering lithium batteries.
Because buyers may want additional amenities, Alliance units include ample prep as standard equipment. Every Paradigm comes wired for solar, Wi-Fi, dishwasher, washer/dryer, and backup camera; an RV dealer can easily add these items. In addition, a wire chase runs from the roof to the basement storage bay, making it easy to connect satellite dishes or anything else mounted to the roof without having to drill holes and fish wire or cable. The Paradigm is also lithium battery-ready.
The Paradigm is a well-built fifth-wheel, designed for extended-stay living. Full-time use won’t affect the warranty, as it can in some brands. The 101-inch-wide body and Benchmark Chassis design make the unit a dream to tow; the interior design, heating and air-conditioning, and other amenities give the unit a residential quality feel.
Every Paradigm fifth-wheel undergoes Alliance’s Camp Ready Performance Audit before delivery. The unit is given a 15-minute road test, which includes traversing some rough roads and train tracks with full holding tanks, then returns for a final inspection. This inspection also entails setting up the unit and testing everything as though it were being used in a campground. Once everything passes, the unit can be shipped.
For anyone looking for a quality fifth-wheel, the Paradigm is definitely worth consideration.
Specs | Alliance RV Paradigm 370FB
Alliance RV, 301 Benchmark Drive, Elkhart, IN 46516; (574) 218-7165; www.alliancerv.com
LT235/85R16 LoadRange G
drum, standard; disc, optional
40 feet 4 inches
13 feet 4 inches
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY
walls and slideout — block foam;
roof — fiberglass batten
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 106 gallons;
black water — 53 gallons
12 gallons with DSI
42,000-Btu propane furnace
(3) 13,500-Btu units
18 cubic feet, two-way (propane and electric); residential unit available
(2) porcelain, 1 with macerator
structural — 3-year limited;
base — 1 year limited
MANUFACTURER’S SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
“Do The Right Thing”
Alliance RV was established In March 2019 when brothers Ryan and Coley Brady left Heartland RV and began to assemble a team of people with many years of industry experience. The decision was made to enter the market with a high-end fifth-wheel. Potential buyers were identified: typically, those who had previously owned or currently own an RV and knew what they were looking for.
In August 2019, long before building an RV, the Alliance RV team created a Facebook page. Questions were asked of current RV owners about issues they’ve experienced with their fifth-wheels and what they would like to see addressed in the future.
For the first six months, the team spent a lot of time listening. They found a number of recurring concerns voiced by respondents. So, they began with a clean sheet of paper and addressed those issues when creating the fifth-wheel design. The company’s own Benchmark Chassis was one area where major improvements were made. After six months, the Paradigm fifth-wheel was born.
The unit was introduced in January 2020 at the Florida RV SuperShow. Twenty-two units were sold off of the four models on display.
In March, the Alliance factory was forced to close because of the COVID-19 virus. But when the company reopened, high demand for the Paradigm ramped up construction quickly. In July 2020, the 500th Paradigm rolled out of the factory.
Alliance RV built a new 112,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility for producing the Paradigm, but ground already has been broken for a second, 120,000-square-foot building. Research is in place for an upcoming toy hauler as well as other towables. The 112-acre campus will provide Alliance RV ample room to expand and grow.
As the company website states, Alliance personnel are obsessed with providing the best RV ownership experience, and they are constantly improving and raising the bar. The independent owner-operated company shows a willingness to communicate and to be guided by the principle of “do the right thing.” Expect to see and hear a lot about Alliance RV in the future.
— Mark Quasius