Approved for full-time living, this fifth-wheel checks the boxes for residential features, abundant storage, all-weather insulation, and more.
By Mark Quasius, F333630
KZ RV’s Durango Gold fifth-wheels are designed for those who demand upscale residential amenities in an RV that’s constructed for full-time use. With a selection of eight different floor plans for 2021, ranging from 35 feet to 42 feet long, RV buyers should find one that meets their needs.
The particular unit chosen for this review is the G381REF, a floor plan that measures 40 feet 6 inches long and has five slideouts. The unit sleeps six comfortably and contains an amazing amount of storage, including a large pull-out cargo tray in the rear.
The G381REF weighs 12,910 pounds empty and has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 16,000 pounds, which gives it a 3,000-pound-plus cargo carrying capacity (CCC). Because this RV is designed for full-time or long-term use, it is not a lightweight trailer and will require a one-ton truck to be towed safely, although some ¾-ton trucks may be able to handle it.
The powder-coated-steel I-beam frame supports the basic skeleton, which consists of six-sided aluminum construction, and welded aluminum studs, floor joists, and roof trusses. The 2-inch-thick laminated walls feature foam-board insulation with an R-11 rating. Metal backing strips in the walls secure all interior cabinets; inside the aluminum tubing, filler strips accommodate screws that secure the sidewalls to the floor structure. The walk-on roof, composed of Tufflex PVC membrane over 3/8-inch plywood decking, is built on 5-inch aluminum trusses with a ventilated attic.
The 5/8-inch tongue-and-groove plywood floor is screwed and glued to the aluminum joists. The profile of the front cap improves the turning radius on short-bed trucks.
The Durango Gold is well insulated. R-38 Radiant Technology insulation is used in the roof, floor, ceiling, end caps, and tanks. One-piece ABS slideout bottoms are insulated to R-24, so keeping the cold out shouldn’t be a problem in this RV.
A six-point hydraulic leveling system eases setup procedures. Lightweight, adjustable, flip-up Solid Steps create a nice, secure feeling for those entering or exiting the RV; the top step includes a 13-inch-deep tread. The entry door is accompanied by an extra-large grab handle, with a pet leash nearby. Frameless tinted windows keep the sun from heating up the interior, and dual-pane windows are optional.
A Look Inside
The main living area, in the rear, is raised three steps above the galley, creating a separate space in which to relax and entertain. This is a departure from the flat floor that typically runs between these two areas in fifth-wheels, and it also provides additional space beneath the floor for a large basement cargo area. More on that later. A pair of sleeper sofas are on opposing walls in the living area, while a 65-inch LED TV and a 40-inch wide-view fireplace are located on the rear wall. Facing this entertainment center is a set of power reclining theater seats with heat, massage, USB plugs, and LED-illuminated cup holders. Behind the theater seating is a large hutch that faces the galley.
The galley island has a solid-surface countertop, which holds a deep-basin stainless-steel farm sink with a gooseneck faucet. A dishwasher can be added to this island with the KZ Advantage Package. The overhead cabinetry in the galley slideout contains a 30-inch microwave-convection oven. The base cabinetry below it offers a nice work area, complete with a 24-inch oven and a four-burner range. Galley cabinets and drawers are equipped with soft-close hinges and drawer glides. Immediately to the right of this area is a standard 18-cubic-foot propane-electric RV refrigerator; an 18-cubic-foot residential refrigerator with 2,000-watt inverter is optional. A wide, enclosed pantry is located on the forward wall, next to another hutch.
The dinette sits across from the galley and features a freestanding table with four upholstered chairs.
The bath includes a wide residential-style fiberglass shower that has a molded seat and ledge and is enclosed by a glass door. A porcelain foot-pedal-flush toilet, an undermounted stainless-steel vanity sink with a waterfall faucet, and a linen closet complete the room.
The bedroom contains a 70-inch-by-80-inch walk-around king-size bed with an electric tilt feature that enables it to be adjusted when occupants wish to read in bed or view the 32-inch LED TV. Three large drawers below the bed provide additional storage. The TV is mounted above the window over the dresser, in a cabinet that includes another electric fireplace. A full-width mirrored wardrobe spans the front of the RV. This area is prepped for a washer and dryer. One cabinet conceals a built-in, tilt-out hamper.
Full-time living requires full-time utilities, so the Durango Gold is equipped with a 50-amp electrical system and power cord. A standard 1,200-watt inverter provides power to keep the refrigerator cool when traveling. Two 15,000-Btu ducted air conditioners with a QuietCool ducting system (a third unit is optional) cool the interior in summer, while a 42,000-Btu propane furnace offers heat through an in-floor straight-duct system on those cold days and nights. All plumbing runs and holding tanks are inside the R-38 insulation, so freeze-ups should not be an issue. The water convenience center is heated and contains all of the controls required to maintain the fresh-water system, as well as the holding tanks.
An on-demand tankless water heater provides domestic hot water, and a pair of 30-gallon propane tanks have their own dedicated compartment. Roof-mounted solar prep is standard; KZ offers an optional Off The Grid package that includes two 110-watt solar panels, a 30-amp solar charge controller, and a 2,000-watt pure sine wave inverter (this package requires the 18-cubic-foot propane-electric refrigerator). One patio-side power awning with LED lighting completes the comfort experience.
Perhaps the most interesting feature in the Durango Gold is its storage capability. Storage space is always at a premium for any full-time RVer, and the G381REF really delivers. As noted earlier, the raised living room floor allows for a tremendous amount of cargo space underneath. This area can be accessed from the rear of the RV, where a 52-inch-by-72-inch tray pulls out, affording easy access to cargo. Hatch covers on both sides of this area expose even more space, making it perfect for accommodating a large selection of containers.
A pass-through storage area also exists just forward of the cargo tray area and is accessible from either side of the RV. Add this to the 160-cubic-foot pass-through storage space in the fully heated and lit front storage space, and you’ll no doubt agree that this RV has outstanding storage capacity.
KZ’s RVs carry a two-year hitch-to-bumper limited warranty. That, combined with substantial insulation and construction details, along with upscale amenities and abundant storage, make the Durango Gold G381REF a good choice for folks seeking an RV for full-time living.
SPECS | KZ DURANGO GOLD G381REF
KZ Inc., 985 N. 900 W., Shipshewana, IN 46565; (260) 768-4016; www.kz-rv.com
40 feet 6 inches
13 feet 6 inches with A/C
6 feet 8 inches
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
UNLOADED VEHICLE WEIGHT (UVW)
DRY HITCH WEIGHT
CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (CCC)
16-inch G-range radials
walls — foam board, R-11;
roof, floor, ceiling, end caps, tanks — Radiant Technology, R-38;
slideout bottom — R-24
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 93 gallons;
black water — 53 gallons
42,000-Btu propane furnace
(2) 15,000-Btu units, ducted; third 15,000-Btu unit, optional
18-cubic-foot propane-electric, standard, available with Off The Grid solar package; 18-cubic-foot residential, optional
porcelain with foot flush
2 years hitch-to-bumper limited
MANUFACTURER’S SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE